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The iBook Clamshell - Which OS is best for you?
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Nov 4, 2006, 08:34 PM
 


The iBook Clamshell - Which OS is best for you?

There are many of us that are big fans of the Clamshell iBooks. I won't go into my personal reasons, you either love them or hate them. I have had a few over the years and still to this day I enjoy using them. I especially love going out and watching how people react to seeing one. Many cannot believe that a 5-6 year old laptop can run the latest OS, have wireless built in, and do almost everything a modern laptop can do. Many people ask me which OS is best for these guys, and that is what I'm going to try to outline now. Many here know I am always installing something new on my personal Clamshell. I never keep anything saved on my Clamshell because on any given day I will wipe it and install a new OS on there just to test a new app I have heard about. I have written other views on particular OS's before, but I thought I would write one thread here for everyone that would like a comparison of them all in one place.

To me there are three choices for an OS on the clamshell, OS 9.2.2, Panther OS 10.3.9, and Tiger OS 10.4.x. I have tested these 3 OS's many many times over and over again. Sometimes I have felt that I have found the perfect OS, then all of a sudden I find that a different OS does something better, and off to test I go. I will go ahead and say this right off the bat, there is no perfect OS for the clamshell. Every single one has many pluses and minuses. Let's go ahead and get started shall we?

OS 9.2.2 (500-700MB install size - minimum 128MB of ram recommended)

This one I have tested many times, and each time I think it might be perfect but of course the one thing that is the Achilles Heel of OS 9 are the web browsers. I have narrowed down the best browsers to IE 5.1.6, iCab 3.0.3 (current as of this writing), and Mozilla 1.3.1. IE seems to be the fastest of the lot, and many web pages work just fine with it. BUT... There are pages that will bring IE down faster then you can say force quit. We can't be mad at it though, it is an abandoned browser and trying to render modern pages is difficult for it. Then we have iCab, which is a really well done browser. I have noticed however that with every new version it gets slower and slower. Some pages can take up to 2 minutes to fully load up, where IE will do it in seconds. iCab however can handle many newer CSS pages quite well, where the other browsers just don't. iCab is also the only browser currently being updated for OS 9, so this should be installed first. Mozilla is a really sweet browser, it is fast and stable. There are some bugs in it, the most annoying for me is when the browser decides to stop accepting the enter key once a URL is typed in, it just forgets that key exists. There is an easy fix for it but it comes back eventually. It handles most pages well, but once again anything heavy in CSS or many of the modern pages just don't work well. There is no clear winner with these, but having all three installed is a benefit everyone should have.

Aside from browsers I have found OS 9 to be very competent at everything else. Of course your milage will vary here, but let me outline some of things that are important to me. Word Processing is a key thing, and OS 9 does this quite well. There are many choices out there, but my favorite is still Appleworks. Digital photography is important to me too, and OS 9 does this average in my opinion. There might be apps out there that I am not aware of, of course if I hear of any great ones I will install OS 9 and check em out, but consider OS 9 lacking in the photo arena compared to modern OS's. Email is email, nothing big there and there are MANY email apps out there that work perfectly to this day. Chatting is also important to me, I use two different clients, AOL IM and Google Talk. The AIM (AOL IM) side of things is easy in OS 9, just install the last version of AIM and your up and running. As for Google Talk.. I have yet to find a Jabber client for OS 9. If anyone knows of one please drop a note and I will check it out. Networking works well, as I have no problem browsing other Macs or PC's in the house. OS X and Windows can see the Clamshell while OS 9 is installed, so no worries there. I would say for a student on a tight budget that has an older mac, or one of these Clamshells, OS 9 would work quite well for writing papers, chatting, emailing, and light surfing. And using OS 9 frees you of having to upgrade the computer to run them!

