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I'm planning to sell my ancient G3 iBook running OS 10.3. Before I do, it seems prudent to create a new admin, purge the old users, and wipe the disk's free space.

I'd do a clean reinstall but the media hasn't survived many moves over the years (this thing is ancient).


  • Is there a "reset" function that does what I want without requiring any discs?
  • What reputable PPC OS 10.3 tool exists to wipe free space and maybe delete old meta files (I'm thinking of something like CCleaner on windows)?
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When you say "the media", is this the Mac OS X cdrom or the cdrom reader on the computer ? – Studer Jul 31 '10 at 14:38
I have a disc drive, but not discs for it – Michael Haren Jul 31 '10 at 18:36
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Now I know you're missing your 10.3 install disc, but to really do this properly, that's just what you need. More on that in a moment.

The typical sequence would be to boot from your install disc, run Disk Utility to reformat (and depending on how paranoid you are, do a 1- 7- or 23-time random-whole-disk-rewrite—that's basically what @Nathan Adams' DBAN software does, except this is built into Disk Utility) and then reinstall 10.3 and whatever iLife software came with it from scratch. Then on the first boot, just shut down when it asks you to create your login account. To your buyer, your machine will behave like new.

Of course, this requires that you boot from something other than the iBook's internal HD. An attached external HD imaged with a 10.3 install system would work, as would the 10.3 install CD. Though technically it's legally questionable, I can't see anything wrong with torrenting and burning a 10.3 install CD seeing as how you do in fact own the license for that software as it came with your iBook. Though some may disagree with me, I know many a tech who would find this to be an entirely legitimate method of achieving a wipe-and-reinstall.

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Stole my answer right out of my head ;) – Lawrence Velázquez Jul 31 '10 at 17:29
Note that if the specific model of iBook was released after 10.3, a generic 10.3 installer may not include all drivers etc. needed to run that model, and will probably refuse to install on it. You may need to look for a later installer (a generic 10.3.x installer from after the model was released should work). Look for your model on, take the version it was released with, and look for something newer than that. – Gordon Davisson Jul 31 '10 at 18:41
The last G3 iBooks -- the 12" 800 & 900 and 14" 900 -- were released 22 April 2003 and discontinued 22 October 2003 (replaced by G4 iBooks). OS X 10.3 shipped on 24 October 2003. Or in other words: Apple never shipped any G3 iBooks with 10.3. – Dori Aug 1 '10 at 0:18
@Dori Ah, how about that! I overlooked the "G3" part when writing this, assuming G4. According to MacTracker, the latest G3 iBooks shipped with 10.2.4, and all but the clamshell models support 10.4. On an additionally questionable level, Apple might even prefer that you sell the computer with 10.4 on it (even if you never bought it), since the better user experience that would result strengthens the Apple brand (also it's likely impossible to obtain 10.4 direct from Apple anymore). – NReilingh Aug 1 '10 at 22:12

You don't have to have 10.3 disks; you just have to have some Mac OS disk that's compatible with your iBook.

According to the Guide to iBooks, the G3s shipped with OS versions ranging from 8.6 to 10.2, and some of them can support up to 10.4. Find your iBook on the Guide, and click its link to see the range of OS versions your iBook can handle.

Another approach to wiping it clean (assuming it's got FireWire, which most did): connect it to another Mac using Target Disk Mode. It will appear like just another hard drive, which can then be reformatted. Of course, it won't boot after that, so you'll need install some compatible version of the Mac OS.

Edited to add: Best Mac OS X Prices has a list of good deals on older versions of OS X; for instance, here's a copy of OS X 10.1 for $20. IMO, you can raise the iBook's selling price at least $20 if it comes with an actual system disk.

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No there isn't a reset feature. So as you said delete all data on it then just create a generic admin user the new owner can then do what they like with it.

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What about wiping free space and metadata? Surely there's a lot of personal info on this thing that won't be destroyed by purging the user account – Michael Haren Jul 31 '10 at 14:16

I would defiantly contact Apple to send you a new disk. I can even download Windows 3.11 from MSDN, so Apple should have a copy of the media somewhere.

As far as your data, I would run the hard drive through DBAN:

You could just format it, but there are pros and cons to that. Many people think that everyone is an IT person and could recreate the partition table but I tend to think that the probability of someone being that interested in your data is very slim (and having the technical knowledge to do it). I have heard people say it is easy, but I have not seen any proof. If the person you are selling to isn't to suspicious, then you would probably just be safe formatting, installing an OS over it and formatting it again as a good chunck of your data will be un-reoverable.

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Not sure if you have Disk Utility but I found it to work well. It should have come on your mac. Open it and click on your hard drive. Then click erase and then erase free space.

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