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ATPM 10.05
May 2004




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How To

by Sylvester Roque,

Cloning Mac OS 9 and Other Questions

All right, I confess. As usual, I was having a little difficulty coming up with a topic for this month’s column. Just as I was about to pull out most of my hair, some of our readers came to the rescue with some interesting questions. It seems that there is quite a bit of interest in creating utility disks with custom installations of Panther as well as “cloning” OS 9. I will also briefly mention a good reason for having an OS 9 disk around if your system can still boot from it. Let’s step into the lab and get to work.

The Mad Scientist’s Toolbox

If you have been reading my column for a while you know that I often tinker with several Macs. Tinker with any computer long enough, it will eventually rebel and refuse to work. Even if you do not tinker with your Mac, eventually something will go wrong and repairs will become necessary.

Making disk-based repairs on your Mac often requires more than one utility. That used to require some variation of the following procedure: boot your system from a utility disk, repair the disk drive, boot your system from a different utility disk to correct any problems left behind by the first utility. This process would continue until the drive was either repaired or so badly damaged that further repairs were impossible.

Give It the Boot?

In a previous column, I described a procedure for creating an emergency CD capable of running several utilities without the need for multiple reboots. Although that procedure worked well under Jaguar, it does not work for those of us running Panther.

You may recall that under Jaguar the process of creating an emergency CD relied on a program called BootCD. In theory, it should have been possible to use the same process under Panther even if it meant using a DVD instead of a CD. Well, the reality is a bit different. The current version of BootCD is not compatible with Panther. With all the new features included in Panther, there were numerous changes to the underpinnings of OS X. Somewhere along the way, we lost the ability to create our own “bootable” CDs.

I am not usually good at taking no for an answer, but this time I may have to for a while. After haunting several message boards and reading posts from Mac users who have tried just about every conceivable method of creating a bootable Panther DVD, I am forced to conclude that it cannot be done right now. Since “cloning” Panther is still possible, your best bet seems to be to copy your installation to another drive and use utilities there to correct any problems.

What about Nine

I also received some questions about cloning OS 9. That one was a bit of a puzzler for me. I rarely use OS 9 or Classic anymore except to run a handful of applications that I have not upgraded yet. Even though I do not often use OS 9, I must admit cloning it is a good idea.

Cloning OS X is a complicated process. Along with its Unix underpinnings comes a plethora of invisible files that need to be copied. Cloning OS 9 is a much simpler process by comparison, in part because there are far fewer invisible files to cause problems. So just how do you clone OS 9 anyway?

In your quest to clone OS 9 you might be tempted to simply use the Finder and copy files from your source drive to the target drive. This may work in some circumstances but the difficulty is that some programs might not work properly. If this happens you will often see problems with programs not remembering their serial numbers.

Since my basic philosophy is to use as few tools as possible, my first choice for cloning OS 9 is to use the same tool I would use to clone OS X. I have used Carbon Copy Cloner several times to clone OS 9 and it seems to work well.

Cloning OS 9 using Carbon Copy Cloner is essentially the same process used to clone OS X. It has been a while but here are the basic steps:

Launch the program and select your OS 9 installation as the source drive. If OS 9 is on a separate volume, you can simply select the entire volume. This is the best way to assure that you get any invisible files that have been created by your favorite program.

If you are running Classic from the same drive as OS X, you need to select the right folders. The order that the folders are selected in is not as important as getting the right folders. Look for the following items: Applications (Mac OS 9), Documents, System Folder, and any other files that you want to copy. It may take some trial and error to get all of the necessary files. The exact files vary from one machine to another.

I tend to deselect any Norton FileSaver files from the list regardless of whether I am cloning OS 9 or X using Carbon Copy Cloner. It seems to hang every time it encounters one of these files. Once you have finished selecting files, click Clone and wait for the process to finish.

If you are not running OS X, you are not left out in the cold. Any of the third-party backup programs should be able to clone OS 9. At one time, I used LaCie’s Silverkeeper. I used an earlier version of this program some time ago but stopped using it when I migrated to OS X because it did not work properly. ATPM reader Tyler Stringer informs me that the current version of this program does a great job cloning OS 9. It was also a Pick of the Week at Mac OS X Hints. There are versions of Silverkeeper for both operating systems. It is a free utility but you must provide your name and an e-mail address to complete the download.

Hanging on Just a Little Bit Longer

I was on the verge of completely removing OS 9 from my system because I had not run it or Classic for months. Now I have a project at work that will require running some software that I have not upgraded. The upgrades are available but not a high priority right now.

There is another reason to keep OS 9 around or at the very least to keep an OS 9 CD around. Under OS 9, you can see most files that are normally invisible under OS X. If you do not have an OS X utility that allows you to delete such files, they can often be removed under OS 9. You must do this with caution. Removing the wrong file can ruin your OS X installation until that file is replaced.

