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Run Classic from a disk image in 10.2 Classic
I recently posted this hint in the MacNN OS X General Forum and thought the macosxhints' readers may also find it useful. It explains exactly how to set up a disk image from which you can run Classic.

With Classic on a disk image, one can keep a "clean" root directory (OS X only) and use the Classic environment a la Virtual PC and XDarwin, essentially. However, you can't, as far as I know, autonomously *boot* the computer from an OS 9 System Folder on a disk image ... which seems exactly to be what Apple will prevent in new Macs starting in 2003! So Classic on a disk image is only useful as long as all your Mac OS 9 apps actually work well in the Classic environment (most of them should do, anyway).

Read the rest of the article for the how-to...

Here are some quick instructions for installing/copying Mac OS 9 onto a Classic disk image:
  1. Launch Disk Copy (in the Utilities folder).

  2. Select "New Image" from the File or Dock menu.

  3. In the new dialogue that pops up, select a suitable location for the new disk image (I put it on a separate partition together with the VPC disk images, for coherence), give it a suitable name (I chose "Classic" - without quotes! - in both fields); then select a suitable size (also depending on if you already have an existing installation to copy over to the image; I selected the 500 MB option), choose the "Mac OS Extended" format (default), and the "No Encryption" (default) option. Once the image is created (it should, as far as I can tell, be uncompressed - and *writable*, of course), it will mount on the desktop.

  4. Install Mac OS 9 (and update it, if you have an older version than 9.2.2) onto the mounted disk image or drag your existing Mac OS 9 System Folder, etc. onto the image.

  5. Open Terminal (in Utilities) and type:sudo bless -folder "path to the system folder on the disk image" -folder9 "path to the system folder on the disk image" -bootBlocks. In practice, just type sudo bless -folder, add a space, double-click your new Classic disk image, and drag the System Folder onto the Terminal window: this will automatically create the "path to the system folder on the disk image" entry; of course, repeat the same after the -folder9 entry.

    When the command has been typed OK, hit the return key and give your administrator password; the System Folder on the disk image will be blessed and ready for use with Classic.

  6. Open System Preferences. Here, it is best to first launch the Startup Disk pane and select the disk image as a startup disk the first time (choose to modify the startup disk when prompted to); then, re-select the previous (10.2) startup disk and save the change to return to the previous state.

  7. Finally, open the Classic preference pane and wait for the scanning of the volumes to complete; then select the mounted disk image (with its blessed System Folder) as the Classic startup volume, and start Classic: you will probably be prompted to update some components in the System Folder (choose to update them, of course) - and, voila, Mac OS 9 loads from the mounted disk image (with optional happy Mac)!

  8. Shut down Classic, optionally rebuild the Desktop file (second tab in the Classic pane), and unmount (eject) the disk image from the OS X desktop. Then, start Classic again: surprise (an *excellent* surprise!) - Classic *automatically* mounts the disk image and launches the environment.
P.S.: BTW, having done a clean install of Jaguar, I used Classic on a disk image to re-install AppleWorks 6 (a Classic-only installer for 6.0.1; the 6.2.4 updater is OS X native, and worked correctly, even installing some elements - which, of course, can be removed afterwards if you don't use AW in Classic - onto the disk image) - it worked perfectly!

[Editor's note: I have not tested this myself yet...]
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The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Authored by: zadak on Sep 01, '02 02:01:42PM

If you got an iPod a great suggestion is to have a slim version of OS 9 + your favourite datarecovery tool etc on it.

Always ready with the first aid...
(if you always got your iPod with you that is)

[ Reply to This | # ]
Apple isn't going to actively *prevent* anything
Authored by: Anonymous on Sep 01, '02 08:15:09PM
I'm getting fairly tired by the folks claiming that Apple is going to gout on a limb to not support Mac OS 9 in a future version of the hardware. As the hardware evolves, it becomes more and more expensive to port OS9 forward to support it. That is, Apple has to actively work and has to invest a boatload of money in making OS9 work on the new hardware. OS9 has its merits, but good separation between hardware and software above the kernel ain't one of 'em. Furthermore, OS9 can't take advantage of a number of the performance related features found on modern mac hardware. Example: a dual proc machine is basically pointless for OS9 except for a handful of PhotoShop plugins and some of the video production stuff. More information here...

[ Reply to This | # ]
Apple isn't going to actively *prevent* anything
Authored by: Sven G on Sep 02, '02 02:44:09AM

... Maybe not actively - but certainly "passively", à la Steve-O's "reality distortion field", if one can say soo... ;-)

That said, for me it's prefectly OK that they won't support booting from Mac OS 9 in new machines from next year: indeed, Classic on a disk image might be the default OS 9 configuration in the future (more similar to a "virtual environment", that is)...

[ Reply to This | # ]
It is great
Authored by: zapp on Sep 01, '02 08:35:50PM

This works good, nice not having to have classic installed on the hard drive. Great hint

[ Reply to This | # ]
Why do this?
Authored by: dm2243 on Sep 01, '02 10:00:18PM

What's the advantage of having OS 9 on a disk image as opposed to a small partition? Speed? Stability? Performance?

