A Guide to Legacy Mac Emulators

Last fall I wrote about the collaborative technical/scholarly process of making some ’90s multimedia CD-ROMs available for a Cinema Studies course on Interactive Cinema. I elided much of the technical process of setting up a legacy operating system environment in an emulator, since my focus for that post was on general strategy and assessment – but there are aspects of the technical setup process that aren’t super clear from the Emaculation guides that I first started with.

That’s not too surprising. The tinkering enthusiast communities that come up with emulators for Mac systems, in particular, are not always the clearest about self-documentation (the free-level versions of PC-emulating enterprise software like VirtualBox or VMWare are, unsurprisingly, more self-describing). That’s also not something that to hold against them in the least, mind you – when you are a relatively tiny, all-volunteer group of programmers keeping the software going to maintain decades’ worth of content from a major computing company that’s notoriously litigious about intellectual property….some of the details are going to fall through the cracks, especially when you’re trying to cram them into a forum post, not specifically addressing the archival/information science community, etc. etc.

In particular, while each Mac emulator has some pretty good information available to troubleshoot it (if you’ve got the time to find it), I’ve never found a really satisfying overview, that is, an explanation of why you might choose X program over Y. That’s partly because, as open source software, each of these programs is *potentially* capable of a hell of a lot – but might require a lot of futzing in configuration files and compiling of source code to actually unlock all those potentials (which, those of us just trying to load up Nanosaur for the first time in 15 years aren’t necessarily looking to mess with). Most of the “default” or recommended pre-compiled Mac/Windows versions of emulators offered up to casual or first-time users don’t necessarily do every single feature that the emulator’s front page brags about.

So what really is the boundary between Basilisk II and SheepShaver? Why is there such a difference between MacOS 9.0.4 and 9.1? And what the hell is a ROM file anyway? That’s what I want to get into today. I’ll start with the essential components to get any Mac emulation program running, give some recommendations for picking an emulator, then round it out with some installation instructions and tips for each one. (You can jump right to an app with this Table of Contents:

What do I need?

An Emulator
There are several free and open-source software options for emulating legacy Mac systems on contemporary computers. We’ll go over these in more detail in a minute.

An Operating System Installer
You’ll need the program that installs the desired operating system that you’re trying to recreate/emulate: let’s say, for example, Mac OS 8.5. These used to come on bootable CD-ROMs, or depending on the age of the OS, floppy disks. If you still have the original installer CD lying around, great! You can still use that. For the rest of us, there’s WinWorld , providing disk image files for all your abandonware OS needs.

A ROM File
This is the first thing that can start to throw people off. So you know your computer has a hard drive, where your operating system and all your files and programs live. It also has a CPU, central processing unit, which is commonly analogized to the “brain” of the computer: it coordinates all the different pieces of your computer, hardware and software alike: operating system, keyboard, mouse, monitor, hard drive (or solid state drive), CD-ROM drive, USB hub, etc.  etc.  This ensures your computer has at least some basic functionality even if your operating system were to get corrupted or some piece of hardware were to truly go haywire (see this other post). But the CPU itself needs a little bit of programmed code in order to work – it has to be able to both understand and give instructions. Rather than stored on a hard drive like the operating system, which is easily writable/modifiable by the user, this crucial, small central piece of code is stored on the CPU on a chip of Read-Only Memory (the read-only part is why this sort of code is often called firmware rather than software). That’s your ROM file. If the whole goal of an emulator is to trick legacy software into thinking it’s on an older machine by creating a fake computer-inside-your-computer (a “virtual machine”), you need a ROM file to serve as the fake brain.

This is trickier with Mac emulation than it is with Windows/PC emulation. The major selling point of Windows systems is that they are not locked into specific hardware: there are/have been any number of third-party manufacturers (Dell, Lenovo, HP, IBM, etc etc) and they all have to make sure their hardware, including the CPU/ROM that come with their desktops, are very broadly compatible, because they can never predict what other manufacturer’s hardware/software you may be trying to use in combination. This makes emulation easier, because the emulating application can likewise go for broad compatibility and probably be fine, without worrying too specifically about *exactly* what model of CPU/ROM it’s trying to imitate (see, for example, DOSBox).

Not so with Mac, since Apple makes closed-box systems: the hardware, OS, software, etc., are all very carefully designed to only work with their own stuff (or, at least, stuff that Apple has pretty specifically approved/licensed). So setting up a Mac emulator, you have to get very specific about which ROM file you are using as your fake brain – because certain Apple models would have certain CPUs, which could only work with certain operating system versions, which would only work with certain versions of QuickTime, which would only play certain files, which would………

That sounds exhausting.

It is.

Wait, if this relies on proprietary code from closed-box systems… is this legal?

Well if you got this far in an article about making fake Macs before asking that, I’m not so sure you actually care about the answer. But, at least so far as my knowledge of American intellectual property law goes, and I am by no means whatsoever an expert, we are in gray legal territory. You’re definitely safest to extract and use the ROM file of a Mac computer you bought. Otherwise we’re basically making an intellectual property fair use case here – that we’re not taking any business/profit from Apple from using this firmware/software for personal or educational purpose, and that providing emulation for archival purposes (and yes, I would consider recovering personal data an “archival” process) serves a public good by providing access to otherwise-lost files. The (non-legal) term “abandonware” does also exist for a reason – these forums/communities are pretty prominent, and Apple’s shown no particular signs recently of looking to shut them down or stem the proliferation of legacy ROMs floating around.

Of course, be careful about who and where you download from. Besides malware, it’s easy to come across ROM files that are just corrupted and non-functional. I’ll link with impunity to options that have worked for me.

[Also be advised! Files made from video game cartridges – SNES, Game Boy, Atari, Sega Genesis, the like – are *also* called ROM files, since game cartridges are also really just pieces of Read-Only Memory. Just searching “ROMs” is going to offer up a lot of sites offering those, which is very fun and all but definitely not going to work in your Mac emulator]

So how do I pick what ROM file and emulator to use?

That’s largely going to depend on what OS you’re aiming for. There are four emulators that I’ve used successfully (read: that have builds and guides available on Emaculation) that together cover the gamut of basically all legacy Mac machines: Mini vMac, Basilisk II, SheepShaver, and QEMU.

As I mentioned at the top, a confusing aspect is that many of these programs have various “builds” – different versions of the same basic application that offer tweaks and improvements focused on one particular feature or another. The most stable, generic version that they recommend for download might not actually be compatible with *every* ROM or operating system that the emulator can theoretically handle (with a different build).

