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How come no got Classic to work on 10.5 Leopard?

Angelgreat

Well-known member
I know the community likes 10.4 Tiger, myself included, especially since it's the last version to support classic. In 10.5 Leopard, Apple removed support for it. While 10.5 is newer and the last version of Mac os to support PPC, how come no one has managed to get Classic to work on it? Sure, I could dual boot OS 9 and 10.5, but I think having classic handy is OK, especially on G5's, don't you agree?

Edit: Typo
 
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Nixontheknight

Well-known member
I think it’s because they got rid of much of the support for Classic after 10.5 was released. The G5 isn’t a machine you’d want to run Classic on anyway.
 

svenvendetta

New member
Yup hardware support definitely helps drive legacy software being phased out. Add that and Apple's leave the past behind approach (I still remember when the iMac came out what a scandal it was that it had no floppy disk drive) and I think we were fortunate to even had it supported through Tiger.
 

Cory5412

Daring Pioneer of the Future
Staff member
Apple didn't want it to work/didn't want to do it, which is to be honest perfectly reasonable, they had held the funeral for Mac OS 9 five years earlier at the same time they started building new G4s that didn't boot 9. Software support and patches for 10.4 lasted until the release of 10.6 in ~2009.

To get it running you'd need to figure out what it relies on from 10.4 and see if it is possible to put those components into 10.5. It would most likely not work and break your 10.5 install.

The best available Classic Mac OS/Mac OS 9 experience is to run it on a G3 or a pre-MDD G4. Classic Mode was available as a bridge tool for the last of the tools/utilities that hadn't been ported/replaced or upgraded to run on OS X. (The MDD'02 and the XPress Edition/MDD'03 will boot OS 9 but they run it poorly overall and putting 9 on one of these is a poor use of their potential as OS X machines. To add to this point, IME, OS 9 itself with day-to-day productivity software doesn't run any better on fast G4s than it does on, say, a G3/300. The main reason to have any system faster than a G3/300 with 256 megs of RAM is if you have some kind of Specific Task that benefits during a render/compile/compute stage, or, I suppose, games that you want to run on 9 instead of X or Windows.

I suspect that nobody's really put a lot of time into it because to be honest many people (whether or not this is "right" is a different issue) view Tiger as performing better than Leopard on most extant PowerPC hardware and (completely correctly) view Intel Macs as a better place to run Leopard.

I don't think the hardware question is part of this. Classic Mode works in 10.4 on every PPC mac all the way up to The Quad, so it's pretty purely a question of the OS and Apple decided it was time. (and also supported Tiger officially for two or three more years after that, so OS 9 software got + 7 years of "supported" functionality within OS X after its 2002 death date.
 

Cory5412

Daring Pioneer of the Future
Staff member
(Not that somebody shouldn't, just that I think there's lots of good reasons why nobody has, but, IDK, maybe there's been inroads somewhere that I haven't noticed.)
 

kitsunesoba

Well-known member
The best available Classic Mac OS/Mac OS 9 experience is to run it on a G3 or a pre-MDD G4. Classic Mode was available as a bridge tool for the last of the tools/utilities that hadn't been ported/replaced or upgraded to run on OS X. (The MDD'02 and the XPress Edition/MDD'03 will boot OS 9 but they run it poorly overall
Sorry for the momentary veer off-topic, but would you mind elaborating on this? Is OS 9 just more unstable on these or it more of a speed thing?

I don't doubt what you're saying, but it's unfortunate because I had been looking at getting an MDD as an ultimate OS 9 machine, mainly due to its hardware being a bit more closely connected to modern computing compared to say a Quicksilver or B&W G3.
 

Gorgonops

Moderator
Staff member
Sorry for the momentary veer off-topic, but would you mind elaborating on this? Is OS 9 just more unstable on these or it more of a speed thing?

I think I would more interpret Cory's quote as simply meaning that running OS 9 on those machines is a "waste of potential", not that OS 9 objectively runs any worse on them than it does on any other late-stage PowerPC Mac. Although there are some specific pain points, I guess, like obviously the second CPU in a dual machine is almost completely wasted, or that technically these machines can be expanded to more RAM than OS 9 can actually use. (Also sort of annoying to get OS 9 on them in the first place unless you use one of the modern hacked universal installers, back in the day you had to use the *machine specific* build that you could only install via the recovery CD's after installing OS X, etc.)

Anyway, on the main topic, the excuse I've heard for Apple murdering Classic (other than not wanting to deal with it anymore) was that there were some specific and exploitable holes that having to support the semi-virtual machine that Classic requires be kept open in both kernel and user space, and that it also would of have required porting forward into Leopard a bunch of platform specific API garbage that in Tiger basically required maintaining separate PowerPC and Intel code trees for parts of the API pretty far removed from Classic itself.

