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My iBook’s Long, Strange Trip to Mac OS X 10.4.9

Some time ago, I had obtained an old iBook thru work. It had Mac OS X 10.3.9 loaded on it. There was a lot of crap on it that wasn’t mine, and I wasn’t entirely convinced the OS install was sound. So I decided to reload the OS on it. Well, that turned out to be a mistake.  It did lead down the Ubuntu path, which was a nice diversion, but the lack of WPA support on PPC made it pretty useless to me.

Recently, I had decided to try this again. One thing I had now that I didn’t before was an external FireWire drive. And while I tried to load the OS from the iBook onto the FireWire drive, that didn’t work so well. However, I also have an old Power PC-based Mac Mini I got a couple of years back, which I ended up using to load Mac OS onto the FireWire drive.

Back on the iBook, I had booted off the installation CD and into the Disk Utility to try and simply “restore” the internal drive from the external drive. That didn’t work so well. Next idea: bring the drive over to my MacBook, use SuperDuper! to make a disk image of the drive, copy the disk image back over to the FireWire drive, then back over to the iBook and attempt to restore the disk image onto the iBook internal drive.

That worked, except for the fact that MacOS now thought the internal 10gb drive had over 200gb free! I guess restoring from a disk image copies over the size as well. I had tried running Apple’s Disk Utility to fix the issue and I got the dreaded “invalid number of allocation blocks” message. I had Googled and searched Apple’s site, the end results were basically “buy a commercial program to fix this.”

One of the vendors that came up in my search was a company called Micromat which makes a product called TechTool Pro. It turns out they include a stripped-down version of this tool with AppleCare called TechTool Deluxe, which I received when I bought AppleCare on my MacBook. I decided that I had nothing else to lose, so I located my TechTool Deluxe disk, shoved it into the iBook, and rebooted.

When TechTool Deluxe finally came up on that slow little iBook, I disabled most of the tests except for a couple of the disk-related ones. The one that ended up hitting paydirt was the “Volume Structure” test. It discovered, after chugging away for a while, that–surprise, surprise–the volume structure had some discrepancies in it and offered to fix them. After chugging away for a while, it fixed the problems. The Mac was now showing the correct amount of free space. Life was good.

I rebooted the iBook and proceeded to do the initial setup from the internal drive in the iBook. Overnight, I let it download and install all the latest patches from Apple. Now I am running a tool called Monolingual that will remove languages that you don’t use from MacOS. Based on my experience with the MacBook, it gives you back roughly 2gb of space. While gaining 2gb on a 160gb drive isn’t a whole lot, gaining an extra 2gb of space on a 10gb drive is a godsend!

Granted, this iBook won’t be used for too much. It is, after all, a 500mhz G3 with only 576mb of RAM. But unlike Windows laptops of the same vintage, it can still run a current operating system reasonably well.

#Cybersecurity Evangelist, Podcaster, #noagenda Producer, Frequenter of shiny metal tubes, Expressor of personal opinions, and of course, a coffee achiever.