11 years later... how is Mac OS 9?

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by dandeco, Oct 25, 2010.

  1. pl1984 macrumors 65816

    Oct 31, 2017
    Protected memory does not, by itself, prevent an application from consuming all of a systems memory. Unless other constraints are placed on an application it's easy for an application to crash a protected memory operating system by consuming all of a systems memory.

    At a very high level a protected memory OS provides a means to isolate applications from one another along with the OS itself. As a result applications are prohibited from, either intentionally or unintentionally, accessing other applications (and the OS) memory space.
  2. MacsRgr8 macrumors 604


    Sep 8, 2002
    The Netherlands
    Wow... nice ol' thread!
    Good old times, pure Mac, Steve, et all.

    It really still is fun to play around these old Macs. These things were special, and you were in a very small world if you enjoyed gaming on PPC based Macs.
    Having a real Mac-supported Voodoo card is quite rare.... (I am still proud of mine!)
  3. Cox Orange macrumors 68000

    Jan 1, 2010
    Thank you! I had forgotten about it, as CooperBox assumed, but no problem.

    You remind me of something different. I remember that sometimes (often for Adobe applications) one had to open the info window and assign more memory to a certain app under OS 9.
    Crazy how time went by :) But never a time lost, when there is something to read on this forum. ;)
  4. Jubadub macrumors newbie

    Nov 1, 2017
    I can attest to this first-hand: Two years ago at work, a memory leak in one of the company's server software caused an application to slowly keep taking more and more memory indefinitely. Even though the host OS (Windows Server, yuck) offers protected memory, the application (w3wp.exe btw, our classic IIS process) still took as much memory as it wanted, reaching OVER 10 GIGABYTES OF RAM! lol
    The process was forcibly killed before it grew further and, later, I interfered and provided a fix. But basically it would take absolutely all of the memory eventually, no matter the amount.
  5. swamprock macrumors 6502a


    Aug 2, 2015
    It's fun to muck about OS 9 and try to get it to do more modern things, or even theme it to look more modern. In the end, having to convert modern video to run on Quicktime 6 and lack of an up-to-date browser (Classilla is great, but seriously needs to be updated) always leads me back to just using it for old games on my Sawtooth.
  6. AphoticD, Mar 22, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2018

    AphoticD macrumors 68000


    Feb 17, 2017
    OS9 is an interesting OS from a historical perspective. In 1997 Gil Amelio referred to the current System 7.x state of Mac OS as a Cessna with strapped on wing seats, extra baggage on the roof and jet engines (PowerPC) bolted on to improve performance.

    It started from a very humble base to operate from a floppy with only 128k of RAM and sort of stayed coupled to the limitations of that core right through to the end.

    “Doctor Gil” then respectfully went on to introduce the return of Steve Jobs as a “feature”’ of incorporating the future implementation of NeXT’s OpenStep to resolve the shortcomings of the Mac OS... within a few weeks he got the boot and so did his saving grace “Copland”.

    It was an integral part of Apple’s history. Steve Jobs mentioned at an Apple Developers conference also in ‘97 or possibly ‘98, that when he first went to Xerox in 1979, they had prepared three technologies to present to him.

    The first was the graphical user interface in the form of the Desktop, which he excitedly jumped on and raced back to begin the push to develop Mac OS. Apparently he was so excited he didn’t stick around for the other two.

    Steve explained the other two key technologies he missed on learning about were object oriented programming and networking. He said if only he stuck around for another 20 minutes, the foundation of the Mac OS could have been built from the ground up with a networkable core and OOP software development.

    Instead, Apple went on to reinvent the wheel with System 6/7’s TCP/IP stack and OpenTransport all while battling with the shortcomings of procedural programming languages like Pascal to work in a multitasking, graphical environment.

    The hard lesson to learn I believe he stated was along the lines of “There are so many smart people in the world who don’t work at Apple”. Essentially meaning that it’s rarely wise to write solutions from scratch when others have already done a successful job of it.

    It was this closed proprietary-ness of the original Mac OS (and hardware) designs which became the downfall of the entire system and boxed itself in.

    This is evident when you reboot into OS9 and you try to get simple things done like grabbing a document over the network, via Chooser or Network Browser, make changes to the document and then send it back to be accessed by an OS X, Windows or Linux client. It’s possible of course, but classic Mac OS alternative concepts like Resource Forks and Type/Creator codes were something us long term Mac users were convinced were better, until we were able to let them go.

    I know I always felt I had “control” over memory usage by being able to assign minimum and preferred memory settings to each app. Along with control over virtual memory settings. In retrospect, surely the computer has a better idea of managing memory resources than I do, right?

    What other shortcomings of OS9 did you believe were “better” before seeing The light in the form of OS X?
  7. Dronecatcher macrumors 68020


    Jun 17, 2014
    Lincolnshire, UK
    This what Apple are good at, and largely so are most successful bodies/individuals - picking up the ball from others and running with it or, if you will, ripping off someone elses ideas...

    For me, OS9 is still a shortcut for a speedy OS on hardware that doesn't truly fit OSX. I see it in the same light as WinXP/2000/98 - it's fun to use and try and bend into modern shapes it wasn't prepared for.
    Example, this week I've been trying to get Youtube playback on OS9 again - for no practical purpose of course but went down the route of VPC and ultra thin Linux distros. Didn't have any luck, there were always problems with the distro failing to recognised hardware - the most common being no mouse.

    I do occasionally use Photoshop in OS9 on my TiBook but once you've got multiple layers on the go you can feel that single G4 struggling...
  8. pl1984 macrumors 65816

    Oct 31, 2017
    I just purchased a Mac IIci a few weeks ago. It's running MacOS 7.0.1. I have to say that I really love the old MacOS. Modern operating systems offer orders of magnitude more stability but they don't seem to offer that much in the way of productivity improvements.
  9. MacSoftware3 macrumors member


    Jun 26, 2017
    It would be amazing to get YouTube working on MacOS 9 again. The browser is often the reason older OSes can't be used anymore (because many people need a modern browser for Facebook and YouTube for example).
  10. Jubadub macrumors newbie

    Nov 1, 2017
    Basing on a user quote from the forum "Mac OS 9 Lives!", one term that comes to mind when using OS 9 is peace of mind.

    It's just such a relaxing OS to use. You see, it's not its technical offerings that make us so passionate about it. Rather, it's its overall experience. I'd like to avoid the term "UX" or "User eXperience", as I feel they sadly have become too much of a buzzword in recent times, but essentially it feels incredibly light and responsive, especially for simple use.
    (Even though it could be rewritten to do the same and take up less resources, although these issues are almost always unnoticeable thanks to abundant-enough resources.)

    And, while our ever-venerable Mac OS X follows much of this spirit (or, at least, used to) and certainly even made better some already-amazing OS 9 use cases, there are a few things it lost along the way, too, which is why I find both OSes have their place. There's a little article I read yesterday which was refreshing to read and, while I agree with only some parts of it rather than whole, it was still a fun read: https://www.macworld.com/article/1138335/macat25_classicmacos.html

    I'd like to give some of my own input about the tiny things I like better in both OS 9 and OS X extensively, but I also think that would be a boring read, so for now I will leave that as is. It's certainly impossible to highlight it all briefly in a single, neat post. :)

    But I personally love Mac OS 9.2.2 the most. The only way I could embrace it even further would be if Apple one day relicensed it under the GNU (A/L)GPLv3 and, thus, also provided its whole source code, to both keep it libre and updated! But of course, that's not happening not even in another 70 years, is it? ;) (Although the creator of Apple DOS released its source code decades after the original release!)

    Also, special mention goes to Mac OS X Tiger (software compatibility and range, even supporting some 64-bit non-GUI programs), Mac OS X Leopard (PPC's sexiest devil), System 7.5.5 (ultimate 68k 24-bit-addressing-capable Mac OS) and Mac OS 8.1 (ultimate 68k 32-bit-addressing-capable Mac OS)!
  11. eyoungren macrumors Core


    Aug 31, 2011
    ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two
    Honestly I don't know how to really answer that question. There was never any middle ground for me. I saw everything about OS 9 as superior until OS X 10.3. At that point it flipped.

    By 10.3 I was working a job (my current one) where I was responsible to implement Macs and PCs on a Windows Server platform. I went down the Services for Macintosh (SFM) route at a certain point just to make things easier to connect to the server.