OS X Panther 10.3.9 (1.1GB minimum install size - 320MB of ram recommended)

I consider Panther to be the sweet spot for OS X love on the Clamshell. It is still a very modern OS, is 100% compatible with most things out there, has modern browsers that are updated, and even runs most of Apples latest apps. Speed is important and a Clamshell with an extra 256MB - 512MB of ram installed it is quite speedy. I find Panther to be very efficient on the Clamshell, and it gets my nod for best choice of OS's. But there are a few things however that annoy me about Panther. Whenever you do an Apple update and it gets to the optimizing system part, it grinds to snails pace. It takes FOREVER to finish this part, so doing the updates to get you to 10.3.9 takes a bit of time. Of course once your done with the major updates this isn't much of a problem, but it's still an annoyance. Also the desktop doesn't seem to update recent files to it until you actually click somewhere on the desktop. I never understood why this happens but until you click on the desktop you will see a temporary file name of your file or nothing at all. Once you click the desktop it fixes itself, but still it's annoying. As far as OS features are concerned everything works well. Expose works, all the apps work, networking works, even the screensavers work here. If you have Panther laying around I recommend this OS for your Clamshell, it is a great balance of speed and features. You would have to spend a little money here though to get the most out of Panther, memory and a larger HD are recommended.

OS X Tiger 10.4.X (1.9GB minimum install size - 576MB of ram recommended)

Tiger I am currently running on my Clamshell, and I will for a few weeks until I am satisfied that I have run as many apps as I can. The OS takes up far more room to install, and if you have one of the default hard drives in there you can feel cramped quickly. Myself I have a 10GB HD in mine and taking up nearly 2GB of space for the stock OS is troublesome. After doing all the 10.4 updates to 10.4.8 (current as of this writing) it expands to about 2.4GB. Apps take up much more space in Tiger as well, the modern the OS the more space everything uses. If you choose Tiger I recommend a faster and higher capacity HD be installed to get the most out of Tiger. Memory is also an issue with Tiger, having 320MB 64 stock + 256MB upgrade (most common with Clamshells) is not enough IMHO. Tiger is a memory hog so if you plan to run Tiger max out your memory to the full 576MB (64 + 512MB upgrade), it will cost you around $100 or so for a 512MB stick of PC-100 / 133 memory, and much more to get a new HD installed, so ask yourself if spending the money is worth it at all just to run Tiger, which will still run slower then Panther would with less memory. Everything in Tiger works on the Clamshell, expose and Widgets are there, and run acceptably, but the OS is a little slower overall. The benefit here is that Tiger is the most recent OS Apple has, and everything out there is made with this in mind. You will benefit from all of Apple's most recent apps, most recent security updates, and generally get the whole fully modern package. But there is a downside. Apps like iPhoto will not install (by default) with the limited 800x600 screen resolution. iTunes, Safari, and all the other default apps work quite well, but I have noticed that Safari is slower while using Tiger on the Clamshell then it is with the last Safari in Panther, of course RSS and some of the newest browser goodies are not in Panthers version of Safari, but you can always use Firefox or other modern browsers for that. Overall I would only recommend Tiger on a Clamshell if you have maxed the memory to 576MB, have a high speed (5400RPM+) HD, and don't mind things running a little slower as a compromise for having all the latest apps and OS features. Running Tiger as I am now with the 4200RPM 10GB HD default HD is slow and cramped. If you are a music person and live for your iPod and iTunes you will find yourself filling that HD very quickly. All in all Tiger does run surprisingly well being the most recent OS on a 5-6 year old laptop, and having features like Spotlight is a real bonus, but upgrading the laptop to run it well might be a little much and a little too costly for the end outcome. Only the biggest Clamshell fans will upgrade to the max for Tiger and beyond! For the rest of you I would say buy a more modern iBook before upgrading a Clamshell if you want speed and future support.

