Pre OS X questions

auxplage

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Nov 11, 2004
331
1
Virginia Beach
Since I have only used OS X, I wonder about Mac OS 9 and OS 8. I have always heard them blasted for freezes and the such by Windows people of course. Were these OS's that unstable or was it just in their nature to freeze every so often? What caused them to freeze/lockup? This is all for curiosity's sake. Any and all information regarding Mac OS before OS X would be of great help to satisfy my curiosity.
 

mad jew

Moderator emeritus
Apr 3, 2004
32,194
6
Adelaide, Australia
Compared to current OSs, they were incredibly unstable - but that's pretty understandable. I used to restart OS9 at least once a day on average. I was running various versions of Windows at the same time and I found them to be equally unstable though.

I reckon OSs are getting more and more similar in that XP and OSX have more in common than OS9 and Windows 2000 in terms of features. However, OSX has become far far more stable than any version of Windows now.
 

Sun Baked

macrumors G5
May 19, 2002
14,874
57
Control panel and extension conflicts galore, along with very poor memory management.

You were basically limited to doing one thing at once, if you tried to print a huge job or rendering -- you went for a smoke/coffee, because opening a browser or finishing a Word document could make the machine crash or screech to a halt.

Under OS X, you could basically write a script to open every app you are likely to use during the day -- under OS 8/9, you generally wanted to limit it to the applications you were using at the moment -- because you had to watch your memory.

Heck, sometimes having two specific apps open at the same time could make your machine unstable -- you learned not to do it in the future if you didn't want to restart your machine.
 

Mavimao

macrumors 6502a
Feb 16, 2005
854
5
Lyon, France
If I'm not mistaken, OS9 and before was based off the original OS for the original Machintosh...back in 1984! They just added all this crap to it over the years creating this OS that was weak and unstable. Smart move with OSX and completely cleaning the slate, so to speak.

On a side note, I just had a thought. Could we say that Longhorn will be to Microsoft what Copland was to Apple?
 

Cybernanga

macrumors regular
Oct 27, 2004
201
0
Essex, United Kingdom
The main problem with the pre-X systems was extension/control panel conflicts.

This was because extensions & control panels were loaded into memory at start-up, if they weren't programmed very carefully, you'd get memory addressing conflicts. Bad font's could also cause problems.

However, if you were very patient and sensible about what extensions you had on your system it was still possible to have a stable computer.

I had several pre-X mac's that once I'd tweaked them ran rock solid for weeks without attention.
 

MisterMe

macrumors G4
Jul 17, 2002
10,650
28
USA
auxplage said:
Since I have only used OS X, I wonder about Mac OS 9 and OS 8. I have always heard them blasted for freezes and the such by Windows people of course. Were these OS's that unstable or was it just in their nature to freeze every so often? What caused them to freeze/lockup? This is all for curiosity's sake. Any and all information regarding Mac OS before OS X would be of great help to satisfy my curiosity.
Make no mistake, MacOS X is far superior to MacOS 8 or MacOS 9. However, superior is a relative term. I have used Macintoshes since 1989 when I was given custody of a Mac SE with dual floppy drives and no hard drive. I have gone from System 6.01 to MacOS X 10.3.8, using almost every OS in between. Almost every problem I have had is came from bad third-party extensions, control panels, and such like. My take on problems suffered by others is that they mainly caused by outdated third-party extensions, usually for which free updates were readily available. Until my new 2.5 GHz G5 comes in, I continue to use MacOS 9.2.2 at work. Over these past 16 years, I have rarely had a crash while running older versions of the MacOS--fewer than one per year.
 

auxplage

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Nov 11, 2004
331
1
Virginia Beach
So with the proper maintenance, like all OS', Mac OS before X was stable. Does anyone have any links describing the architecture of pre X Mac OS, or can you give me a description? Thanks. This is all very interesting. :)
 

dotdotdot

macrumors 68020
Jan 23, 2005
2,381
31
Its like this in terms of stability:

starting from Win95:

Previous Mac OS (if there was an OS 7) = Windows 95
OS 8 = Windows 98
OS 9 = Windows 98 SE, ME
OS X 10.1 = Windows 2000
OS X 10.2 = Windows XP
OS X 10.3 = Windows XP Service Pack 2
OS X 10.4 = Code Name Longhorn/ Windows Expedition (based on prediction)

XP has not crashed for me since January and has not been turned off since early feb.

