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Calling TAM owners: Which Mac OS versions are best?


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I'm running Mac OS 7.6.1 on my TAM with a Sonnet Crescendo/L2 G3 500. That's what the machine shipped with and I usually always have a partition with the original OS version for period authenticity. More often than not this is also the fastest option.

 

Anyway, I'm planning on adding Mac OS 8 and Mac OS 9 on separate partitions and wanted to see which versions TAM owners prefer and recommend. For Mac OS 8 I assume that 8.6 is the way to go to reduce 68k emulation as much as possible. As for Mac OS 9, EveryMac and Wikipedia list the maximum supported version as 9.1, but I get the impression that some TAM owners use OS9 Helper to install 9.2.1 or 9.2.2.

 

My main motivation for installing something other than 7.6.1 is to use my Sonnet Tango Firewire/USB PCI card, which list 9.0 as minimum system requirements.

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Mac OS 7.6 is fast, but OS 8/9 will feel just as fast on a G3.  In terms of the interface OS 7.6 doesn't feel right compared to the slick silver Copland UI of OS 8+

 

I have always installed OS 9.1 on my TAM as I can run most programs without quirks that I download off the Macintosh Garden.  Mac OS 8.6 has gripes with some programs and games.  I wouldn't bother with OS 9 helper to get it up higher, which I only found relevant if you were running OS X alongside it.  Performance suffers and RAM requirements increase.

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8.6 will run with OS 9's extensions for Firewire and USB. Architecturally, It's quite similar to 9.0-9.0.4, just not as built out with features, so it is a bit lighter weight, but application compatibility will mostly overlap, even for softwares that advertise only OS 9 compatibility.

 

I installed a 128GB CF card on my TAM's internal IDE, and partitioned it for 7.6.1, 8.1, 8.6, and 9.1. Running with the stock 603ev I prefer to stay on 7.6-8.1, but with a G3/500 even 9.1 is as snappy as you can ask for classic Mac OS. Anything that won't perform adequately at 500MHz is likely hitting other bottlenecks than OS overhead.

 

Also, while emulating 68k isn't "ideal," the 603e included double the cache size of the original 603, so emulation is substantially more efficient than on the 5200/6200, clock speed aside. You can also install Speed Doubler's optimized 68k translation library, I've found it effective.

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Byrd said:

I have always installed OS 9.1 on my TAM as I can run most programs without quirks that I download off the Macintosh Garden.  Mac OS 8.6 has gripes with some programs and games.  I wouldn't bother with OS 9 helper to get it up higher, which I only found relevant if you were running OS X alongside it.  Performance suffers and RAM requirements increase.

Yeah, that's how I feel too, but people on 9.2 seem to swear that it performance improves, not suffers. But that might just be confirmation bias.

 

9 hours ago, jeremywork said:

8.6 will run with OS 9's extensions for Firewire and USB. Architecturally, It's quite similar to 9.0-9.0.4, just not as built out with features, so it is a bit lighter weight, but application compatibility will mostly overlap, even for softwares that advertise only OS 9 compatibility.

Interesting, thanks. So that's another reason to pick 8.6 rather than 8.1.

 

9 hours ago, jeremywork said:

I installed a 128GB CF card on my TAM's internal IDE, and partitioned it for 7.6.1, 8.1, 8.6, and 9.1. Running with the stock 603ev I prefer to stay on 7.6-8.1, but with a G3/500 even 9.1 is as snappy as you can ask for classic Mac OS. Anything that won't perform adequately at 500MHz is likely hitting other bottlenecks than OS overhead.

I have a 128 GB Kingston SSD so there's plenty of room if I want to follow you lead and make partitions for both 8.1 and 8.6. Are you using HFS for all four partitions or only the first? 

Edited by pax
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8 hours ago, pax said:

Yeah, that's how I feel too, but people on 9.2 seem to swear that it performance improves, not suffers. But that might just be confirmation bias.

 

Interesting, thanks. So that's another reason to pick 8.6 rather than 8.1.

 

I have a 128 GB Kingston SSD so there's plenty of room if I want to follow you lead and make partitions for both 8.1 and 8.6. Are you using HFS for all four partitions or only the first? 

I don't have it in front of me, but I believe 7.6.1 and 8.1 are both Mac OS Standard (HFS) each 2 or 4GB (can't remember.) 8.6 and 9.1 are HFS+ (Extended) and divide the remainder of the space.

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9 hours ago, jeremywork said:

I don't have it in front of me, but I believe 7.6.1 and 8.1 are both Mac OS Standard (HFS) each 2 or 4GB (can't remember.) 8.6 and 9.1 are HFS+ (Extended) and divide the remainder of the space.

Nope.  8.1 was the first OS to include HFS+ support.

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I've got 9.1 installed on mine presently, though I've tried most of the others at one point or another (7.6.1, 9.0, 9.2.2).  I didn't notice that 9.2.2 was any faster, but I did note it seemed less stable with my USB/FW card than 9.1, which was a shame because even though it wasn't truly "Millions of Colors" being able to use the updated ATI drivers in 9.2.2  did make things slightly better looking and losing 640x480 as a resolution wasn't a big deal for me.  

