MacOS (pre-X) Emulation

| by Ken | in Technology Add comments

This is very cool and something I didn’t know about until I stumbled across it yesterday. There are a couple of MacOS (pre-X) emulators that allow you to run MacOS on a contemporary OS like MacOS X. In other words, if you miss the days of Canvas and SimCity2000, not to worry – you can get an old Mac running in your new Mac pretty easily using an emulator like SheepShaver (love the name!). Here’s what I did to get it running on my Hacintosh.

First, you have to get the files you’ll need. Start with downloading the latest version of the emulator SheepShaver (post article | download link) which works with Tiger, Leopard, and SnowLeopard. Unzip it (if it wasn’t unzipped as part of the download) and move the new folder to /Applications/Utilities. (I like it there instead of in Applications but that’s just preference.) Next, you’ll need a ROM of a Mac – that’s the part of an old Mac that contains the Mac’s, umm, essence. Technically, ROMs are copyrighted and should not be distributed but at this point, the hardware is so old, I’m not sweating it. I found mine on Redundant Robot’s SheepShaver guide page in his step 2, the second link labeled “New World PPC ROM”. After downloading, rename the file to exactly “Mac OS ROM” and put it in the SheepShaver folder. Third, you are going to need a disk image of MacOS 9 – this is the virtual disk that will become your virtual Mac’s main hard drive. Again, strictly speaking, you should have the original MacOS 9 license, but again I’m not sweating it. You can create an image from an existing Mac or do what I did and just get the image from the same Redundant Robot page, just a little further down with the link named “Mac OS 9 Boot Image (120 megs)”. Put this image file into the SheepShaver folder too. Finally, create a new empty SheepShaverShare folder in your user folder somewhere. I created mine inside of my Temp folder which is at the root of my user directory.

Now follow E-maculation’s guide for setting up SheepShaver. You’ve already got the files you need so you can skip to the Configuring SheepShaver section. When you get to step 3, proceed with the ROM selection but when you get to Volumes, instead of “Create”ing an image file, use Add instead and select the OS9.img file you downloaded earlier. Follow the remainder of the Configuring steps.

Continue with the Guide by following the steps for First Run. You should also visit the Control Panel and change the Monitor to be more than the 16 colors that it might default to. And I did add an extra volume to my virtual Mac by going back to Preferences in SheepShaver and adding a 250Mbyte volume. I wanted to just copy over my old Mac archive files and the space remaining on the System Disk (OS9.img) wasn’t big enough to fit everything.

Not everything works perfectly – some things crash when you run them like the classic game Shanghai and others crash if you click at the wrong time in the wrong place. But it’s way, way, better than I thought a MacOS 9 emulator could ever be.

I also installed BasiliskII following the guide at E-maculation. The process is more clunky and of course the result isn’t as sexy. But BasiliskII was able to run Shanghai (without sound) so it’ll work for some applications that SheepShaver won’t work for. I also got a little clever and setup a folder in Utilities to hold both emulators and their shared resources including a volume that contains my applications and files and the Shared folder. So now, I’ve got one virtual drive to hold my MacOS (pre-X) stuff and stuff can be shared between OS 7.5.3, OS 9, and OS X all in the same Share folder. (You can even run both emulators at the same time though that really would be asking for trouble!) All very cool.

Oh, and if you are interested in looking for things to run in your new MacOS (pre-X) emulator(s), check out Macintosh Garden.

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