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Resolved iMac G3 Blueberry OS Config Questions

TheShortTimer

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Mar 27, 2017
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During a scan through the local classifieds, I saw this for sale at £15 GBP and decided to snap it up. The seller described it as successfully powering on and chiming but failing to proceed beyond a grey screen with a perpetual spinning wheel. Forewarned is forearmed and that helped me to prepare some troubleshooting measures for when I got it home.

I let the computer boot normally just to see what happens and just as the seller described, it stalls at this stage:




Ordinarily, I would've immediately set up TDM through FireWire but this machine lacks the ports. The optical drive ejects all discs so I couldn't boot OS 9 Lives or OS X from a CD and run Disk Utility. No matter, I enjoy a challenge. :) With FireWire unavailable to me and the optical drive apparently out of action, I created a bootable USB installer for Panther and the iMac recognised it at the boot screen after restarting with the Option key held down.



Looking promising! Or so I thought, till I was greeted with the prohibitory screen. 😕



Next, I tried to start it up in safe mode but the computer shut down - which from what I've read, points towards serious problems with the HDD. This suspicion was strengthened by the information presented in verbose mode:





When I restarted the iMac in single user mode and made an attempt with /sbin/fsck -fy this suspicion was strengthened even further:



Can we conclude that the HDD has well and truly failed? :D

I've ordered a 2.5 128 GB SSD and I already have a SATA to IDE adapter that works with PPC Macs, so I could benefit from some advice on the following questions:

1) I would like to have a dual boot with OS 9 and OS X - would Tiger be possible/worthwhile?

2) I'm unable to produce a working USB installer for OS 9 which means I'd have to install OS X first and then OS 9 using this method. What do you think?

3) Are there any Linux distros that would run well on this machine if I decided to go for a triple boot?

Thanks as always!
 

Amethyst1

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Oct 28, 2015
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1) I would like to have a dual boot with OS 9 and OS X - would Tiger be possible/worthwhile?
Possible? Yes. Worthwhile? That depends 100% on what you want to use it for. The Rage GPU is going to be a huge drag when it comes to running OS X. But this may help a bit:


2) I'm unable to produce a working USB installer for OS 9 which means I'd have to install OS X first and then OS 9 using this method. What do you think?
Don't see why that wouldn't work.
 
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TheShortTimer

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Mar 27, 2017
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Possible? Yes. Worthwhile? That depends 100% on what you want to use it for. The Rage GPU is going to be a huge drag when it comes to running OS X. But this may help a bit:


Thanks for that. It seems like Panther would be an easier ride?

Don't see why that wouldn't work.

Excellent! Then that's the path I'll take. :)
 
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bobesch

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Oct 21, 2015
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Kiel, Germany
I'm pretty happy to run the Clamshell early iMac G3 with os9 and I was really surprised about the bunch of options os9 offers concerning networking (except web-browsing).
I'd prefer Tiger over Panther to have the option of Webkit4Tiger, maybe TFFBox too, but mostly cause I want the option of the MS OpenXMLConverter, if I should ever need convert docx-files.
Please keep us informed, if/how you managed to install os9 via USB. Installation gets really tricky, if the optical drive is in limbo and there's no FW-port...
Well, I'd start with the os9 installation first, Tiger second and onto another partition, but I'm not that experienced and routined about all possible options.
Did you check, if a legacy external USB-drive would support booting/installation from an os9-CD?
 
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TheShortTimer

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I managed to disassemble the iMac, removed the HDD and replaced it with an SSD. When I powered it up, I was met with a grey screen - so I turned it off and powered it back up again and now there is a black screen. :confused:

What's happened? Has it died on me already?
 
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TheShortTimer

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Mar 27, 2017
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Update: perseverance and persistence often pay off. :)

I removed the RAM modules and then reinstalled them, pressed the CUDA button on the logic board (I've also replaced the PRAM battery too) and going on a hunch, switched the SSD for a spare SATA spinner that fortuitously just happened to have Tiger already installed, then partially reassembled the iMac and voila!



From the brief play around that I had, the performance isn't bad considering the hardware constraints - it was a nice surprise to discover that the RAM had been upgraded to a pretty decent 512 MB. :)

It would be even better with the SSD... I wonder if there's some kind of issue relating the SSD being a SATA III unit? I'll have another go and report back but things are looking positive now.
 
