I want to get rid of my iBook.
April 13, 2010 10:00 PM   Subscribe

How can I effectively clean off the hard drive of my iBook G3 (running OSX 10.3) so that I can sell it? I bought it used with a fresh install and don't have any install discs or whatnot.

I'm mostly concerned with the saved passwords and such in Firefox. The documents I created and saved on it were my (admittedly crappy) writing and I have found utilities to wipe and write over the recycle bin multiple times to get rid of that sort of thing. But in Firefox I had passwords saved to access my email and various other accounts. How can I make sure that I get rid of all evidence of this? This computer did not contain my life on its hard drive but has significant enough portions of said life that I'm concerned.

Bonus points if you can steer me in the direction of a full system restore/wipe without the use of a 10.3 install disc (has to be under 10.4 because that won't run on the G3).
posted by LokiBear to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you have access to another Mac with a FireWire port, you can put the iBook into Target Disk Mode by holding command-t when you power it on, and then connected it via FireWire directly to the other Mac. The iBook's internal disk will mount on the other Mac like a normal disk, at which point you can use Disk Utility to erase it.
posted by secret about box at 10:20 PM on April 13, 2010

Correction: Just hold the T key when you power it on. No command key necessary.
posted by secret about box at 10:21 PM on April 13, 2010

Response by poster: Will disk utility erase and then allow me to reinstall? My access to another Mac would be limited, but possible.
posted by LokiBear at 10:54 PM on April 13, 2010

Here's how I'd go about doing it if I wanted to be as secure as possible without outright wiping and reinstalling the OS.
  1. Uninstall everything that isn't a part of OS X. This includes Firefox.
  2. Get OnyX and use it to run OS X's built-in maintenance scripts. (This probably isn't necessary because of 4., but it couldn't hurt.)
  3. Create a new user account and switch over to it.
  4. Delete your old user account entirely.
  5. Run Disk Utility and use it to wipe free space.
There may still be fragments of data left in the file slack, and you can get utilities to wipe that too, but it's usually not worth doing.
posted by truex at 10:59 PM on April 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

Will disk utility erase and then allow me to reinstall?

Using target disk mode and wiping the disk will destroy the OS, requiring the 10.3 install media you don't have.
posted by pompomtom at 11:02 PM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Although it is possible to clean up an existing operating system, your best bet is to beg, borrow, or steal a copy of 10.3 and do a fill format and reinstall. As a bonus it will be easier to sell if you have the discs.

That said, you can clean most of your private data off by creating another account with admin access, logging on with that then deleting the original user. Some applications may store stuff in out-of-the-way places but that will get rid of most well-behaved apps' data.
posted by AndrewStephens at 11:03 PM on April 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

There is no way to reinstall MacOSX without a system install disk or a network on which someone is running a network installer (very rare). A 10.3 disc is your best bet here. They are... available on the internet... I imagine. When you reinstall, be sure to start with Initialize and 'erase free space', and then you're golden.

If you can't do that, then TrueX's method is also great, as long as you were not in the habit of storing files in any odd places other than your home directory (also very rare, since OSX almost forces you to keep everything in the home hierarchy. Even the files on your desktop are technically in your home directory.)
posted by rokusan at 1:47 AM on April 14, 2010

Agree with everyone above who say that unless the buyer has his own install disks or is willing to purchase the OS from the Apple Store, you're SOL. I am sure there are Install disks available on eBay. About erasing it, obviously you'll need an install disk to start from then use disk utility to do a [relatively] quick one pass zero out erase before installing anything. My advice would be to find an install disk, or OS disk (even an older version of OS X), before erasing a thing.
posted by lonemantis at 5:40 AM on April 14, 2010

Yeah, to really really erase things you need the disk. Also, are you sure Tiger won't run on it? I installed Tiger on a PowerBook G3, which is likely older than your iBook (depending on model). I thought if it had Firewire, Tiger would run on it.

Not saying it would run especially well - but a Tiger disk might be easier to find than a 10.3 one would. Tiger will run on a lot of machines Apple claims won't work with it; you might need the free install utility xpostfacto, but it ought to install fine from the Tiger disk if you have FireWire, and it ought to work with the xpostfacto utility even if you don't have Firewire.
posted by caution live frogs at 11:05 AM on April 14, 2010

Anything other than a reinstall would leave me very uneasy. Still, you should at least check out AppZapper.
posted by chairface at 11:14 PM on April 14, 2010

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