OS differences

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OS differences

I have wondered for a while now, is there any point to collecting all the classic OS-es, for my antique collection of PPC Macs? What "milestone" OS-es should one have?

For instance. Is there any point in installing the 8.5 instead of the 8.6? Any benefit at all? 8.6 seems a bugfixed 8.5 with better support for USB and firewire?

The 8.6 and the 9.x.x seem driver and program compatible. Why using the 8.6 at all then? I have installed Mac OS 9.2.2 on an old 7200/90, with the aid of OS9 Helper. It works fairly good. A bit slow, but then, any OS on that machine is slow.

What about OS 8.0 and its upgrades?

I'm mainly interested in practical usability and have no nostalgic "feelings" towards any particular OS.

Also what Internet browser would you recommend? My favourite is IE (OK, so kill me then...) but I have recently tried Netscape 7.2 and to my surprise it... worked.

Netscape and I have a long hate-relationship. Everytime I hear its name, see its logo or think of it, I get an unpleasant gut reaction, like needing to vomit.

But to my surprise this time Netscape behaved, even better and faster than Mozilla. What's been happening here?

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OS Milestones

Depending on the model, PPC machines can use OS versions all the way back to 7.1.

- NuBus PPC machines can use 7.1.2, a special version of 7.1 made for those machines, because System 7.5 wasn't quite ready when the machines first shipped. So 7.1.2 is a milestone, but more of a curiosity. And all the code is 68k, so it'll be slow -- the NuBus Power Macs are no faster than a Quadra when running emulated 68k code.

- The next milestone is System 7.5.5. This was the last, most capable and most stable version of 7.5. Virtually every pre-G3 Power Mac shipped with some version of 7.5. So it's a milestone in that respect. It's also important in the usability/practicality sense, because it's available free from Apple.

- 7.6.1 is also a milestone. It's the last of System 7, and the most stable and capable. It's not free, though, and so there's little point in using it because if you have to pay you might as well get...

- ... OS 8.1. This is a true milestone. It's compact -- it'll install on a 120MB HD -- it's got a decent amount of PPC-native code, it uses the modern platinum appearance, and it's got a fairly mature version of Open Transport newtworking built-in. OS 8.0 is very buggy -- 8.1 is the way to go here. (8.1 is a free update from 8.0.) OS 8.1 is my favorite OS for 68040-based machines, and for any PPC machine with a 601 or 603 (not 603e) CPU.

- OS 8.6 is the next milestone. It's stabler than 8.5, and it's the earliest officially supported OS version for most USB and Firewire cards and peripherals. In effect, OS 8.6 is the oldest Mac OS that can still be considered "current." It's great if you have 64MB or less RAM in a machine. It's also very nice for the NuBus Power Macs if you don't have a 9.1 installer CD around. For whatever reason, a NuBus Power Mac cannot update from 9.0 to 9.1 -- you have to have the full 9.1 installer available.

- OS 9.1 is the penultimate classic milestone. There's no reason to have 9.0, 9.0.1 or 9.0.4. Now, you need at least 64MB RAM for 9.1, and I recommend having at least 96MB and preferably 128MB. This OS version has a PPC-native Finder, and has more mature USB and Firewire support than 8.6. It also has updated versions of Quicktime, and it officially supports the iPod (well, the early iPods) and iTunes.

- The final milestone is OS 9.2.2. This is very, very similar to 9.1, and there are many folks who argue that you shouldn't stay at 9.1. Many machines do not officially support anything beyond 9.1, but there are easy ways to install a hacked 9.2.2 anyway. Many find 9.2.2's speed and networking to be improved over 9.1. And IIRC the update also includes later versions of Apple's Firewire drivers.

Whew!

So, in summary, if I had a small collection of pre-G3 PPC Macs, I'd consider OS 8.1, 8.6 and 9.1 to be my most practical and usable milestones.

If I wanted to add some novelty and fun to the equation, I'd partition some of the Macs and install 7.6.1 and 9.2.2 where appropriate. I would also look for 7.1.2 and if I could find it I would install it on a 6100 just to see how it runs.

As for Web browsers, you're on your own. Personally, I find IE works nicely on pre-OS X PPC systems. But if you just want to surf for information (text only, no graphics, no multimedia or javascript), try the PPC version of WannaBe -- it's lightning fast and never crashes. Many folks like iCab too, but I find it too unstable.

Matt

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HFS+ support, or the lack thereof!

One of 8.1's biggest advances was the addition of HFS+ support. Not important for small drives, but oh-so-important for large.

I've still got 7.6.1 loaded on my main desktop (9600 G3) but I rarely boot back into 7 because as OS 7 cannot deal with HFS+ I can't get to any info on all the other volumes that are nowadays so formatted. This limits any pre-OS 8.1 system's utility in a multiple OS system where one is likely to want to use HFS+.

Still, it's pretty amazing to see how quickly system 7 boots and runs. So slim, so svelte, it just feels so fast! Even 8.1's GUI seems damn snappy compared to OS 9's, though for most real chores OS 9 is fastest overall.

For me, if a machine has 32mbs or more, I'm almost always happiest with the latest classic OS that will actually work. For PCI based Macs that's 9.2.2, for nubus 9.1 and for '030 and '040 OS 8.1.

I acknowledge this "which-OS-to-use" is a contentious subject and plenty of folks have other views.
*cough*though-they're-all-wrong*/cough*
Biggrin

dan k

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As I suspected

Thank you Matt.
I couldn't hope for a better reply.
I haven't gone beyond 8.0 ('beyond' from the present side of the time line), so I have no experience with the 7.x.x. Systems and earlier.

I had a feeling about the 8 and 9 OS-es which you have confirmed to be right. Thanks again.

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OS 9 on 7200

I discovered that the graphicchip on the 7200/90 hate OS 9. It brings it down to 6100/60 performance. (verified in various benchmarks). The 7500/100 does not have this problem so it is not a CPU thing. I tried with swapping the 7200 video enabler between 8.x and 9 but that did not help either. So on 7200/90 I would recomend 8.6 unless you really need 9. Both the 7200 and 7500 had more than 100 MB RAM so I do not think it was a RAM rellated either.

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OS 9 on 7200

I have tried both 8.6 and 9.2.2 and they appear quite similar in speed (or slowess if you will). My systems are swedish localized, but I doubt that they differ from the US or other versions in regard to speed.

As it happens I'm the happy owner of a Voodoo 3 card. I'll have a look at the graphic chip issue you mentioned.

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