Setting up your vintage (classic) 68k Macintosh – Initializing and Partitioning your Hard Drive

I recently acquired a SCSI2SD adapter to replace a failing SCSI drive from the 1990s, so thought I’d document some of the options I’ve found for initializing and partitioning bootable drives for classic Macintosh systems.

1. Limitations when initializing/partitioning a drive under System 6.x and System 7.x.

  1. You can’t change the partitions on the drive you are currently booting from (which is why setting up your card as more than one “drive” when using SCSI2SD will make your life easier)
  2. HD SC Setup provided by Apple only works with apple drives, luckily a patched version of HD SC Setup was created that works with any drive.
  3. HFS has a limit of 65,535 files per logical disk (e.g. partition). A way around this is to use a tool like ShrinkWrap to create mountable disk images.
  4. System 4.1 to 6.08 can only support 2 GB partitions, System 7.5 introduced support for 4 GB partitions, and System 7.5.2 introduced support for 2 TB partitions for some systems (See Apple KBase Article 8647)
  5. You can only have 12 mounted partitions at one time.  Not 12 per drive, 12 total.  I tested this using SCSI2SD with a 32 gig SD card set up as two 16 gig hard drives, with each drive partitioned in to eight 2 gig partitions.  I could only mount 12 of the 16 partitions.  This may be a limitation of HD SC Setup, will experiment with other 3rd party solutions.

2. Deciding what types and sizes of partitions you plan to create

If you plan to use the Apple IIe card you will want to create at least one (max two) 32MB (yes MB) partitions that you’ll later initialize as ProDos partitions to use with your Apple IIe card.

Otherwise, taking in to account the limitations above, and the “wasted space” if you have really large partitions filled with small files, it’s really up to you.

3. Options for getting your drive initialized and partitioned

There are two main methods for getting your drive initialized and partitioned:

  1. Connecting the drive you want to initialize and partition directly to your classic Macintosh system, then boot your system using one of the boot options I’ve previously listed (e.g. Floppy Drive, CD-ROM etc.) with the drive you want to initialize and partition attached as a secondary drive.
  2. Connect your drive to a modern system, create an image based on that drive, then initialize and partition the image file, then write the image file back on to your drive.

For the 2nd option, I’ve used the following methods to initialize and partition my drives:

Emulators Windows Linux Mac OS
Using one of my initialized/partitioned images. Yes Yes Yes
Using SoftMac to initialize and partition the image file Yes No No
Using MAME to initialize and partition the image file Yes Yes Yes
Using PCE / macplus to initialize and partition the image file Yes Yes ? (untested)

4. Initialize an image file

Assuming you’ve used one of my image files as your boot drive, or have a copy of the patched HD SC setup 7.3.5 on your image file:

  1. Open the Mac.OS drive and under Utilities you will find a copy of a patched version of HD SC setup 7.3.5 (Figure 1)
  2. Run HD SC setup 7.3.5 (Figure 2), SCSI Device 0 will be selected (Device 5 on MAME).
  3. Press the Drive button to select SCSI Device: 1 (or whichever Device you mounted your image under, likely Device 5 on MAME) (Figure 3)
  4. Press the initialize button to initialize the device, a warning message will appear (Figure 4), followed by a prompt to provide a name for the drive (I called mine 16GBSD)
  5. Press the partition button to partition your initialized drive.
  6. Wait, may take some time depending on the size of the image file (especially for MAME)
  7. Select custom (Figure 5)
  8. HD SC setup will show you the default partitions it set up when it initialized the drive (Figure 6).
  9. Remove/edit the partitions as you see fit.  If you plan to use an Apple IIe card I’d suggest setting up two 32Meg ProDOS partitions.

Figure 1: HD SC Setup icon

Figure 2: HD SC setup, device 0

Figure 3: HD SC setup, device 1

Figure 4: Warning message

Figure 5: Partition Options

Figure 6: Partition Custom

4 thoughts on “Setting up your vintage (classic) 68k Macintosh – Initializing and Partitioning your Hard Drive

  1. Hello Steve,
    I’m trying to set up a SCSI2SD adapter, V5.1. I am using the patched version of HD SC Setup 7.3.5. and while it can find the drives, when I try to initialize, it acts like its starting to message says “initializing disk…verifying format” and “updating driver…in progress” then gives me an error message of ” the disk could not initialized. ” and “Unable to mount volume”.
    Any suggestions on what to try next?

  2. HI Steve, I have followed all your steps and when I put the SD in the SCSI2D adapter on the SE/30 I can only see SCSI 0 with your image. I click on Drive and it does not change. Also tried LIDO 7 with the same result. However, when plugging to SCSI2SD in my Mac and run SCSI-Util Load from the device I see that I have 2 devices set up Device 1 and Device 2., I have tried it several times and partitions work but not setting up a second Device any ideas?

    • I communicated with Matias directly, turned out he had swapped SD cards and hadn’t updated his SCSI2SD settings, once he did that everything worked.

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