In hunting down ROM files, you’ll probably also come across ROMs listed, rather than from a particular Mac model, as “Old World” or “New World”. These essentially refer to the two broad “families” of CPUs that Apple used for Macs before moving to the Intel chips still found in Macs today: generally speaking, “Old World” refers to the Motorola 68000 series of processors, while “New World” refers to the PowerPC line spearheaded by “AIM” (an Apple-IBM-Motorola alliance).

New World and Old World ROMs can be a good place to start, since they are often taken from sources (e.g. recovery discs) more broadly aimed at emulating Motorola 68000 or PowerPC architecture and therefore could potentially imitate a number of specific Mac models – but don’t be too surprised if you come across a software/OS combination that’s just not working and you have to hunt down a more specific ROM for a particular Mac brand/model. We’ll see an example of this in a moment with our first emulator.

If you are currently using macOS or iOS, you can find some wonderfully detailed tech specs on every single piece of Mac hardware ever made using the freeware Mactracker app. Picking an exact model to emulate based on your OS/processor needs can help narrow down your search.

So with that in mind, let’s cut to the chase – moving chronologically through Mac history, here are my recommendation and install tips:

Mini vMac

Recommended:

Mini vMac is an easy-to-setup (but thereby probably not the most robust) emulator for black-and-white Motorola 68000-based Macs. While it’s eminently customizable if you dig into the source code (or pay the guy who makes it at least $10 for a year’s worth of by-request custom setups – not a bad deal!!), the “standard variation” of this app that the Mini vMac page encourages you to download for a quick start quite specifically emulates a Macintosh Plus. The Macintosh Plus could run Mac System 1.0 through 7.6.1 – but the System 7.x versions frequently required some extra hardware finagling, so I’d recommend sticking with Mini vMac for Systems 1.0 through 6.x.

Also, while a generic Old World ROM *should* work since Mac Pluses had 68000-series CPUs, I haven’t had much success with those on the standard variation of Mini vMac. Look for a ROM file specifically from a Mac Plus instead (such as the one in the link above, to a very useful GitHub repository with several ROMs from specific Mac models).

Installation:

  1. Download the standard variation build for your host operating system (OSX, Windows, etc.)
  2. Download a bootable disk image for your desired guest OS – System 1.x through 6.x (note these will probably be floppy disk image files, either with a .dsk or .img file extension).
  3. Download the Mac Plus ROM, rename it to “vMac.ROM” and place it in the same folder as the Mini vMac application.
  4. Double-click on the Mini vMac application to launch. You should hear a (very loud) startup beep and see a picture of a 3.5″ floppy with a blinking question mark on it – this indicates that the emulator has correctly loaded the ROM file but can’t find a bootable operating system.
  5. Drag the disk image for your operating system on to the Mini vMac window. If it’s a complete, bootable disk image, your desired operating system environment should appear!
  6. From there, it’ll depend what you’re doing – if you’re just trying to run/look at a piece of software from a floppy image, you can just drag and drop the .img or .dsk into the Mini vMac window and it should appear in your booted System 1.x-6.x environment.If you want to create a virtual “drive” to save your emulated environment on, you can create an empty disk image with one of the next two emulators on this list or the dd command-line utility if you’re on a Mac/Linux system (note: creating a Blank Image through a contemporary version of macOS’ Disk Utility won’t work):

    $ dd if=/dev/zero of=/path/to/image.img bs=512 count=1000

    will make a 512 KB blank image (512 bytes was the traditional size for floppy disk “blocks”).You can increase the count argument to however large you want, but be warned that early file systems had size limitations and at some point operating systems and software like the classic Mac systems might not recognize/work with a disk that’s too large. Once you have a blank disk image, you can just drop it into a Mini vMac window running a legacy OS to format (“initialize”) it to Apple’s old HFS file system and start installing software/saving files to it.Generally speaking though, a lot of apps and files from this era ran straight off of floppies, so if you’re just looking to run old programs without necessarily saving/creating new files, dragging and dropping in a system disk and then your .img or .dsk files should just do the trick!

Basilisk II

Recommended:

Basilisk II is another well-maintained Motorola 68000 series emulator. But whereas Mini vMac is primarily aimed at emulating the Mac Plus, Basilisk can either emulate a Mac Classic or a Mac II series model (hence “Basilisk II” – there never was a “Basilisk I”), depending on the configuration/build and ROM file used. As with Mini vMac, this might not be clear, but the precompiled configurations of Basilisk for Mac and Windows offered up on the Emaculation forums – which is where the Basilisk II homepage sends you – specifically offers the latter. So while you may see info that Basilisk II can emulate all the way from System 0.x through 8.1, the version you’re most likely going to be using out-of-the-box can probably only handle the more limited range of System 7.x through 8.1 (the targeted range for the Mac II series).

Note though: this was a kind of bananas era for Apple hardware when it came to model branding. So in terms of looking for ROMs, you can try to find something specifically labelled as being from a Mac II series machine – but you may also find success with a ROM file from a Quadra (largely the same as Mac II machines, but with some CPU/RAM upgrades) or a Performa (literally re-branded Quadras with a different software configuration, intended for consumer rather than professional use). In fact, the Performa ROM and Quadra ROMs on Redundant Robot’s site works quite well, so I’ve linked/recommended that above (the Performa one definitely supports color display, so that’s a good one). These have the benefit of emulating a slightly more powerful machine than the older Mac IIs – but just keep in mind what you’re doing. Your desired OS may install fine, but you may still encounter a piece of legacy software that is relying on the configuration and limitations of the Mac II.

