Selecting your System Software for your 68k Macintosh

As I mentioned in my Setting up your vintage (classic) 68k Macintosh a lot of the supporting information that used to be on Apple’s knowledge base about their older systems has slowly been disappearing. So I’ve decided to capture some of the key information I found useful in this blog. Starting with which Macintosh 68k and PPC Systems support the different operating systems released by Apple.

Not every Macintosh System can run every OS, for example System 8.1 (with a hack) was the last version to support the Motorola 68000 (68k) series of processors, while support for Macintosh Systems with the PowerPC series of processors started with System 7.1.2 and ended with OS X 10.5 (see Wikipedia’s: history of Mac OS).

To help myself in the future I’ve put together some Macintosh System Compatibility Tables so I know which systems support which versions (with links to any required the System Enablers for OS 7.x).

Note: The Macintosh XL uses a custom OS called MacWorks so is not included in the tables below.

!– Not supported
OK– Works with this version of system software
###– Works with this version of system software, but requires a Macintosh System Enabler, where ### = the ID code of the enabler (e.g. the enabler for the Color Classic to run 7.1 or 7 Pro is 401, and the last released version is 1.0.5)
???– Works with this version of system software, but requires a Macintosh System Enabler, but I could not find information for which enabler.

1. System Software Release 1 to 5 Compatibility:

  • 2.1: Introduced support for the Hierarchical File System (HFS) for use the Macintosh Hard Disk 20 that was specifically released for the Macintosh 512.
    • For the Macintosh 128: the driver was loaded from RAM when booting from a floppy drive, and took to much RAM to be used with the Macintosh 128k.
    • For the Macintosh 512: required a special boot diskette that begins the boot up process, and on detecting the Macintosh Hard Disk 20, ejects the disk and then continues loading from the Hard Disk.
    • For the Macintosh 512Ke: native support for HFS was added to the ROM allowing for this system (and the Plus) to boot directly form the Macintosh Hard Disk 20 without using a floppy disk.
    • HFS has a limit of 65,535 files per logical disk (e.g. partition). (See Apple KBase Article 8647)
    • A way around the file limit is to use a tool like ShrinkWrap to create mountable disk images.
  • 3.0: Introduced support 800k floppy disks (Double Sided), and for SCSI, with a maximum partition size of 32MB (info from unverified source, will test on my MAC SE and update). SCSI would become a standard feature starting with the Macintosh Plus.
  • 4.1: Introduced support for 2GB partitions (See Apple KBase Article 8647)
Macintosh Model (68k)
128K (400k Floppy)!!!!OKOKOKOKOKOKOK
Plus (800k Floppy)OKOKOKOKOKOKOK!!!!
SE (800k Floppy)OKOKOKOK!!!!!!!
II (800k Floppy)OK!!!!!

2. System Software Release 5 and 6 Compatibility

  • 6.0.0: Introduced support for the Double Sided High Density 1.44 MB SuperDrive.
  • 6.0.2: First stable release. The two previous versions 6.0.0 ans 6.0.1 both had a significant amount of bugs and are not recommend.
Macintosh Model (68k)6.0.8P16.0.8L26.
Classic II!OK!!!!!!!!!!
LC II!OKOK!!!!!!!!!
PowerBook 100!OK?(P)(P)!!!!!!!
PowerBook 140OK!!!!!!!!!!!
PowerBook 145OK!!!!!!!!!!!
PowerBook 145BOK!!!!!!!!!!!
PowerBook 170OK!!!!!!!!!!!

(P) According to Wikipedia the PowerBook 100 has partial support for System 6.0.7 and 6.0.5

  1. System 6.0.8M: a community created release based on a 6.0.7 release created for Japan, supports the: powerbook 140, 145, 145B, 170 (perhaps more, let me know)
  2. System 6.0.8L shipped on a limited run of computers for the Asia Pacific Market due to a delay in System 7 localization, supports the: Classic, Classic II, LC, LC II, Powerbook 100

3. System Software Release 7 Compatibility (introduced System Enablers)

The table is based on the the tables from Apple knowledge base (TA47341), I created this version with the assumption that the source article may be removed in the future (like many other articles that dealt with the vintage systems). I’ve also included links to any System Enablers needed for an OS to work properly on a system. Because Apple has removed these files from their site I’m linking to the cached copies on the Internet Archive. I’m also hosting these files on my site and will link to my copy if they ever disappear off the Internet Archive. For anyone that wants to have a copy of all the System Enablers they can also be found on the Macintosh Garden.