    That's when I found that SFM was using an OS 8/OS9 version of AFP (Apple Filing Protocol). It becomes a freaking nightmare when you have to consider long filenames on the server. 32+3 was the max. OS X of course ignores that.

    Later on, dealing with the legacy of Apple Double, dot files and the fact that connecting Macs running Tiger to a Windows server requires a series of pretzel-twisting steps convinced me that OS9 was quite past it's time.

    However, Kaleidoscope was one thing I did miss. I've never trully gotten that back, despite the best efforts of all the workarounds I've used to date.
    --- Post Merged, Mar 23, 2018 ---
    Peace of mind is not something that comes to me when using OS9.

    I can recall many times hoping that I had enough ram left to save a file before QuarkXPress bombed on me and locked up the entire system.

    Trying to make ATM (Adobe Type Manager) work and use the right fonts was a nightmare. Suitcase eventually solved that but we had a lot of calls from our printer telling us that our fonts were killing his system.

    Photoshop and Illustrator handled resources pretty well though.
  12. AphoticD macrumors 68000


    Feb 17, 2017
    I LOVE everything Apple, but they didn't exactly invent all of the technologies which have made them successful. They packaged them well, and they were fortunate in many cases to focus on what was popular at the time (like the consumerism shift from buying CDs to downloading music). iTunes itself was a literal repackaging of the app SoundJam MP. The Mac OS Finder derived from the ideas brewing at Xerox. Safari and many underlying OS X technologies are simply repackaged from open source projects like WebKit and Darwin's BSD core. Portable MP3 players were already selling before the iPod arrived, but Apple made it more appealing with a slick design, a decent UI, great software to match (iTunes) and larger storage capacity than the others. It was a brick, but it was awesome at the time.

    The iPhone on the other hand was a great opportunity for a comfortably successful business to try something new. They had the opportunity to invent the smart phone and it was executed incredibly well.

    The idea of repackaging (and culling for that matter) has served Apple well. Steve Jobs once talked about the time when he returned to Apple, he had the task of discerning between which technologies were failing and which had potential to be successful. Technically brilliant technologies like OpenDoc got axed in favor of industry standards like Java. The entire Macintosh hardware line got stripped by something like 70%. All those model numbers and product lines (7300, 8600, 9600, 5300, 1400, Newton, Pippin, etc) got the boot and replaced by the "Power Macintosh G3", "PowerBook G3" and then of course the iMac and iBook.

    I like to tinker with this idea too; How to configure the most efficient system to suit the hardware. It's great to see software fly and if you have a specific task in mind, like doing layouts in Quark, designs in Illustrator 9 or 72dpi / 144dpi work in Photoshop 7, then it can be mostly enjoyable to use. Reason 2.5 and ProTools 5/FREE ran brilliantly on any G3 running OS9.

    VPC (and RealPC/SoftWindows) ran far more efficiently on OS9 than in a true multitasking environment. You can squeeze substantially more performance out of it by disabling many unnecessary extensions and control panels, disabling Virtual Memory, lowering color output to Thousands or even 256, and writing a quick AppleScript which can quit the Finder on launch. All those interrupting and polling processes are gone, and the PC emulator can just run stand-alone.

    I didn't buy into OS X until I acquired a copy of 10.2 bundled with my G3 800Mhz iBook 12". I can vaguely recall working for weeks or months in OS X, then switching back to OS9 to perform some kind of specific task and feeling cramped in comparison. The workflows of OS9 and X were just very different, like switching between Mac and Windows. You can likely achieve the same result, but it's a different set of tools at hand to get there, so you find yourself having to choose between one or the other.

    In my last office role, I had the task of administering sales and purchasing/inventory via MYOB and managing jobs/bookings via a custom MS Access database. I also had the role of designing all of the business print and marketing material and designing and maintaining the website and online store.

    I would do my regular office admin role with MYOB and MS Office on a Dell tower with Windows 10 and bring in my own little MacBook Unibody '08 (with a mini-DP to HDMI adapter for the 27" display) to do all of the Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator and web dev/prep work. I know I could have requested that the business buy a Windows version of Adobe CS, or conversely a Mac Pro and the Mac version of MYOB, but the workflow of each task was best suited (to my liking) in the way I had it.