Installation:

  1. Download the precompiled app for your host operating system from Emaculation (I’ll assume OSX/macOS here).
  2. Download a bootable disk image for your desired guest OS, from 7.x through 8.1 – I’ll use Mac OS 7.6.1 here as an example. Note this is right in the transition period from floppies to CD-ROM – so your images may likely be ISOs instead of .img.
  3. Download the Performa ROM from Redundant Robot and unzip it. It’s a good idea to put it in the same folder as the Basilisk app just to keep track of it, but this time you can put it anywhere – you’ll have the option to select it in the Basilisk preferences no matter where it lives on your computer (and you don’t need to rename it either).
  4. In the Basilisk folder, double-click on the “BasiliskGUI” app. This is where you can edit the preferences/configuration for your virtual machine:
  5. In the “Volumes” tab, click on “Create…”. We need to make a totally blank disk image to serve as the virtual hard drive for our emulated computer. Choose your save location using the file navigation menu, then pick a size and name for this file (something descriptive like MacOS7 or OS7_System can help you keep track of what it is). For System 7, somewhere around 500 or 1000 MB is going to be plenty. Hit “OK” and in a moment your new blank disk image will appear under the “Volumes” tab in preferences.
  6. Next select “Add” and navigate to the bootable disk image for your operating system. So, here we select and add the System 7.6.1 ISO file.
  7. The “Unix Root” is an option for Basilisk to create a “shared” folder between your host, contemporary desktop and your emulated environment. This could be useful later for shuttling individual files into your emulator later (as opposed to packaging and mounting disk images), but is not strictly necessary to set up right now. If you do choose to create and set up a shared folder right now, you have to type out the full file path for the directory you want you use, e.g.:
  8. Keep the “Boot From” drop-down on “Any” and the “Disable CD-ROM Driver” box unchecked.
  9. The only other tab you should have to make any changes on at this point are “Graphics” and “Memory/Misc”. For “Graphics”, make sure you have Video Type: “Window” selected. The Refresh Rate can be “Dynamic” so long as you’re on a computer that’s come out within…like, the last 10 years. The width and height resolution settings are up to you, but you might want to keep them accurate to a legacy resolution like 640×480 for accurate rendering of software later.
  10. In the “Memory/Misc” tab, choose the amount of RAM you want your virtual machine to have. 64 MB is, again, plenty powerful for the era. Again, you can always tweak this later if it helps with rendering software. Keep Mac Model ID on “Mac IIci (MacOS7.x)” (note: I’ve successfully installed System 7 in Basilisk using this setting and Quadra 900 ROM, so I think the desired operating system, rather than the Mac Model, might be the most important thing to keep in mind here). Also leave CPU Type on “68040”. Finally, use the Browse button to select the Performa ROM file you downloaded:
  11. At this point, you can hit “Save” and then “Start” at the bottom of the Basilisk Settings window…and you should successfully boot into the System 7.6.1 ISO! The desktop background even comes up with little optical discs to make sure you know you’re operating from a CD-ROM:
  12. The “disk is unreadable by this Macintosh” error is to be expected: this is the blank virtual drive that you created, but haven’t formatted yet. Choose “Initialize” and then “Continue” (you’re not wiping any data, because the blank disk image doesn’t have any data in it yet!!). You should get an option to name your new drive in System 7 – I generally like to name this the same thing that I named the disk image file, just to avoid confusion and make it clear (to myself) that this is just the same file/disk being represented in two different environments.
  13. Once that’s done, you should just be on the System 7 desktop, with two “drives” mounted in the top right: the Mac OS 7.6.1 ISO installer, and then your blank virtual drive. Double-click on the Mac OS 7.6.1 ISO drive and then the “Install Mac OS” program to start running the installer software.
  14. The System 7.6.1 installer in particular forces you to go through a README file and then to “update your hard disk driver” (you can just select “Skip” for the latter).
  15. For the “Choose a disk for installation” step, make sure you have selected the empty (but now formatted) virtual drive you named.
  16. From there you should be able to just run the installer. This copies over and installs the Mac OS 7 system from the ISO to your virtual hard disk!
  17. When the program has successfully run, you now quit out of Basilisk by shutting down the emulated System 7 machine. (Hint: this used to be in the “Special” menu!)
  18. You can now remove the System 7.6.1 ISO file from the Volumes list in Basilisk’s setting, so that every time you launch the software, it goes right into the System 7 environment now installed on your virtual drive. You can now also mount/add any other software for which you have an ISO or IMG file (CD or floppy, basically) by adding that file to Basilisk’s Volumes list and relaunching Basilisk!

SheepShaver

Recommended:

SheepShaver is a PowerPC Macintosch emulator, maintained by the same team/people who run Basilisk II – so you’ll find that the interface and installation process of using SheepShaver are extremely similar. Since we’re dealing with PowerPC architecture now, you’re going to need a New World ROM, or similar specific ROM (I’ve had general success pretending I’m using one of the blue-and-white Power Macintosh G3s).

You might notice that SheepShaver’s maximum installable-OS point is Mac OS 9.0.4 – even though yes, versions of Mac OS 9 existed above 9.0.4. This is because SheepShaver cannot emulate modern Memory Management Units (MMUs) – a particular advancement in CPU technology that we don’t need to get into too much right now (particularly since I don’t totally understand at the moment what it does). But the point is, Mac OS 9.0.4 was the last Mac operating system that could function entirely without a modern-style MMU. If you need Mac OS 9.1 or above, it’s time to start looking at QEMU – but, just speaking personally, I have yet to encounter a piece of software that was so specific to Mac OS 9.1-9.2.2 that it didn’t work in 9.0.4 in SheepShaver.

Installation:

  1. Download the precompiled app for your host operating system from Emaculation (I’ll assume OSX/macOS here).If you are using macOS Sierra (10.12) or above as your host OS:
    Starting with Sierra, Apple introduced a new silent “quarantine” feature to its Gatekeeper software, which manages and verifies applications you’ve downloaded through the App Store or elsewhere. I can bet that at one point or another you’ve gone to the Security & Privacy section of your System Preferences to allow apps downloaded from “identified developers” or even to just let through one troublesome app that Gatekeeper didn’t trust for whatever reason. Perhaps you even remember the old ability to allow apps downloaded from “Anywhere”, which Apple has now removed as an option from the System Preferences GUI.As a result, some applications that you just download in a .zip file from a third-party (like the Emaculation forums) may not open correctly because it has been quietly “quarantined” by Gatekeeper, removing the permissions and file associations the application needs to run correctly. Obviously this is a strong security feature to have on by default to protect against malware, but in this case we want to be sure SheepShaver at least can pass through. Though you can’t do this in System Preferences anymore, you can pass apps individually through the quarantine using the following command in Terminal:

     $ sudo xattr -rd com.apple.quarantine /path/to/SheepShaver.app

  2. Download a bootable disk image for your desired guest OS, from 8.2 through 9.0.4 – I’ll use Mac OS 9.0.4 here as an example. This is firmly in the CD-ROM era now so it should be an ISO file.Once you have downloaded and extracted the ISO file, you must “lock” the ISO in Finder. This is needed to trick the Mac OS 9 installer software into thinking it is really on a physical CD-ROM. You can do this by right-clicking on the ISO, selecting “Get Info”, then checking the “Locked” box:
  3. Download the New World ROM from Redundant Robot and unzip it. Put this in the same folder as the SheepShaver app itself and rename the ROM file so it is just named “Mac OS ROM” (spaces included, no file extension):
  4. Double-click on the SheepShaver app icon to launch the app. If the app has successfully found a compatible ROM in the same folder, you should see a gray screen with a floppy disk icon and a blinking question mark on it:

