How to successfully install Mac OS X 10.3 on Beige G3s

First of all, here are the specs of my machine:

Beige G3
Sonnet 400 MHz G4 upgrade w/ 1 MB L2 cache
768 MB RAM
40 GB IDE drive
4 GB 10,00RPM Cheetah SCSI drive
Apple UltraSCSI card
Radeon 7000
USB/Firewire PCI card
Toshiba DVD drive
Built-in Zip drive
Rev. A ROM

These instructions are based upon this machine. If you have any problems on a differently-abled Beige G3, please let me know so we can work towards a more complete Howto. This may or may not work with other Mac models. It should, but there may be other idiosyncrasies I don't know about. Keep in mind 10.3 will only work on G3 and above processors, so older machines will *not* work unless they have a G3 or G4 upgrade installed. Also, XPostFacto a17 has some preliminary support for the built-in video of Beige G3s, but I haven't tested it as of yet. I am doing all video on the Radeon 7000 for now, as I had problems with the built-in video on earlier versions of XPF. It may work, it may not. I'll probably test this soon so that I can get back my dual monitor setup. On to the install.

First and foremost start up from an OS 9 CD, and partition your drive such that the first partition is less than 8 GB. If your drive is smaller than 8 GB, this isn't really an issue, but I would highly suggest having OS 9 and OS X on different partitions. Less than 8 GB is going to get pretty cramped pretty quick, though, so I also suggest getting a bigger HD. That being said, you probably only *need* 3 or 4 GB to get everything working.

In my case, I made the first partition 7.5 GB, and left the rest of the drive (32 GB or so) as the second partition. Install OS 9 on the second partition (not the less than 8 GB one). Start up your machine in OS 9, download XPostFacto from here and put it somewhere on your OS 9 partition. Put in your OS X 10.3 disc and start XPostFacto (XPF). Select the OS X CD and the partition you want to install X on and click the Install button. What this does is install the modified kernel extensions and a modified BootX onto the partition you want to install X on, and uses them to boot the CD. Installation should be normal, make sure you don't format the partition you are installing to, as this will erase the modified extensions and BootX. If you *do* accidentally format before you install, all is not lost, though. Boot back into OS 9 and run XPF. Choose the X partition and hit the Restart button. It will reinstall the needed extensions and boot you into X.

If you ever need to get back to OS 9, you can use XPF to do so, or hold Option at startup. This comes in handy when doing the next part of the installation.

You should have a working install of X on your machine now, but it is probably slow as molasses in the winter. This is because the cache isn't enabled. Amazing what 512 KB or 1 MB can do, huh? There are three methods of fixing this, and from everything I've read, it's kind of a crap shoot as to which one will work. The software supplied by different CPU upgrade manufacturers will work on other companies upgrades, so even if you have a Powerlogix upgrade, the Sonnet solution may work best for you. Here are the three possibilities, followed by how to fix it if your machine breaks.

1) The easy way. Though it probably won't work. Start XPF and hit the Options button. Then make sure "Enable L2/L3 Cache" is checked, close the Options dialog, and hit Reboot. This will most likely result in a kernel panic at startup, but it may work for you. I got the kernel panic. If you do boot without the kernel panic, the way to tell if cache is enabled is to go to About This Mac under the Apple menu and click More Info... at the bottom. When the profiler comes up, it should list cache under the CPU type and such. If it doesn't, it isn't working.

To fix it if it's broken: Boot back into OS 9 by holding down Option at boot, start up XPF, hit the Options button, uncheck the "Enable L2/L3 Cache" option, close Options, choose the X partition, hit Restart.

2) The Sonnet way. Sonnet supplies software called Sonnet X Tune-up, which is located here. It is currently at 1.2.7, but there is a version 1.2.8 that works better for this application. The 1.2.7 version installs extensions which aren't compatible with 10.3, so if you use that, you have to use XPF to reinstall the newer extensions over the Sonnet supplied ones. 1.2.8 isn't available on their website, but it is available here by request. There is no direct link. Just explain that you want it to try 10.3 on your older Mac, and they should send it to you. I have it already, but I can't post it as of now as they haven't given me permission to do so. If I hear back from them, I will upload it here to AF. After you install 1.2.8, restart the machine. Either it will work and it will boot much faster, or you will get a kernel panic. I got a kernel panic. Again, if it boots, you can check to see if the cache is enabled in the profiler.

To fix it if it's broken: Boot back into OS 9 by holding down Option at boot, do a find for "SonnetCache.kext" and delete it. Use XPF to restart back into X.

3) The Powerlogix way. Powerlogix supplies software called CPU Director, located here. There is also a seemingly newer version here, but I used the 1.4f1 version. Perhaps the 1.5f2 version is better, I will investigate. Run CPU Director once it is downloaded. It will ask if you want to install PLKEXT; say yes. Once it has started, go to the L2 and L3 tabs and make sure the cache is set to On, and also check the Enable on Startup checkbox. This should enable your cache once your machine has booted. It doesn't enable it at boot time AFAIK, though, so booting will still be slow. Once your machine is booted it will be nice and fast. There have been those who have problems with this software too, though. It may give you an error about PLKEXT crashing, but it will still let you re-enable it. Annoying, but not fatal.

To fix it if it's broken: It can't break your system (at least not AFAIK). It just will or won't work.

