How can I reinstall Mac OS 9 on a G3 PowerBook's original hard drive?

Savannah: 02 February 2022

I have a PowerBook G3 from 2000 or so and would like to put Mac OS 9 on it for nostalgia reasons. There are games that simply don't perform well with SheepShaver (, plus networking with SheepShaver isn't reliable with Classic multiplayer games.

  • The PowerBook doesn't have a CD-ROM, just a plastic spacer.
  • Apparently the PowerBook G3 Pismo and Lombard variants cannot boot from a USB stick
  • It has Ethernet, and I have a recent MacBook with an Ethernet dongle, but everything I've read about NetBooting and NetInstalling seems difficult and unapproachable. I tried using BootMania ( but it won't let me create an image from any of the Mac OS 9 install disk images I have.
  • The PowerBook originally had Linux or BSD on it or something, so a full reformat is needed.
  • It has a 20 GB 2.5" IDE drive and I have a USB to IDE adapter, so I can connect the drive to the MacBook with Mac OS X.
  • SheepShaver cannot use physical media, so I cannot connect the disk to SheepShaver and run the Mac OS 9 installer on it.

I tried creating a new 512 MB disk from SheepShaver and running the Mac OS 9.2 Universal Installer ( to install OS9 on it. Then I formatted the physical drive with an Apple Partition Map and the partition as HFS Extended Journaled, then I mounted the drive and copied (dragged over) the files and System Folder from the newly-installed disk image. But when I boot the PowerBook with the drive hooked up I just get the blinking folder icon. If I hold Option I get the Reload and Next buttons but no disks are shown.

I also tried dd-ing a working SheepShaver boot image to the physical disk, but I guess that doesn't have a partition map on it or something. It didn't work and diskutil list showed it as "Unknown."

Do you have any ideas how I can get Mac OS 9 back on my PowerBook?

Hudson: 02 February 2022

I tried dding the the Mac OS 9.2 Universal Installer ( to the hard disk, but that didn't work.

@jaume put me on the right path, so I dd-ed the ISO to a USB stick, held down option at boot, and I'm able to install Mac OS 9 to the original hard disk. Success! Thank you!

The real thing I learned is that Mac OS 9 boot volumes need half a dozen special driver partitions. Older versions of Mac OS X, up to 10.12 or something, let you partition OS 9 drives correctly using the Disk Utility which had an "Install Mac OS 9 Drivers" option. I used hdiutil info to check that the ISO had these partitions.