There you have it, I will probably be updating this post in the future as I test out more apps and different OS's. Leopard is just around the corner and I will of course be getting it for my iMac and my wifes Macbook, I will also be installing it on the Clamshell to test it out! I am not optimistic on it running very well, but time will tell. At this point I have decided I am not going to upgrade my Clamshell anymore, and what it has is what it has. Whichever OS runs best (pretty much Panther) will end up being my OS of choice. Also my Indigo Clamshell has recently had a problem with its CD-Rom drive. Sometimes it works and other times it just keeps clicking and not reading a thing. I suspect it has just run its course and is dying a natural CD-Rom death. A quick check on Ebay has shown they are quite cheap to replace, around $20-50 average price. But I will not be fixing it. I can install anything on it using another Mac using the Firewire Target Disk Mode feature. For a student or just a fan of the Clamshell I would recommend one any day, they are still my favorite laptops ever made. I truly wish Apple would revise the design idea for a modern laptop, with cool colors and a bigger screen with an Intel Core CPU, but Apple seems to have abandoned the idea of personal colors on a computer. Actually in my opinion Apple has become quite boring in the design area. Where once upon a day we had computers like the Power Mac G3-G4 design cases, the Cube, the colorful iMacs and ibooks, now we have only the same designs redone every year. The only thing cool Apple has done lately with color has been the black Macbook, but the price is insane for just a color and a little boring on the color choice. Still it's a step in the right direction giving people the choice of what color their mac is, but the same old simple design with no personality is getting old. Apple, if any of you design people are listening, Add some personality to these computers! You did it before, do it again!

Anyway, please feel free to speak out and add to this thread, maybe if people like it enough it can become a sticky as many people still talk about the Clamshells and what they should install on them. I hope you Clamshell owners will speak out and add your own thoughts to this as well, maybe you have a different perspective on the OS choice!

Cheers for now.



Updated notes:

Quicktime performance...

OS 9.2.2 only has up to Quicktime 6, and they run very well on the Clamshell.

Panther - I wouldn't recommend going past Quicktime 6.5. Runs well but a little slow when viewing within a browser.

Tiger - You get stuck with Quicktime 7+ here, and runs horribly. Forget any videos inside the browser, they just dont run well at all and might bring down the browser. Downloaded movies will run but only if the movie is a lower resolution. If Quicktime is important to you avoid Tiger completely. VLC is a little faster, but honestly it is still very slow.

I would love to hear from someone with a 466Mhz Clamshell maxed out at 576MB of memory and using a fast 5400-7200 RPM HD viewing Quicktimes in Tiger. Would be very helpful. Also if you have a 300Mhz original Clamshell I would like to hear about your quicktime experiences as well.
( Last edited by ChasingApple; Nov 5, 2006 at 07:26 AM. )
iMac G4 / Macbook
     
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Nov 4, 2006, 09:43 PM
 
Nice post chasing! I've only ran OS 9 on my clammy. Personally, if you're serious about using your clammy for more then messing around, it may be worth the upgrade to OS X. I'm happy as a clam (no pun intended) using OS 9 and I always use Internet Explorer or iCab to surf the web. I prefer IE when I'm in a rush because it renders pages quickly but iCab renders pages much more correctly. It all depends on what you're looking for. To me, iCab isn't worth the load time.

Just my thoughts..

Just so people know, I'm running a 366 MHZ clamshell stock with 128 mb of ram and airport.
MacBook Pro | 2.16 Ghz CD | 100 Gb HD | 2 Gb RAM | 10.4
iBook Clamshell | 466 Mhz | 60 Gb HD | 576 Mb RAM | 10.4
     
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Nov 4, 2006, 10:17 PM
 
Thanks, I usually have Panther on mine when I'm not testing anything. Which version of IE are you using?

Indigo Clamshell 366Mhz / 576Mb ram / 10GB HD / Airport.
iMac G4 / Macbook
     
Baninated
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Nov 5, 2006, 05:37 AM
 
nice review..
     
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Nov 19, 2006, 01:36 AM
 
CHEERIO! i think the reason not many have added to this post is that there's nothing left to say. myself? haven't tried tiger and have no plans to do so. i like both panther and 9 and use them both. there's an app called macwise that i only have an os9 copy of. need to run it every sunday night and sometimes i'll stay in 9 for a week or 2. when i get tired of it i go to panther and when i want more speed i go back to 9. like having a dual boot machine, adds to the coolness of the clamshell. i don't have to choose which one i like the best.
imac g3 600
imac g4 800 superdrive
ibook 466
     
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Nov 19, 2006, 08:51 AM
 
Excellent post.