    (If no compatible ROM is found, the app will just automatically quit on launch, so you can troubleshoot from there).
  5. In the SheepShaver app menu at the top of your screen, select “Preferences” to open the settings menu, which happens to look pretty much just like the Basilisk II settings window.
  6. In the “Setup” tab, click on “Create…”. We need to make a totally blank disk image to serve as the virtual hard drive for our emulated computer. Choose your save location using the file navigation menu, then pick a size and name for this file (something descriptive like MacOS9 or OS9_System can help you keep track of what it is). For installing OS 9, again, somewhere around 500 or 1000 MB is going to be plenty. Hit “OK” and in a moment your new blank disk image will appear under the “Volumes” tab in preferences.
  7. Next select “Add” and navigate to the bootable disk image for your operating system. So, here we select and add the (locked) Mac OS 9.0.4 ISO file.
  8. For the “ROM File” field, click Browse and select your “Mac OS ROM” file. As long as the ROM file is in the same directory as the application and named “Mac OS ROM”, SheepShaver *will* read it by default, but it doesn’t hurt to specify again here (or if desired, you could select other ROMs here at this point for testing/troubleshooting).
  9. The “Unix Root” is an option for SheepShaver to create a “shared” folder between your host desktop and your emulated environment. This could be useful later for shuttling individual files into your emulator later (as opposed to packaging and mounting disk images), but is not strictly necessary to set up right now. If you do choose to create and set up a shared folder right now, you should type out the full file path for the directory you want you use, e.g.:
  10. Keep the options on “Boot From: Any” and leave “Disable CD-ROM” unchecked. Choose an amount of RAM you want your virtual machine to have. 512 MB was plenty powerful for the time, but you can futz with this potentially based on the requirements for the software you’re trying to run.
  11. For the “Audio/Video” tab, make sure you have Video Type: “Window” selected. The Refresh Rate can be “Dynamic” so long as you’re on a computer that’s come out within…like, the last 10 years. The width and height resolution settings are up to you, but you might want to keep them accurate to a legacy resolution like 640×480 for accurate rendering of software later. Make sure “Enable QuickDraw Acceleration” is selected and leave audio settings alone.
  12. Under the “Miscelleaneous” tab, select “Enable JIT Compiler”, “Allow Emulated CPU to Idle” and “Ignore Illegal Memory Accesses”. You can select the Mouse Wheel Function to taste. If you’re interested in getting networking working inside your virtual machine, in the “Ethernet Interface” enter the word “slirp” – otherwise, you can ignore this section.
  13. Hit “Save” to save these preferences and leave the settings window. You should be back at your blinking gray floppy. At this point, the only way to shut down the virtual machine and apply your new settings is to force-quit SheepShaver by pressing Control + Esc.
  14. Immediately double-click on the SheepShaver app again to relaunch. This time, you should boot into the Mac OS 9 installer CD! The desktop background should make it very clear you are booted into a CD installer:
  15. The “disk is unreadable by this Macintosh” error is to be expected: this is the blank virtual drive that you created, but haven’t formatted yet. Choose “Initialize” and then “Continue” (you’re not wiping any data, because the blank disk image doesn’t have any data in it yet!!). You should get an option to name your new drive in OS 9 – I generally like to name this the same thing that I named the disk image file on my host system, just to avoid confusion and make it clear (to myself) that this is just the same file/disk being represented in two different environments.
  16. If it hasn’t already opened automatically, double-click on the Mac OS 9 ISO drive and then the “Install Mac OS 9” program to start running the installer software.
  17. For the “Choose a disk for installation” step, make sure you have selected the empty (but now formatted) virtual drive you named.
  18. From there you should be able to just run the installer. This copies over and installs the Mac OS 9 system from the ISO to your virtual hard disk!
  19. When the program has successfully run, you can remove the ISO file from the mounted “Volumes” in SheepShaver’s preferences. Hit “Save” and then shut down the emulated machine to quiet SheepShaver (hint: the “Shut Down” command used to be in the “Special” menu on Mac OS desktop!!)
  20. Now, when you relaunch SheepShaver again, you should boot directly into your installed Mac OS 9 environment! As with Basilisk, you can mount floppy or CD-ROM images into your emulated desktop by opening SheepShaver’s Preferences and selecting the image files to Add them to your Volumes list (you’ll have to quit SheepShaver and relaunch any time you want to change/apply new settings, including loading new images!!)

QEMU

Recommended:

  • Mac OS 9.1 – Mac OSX (10.0-10.5)

QEMU is a generic, extremely flexible emulator/virtualization application. It can be theoretically configured to run all kinds of guest operating systems on all kinds of hosts, not just Macs; but the forum users at Emaculation have put a lot of work into assembling QEMU builds specifically capable of PowerPC MacOSX emulation, a processor/OS combination that has generally hounded and confounded the emulation community for some time.

As such, I’ll say up front this is definitely the roughest emulator to use, both in terms of the emulated system not running as smoothly as you’ll see with the other listed programs (audio, for instance, isn’t working unless you use an experimental build) and in that troubleshooting is going to be near impossible without a basic understanding of Bash scripting. (You *can* just follow exactly this guide or the Emaculation tips with a basic text editor like TextEdit, but especially given the fact that the forums are pumping out new builds on the regular, there’s no guarantee these will work/last very long).

The good news is – you don’t need a separate ROM file for this one! I assume the necessary code is just packaged into the provided QEMU builds rather than kept in a separate file. The Emaculation forums provide a few approved builds depending on what exactly you’re trying to do, but unless you’re trying to do some emulated networking (if you’re just a beginner here – not recommended), the first download link on that page is the one you should use. This will let you install any PowerPC OS from 9.1 up that you choose – for the purposes of this guide, I’m going to pretend I’m putting Mac OSX 10.1 “Puma” on a classic Bondi Blue iMac G3!