Service Pack 2 improved stability as well as security...

OSX is more advanced than XP but that does not mean it is better stability-wise - OSX has more features and is more reliable NOT for stability but for overall work...

XP SP2 is the best version of Windows ever, as OSX 10.3 is the best version of Apple ever.
 

MisterMe

macrumors G4
Jul 17, 2002
10,650
28
USA
auxplage said:
So with the proper maintenance, like all OS', Mac OS before X was stable. Does anyone have any links describing the architecture of pre X Mac OS, or can you give me a description? Thanks. This is all very interesting. :)
That's a tall order. There was the pre-System 7 era in which the OS was written in Pascal-assisted 68000 assembly language with Pascal calling conventions. The additions required for System 7 throught MacOS 9.2.2 was written in C++ with Pascal calling conventions. With the switch to PPC, Apple moved System 7.1 off the "bare metal" onto a nanokernel. With the advent of the original iMac and the NewWorld Macs, Apple moved the heart of its OS from its hardware ROM to the MacOS ROM file in the System Folder. It also adopted OpenFirmware. Over time, ever more of the legacy code in the pre-MacOS X OS was converted from 68000 code to PPC code. However, it was not possible to convert it all. To this day, MacOS 9.2.2 requires the 680x0 emulator in the MacOS ROM file. These are just a few of the touch points in the old MacOS. Books can have been written about it. I suggest that you do your own research.
 

slooksterPSV

macrumors 68040
Apr 17, 2004
3,256
117
Nowheresville
dotdotdot said:
Its like this in terms of stability:

starting from Win95:

Previous Mac OS (if there was an OS 7 (yes there was)) = Windows 95, ME
OS 8 = Windows 98
OS 9 = Windows 98 SE removed ME
OS X 10.1 = Windows 2000
OS X 10.2 = Windows XP SP2
OS X 10.3 = Windows XP Professional REMOVED SP2
OS X 10.4 = Code Name Longhorn/ Windows Expedition (based on prediction)

XP has not crashed for me since January and has not been turned off since early feb.

Service Pack 2 improved stability as well as security...

OSX is more advanced than XP and that does really mean it is better stability-wise - OSX has more features and is more reliable which is also stands for stability but for overall work...

XP SP2 is the WORST version of Windows ever, as OSX 10.3 is the best version of Apple ever.
I made a few changes. There that looks better!
 

tpjunkie

macrumors 65816
Nov 24, 2002
1,250
2
NYC
Yeah, if you knew what you were doing, you would develop an intuitive feel for what be trouble, stability-wise, and you could pretty much avoid the worst conflicts. And just because one app would give you trouble, by the time system 7.5 was around, the force quit command would work about 75 percent of the time, and if that froze up, hitting the old interrupt button, typing, SM 0 A9F4 hitting return, followed by G 0 could bring you back to the finder about 50 percent of the time it didn't work. Then again, the average (or even occasional power user) probably didn't know those tricks.
 

Mechcozmo

macrumors 603
Jul 17, 2004
5,215
2
Mavimao said:
If I'm not mistaken, OS9 and before was based off the original OS for the original Machintosh...back in 1984! They just added all this crap to it over the years creating this OS that was weak and unstable. Smart move with OSX and completely cleaning the slate, so to speak.
It was because back when you had a 19K system folder and had to move extensions around, it was a great system. But when you got to 200 MB+ systems that same theory didn't work as well. Began to have issues with conflicts which didn't happen when you had a floppy for this program, another floppy for that program. When they were all in one, bad stuff.

