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Mac OS 9.2.2 for direct startup (or Classic)


Ken Watanabe Mar 10, 2012 12:21 AM
Posted in group: Mac OS 9
This post is about an alternative (free) source for Mac OS 9.2.2, and how to install it.

Finding a Mac OS 9 installation disc is becoming more and more difficult (and probably expensive), and it is often confusing what version/type is appropriate for a particular Mac model.  To make matters worse, Apple's downloads for the (free) Mac OS 9 updaters are currently not working, so even if a Mac OS 9 installation is performed (from an installation disc), there is no readily available way to get it updated to the latest 9.2.2.

I did read about a way to get Mac OS 9.2.2, but never tried it before.  I confirmed that it does work, so I am sharing what I learned (with more detail than I found elsewhere).  Before going on, here are some limitations of this method.

+  You need a Mac that already has some version of Mac OS X installed, to use this procedure.  It does not work for a Mac with no OS (or an earlier OS), unless you have another Mac that runs Mac OS X.

+  If you need a version of Mac OS 9 that is earlier than 9.2.2 (such as 9.1), this procedure does not help.

+  The download from Apple (linked below) is obviously not intended to be used in this way.

(BEFORE using a procedure that installs a new system, be sure to BACK UP any valuable data on the Mac's hard drive.)

Apple has a download called "NetBoot for Mac OS 9."  It is available here

http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1192

This download contains a complete System Folder for Mac OS 9.2.2.  The download is called NetBoot9.dmg. Ideally, you should download it to the Mac that will use the 9.2.2 System Folder, but you can use another Mac that runs Mac OS X (to extract the System Folder) and transfer it to the Mac that will use it.  I used a Mac running Mac OS X 10.4.11 (Tiger); it is a "Pismo" PowerBook (with G4 upgrade).  It was able to boot directly from that System Folder.

Mount the NetBoot9.dmg disk image.  The disk image has four "language" folders inside.  I used the English folder; I assume the procedure would also work for German, French, or Japanese, but I did not try the others.  Inside the English folder, there is a file called NetBoot.pkg.

Right (Control) click on NetBoot.pkg, and select Show Package Contents (from the contextual menu).  A Finder window opens.  Go into the folder called Contents, and then into Resources.  Find the file called NetBoot.pax.gz and drag it to the Desktop (or any other location).  This is an archive file.

Double-click NetBoot.pax.gz to have Archive Utility extract a folder called NetBootInstallation.  When double-clicking the NetBootInstallation folder, you may get an error message about "access privileges." Right (Control) click on the folder and select Get Info.  In the Info window, toward the bottom where it says Ownership & Permissions, set it to (You can) Read & Write.  Now, open the NetBootInstallation folder.

Find the file called NetBoot HD.img and double-click it to mount this disk image.  Inside the disk image, there is a System Folder, and also a folder with the "pre-installed" Mac OS 9 apps.  This System Folder is 9.2.2, and it seems to contain all the components needed for any Mac that can officially boot Mac OS 9.2.2, or run it as Classic under Mac OS X.

Drag this System Folder to the Mac's hard drive.  The standard location is at the top (root) level, but you can actually place it anywhere.  If you want the included Mac OS 9 apps, also copy the Applications (Mac OS 9) folder.

If you want the System Folder for use with Classic (under Mac OS X) only, you can run System Preferences and go to the Classic pane, then select that System Folder for Classic.  Click the Start button to run Classic.  After a few messages about updates, Classic startup completes, and you can run Mac OS 9 apps.

NOTE:  You can use another Mac to download and extract the System Folder, then copy it to the Mac that will use it.  If that other Mac runs a recent version of Mac OS X (such as Lion), you may get an error message when mounting a "legacy" disk image file that says it needs to be "converted."  Run Disk Utility.  Drag the disk image file to the Disk Utility sidebar, where it then appears.  Right (Control) click on it and select the Convert command.  A new disk image file is saved that can be mounted.

OPTIONAL:  While running any Mac OS 9 app with Classic, go to the Apple Menu and select Control Panels, then Extensions Manager.  You can disable (many) extensions, control panels, and other items that you do not need when using a Mac OS 9 System Folder for Classic, because Mac OS X is handling most of the support functions.  Doing so can make Classic run more efficiently and reliably.

(If you only need to use the 9.2.2 System Folder for Classic, there is no need to read the rest of the procedure.)

DIRECT BOOT:  If you want to use this 9.2.2 System Folder to start up directly into Mac OS 9 (on a Mac that supports booting Mac OS 9), there are a few more steps.

The first step is to select that System Folder in System Preferences Startup Disk pane, then restart the Mac. The Mac OS 9 startup should proceed normally, until a dialog box appears asking you to select a NetBoot server.  Since there is no such server available, select Cancel.  The next dialog seems to say that you cannot use this Mac without selecting a NetBoot server, but you can (click OK).  The next dialog asks for Name and Password...

In the description (on web page) for the "NetBoot for Mac OS 9" download, it says, "The default user name is NBUser with the password netboot."

That is what you need to enter as Name and Password.  This gets you to the Desktop, and the Mac should be fully functional.  However, those NetBoot dialog boxes reappear every time you start up using this System Folder.  To stop the dialogs from appearing during startup, I did the follow (there may be some other better way).

From the Apple Menu, select Control Panels, and then Multiple Users.  There should be two users.  One is NBUser, which is that default user.  The other is "owner," which may have your name or it may just be called "Admin."  Select the owner, and Open it.  Make the User Name your name (if it is not already) and enter a new password.

Back on the list of users, select NBUser and Delete this user (so only the owner is listed).  Restart the Mac.  You still get the same NetBoot dialogs during startup, but enter YOUR Name and Password this time.  When you get to the Desktop, from the Apple Menu, select Control Panels, and then Extensions Manager.  Uncheck (to disable) the TWO items for Multiple Users; one is under Control Panels and the other is under Extensions.  Restart.

This will disable the multi-user functionality, but that should be fine for most Mac OS 9 users.  Mac OS 9 is not a true multi-user OS, like Mac OS X; it is a single-user OS at its roots.  I always had multi-user disabled.  When you start up now, those NetBoot dialog boxes no longer appear, and you should go straight to the Desktop.

There are probably many other items in this System Folder that can be disabled, because they do not apply to your particular Mac model (and this System Folder has "everything").  You can use Extensions Manager to better "optimize" your 9.2.2 System Folder.  If you intend to use Mac OS 9 for both Classic AND direct booting, you can have two separate copies of the System Folder.  The one used for direct booting should probably be at the top (root) level of the hard drive volume and be named "System Folder" (although not required).  The one used for Classic can be placed just about anywhere.  I have mine on a Compact Flash card that is in the Cardbus (PCMCIA) slot, and it is named "System Folder (Classic)."  You can then optimize each System Folder for its function.

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I hope this is helpful, and works, for people trying to get Mac OS 9 for their older Macs.

- Ken