Goodbye Mac OS 9

On Monday, May 6, 2002 Steve Jobs said farewell to a dear friend of the Macintosh world: Mac OS 9.

Today Saturday, April 1, 2023 Macintosh Rescue does the same, but the legacy will live on. Up until now I have proudly hosted a network that supports present day Mac’s and all the way back to models that could run Mac OS 9.2 – 8.6 . I have been using virtualisation technology on Mac’s with intel processors and keeping Mac OS X Server 10.5.6 running as a guest system. I have had success with this within Parallels Desktop up to version 17, and VirtualBox 6.1. I recently purchased my last ever Mac with an intel processor: a Mac mini 2018 (the dark grey one). I setup Parallels Desktop 18, setup a macOS 12 guest to run the last ever version of Apple’s Open Directory through macOS Server, then moved the Mac OS X 10.5.6 Server (Leopard) guest to that machine. Leopard Server ran for a while but I have had reliability issues with it in Parallels Desktop 18, including the guest rendering itself un-bootable. I have been reviewing options and discovered that Parallels now states that you can only run macOS and OS X guests on a host system that supports the system as a host operating system; that would mean at the newest an early 2009 Mac mini which means that Parallels Desktop 18 cannot support Mac OS X Server 10.5.x as the oldest supported host operating is macOS Mojave 10.14.6 and the older Mac only supporting up to OS X 10.11.6 (El Capitan)

Mac OS X Server 10.5.6 was the last Mac operating system that could share files via AFP with Mac OS 9 and earlier, and therefor provide NetBoot images with Mac OS 9, and potentially 8.6. I have now enabled NetBoot 1 on my Mac mini (M1, 2020) and transferred the old NetInstall images which include Mac OS X 10.3 – 10.4. The earliest NetBoot capable Mac’s are capable of running Mac OS X 10.3 Panther at least so I can still support the same range of hardware. I now host AFP shares from macOS 10.15.7 Catalina running as a guest on my Mac mini 2018 and Mac OS X 10.3 can connect to them.

My network no longer supports Mac OS 9.2.2 or earlier, however it does support NetInstall of Mac OS X 10.3 – 10.4, and after installation the Mac OS 9.2 installer is available over a more modern AFP share, and can serve as a temporary ‘Classic Folder’ to install onto the Mac’s hard disk. Software installers hosted in the Software Museum can be run in Classic, or just copied to the Mac’s hard disk then run directly in Mac OS 9.2 as the ‘Classic’ installation is bootable.

Nearly 21 years after the funeral of Mac OS 9 it is the end of an era in the Macintosh Rescue network, but the legacy lives on in ‘Classic’ support inside Mac OS X.