3.1. About System Enablers:

In the past when Apple released new computers the system software was revised. To get around this problem system enablers were written which contained information necessary for newer computers to start up. All Apple computers released since system software 7.1 (September 1992) require a system enabler to start up. For more information see my post on Current Version and Change History for these enablers.

System 7.5 contains a universal enabler was developed that supports all computers released before System 7.5.

3.2. Additional Notes for Systems running OS 7:

  • Before installing System 7 confirm that you have at least 2 Megabytes of RAM, preferably at least 4.
  • The Macintosh Plus, SE, SE/30, Classic, Classic II, LC, LC II, LC 580, Mac II, IIx, IIcx, IIsi, IIci, IIfx, Portable, PowerBook 100, 140, 145, 145B, 170, Quadra 700, 900, and 950, and Performa 200, 400, 405, 410, 430, 580, 640 and 6110-series all do NOT need a System Enabler.
  • System 7.5 introduced support for 4GB partitions, but kept the HFS limit of 65,535 files per logical disk (e.g. partition) (See Apple KBase Article 8647)
  • System 7.5.2 introduced support for 2TB partitions on some systems. (Systems released with 7.5.2 installed and systems that support PCI, from what I can see no 68k system meets those requirements, see Apple KBase Article 8647)
  • System 7.5.5 was the last to support 68k macs with less than a 68030 CPU
  • System 7.6 only supports 68k macs with a 68030 CPU or better, and Macs with 32-bit-clean ROMS (the Mac II, Mac IIx, Mac IIcx, and Mac SE/30 do NOT have 32 bit clean ROMS)
  • (1) The system was initially released with only 1 Megabyte of RAM but can be expanded to 4 or more Megabytes. (minimum for OS 7.1.x is 2 Megabytes of RAM)
  • (2) The system was initially released with only 2 Megabytes of RAM but can be expanded to 4 or more Megabytes. (minimum for OS 7.5.x is 4 Megabytes of RAM)
  • (#) The Apple Workgroup Server 95 uses the A/UX operating system.
  • + Also requires: System 7.5.5 SCSI Server Update, and PPC Interrupt Extension.
  • (A) System Enabler 131 replaces System Enabler 111 and System Enabler 121
  • (B) Express Modem users should also install the Duo Battery Patch extension)
  • (D) These computers shipped with 7.5.5 and require the enabler that shipped with it. These computers do not support Mac OS 7.6 but support Mac OS 7.6.1.


  • ! = Not supported
  • OK = Works with this version of system software

3.3. 680×0 CPUs

(1) Plus (800k Floppy)!OKOK!OKOK!!!!OK
(1) SE (800k Floppy)!OKOK!OKOK!!!OKOK
(1) Classic!OKOK!OKOK!!!OKOK
(1) Portable!OKOK!OKOK!!!OKOK
Color ClassicOKOKOK!OKOK!!!401401
Color Classic II (also called Performa 275)OKOKOK!OKOK!!!OKOK
(1) II (800k Floppy)!OKOK!OKOK!!!OKOK
LC 475OKOKOK!OKOK!!!065065
LC 520OKOKOK!OKOK!!!403403
LC 550OKOKOK!OKOK!!!403403
LC 575 (in CC requires v.1.1 for 512 x 384)OKOKOK!OKOK!!!065
LC 630OKOKOK!OKOK405!!!!
Macintosh TVOKOKOK!OKOK!!!404404
Centris 610OKOKOK!OKOK!!!040040
Centris 650OKOKOK!OKOK!!!040040
Centris 660AVOKOKOK!OKOK!!!088088
Performa 200, 400, 405, 410, 430!OKOK!OKOK!!!?OK
Performa 450, 460 to 467!OKOK!OKOK!!!?308
Performa 475, 476!OKOK!OKOK!!!?364
Performa 550, 560!OKOK!OKOK!!!?332
Performa 575 to 578!OKOK!OKOK!!!?364
Performa 580!OKOK!OKOK!!!?OK
Performa 600!OKOK!OKOK304!!!!
Performa 640!OKOK!OKOK!!!?OK
PowerBook 100!OKOK!OKOK!!!OKOK
PowerBook 160OKOKOK!OKOK!!!131131
PowerBook 165OKOKOK!OKOK!!!131131
PowerBook 165cOKOKOK!OKOK!!!131131
PowerBook 180OKOKOK!OKOK!!!131131
PowerBook 180cOKOKOK!OKOK!!!131131
PowerBook 190OKOKOK190!!!!!!!
PowerBook Duo 210OKOKOK!OKOK!!!Duo (B)Duo (B)
PowerBook Duo 230OKOKOK!OKOK!!!Duo (B)Duo (B)
PowerBook Duo 2300OKOKOK2300!!!!!!!
PowerBook Duo 250OKOKOK!OKOK!!!Duo (B)*
PowerBook Duo 270cOKOKOK!OKOK!!!Duo*
PowerBook Duo 280OKOKOK!OKOK!!Duo
PowerBook Duo 280cOKOKOK!OKOK!!Duo
PowerBook 520, 520cOKOKOK!OKOK!!500!!
PowerBook 540, 540cOKOKOK!OKOK!!500!!
Quadra 605OKOKOK!OKOK!!!065065
Quadra 610OKOKOK!OKOK!!!040040
Quadra 630OKOKOK!OKOK405!!!!
Quadra 650OKOKOK!OKOK!!!040040
Quadra 660AVOKOKOK!OKOK!!!088088
Quadra 800OKOKOK!OKOK!!!040040
Quadra 840AVOKOKOK!OKOK!!!088088
Quadra 900, 950OKOKOK!OKOK!!!OKOK
Workgroup Server 60!OKOK!OKOK!!!??????
Workgroup Server 80!OKOK!OKOK!!!??????
(#) Workgroup Server 95!!!!!!!!!!!
System 7.x compatibility for 680×0 systems

