Repairing and upgrading an iMac G3 (Part 2)

November 23rd 2018, 14:55 | Written by Konstantin Koll

I finished upgrading my iMac G3 that I got as a birthday gift—and it was much easier than expected!

Swapping the harddrive for an SSD

After upgrading the RAM to get the hang of it, replacing the noisy and dying 10 GB harddrive with an SSD was the next task. I was afraid I had to take the whole device apart, but the process was indeed much easier than expected.

It is quite easy to reach the drive cage: unscrew the clear plastic bottom that is held by 4 screws, and remove the metal mesh that is beneath it. It is fixed by 6 screws: two at the bottom, and 4 around the edges. It was tough to get the harddrive out, though, as one of the screws was heavily twisted. That's always my favorite part when upgrading a computer: resorting to blunt violence! I literally sawed out the damaged screw and part of the drive cage. As a courtesy to the previous owner, I attached the old harddrive to my Windows PC and wiped it.

Installing OS X

It is obvious that the iMac could no longer boot from the blank SSD. I purchased a retail copy of OS X 10.3 Panther. The latest version my iMac G3 could run is OS X 10.4 Tiger, which requires a firmware update. However, without OS X, this firmware update cannot be installed—hence I stepped back a version and purchased OS X 10.3 Panther. Also make sure to obtain the retail version which works on any machine, and not some weird rescue CD which works on a specific device only!

The iMac booted just fine from the first CD, and recognized the new SSD. Older OS X versions could only boot from a partition fully within the first 8 GB of the harddrive, but OS X 10.3 Panther is fine with a single volume spanning the entire SSD. The rest of the installation process was a breeze, and I am now the proud owner of a refurbished and upgraded iMac! The encore is Apple Works 6, which came bundled with my OS X purchase.

I'll keep the iMac for a short time to play around with it and take some screenshots of the gorgeous Aqua UI, and then sell the machine and all spare parts. Thank you Kai, Michael and Nadine!

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