Mac G4 Beige Mirror Machine Manual


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Reinstalling Mac OS 9 on a PowerMac G4 MDD

The PowerMac G4 MDD was Apple’s last Mac capable of dual-booting into both Mac OS 9 and OS X. The last of the G4 towers, this model was originally introduced in 2002, briefly evolved into an OS X-only configuration with FireWire 800 in 2003, then returned to the original design for another year.


Due to the need for some customers to run Mac OS 9 for several years after the introduction of OS X, Apple continued to sell this configuration online in parallel with the PowerMac G5 for over a year. They never pushed this option on the Apple Store but it was a consistently strong seller.

These machines came set from the factory to boot into Mac OS X, with OS 9 also loaded on the hard drive. No OS 9 installer was provided, rather that was available as part of the Software Restore CDs bundled with the Mac. The MDD uses a model-specific version of Mac OS 9.2.2, newer than what was included on the last retail OS 9 installer. You need the bundled discs if you want to reinstall a bootable OS 9 on this machine. (Note: only MDDs without FireWire 800 ports can boot into OS 9, models with FireWire 800 ports require OS X. The install CD I used is Apple part number 691-4078-A.)

Recently I was contacted by a client who was looking for just this. He had a dual 1.25GHz MDD with some older ProTools hardware, and preferred to run the software in OS 9 rather than OS X. The problem was his installation of OS 9 was unstable so he was looking for the original installer. Did I have a copy of this rare item?

Off-the-shelf I did not, but fortunately I knew what he meant and where to get one. My last job before running Oakbog full time was as IT Manager for a recording studio, and we ran ProTools hardware and software on these very Mac models! We had about 5 of those systems at one point, so I suspected there were plenty of CDs still buried deep in drawers. Fortunately there were, I contacted my colleagues at the studio and arranged to get a set of the install discs.

My client didn’t need Mac OS X, nor was he interested in first installing OS X 10.2.1 on his tower before restoring the OS 9 image. He just needed a bootable OS 9 System Folder. I suspected this was included on the set of four CDs somewhere, but it isn’t a Finder-visible file.

Mac G4 Beige Mirror Machine Manual User

A bit of sleuthing in Terminal helped find the mystery location. The OS 9 software is in a hidden directory called .images on the first disc. Inside there are several files including OS9General.dmg. I was able to mount (open) this disk image to the desktop via the following Terminal command:

open /Volumes/Restore CD/.images/OS9General.dmg

That takes a few minutes, then mounts a volume called OS 9 Content onto the desktop. Inside here are our old friends Applications (Mac OS 9) and System Folder, just as we know and love.


To test this worked before sending to my client, I copied the two folders to an external FireWire drive (formatted with OS 9 drivers), then connected this to my MDD running Tiger. The Startup Disk Preference Pane showed the external drive with Mac OS 9 as a valid boot choice. Restart, a few screen flickers later, and voila! Welcome to Mac OS 9.2 appears on the screen.

Mission accomplished. I now had a valid boot system for Mac OS 9 on an MDD, along with the disc image. My client was thrilled to hear the good news, and I sent him a copy on CD the next day.

The story continues: Mac OS 9 Isn’t Dead Yet…

Update June 2012:
Mac OS 9 for PowerMac G4 MDD has been made available for download via the Macintosh Garden.

Mac G4 Beige Mirror Machine Manual Pdf

Posted by Adam Rosen on March 18th, 2011 in Vintage Mac Museum Blog 18 Comments »

Old Mac Storage Formats at the Vintage Mac Museum »
  1. Hi, downloaded your cds on macintosh garden, to install on my Gigabit Ethernet, it now detects an os9 system but when I try to boot to it, a floppy with a question mark appears and my hdd starts spinning, any idea?

  2. Hi,
    I have my old G4 MDD dual 1.25 and I have OS9General.dmg
    i try to burn it with Disk Utility and Toast, but it is not a BOOTABLE CD.
    I can only copy all folder and document on my hard disk and it work.


    thx a lot

  3. does anyone have the powermac g4 original restore disk for the 1.25ghz MDD 2003?? the disc im looking for is a DVD, and its part number is z691-4409-a – it includes 10.2.6 mac os x + mac os 9.22 as well as AHT 2.02. someone i spoke to online has the disc but he claims hes never been able to successfully copy it. is this a known issue to anyone else?
    i have the 1.25ghz mdd 2003 model and would like to get its specific original disc to restore it to factory settings!

