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The Disaster-Free Upgrade to Mac OS X -- Part 2
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What you'll need on hand

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Mac OS X: The Missing ManualMac OS X: The Missing Manual
By David Pogue
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This is an article about laptop upgrades. As such, I'm sticking to the criterion of having an Airport-compatible PowerBook or iBook. This stipulation will change as soon as there are good third-party drivers for 802.11b networking cards. But for the moment, AirPort is the way to go.

Make sure you have enough RAM, at least 192 MB -- get more if you can. If you skimp on RAM, you'll force your Mac to frequently access the hard drive as it attempts to muster the virtual memory it needs to complete the requested task. The end result of that scenario will be that you'll think that Mac OS X is a dog. Get the RAM you need and avoid the fleas.

I recommend that you back up your entire laptop hard drive -- everything. In my case that was 5 GB of data (ouch!). Fortunately, I have a 6-GB FireWire drive that I can use for this project. But what if you don't have one available?

If you have access to another FireWire-enabled Mac, there's a nifty trick that allows you to directly access its drive from your laptop. It's called target disk mode. I learned about this thanks to a note from Brian T. Nakamoto.

Brian sent me this Tech Info Library link, How to Use FireWire Target Disk Mode that describes the steps involved to directly access the hard drive on another Mac. Very handy.

If you don't have access to another FireWire Mac, or an external drive, then you have to get creative in order to back up your old OS and its related files. Of course you can skip this step, but doing so eliminates part of your safety net.

Have enough hard drive

Speaking of drives, I really like having a little "head room" on the internal drive of my PowerBook. I had a 6-GB IBM drive, and it just wasn't enough storage for my regular work, let alone for this upgrade. (If you already have a nice 10 or 20 GB drive, you can skip this section.)

So I ponied up the couple hundred bucks to buy an IBM 20-GB internal drive and installed it myself. The install went smoothly even though I hadn't changed drives in this particular laptop before. My only pearls of wisdom are:

  • Have a computer tool set handy because the drive is mounted in the bracket with those strange screws that I only see on the inner workings of computers.
  • Pay close attention to where things are plugged in before unplugging anything. This is particularly important with the ribbon connector that goes into the drive itself.
  • Take precautions against discharging static electricity inside your computer.
  • If your notebook is under warranty, check with an authorized Apple dealer about the status of your warranty if you do this install yourself.

Once the new drive is installed, you're ready to pull out your Mac OS X CDs and upgrade.

Preparing the drive for Mac OS X

I'm sure you thought we'd never get to this point. By now, you should have all of your data, applications, and system files backed up on another drive, and you're ready to either wipe your existing laptop internal drive or format your new one.

Boot your computer from the Mac OS X CD and run the installer. Once the installer has booted, you have the option of running the Disk Utility (Installer Menu --> Open --> Disk Utility). Launch the utility and create two HFS+ partitions. I called one "Mac OS X" and the other "Mac OS 9." The first partition is where we're going to load both Mac OS X and the Classic OS 9.1 environment. The second partition is where we'll load our old environment, including our existing 0S 9 operating system.

If I were to do this step over again, I would make the Mac OS X partition larger than the other, since that's where I'll be adding new apps and files in the future. As it turned out, I made both partitions 10 GB. I have a feeling I'll have lots of extra space on my Mac OS 9 partition. It's not that big of a deal however, since I can copy files from one partition to the other.

Now that you've created the partitions and installed the Mac OS X drivers, quit the installer, shut down the computer, and replace the Mac OS X CD with the Mac OS 9 CD, then reboot with the OS 9 CD.

Now you're ready to install Mac OS 9.

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