Blueberry Tiger

While my old PowerBook waits in the shop for a new motherboard (yes, the PB12 shall rise again), I am using a blueberry iMac. This was a low-end 350 MHz type, and it has a decent 576 MB RAM installed.

I had no problem wiping the system and installing Panther. But of course I can’t leave well enough alone, so I set myself about the task of figuring out a way to install Tiger on this old heap.

Now given that Tiger ships on DVD, and given that the blueberry gumdrop sitting on my desk has no DVD drive, nor FireWire port for booting up from an external DVD drive, this was a bit of a problem. Sure, I had a whole bunch of spare external hard drives, and some even had USB. This might work.

So the first thing I did was to borrow my wife’s iBook, which had the internal DVD drive. I took one of the old external drives, in this case a LaCie 20GB external 2.5″ Pocket Drive with both USB and FireWire ports, and plugged it in to the iBook. I then installed Tiger onto the LaCie drive. In the process, I experimented with the custom installations. This iMac has a 7 GB internal hard drive, and the default Tiger install is around 4.7 GB. I’d like to add an order of fries with that whopper. Interestingly, I found that if I remove all but the Epson printer drivers from the install configuration, I could save myself a full gigabyte of disk space. Removing all but the Traditional Chinese language translations saved me almost as much. I got the final instal down below 2.8 GB (although that seems to balloon up later…)

The installation completed rather quickly over a FireWire cable, and now I had a good lightweight install of Tiger on the LaCie drive. I tested a boot of it to the iBook and it worked perfectly.

Now I went over to the iMac. First, I plugged in the LaCie via USB to the iMac. This drive requires external power if you’re using USB, so I had to plug it in to it’s A/C adapter. I popped in a Panther install CD and ran the installer. The computer reboots off the CD and I now can do things to the internal drive via Disk Utility, available from the Installer drop-down menu. I clicked the Restore tab and dragged the external LaCie icon to the Source field, and the internal drive to the Destination field. For good measure, I clicked the Erase Destination preference. I clicked the Restore button, and let ‘er rip. Went to bed. These iMacs were notoriously quiet, so I couldn’t hear a thing during the cutover process, and slept soundly

Next morning I checked and the process seemed to work. Unplugged the LaCie, set my Startup Disk preference, and it rebooted into Tiger. After a billion updates, she’s running 10.4.2.

Now, this thing is of course slow, but surprisingly responsive enough to get basic work done. I am running BBEdit, Interarchy 7, and surprisingly, Dreamweaver 8 effectively. Dreamweaver is a bit of a hog, but I’m mostly just working in code view and applying some PHP behaviors and using file synchronization. Really, with the code completion, it’s still faster than typing in BBEdit. I’m currently installing PHP5 and MySQL 4.1, and those ran OK under 10.3, at least good enough for local development.

Well, good. Now to install that image on the old Tangerine 266 MHz box…

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