Panther clean install

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
December 4th, 2003 • 6:09 am

I finally decided that I was experiencing too many small glitches, and proceeded to reinstall Panther from scratch, i.e. by erasing my Mac OS X partition and doing a clean install.

We still have way too many Mac OS X applications and utilities that cannot be installed by simply dragging and dropping them. It didn’t take me too long to install Panther itself and complete the handful of system and software updates required to bring all my Apple stuff up to date. But the rest took me quite a while. Some applications simply had to be reinstalled from CD (Microsoft and Adobe stuff, plus some utilities), while others could be dragged and dropped, but then I still had to retrieve the customized settings that are stored either in the home library itself or in the Application Support folder or in the Preferences folder inside the home library.


Now I am back to normal (more or less), but I’m sure I’ll discover things that still need to be updated/restored in the next few days. I can already tell that some of the glitches are gone: the Volume menu extra now displays the menu level properly, and I can log back in again after logging out. (That last one was my main motivation for doing a clean install. I could just tell that it would be fixed by doing this.)

I am still not getting the rotating cube effect when using fast user switching, however. I suspect this is a hardware-related issue. (I am using a dual-monitor setup.)

11 Responses to “Panther clean install”

  1. Clint MacDonald says:


    You have all my sympathies (I had to do a clean install recently under similar circumstances). On the bright side — at least under Jaguar and earlier — there have been reports that a clean install will speed up OS X’s look and feel.


  2. Pierre Igot says:

    Thanks :). I think things could be made somewhat simpler by clearly separating, in the library folders, the stuff that can be recovered from a backup from the stuff that it’s best to let Mac OS X rebuild from scratch.

    Right now, you cannot simply drag the entire user library folder from a backup to the fresh install and drop in the home folder. First, there are (already running) things that refuse to be replaced. Then there are all kinds of caches that you do not want to copy. Ditto for preference files. All kinds of .plist files can become corrupted over time, so it’s best to only copy back the ones that you are sure of.

    There’s just too much stuff that needs to be done manually.

    I haven’t really noticed any performance improvements.

  3. bongoman says:

    I just did an “upgrade” install of Panther and have had no issues whatsoever.

    Initially I wanted to do a clean install but when i realised how long it would take to re-install all my apps I decided I had better things to do.

  4. Pierre Igot says:

    Same here (initially) but I did have some weird problems… However, some of them were not fixed by the clean install. Bummer.

  5. jkoce says:

    any suggestions on doing a clean install of panther? i have jaguar and os9 at the moment.

  6. Pierre Igot says:

    jkoce: Don’t understand your question. Do you want to know how to do a clean install of Panther? Just select the “Erase and Install” option in the installer. Make sure you have a backup copy of everything important first, though.

  7. jkoce says:

    thanks pierre for the quick reply…

    i was reading your post about backing up preferences and libraries….

    what i’m wondering is will my itunes music, and iphoto pictures still be intact? i know i can do an erase and install.

    so if i back up the iphoto folder to a cd or network drive, then when i go to restore it, will the photos still be organized by their original date, or will they use the date of restore?

  8. Pierre Igot says:

    In order to preserve your iTunes music library and iPhoto library, you need to back them up as well. The iTunes music library is inside the “Music” folder in your home folder (make sure you back up both the file called “iTunes 4 Music Library” (which contains the information about the way you’ve organized your files) and the “iTunes Music” folder (which contains all the actual music files themselves).

    For iPhoto, you need to back up the “iPhoto Library” folder inside the “Pictures” folder in your home folder.

    In addition to this, you might want to back up the preference files for both applications, i.e. and AFAIK, if you do that, everything will be preserved, including the dates. (I am not a regular iPhoto user.)

    In fact, if you can, I’d recommend that you back up your entire home folder. This way, you can later retrieve the files that you need to recreate your working environment after the clean install. You shouldn’t copy the whole home folder back after the clean install, because that would defeat the purpose of the clean install in the first place (which eliminates potentially corrupted preference files and cache files). But you can use some files from your backup selectively, one at a time. The iTunes and iPhoto files should be pretty safe (i.e. the likelihood of file corruption in these files is fairly low).

  9. jkoce says:

    wow thankyou for the clear reply. my main reason for doing a clean install is that i want to get rid of os9, as i am beginning to run out of disk space on my tiBook.

    i searched around on the apple support sites and didn’t find anything that directly answered what files were neccessary to preseve settings/dates/etc for my applications.

    thx again

  10. Big mistake says:

    I just did a clean install on my mac and there where some files that I forgot to back up. Is there any way to recover them?

  11. Pierre Igot says:

    If you did an “Archive and Install”, then your old files have been archived. (Can’t remember exactly where.)

    If you did a really “clean” install with the “Erase Volume” option, then there’s little hope, short of trying some recovery utility and see if it can recover any bits that haven’t been erased by the new format & install.

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