 

Even before I switched out the 20GB IDE drive I had for a 64GB SSD I never felt like 9.1 was slow, even on the stock processor.

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On 8/31/2020 at 1:33 PM, MrFahrenheit said:

Nope.  8.1 was the first OS to include HFS+ support.

I know, but I chose HFS for my 8.1 install primarily so it would be accessible when I'm booted to 7.6.1, though with @elliottnunn's revelation below I may revise this.

 

 

Edited by jeremywork
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22 hours ago, EvilCapitalist said:

I didn't notice that 9.2.2 was any faster, but I did note it seemed less stable with my USB/FW card than 9.1, which was a shame because even though it wasn't truly "Millions of Colors" being able to use the updated ATI drivers in 9.2.2  did make things slightly better looking and losing 640x480 as a resolution wasn't a big deal for me. 

Sounds like 9.1 is the way to go. 

 

9 hours ago, jeremywork said:

... I chose HFS for my 8.1 install primarily so it would be accessible when I'm booted to 7.6.1 ...

This was what I had in mind too. I might give the HFS+ back port a try instead. Thanks!

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Mac OS 9.1 with the latest CarbonLib installed and your drivers.  Then, backup this System Folder somewhere handy for when you hose it or some program installs a slew of unauthorised extensions.

 

I've never had a compelling need to boot to 7.6 on a TAM, if it doesn't run in 9.1 it'll be no better under 7.6 in terms of application compatibility (= games) :)  Some point and click adventures have horrible sound, which I suspect might be slightly better on an older OS, but most likely timing and speed issues of the PPC architecture. 

 

JB

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On my PowerBook 3400c (somewhat comparable of performance to stock TAM) with 144MB RAM, I run 9.1 and it runs fine. With your G3, I’m sure you could run any of the supported OS versions on it with minimal observable differences aside from startup time. As long as you have enough RAM.

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18 hours ago, Busterswt said:

Don't mean to hijack, but curious to know the details of your SSD drive(s). My TAM doesn't seem to like this mSATA/IDE adapter combo I'm workin' with.

 

I'm using a SanDisk CF card in a generic adapter (CF is logically compatible with IDE.)

 

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00NUB2TWI

https://www.ebay.com/itm/271583773005

 

I bought over two years ago, but the same listings are still live, so these should work for you. Be sure to insert the 2.5" adapter correctly, as there's nothing to prevent it from being installed in reverse. I have my 2.5" IDE cable folded 180 outward towards the open back, so that the CF card assembly pushes against the inside frame to stabilize it. The cable keeps enough tension on it to hold in place, showing the SanDisk sticker along the edge facing out.

 

IMG_5392.thumb.jpg.2004d77a8aabf9b2de993f08b9143c39.jpg

Don't read into the Tempo Trio. I haven't gotten its ATA to work; it simply acts like a Tango.

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16 hours ago, jeremywork said:

 

I'm using a SanDisk CF card in a generic adapter (CF is logically compatible with IDE.)

 

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00NUB2TWI

https://www.ebay.com/itm/271583773005

 

I bought over two years ago, but the same listings are still live, so these should work for you. Be sure to insert the 2.5" adapter correctly, as there's nothing to prevent it from being installed in reverse. I have my 2.5" IDE cable folded 180 outward towards the open back, so that the CF card assembly pushes against the inside frame to stabilize it. The cable keeps enough tension on it to hold in place, showing the SanDisk sticker along the edge facing out.

 

I appreciate the tips! Upgrade to commence shortly.

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On 9/1/2020 at 4:46 PM, Byrd said:

Mac OS 9.1 with the latest CarbonLib installed and your drivers.  Then, backup this System Folder somewhere handy for when you hose it or some program installs a slew of unauthorised extensions.

Thanks. Yeah, backed up System Folder is always a good idea. For some of my Macs I have an image of the base install always ready to go.

 

On 9/1/2020 at 4:46 PM, Byrd said:

I've never had a compelling need to boot to 7.6 on a TAM, if it doesn't run in 9.1 it'll be no better under 7.6 in terms of application compatibility (= games) :)  Some point and click adventures have horrible sound, which I suspect might be slightly better on an older OS, but most likely timing and speed issues of the PPC architecture. 

To each their own I guess. I mostly agree, but I also enjoy using System 6 and System 7 on all my machines that can run it. With maxed out RAM it's hard to notice a difference in performance between 7.6 and 9, except for boot which is certainly a lot faster on 7.6. In any case, I certainly wouldn't want to be without 9.

 

On 9/2/2020 at 10:04 AM, Busterswt said:

Don't mean to hijack, but curious to know the details of your SSD drive(s). My TAM doesn't seem to like this mSATA/IDE adapter combo I'm workin' with.

I originally intended to go down a similar path as @jeremywork above (and I have in another Mac), but for the TAM I ended up using a KingSpec PATA/IDE SSD. They're available on Amazon in many different sizes. I've only had it for a couple of months, but it seems to work well so far.

 

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