    My point is, different platforms have their strengths and weaknesses and we typically choose the easiest option to get the job done and not necessarily the most technically advanced option. Apple have followed this concept pretty well for the most part by providing "here and now" solutions to customers and not (regularly) trying to entice people to come across with announcements of amazing distant future technologies.

    I agree, memory management was always an issue and it seemed to be only temporarily resolved by upgrading the Mac's RAM as projects just get bigger and bigger. Font management was painful even with Suitcase. Rarely did the classic Mac ever stay upright for more than half a day during heavy production work, especially when working on large projects. I've had a few data losses, but I conditioned myself back then to hit Cmd-S after almost every change, offload a copy to a backup hard drive regularly throughout the day (almost every coffee break) and burn off a CD or DVD at the end of day to take offsite.

    It's funny, I actually still do this without even realizing. I still have a tendency to cmd-S after every change (even though modern software auto-saves EVERYTHING), Time Machine will run backups every hour and then at the end of my day's work, I zip up the current project, rename it with a date stamp and put it on a USB thumb drive so I know I have a stand-alone "physical" backup in the event of a fire or something.

    Old habits (of dealing with unreliable computers) die hard. :apple:
  13. eyoungren macrumors Core


    Aug 31, 2011
    ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two
    I was involved earlier today in a thread about iOS multitasking. OP of that thread lost 10 minutes of design work on an iOS app when trying to switch back and forth between it and Safari. All because either he failed to save his work or the app failed to.

    But, as I mentioned there, I am old school. Like you, I was taught to save and save often. It's still relevant when you consider most people (myself included) save files over a network to a server.

    I was also taught by an old hand to always duplicate your layers in Photoshop and work off a copy. I still do that even though PS long ago added non-destructive edits. We work off copies of originals that customers sent us. So on and so on.

    When we have special sections where the layout is left entirely to me I leave a copy on the MP when I leave work. Just in case if the server blows up over night I've got a local copy.

    Stuff we are told we don't have to do anymore. But, it's saved me more than once.
  14. AphoticD macrumors 68000


    Feb 17, 2017
    There is certainly a point where personal accountability of saving one’s data took a backseat.

    I’m always surprised when a website, forum or CMS auto-saves for me. Even if we can’t manually save the contents of a text box on iOS, the clipboard works as a fairly reliable temporary text storage between apps.

    On the flip side, it can be an annoyance when a Mac app auto-saves changes and you have to manually save as and then revert the original just to see the state of the document prior to the edits. This is where working on a copy would be ideal. It’s all about managing your workflow as you’ve pointed out.
  15. Dronecatcher macrumors 68020


    Jun 17, 2014
    Lincolnshire, UK
    Case in point, smartphones had been around for 7 years prior and Nokia was the king with Symbian but Apple wrapped it all up in a neato package that didn't need too much savvy to operate.
  16. MysticCow macrumors 6502a

    May 27, 2013
    10.1 was absolute garbage compared to OS 9. The only advantage it had at that point was the fact that it looked shiny. Plus, I was on my 700 MHz g3 iMac at the time, so OS X performance was really sucky.

    When 10.2 hit, things got a bit better. It was usable at that point. I could go into Jaguar and actually do things. OS 9 usage for me started to decline at this point.

    However, you are absolutely correct that 10.3 "was the bees knees." Whatever was done to speed everything up needs to come back to the modern macOS.
  17. Jubadub macrumors newbie

    Nov 1, 2017
    To my knowledge, things started going downhill and non-speedy starting with OS X 10.7 Lion, and only worsened from there on with each instance. For me, Snow Leopard is the last, "real" Mac OS X. The ultimate form. Every Mac/Hackintosh should have that over any other Mac OS X IMHO. Just a pity it was not entirely PPC-compatible. (Still had Rosetta, though, for us to wipe off some of our many tears.)

    Still miss Classic like hell, though. Neither QEMU or SheepShaver ever really made the cut. Thanks to this, and thanks to being even speedier than Leopard/Snow Leopard, while still retaining the ability to run 64-bit apps (provided they don't use the native OS X GUI libraries), is why, amongst all Mac OS X versions, Tiger (only on PPC, of course) is my personal favorite. :) But agreed, props to 10.3 Panther for paving the way for Tiger to be the delicious OS it is! I agree OS X was not so interesting until 10.3 Panther came along.

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