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The Disaster-Free Upgrade to Mac OS 10.1
Pages: 1, 2

Updating Classic to 9.2.1

Now that you have Mac OS 10.1 up and running, you'll want to upgrade your Classic environment to OS 9.2.1. Why spend the time to upgrade this too since you already have 9.1 installed and running fine? There are two reasons: 1) Many non-Carbonized applications will run better in 9.2.1, and 2) 9.2.1 is faster. For example, in a very non-scientific test on my Pismo, OS 9.2.1 launched as Classic in 1 minute and 30 seconds. But it took OS 9.1 a full 2 minutes, 40 seconds to launch in Classic mode. And believe me, that 1 minute, 10 second difference feels like a lifetime when you're waiting to go back to work.

So now that I've talked you into updating your Classic environment, insert the 9.2.1 update disc, and read the "Update to Mac OS 9.2.1" PDF file. Then open the folder of the language of your choice (English, in my case), and double-click the updater icon.

Your Mac will launch Classic if it isn't already running, then verify the 9.2.1 updater to make sure everything is in order. Be patient because the verification takes a couple minutes.

After verification has completed, you'll notice that nothing seems to happen, and you might even start to wonder if something has gone out of whack. Fear not! Go back and look on your Mac OS X desktop, you'll see a Mac OS 9.2.1 Update volume sitting there. Double-click it and a window appears containing the Before You Install ReadMe file and the actual updater (plus Utilities and Software Installers folders that you really don't need to be concerned about at this point).

After scanning the ReadMe file, double-click on the "Mac OS Install" icon. You'll be greeted with the standard OS 9 sequence of install screens. The first one of consequence is the "Select Destination" screen. If you have a partitioned drive, as I recommended in the earlier Disaster-Free Upgrade articles, you actually have two System 9 folders on your computer -- one on the Mac OS X partition, and one on your other partition, which is your old OS 9 environment.

For now, I recommend that you leave your old environment alone. After all, the whole point of having it occupy half of your hard drive is to always have a stable fallback system in case you run into an incompatibility with these new system upgrades.

So for this update, choose "Mac OS X" as your destination disk.

Finally, you're presented with the "Install Software" screen. Unless you have a special situation, simply click the Start button and let the installer do all the work. If you need to adjust an aspect of the install for a specific reason, click the "Customize" button and make your changes before proceeding.

Once the update has finished, you only have one more step to complete. Go back to Mac OS X, open the System Preferences panel, and click on the Classic icon. If you have two System 9 volumes listed, as do those who have partitioned hard drives ala Disaster-Free recommendations, make sure that the Mac OS X volume is highlighted for Classic startup.

By doing this, you've instructed your Mac to launch the new 9.2.1 operating system on your Mac OS X partition instead of the older, slower 9.1 system on the other partition. Now you have the best Classic environment available.

Clean-up your dock

Your new 10.1 operating system has many enhancements and a couple application upgrades. It adds files to your various folders and to the menu bar at the top of the screen, but it doesn't necessarily update the icons on your Dock. Now it's time to do a little Dock housecleaning.

For example, I was using iTunes 1.1.1 with system 10.0.4. Great application. But I had seen in 10.1 demos that there were new iTunes controls available directly from the Dock icon. Much to my initial disappointment, I didn't see any of those enhancements when I launched iTunes after my upgrade.

Little did I know that 10.1 also installs a new version of iTunes, 1.1.2, in my Applications folder. But it didn't update the icon on my Dock. So I removed the old iTunes icon from the Dock, launched the new iTunes from the Applications folder, and added the new icon where the old one had resided. Now I have all the new iTunes features available to me via the Dock. I went on to check my other Dock icons and removed a number of outdated ones.

After you finish cleaning up your Dock, you might want to go through your Applications folder and trash the older versions of duplicate programs still in there.

Add new applications

If you haven't checked recently, there are lots of new applications available for Mac OS X users. One place you can see what's happening is on Apple's Mac OS X web page. Another terrific resource is the Software folder on your iDisk (you have signed up for iDisk, right?). I just checked my Mac OS X folder there and found lots of great applications waiting for me to play with.

You won't always find the exact application you're accustomed to using in OS 9, but there are many alternatives appearing that will work nicely and allow you to stay in Mac OS X as much as possible. Here are a few of my current favorites:

  • BBEdit 6.1 for text editing and HTML coding (full version).

  • OmniWeb 4 for web browsing (full version).

  • Internet Explorer 5.1 for web browsing (full version included with 10.1).

  • Graphic Converter 4.0.7 for image editing (full version).

  • Canvas 8 for web graphics and image editing (preview edition).

  • Microsoft Word for Mac OS X for word processing (preview edition).

  • iTunes 1.1.2 for music listening and cataloging (full version included with 10.1).

  • Acrobat Reader 5.0 for PDF file reading (full version).

  • AOL Instant Messenger 4.5.7 for instant messaging (full version).

  • DVD Player 3.0 for DVD movie playback (full version included with 10.1).

  • iMovie 2.1.1 for DV movie editing and production (full version included with 10.1).

  • Mail 1.1 for email sending, receiving, and storing (full version included with 10.1).

  • QuickTime Pro 5.0.2 for QuickTime movie, image, and audio playback and authoring (upgraded full version)

  • VirtualPC Test Drive 4.0.5 for working in the Windows PC environment (preview edition).

All of these applications allow me to stay in the Mac OS X environment without having to switch to Classic mode, or worse yet, reboot to my OS 9.1 partition. And we'll see this list grow considerably in the coming months.

A few words about performance

Apple promised improved performance in 10.1, and they delivered. Most of my applications now open within 2 to 4 bounces; this is a tremendous improvement over the 6 to 8 bounces I was enduring with Mac OS 10.0.4. Window behavior is also snappier, as is mousing and application controls.

Uploading digital camera images just got a whole lot better with the included Image Capture application.

I ran a little DVD performance test on my Pismo where I moved the DVD playback screen around the desktop while the movie was playing. I had seen this test on a dual-processor G4, and no frames or audio were dropped. Even though my Pismo didn't fare quite as well at the G4, I was impressed with how the movie kept playing even as I harassed the application.

I did get some hesitation when I minimized a QuickTime movie during playback. The window did retreat to the Dock, but it did so with a little jerkiness, although it continued to play even after residing in the Dock.

All in all, not bad for an "old" G3 laptop.

I did find a way to make the operating system freak out, and that was by messing with the network settings while it is working online. But certainly, if I'm crazy enough to do that, I deserve what I get.

So, overall, I think Mac OS 10.1 is a thoughtful, well-executed upgrade. I feel comfortable recommending it to many more Mac users than previous versions of Mac OS X. If Apple continues to show this level of skill and commitment to their new operating system, I think it is well on its way to becoming the premier Unix desktop environment.

Derrick Story is the author of The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers, The Digital Photography Companion, and Digital Photography Hacks, and coauthor of iPhoto: The Missing Manual, with David Pogue. You can follow him on Twitter or visit

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