Friday, December 5, 2008

Which version of Mac OS will my Macintosh run?

If you aren't sure which versions of the Mac OS are compatible with your Macintosh, here are some excellent resources to find out:

AppleCare's Knowledge Base includes several relevant articles on the topic:
My favorite tool for finding a quick answer to this question is Ian Page's awesome MacTracker, a comprehensive collection of vital information about every model of Macintosh that is available as a free Mac OS X or Windows application, or via a web site that's optimized for viewing on an iPhone or iPod Touch.

Now, as for which version of the Mac OS is optimal for your model of Macintosh, well, that's beyond the scope of this article. The folks over at have a number of helpful articles on this topic, though.

System Picker

Dan Knight wrote an article for back in 2001 entitled System 6 or System 7? In the article he describes several ways to switch between using System versions on the same Macintosh, and recommends a utility called System Picker:
System picker is a freeware utility that lets you pick which one of two or more System Folders on your hard drive will be active at the next startup. Kevin Aitken's little utility does this by "blessing" the system you select. (Blessing is Apple's name for selecting one System Folder as the active one.)
Unfortunately, the link to download System Picker from Apple's Developer site no longer works. I was able to locate a copy after a good bit of hunting, and that experience led me to decide that I would begin to collect and archive legacy Mac tools to save myself and others the time and frustration in the future. Until that archive is established you can find System Picker here.

I do not yet have personal experience with System Picker but plan to test it soon. Be sure to read Dan's excellent article for tips on how to install two different operating system versions on the same drive. Not sure which versions of the OS your Mac supports? See this article to find out!

Unscheduled downtime

Looks like when I installed the Ooma last night my DHCP supplied IP address was changed and didn't catch the update, so is not able to connect to the Color Classic web server until I get home to fix that.

And I was hoping that this would be a 100% uptime month! Maybe January ...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Changes for early December 2008

I haven't found a way to get the hard drive to spin down on the Color Classic even when all of the applications are running off a RAM disk, so I've given up on that option. When this hard drive calls it quits I may decide to seek silence by installing a solid state drive like the clever fellow over at junkstation did for his Performa 450! I have an 8G compact flash sitting in a drawer from an old Canon digital camera that would increase drive space on the Color Classic by a factor of 100 and reduce heat and noise inside the case dramatically.

The web pages have been updated to include a new banner (see previous blog posting) as well as a little sound easter egg you can hunt for yourself.

The Belkin wireless gateway arrived but I've not had a chance to test it yet. Right now I need to get my new Ooma Hub online to quit paying for phone service!

Banner for legacy Mac servers

Apple entered the internet server market on April 10, 1995 when they introduced their Apple Internet Server Solution at Internet World in San Jose, CA. The press announcement described it as "an affordable and easy way to establish a presence on the Information Superhighway."

Included in the software bundled with the servers was a graphic logo for placement on web pages to tell the world they were hosted on a web server powered by an Apple Macintosh:

I've spotted this logo on a couple of web sites served up by legacy Macs and thought it rather clever, but decided to change it up a bit to send a more accurate message. You are welcome to add it to your web site if you like:

Friday, November 21, 2008

Color Classic internet connection over wireless?

Ever since I helped configure a wireless ethernet adapter at a friend's house I've pondered whether the Color Classic could be connected to the internet without a direct ethernet cable.

The folks at are offering a Belkin F5D7330 802.11g wireless ethernet adapter for $19.99 this week, so I decided to spring for the purchase and give it a try. The product description includes the following statements which give me a glimmer of hope:
  • Works with all Ethernet-equipped computers or network devices
  • Requires no drivers, setup, or configuration
  • Comes with a Belkin Lifetime Warranty and free, 24-hour technical support
  • Automatically connects to the wireless network by the touch of a button
One gotcha may be that it is USB powered (does not have an external adapter) but I plan to get around that with a spare iPod charging adapter with a USB socket that plugs into an AC outlet.

I'll report back on my progress after it arrives. If I get stumped I can always try their free technical support!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Running MacHTTP off a RAM disk?

I am considering trying to run MacHTTP from a RAM disk to reduce wear and tear on the hard disk of the Color Classic. The drive spins constantly while the machine is on (which is 24/7/365) and while the first drive lasted 15 years it only makes sense to conserve the life of the replacement and reduce the electricity the Color Classic uses if possible.

My Color Classic has 10MB of RAM (the maximum it can recognize). System software is using a whopping 4MB of that, and if MacHTTP runs for awhile it wants 4 MB, too. The only other application that I have running concurrently is ftpd for updating the server via ftp over my local network (my router blocks incoming ftp connections for security purposes).

