Please help me run OS 9 on my desktop
May 22, 2007 9:59 AM   Subscribe

I'm feeling nostalgic after having gotten this to work, and I was wondering if it's possible to make the OS 9 "Classic Environment" run in a separate window within OSX.

I have two monitors, and I think it'd be neat if on one side I could have the old-timey OS 9—its own hard drive and desktop image and everything—running in its own, separate window, without running an emulator. I'm not really sure how to google for this (and I have been trying) because everything I'm finding is about running Basilisk II and the like to emulate an older system.

I'm talking about the Classic environment that's already on my G5, running in its own window. Is this possible? Thanks!
posted by interrobang to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
IIRC (and I may be mistaken), Classic isn't OS 9 per se but a framework that allows OS 9 programs to execute within OS X, so what you're seeing when you run a Classic app isn't OS 9 proper. There is no native OS 9 support for the G5 (or for PowerPC Macs after 2002), so you could never boot into it on its own, for example. I've never heard of a personal computer that could run two operating systems simultaneously without one OS running in emulation.

Even if what you describe is possible -- and, though mine is not an informed opinion, I doubt that -- there is practically zero interest in what you envision. No one would bother dedicating the necessary resources for a decidedly minority problem -- for which there are other solutions -- on a relatively narrow band of hardware. (Intel Macs can't even run Classic, for cryin' out loud, and no one seems to be upset by that.)
posted by mcwetboy at 10:54 AM on May 22, 2007

Classic really, really, really, really sucks. I have to use it for 10 hours a day at work, and I loathe the fucking thing. There is no fun software to play with that you can't get for OS X, it doesn't work right, and it's really just generally rubbish in all aspects.

vMac runs Word 5.1, and that's the only thing worth salvaging from those years of suffering that we all thought were brilliant. Really.

Except the Finder. And the chooser. And Aliases. Swoon.
posted by bonaldi at 11:00 AM on May 22, 2007

When I say "classic" I mean OS 9. Would that I could run Classic on an OS X Mac at work.
posted by bonaldi at 11:00 AM on May 22, 2007

Response by poster: Like I said, it's just for nostalgia purposes; I remember systems earlier than 7. vMac looks like it might do what I want (how funny that I didn't know about it until just now, even though I have a small Mini vMac black & white computer emulator running on my desktop right now!) but I can't find documentation about how to use it on OSX. Any help?
posted by interrobang at 11:11 AM on May 22, 2007

Best answer: @mcwetboy - You're not completely wrong, but I don't think it's fair to say that "Classic isn't OS 9." Classic really is OS 9; I think perhaps you're confusing Classic with Carbon. Carbon is the framework that lets older Mac apps run natively both within OS X and on OS 9 (as opposed to Cocoa, which is the framework that Apple suggests you use for 'real' OS X applications).

Classic in OS X boots and runs OS 9.2, with slight modifications (basically it hooks into OS9's kernel so that it can run it in a protected 'sandbox' memory space, instead of on the 'bare metal'), as a process within OS X. If you enable it (in the Classic preference panel in OS X, I think) you can even watch OS 9 boot, in a window.

Some people have called Classic an 'emulator,' but I don't think that's really the correct term; it's really more like a virtualization system (not too dissimilar, conceptually, from VMWare). There's no runtime translation from one instruction set to another, which is what I consider an "emulator" to be (e.g. running x86 code on PPC, like Virtual PC, or vice versa, like Rosetta) -- it's just encapsulation.

Anyway, back to the actual question: I don't know of any way to run OS 9 continuously in a window, after boot. As I mentioned, if you go into the Classic control panel and enable it, you can watch the Classic environment boot up (with the 'Welcome to Macintosh' screen, and the parade of Extensions across the bottom), but once it's up and running, it's integrated with the OS X Finder. (This was touted as a big feature, not a limitation, back when it was introduced.)

Your best bet, if you really want that 'Classic Mac Experience,' might be to forgo the official Apple implementation of OS 9, and instead try something like SheepShaver. SheepShaver is a bit different than OS X's Classic (it really is an emulator, not just an abstraction/compatibility layer, and will run PPC apps on non-PPC architectures), and probably slower, but on a modern machine it's probably acceptably fast. If you have a PowerMac with an OS 9 System Folder, then you have the ROM files you need to run it. It might take some fiddling to get working, but it's something to try.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:25 AM on May 22, 2007

Response by poster: Well, I got vMac to work, but it's just the same as "Mini vMac" except that it runs in OS9 instead of OSX. And it's running System 7, just like what I already have.

I've looked at "Sheepshaver", but I haven't figured out how to get it to work. I think the main problem is that I don't have a physical disk of OS9 or 8.

I know about the OS9 startup screen, too—I have it set to show that. I was just hoping that there was a way to keep that screen open and work on it.
posted by interrobang at 11:30 AM on May 22, 2007

Best answer: I have used Sheepshaver to run Mac OS 9 on an Intel MacBook and an iBook G4, and it works well. It did require a physical OS 9 disc that I bought on eBay, but I'd be glad to mail you a burned, bootable copy of the disc. My email address is in my profile if you're interested.

Once I got the OS 9 disc, I found the Sheepshaver instructions to be very helpful. The trick is to install OS 9 into a disk image on your hard drive.
posted by tepidmonkey at 5:56 PM on May 22, 2007

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