I used 9.2.2 for a little while but didn't like it so i removed it as i thought that it was just taking up unnecessary space as i was hardly using it. I didn't like the layout of this OS. Also, the age of the software meant that it would not work with some sites so smoothly as a more modern OS does.

I am using Panther 10.3.9 on my Clamshell currently and i have no desire to try Tiger as it more of a resource hog for these Clamshells.

Panther for me works well. Some things would be nice like a more detailed system profile panel but i can live with that. Most apps do work with Panther and it is not such as resource hog like Tiger given its less lower ram requirements so i will stick with that.

I am thinking about trying ubuntu though especially since i read that these Clamshell's with the 8MB of video ram can support 1024x768 in linux.
     
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Nov 19, 2006, 11:24 AM
 
Hey guys.

On my new clamshell, I'm running Tiger and OS 9. I know, shame on me! Even though it is slower then on my MacBook Pro it is more then useable. I would say it boots up within a minute (not the crazy amount of time others have observed). Does anyone have any questions about tiger on a clamshell?

FYI, the specs of my new clamshell are in my signature.
MacBook Pro | 2.16 Ghz CD | 100 Gb HD | 2 Gb RAM | 10.4
iBook Clamshell | 466 Mhz | 60 Gb HD | 576 Mb RAM | 10.4
     
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Dec 30, 2006, 01:02 PM
 
someone is reporting (don't have a link) that leopard runs better on g3's than tiger.


i have a feeling that the last opinion hasn't been spoken here yet.
imac g3 600
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Dec 30, 2006, 03:32 PM
 
I am going to firewire install Leapard onto my clamshell when it comes out for sure! I just hope Apple doesn't block it from installing on it. I am still running tiger and getting a good testing of every app I can, and for the most part it runs everything I throw at it. Of course speed is an issue with some things, but it gets the job done. I will NEVER part with this laptop, lol.

A friend of mine wants to buy my Alienware off of me, so soon I will be back to Macs only. My G4 iMac and my G3 iBook clammy.
( Last edited by ChasingApple; Dec 30, 2006 at 04:33 PM. )
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Baninated
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Dec 31, 2006, 01:39 AM
 
Ubuntu Linux, flame me. I have a 300 mHz clamshell the runs it great. I have it on there now, and I dont' even bother anymore with OS9. I can't dual-boot and I've heard other clamshell users having issues with this (added memory problem), but u don't need it. Thinking about writing a report on what to do to install linux on older macs. I still. love my clamshell though.
     
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Dec 31, 2006, 01:56 AM
 
When the CD-Rom worked on my clamshell I also had ubuntu on there for a time. But no longer, and since ubuntu does not support any kind of firewire install there is no way for me to get it back on there for additional testing.

I am stuck with Apple OS's I'm afraid, which isn't a bad thing =)

P.S. I would love a write-up on this thread about Ubuntu, I can add it to the original post if you write it up and send it over to me!
iMac G4 / Macbook
     
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Dec 31, 2006, 03:43 AM
 
Originally Posted by Todd Partridge View Post
Ubuntu Linux, flame me. I have a 300 mHz clamshell the runs it great. I have it on there now, and I dont' even bother anymore with OS9. I can't dual-boot and I've heard other clamshell users having issues with this (added memory problem), but u don't need it. Thinking about writing a report on what to do to install linux on older macs. I still. love my clamshell though.
where you been man? welcome to the nuthouse. how long have you had your clamshell? what you got to say about linux on this thing?
imac g3 600
imac g4 800 superdrive
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Jan 7, 2007, 01:28 AM
 
I've recently obtained an iBook Indigo clamshell Mac. It's a stock 366 MHZ with 64M ram and a 10G HD with FireWire.

It was the result of Google search that brought me here. I was looking for a computer to cut my teeth on Ubuntu Linux, and this computer seemed like the perfect candidate. But after reading the original post, I hope to get Panther running on this machine and make it a viable Mac.

I've recently ordered 512M ram and a 60GB HD. I should get them soon. I plan on upgrading the iBook and installing Panther. With screwdriver in hand I will chant, "I am not afraid!"

I will repost when the shtuff happens.

Any further thoughts are appreciated.
     