OS 9 was fairly unstable IMO. OS 8.6 is great, no crashes really.
 

Eastend

macrumors 6502
Aug 1, 2004
376
7
Nara, Japan
We have 3 Macs at least in our pre-press area, one is running OS 9.1 the other 2 have 9.2.2 and they run all day long, no problems. G3 mini Tower=2, iMac 333 MHz=1. To be honest I had conflicts on 9.1 a few years ago, I believe it was my Microsoft Mouse control panel, I then used a shareware for USB mice and threw out the extension or control panel forget which, problems solved. Also, Microsoft Office for the Mac in classic had so many Extensions, and preferences that you were lucky if it did not grab your computer and fly it to Mars. No, the way I see it, if you could get away from Microdump all problems are solved, however in business it's impossible, for now.

Brian
 

MisterMe

macrumors G4
Jul 17, 2002
10,650
28
USA
Eastend said:
.... No, the way I see it, if you could get away from Microdump all problems are solved, however in business it's impossible, for now.

Brian
As a general proposition, entirely too many commercial developers wanted to write their own extensions to support their applications. It seems that this had more to do with hubris than a need to alter the OS. Shareware alternatives worked just fine by using application space, exclusively. The specific problem was Microsoft. I was bedeviled by incompatibilities between Microsoft Office 98 and Microsoft Outlook Express 5. The suite and the email client used different versions of the same M$ libraries, which resulted in crashes. Microsoft had figured out how to avoid the standard Macintosh behavior of using the most recent version of a particular library. The workaround was to restart after checking my mail.
 

5300cs

macrumors 68000
Nov 24, 2002
1,862
0
japan
What is it with people talking smack about pre X versions of Mac OS? People talk about it like it was as bad a windows. :rolleyes:

It's funny how people complain how the old MacOS's extensions folder getting out of hand, yet they don't think twice about having to repair permissions every so often.

While I was primarily a windows user until 2000, I had used MacOS 7.1, 7.5 and everything between up to 9.2.2 before going to 10.1. I never had anything more than slight problems with apps crashing every so often. Not nearly as many problems as I had had with windows, I can tell you that much. I'm still a big fan of the versions (especially 7.5) and I still use most of them on a weekly basis.
 

Mitthrawnuruodo

Moderator emeritus
Mar 10, 2004
13,595
142
Bergen, Norway
slooksterPSV said:
I made a few changes. There that looks better!
:D

I'm with you on those, except OS 7.5 was much more stable than both Windows 95 and Me... 7.0 may have been a pain, but luckyly my first Mac came with OS 7.1 on a bunch of floppies...
 

wordmunger

macrumors 603
Sep 3, 2003
5,125
2
North Carolina
5300cs said:
It's funny how people complain how the old MacOS's extensions folder getting out of hand, yet they don't think twice about having to repair permissions every so often.
Fixing an extensions conflict was NOTHING like repairing permissions. It could take all day to figure out what the problem was, and sometimes the solution would be disabling an extension you need to use. So you'd have to reboot the computer in order to run certain programs.

Now I install software in the background, with 6 apps open and a CD burning and don't think a minute about it. That kind of stuff would have brought my system to a halt back in the day.

That said, it was still better than Windows!
 

Mechcozmo

macrumors 603
Jul 17, 2004
5,215
2
5300cs said:
What is it with people talking smack about pre X versions of Mac OS? People talk about it like it was as bad a windows. :rolleyes:
Because OS X is so much better, it really puts them to shame. Which is kinda too bad because I emulate System 7.5.5 on my Windows box just to get away from WinXP!
 

SiliconAddict

macrumors 603
Jun 19, 2003
5,889
0
Chicago, IL
mad jew said:
However, OSX has become far far more stable than any version of Windows now.