3.4. PPC Systems

Performa 5300!OKOK!406!!!!!!
Performa 6110!OKOK!OKOK!!!?OK
Performa 6200, 6300!OKOK!406!!!!!!
PowerBook 5300OKOKOK5300!!!!!!!
PowerMac 5300/100 LCOKOKOK!406!!!!!!
PowerMac 5400/200OKOK!!!!!!!!!
PowerMac 5500/225OKOK!!!!!!!!!
PowerMac 6100/60OKOKOK!OKOK!PPC 1.02!!!
PowerMac 6100/66OKOKOK!PPC 1.1.1PPC 1.1.1!!!!!
PowerMac 7100/66OKOKOK!OKOK!PPC 1.0.2!!!
PowerMac 7100/80OKOKOK!PPC 1.1.1PPC 1.1.1!!!!!
PowerMac 7200/75OKOKOK701
PowerMac 7200/90OKOKOK701
PowerMac 7300/180!OK702 (D)!!!!!!!!
PowerMac 7300/200!OK702 (D)!!!!!!!!
PowerMac 7500/100OKOKOK701
PowerMac 8100/80OKOKOK!OKOK!PPC 1.0.2!!!
PowerMac 8100/100OKOKOK!PPC 1.1.1PPC 1.1.1!!!!!
PowerMac 8100/110OKOKOK!PPC 1.1.1PPC 1.1.1!!!!!
PowerMac 8500/120OKOKOK701
PowerMac 8600/200!OK702 (D)!!!!!!!!
PowerMac 9500/120OKOKOK701
PowerMac 9500/132OKOKOK701
PowerMac 9600/200!OK702 (D)!!!!!!!!
PowerMac 5200/75 LCOKOKOK!406!!!!!!
Workgroup Server 6150/60OKOK+OK!OKOK!???!!!
Workgroup Server 6150/66OKOK+OK!??????!!!!!
Workgroup Server 7250/120OKOK+OK!!!!!!!!
Workgroup Server 7350/180OKOK+OK!!!!!!!!
Workgroup Server 8150/80OKOK+OK!OKOK!???!!!
Workgroup Server 8150/110OKOK+OK!??????!!!!!
Workgroup Server 8550/132OKOK+OK!!!!!!!!
Workgroup Server 8550/200OKOK+OK!!!!!!!!
Workgroup Server 9150/80OKOK+OK!OK!!OK!!!
Workgroup Server 9150/120OKOK+OK!OK!!!!!!
Workgroup Server 9650/2337.6.1!!!!!!!!!!
Workgroup Server 9650/3507.6.1!!!!!!!!!!
System 7.x compatibility for PPC systems

2 thoughts on “Selecting your System Software for your 68k Macintosh

  1. Hi!
    I have a Powerbook 170 from 1991.
    I need floppy discs to reeboot the system.
    Can I use any floppy disc inkl. system 7.0.1 to 7.6.1
    Even if it belongs to a plus or SE or other Mac from that erea


    • Since the PowerBook 170 requires no enablers, you can use any of the installers that are compatible. At this time in Macintosh history you could drop in an installer disk and select if you’d like to have the custom Mac OS for your specific model or a system folder with software compatible with EVERY Mac.

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