Installing OS X without a DVD burner
June 7, 2005 1:42 PM   Subscribe

I have: 1) G3 iBook 500 running OS 9.2 w/ a CD-Rom, firewire, and ethernet 2) iMac G5 w/ dvd, firewire, ethernet; Panther and Tiger on DVD. Any way to get OS X onto the iBook? I'm hoping I can somehow use the iMac's DVD drive to install OS X onto the iBook.

Also, the iBook only has 128mb of ram. HOWEVER, I only plan on running two pieces of software on it: Movie Magic, which is a screenwriting package (ie, a fancy word processor), and DevonTHINK.

Will this thing be okay with that little ram? I'll be doing nothing else with the unit. If that's not enough ram, where is the absolute cheapest place to get ram for an old laptop like this and what type of ram do I need (I bought it used and don't have manuals or anything). Thanks!
posted by dobbs to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
Not sure if it would work, but you could try booting the iBook into Firewire mode (hold down the "T" button when booting). Then attaching the iBook to the Imac as an external drive. You could then "maybe" install from the iMac and select the mounted iBook as the install location.

Again, I don't know if it would work, but in theory...
posted by willnot at 1:50 PM on June 7, 2005

you can install os x on it. you would have to boot it into Taregt disk mode (hold T key down when you start until you see the firewire logo come up) connect firewire cable between ibook and imac. the drive should mount as a firewire drive on teh imacs desktop. install away.
now interms of ram...128 is not enough. period. minimum for tiger is 256. for panther 128. do yourself a favor, spring for a 512 sodimm, with the lower processor speeds you will appreciate the ram.

check ramjet for low ram prices....
posted by ShawnString at 1:51 PM on June 7, 2005

Restart the iBook and hold down the T key. This will put it into "Firewire Target" mode. Plug it into the iMac and it'll show up as a hard drive.

You *should* be able to install the OS on the iBook as though it were any other hard drive.

But Tiger will be slow on the G3 and hampered by the lack of RAM. Invest in a 512 mb card at the very least - they're not terribly expensive. Even then, it will likely be a bit pokey.

On preview - two people beat me to it. And here I thought I was so smart.
posted by aladfar at 1:52 PM on June 7, 2005

willnot beat me to it...damn preview
and that should be TARGET disk mode....
posted by ShawnString at 1:53 PM on June 7, 2005

First, if you plan to put Tiger on the iBook, add a 512 MB stick. You want as much memory in there as you can get.

Secondly, you can put the iBook into Firewire Target Mode to connect it to the iMac and install software.

To do this, connect the iBook to the iMac with a Firewire cable. Turn on the iBook and hold down the "T" key. Keep holding down this key until you see a yellow Firewire logo bouncing around the screen.

Boot the iMac off the Tiger DVD: insert the DVD into the iMac and hold down the "C" key until you hear the iMac boot from the disc.

Once the Tiger installation application starts, select the iBook's hard drive (it will look like an external Firewire hard drive icon) as the destination drive.

Select the installation options you want, click OK, wait about 10-15 minutes and away you go!
posted by AlexReynolds at 1:53 PM on June 7, 2005

Thanks, folks.

re: ram. I just checked prices here in Toronto and 512 is $300! Hell, I only paid $400 for the iBook. If I get 2 256s, it's $238 plus tax. Ouch. If I just get a single 256 ($119) and keep one of the 64s in there will that be enough?
posted by dobbs at 2:22 PM on June 7, 2005

And can someone explain to me why Crucial's 512mb ram chip is cheaper than their 256? One's 100mhz and the other is 133mhz (512)... will they both work?
posted by dobbs at 2:24 PM on June 7, 2005

They'll both work. PC100 is old stock, therefore rarer and higher-priced (not that there's anything that needs PC100 rather than PC133).

NB iBook 500s have 64 or 128MB of their memory soldered to the motherboard - There's only one actual slot.
posted by cillit bang at 2:34 PM on June 7, 2005

cililt, thanks for the clarification, that was my next question. So I should probably just buy that 512 and have it shipped, right? Local ram prices seem ridiculously high.
posted by dobbs at 2:40 PM on June 7, 2005

I've had repeated good success with buying Mac ram from TransIntl. Their price for 512MB for a pismo is $119.
posted by alms at 3:05 PM on June 7, 2005

I like to keep an eye on dealRAM for RAM prices.

Apart from that, I can confirm the target-disk trick mentioned above works. I did it for my G4 tower [made my tower the target drive and installed from a G5 iMac].

I have heard that the installer optimizes the installation of the OS according to the processor used to install it, but I haven't noticed any ill effects related to using a G5 install on a G4.
posted by britain at 5:16 PM on June 7, 2005

Thanks, all. I installed it as above and it works fine with my 128 for just word processing. I'll hold off on the ram unless I absolutely need it. In all, I think I got a sweet deal! :)
posted by dobbs at 8:19 PM on June 7, 2005

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