Installation:

  1. Download the precompiled build for your host system. For Mac systems, we’ll be using the first download in this forum post, although again, remember that you will not have audio with this build!! Feel free to explore some of the experimental versions once you have the process down.
  2. Unzip the QEMU folder and put your MacOSX install disc ISO into that same folder.
  3. Open the Disk Utility program. Hit Command+N (or go to File -> New Image -> Blank Image) to create a blank disk image for your virtual hard drive (we have now moved up far enough in time that Disk Utility can actually do all the proper formatting/partitioning here!)With the file browser navigate into the QEMU download folder and name your file something descriptive, like MacOSPuma. You will need at least 1.2 GB to install OSX 10.1, so I’d recommend making the blank image at least 2GB – note that Disk Utility makes you enter this number in MB! (so, 2000 MB)For “Format”, select “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)”. For “Encryption” select “none”, for “Partitions”, select “Single partition – Apple Partition Map” and for “Image Format” select “read/write disk image”.It will take a minute to create the blank disk image, but you should wind up with a file called “MacOSPuma.dmg” in your QEMU folder.
  4. In the downloaded folder there should be a file called “qemu.command”. Open this file with a plain text editor, TextEdit will do.
  5. Much of the text here is good, but we need to make a few substitutions. Namely, we need to attach a virtual CD-ROM drive, make sure it reads our Mac OSX installer ISO, make sure the code reads our blank disk image, and set it so that the QEMU application attempts to boot from the ISO, not the blank hard disk image.First, change the flag for
    boot -c

    to

    boot -d

    Change the

    -drive file=~/Mac-disks/9.2.img,format=raw,media=disk

    so that the path matches the file path of the blank .dmg disk image that you made. Make sure to change the file extension and not to put any extra spaces into the code.Now, add another drive path flag to the code BEFORE the disk image drive flag. It should read something like:

    -drive file=~/QEMU/Mac_OS_Puma.iso,format=raw,media=cdrom

    , only substituting in the correct file path and name for your ISO.All told, the file should now look like this – note how all the code following “./qemu-system-ppc” is all on one line, even though the text wrapping in TextEdit will probably make it look otherwise for you:

    #!/bin/bash
    cd "$(dirname "$0")"./qemu-system-ppc -L pc-bios -boot d -M mac99 -m 256 -prom-env 'auto-boot?=true' -prom-env 'boot-args=-v' -prom-env 'vga-ndrv?=true' -drive file=~/QEMU/Mac_OS_Puma.iso,format=raw,media=cdrom -drive file=~/QEMU/MacOSPuma.dmg,format=raw,media=disk -netdev user,id=network0 -device sungem,netdev=network0

    Save the “qemu.command” file.

  6. Now we need to make this .command file (which is basically just a tiny Bash script) executable so that your host operating system knows to run it like an application just by double-clicking. Open the Terminal app and run
     $ chmod +x /path/to/qemu.command

    either typing out the full file path yourself, or just drag-and-dropping the qemu.command file into Terminal to get the full path automatically.

  7. Double-click on the “qemu.command” file. If all has been set up correctly, after a minute you should boot into the Mac OSX Puma installer.
  8. Your blank .dmg file should show up as an available destination disk on which to install OSX! Once the full installer has run (takes a few minutes), the software will eventually try to reboot the machine, which at this point will just take you back into the ISO installer. Mash Command+Q to quit out of QEMU.
  9. Go back to your “qemu.command” file in TextEdit. Swap the
    boot -d

    flag BACK to

    boot -c

    , and delete the -drive flag for the ISO installer entirely, just leaving the .dmg file attached. Save the file. At this point, you should now be able to just double-click the “qemu.command” file and launch into OSX Puma, installed on your virtual hard drive!(it may take a minute! remember this is not going to be nearly as quick/smooth as loading on original hardware – and that you’ll have to go through a bunch of Apple’s “registration” nonsense)

  10. You can always attach more disk images to the emulated environment by re-creating “-drive” entries with “media=cdrom” and the file path to your ISO/CDR in the “qemu.command” file and saving/relaunching QEMU.

Classroom Access to Interactive DVDs

Normally my focus as MIAP Technician is on classroom support for courses in the MIAP  M.A. curriculum – but, as a staff member of the wider NYU Cinema Studies department, there are occasionally cases where I can assist non-MIAP Cinema Studies courses with a need for archival or legacy equipment.

That was the case recently with a Fall 2017 course called “Interactive Cinema & New Media”, which challenged the skills I learned in MIAP regarding disk imaging, emulation, and legacy computing, and provides, I think, an interesting case study regarding ongoing access to multimedia software-based works from the ’90s and early 2000s.

In this project I worked closely with Marina Hassapopoulou, the Visiting Assistant Professor teaching the course; Ina Cajulis, recently hired as the department’s Special Events/Study Center Coordinator (also a Cinema Studies M.A. graduate who took several MIAP classes, including Handling Complex Media, the course most focused on interactive moving image works); and Cathy Holter, Cinema Studies Technical Coordinator.

Last fall when Marina was teaching “Interactive Cinema”, I worked briefly with her request to give students access to a multimedia work by Toni Dove, called “Sally or the Bubble Burst”. “Sally” is an interactive DVD-ROM in which users can navigate various menus, watch videos, and interact (sometimes via the keyboard, sometimes using audio input and speech recognition software) with a number of characters, primarily Sally Rand, a burlesque dancer from the mid-20th century. Because it was created/released in 2003, “Sally” has some unique technical requirements: namely, a PowerPC Mac running either OS 9.1-9.2 or OSX 10.2-10.6. At the time, we had to move quickly to make the DVD available for the class – after testing the disc on a couple of legacy OSX laptops from the Old Media Lab, we decided to temporarily keep an old PowerPC iBook running OSX 10.5 in the department’s Study Center lounge, where students from the “Interactive Cinema” course could book time to view “Sally”. This overall worked fine, although there was some amount of lag (some futzy and not-great sounds coming from the laptop’s internal disc drive made me prefer to run the disc off of a USB external drive – better for the disc’s physical safety, worse for its data rate), and the disc’s speech recognition components were not responsive, likely an issue with the laptop’s sound card.

Fast-forward to August 2017. Submitting her screening list for the semester, Marina let us know that not only would she be needing students to have access to “Sally or the Bubble Burst” again, but she was also expanding the course syllabus to include a number of similar interactive software-based works (by which, I’ll define, I mean CD- or DVD-ROMs with moving image material that require specific computer hardware or software components; not just an interactive DVD that will still play back in any common DVD player, which Marina also includes in her course but provide much less of a technical challenge). With more time to plan, I was interested in both more extended testing, to make sure “Sally” and all these works ran more as intended; and to have a discussion with Marina, Cathy, and Ina so we could strategize longer-term plans for access to these works. Quite simply, we are lucky that the department has (largely, I think, thanks to the presence of the MIAP program) over the years maintained a varied collection of legacy computers that could now run/test these works – we may not continue to be so lucky as the years wear on.

