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10.5: Modify the startup gray Apple logo System 10.5
Like old PowerPC versions of OSX, the BootX boot loader in 10.5 can be edited to change the start-up gray Apple into whatever basic 128x128 image you'd like. The BootX file hides the image itself as a .raw from hex address $1B7E4 to $1F7E4. The color index table is saved as an .act file from hex address $1F7E4 to $1FAE4.

Manually editing the image requires you to first extract the colour table, by copy/pasting it out of the BootX into a new .act file with a hex editor. Then, with your desired 128x128 image, set it to indexed colour in Photoshop. In the following dialog, choose a custom colour table and load the .act colour index table you'd extracted from the BootX. If it looks bad when you load in the .act colour index, revert and try to simplify with the image before trying to index it again. Once successful, save the result as a .raw file with no header.

The final .raw file should be exactly 4000 hex characters, which then gets pasted into the BootX file in place of the original ($1B7E4 to $1F7E4). Double-check all the file lengths; the BootX should be the same length as when you started. When you're done, you should be able to reboot and see your new image at startup. I've tested it myself manually, and it works. I haven't installed Leopard on any Intels yet, but I don't expect much luck from them.

(If you're having trouble editing the BootX file, use the Terminal and enter sudo chflags nouchg /System/Library/CoreServices/BootX to make it editable. Just make sure to relock it afterwards by entering sudo chflags uchg /System/Library/CoreServices/BootX.)

[robg adds: I would not advise trying this unless you're quite comfortable with the minimal instructions provided above (and you should have a good backup; if you mess up the BootX file, booting will be difficult, to say the least!). As for modifying an Intel Mac's startup image (in EFI), it's apparently possible, though with more restrictions than on a PowerPC machine. At least, it's possible according to this detailed blog post. I have not tried this myself, nor do I have any intentions to do so.]
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