So a couple of years ago, my sister buys a PowerBook, and therefore no longer has need for her Snow iMac (or room, for that matter, as she and my brother-in-law were then living in a 400 square foot apartment in Brooklyn). So my brother-in-law wiped the drive, reloaded OS X 10.2.4 and lots of quality software that will never be used onto it and sent it down here for my parents to use.
Time passes, 10.3 is released, and I try to upgrade the system. No luck, as the 10.3 install fails every time with an error message stating that I need to upgrade my firmware. I search for possible firmware upgrades. Nothing.
At this point, my parents don't have consumer broadband (the town they live in doesn't support it) so I figure that I'll take it up to my Mom's school (she's a teacher) and plug it into the network there. Despite being a Windows-on-Netware network, they blissfully use plain vanilla DHCP for handing out IPs. I say a prayer to the patron saint of non-idiotic network admins (whom I'm officially now deeming to be St. Paul, as that guy knew everybody. Also, he had a lot of things written in his name that he wasn't responsible for, in the first recorded case of DNS poisoning.) I upgrade the box to 10.2.8. I try again to install 10.3. Nothing. Still looking for the firmware.
Time passes, and my parents get broadband. I come home last weekend, and start tinkering again. I search again for the firmware upgrade. This time, I find it, download it and attempt to run it. Ha ha, it can only be run from a machine currently booted into MacOS 9.1. Not 9.0.4, not 9.2. 9.1 only. My brother-in-law, knowing that my parents had no legacy software they'd need to run, didn't reinstall any Classic OS on this machine. Just OS X. Shit.
So while I'm screaming and threatening to make my sister a widow, my dad remember's that Andy (the soon to be room-temperature brother-in-law) had sent him a packet of information which might have contained CDs. Maybe. He'd never actually looked inside it.
Forty-five minutes later, the packet is found. Hallelujah! It's got a software restore CD. Thirty minutes into the installation, it fails. I reboot to discover that the machine has defaulted into network-boot-ready mode. I reboot from the CD. I get the net-boot prompt. I reboot from the FireWire CD burner. I get the net-boot prompt. I blast the PRAM. I get the net-boot prompt. I contemplate getting out a hacksaw to find out if an iMac has a CUDA chip, but before I do, since I fear I'll be unable to resist licking the anode cap, I decide to try one from the archives and reboot while holding down Apple-Option-Shift-Delete. That gives me the blinking-? folder. That I can live with. After fifteen seconds or so, it picks up the boot CD and loads OS 9. I try installing OS 9 again, this time with a clean install. That finishes successfully. I reboot to the goddamned net-boot prompt.
This time, though, I'm too smart for that little bastard. I reboot while holding down the command-chord which originally meant 'boot from the next device on the SCSI chain', (God bless and keep crusty legacy code) and I get OS 9.0.4. I use the Startup Disk control panel to get it back into the 'boot from the harddrive' groove. Now I use IE 4.0 to search Apple's website to discover if, pleasegodpleasegodpleasegod, I can find a free updater to 9.1, since they haven't sold that OS in >4 years, and would be happiest if every copy on Earth spontaneously burst into flames. They do. The updater is 71 MB. My parents have boondocks DSL (the only kind available), which caps out at 384 kbps. 45 minutes later, I have the 9.1 installer.
At this point I lock the door, pick up the machine and look it square in the eyes. In a low, no-nonsense voice, I let the demon which has possessed it know that a net-boot prompt will be grounds for immediate termination, via various ports, a few wires and the 12-volt car battery my dad has sitting under the work bench next to the computer desk. I show it the battery. It knows I'm serious. Then, just for insurance, I show it the 98-running Toshiba Satellite which will be allowed to watch the fireworks.
I run a clean install upgrade of 9.1. The demon gives me no shit. 45 minutes later, I boot the machine directly into 9.1.
Then I download the firmware upgrade again. Running it produces a text file which instructs me to shut down the machine, and reboot it while pressing in the programmers button. I shut it down, and rock the thing over onto it's side so that I can jab the 3/16ths diameter programmers button in with a ballpoint pen tip while groping with my thumb for the restart button. This produces a series of beeps, followed by the kind of clicks one associates with landmines. Finally the machine reboots with a 'Firmware Upgraded" message.
Now, the denouement.
I install 10.3 successfully, download the combined update, and bring the machine up to speed running 10.3.9. This process has taken, just on this visit, about seven hours. And I can use real software.
As I type this, Software Update goes off, and I find there are five updates to run. Two security updates, two Java updates and Quicktime 7. I'm going to hit submit on this post. Then I'm going to start downloading the updates. But not before I grab this frosted polycarbonate fucker by the back of it's head and show it the car battery. It knows I'm serious. It knows that before I take any shit, I'll see it on the Great Brimstone Network, getting 'booted' off a Performa 636.
And not in the good way, either.