The alternative is pretty straightforward: migrate the content on these DVD-ROMs to file-based disk images, and run them through emulators or virtual machines on contemporary computer hardware rather than worn-down, glitchy, eventually-going-to-break legacy machines. But the questions with these kinds of access projects are always, A) has the content really been properly migrated/recreated, and B) does the experience of using the work on contemporary hardware acceptably recreate the experience of the work on its originally-intended hardware. The latter in particular was a question I could not answer on my own – without having seen, interacted with or studied these works in any detail, I did not consider myself in a position to judge whether emulated versions of these works were running as intended, in a manner acceptable for intense, classroom study. Marina and Ina, as scholars of interactive cinema and digital humanities, were in a better position to make an informed decision.

So, my initial goals were:

  • prepare a demo of emulated/virtualized works
  • match each interactive DVD with a legacy computer on which it ran best, for comparison’s sake, or, failing the emulation route, providing access to students

I set aside “Sally or the Bubble Burst”, as its processor/OS requirements put it squarely in the awkward PowerPC + Mac OSX zone that has proven difficult for emulation software and plagued my nightmares in the past. That left three discs to work with, listed here along with the technical requirements outlined in their documentation:

I wasn’t looking to perform bit-for-bit preservation/migration with this project. We still have the discs and their long-term shelf life will be a concern for another day – today I wanted acceptable emulation of the media contained on them. So by Occam’s Razor, I considered Mac’s Disk Utility app to be the quickest and best solution in this case to make disk images for demo and testing.

After selecting a disc in Disk Utility’s side menu, I browsed to Disk Utility’s File menu, selected “New Image” and then “Image from [name_of_disc]”.

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I selected the “CD/DVD master” option with no encryption, which, after a few minutes, creates a .cdr file. This was repeated three times, once for each disc.

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With a .cdr disk image ready for each work, now it was time to set up an emulated legacy OS environment to test them in. I decided to start with Mac OS 9 – an environment I was already familiar with and which matched at least the OS requirements of all three works.

For emulating Mac OS 8.0 through 9.0.4, I’ve had a lot of success with a program called SheepShaver. Going through all the steps to set up SheepShaver is its own walk-through – so I’m not even going to attempt to recreate it here, and instead just direct you to the thorough guide on the Emaculation forums, which is what I use anyway. (the only question generally is, where to get installation discs or disk images for legacy operating systems – we have a number still floating around the department, but I also have WinWorld bookmarked for all my abandoned software needs).

Once I got a working Mac OS 9 computer running in SheepShaver, I could go into SheepShaver’s preferences and mount the disk images I made earlier of “Immemory”, “Bleeding Through” and “Artintact” as Volumes, so that on rebooting SheepShaver, these discs will now appear on the emulated desktop, just as if we had inserted the original physical discs into an OS 9 desktop.

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First off I tried “Immemory”, the oldest work which also only required QuickTime v. 4.0 – which is the default version that comes packaged with Mac OS 9. I couldn’t be sure it was running exactly as planned, but the sound and moving images on the menu played smoothly, and I could navigate through the program with ease (well, relative ease – spotting the location of your cursor is often difficult in “Immemory”, but from reading through the instructions that seemed likely to be part of the point).

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The next challenge was that “Bleeding Through” and “Artintact” required higher versions of QuickTime than 4.0. How do you update an obsolete piece of software in a virtual machine? First, scour the googles and the duckduckgos some more until you find another site offering abandonware (WinWorld, unfortunately, only offered up the QuickTime 4.0 installer). Yes, you need to be careful about this – plenty of trolls and far more malevolent actors are out there offering “useful” downloads that turn out to be malware. Generally I’m going to be a little more trusting of a site offering me QuickTime 5.0 than one offering QuickTime X – ancient software that only runs on obsolete or emulated equipment isn’t exactly a very tempting lure, if you’re out phishing. But, still something to watch out for. Intriguingly, I found a site called OldApps.com, similar to WinWorld, in that it has a stable, robust interface, a very active community board, and at least offers checksum information for (semi-)secure downloads. Lo and behold, a (I’m pretty sure) safe QuickTime 6.0.4 installer!

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With that program downloaded, now I had to get that into the virtual Mac OS 9 environment. Luckily, SheepShaver offers up some simple instructions for creating a “Shared” folder to shuttle files back and forth between your emulated desktop and your real one.

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With the QuickTime 6 installer moved into my virtual environment, I could run it and ta-da: now the SheepShaver VM has QuickTime 6 in Mac OS 9!

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This is the point where I admit – everything had gone so swimmingly that I got a bit cocky. With the tech requirements fulfilled and the OS 9 environment set up, I went into the demo session with Marina, Ina and Cathy without having fully tested all three discs myself beforehand on the hardware it was going to run. And the results were…unideal. The color scheme on the menu for “The Complete Artintact”, supposed to be rendered in bright primary colors, was clearly off:

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Audio on “Bleeding Ground” played correctly, but there was no video, and the resolution on the menus was all off and difficult to control:

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And even “Immemory”, which had run so smoothly at the start, now had clear interruptions in the audio, broken videos, and transitions between slides/pages were clunky and stuttered.

Though Marina came away impressed with the virtual OS 9 environment and the general idea of using emulators rather than the original media to provide access, the specific results were clearly not acceptable for scrutinous class use. Running some more tests and troubleshooting, I came to two conclusions: first, the iMac we were trying to install SheepShaver on in the Study Center was several years old, and probably not funneling enough processing power to the emulated computer to run everything smoothly. But also, I suspect that the OS 9 virtual machine was missing some system components or plugins for the later works (“The Complete Artintact” and “Bleeding Through”), and that the competing requirements (different versions of QuickTime in particular) was causing confusion when crammed together in one virtual environment – in other words, using QuickTime 6 was actually *too advanced* to run “Immemory”, designed for QuickTime 4.

