I am going to perform an OS upgrade on a G4 Powermac 876 MHZ. I will install Panther (I know Panther is not quite up-to-date, but better than nothing), on a system that is currently running Jaguar (yikes!).
Are there any guidelines or safety procedures I should follow, besides backing up any important projects. music, etc? Should I run the Jaguar Disk Utility before upgrading? One of the hard drives of the Mac is partitioned, will this remain the same moving into Panther?
Do you have some kind of external drive where you can copy all of your data? Do you have an entire day to waste?
What I would do is to copy all of my data to an external drive AND copy the "(Main Drive)/Library" folder and the "(Main Drive)/Users/(Your Name)/Library" folders to the external drive.
Then I would put in the Panther CD and restart holding the C key. Once up, find the disc utility and erase the entire hard drive. Then partition it again if that's what you want. Then install Panther.
Once you're up, run the system update and download any updates from Apple it can find. Restart and check it again. Once those are all done, re-install your applications from their original CDs.
Then bring back your data from the external drive. Start with the random files you just copied there. Then you can decide which items in the library drives you want to pick through. Maybe you want to copy your Address Book info. Or maybe just iCal or Safari bookmarks. You should take just what you want out of there and leave everything else. KEEP that drive for 2 or 3 weeks because you might think of something you've forgotten a few days from now.
THAT will give you a nice clean, stable, healthy system. It takes time, though. If you don't have the time then just back up files for safety reasons, run the disc, and do an "upgrade." You should be fine and you won't need your backup files at all. And yes, the partition should remain in that case. This is the "fast and easy" method, the other way is the "slower and harder" method. As with anything, slower and harder is better, but, well, it's slower and harder. Chances are you'll be fine with a simple upgrade. You can decide which is the better choice for you.