Quadra 605 Operating Systems

What makes a mac a mac? Certainly the hardware - the particular processors, ROMs and ports that are common to macs of a particular age, but there's also the Operating System - the software that you're constantly in contact with. For good or bad, many macs never run anything but the standard system software they came with - but that's not always the best option. If you need a simple, reliable graphical interface, by all means stay with the Mac OS - It works and works well. However if you need a server that'll sit and work for you day after day after day a Unix-based system may work better for you. Perhaps in the end, like me, you just want to experience a bit of everything, have heard a bit about this linux thing, and want to check it out. Whichever way, here are a few options...

Mac OS

The original Quadra 605s as delivered from Apple came with System 7.1 installed, and a set of six floppy disks for reinstalling. Further revisions to the Mac OS would run on the 605, up to and including OS 8.1.


System 7.1
Just about the fastest you'll get a 605 to run is with 7.1 and System Enabler 065 - pretty much anything will work with it. In my experience it seems the most stable system, especially when running internet applications. However, others find 7.5.5 to work better. If you particularly miss some of the features of later systems, most can be added to 7.1 through various extras such as those listed below. 7.1 is the system that Quadra 605s were sold with.

System Enabler 065 - Needed for 7.1 to boot on a Quadra 605.
BeHierarchic - Apple Menu submenus & other options
CFM-68k -Code fragment manager for 68ks - helps run Netscape 4.08 on Q605s
OpenTransport - Familiar networking

Installing OT 1.1.1 then OT 1.1.2 will give the base OpenTransport networking - including Appletalk and TCP/IP control panels. Also installing the OT PPP Package allows PPP dialup connections under OpenTransport

Superclock - Gives 7.1 the menubar clock like later versions.
AppleVision Software 1.5.3 or
Display Software 2.0.2 - Gives a 605 under 7.1 access to higher resolutions on later-model monitors

For other pieces to add to 7.1, visit gamba's "System 7.I Favorite Add-Ons"

System 7.5.x
For a good balance between speed and the ability to run the most recent apps, 7.5.x works well. The big advantage to using System 7.5.3 is the cost & availability - it's a free download from Apple, along with the updater to 7.5.5.

MacOS 7.5.3 - Download the installer direct from Apple.
MacOS 7.5.3->7.5.5 updater - A general stability and bugfix update for 7.5.3

System 7.6.1
This works too - but I haven't used it :)

Mac OS 8.1
If you have the RAM and particularly need to run applications requiring OS8+, then run 8.1, otherwise you can end up using an excessively large percentage of your RAM, HD space and CPU time just keeping the OS going, when a smaller/lighter choice may work just as well. If you particularly need to access a HFS+ partition, you'll need 8.1 - however the Q605 (as with all 68k macs) is unable to boot from a HFS+ and must have a HFS boot partition containing the OS to boot.



Debian 68k linux is by far the most popular 68k Linux, and with a little fiddling it can make a useful OS for general server use. Some parts are less refined than Linux on other platforms, but what is there is very stable. These pages are hosted on a Quadra 605 running Debian Linux for 68k, under a v2.2.19 kernel. While it should be possible to run Linux under an FPU-less 68LC040, for varying reasons it's far far easier to replace the CPU with a full 68040. See the NetBSD section for a link on LC040 problems.

68k Mac linux is available from the Debian Mac Linux-68k site.


Another favourite, often touted as a more mature Unix style OS for 68ks, especially NetBSD. Like Linux, the BSD variants should also run under a full 68040 instead of the Q605s native FPU-less 68LC040. For more information on why, see the LC-040-and-BSD page.