Given the potential dangers, why would anyone want to remove invisible files from an OS X installation? That’s what I thought too, but while haunting Mac OS X Hints one day I ran across this tip from a fellow Mac user having difficulty deleting a huge log file that had grown to consume several gigabytes of hard drive space. Why the file refused to be deleted under OS X is open for debate. Most likely, it was still registering as “in use” by some extension or process. There was also some debate about whether this task could be accomplished from the Terminal. If you experience this problem and are reluctant to use Terminal this might be an option as long as you know what you are deleting and what it does.

Well that’s it for now. Summer vacation is approaching, and I may have time to test a few ideas that I have seen recently. Until then the lab door is open and I’ll keep an eye out for new questions.

Also in This Series

Reader Comments (18)

Juan B. Diaz · May 3, 2004 - 17:06 EST #1
Good article. My problem is installing OS 9 on a FireWire External hard drive that I have partitioned in two partitions. One has OS 10.3.3 and the other is empty and I would like to install OS 9, not that I really need it, but would like to run a couple of applications that have not been updated. On my internal hard drive I only have 10.3.3 and did not install 9, so I don't have classic. I am using a 15" Flat Panel iMac, and for some time had Classic installed.
Sylvester Roque (ATPM Staff) · May 6, 2004 - 19:53 EST #2
As I understand your question you have two drives. The internal drive has 10.3.3 and the external drive contains one partition with 10.3.3 and one partition is blank. Tou would like to put OS 9 on the empty partition. Here is what I think will work:

1. Install OS 9 onto the empty partition on the external drive.
2. Open Sysem Preferences and look for the Classic Preference Pane
3. When the pane opens look in the Start/Stop section and you should be able to choose the OS 9 System folder from the external drive.
4. Now try clicking Start to start Classic.
5. If this works you can then install any other applications. For best performance the fewer extensions installed the better.

Remember that the external drive must be turned on for Classic to be used.
Dirtymouse · May 12, 2004 - 12:01 EST #3
Cloning Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X by creating a universal bootable CD or an emergency Frewire drive has been extensively covered (with diagrams and step by step info) in my new book, Fix a Troubled Mac.
Sylvester Roque (ATPM Staff) · May 13, 2004 - 21:52 EST #4
Thanks for that link. I'll be sure to pass that information on to anyone interested in such topics. I have already checked out the link and will be parting with some cash soon. If the book is as well written as your articles are the price is more than reasonable.
Sean · August 5, 2004 - 09:55 EST #5
I have a quick question. I have a mac g3 beige, and the hard drive just failed. I have no images or backups of my hd. I do have mac drive and mac disk installed on my pc so I can see, format and copy my data off the mac drive, but when I copy over to my new hd, it does not boot (hfs formated)... Unlucky for me I do not have the os9 cd that came with the system. How can I get my new hd to boot with the information from my old hd?
Dv8ntnt · August 25, 2005 - 01:02 EST #6
sounds like the perfect time saver!!! Is it possible to clone 9 without 10?
Sylvester Roque (ATPM Staff) · December 19, 2005 - 02:40 EST #7
The link for Silverkeeper included in the article also points to an OS 9 version. It requires OS 9.2.2 and CarbonLib 1.6 in order to work. There is also a program called Clone X which has an OS 9 version but I have not had an opportunity to test it yet.
Glenn McMurrian · January 5, 2006 - 03:17 EST #8
I am trying to install the OS on a new Hard drive and I have no clue on how to do this so can you help me install this OS it is OS 9
ATPM Staff · January 5, 2006 - 09:38 EST #9
Glenn - since you posted to this Closing Mac OS 9 page, we should assume (you didn't specify) that you're wanting to move your system to a newer hard drive. This is much easier in OS 9 than OS X. If both the new and the old drives are mounted and on your desktop, all you have to do is select everything on the old drive that you want to put on the new one, and copy it over. Then go into the Startup Disk icon in your Control Panel and select the new drive as your boot disk.

Otherwise, it's simply a matter of booting from an OS 9 installation CD and installing the system from scratch.
M Jensen · January 5, 2006 - 21:27 EST #10
Hmm ????

I am one of those still running in Mac OS 9.1 and trying to configure a backup strategy , before attempting (once again) to upgrade to Jaguar.

This will require using Ryan Rempels XPostFacto utiliy to load Jag onto my legacy, but upgraded PM 8600.

I have an 18GB external firewire disk and used both a simple Copy method, and now used Silver Keeper to clone a clean OS 9.1 volume.

