May 20, 2018
Archives  Features  OS X Week: Making the Switch  

OS X Week: Making the Switch
September 23, 2002 | Christopher Morin

So, you want to update your system to OS X, yet you are concerned about what you might have to leave behind? It is undeniable that the prospects of protected memory, the GUI goodness of Aqua, the stability of UNIX (the FreeBSD variety) and an OS that can truly take advantage of your dual processor machine are nearly irresistible. However, all the dings OS X has taken may take you aback. First of all, it is a near certainty that you will not be able to completely leave OS 9 behind. If you use a scanner, you need Classic. If your machine does double-duty doing desktop publishing work, you will need Classic for QuarkXpress. Some older games will not run in Classic; thereby requiring a reboot into OS 9. A side note: if you are considering a hardware upgrade, now is the time to upgrade for those that still need to use the classic MacOS. Apple announced that new Mac hardware will not be able to boot into OS 9 beginning in 2003. So, if you want to make the switch to OS X, this handy guide should be of great help.

We are focused on games here at IMG. We eat, sleep and breathe games. My personal favorites are RPG and RTS titles. Most games, that are not already OS X native, will run in Classic mode. That being said, many of them will run better when the computer is booted with 9; however the performance difference is not that noticeable in most titles.

This article is geared toward the avid gamer. Most casual computer users who occasionally play games and mostly just do email and web surfing will not be tempted to upgrade; nor, it could be argued, should they be. For the casual user, if your current machine does what you need it to do with few problems or hassles, live with it as long as you can. Be warned, though, MacOS X is in your future also.

Apple says any G3 computer, other than the original G3 PowerBook, is a supported machine. This even includes the original iMac. Those who have experienced OS X know that it just plain runs better on a G4 machine. With the advent of Jaguar (10.2), the hardware requirements get bumped up slightly. Jaguar should run on any OS X-supported computer, but it runs best on G4 machines with 32MB graphics cards and at least 256MB RAM. You can find a list of OS X compatible hardware at the following URL:

Apple says any desktop since the beige G3ís should be able to run OS X. While this is true, the older computers will show their age when running Appleís latest OS. Older computers have a slower system bus, non-AGP graphics cards, and slower RAM. OS X is stable and powerful, but it does like a hefty amount of resources. A slow system can make living with MacOS X a true love-hate relationship. Your old beige G3 was a great computer in its day, but if you want to move to OS X, you would be better off with a newer machine, or at least a few upgrades. Even a Blue & White G3 might struggle with X unless upgraded with a boatload of RAM and a hefty graphics card. A fast hard drive would not hurt either. Memory and drive prices are so low right now, that you could add a 60GB 7200rpm hard drive and 512MB RAM to most PowerMac G3 or G4 towers for about $200.00. So, donít throw out that aging computer unless you have the scratch for a new one. You can squeeze extra life out of those machines with some well-placed upgrades and, of course, your new copy of OS X Jaguar.

Older PPC computers with G3 or G4 upgrade cards will also run OS X; however, they require the freeware utility called XPostFacto. XPostFacto adds a few extra steps to the installation of X, but those extra steps are a whole lot less expensive than buying a new Mac. There have been reports around the internet that Classic will not load properly in computers with G4 upgrade cards. Apparently, there was an update to the XPostFacto utility to alleviate this problem. You can find XPostFacto at So, even older PPC Macs with upgrade cards can run OS X. Add the aforementioned upgrades of a faster hard drive, graphics card and RAM, and you should have a computer that handles the next-generation MacOS with relative aplomb.


Archives  Features  OS X Week: Making the Switch