Home > Mac, Tech Tips, Technology > Installing Leopard on iMac 700MHz with Target Disk Mode

Installing Leopard on iMac 700MHz with Target Disk Mode


I’ve seen a lot of talk about Leopard requiring the latest system just to get it running. So I’m writing to put that myth to sleep.

So, I decided to upgrade the RAM and the OS to either Tiger or Leopard and test the machine with original 40GB hard disk and just an additional 512MB upgrade (for a total of 640MB). If it ran Leopoard tolerably fast and stable enough then I’d make Leopard permanent and upgrade to the the full 1GB RAM, a Bigger Hard disk and a DVD-R, which should provide even better performance. If not then I’d fall back to Tiger rather than Leopard.

Preparing the iMac for the Leopard install.

This was trivial and involved adding a 512MB, 133MHz SODIMM RAM module.

    See the Upgrading the iMac’s RAM to 640 MB post.

  • Next, I rebooted the iMac and tested the memory. All was well.
  • Restart the iMac in Firewire Target Disk mode by holding down T until a few seconds after the chime.
  • I used Firewire target disk mode and CCC to clone the HDD off Tomoko’s 12″ PowerBook Leopard install. This took about an hour for the 10GB or so transfer.

Booted up fine, first time.

Gotchas

After removing various settings for Bluetooth, Airmac and changing the network settings so as not to double up with the PowerBook, I got to work testing.

I was surprised at the performance, expecting it to be slower than it was and the 1024 x 768 screen to be more cramped. But it runs quite well. I tried Safari, Word, Excel and Mail at the same time (a typical day’s work) and found the machine to be pleasant and entirely usable if not amazingly fast. There were none of the annoyances that I have with Tiger on my stock G4 Cube, for example.

I found that the 10.5.2 system install was waiting so I installed that plus graphics update 1.0 and a few other queued updates.

Probably subjective, but I found the whole thing to be even smoother and more responsive. For example, clicking on the finder icon in the dock brings up any open finder windows almost instantaneously over whatever you’re doing at the time.

A lot better than my stock cube with 1.5GB RAM and Tiger.

I’d like to test it out with Tiger for a speed comparison, but quite frankly, besides the lack of awaking from sleep, it’s running so smooth that I don’t see the point.

In conclusion

  • Install from cloned PowerBook HDD using CCC was effortless and took an hour or so for a 10GB install. 
  • Leopard runs trouble free, with so far no crashes or random stuff happening (apart from wake from sleep).
  • 10.5.2 upgrade and Graphics Update 1.0 work wonderfully.
  • 640MB RAM and 40GB HDD gives more than adequate performance for Surfing, iTunes, Office 2004 multitasking.

    Remaining Niggles:

    1. Awakes from sleep with screen artifacts (but at least it can be gracefully reset since the OSX10.5.2 / GU1.0 updates).
    2. Boot up is slow. Haven’t timed it, but it’s slow.
    3. Logging in is slow.

      Of the above complaints, only the first is a real one, since, once logged in, everything is hunky dory.

      I think I’ll keep the machine like this for a week or to so that I can appreciate the upgrade when I perform it.

      I wonder how much faster the Seagate 500GB HDD and extra 386MB of RAM will make it…

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