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10.3 system requirements upgrading to and beyond

Tips on: 10.2 Jaguar (including firmware updated necessary for older Macs to get to 10.2 or higher), 10.3 Panther, 10.4 Tiger, 10.5 Leopard


When determining whether you meet the requirements for updating, see this tip on Mac model and age:


This is part of a series of tips from 10.2 through 10.11 (10.6 through 10.11 not mentioned above links as 10.5.8 is the end of the line for all Macs with 10.3 that support up to 10.5.8), which all refer to Mac OS X Client. The server version of Mac OS X may have different requirements in which the Server forum is better able to answer.


Note, if Apple menu -> About this Mac says you are running Mac OS X 10.4.3 (Mac OS X 10.3.9, 10.2.8, 10.1.5, 10.0.4, Mac OS without X are all older.  iOS is only for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch) and earlier, you can't upgrade past 10.5.8.  And then you can do that only if you have an 867 Mhz G4, or 1 Ghz or greater or G5 Mac.  For more on upgrading to 10.5.8, read this tip.  If all you have is Firewire, you can upgrade to 10.4.11.   The ports that look like the image below

are the two most common ports on Macs that are Firewire.  F800 = Firewire 800, also known as 9 pin IEEE 1394b.   F400 is Firewire 400, also known as 6 pin IEEE 1394a.   4 pin IEEE 1394a exists on some camcorders and non-Apple computers:



Backing up, shutting down, removing the backup from the machine, and updating to 10.3.9 for Macs without Firewire.


Macs that have no Firewire, but still have USB, the latest Java found on one of these two links:

Java for Mac OS X 10.3 Update 5


Those with Firewire should at least consider updating to 10.4.11 to get a later Java, as is described in this tip:


CAUTION: For those with Mac OS X 10.1.5, 10.1.4, 10.1.3, 10.1.2, 10.1.1, 10.1, 10.0.4, 10.0.3, 10.0.2, 10.0.1, 10.0, 10 Public Beta, Mac OS 9.2.2 or less (not to be confused with Mac OS X 10.9.2, which is 12 years newer): If your firmware is not up to date, you may lose video on your machine permanently without the proper update, and without an up to date PRAM battery before installing the said firmware update.  The link here provides all necessary firmware updates:


Mac OS X 10.3 (Panther) can install on any Mac with built-in USB up till the release of 10.4, on April 29, 2005.  A few Powerbook G3/333 Mhz and 400 Mhz without Firewire could not install Panther at all, and their DVD module did not work with Panther.  Make sure your firmware is up to date while booted from Mac OS 9 before installing any copy of Mac OS X 10.2 or later.


Some firmware updates are only available from resources listed on this tip.


Here are the official system requirements for 10.3:


Additionally, an extra 15% of free hard disk space has arbitrarily been found best for Mac OS X systems.


Be sure to backup your data first at least twice before installing any operating system.  Shut down, and disconnect any peripherals before continuing with the installation. Read the info below to ensure you are compatible.  Finally, you may need to use the Startup Manager to boot the operating system when the 'C' key doesn't work in order to get the installer to work or repair the disk before installation if the initial attempt to install fails.  To determine if that repair is necessary, post to the forum, and someone will be able to help you to find out which repairs might be necessary.


To determine if your Mac is too new for 10.3, look at its serial number reported in Apple menu -> About this Mac -> More info in Mac OS X,

or Apple menu -> Apple System Profiler under Mac OS 9.

Macs with Intel CPUs can't run 10.3.


The first two characters of a serial number do not say anything about a machine's age.


The third, fourth, and fifth tell you everything about its age.


Thus if your serial number begins xx517.... through xx832 where x can be any letter or number, it can't install 10.3.

xx833.... was the serial number for the first G3 iMac, which was the first machine with built-in USB.

G3s and G4s of higher serial numbers could install 10.3.


New Macs beginning in January 2003 no longer were able to boot into Mac OS 9, but still could use Classic.  See this user tip to see if you are affected.


Macs that were released between 10/24/2003 and 12/17/2003 (xx343...xx350) could only install 10.3.2, or 10.3.5 retail as is labelled on the disc, and the prebundled installer disc that came with them.  All retail discs for 10.3 looked like: panther.jpgand did not say upgrade, dropin, or OEM.


Macs that were released between 12/17/2003 and 8/12/2004 with serial numbers xx351...xx432 could only install 10.3.5 retail as is labelled on the disc and the prebundled 10.3 installer disc that came with them.


Macs released with serial numbers xx433 to xx516 could only use the 10.3 installer disc that shipped with them to install 10.3, and for retail release could use 10.4, or 10.5 depending on their configuration stated in this user tip:


Before upgrading to 10.4 or 10.5, realize some features may make you want to remain in 10.3.  Mac OS X 10.3 was the first operating system to no longer use Sherlock for the Find File command, and the Find File was integrated in the Finder's File menu.


No Mac that can use 10.3 can install Snow Leopard or Lion.  The highest 10.3, is 10.3.9 that is available for free from to update any system from 10.3 to 10.3.8:


Here's the airport update that supports 10.3.3 through 10.3.9 that includes WPA2 support for those Macs with Airport Extreme cards:


See this article comparing Airport to Airport Extreme:


The original Airport does not support the more secure WPA2 encryption, only the Extreme which runs 802.11g at 33 Mbps does.


10.3 was the first operating system to include the Dashboard web based applets that appear on their own screen.

Sadly Dashboard widgets at this point are no longer developed, though you can download them from:


These printers are compatible with 10.3:


C!Net has this software search of all 10.3 compatible software.


Once you determine if you can install 10.3, you have these options for installation:

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