I wouldn't say that. My uptime on my home server (That's really nothing more then a glorified desktop.) Can beat out most people's desktop uptimes on their board. Note: Most. I'm betting that there are more then a few who have been up past 119 days. :)



I would say XP and X are both on par as to stability. The big thing from what I understand about the transition from 9 to X was the inclusion of protected memory. Protected memory is the hallmark of any moderately new OS.

PS- That was from last week. Still running like a champ.
 

SiliconAddict

macrumors 603
Jun 19, 2003
5,889
0
Chicago, IL
5300cs said:
While I was primarily a windows user until 2000, I had used MacOS 7.1, 7.5 and everything between up to 9.2.2 before going to 10.1. I never had anything more than slight problems with apps crashing every so often. Not nearly as many problems as I had had with windows, I can tell you that much. I'm still a big fan of the versions (especially 7.5) and I still use most of them on a weekly basis.
You obviously never used Windows NT 4. Ever other MS OS up to that point was a joke. NT 4, then father of 2K, XP and 2003, on the surface wasn't pretty but its underlying architecture made for a very stable OS. I ran NT 4 from its intro in '97 to 2000. I can count on one hand how many times the system crashed. In fact I can count on 3 fingers how many times the system crashed. The OS wasn't pretty, it had zero PnP, its recovery utilities were virtually nonexistent, it had NO device manager but damn that OS has some hang time. The NT 4.11 server in out server room across the hall has an uptime of years. We haven't rebooted that system since SP6 was release. Sometime this summer its due to be upgraded to the latest patches. (Latest being everything in the last 3 years.) I will spill a beer for the thing. I’ve never seen a system with that kind of uptime other then our AS/400.
 

mad jew

Moderator emeritus
Apr 3, 2004
32,194
6
Adelaide, Australia
SiliconAddict said:
I wouldn't say that. My uptime on my home server (That's really nothing more then a glorified desktop.) Can beat out most people's desktop uptimes on their board. Note: Most. I'm betting that there are more then a few who have been up past 119 days. :)



I would say XP and X are both on par as to stability. The big thing from what I understand about the transition from 9 to X was the inclusion of protected memory. Protected memory is the hallmark of any moderately new OS.

PS- That was from last week. Still running like a champ.
Fair enough, that's great for you that you've managed to get Windows running for such a long time but remember that is the 2003 Server Edition so you'd kinda hope it had credible endurance. I still stand by my call that OSX is more stable though, just from my experience. I've got a similar home server running XP Pro which will go for ages unless anyone starts actually using it for anything other than storing/transferring files. :)
 

Makosuke

macrumors 603
Aug 15, 2001
6,152
341
The Cool Part of CA, USA
Those here saying that the Classic MacOS was stable if you treated it right are correct. Those saying it was a bear to deal with and crashed all over the place are also correct. It depends entirely on what you do with it.

A carefully configured system with a minimum set of extensions running stable apps ran pretty well. It could still die randomly now and then, but that was rare at best.

On the other hand, if you (for whatever reason) wanted to use an extension or app that wasn't stable, then you were in for a world of hurt, and no amount of dilligence would do anything about it. There were applications I simply wouldn't run when I had any other work open because the chance of them crashing the OS was so high.

Multitasking was also rather lame; you could certainly run more than one application at once, but aside from the "bring it all down" risk of OS crashes--which just isn't there on OSX--you really couldn't effectively do one thing while a high-demand operation was running in the background, and system instability increased exponentially the more you tried to do at once.

I remember my first time with OSX 10.0 opening switching form one app that was processing to a web browser to use the 30 second wait efficiently, without slowdown or worry of the browser choking and bringing the other app down--it was like somebody told me I could finally use my computer the way I'd always wanted to. Of course, I could've bought BeOS to do this two years earlier, but it just didn't have the productivity tools I needed.

I also agree wholeheartedly that NT4 does very little, but sure does it well--most rock solid product MS has ever produced. Of course, I've also run 10.3 in an office environment for 6 months straight without issue, so I'd call that pretty stable too.