22 July 2009
What's that saying: art imitates life, which imitates art, which... Recently I wrote an article for my Low End Mac column about Tips for Installing or Reinstalling Mac OS X Tiger, based on the many experiences I've had in getting that OS installed onto a Mac. Since Tiger (the 10.4.x) series is now discontinued by Apple, it falls into the realm of systems I include in the Vintage Mac Museum.
It isn't dead in the real world yet, either.
Last week I had an opportunity in my consulting practice to again prove that newer is not always better. My client, an artist/graphic designer, had an iMac G4 originally running Mac OS X Panther (10.3.x) and using some older OS X apps (Photoshop 7, Illustrator 10, AOL Desktop) and a Mac OS 9 "Classic" app (PageMaker 7) in her work. After experiencing several months of problems involving intermittent internet connectivity, another tech upgraded her iMac to Mac OS X Leopard (10.5.x) as an attempted fix. This didn't help much with the internet problems - they turned out to be DSL related - but now many of her existing apps didn't work correctly.
Classic mode isn't supported in OS X Leopard, even on PowerPC based Macs; this meant PageMaker v7 was now unusable. Also, both Photoshop v7 and Illustrator v10 have compatibility issues with Leopard, the newer generation of these apps (Photoshop CS, Illustrator CS) are needed for full compatibility. That's a large cost in supplemental application upgrades to support an OS which wasn't solving the main problem at hand.
To add insult to injury, the AOL Desktop app consistently required a Force Quit when done. Seems you just can't get rid of AOL no matter how hard you try...
I suggested to my client that we downgrade her installation from Leopard to Tiger, which would support Classic mode and her other Adobe applications. To downgrade an OS you need to do either an Erase & Install (often referred to as a Clean Installation) or an Archive & Install. I chose the latter (as I usually do), but in this direction the option to Preserve Users and Groups was not presented. A brief hmmmm moment ensued, then I backed up her home directory and all Classic and non-Apple apps to an external disk before we began. I figured I could copy the relevant files back into the new account once the process was completed, and fortunately was correct.
Once Tiger was reinstalled on the iMac (it took two attempts, ultimately requiring an Erase & Install) everything worked again. Photoshop 7 and Illustrator 10 worked as usual, Classic launched and displayed PageMaker 7 in it's Charcoal'esque glory, and AOL quit when commanded. Unlike Panther, but like Leopard, she now has current versions of Safari and Firefox to use for internet access. And, a better DSL modem.
Sometimes, going backwards is the best option.
Posted by Adam Rosen at 8:23 PM