The memory control panel will only let me set a RAM disk for a little over 3MB. Maybe setting the disk cache to higher number will help? I guess I need to review the memory usage concepts from System 7.6.x.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Visitor tracking software upgrade

Visitor statistics for the Color Classic Web Server are kept using a free service from Extreme Tracking. They recently upgraded their tracking software to a new version which required starting the statistics all over again (the new software does cannot import the previous data).

You are welcome to view the new statistics as well as the old data which collected visitor information from 21 July 2004 through 14 November 2008. During that timespan the Color Classic Web Server averaged 98 visitors a month. The busiest month by far was December of 2007 with 965 visitors after the Color Classic was featured in an article at

Friday, November 14, 2008

Hard drive transplant complete

The original Quantum 80 MB hard disk drive in the Color Classic web server finally called it quits after 15 years of service and as a result the site was offline while a replacement was located and installed. Since a hard drive replacement involves removing the rear case and exposing the high voltage CRT anode I relied on my skilled colleague Lowell who kindly devoted far more time than either of us expected to this task.

Locating a SCSI drive is not a quick and simple task anymore, but a donor Apple-labeled 160 MB Quantum drive was finally installed, formatted, and restored successfully. During the process Lowell put in a replacement battery and used canned air to remove plenty of dust that had settled inside over the years. Freshened and ready for action, the server was brought back online this afternoon and pointers set back to normal for the domain.

We encountered some interesting challenges in formatting the new drive and restoring the software which I will write about shortly. Needless to say when you don't use troubleshooting skills for legacy machines you forget them completely. Thank goodness for the internet where you can search and find answers from others who have taken the time to document the unique aspects of working on a Color Classic in the 21st century!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Back online

The Color Classic web server is back online after a quick round of Disk First Aid. Booting off a System 7.1 Disk Tools floppy and hearing the disk drive grind was a familiar sound I only hear a couple of times a year when I do maintenance like this. What a trip back in time!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Made it through the hurricane

The Color Classic web server remained online throughout Hurricane Ike and it's aftermath, mostly because the hurricane never really affected Austin, turning east after making landfall.

But some recent fall thunderstorms caused power outages in the neighborhood which took the server offline briefly, and it is currently undergoing a hard drive directory rebuild which was required after so many sudden unexpected shutdowns. We should be back online very shortly.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hurricane Ike threatens server status

Hurricane Ike is bearing down on Texas and there are more than a few predictions that parts of Austin may temporarily lose electricity as power lines are downed by high winds and falling tree limbs.

Although the Color Classic server is back on a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) and uses a very small amount of power it also requires a connection to the internet, which means that a downed Time Warner line that carries phone/video/internet services is also a concern. Regardless, once things are back to normal the Color Classic server will return to action.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Previous Color Classic site news

The following news items originally appeared on the story.html page, but I finally realized it's a lot easier to post items like this to a blog instead of manually editing HTML.

The News

Aug 23, 2004 - Google found it!

Oct 28, 2004 - The Color Classic web server is cited in the "Vintage Apple News" area of

Dec 17, 2004 - On a lark I checked to see if the domain was available. Amazingly it was. Minutes later it was mine, and now redirects to this server.

Mar 27, 2005 - Server stats from show that over 100 people a month visit this server. Amazingly, many are Windows users!

May 3, 2005 - a translucent green prototype of the Color Classic sells on eBay for $3,500.00 USD. Really.

Aug 3, 2005 - Ric Ford's popular Macintouch site includes a link to The 68K Macintosh Web Server Directory site, where this site is listed third on the list. Traffic to the Color Classic Web Server skyrockets to 248 visitors in one day, and the Color Classic keeps on serving!

Oct. 25, 2005 - I noticed that even though the Color Classic never crashes and MacHTTP keeps chugging along, the number of HTTP timeouts seems to increase the longer the machine stays on. I've installed Karl Potte's Keep It Up to automatically restart the Color Classic each night around midnight, and set up free web site monitoring through to track the performance of the server and record uptime statistics. Big thanks to Karl for sending a 68k version of Keep It Up from his archives, and to for the free service!

Feb. 12, 2006 - MacHTTP was inexplicably not answering web connections every few days, so it was time to take the Color Classic web server offline for some love and maintenance. Disk Warrior fixed some directory damage and hopefully we're back to normal. Check out the spiffy new favicon in the location bar of your browser, generated by the very cool Favicon from Pics web site.

Feb. 20, 2006 - According to the uptime monitor the server was up 100% of last week, so it looks like the hard disk maintenance did the trick!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

First post at Color Classic Web Server News

The Color Classic web server was offline for a couple of days recently. Our local electric company decided that the day we left for a weekend vacation would be the best one to install a new digital electric meter. Power was offline longer than the UPS could keep the cable modem, router, and Color Classic going, so I had to restart everything on my return. My Belkin UPS won't turn on anymore, so it appears that the battery may need to be replaced.