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Ask Max: Can I reinstall OS X 10.3.9 Panther without erasing my OS 9.2.2 install?

Asked on 02/12/2010:

Dear Jacob,

I recently purchased a pre-owned Titanium Powerbook from you guys with Mac OS 9.2.2 & OSX 10.3.9 Panther. Somehow while setting up the administrator and password things got a little out of whack.

To make a long story short your help desk informed me that you can only set up a new administrator, namely myself, if you have the original Panther start up disc. I have an original Panther retail start up disc that I purchased for my iMac G4. Can I use this disc to re-install Panther again without erasing OS9.2.2 which I don't have a disc to re-install? Also, will I have the same amount of free disc space as I did prior to the re-install? I don't want to have two versions of OSX formatted on the already small 40 G.B. hard drive.

The main purpose for buying this computer was to have a dual-boot machine, so I don't want to lose my OS9 capabilities.

Thank You in advance,



You should have no problem reinstalling OS X 10.3 over the old 10.3 via an Archive and Install, but you will have to Trash the Previous System folder after you have finished the install. After the folder is removed, you should have about the same amount of free space on your hard drive. OS 9's System Folder should not be affected by this process.

You may even be able to skip the install and just reset the Admin users password via the Reset Password Utility on the Mac OS Install disc. Jump to the last part of this article to get info on the process:

After you have Admin access to the computer, just make a new Admin user account with the name you want to use and login to it. After you login, delete the old admin account.


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