So, solutions:

  • keep “Immemory” isolated in its own SheepShaver/OS 9 virtual machine with QuickTime 4
  • test “The Complete Artintact” and “Bleeding Through” in a virtual Windows machine, for comparison against different default OS components
  • install everything on a brand-new, more souped-up iMac

Success! Kept alone in its own virtual Mac OS 9 machine with QuickTime 4, “Immemory” went back to running smoothly. Using a different piece of emulation/virtualization software called VirtualBox (maintained by Oracle, and designed primarily to run Windows and Linux VMs), and going back to WinWorld and OldApps for legacy installers, I created a Windows 2000 virtual machine running QuickTime 6 for Windows for “The Complete Artintact” and “Bleeding Through” (settings in screenshot):

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Installed on new, powerful hardware (2016 iMac running macOS 10.12) that could correctly/quickly funnel plenty of CPU power and RAM to virtual machines, the works now looked “right” to me, and a second demo with Marina and Ina confirmed:

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(The one last hitch: in “The Complete Artintact”, which is really an anthology collection of a number of interactive software works, some of the pieces had glitchy audio. Luckily, this was solved using VirtualBox’s sound settings, switching to a different virtualized audio controller, from “ICH AC97” to “Soundblaster 16”):

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There were a few more setup steps to make accessing the works easier to the students: creating desktop shortcuts for the virtual machines on the iMac desktop AND the disk images inside the virtual machines (so that students could just click through straight to the work, rather than navigating file systems on older, unfamiliar operating systems); adding an extra virtual optical drive to the Windows 2000 VM so that the VM could be booted up with both “Artintact” and “Bleeding Through” loaded at the same time; and creating a set of instructions and tips for the students to follow regarding navigating these emulators and legacy operating systems (for troubleshooting purposes).

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That left legacy testing for backup, as well as the question of “Sally and the Bubble Burst”. At this point time was running short, and emulating “Sally” seemed likely to be a more difficult and prolonged process. Luckily, we had an iMac running Mac OSX 10.6 (Snow Leopard), which includes Mac’s Rosetta software installed for running PowerPC applications (like “Sally”) on Intel machines. A disk image of Toni Dove’s work runs smoothly on that machine, including speech recognition input via the iMac’s built-in mic.

I did also run “Immemory”, “Bleeding Through” and “The Complete Artintact” on a Apple G4 desktop running OS 9 and QuickTime 6 – for whatever reason, running this combination of discs and software on the original hardware, as opposed to in the SheepShaver VM, did work acceptably. Though at this point, we accepted the emulation solution for class access, if at any point anything goes wrong, we can move that G4 from the Old Media Lab to the Study Center and run all the discs (or disk images) on that legacy machine, rather than the squiffy laptop solution that we used for “Sally or the Bubble Burst” a year ago.

So, there is the saga of “Interactive Cinema”. Aside from all this is concern that the disk images I made for this process don’t really constitute bit-for-bit preservation, and though Marina thought they were all running as intended, these are incredibly broad works and exploring and testing every detail manually was basically impossible. Ultimately, we may want to create forensic disk images off of the CD- and DVD-ROMs to ensure that we’re really capturing all the data and can ensure access to them in the future. But for now….it’s time for me to take a break!

PowerPC Mac Emulation

A couple weeks ago Mona Jimenez asked me to step into her course on Handling Complex Media, to help a student group with a tech request (business as usual). Going back to the lab, I had a hint of what was coming from the whiteboard:

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Uh oh.

Yes, as it turned out, the students were working with a piece of multimedia artwork/software that required a PowerPC version of Mac OSX (10.0 through 10.5) in order to run. Normally, this wouldn’t present much of an issue, as MIAP’s “Old Media Lab” still has several old Power Mac G4 desktops and even a couple Macbook laptops running various early versions of Mac OSX. However, the students would only have access to the digital materials on-site at the partner institution for this project, and could not bring the software back to NYU. They could (and might still, if it comes to it) just bring the laptops to the site and run the software in the native environment, but that’s unideal for a couple reasons: first, I’m always somewhat hesitant for department equipment to leave campus; and second, having old hardware running these old operating systems natively is something of a luxury, which our students may very well not have in the future as equipment continues to age, or if they work at an institution with shallower pockets for digital preservation.

In order to access software or digital files created for obsolete systems, the primary solutions these days are emulation and virtualization – two slightly different methods of, essentially, using software to trick a contemporary computer into mimicking the behavior and limitations of other hardware and/or operating systems. Emulation has gotten incredibly sophisticated recently – the Internet Archive has even made it possible to run thousands of vintage MS-DOS and Windows 3.1 programs from an emulator inside your web browser, no additional downloads required, which is really an incredible feat of programming. Emulators for early Mac systems (anywhere from 1.0 to 9.x) are relatively simple to set up in OSX 10.10 (Yosemite) or 10.11 (El Capitan), likewise virtual machine software like VirtualBox (all topics for another day).

But right now the early, PowerPC versions of OSX seem to be something of an emulation/virtualization dead zone. I’m not the person to ask why – I’m assuming that the shift from PowerPC to Intel processors (starting with OSX 10.6, Snow Leopard), shifted the system architecture dramatically while the operating system remained relatively the same, resulting in a particular hardware/software configuration that just confuses the heck out of current setups, even through an emulator. It’s clearly possible – sift through the forums of Emaculation or other emulation enthusiast sites and you’ll find five-year-old boasts of people getting OSX Puma to run in Windows XP, or whatever – but documentation is sketchy and scattered even by internet standards, and replication therefore a crapshoot.

So, how do I help these students get a PowerPC version of OSX on one of their (Intel Mac) laptops? Anytime we need new Mac software in the department, I try it out first on my office computer, a mid-2011 iMac running OSX 10.10.5.

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Note: I can’t even use some of this stuff, but it’s cluttering up my desktop anyway.

I eliminate using VirtualBox almost right off the bat – the makers of VirtualBox explicitly state that the software does not support PowerPC architecture, which, again, doesn’t mean it’s impossible, but it does mean that unless I magically have the same computer setup as a random YouTube user, I’m completely on my own. Instead I’m going to use PearPC, an old PowerPC architecture emulator (it hasn’t been updated since 2011), but one with some solid documentation to get started. I’ll be trying to install OSX Tiger (10.4) in PearPC, as we still have a couple original installation discs for Tiger still lying around the department, and Apple install discs are otherwise hard to come by (if you don’t like going to/supporting super dubious torrent sites, or buying overly expensive copies off Amazon).

PearPC recommends installing Darwin as your client OS (the OS running inside the emulation software) first, to properly partition and format your virtual hard disk (the fake hard drive the emulator will use to make the OS think it’s being installed directly on to a piece of hardware). But I immediately just ignored that because WHAT THE HELL IS DARWIN?! So, I skip to just downloading the PearPC 0.5 source archive for Unix (e.g. Mac) systems.

Uh oh. A source archive means the software needs to be compiled before it will actually run. Normally I would immediately turn away and go find someone who had already compiled a packaged OSX build FOR me, but the PearPC documentation includes some seemingly straightforward command-line instructions for this step. So, I open a Terminal window, navigate into the PearPC-0.5 directory, and attempt a default configuration and make with

$ ./configure && make

Lots of Terminal gobbledygook aaaaand PearPC seems to automatically detect my system configuration fine:

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But then in the make….