For the report on this and other cache-related problems, check out this thread on OWC's website. They go over some troubleshooting stuff there. The XPF or Sonnet way seems to be the best as far as usability, considering it speeds up boot times significantly, but the CPU Director software is definitely the safest way.

Any errors or addendum should be directed to me so that I can fix them in the Howto. Hope it works for you!

Sonnet X Tune-up 1.2.7
Sonnet X Tune-up 1.2.8
CPU Director 1.4f1
CPU Director 1.5f2

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rael9's picture

I have since tested my Beige some more, and CPU Director definitely does *not* enable the cache at startup, so booting will still be slow. It is working flawlessly for me once I have booted, though. My machine feels nice and snappy, especially compared to its cacheless state.

rael9's picture

I've successfully tested CPU Director 1.5f2, and it works fine. There aren't any changes that I can detect, but it didn't break anything either. Reading the description of the new features makes it sound like it will enable the cache at startup to increase boot times, but that isn't the case (at least not for me).

I've also successfully tested the built-in video support. To enable it, start XPF, click the Options... button, click Use old NDRVs on, and restart. the built-in video should work now.

My configuration:

Beige G3
Extra Video RAM (making possible 1024x768 with 32768 colors)
384 MB RAM
6,37 GB IDE drive
USB PCI Card, works fine (using an USB mouse)
CD, Floppy and Zip drive
currently running 10.2.8 without problems

10.3 refuses to install because it says build-in USB is required. What can I do to make Panther run on my G3?

g3head's picture

Did you use xpostfacto? Its the key to loading 10.3 on those older beige boxes.

I have been following your great suggestions for installing X on my beige G3 and got farther than I have been able to in the past, thanks. However, I understand that the first partition is less than 8 GB, but each time I attempt to partition my 80 GB HD, it partitions, but the larger of the partition appears first, not the smaller one, even though I select the volume and size, then tab to select the larger one. I only realized it when I went to restart using XPF, and attempted to install X, but it would not allow since the less than 8 GB partition was not the first partition. Then I had to restart using 'c' to boot with the OS 9 cd. Do you have any suggestions?

TheUltimateMacUser's picture

My G3 (1997, Beige Minitower, 333MHz processor) has an aftermarket DVD-ROM drive, i have 10.3 on a DVD. Will i be able to install 10.3 on my machine?

yes, you should be able to install it no problem. Just did the same my self. Good luck.

TheUltimateMacUser's picture

Excellent! Perhaps i'll get around to installing it one of these days.

Like some of the other commenters here, my computer was previously running Jaguar with no problems. Then I decided to upgrade, adding a Sonnet Tempo ATA 133 card and a 40 GB Hitachi hard drive. That's when the trouble started...

When attempting to start up from the Jaguar CD, the computer seems to completely ignore the disk, displaying only the "questionmark floppy" icon. When I attempt to start up from the OS 9 CD, it gets about halfway through the OS 9 startup screen and displays a message about a bus error, and to restart with the shift key down, which does nothing except the exact same thing, ad infinitum...

If I remove the ATA card and replace the new hard drive with the original 4 GB Quantum (with Jaguar only installed) I get the "questionmark floppy" icon, but I can hear the hard disk spinning up, reading, then spinning down, spinning up, reading, shutting down, on and on, ad infinitum...Attempting to start from the CD without the ATA card gives the same result as with the card...

The machine is a Rev. A (1997) PowerMac G3 "minitower," 266 MHz, 384 MB RAM, ATI Radeon 9200 PCI, Apple ADB keyboard and mouse. I would trash this thing in a heartbeat for a new Mac Mini, except that I've sunk a bunch of cash into a G4 700 MHz Sonnet processor upgrade, Radeon 9200 card, 3 x 256 MB RAM sticks, Sonnet ATA 133 card, Pioneer DVD-R drive, Orange Micro USB2/Firewire800 card,and the 40 GB hard drive...I don't want to mess with unloading all of it on eBay, so if I can't get this P.O.C. to work I'll just get a B&W G3 or a "Yikes" box, because I know all of this stuff will work in one of them...

I had a hecka time swapping a 160GB drive into my Beige G3, previously running Panther on a 60GB drive. I remembered to put the system on the first, 8 GB, partition, but I forgot all the other issues related to the Old World IDE on a Beige box! I was trying to use the new drive after formatting in a firewire enclosure - in OS X!
Here's what made everything hunky and dory: 1) boot into OS 9 (CD) and format the drive on IDE bus, with first partition less then 8GB. (There's 20GB wasted on this drive, but big whoop). 2) put new drive in firewire enclosure, old drive on IDE (boot disk), and cloned IDE->firewire. 3) put new drive on IDE, boot into OS 9 (CD), and run Xpostfacto to boot off of new drive on IDE. And...
It works great! Indeed, it's been running Panther for quite awhile - and running better and faster than it has a right to! It functions as a web (mostly Gallery), ftp, and afp server; it serves music audio to the stereo; displays the webcam baby monitor; and it's the toddler's console for play typing, Kidpix, and literal bashing!
Specs: Beige G3 minitower, rev. A (original 266), upgrade 466 MHz, 576MB, USB/Firewire combo card, now running 10.3.9 with latest updates.
One last word to the wise: funky memory can cause bus errors and installation problems. In the days of 10.1 and 10.2 I recall removing all but one 256 MB module in order to get those versions installed.

I have not seen any replies for your question about keeping the smaller oartition first. I am trying to do the same thing with my Beige G3 and am getting the same results. Were you ever able to solve this?