I ran Disk First Aid and Norton Disk Doctor on both the source and target volumes, checked and double checked the documentation in Silver Keeper, and ran the clone process. It completed successfully.

Only problem ..... it will NOT boot.

I suppose the next step will be to use my Apple install CD of Mac OS 9 and then run the 9.1 update, and then go through it, file by file, to delete the outdated crud.

Too bad Apple updates don't give much of an option for doing a Custom Install.

And then I will need to copy over all of my applications and re-install them, and configure my system settings, and preferences.

Perhaps there is a way to do this if you are already working in OS X, but while running in OS 9 there does not seem to be any particularly easy way.

I believe the clone would probably have worked going to another internal drive, and perhaps I willl never get a bootable Firewire volume.

I think this might be a case of the ROM revision of the motherboard of my 8600 and having a PCI installed firewire bridgeboard.

Beyonfd that, perhaps someone has additional suggestions ????
Keith Rodan · February 26, 2006 - 02:45 EST #11
Glad to see this is still active (wonder if anyone's still answering) In my situation, I have a video editing application called Cinestream that only runs in OS 9, as it was abandoned and not ported to OS X. All the same, it's what I use, and I like it. I'd like to be able to transfer complete projects to another (dual boot) Mac G4 to work on it away from home, but when I copy the complete project and all its files, either by Firewire, Firewire to external drive or by Ethernet cable, the project opens in OS 9 on the 2nd Mac, using the same app and version, but all the files are detached. Reattaching a hundred files or more is not practical, and I'm hoping maybe Carbon Cloner or Silverkeeper might help. I'm by now means clear on it, but this much I know: apparently the drive or volume with the original files has to be duplicated or cloned to a basic (root?) level so that the files can locate the source they're linked to, when transferred. Can anyone give me some definite help as to what to use, and/or procedure?


Sylvester Roque (ATPM Staff) · February 26, 2006 - 04:17 EST #12
M. Jensen

You are probably right about the boot rom on the 8600 being part of the problem. I saw an Apple support article recently which said that the Blue and White G3s would not boot from firewire for this reason. There was also an issue with early firewire drives needing a specific version of the Oxford chipset to be bootable. If either condition is true the drive is not bootable even though the files were probably cloned correctly.
At the moment the easiest route that I can think of is to do as you suggested and use a second internal drive.
Sylvester Roque (ATPM Staff) · February 26, 2006 - 04:28 EST #13

I am not familiar with Cinestream so I don't know how much help this will be. I assume that by "detached" you mean that the main project opens in the correct program but then cannot find the associated content (audio, video, etc). If this is the case then you may be right about the cause and potential solution. I have had pretty good luck with both Carbon Copy Cloner and Silverkeeper copying other tempermental files and keeping them intact. I'll do a little digging and see if I can find a viable solution.
Keith · February 27, 2006 - 03:23 EST #14

Pleased to read your response. Your assumption about detached content is correct, and I have downloaded both Carbon Cloner and Silverkeeper to try them when I have some free time. Any other suggestions you may have are also appreciated.

Cinestream was a popular NLE from the late '90's to about '03, and a full-featured contender with Premier, FCP and consumer-grade Avid. It had an active discussion forum at the time, but many of its Windows users have switched to Sony Vegas after CS's last owner, Autodesk, decided not to continue supporting it. I will switch to FCP myself when I find time, but for now, it's what I've become proficient with.
Doug Anderson · March 28, 2007 - 23:10 EST #15

I've got a question for you, A week ago I could put most any CD into my CD Drive on my iMac and now it will only read a Mac CD.? I could play music CD's some movies etc. before.

Any Idea what might have happened?

Oh Yes, I'm still running OS9.22

Thanks for any help you can give me!,
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · March 29, 2007 - 00:01 EST #16
Doug - it sounds as though you somehow lost the extensions needed for various format discs. Either that, or they became corrupted. Did you somehow boot up with a revised startup set that eliminated some extensions and control panels? Search and see if extensions such as Joliet Volume Access, UDF Volume Access, DVD Region Manager, DVD Decoder Library, Audio CD Access, etc. got moved out of your Extensions folder. The ones I named are only a few. This web page might be a little help:

You'll find that so many people, including most ATPM staff, have been on OS X for so long, it's becoming increasingly difficult for us to offer much help for OS 9 and earlier.
Doug Anderson · March 29, 2007 - 09:58 EST #17
Hi Lee,

Thanks for your comment,

It got me wondering so I got the old "TomeViewer" out and with through the CD and accounted for every file it could be that might have something to do with CD's or "Foreign Files" and there it was The "Foreign File Access" I dropped it in the System Folder restarted and "presto" all is as it should be..

Thanks for your help!!,
Ray White · November 8, 2007 - 06:23 EST #18
The link formerly at can now be found at

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