I own a Macintosh Performa 360 and 420 with a 250 MB drive. Currently I plan about migrating to a modern system like Windows Linux or Mac.

I could make sure, that I can still read my data, copied to a DOS formatted floppy on my Win XP System and convert them to a current .doc or .pdf.

However copying roughly 250m MB via floppies is not a very comfortable way. That's why I am looking for a suitable way to mount the 250MB HDD on my Linux or Windows (or even Mac?).

I tried the following

I am doing all those experiments with an IDE to USB converter from an outdated external drive. I hope you guys can give me a hint.

Best to all readers, Ben

Further Reading:

  • 1
    Do you have a network, modem, serial port or something similar? If yes, with a bit of fiddling, you can probably hook it up to a modern Linux system (with some USB devices for serial ports etc. if necessary) and use that to transfer the data. HFS support on a non-Apple system is a bit hit-and-miss. – dirkt Jan 11 at 12:15
  • Sometimes model details matter and I am confused by your model numbers given. Can you double-check whether you have a "Performa 630" (vs. 360) and/or a "Performa 430" (vs. 420)? – Brian H Jan 11 at 13:08
  • 3
    HFS is natively readable under modern macOS up to version 10.14 (‘Mojave’, if we must), which was the 2018 release. So any Mac still running the same OS as it did in mid-2019 or earlier can read HFS in principle. – Tommy Jan 11 at 15:28
  • 3
    I've successfully read HFS volumes on a Windows system using CiderPress (a2ciderpress.com). SCSI drives from my Apple IIgs and CD-ROM "ISO" images work fine. The code is based on Robert Leslie's hfsutils library. CiderPress understands the Apple partition format, which might be an issue. – fadden Jan 11 at 15:41
  • I'd also look preferably into transferring data via network. It's comparatively easy to get an FTP server up and running. Assumed the old Macs have Netscape, Fetch or Anarchie installed (FTP clients), you can transfer those files you want to keep in binary (not MacBinary!) mode to your Linux box. If applications there can actually read the data format, is a completely different topic. I'm also sure that most content of the disk(s) is applications and you not need to transfer 250 MB of documents. – PoC Jan 12 at 0:47

It sounds like you've done what would be immediately logical, but are misunderstanding some concepts to diagnose the problem. If could be that the HFS code in the kernel is no-longer working, but its more likely there is a problem with your disk, or the permissions needed to access it.

So apologies if this is too basic but.. Firstly the whole disk, is really just a blob of data. Normally that starts with a partition table, which then defines subsections of that blob of data, which are then 'formatted' according to a certain standard.
Regardless of what the format of the disk is, you should be able to either copy the entire 250Mb Blob, as a straight blob of data, to a modern disk, or identify which partitions are important, and copy those as separate blobs.
Mounting a partition, essentially means having the OS, use the blob, actually in place on the original disk, whilst understanding the format of said blob. Most of the work I did with HFS and HFS+ partitions, started with copying the entire disk to a file, then working with that file.

You haven't really given enough information for my to give you specifics, but here's what I'd do in your situation.

First get a linux machine running, either natively or using a recovery disk (such as you get with any Ubuntu Desktop install CD).
Next install drivers for and mount a target disk, where you intend to put your HFS image. This could be an actual install HDD, a USB stick, or a remote file share (even a windows box, with an smb share would work). Next look at the list of partitions available on the box, by running cat /proc/partitions Next plug in your HFS drive via USB, give it a sec, and run cat /proc/partitions, and play spot the difference, to see if/where the new disk appeared.

The disk might be called /dev/sd[a-z] or /dev/hd[a-z] (where the [a-z] could be any letter), or it might have detected partitions, so given you /dev/sd[a-z][1-9] (where the [1-9] is the partition number it's seeing).

Once you have identified the partition(s) you want, copy them to a file, on the partition we mentioned earlier (see https://stackoverflow.com/questions/30048316/is-it-safe-to-backup-a-partition-with-dd/30048462). So if that was /dev/sda1 and /volume1 the command might be something like dd if=/dev/sda1 > /volume1/sda1_hfs_image

Now the act of making a copy of the image, should address all the permissions issues I said might be the cause of the problem. It'll also fail if the disk is physically corrupt.

Once you have the image, then you should be able to install the hfs modules, and simply mount it using mount -t hfs /volume1/sda1_hfs_image /mnt. From memory though hfsutils would just access the filesystem in a terminal, rather than mounting it.

It's been nearly 20 years since I last played with HFS (around the time OS X came out), so I'm a bit rusty (I saw your cry for help linking to this question on the hfs-user@ mailing list, so it's not totally ignored)



  • Wouldn't it be necessary to add an -o loop to that mount command? Last time I was using non-FUSE mounting with disk images, it was. – ssokolow Jan 12 at 1:01
  • There should be no need to install any drivers to perform the clone, and operations of this sort (especially where the integrity of the source disk is in question) should use ddrescue. Finally, your dd command syntax is erroneous; dd is weird and requires of=/mnt/newdisk/hfs_image. – chrylis -cautiouslyoptimistic- Jan 12 at 10:02
  • Hi sibaz thank you a lot! I came to the point where I directly mounted the HDD with hmount /dev/sdb . In fact it did not yet come up to my mind to dump the drive into a file :) . As the macintosh is still starting up and working (!) with the old HDD. I don't see any reason to believe that the disk itself is broken. Rather I believe that it is something "in between" is not fine. Let me first try the dump. – benni Jan 12 at 17:39
  • PS: I still have a 2nd PC AMD Athlon with IDE and and an Ubuntu Live System. If the IDE->USB external driver is the reason, I can give it another try using the internal HDD adapater of that old guy. – benni Jan 12 at 17:47
  • it does sound like the disk is fine. If you have IDE controllers being odd, you may want to get a decent USB converter. I know the cheap ones are a bit suspect, but 50 GBP will get you something that should be reliable. ddrescue is a good idea too. If you have a modern mac, you may find more luck accessing the disk by connecting it to that via USB. – sibaz Jan 28 at 15:26

Linux has native HFS read/write support. Most distributions do not include it by default, but if you install hfsprogs and the kernel modules, you should be able to mount the disk, or an image of it, like a regular file system.

Dealing with the resource fork, however, is a bit complicated that way, so you can't expect applications and such to work if just copied. But for word processing documents, etc., that is generally stored in the data fork and should be accessible.

  • As I am mostly interested in the old ragtime files (which are still usable with modern ragtime versions (just a very expensive software...) this would be OK :) – benni Jan 12 at 15:48
  • from memory, the HFS resource fork, did contain useful stuff, so you may need it. If you can get hfs to mount, the contents of the resource fork for each file is in a subdirectory under each folder, I can't remember the name but it was called something like .fork. – sibaz Jan 28 at 15:21
  • @sibaz older versions of the Linux HFS driver allowed you to append /rsrc to get the resource fork. And yes, it was where applications stored their code and structured data. Some Mac file formats used it to hold things like embedded images, etc., associated with the main data fork. Handling that would be best with the dedicated HFS tools in the other answers, probably. – RETRAC Jan 28 at 18:09

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.