I was given a iMacG4 (PowerPC) and intend to give to an 8 year old for the purpose of web browsing and exploring python. I would like to gain administrative (sudo) privilege.

Although I have access as a common user, I do not have the password, which means no sudo privilege.

Has anyone had success burning the OSX Snow Leopard .iso file to a USB stick via Rufus then boot from the USB stick to install OSX? Maybe the better question is: Are the any unsurmountable obstacles that would prevent this mode of install.

Please indicate if you have successfully done this before and the details of hardware and software versions. Thank you

  • Can't you boot it in single user mode? – lhf Dec 7 '16 at 16:47

This won't be possible, for a few reasons...

  • Snow Leopard was the first Mac OS to require an Intel processor. This is stated as the first requirement on Apple's Snow Leopard Technical Specifications page.
  • The vast majority of PowerPC Macs did not support booting from USB devices. Towards the end of then PowerPC era Apple rolled out a change to Open Firmware in the last models to enable USB booting. Your G4 iMac though would not be one of these models.

You're left with two options...

  1. Create an admin account. This can be done by removing the .AppleSetupDone file, forcing the Mac to go back through the initial setup, part of which includes creating an admin account. The following steps should walk you through that process:

    • Shutdown as normal
    • Power on your Mac while holding command+S to enter Single User mode
    • Type rm /var/db/.AppleSetupDone and press return
    • Type reboot and press return
    • The Mac should now reboot and go through the setup assistant, allowing you to create a new admin account.
  2. Or, reinstall the OS, like you're wanting to do in your original question. If you can find a copy of Tiger or Leopard you will likely be able to install it using the optical media (CD / DVD). If you can find an image of a Tiger or Leopard OS / Installer then you can install it by using a Firewire 400 equipped hard drive.

Hope that helps.


Single User Mode will get you around the password/admin rights problem(http://osxdaily.com/2011/04/25/change-admin-password-mac/), but I'm more concerned by the mention of PowerPC architecture. (I thought Leopard was the last to run on PowerPC?)

Not sure if Rufus can handle the OSX installer, but there are steps on Apple's site for creating using just the installer(should be in the App Store on that machine) and Terminal: https://support.apple.com/en-ca/HT201372

Download the macOS installer from the Mac App Store. Quit the installer if it opens automatically after downloading.

The installer will be in your Applications folder. Mount your USB flash drive or other volume. You could also use a secondary internal partition.

Open the Terminal app, which is in the Utilities folder of your Applications folder.

Use the createinstallmedia command in Terminal to create the bootable installer.

For detailed usage instructions, make sure that the appropriate macOS installer is in your Applications folder, then enter one of the following paths in Terminal:

(this is where yours will be different:)

/Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Mavericks.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia

Example for Mavericks:

sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Mavericks.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/MyVolume --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Mavericks.app

Replace the Volume paths and the Mavericks.app with the right ones in your case...should work with the older versions if you have to go back some more.

Another option (since you don't seem to need anything specific to OSX) would be a PowerPC-friendly Linux distro. Can't post another link yet, but go to Distrowatch.com's search and check the PowerPC architecture option. Ubuntu and it's variants are probably easiest to learn on. If nothing else, you'd still be able to get the latest versions of software this way(chrome/firefox/python/etc).

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