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Jan 7, 2007, 09:01 AM
 
upgrade your firmware before you install 10.3. also upgrade os 9 to 9.2.2 and keep 9 and 10 on the machine. 9 doesn't take up much space. ifixit.com for instructions on the harddrive. you may know all of this already. good luck and welcome to the forums.
imac g3 600
imac g4 800 superdrive
ibook 466
     
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Jan 8, 2007, 10:50 AM
 
I have been thinking more about giving Unbuntu a try. How would you go about putting Unbuntu on a Clamshell is it straight forward? Do you have to buy a CD and if so does anybody know the name of the CD that i will need? I have read about a Live CD and i am not quite sure what that is.
Thanks
     
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Jan 8, 2007, 06:40 PM
 
Great article, ChasingApple! Nice pics, too!

I've got 9.2.2 on my indigo iBook, as well as 10.3.9 (and I swapped out the CD drive for the DVD from a dead Graphite SE a few years back!)
     
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Jan 8, 2007, 09:43 PM
 
Originally Posted by rach View Post
I have been thinking more about giving Unbuntu a try. How would you go about putting Unbuntu on a Clamshell is it straight forward? Do you have to buy a CD and if so does anybody know the name of the CD that i will need? I have read about a Live CD and i am not quite sure what that is.
Thanks
Go here.

Click "North America" (or whatever country you live in) under "Ubuntu 6.10, the newest release". Click on your country. Find a mirror from the list that is close to where you live - it can make a difference in download speeds. Click the mirror and download the "CD Image for Apple Macintosh". Download the ISO and burn it in Disk Utility.

If you're burning on a Windows machine, download Alex Feinman's ISO Recorder PowerToy and install it. You can then right-click on the ISO and hit "copy to CD".

Boot off the CD (Option+Boot or C+Boot). When Ubuntu is finished booting, there should be an icon on the desktop of Ubuntu to install to a hard drive. I don't know why, but I was never able to install to my clamshell - it got 90% done and then failed, rolled back the installation, and I was too impatient to try it again. Just a sidenote.

Make sure your drive is already partitioned and ready to go. If you want to dual-boot, it's a good idea to install OS X or OS 9 first on the first partition. Ubuntu goes on the second partition, and you should have a third partition available for the two to read/write to in order to share files. I'd recommend formatting in FAT32 - it's the most universal format and will allow sharing between Linux, UNIX, a Mac OS (I'm assuming OS 9 supports FAT32 read/write), and Windows.

Good luck! Use the forums at ubuntu.com if you have problems.
     
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Jan 9, 2007, 05:32 PM
 
Shifuimam thank you for your help I will have a go this weekend installing Unbuntu.
     
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Jan 9, 2007, 10:55 PM
 
Linux.
     
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Jan 13, 2007, 12:20 AM
 
All I know is that I put a 20 gig hard drive in my 300 blueberry many moons ago, and I still wake up with nightmares over the operation.

It did extend the life of my iBook 300, which is currently running 10.3.9 ... although the battery is dead and it lives its days as a print server high on a shelf.

As a print server, it performs well (and attractively). It serves both as a conduit for a USB Epson inkjet and an Appletalk HP 6mp (1 fine printer ... almost 10 years old and still shining).

Equipped with 288 MB ram, I would use it for other things, and send my PM 9600 up on the shelf as a print server if I could bring myself to justifying a new battery. I think OWC still sells them.

Besides, I still need my 9600 to run my SyQuest, Zip and MO drives. Anyone remember those?
     
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Jan 14, 2007, 02:27 AM
 
Hello again. I posted on 1/6 about my intentions of upgrading my clamshell iBook to Panther in favor of Ubuntu. Well, my parts came in.

I received a 512 MB ram chip and a 60GB HD from Newegg on Wed. Thanks to posts here I was able to upgrade the firmware. I even upgraded to 9.2.1 just for something to do, even though I knew I'd be upgrading the hard drive. But I did it anyway.

I printed out the most excellent advice on upgrading the HD from iFixit.com (how refreshing it is to see all the steps beforehand with detailed pictures AND a screw guide!)

The upgrade went well for the most part. However, I have one small screw left over and I forgot to reconnect the speaker during reassembly. Pffft! I'll try to remedy that tomorrow. The hardest part was getting the middle hinge screwed back to the chassis. The screws are really small.

She works just fine. The new ram is recognized. OS X wouldn't install until I used Disk Util to partition and name the drive. Right now, as it stands, she's running OS X 10.2.8, thanks to Apple Updates.

Now I'm stuck on trying to get the machine from 10.2.8 Jaguar up to 10.3.9 Panther. Chances are that I will have to buy it. Unless... Unless one of you has any ideas. Yeah, there's always eBay.

I thought I'd share this with the group.

With such a polished and sophisticated OS as the Macintosh has, Ubuntu will just have to take a back burner for now.
iMac G5 1.8, Mac mini 1.66 Intel, iMac G3 700, PowerMac 6500 250, iBook 366
     
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Jan 14, 2007, 10:34 PM
 
While OS 9.x runs faster and uses less RAM, the web browsers are all out of date or hobbled somehow. Your best bet is to max the RAM on the thing and run Mac OS X 10.3.9 with FireFox and Mail. Good luck, and save your pennies for an upgrade. Even an snow iBook G3 with a 12" screen would be a vast improvement over a clamshell iBook and you could get one cheap at this point. Better yet get an iBook G4 with a 14" screen and run Tiger on it.

Good luck!
Earth is Heaven in Drag.
     
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Jan 14, 2007, 10:53 PM
 
I'd just like to chime in and say how nice of a clamshell you have.
BlacBook | 2.0ghz core duo | 2x320gb | 2gb ram | mba superdrive
     
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Jan 14, 2007, 11:03 PM
 
I have 3 of these machines hanging around now, and support another one on a routine basis. They are *tough* and so nice to lug around since you don't need a laptop bag for them.

I have a 300, a 366, and a 466.

The 300 is pretty slow with any version of OSX, mostly because I never bothered to upgrade it beyond 160 megs of ram. But, I run 10.3.x on it and it browses the web and such just fine that way. Just don't run more than one or two programs at once.

The 366 also runs 10.3.x but has 320 megs of memory. It runs much better and is usable for many "every day" functions.

The 466 runs the latest build of Tiger (10.4), has 320 megs of memory, and runs very nicely for most normal applications. This is currently my lug-around, as it is nicer to take the coffee shops etc. than my Powerbook G4, simply because it is self-contained (no laptop bag...), rugged, and fast enough for the wireless access I need when out and about.

As long as you're reasonable about the applications you run, and as long as you have enough memory (I highly recommend adding at least a 256 meg chip), any of the clamshells can still be useful.
     
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Jan 16, 2007, 07:13 AM
 
So I loaded 10.3 onto my friends clamshell (blue 300htz) and everything went well except one thing - it will not recognize .dmg files - asks what application it should use to open it. Very strange.

I upgraded to 10.3.9 using Software update hopping that would fix things but no change. It also doesn't seem to know what to do with .ini. or any file that opens/loads/unpacks things etc.

The only way I can get a .dmg file to mount is through Disk Utility (loaded Photoshop this way)

Any ideas?

Is it possible in the custom upgarde of 10.3 I ticked something to not load that was important?
     
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Jan 16, 2007, 04:45 PM
 
Hi Guys, first time posting and looking for some simple info. I have an Indigo clamshell cd-rom. What is the maximum RAM and HD I can put in the iBook ? At the start of the thread ChasingApple didnt mention Jaguar- should that not be tried out on a clamshell ? Thanks in advance for your help
     
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Mar 31, 2008, 02:45 PM
 
Speaking about upgrading RAM for original clamshell, is there any brand which I could find cheaply on EBAY? Any suggestion on Brand and model? Thanks.
     
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Mar 31, 2008, 03:18 PM
 
No zombie threads.

If you're looking for RAM, check out and post in our RAM sticky: http://forums.macnn.com/69/mac-noteb...ked-questions/

If you're looking for advice on what clamshell model to choose, feel free to start a new thread for that topic.
     
   
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