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repairedCheese

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Jan 13, 2020
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It would be even better with the SSD... I wonder if there's some kind of issue relating the SSD being a SATA III unit? I'll have another go and report back but things are looking positive now.
I very much have heard that they aren't making SSDs all backwards compatible with SATA I and sometimes even SATA II anymore, so what are you using to connect yours to the iMac? And just curious, have you tested the SSD out somewhere else since?
 
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bobesch

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Oct 21, 2015
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It would be even better with the SSD... I wonder if there's some kind of issue relating the SSD being a SATA III unit? I'll have another go and report back but things are looking positive now.

I presume you use an IDE-To-Sata adapter for your SSD. Not all adapters seem to work. The one I tried first neither.
First partition is limited to 128GB AFAIR and I used DiskUtility from another PowerMac/Tiger for the USB-connected SSD prior to fitting in the SSD+IDE-Adapter-Combo.
I've found this Adapter ( #9 ) with 3 possible jumper-settings (Cable/Master/Slave) to work fine and I followed @G4fanboy 's advice ( #7 ) to use the CableSelect-setting.
 
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TheShortTimer

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Behold the power of persistence and perseverance! :)

After yet another disassembly, I reconnected the SSD, disconnected the optical drive (seeing as it's faulty anyway) used the cable select jumper setting on the SATA to IDE converter, powered up the iMac and was met with the very welcome sight of the flashing Mac face, folder and question mark. Next, I created a bootable USB installer for Tiger with the help of El Capitan on my MBP - and thankfully, the installer appears to have been modified by someone because it didn't perform the system requirements check that I feared the computer wouldn't have passed due to the absence of FireWire ports.

Disk Utility immediately recognised the SSD and I created two partitions: just under 100 GB for Tiger and 20 GB for OS 9. The installation took about 40 minutes and went without a hitch. I then downloaded the combo updates to take Tiger from 10.4.6 to 10.4.11.







This was a tough slog due to the optical drive being out of action and the lack of FireWire, which made it even more rewarding to prevail and it's extremely annoying that Apple barred this machine from officially running Tiger because it's easily up to the task. As we all know, they've continued to pull similar stunts over the years. After all that hard work, some gaming was in order - which is always a good measure of the hardware's capabilities. ;)











Both Toppler and the Retrospec version of Head over Heels ran (unsurprisingly) somewhat slower than on my 500 Mhz G3 iBook and some of the graphical effects on the Retrospec version of Head over Heels had to be reduced but the performance was more than passable. Interestingly, even with full graphical effects enabled, the 2018 version of HoH doesn't struggle at all on a machine with a 350 Mhz G3.





Despite the limitations, there's plenty of potential and life left in this beauty. I'm going to follow @Amethyst1's recommendation regarding Tiger and "optimize it out the wazoo" and I'll definitely put this to use as my lowest common denominator tester for the PPC gaming thread. IMHO an apt nickname for this beautiful old-timer is "Galactica." Kudos if you get the joke behind the reference. :)

Did you check, if a legacy external USB-drive would support booting/installation from an os9-CD?

That was one of the first things I'd tried. :) I have an external USB 2.0 5.25 DVD-RW drive and it wasn't detected at the boot menu with an OS 9 Lives CD or the Tiger DVD. My iBook G3 didn't detect it either. Although I do have a much older Iomega USB CD-RW drive here somewhere. I'll have to fish it out and see if it's supported.

Please keep us informed, if/how you managed to install os9 via USB. Installation gets really tricky, if the optical drive is in limbo and there's no FW-port...

Yes, this certainly was a challenge! Luckily I enjoy them, mostly...

Well, I'd start with the os9 installation first, Tiger second and onto another partition, but I'm not that experienced and routined about all possible options.

Installing OS X and then using that to install OS 9 on the second partition is the best course of action here due to the optical drive deficiency and the inability to produce a working USB installer for OS 9.

I very much have heard that they aren't making SSDs all backwards compatible with SATA I and sometimes even SATA II anymore, so what are you using to connect yours to the iMac? And just curious, have you tested the SSD out somewhere else since?

I'm using the Manhattan SATA 300 to IDE Converter.

You can see it here attached to the SSD:



@RogerWilco6502 put me in the direction of these - their Marvell 88SA8052 chipset is guaranteed to work with PPC Macs. I've got a couple in my Quicksilver also working happily with an SSD and a SATA spinner. Basically, as long as they have the red PCB, you'll be fine.
 
