Over the past year, my dad's Powerbook G4 (OS X 10.3) lost the ability to run any usable version of firefox or other end of life PPC software. Apple customer service wouldn't sell him a copy of 10.5 and told him to search ebay for copies of OS X 10.5, 8 months after releasing 10.6. We've been watching ebay and the price just keeps climbing above the original price.

I told him to buy a copy of 10.6 and the license should allow for installing older versions. He took it to a 3rd party Mac dealer and they said they couldn't install 10.5 if he doesn't own a 10.5 license (which no one will sell anymore). Does the OS 10.6 license cover older versions of OS X? Can 10.5 be obtained for the original price anywhere?

3 Answers 3


Firstly, I'm not sure where you heard that 10.6 shipped less than six months ago. It actually shipped in August 2009, making it over 12 months old.

Old system software tends to sell at a premium. I'm not sure why, but it may be at least partially because Apple no longer produces them. However, as Apple only sells 10.6 as a stand-alone OS (that is, it doesn't sell upgrade versions, just full) you can legitimately buy 10.5 from anyone with a copy who has since upgraded to 10.6.

There are plenty of places to buy 10.5 if you're willing to shop around. Keep an eye on this search and this search and see what turns up. For instance, this eBay sale is currently going for $40.

  • It shipped 8 months before my dad started running into usability issues. I've been putting him off on this, hoping a solution would arise. I'm surprised at the lower ebay price. Not sure why Google shopping didn't bring that up any time I've looked before.
    – SpecKK
    Sep 23, 2010 at 20:04

No the 10.6 license doesn't cover 10.5, and no, you won't find it anywhere for the original price.

I'm assuming his powerbook is running 10.4? To be perfectly honest, 10.5 runs like crap on a G4. I have a 1.67 PBG4 and firefox runs so slow that it's unusable. Take a look at the PPC optimized builds of firefox at http://firefoxmac.furbism.com/. Or try Opera, it's been much better for me.

Stick with 10.4, 10.5 will slow him down even worse!


Since apparently I can't read, this answer may not have much relevance. However, I'd still advise against moving up to 10.5. If you can get your hands on 10.4, I think that would be the way to go. Firefox and most other apps are still supporting 10.4.

  • 1
    He said in the question that it's currently running 10.3.
    – Dori
    Sep 23, 2010 at 3:42
  • once again nice catch. I scanned through it a couple times but I guess my ADD kept skipping the parentheses :) Sep 23, 2010 at 3:51

So Apple will actually sell you a copy of OS X 10.5, Leopard, for $130 through 1-800-MY-Apple. They just tell you to look at eBay first, and will push back a few times before relenting and offering to sell you the upgrade.

Not everyone you talk to at Apple may know this, so you may have to talk to more than one rep. One of the leads at the local apple store knew this.

  • I had to upgrade RAM as well before we considered bumping the OS.
    – SpecKK
    Sep 23, 2010 at 20:15

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .