I’m writing this post to be more like a personal reminder in case I find myself in a similar situation in the future. I don’t know if this is the simplest or quickest method to install the components needed to use the Classic environment on a Mac that can’t boot from Mac OS 9 directly, but this is what worked for me, and it seems simple enough. If it helps other people, all the better.
I wanted to use a few Classic applications on my iBook G4/800 running Mac OS X 10.4.11, and I was prepared to install Mac OS 9.2 via an original CD-ROM I own. However, I had forgotten that this iBook, a late 2003 model, can’t boot into Mac OS 9. I was not at home, otherwise I would have probably tried to install Mac OS 9 from another vintage Mac capable of booting into Mac OS 9, while putting the iBook in Target Disk Mode. Or perhaps I would have just copied the Mac OS 9 System Folder from my Titanium PowerBook G4/400.
Simply copying the System Folder from my Mac OS 9 Installation CD didn’t work, in case you were wondering.
But having only the iBook and an Internet connection, this is what I came up with:
1) Download NetBoot for Mac OS 9 from this page on the Apple KnowledgeBase. It’ll be a DMG file called
2) Mount the DMG file, and you’ll see four language folders. Choose your preferred one, then double-click on the
NetBoot.pkg package and follow the Installer prompts. The NetBoot Installer gives an error at the end of the installation. This doesn’t seem to matter for what we’re trying to achieve.
3) Now, in the root directory of your Mac’s drive, you should see a folder called
NetBootInstallation. If you try to open it, the Mac will warn that you don’t have sufficient access privileges. Open the Info panel for the folder (⌘-I), expand the Details in the “Ownership & Permissions” section, change the owner by clicking on the small padlock icon and authenticating with your admin credentials, and finally give yourself Read & Write permissions for the folder.
Ignore the ‘Zero KB’ size. The folder is not empty.
4) You’ll find three files inside
NetBootInstallation. Double-click on
NetBoot HD.img and mount the image.
5) Copy the contents of the image —
Applications (Mac OS 9) and
System Folder — to the root directory of the Mac’s drive.
6) Now open System Preferences → Classic.
7) In the Classic preference pane, under “Select a system folder for Classic”, you should see the System Folder you copied on Step 5 appear below the Mac’s drive name. Select it, and start Classic.
8) You should get two warnings when you first start Classic. The first is about the version of QuickTime being old, and you can dismiss it for now. The second is about Classic having to update files in “System Folder” (see image above). Click Update. At this point, Classic will proceed with its startup process and complete successfully. The Mac OS version will be 9.2.2.
An alternative method is to use Pacifist (older versions for PowerPC Macs are on this page). You mount the
NetBoot9.dmg image. Then, after installing Pacifist, you select Open Package from the main window, navigate until you find the
NetBoot.pkg package mentioned above on Step 2. Open the package, select
NetBoot HD.img, then click the Install button on Pacifist’s toolbar. Tick the “Use Administrator Privileges” checkbox, authenticate when prompted. Then it’s the same procedure we saw above from Step 3 onward. (The only difference is that when you open the
NetBootInstallation folder, you’ll only find the
NetBoot HD.img image).