  4. Hi Adam, how did you create the partition on the external firewire hard drive and use the Mac OS 9 HDD driver to boot off it, Did you run the disktools in Classic to create the external partition, or is just “Blessing” the hard drive enough to set it as the active partition to boot from? I also used OS9helper in classic to update a OS 9.04 system that I copied off my previous Beige G3 Mac to install OS 9.2.2 within classic and make it bootable on a 2002 G4 Quicksilver that I built from pieces that I bought on Ebay.

    Thank you for the help, and the article!
    Jose F. Medeiros

  5. I have a G4 mirror. It had 1 hard drive. Another computer I had was running system 9.2.2 for my Scitex, and it died. I took the hard drive and put it into the 2nd drive spot and hooked it up in the g4 mirror. I can see everything on that drive and I can access all the files. When I go into the system preferences and go to the startup disk and select system 9 and restart, I get a ? folder. When I try to reinstall system 9.2.2 I get a message Quicktime is not compatible, please upgrade to QT 6.0.3. When I try to start Classic it says the same thing. I need to run system 9 to run my Scitex software, any ideas?

  6. Adam,

    I found a G4 powermac (the one with oval bay doors – quick silver model I think?) in the dumpster. Anyhow, I put a spare blank hard drive in it and it booted right up. It gives me the “wheres the os” ?/finder icon in the middle of the gray screen. Unfortunately I don’t have a FW drive or any clones of previous ppc 9 installs from back in the day.

    * I want to install OS9 classic on it but how does one open up the cd tray to put the cd in?
    * I do have some backups of my white intel iMac and my 08 intel MBP. If I switch them to a FW drive, will they work even though they are for intel machines?

    I’m hoping I just stick my OS9.2.1 disc into the g4 PM, and it should install 123 like my old bondi blue g3. Any other tips? Thanks for your help!

  7. Hi Adam

    Thanks for your site – lovely. I had a collection of old Macs starting with a couple SE’s, moving up through 10 Classics, Colour Classics, several pizza boxes (LC, LCII, 430,etc),630, 4400, 6 Grey G3’s and 4 G4 towers as well as a couple of ancient laptops, an Atari STE and 2 BBC micros. Most of these I gave away to an IT technician friend who was starting a computer museum in his garage. I still have over a dozen original install/software discs for OS 9 and OSX for PPC, iMac, iBook, etc and wondered if they were worth keeping/passing on. They range from the old orange disks up to 2005 Mac Pro disks.

  8. I have the MDD that is duel 1GHz can I replace the CPU’s with The 1.25GHz Chipset and Have it work? without any additional tinkering?

  9. Adam,
    I wondered if you could help me with a trouble-shooting question.
    I recently had the “power supply” replaced on a G4 Tower (running OS 9.2) and computer boots, no problem. However, ever since, the computer seemingly refuses to accept any file transfer from any external device (whether a folder of pictures, other docs).
    A typical scroll bar appears indicating how many items new to be copied, but the scroll bar sits still, instead of moving, and in effect, stays still with no other action. I checked extensions, etc. for anything appearing out of sorts – but could not find a sourse of the problem.
    (PS – I use the G4 as a back-up server (to another G4) for a medical office software; the software will open – no problem – from any recent back-up off the main server; but as I said, I cannot copy the folder permanently onto the device, as I had long done in the past). Any thoughts would be sincerely appreciated, Thank you

  10. I made a bootable USB stick with Mac OS 9.2.2, I can boot on it and install Mac OS 9.2.2 on my G3 : http://www.numopen.fr/Creer_une_cle_USB_Mac_OS_9_et_installer_Mac_OS_9

Mac G4 Beige Mirror Machine Manual Instructions


Mac G4 Beige Mirror Machine Manual Download

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