[ Reply to This | # ]
Why do this?
Authored by: deleted_user18 on Sep 02, '02 12:46:47AM

To get rid of the small partition you have to reformat your harddisc. To ged rid of the disk image you just put it in the trashcan.

Classic is dead and this makes life easier with software that still does need it for install.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Why do this?
Authored by: Sven G on Sep 02, '02 02:50:44AM

No particular advantage from a performance point of view (at least AFAIK); it just might make things a little more "ordered" (for example, no visible OS 9 System Folder at the roor of your hard drive)- and, above all, it feels somewhat "geeky" to have Classic load in a manner similar to Virtual PC (an entire OS on a disk image) and make it depend on OS X for it's "existence" (no autonomous booting)...

[ Reply to This | # ]
Why do this?
Authored by: Sven G on Sep 02, '02 02:52:48AM

... Damn! Root, not "roor"... :-)

[ Reply to This | # ]
Why do this?
Authored by: houchin on Sep 03, '02 10:47:05PM

The best reason I can see for doing this is dealing with the installation of Carbon apps that want to set themselves up to run both in X and in 9. The Adobe apps are good examples. They put all of their application support stuff in your OS 9 Application Support folder, then put aliases in the OS X folder. If you were to delete your OS 9 system folder, you'd loose a lot of stuff.

With your Classic folder in a disk image, you can ensure that it's not mounted when you install any Carbon application, and keep the OS 9 system clean for just use as Classic.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Great Tip, but I had problems...
Authored by: poetphilosopher on Sep 02, '02 12:39:58AM

When I use the command:
sudo bless -folder "/Volumes/Classic/System\ Folder" -folder9 "/Volumes/Classic/System\ Folder" -bootBlocks
I get the error message:
No mount point for /Volumes/Classic/System\ Folder
Can't determine mount point of '/Volumes/Classic/System\ Folder' and '/Volumes/Classic/System\ Folder'
What am I doing wrong?

With the image file mounted, the Classic System Preferences does see it and will use it to start Classic. When I dismount the image however, Classic will not automatically mount it as described. Is this due to the failure of the "bless" command?

[ Reply to This | # ]
Great Tip, but I had problems...
Authored by: Sven G on Sep 02, '02 02:04:02AM

I tested your command (with the quotation signs): you should just *remove the quotes*, and it should work (as you already have the backslash as a space sign); the quotes were, in fact, meant to be used if you manually type the path (without the backslash, which is also more difficult to find on foreign keyboards...). Even simpler, just use the drag and drop method, and the path is automatically created (without quotes!).

[ Reply to This | # ]
Great Tip, but I had problems...
Authored by: Sven G on Sep 02, '02 02:38:27AM

... Actually, I just discovered that on the Apple Pro keyboard the backslash is also present in foreign layouts (at least in some)... Well - good to know! :-)

[ Reply to This | # ]
Well, I'll be...
Authored by: jelloman on Sep 02, '02 04:44:16AM

Hot damn it worked! Now I can have multiple Classic configurations to ease loading time and get rid of the partitions I have! Great tip! Almost feels like Virtual PC; now I just need to figure out an AppleScript which will make the image unmount automatically after classic shutdown!

[ Reply to This | # ]
Well, I'll be...
Authored by: vaughnsc on Sep 02, '02 11:16:12AM
Sounds easy enough...

Place an alias in the image's Shutdown Items folder, pointing to a script outside the image, containing more or less:

tell application "Finder"
--'zippity-doo-dah', 'nada', do nothing
until not exists process "Classic Support"
--the gig is up, close up shop
eject disk "Classic Image"
end tell

Hope this helps

[ Reply to This | # ]
Re: Well, I'll be...
Authored by: nagani on Sep 02, '02 01:11:29PM
Great idea! an alias to this script works:
tell application "Finder" repeat while exists process "Classic Support" --'zippity-doo-dah', 'nada', do nothing end repeat --the gig is up, close up shop eject disk "OS Neuf" end tell
Here is an explanation of why the disk image mounts automatically, quoting Apple's technote tn2053 - Mac OS X 10.2 —a geeky list of bug fixes and new features: "aliases to mounted disk images volumes now reference the .img file. As a result, the disk image will be mounted when the alias is resolved."

[ Reply to This | # ]
Well, I'll be...
Authored by: midan23 on Jan 07, '03 12:02:57PM

One Question :

Does somebody know the german name of the Shutdown Items folder ?
Or can I use the english one ?

[ Reply to This | # ]
More like VPC
Authored by: mlnc248 on Jan 21, '03 02:58:26PM

Jelloman wrote that Classic almost feels like Virtual PC after loading it onto a disk image. Well, Is there any way to get Classic to run in a window rather than consuming the entire desktop? VPC can toggle between full screen and windowed mode, this would be a great feature for Classic as well. Any ideas?

[ Reply to This | # ]
More like VPC
Authored by: robg on Jan 21, '03 03:41:33PM

No, not at all -- it used to exist in very early OS X versions, but not since pre Public Beta. And the code to do it is gone, apparently, not just disabled.