There was a guy at my office at the time who swore on a sack of doorknobs or whatever that he knew a guy who knew a guy who worked at Apple and totally had figured out how to get Classic running on release Leopard, but color me extraordinarily skeptical. If it was as easy as dragging over a few libraries someone would have released it by now.
 

kitsunesoba

Well-known member
If it was as easy as dragging over a few libraries someone would have released it by now.
I would imagine that at minimum, one would need to be running a custom kernel with the Classic support bits from the 10.4 kernel spliced in, among other things. Probably feasibly doable, assuming those bits are present in the open sourced kernel code, but it'd have to be done by someone with both deep understanding of Darwin kernels from that era and an interest in doing it. That's basically just a handful of ex-Apple engineers and maybe a few of the people who were involved in the hackintosh scene at that point in time.
 

Cory5412

Daring Pioneer of the Future
Staff member
My apologies for the delay. Gorgonops is spot on here - I'm exaggerating a little for dramatic effect.

The MDDs run OS 9 fine. They're not known to be unstable relative to older machines. The only real "problems" with OS 9 on MDDs boil down to these points:
  • Mac OS 9 handles MDD fan control poorly and may cause the system to run louder than it would under OS X.
  • Installing Mac OS 9 the officially-sanctioned correct way on an MDD is inconvenient (but this is true of several earlier Macs as well, including the QS'02 and the TiBook/867-1000.)
  • MDDs may have graphics cards that do not have OS 9 drivers installed (but this is also a potential problem with earlier Macs).
  • When buying an MDD you may not be able to receive a guarantee it is one that officially boots OS 9.
    • because part-swapping over the last 20 years can result in machines that have non-original bits
    • because some sellers do not fully document systems
    • because some configurations/items e.g. dual 1.25GHz were available in all three MDD sub-generations
The arguably more important point is the one Gorgonops has captured perfectly: MDDs are nearly all entirely overpowered for OS 9 and even when one is configured within 9's limits it makes poor use of the hardware relative to OS X. (This is also true of many earlier systems. OS 9 makes poor use of all dual-CPU Macs and it makes poor use of networking and storage hardware on all hardware it runs on.)

My experience (and if I had to guess this applies to all but a dozen or so people who touch Mac OS 9 on a regular basis) is that Mac OS 9 and most software performs very very similarly on basically everything from a G3/300 to a G4/1000. I have 9 loaded on PowerMacs G3/233, /300 (beige) /450 (blue), iMac/400, iBook/366, QS'02/800 and TiBook/1000, along with a QEMU-PPC instance running on an intel i5 PC. In my 9-era day-to-day it's nearly indistinguishable on all of them.

In my experience, Mac OS 9 isn't stable enough to run more than a handful of programs at a time and almost no single program requires more than maybe 30-40 megabytes of memory (netscape 7/classilla are probably the most ram-hungry applications on most people's Classic Macs, if i had to guess.)

I have seen people *(not very many, but when I asked, they doubled down) claim they can perceive the difference between highly upgraded QuickSilver 2002 and highly upgraded Mirrored Drive Door Macs when all other configurable stats (cpu/graphics/disk/ram) are equal, but to be perfectly honest I don't believe them. I think you can measure or benchmark the difference, but not feel it. I can't even feel the difference between a G3/233 and a G4/1000. Having an "ultimate" OS 9 machine might matter if you were using software that was doing {render|process|compile|whatever} work very very regularly.

But - most of that software runs and works meaningfully better under Mac OS X anyway. OS X makes better use of literally every component of a Mac, for all work -- for everything from writing in textedit all the way up to rendering and compiling simultaneously while still reading news and composing email, or whatever.

My genuine recommendation if you want an MDD PowerMac G4 is to consider running OS X on it. Exclusively.

These are super neat machines and after a decade or more of being actively disinterested in the idea of "retro" or "vintage" Mac OS X, I, myself, am coming around to the idea that I might have a renewed interest in a couple old versions of Mac OS X. I've already got a few solidly X-era machines, but I have explicit plans to add an MDD.

I think it's cool that some of the MDDs run OS 9, XPress Edition has been one of my favorite jokes about the Mac platform and Quark for eighteen solid years, but I also personally think that the MDD is better enjoyed as what it was really meant to be: a powerful G4 OS X machine. For OS 9, "last" doesn't necessarily mean ultimate, and when considering the wider context of Macs, "ultimate" for OS 9 is really where OS X steps in and shows its strengths.


Hopefully this is helpful! I'm just some guy on the Internet and if you still want to run OS 9 on an MDD, you definitely should not let me stop you. It just... might not be much better than your blue-white G3.
 
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