back to article MacOS9.app: A tour de force of emulation and integration

Emulators make it easy to run vintage software in a window on a modern machine, but without specialist knowledge of obsolete systems, it can be hard to do much with them. It turns out, unexpectedly, that a good answer to this is… run them in a browser. MacOS9.app is the latest, and in some ways the most impressive, installment …

  1. mark l 2 Silver badge

    As soon as I saw the Sheepshaver name it reminded me of the Shapeshifter program for Amiga which let you run a Machintosh II emulator and get near native speed since they both used 68K processors so no CPU emulation was required. I seem to remember it was given away for free with one of the Amiga magazines coverdisks at some point as I definitely remember having it and trying to source the Mac ROM files needed to get it work.

    BTW it turns out Sheepshaver was a pun of Shapeshifter name according to their website and both developed by the same programmer Christian Bauer.

    1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      [Author here]

      Yup. SheepShaver originated as a BeOS app, when BeOS ran on PowerMacs, AFAICR.

      There is also progress on getting MacOS 9 to run in QEMU, but so far, while it works, it's quite limited. However, SheepShaver's MMU emulation means it maxes out at MacOS 9.0.4.

      QEMU can run the final version, 9.2.2, which a few Internet apps required...

  2. pidloops
    Thumb Up

    This _ is _ just _ absolutely _ amazing. Runs everything I've tried so far. Excellent work.

  3. AlanSh

    Have you tried DOSBOX?

    I also used to be a bit of a wiz at DOS - do you remember the book "Undocumented DOS"? That was my bible.

    I recently resurrected a program I wrote (EasyEdit II) and got it working quite easily in DOSBOX (https://www.dosbox.com). That just uses a folder on my PC which is also accessible from native Windows, so it's easy to share files.

    Alan

    1. fromxyzzy

      Re: Have you tried DOSBOX?

      DOSBox is a fabulous emulator/tool, but it's not a full emulator as such. If you have an app that needs very specific hardware or does a lot of low-level system hacking, 86Box is usually where people go (unless they need a full QEMU instance). It'll emulate a Voodoo 3d card for example.

    2. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Have you tried DOSBOX?

      [Author here]

      > Have you tried DOSBOX?

      It's an emulator rather than a true VM, I believe, and it has its own built in DOS emulation, so no, not much. Brief play only.

      I am tracking DOSemu2 on Linux, though. That is looking very promising and runs at full bare-metal speed.

      Current main angle of research is booting from a USB key instead of a virtual hard disk. This gives the best of both worlds.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Have you tried DOSBOX?

      I've done quite a bit with DosBOX. Mostly games, but I did manage to run ancient PLC software; DosBOX easily piped the software's commands to COM1 to the real serial port (COM4). It's good software.

      Want to set up a bunch of different stuff in it? Try DBGL - DosBOX Game Launcher. Piece of cake to create a dozen different configurations for different software, then launch with just a click.

  4. Lordrobot

    When all you have left is fond memories of DOS, you lose

    The glorious past of slow computers, DOS and scrapheap technology... but but but Space Invaders and Start Trek on Apple talk... have you no soul? Nope.

  5. Norman Nescio Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Hopes dashed!

    Many thumbs up for the article.

    While the MacOS 9 app is the point, I didn't realise that 7 & 8 were available. Being a grumpy old man, I have fond memories of MacOS 8, and was delighted to see it included After Dark, and the Lunatic Fringe module, but alas, I could not get After Dark to activate - it requests the virtual Mac is restarted to install it.

    But many thanks for the trip down memory lane, and the the showcasing of the amazing current technology we take for granted.

  6. Far out man
    Pint

    Had fun with Clarisworks. This article means I will now have to boot up my Powermac G4 for a bit of retro fun.

    Thanks for the article and kudos to the person who got this working so well

  7. VoiceOfTruth
    Thumb Up

    Thanks for the info on this

    See title.

  8. deadlockvictim

    Macintosh Garden

    And if any of ye are looking for old software for the Macintosh, the Macintosh Garden is a good place to start.

  9. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. Citizen_Jimserac

    Excellent Article and. A Note on a Great DOS App Released too Public Domain but Little Known

    Thanks for quite an interesting article.

    did not know there were any emulators for older Mac stuff which I come across now and then.

    Since you said you like Old DOS apps, here's one which I still use through Wine on a Mac.

    If I recall correctly, it's from a now defunct company called "Network Solutions" or something like that.

    The program is called just "DELTA" and it. is the best directory comparison tool I've ever used, totally intuitive user interface, using the TAB key to go from one to several comparison windows where it arranges the files spaially, leaving blank lines for a missing file or directory and showing the file or directory in red when they do not match exactly.

    To,for example copy a file from one directory to the other where it is missing, simply move the cursor over the file, be in the active window and hit the "C" key for copoy.

    The program originally sold for about $100 and was updated to handle longer filenames around 2000 but was released to the public domain about a year later which you'll see if you can find their old web site. Probably best just to search for the terms "DELTA" and "directory comparison" "tool" or something like that.

    Thanks Again !

    JP. (Software engineer for 32 years,Job Outsourced to India in 2004 effectively ending my career).

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not build from source?

    Very old time 64kROM hacker here. Still have the annotated listings somewhere.

    I've seen the System 7 something or other dot release source code floating around. Looked like the complete buildtree. Not just the Quickdraw source and some other bits and pieces that have been released in the past. It's been a few years since I Unstuffed the .sit but I remember that it looked like the source for all the Managers that were used by all the common applications of the time were there. Did anyone ever use AOCE or QuickdrawGX? I never saw any evidence.

    So that source should build under MPW 3.0. Or even CodeWarrior I suspect with a bit of prodding and poking. Both of which are out there.

    The 68k asm code is no big deal either. The MMU stuff could be patched out by F trap emulation. From what I remember the '040 MMU was just a subset of the '851. Same goes for the CPU onboarding of the FPU. Subsetted the '881. removing all the stuff that SANE did not use. Or the compiler codegens either.

    Someone who spent probably a few thousands of hours IL'ing in Macsbug. And who still thinks the 68K instruction set is as good as it gets. Although ARM gets an honorable mention.

  12. DerekCurrie

    Don't expect perfection

    I've played with Infinite Mac (Mac OS 8) several times via Brave (a Chromium derivative) running on macOS 12.6.1 on an M1 MacBook Air. I've found it easily locks up while navigating with the Finder. A folder will open and sit there, blank. The entire system has locked up, requiring a restart. This a consistent, repeatable event. Hopefully, it will improve.

    Conclusion:

    Stick with SheepShaver (currently at 2.5) to run Mac OS 8. It's not perfect either, but it's far more reliable and you get to keep the changes you've made.

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