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Oops. I have no idea what this ‘MAP_32BIT’ identifier is, nor how to change it, nor if that’s really even the issue here. So ends my efforts to self-compile – pretty please, tell me someone has already done this for me?

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“I’ll save you, Ethan!”

Huzzah! Google directs me to this very nice Dutch expert (who is also apparently secretly a cat on his 7th life) in the Emaculation forums has already compiled an Intel Mac OSX build of PearPC. YOINK.

Per the Dutch Cat, I still need a configuration file and a blank hard disk image. So it turns out to be good that I downloaded that Unix source archive, even if the compiling didn’t work, because I can just steal the “ppccfg.example” configuration file from that directory and move it into my OSX build directory. It’s just a simple text file, so I can rename it whatever I want for clarity’s sake.

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Now I need the blank hard disk image. Back in the PearPC documentation, we’ve got some handy details on the specs needed (a multiple of 3GiB size, in particular), and how about that, a sample dd command to make one. When I did this I just used 3GiB, but I’d recommend the 6GiB size, just to make sure you have room for the installation of OSX Tiger and something leftover:

$ dd if=/dev/zero of=~/Desktop/pearpc_osx_generic/PearPCTiger.img bs=516096 seek=6241 count=0

My OSX build directory now looks something like this in a Finder window:

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Dandy. Now I just need to set up the configuration file, so the PearPC application is directed to the blank hard disk image and the OSX Tiger install disc (currently sitting unmounted in my iMac’s optical drive) when it tries to boot up. So I open the configuration file with a simple text editor (TextEdit, Xcode, even Word will do) and find and change the comment lines that correspond to the hard disk image and install disc paths (you can find path to your mount point for an optical drive by running the command “$ diskutil list” in a Terminal window, then running “$ umount /path/to/disc/drive/” to make sure your host computer unmounts the disc – in most cases, if your desktop/laptop just has a hard drive with one partition and one optical drive, the path will be /dev/disk1)

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Save the configuration file and we’re ready to go, right? Back to Terminal, because PearPC is a command-line application, navigate into the OSX build directory, and run the executable file in the build with

$ ./ppc_osx_generic “osxtiger.rawr”

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Aaaaand nothing happens. I’m just sitting on the cursor. Why? Tell me, Dutch Cat Man!

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As it turns out, the X in “OSX” doesn’t just mean “10.” It also refers to the X Windows System, a development framework for making applications with graphical user interface windows on Unix systems. It’s a standard component in OSX (indeed, in pretty much all Mac OSs over the years), but you need to download some extra software to allow cross-platform software like PearPC to run on it. This software!

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So many Xs.

All right, XQuartz is now installed, and since I forgot to terminate PearPC and it’s been running this whole time in the background, suddenly XQuartz opens, PearPC starts running and booting from the OSX Tiger install disc.

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I get the classic gray apple screen, then after a moment, some terrifying-looking text appears. Then…it just sits there. For too long.

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That can’t be good. Perhaps I’m getting too fancy trying to boot off the physical disc in my host computer’s optical drive – what if I make an image of that instead, and plug it into the PearPC configuration file? There are many options for making disk images, and that’s a whole other topic. I’m going to run the absolute simplest of my command-line options right now and see how that goes:

$ cp /dev/disk1 ~/Desktop/pearpc_osx_generic/Mac_OSX_Tiger_Install_DVD.iso

Once that’s finished running, I go back into the configuration file and edit the line that corresponds to the install disk image:

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What happens if I run the PearPC executable again now? I’ve booted back to the scary text screen again, but…

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This time it keeps running! I let things scroll for a minute and eventually am greeted by a very familiar sight….

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A Mac Installer wizard! We did it everybody!

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Well, not quite yet. I start to move through the Installer but we haven’t actually formatted that blank hard disk image to make it capable of having Mac OSX installed on it yet. So, when stuck at the “Select Destination” screen with no options for where to install the OS, I’m going to head into the “Utilities” tab and enter Mac’s Disk Utility software.

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In order to format my blank hard disk image, I’m going to select the image from the left-hand menu, navigate to the “Partition” tab, then select “1 Partition” in the Volume Scheme and “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)” as the Format, and click Partition in the lower-right to execute.

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Please do not ask me why Disk Utility is shouting at me in German.

Once that’s finished, I’m able to exit Disk Utility and return to the Installer – and the formatted hard disk image is now available to select as an installation destination. Now, OSX Tiger needs about 4.8GB of space to install in its entirety, which is why I told you to make a 6GiB image earlier. If you’ve made a smaller, 3GiB image as I did, you’ll have to de-select some of the installation packages. It’s not that big a deal – a ton of space is taken up by non-essential features like device drivers and extra languages.

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And I was so looking forward to doing this again in Russian.

OSX Tiger is now ready to install. Now, if you’re following along, you may have noticed at this point that PearPC runs slooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow

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So yeah, this installation takes a while. Like possibly hours, plural. I went off to do some other work and forgot to tell my host computer not to go to sleep, which made PearPC just pause the installation for about an extra hour. Don’t do that.

OSX Tiger did successfully install, however, but here’s the kicker – as I went through the initial setup, it turns out that PearPC did something COMPLETELY WONKY to the mapping on my keyboard during that installation. So, when trying to set up a user account and just typing like a normal person, I got this nonsense:

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I wish I could tell you that I solved this problem, but no, I just had to painstakingly poke at one button at a time until I figured out that now while in PearPC, e=delete, 4=n, v=9, so on and so forth. When I finally got into the OSX Tiger desktop and was able to go to System Preferences, I thought I had fixed it by switching to a Canadian keyboard layout (why do you even have a separate keyboard layout, Canada?), but now every time I boot back into PearPC it resets. So that’s a mystery and if anyone has ideas how to fix this I’m all ears.

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But, for the moment I’m calling this mission accomplished. Again, OSX Tiger in PearPC runs AS SLOW AS DIRT, so this is not ideal, and I would still like to figure out how to crack the VirtualBox solution for all this. But from what I can tell that might involve this mysterious Darwin operating system that apparently makes all my Apple computers work…and given how this post has already turned out much longer than I intended, that’s a topic for another day.

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WHAT ARE YOU

If you’ve had any success setting up a PowerPC Mac OS in an emulator or VM, I’d love to hear about it!