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What OS to put on a Quadra 840AV?

Cory5412

Daring Pioneer of the Future
Staff member
Good morning:

I've run the original 7.1 Pro install, 7.6.1 and 8.1 on my 840av (24 megs of RAM). They all run fine, and they're perhaps all worth looking at in terms of the machine's history.

The only version I've never really bothered with is 7.5.x. 7.6.1 offers significant technical and minor quality of life updates that, in my experience make it worth running over any version of 7.5. It's not meaningfully heavier even on '030s and you can strip all the same stuff out of it as in 7.5 if you need it to be significantly lighter and faster. (I'm aware that I'm in the minority on this one.)

7.1 is likely what an Actual Graphics Professional who wanted to maintain full performance would have run. By the time 7.5 and 7.6.1 launched, you could get PPC Macs and most software was PPC native.

8.0 (really, 8.1 so you get HFS+ and some other tech benefits) runs fine on these as well, but that's so far beyond this machine's prime that a lot of software was starting to become PPC-only, up to and including "basic" things like Office 98.

So, some of this depends on what phase of the machine's life you want to experience.

You do not need to match the actual software to the OS version you run, for example you can run 7.1 era software on 7.6.1 or even 8.1, just to get the benefit of the updated OS.

A lot of why people ever ran 8.1 on these in the wild was stuff like cascading a machine around to different use cases or a machine having been sold and then bought and used later on. Though, "running 8.1 on an 840av in 1998" and "running 8.1 on an 840av in 2003" are also fairly different, and a lot of this depends on, well, the use case.

A way I've been thinking about framing things is... if you're going with simulating some previous experience, what point in the machine's life are you simulating? (That's a big if because sometimes you just want to do clarisworks, hypercard, and oregon trail tourism and any OS that runs on an 840av will do all of that extremely well.)
 

Nathan_A

Well-known member
Thanks everybody for the different perspectives and comments! :)

A way I've been thinking about framing things is... if you're going with simulating some previous experience, what point in the machine's life are you simulating? (That's a big if because sometimes you just want to do clarisworks, hypercard, and oregon trail tourism and any OS that runs on an 840av will do all of that extremely well.)

I guess if I had to try to frame what I usually go for it's usually trying to do something like simulate the environment of the early-ish mid life of a particular machine. What I mean by that is that I like to setup my machines so that they're running stuff that's not from when the machine was first released where things are a bit buggy or not quite taking full advantage of the hardware improvements, and also not from the very tail end of what you can get to run on them either. Like where you can feasibly run something, but you're really stretching beyond what the machine could relative to just upgrading to something a generation or two newer.

I guess the short version is, I like to simulate the environment that highlights what became newly possible/practical with the machine.

So, I think the way I'm going to revise my setup is:
  • SE/30 running 6.0.8 (just need to make sure my Interware 33 MHz CPU + Cache upgrade, Interware 24-bit video card, and Bolle Ethernet will still work)
  • Color Classic II running 7.1.2
  • Quadra 840AV running 7.6.1 (since it's 7.5 derivative I feel like it still counts :) )
  • Power Mac 7100/80 running 8.1
  • PowerTower Pro 250 running 9.1
  • iMac DV SE G3/500 running 10.1.5
  • eMac G4/1.42 running 10.4.11
  • Quad G5/2.5 running 10.5.8
That seems to pretty much run the gamut from 6 to pre-Intel-10.
 

Cory5412

Daring Pioneer of the Future
Staff member
Nice. It should run great in that setup!

AFAIK 7.5.x or 7.6.1 doesn't really unlock anything on the 840av, I don't even know if they're that much more stable, it was just logistically more convenient later on. I think a lot of people buying used Macs in the late '90s and early 2000s grew a big soft spot for 7.5 in particular because Apple offered it as a free download.

Sounds like a fun setup/theme!
 

Nathan_A

Well-known member
Nice. It should run great in that setup!

AFAIK 7.5.x or 7.6.1 doesn't really unlock anything on the 840av, I don't even know if they're that much more stable, it was just logistically more convenient later on. I think a lot of people buying used Macs in the late '90s and early 2000s grew a big soft spot for 7.5 in particular because Apple offered it as a free download.

Sounds like a fun setup/theme!
I can't remember when Apple stopped showing the exact model information about your computer based on its Gestalt ID in the "About this Macintosh..." dialog. I feel like my family's Power Macintosh 6100/60 actually showed up as such under 7.5, but I could be misremembering and it's possible I manually "fixed" that using ResEdit at the time or something.
 

MrFahrenheit

Well-known member
I can't remember when Apple stopped showing the exact model information about your computer based on its Gestalt ID in the "About this Macintosh..." dialog. I feel like my family's Power Macintosh 6100/60 actually showed up as such under 7.5, but I could be misremembering and it's possible I manually "fixed" that using ResEdit at the time or something.

