Can OS X run on G3 iMac??

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by Linksgolfer84, Jul 21, 2003.

  1. Linksgolfer84 macrumors member

    Feb 20, 2003
    Hey there, I was just wondering if anyone has any experience running OS X on any machines as old as a 1st Gen iMac 233 with 96 MB RAM. Here is the situation... I'm heading off to Madison in month for my first year of college and I'm waiting for the 15" Powerbook update (along with everyone else under the sun). But I have lost all faith that Apple will come through in time. So I am planning on taking my family's old iMac for the first month (hopefully less) of school and I'd really really like to be running OS X. I have a friend with the OS but it will take some time to get ahold of and it will take some time to install everything, so I was just wondering if anyone knows if the whole process is worth it. Thanks for the input!
  2. gopher macrumors 65816

    Mar 31, 2002
    Maryland, USA
    Re: Can OS X run on G3 iMac??

    A G3 233 iMac can work with Mac OS X providing you:

    1. Upgrade to at least 160 MB of RAM.
    2. Get the Sonnet Upgrade card or better which provides Firewire and a faster processor. Only compatible with the 233 and 266 G3 iMac. The 333 through 400 Mhz iMacs without Firewire port and pre-iBook SE without Firewire port iBooks are not worth getting for Mac OS X.
    3. Don't use it for running Mac OS 9 applications.
    4. Upgrade the firmware before upgrading the operating system.
    5. Install with at least 2.5 GB of hard disk space free (that may mean getting a technician to install an 8GB or bigger hard drive depending on how much data you want on it).
    6. If you do get a hard drive bigger than 8 GB, you should make sure to format it so that the first 7.95 GB are used to install the Mac OS X operating system. Disk Utility that comes on the Mac OS X installer CD allows you to partition the drive (which erases it clean). This is a limitation of all 333 Mhz and slower Macs.
    7. Don't install anything less than Mac OS X 10.2.

    Mac OS X's biggest Achilles' heel is having to run old Mac OS 9 applications at the same time as X while using the Classic environment or allowing you to boot directly into 9. Each time you do that, applications may ruin X's permissions, and you have to go to the Hard Drive's Applications -> Utilities -> Disk Utility -> First Aid tab -> Select hard disk -> Hit repair permissions each time you think permissions might have gotten corrupted. Running Classic also limits Mac OS 9 applications to 128 MB of RAM. You can still boot into 9, thanks to Apple menu -> System Preferences -> Classic in Mac OS X, but when you do, you have to be especially careful not to touch essential documents that are only visible when you boot into Mac OS 9, and essential folders for Mac OS X. will help you find all the software you need to upgrade to Mac OS X and hardware.

    If you want, you probably can get an iMac DV for as little as $500 from one of these shops, or get Apple's own 6 months same as cash deal from their store, or one of their many student, educator, government or military discounts if you know someone who qualifies for them.
  3. strider42 macrumors 65816


    Feb 1, 2002
    Re: Re: Can OS X run on G3 iMac??

    number 2 is not true. You certainly don't need the upgrade card. While the extra speed is nice, the major stumbling block with OS X on these machines is the graphics chipset, which doesn't properly support OS X on 233-333 mhz iMacs. Increasing the processor speed does almost nothing to help this (whats more, its just nto worth the cost, get a used machine thats faster and supports the graphics better). OS X runs just fine on 350 mhz and above. the 350 mhz and 400 mhz iMacs are just about identicle to the later, faster models, so they will run it just fine. Not fast, but it will run fine.

    3) running Os 9 software works fine. again, its not fast, but it works.

    4) This especially true on the slot loaders. I don't think it will even install on the tray loading 233-333 mhz machines without firmware update 1.2. ON the slot loaders it will install without without firmware update 4.1.9, but it will kill your video to do so, so install the upgrade first for sure.

    5) if you want to install a bigger hard drive, you certainly don't need a technician to do it. You can easily do it yourself.
  4. gopher macrumors 65816

    Mar 31, 2002
    Maryland, USA
    Re: Re: Re: Can OS X run on G3 iMac??

    While I agree the graphics chipset could be better, it is more noticeable in Classic than in Mac OS X if you don't run Classic. See Mac OS X does not pass on the graphics chipset's strengths to the Classic environment, or does it poorly. Quicktime performs so much better natively in X on my Powerbook G3/233 with 512k cache than using Classic. As for the necessity of the Firewire easy recovery from backup on those machines or any machines with Mac OS X means getting Firewire as the amount data needed to recover X takes several CDs. If you just backup to hard disk, you can recover in one fell swoop. Granted you still don't get the benefits of the graphics card, but for someone who short on cash, and iMac with a Sonnet Crescendo card will help them make their machine last longer in X than one without.

    I'm a technician by hobby and have taken apart many Macs to put them back together, and the CRT iMacs are not exactly the easiest until the DV model when it comes to only upgrading the RAM, not the hard drive. The video cable itself can come slightly loose on the Rev A and B iMacs, causing the video to get discolored if not put back properly. And on two Rev A iMacs I've upgraded the RAM, the pin holding the video cable in place got so loose that it was hard to put back in without some very careful work not to lose the pin into the case. Find someone experienced with opening those machines if you have any doubts.
  5. crenz macrumors 6502a


    Jul 3, 2003
    Shanghai, China
    I'm running Mac OS X on a G3/266 just fine. However, you definitely should add some more memory. Using 224 MB I find the performance somewhat acceptable if you don't use too many programs at the same time. I can also use Classic, but it takes a few minutes to boot up (I'd just boot OS 9 directly if you need it often). I'm even doing light image editing using Photoshop Elements 2, and I use OpenOffice for writing stuff.

    Also, keep in mind that OS X uses much more harddisk space than OS 9.
  6. strider42 macrumors 65816


    Feb 1, 2002
    Re: Re: Re: Re: Can OS X run on G3 iMac??

    OS X does not in any way support the graphics chipsets in tray loading iMacs. Its slow on those models precisely becaus eof that. the difference between the 350 mhz slot loaders with supported graphics and the 333 mhz machines without supported graphics is quite marked. So the sonnet card isn't going to make it that much better, and it costs 300 dollars. as was pointed out, a DV iMac can cost about 500. For that extra 200 bucks you get better and supported graphics, a faster bus, a faster processor, larger hard drive, higher ram potential and easier to install and firewire. PLus a DV is quieter and slightly smaller. Just my opinion, but the crescendo card, or any other graphics processor for an iMac, just isn't worth it. the processor is only a small aprt of what makes a computer fast, and the tray loading Imacs have too many bottlenecks.

    CRT Imacs may not exactly be easy to take apart, but its tno that hard either. Lots of people who aren't that computer savvy have taken them apart to install a new drive. its very common. I've heard of very few problems (apart from people not setting the jumper settings on the drives correctly) from most people. I wouldn't hesitate in the least to tell someone to do it themselves and save a bundle of money. macworld has a great tutorial online about how to do it on both kinds of CRT iMacs.

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