Mac OS X Diary: Buyer Beware

Two weeks ago, my partner decided to make the switch to Mac OS X. He uses an iMac, with a measly 64MB of RAM running at a paltry 233Mhz. I, on the other hand, have the horsepower in the house with my G4/400 and a whopping 576 MB of RAM.

OS X is a superior OS, meant for well-designed, superior hardware. So I understood when he asked if he could run OS X on his iMac. And because he has a bachelor of science degree, in math with computer science, I naturally assumed there was no need to provide tech support.

I was wrong.

The process started normally enough. We backed up his computer to a folder on my G4. He wiped his hard drive, and installed OS 9.1 on the freshly formatted hard drive. When he had 9.1 set up to his liking, he moved to install OS X--a simple process, as most of us already know.

It was working fine, until it was time for him to restart, at which point the iMac wouldn't load any system, 9.1 or X.

That's when I stepped in to offer my help. Only it didn't help.

First, he booted his iMac using the 9.1 CD that came with OS X, just to make sure everything was OK. The hard drive and all the files were there. Only, when he went to do another OS 9.1 install, the installer said it didn't update system 1.0.x.

1.0.x? Apparently, the installer wasn't aware there was a 9.1 system folder until we selected the 9.1 folder as the startup disk and ran the installer again.

After a clean install--and a few times yanking the cord out of the back of the iMac--it was back to OS X. Only one problem: Classic didn't work.

What's a Mac user to do when something goes terribly wrong? Reinstall the OS! Without those nasty .DLL files, no Windows registry to worry about, or drivers specific to your $19 video card from Computer Town, it's the quickest fix. Besides, OS X is Unix underneath, so a reinstall shouldn't be that traumatic.


My partner decided to throw out his user folder, since he hadn't really settled in and he wanted to start fresh. After the reinstall, the machine logged in as him and presented us with a screen full of folders, all ending in .APP. Looked like something went wrong.

My solution to this conundrum? Back up those files again, erase the drive, partition it in two this time, and start again.

So does OS X always need its own partition to cooperate with OS 9.1? Here, my reader, is where I throw up my OS X-weathered hands and say, "I don't know." Apple could not be reached for comment, so the jury is still out.

OS Ten, Point Oh, Point Three?

Once again, Apple has quietly released another update to its new OS X. It doesn't hurt to load it, if you haven't already. In fact, if you missed 10.0.2, you'll have to update to .0.1 to get to .0.3. Should you get every fractional update to OS X? Yes. These fixes address problems that may not have come up for you yet, so why not avoid possible trouble in the future?


As it did last time, good news came this week--from Macromedia and FileMaker, as they rolled out OS X-ready versions of Freehand and FileMaker Pro, respectively. Looks like Steve Jobs' proverbial "train" left with a few people on board.

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