Mac OS 7.5 stopped showing the model name in 'About This Macintosh', mostly because that was when clones started shipping, and Apple just changed the MacOS to show 'About this Computer...' and such.

Mac OS 7.5.5 and 7.6.1 do have some slight differences. I would say 7.5.5. is nice for a 68k Mac, mostly because it still supports 24-bit memory addressing mode, for the odd app/game that doesn't like 32-bit memory addressing. 7.6.1 requires 32-bit memory addressing, so something like the Apple IIe card in a Color Classic II requires 7.5.5. There are other things, too.

If I recall, 7.5.5 won't even show a volume that is HFS+ formatted, but 7.6.1 will show that it's there and you need 8.1 to access it. Also, 7.6.1 had some more stable code, especially for PPC machines. For 68k Machines, I prefer to run 7.5.5 because it just feels more stable for some reason. For PPC I prefer 7.6.1.
 

Nathan_A

Well-known member
Ah, then I must have been manually changing that stuff in the "About..." screen. I wonder if I can remember how to do that.

I also wonder if anyone managed to archive any classic icon repositories. Because there used to be all kinds of top-notch pixel art depictions of the clones, etc.
 

slomacuser

Well-known member
You had system 7.1.2 on PowerMac 6100 probably. If you upgraded to 7.5 the name stayed but icon of a computer was replaced with picasso Mac.
 

joshc

Well-known member
I also wonder if anyone managed to archive any classic icon repositories. Because there used to be all kinds of top-notch pixel art depictions of the clones, etc.
Yeah, the Icon factory was one of the popular ones. I think a lot of these have been archived on the Mac Garden. I used to *love* going through the icon collections on Macworld CDs. :D
 

Nathan_A

Well-known member
You had system 7.1.2 on PowerMac 6100 probably. If you upgraded to 7.5 the name stayed but icon of a computer was replaced with picasso Mac.
You're probably right. However, I have figured out what to modify in the System Suitcase to bring back the old machine specific style icon and also to change the string used to describe the machine. The only trouble is I can't figure which specific STR# resource with a value of "Macintosh" is the one to modify. If I could get a System 7.1.2 Suitcase or 040 Enabler file that has the 840AV listed in it, then I could figure it out.
 

MrFahrenheit

Well-known member
You're probably right. However, I have figured out what to modify in the System Suitcase to bring back the old machine specific style icon and also to change the string used to describe the machine. The only trouble is I can't figure which specific STR# resource with a value of "Macintosh" is the one to modify. If I could get a System 7.1.2 Suitcase or 040 Enabler file that has the 840AV listed in it, then I could figure it out.

There is a control panel (can't remember the name at the moment) that allows you to set what machine you are running, and it shows up in 'About this Computer' as that. Apologize I can't recall its name.
 

Nathan_A

Well-known member
^ Mac Identifier. I just (re) found out about it in another thread, its on the garden.
Oh funny! :)

Even better, one of those screenshots has a non-contiguous numbered list of names in it where the names are also don't appear to have a sensible sorting, which... is exactly what the STR# resource looks like when you crack open the System suitcase in ResEdit. Also lucky, that screenshot just happens to have the 840AV entry in-frame, and I'll bet the number next to it is the same one as the resource I'd need to manually edit if I felt so inclined.
 

Nathan_A

Well-known member
Last night I painstakingly went through enough of my 72-pin RAM to finally find four non-EDO 32 MB SIMMs by performing a Cirque du Soleil act with the 840AV motherboard positioned connected, but not installed all the way in the case.

Fortunately, it appears to have paid off. The machine is now outfitted with 128 MB of 60ns RAM and a 9.1 GB 7200 RPM UltraSCSI drive which easily saturates the narrow-SCSI bus of the machine. Everything's pretty snappy.

I got 7.6.1 onto it, which feels extremely spartan, especially without all the PPC-only stuff like Cyberdog, OpenDoc, etc. on it. It's kind of nice. I'll get Anarchie 3.6 on there and start pulling drivers, utilities, and applications over from my local FTP server.
 

Phipli

Well-known member
I tripple boot mine with 7.1.2, 7.6.1 and 8.1.

I used a IIci for a long time as a kid into the 2000s and dual booted 7.1 and 7.6.1 - 7.6.1 was a little slow on the IIci, but the 840 eats it for lunch. As well as being more stable than 7.5.x, people seem to have forgotten that 7.6.1 was the minimum requirement for a lot of software. Its extremely forward compatible while being reasonably small and lightweight. I strongly recommend installing Appearance Manager and turning off platinum. Other than the Apple Menu icon you can't see it is installed, but it lets you use lots more software, including newer versions of Toast.

But, if you plan on using a big hard disk (>4GB), I'd strongly suggest using 8.1 to get HFS+.

At the end of the day, why not dual boot?
 

Unknown_K

Well-known member
7.6.1 or 8.1 depending on what cards, if any, you have installed.

Maxing out the RAM should still be cheap enough to do.
 
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