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Mac OS/8 - Is is for you?

by Joel Ness

This summer, Apple released version 8.0 of the Macintosh Operating System. OS/8 includes a number of "behind-the-scenes" improvements as well as quite a bit of "look-and-feel" changes to the Finder. OS/8 also offers personal web sharing - the ability to turn your Macintosh into a web server. Apple will soon be shipping most of its new computers with OS/8 already installed.

Should you upgrade? Well, perhaps, if you feel you need some of OS/8's new features, and if you are comfortable with installing system software on your Macintosh (see Upgrade tips, below). However, for most folks our general advice is, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

If your Macintosh is currently doing what you need it to do it may not be worth the cost and time spent in upgrading your operating system. OS/8 does seem to provide more stability, and possibly even some speed improvement, over earlier systems. However, if you're experiencing problems with your Mac (frequent crashes, etc.) it's probably a better idea to track down the source of those problems directly rather than (or before) installing a newer version of the operating system in hopes that it will make things better.

OS/8 requirements

OS/8 will run on 68040-based Macintoshes, but is probably only worth installing on Macs that use the PowerPC chip. You should also have at least 16MB of RAM (real "chip" memory, not including virtual memory) - which is our recommendation for a PowerMac running any version of the Mac OS.

Upgrade tips

If you do upgrade your Mac to OS/8, here are a few suggestions:

Do a "clean" install. If your current System Folder has had some "history" to it (meaning that you have had your Mac for a year or two and have installed a fair amount of software on it - particularly third-party extensions and System Folder utilities), you should probably choose the "Perform Clean Install" option that installs a new System Folder rather than installing OS/8 over your current System Folder. This also allows you to revert back to your previous System Folder again if you have problems with getting everything working with OS/8. If you install a new OS/8 System Folder you'll probably have to reinstall most of your applications in order to get necessary System Folder components into the right places.

Don't install all the bells and whistles. The OS/8 installer will actually run a number of separate install programs for various Apple system components, depending on what you select in the initial setup screen. We recommend that you don't install OpenDoc, Cyberdog, QuickDraw GX, Apple Remote Access, Internet Access, and (unless you are installing on a home computer) Open Transport PPP . You may need to click on the "Customize" button to disable all these unneeded features.

Get your Internet software working. If you install a "clean" OS/8 System Folder you'll need to configure your TCP/IP control panel in order for Internet applications such as Netscape and Telnet to work. One easy way of doing this is to run the Internet Software Installer on our AppleShare Guest server (use your Chooser to connect as a "Guest" to the Guest server in the UMD-MWAH zone) or our Internet Connection Kit CD available at the UMD Computer Corner. If you choose the Ethernet option the installer will put a properly configured TCP/IP Preferences file in your Preferences folder.

Read everything before installing anything. We know, you bought a Mac so you wouldn't have to read manuals and instructions. But you'll probably save yourself time in the long run, and learn things that will help you use your Macintosh more effectively, by taking the time to read all the Readme files on your OS/8 CD before installing the OS/8.

Information Services staff can also install your copy of OS/8 (or troubleshoot problems you might be having with your own OS/8 install) at our regular $35/hr consulting rates.

If you have questions relating to upgrading your Macintosh's operating system, contact Joel Ness (x8841, e-mail: jness) or MaryJo Langlee-Twight (x8790, e-mail: mlanglee). [an error occurred while processing this directive]
Last Revised on 09/18/97 sab [an error occurred while processing this directive]