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Talk About a Waste of Time:
Installing OS X on a Beige G3

April 11th, 2001

Randy: Well, of course we just had to do it. Even though it isn't ready for prime time, we had to do it.

Gary: Hell, yeah! Sure it's slow, and there are very few apps out for it, but I had to get my hands on OS X, just the same.

Randy: Sure, you can't burn CDs or watch DVDs, but who cares? It's the future of the Macintosh!

Gary: It sure ain't the past. If you have an older Mac, and you want to run OS X, especially after your favorite application has been ported over, you'll want a new machine. OS X will sell a tons of Macs. This software really does mean the future for Apple.

Randy: It is the first compelling reason for a lot of Mac owners to upgrade their machine.

Gary: Mac owners just like me. I have a beige G3 minitower that has been extensively tricked out over the last three and a half years, and I never saw the need to buy a new Mac. OS X changes all of that.

Randy: You had to jump through hoops to get OS X to run on that machine.

Gary: So true. And what really sucks is that Apple says my G3 is an officially supported machine. Who knew that if you upgrade any part of it, you risk getting OS X to work on it?

Randy: Well, to be honest you have upgraded almost every component on the thing. You upgraded the processor from 266 MHz to 500 MHz. You added an internal CD-RW. You added tons of memory. You added a Voodoo card, a USB card, and a FireWire card.

Gary: Which is why I never felt that I needed a new box.

Randy: And you upgraded the 6 gig hard drive to a fast, 27 gig model.

Gary: Aha! And that was the component that won't work with OS X. My freakin' hard drive, of all things. And I am not the only one with the problem. Hours after the release of OS X, forums and bulletin boards were being flooded with reports of trouble installing onto beige G3's.

Randy: We immediately tracked down the section in the ReadMe file that says OS X must be installed onto a partition in the first physical 8 gigs of a hard drive if you have a beige G3.

Gary: So I reformatted my drive with a 5 gig partition at the beginning of the drive. And the installer started, but reported that it would take 34 hours and change to install OS X. I actually let it finish one time and it turns out that it only took six hours. (Yea.)

Randy: You had to know that wouldn't work and of course it didn't.

Gary: It was clear to me that the IDE CD-ROM and the IDE hard drive weren't communicating properly. No jumper switch setting or other work around I tried could get OS X to deal with my hard drive when it was booted from the CD.

Randy: It turns out only beige G3 owners who had upgraded their internal hard drive had this issue. And when they went back to their original drive the problems disappeared.

Gary: I don't have my original hard drive.

Randy: That's right. You gave it to me, remember? I don't have much use for it so I use it to prop that door open.

Gary: Do you think you could let me use it?

Randy: No way, man. I like that door open.

Gary: Man, karma is going to kick you in the crotch so hard, you'll like you're wearing...

Randy: All right! I get it. Dude, you are, like, disgust incarnate. Take the drive.

Gary: Actually, I already found another ancient drive that does work. I have a 3 GB external SCSI drive that would be perfect, if it weren't so damn slow. I should never have benchmarked the thing. It is literally four times as slow as my internal drive.

Randy: Wow, I bet that makes a big difference.

Gary: On my machine, OS X takes three and a half minutes to boot. OS 9, with plenty of third party extensions loaded, takes a minute and ten seconds. That can be largely attributed to the difference in hard drive speeds.

Randy: Yikes, Scoob!

Gary: You're just phoning this one in, aren't you? Anyway, I have been playing with OS X, and I like it a lot, despite that fact that this is still beta quality software. Apple really should be a bit ashamed calling this release version 1.0.

Randy: Even Apple itself is waiting for the software to be ready before it installs it on it's own machines, which should be sometime this summer.

Gary: That's when the rest of the feature set, like DVD playback will be available.

Randy: That's when most of the apps will be ported over, justifying this OS as one you can use to get your work done.

Gary: And that is when I will say goodbye to my trusty beige G3.

Gary Randazzo and Randy Soare are the co-founders of IWS Interactive, a New York based game developer for Macintosh. The IWS in IWS Interactive stands for Idiots With Sticks. How that came about is a long and boring story, but suffice it to say that at four in the morning, it seemed like a good idea.

The demo for IWS Interactive's upcoming mystery-adventure game, Manhattan Apartment Hunter, has recently been released to rave reviews. The Idiots have been into gaming on Apple computers even before the Mac was around. Does anyone remember Choplifter on the Apple IIe? (Boy, we know we do.) Now, they are committed to help ensure that the Mac remains the premiere gaming platform on the planet.

You can email your comment and suggestions to Randy at , and Gary at .

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