[ Reply to This | # ]
Can't start classic
Authored by: andrea_w on Dec 01, '02 04:53:21PM

I followed the instructions but when I try to start classic from
the classic system prefs, it says:

Classic Startup found no system folder on the
boot volume from which to start Classic.

I have selected the system folder from my os9 image. What gives?

[ Reply to This | # ]
Can't start classic
Authored by: Sven G on Dec 02, '02 05:13:16AM
Hmmm... strange... You might want to try to repeat the process: maybe the culprit is the bless command part...? Try to omit the quotation marks, and simply drag and drop the System Folder from the new Classic disk image onto the Terminal window after each of the -folder/folder9 entries; also try to quit the System Preferences and relaunch them after having completed all the steps in the hint... With a little troubleshooting "fantasy", it should work! :-)

[ Reply to This | # ]
is classic installable with OS 10.2.3 only?
Authored by: josh_b on Jan 03, '03 04:36:54PM

Does this work for systems without OS 9 installed? When I installed 10.2 this summer, I did a Clean Install. Now there is a program that I want to use that requires Classic. I was hoping there was a way to install it without re-installing everything.

I have the disks that came with my 700 MHz iBook, and the OS 10.2 disks, but I get stuck at step 4, since the OS 9 Installer requires Classic.

Am I missing something?

[ Reply to This | # ]
Cannot Boot OS 9
Authored by: josste on Jan 03, '03 11:45:30PM

I did everything that this hint told me and classic runs perfectly from within the os 10.2.3 enviroment. However, I cannot seem to boot off of my classic disk image. When I select the 9.2.1 image in the startup disk controll panel and restart, I am shown a folder icon with a blinking question mark symbol. After about 10 seconds, the screen reverts to the regular os 10.2.3 startup with the big apple icon. Can somebody please help me?

[ Reply to This | # ]
Cannot Boot OS 9
Authored by: robg on Jan 04, '03 09:25:16AM

It makes sense, actually -- disk images are mounted by Disk Copy. Disk Copy runs in the OS once the Finder is running. When you boot, there's no Finder and no OS, so it can't mount the image.

Sorry, but you won't be able to use your image to boot from...


[ Reply to This | # ]
Even simplier
Authored by: midan23 on Jan 07, '03 11:59:27AM

You can't do this nice trick if you don't have os9 installed
(Starting the os9-installer starts classic which needs os9 to run ...)

Make it simple :
Boot from your os9 install disk and use disk copy from there to create the image; then install os9 on this image ...
You don't need to use the terminal to bless this image (I think the installer does this ...)
Reboot from HD and do the steps 6, 7 and 8 from the tip ...

[ Reply to This | # ]
Even simplier
Authored by: EFdisaster on Jan 07, '03 12:52:25PM
unless of course you don't have OS9 drivers on your hard disk

(because you replaced the crappy hard drive in your quicksilver G4 and then foolishly thought you wouldn't ever need classic again)

...then the OS9 CD can't see the drive to write the disk image there

who's got a solution for me?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Run Classic from a disk image in Tiger?
Authored by: qnational on Jun 17, '05 09:29:38AM

Hi all,

I've been using this trick at my office with great success until now. I've just received a G5 that shipped with Tiger. After the install I've gone through the process, as I've done at least 50 times in Panther, and after typing in the commands in Tiger, I get the following:

bless: unrecognized option '--bootBlocks'

I was wondering if anyone else has encountered this problem in Tiger? Also its seems that the Classic control panel isn't available in the System Preferences, which seems even more strange. Its a clean installation.

Any thoughts?

[ Reply to This | # ]
Run Classic from a disk image in Tiger?
Authored by: brfransen on Jul 07, '05 11:05:42PM

I ran into this to. I was able to fix it by copying the system folder in the disk image to the root of my boot drive. I then rebooted and reopened System Preferences. It now had a Classic Preference Pane. I mounted my Classic disk image, selected the System Folder on the disk image in the Classic Preference Pane, and started Classic. Once it was started I deleted the OS 9 System Folder I had copied to the root of my boot drive.

The only problem I have encountered is that on reboot my Classic disk image is mounted. My guess is that this is because Tiger is checking for Classic to determine if the Classic Preference Pane should be displayed in System Preferences.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Correct "bless" command for 10.4
Authored by: ratthing on Oct 24, '07 10:09:12AM

Update on the "bless" command for 10.4:

sudo bless -folder /path/to/diskimage/OS9Systemfolder/ -folder9 /path/to/diskimage/OS9Systemfolder/ --bootBlockFile "/usr/share/misc/bootblockdata"
If you used "Classic" as your disk image file as suggested in the original tip, and aren't doing anything wonky with your mount points, your path would be:
/Volumes/Classic/System\ Folder/

Following the remainder of the steps results in the disk image automatically mounting, even though the Preferences Pane complains about the System Folder not being available.

Aside: I guess they decided to add "bootBlockFile" as an option to bless since with Intel Macs, you might also want to bless an image requiring a boot block for another OS like Solaris, or an MBR. I bet that's been in there since before the Intel announcement. Sneaky. :-)

[ Reply to This | # ]