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bobesch

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Oct 21, 2015
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Great success!

Thanks for the suggestion to better install OSX prior to os9. My thought was, to follow the "historical" way, that adds OSX to the same single partition where os9 already resides. With different partitions for both systems that idea doesn't matter.
That Manhattan SATA 300 to IDE Converter looks like it does fit much better into the iMac due to it's smaller size and the power-plug running parellel to the board. Good choice!
I'd check that older external optical drive of yours for booting, especially after you succeeded to boot from an USB-stick!
My favorite external optical drives (USB/FW) are legacy drives from LaCie or an old LG GSA-5163 that sports both USB and FW (at least I had been successful to use it as a boot-drive on a PowerMacG4).

BTW: what special version of Tiger did you use and how did you prepare the Boot-Stick? I've never gone that way before.
 
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TheShortTimer

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Mar 27, 2017
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Great success!

Thanks. :)

Thanks for the suggestion to better install OSX prior to os9. My thought was, to follow the "historical" way, that adds OSX to the same single partition where os9 already resides. With different partitions for both systems that idea doesn't matter.

Me personally, I always place OS 9 on a separate partition. In the case of the iMac, running the OS 9 installer from OS X is the easiest solution - otherwise I'd have to remove the SSD and set it up on another Mac and I've got no desire to dismantle this computer again, even though I've done it so many times over the past two days that I can probably carry it out blindfolded. :D

That Manhattan SATA 300 to IDE Converter looks like it does fit much better into the iMac due to it's smaller size and the power-plug running parellel to the board. Good choice!

The community steered me in the direction of that one. :)

I'd check that older external optical drive of yours for booting, especially after you succeeded to boot from an USB-stick!
My favorite external optical drives (USB/FW) are legacy drives from LaCie or an old LG GSA-5163 that sports both USB and FW (at least I had been successful to use it as a boot-drive on a PowerMacG4).

BTW: what special version of Tiger did you use and how did you prepare the Boot-Stick? I've never gone that way before.

There's a special version on Mac Garden for G3's that removes the system check but I didn't download that one. I cannot remember the source (it may have been from The Pirate Bay) but I can share an ISO of my copy if you're interested.

To prepare the USB installer, I mounted the Tiger DVD, plugged in the USB stick and then in Disk Utility, I clicked onto the USB stick, then I went to Edit and chose Restore. As you can see below, Disk Utility will then ask you to choose which volume you want to use as the source - I selected the Tiger DVD and then clicked on Restore and that's it. In a while you'll have a bootable OS X USB installer. The process is more or less the same for older versions of OS X. I've done this on Snow Leopard too.
 
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Amethyst1

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Oct 28, 2015
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Do I not have acceleration at the moment?
I believe tiger does have a kext for the rage pro but this post says using jag's kexts instead makes things snappier.

 
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TheShortTimer

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Mar 27, 2017
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I've copied the kexts into the correct folder and run the commands in Terminal. Was the GPU descriptor supposed to change? It's seems unchanged and I couldn't find the ATIRagePro extension, unless I've overlooked it somehow.

 
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TheShortTimer

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Mar 27, 2017
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I should have clarified - what I meant to explain is that I copied the kexts as directed but the ATIRagePro extension does not appear when I check under System Information. It is still the ATIRage128 one.

 
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TheShortTimer

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Mar 27, 2017
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After much procrastination, I've finally gotten round to setting up OS 9 on the 2nd partition. It was a walk in the park and I've detailed the steps below, in case anyone is curious about what's involved or would like to follow suit. :)

First, I copied the os9general.dmg from a USB stick onto the desktop in Tiger and then opened Disk Utility. Next, as you can see, I dragged os9general.dmg into the left hand side of Disk Utility. Then, I selected restore from the menu and dragged the os9general.dmg file from the left hand side of Disk Utility into the Source field and also dragged my OS9 partition into the Destination field.



I clicked onto the Restore button and was asked if I want to proceed, which of course I do.



The copying process took about 5 minutes and after it was completed, I headed to System Preferences and from there to Startup Disk. Things appear to be on the right track because 9.2.2 is present as a boot option from the OS9 partition. So far so good.



Time for the moment of truth. I selected 9.2.2, the computer restarted and...



Ta-da! OS 9 lives on my iMac. :) This was a cinch and a nice installation alternative for scenarios like this where your computer doesn't have FireWire and the optical drive is faulty.
 
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