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According to Hoyle...

Shaving Sheep and Running Classic on Leopard

[ Part I | Part II | Part III ]

by Jonathan Hoyle


December 2007


With each new release of Mac OS X, Apple sets a new bar for excellence, power and ease of use. Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard is no exception, as this recently released operating system draws raves of praise by even long time PC proponents. However, Leopard also is a milestone in another way: it puts the final nail into the coffin on Classic.


Longtime Mac users have been familiar with Classic, as Mac OS 9 and earlier helped paved the way to where we are today. The Classic environment allowed Mac users to continue to use older applications even within Mac OS X. Surprisingly, even some original applications from 1984 continue to run just fine on Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger, over two decades later. However, with Apple's transition to Intel-based Macintosh computers, Classic appeared to be on borrowed time. With Leopard, it's official: no Macintosh computer running Mac OS X 10.5, either PowerPC or Intel, will run Classic applications.


Well...not exactly.



Pulling the Wool Over Our Eyes


Just because Apple ceased to support its Classic Environment implementation does not mean you have to delete your old apps just yet. As it happens, there are still a number of options available to the Leopard user who wishes to run these older applications. We will examine three of these: SheepShaver, Basilisk and Mini vMac. The good news is that all three are open source products, so they are absolutely free for you to download and try. Even if you do not find them suitable for your needs, at least you cannot complain about the price. Moreeover, each of these products is cross-platform, allowing you to run them on a Macintosh, Windows, Linux and many other systems. Suddenly, your old Classic apps have renewed vigor, by being able to run on virtually any platform!


Of the three, SheepShaver is the only one which can run PowerPC applications and the only one which can run Mac OS 9 (the other two are 68K emulators). For this reason, SheepShaver is likely to be the one of greatest interest as a Classic replacement. It simulates a Power Macintosh 9500 series computer with a G4 processor board, but its speed is highly dependent upon the hardware it runs on. Depending upon the configuration and platform you deploy it upon, SheepShaver can be slow as molasses, or it can be faster than the original Classic Environment itself (see PowerPC Tests: SheepShaver vs. Classic below).


Although Basilisk emulates only a 68K Macintosh, do not dismiss this option so quickly without reading its benefits. In particular, its performance on Intel-based Macintoshes is more than double than that of SheepShaver (see 68K Tests: SheepShaver vs. Classic below). If the application you desire to run is fat (that is, contains both 68K and PowerPC binaries), you will have far better performance running it in Basilisk than in SheepShaver. Basilisk and SheepShaver share many source files and both operate and look similar to each other. Basilisk can simulate a Quadra 900 for those wishing to run Mac OS 8, or a Mac IIci for those needing System 7.x compatibility.


Mini vMac is a different pedigree of emulator from the other two, essentially emulating only the earliest of Macintoshes. Whereas Basilisk can emulate any 68K processor from the 68020 on upward, Mini vMac emulates only a 68000-based computer. Admittedly, Mini vMac is of extremely limited use, interesting only to the hobbyist wishing to resurrect the spirit of his old Mac Plus. It is included here because it completes the entire range of Macintosh computer emulation, from the 128K Mac all the way up to the Power Mac G4. Mini vMac is a successor product to the Classic application vMac, which is no longer being developed.


This month's article will describe some of the pro's and con's to each of these three emulators, including running comparative performance tests and step-by-step installation instructions. Installation will be saved for the end, as it is rather technical and only of interest to those who, after reading the review, choose to try it out.


As these are open source projects, you are free to download the source code and build it yourself. In this article, we will focus only the end user perspective of these emulators.



Baaaaaah Humbug


Before proceeding, it is worth preparing you now for a disappointment. None of these emulators is anywhere in the same league as Apple's Classic Environment. Most notably, these emulators do not allow you to run Classic apps on the Mac OS X desktop as Apple's Classic Environment did. Rather, the experience is more akin to the older Virtual PC, where your entire Classic environment lives inside of a window. It is a rather ironic turn of fortunes: just a few years ago, Windows apps were bound inside a window whilst Classic lived on the Mac OS X desktop; now with Parallels Coherence, the reverse is true on Leopard.


Another unfortunate aspect of moving to any of these emulators is its backward step in OS versioning. Most users of Classic are running Mac OS 9.2.2, the final release of the pre-OS X operating systems. The latest version supported by SheepShaver, however, is only Mac OS 9.0.4. This, of course, means that apps requiring 9.1 or higher will not run in SheepShaver. Nor is this limitation is a temporary one, as Mac OS 9.1 requires a Memory Management Unit (MMU) on the hardware it runs on. This is not supported by SheepShaver's G4 emulator, nor is it expected to be. The MMU is used for virtual memory, and any Classic apps requiring VM (such as Office 2001) will likewise fail to run on SheepShaver. Gwenole Beauchesne, who maintains the emulator, says that there is no plan to include an MMU since it would likely degrade performance.


Finally, all these emulators are riddled with annoying bugs and limitations. I find myself constantly rebooting SheepShaver, either due to crashes in the application, or because the slightest configuration change involves closing the application down and restarting. This is very much still a work in progress. Unfortunately, the work is not very fast, as the most recent version of SheepShaver was built about a year and a half ago. I have no idea when (or if) the next version will be released addressing these problems.



Mary Had a Little Classic Emulator


So what does running Classic have to do with being a lamb's barber? No, the name SheepShaver is not some obscure reference to an Austin Powers movie, but rather a play on the name ShapeShifter, an old Macintosh emulator for the Amiga. The current version is 2.3, but this is not informative as the last few releases use this same version number. It is best to look at the modification date, and the latest (official) build is from May 2006. I have found later build by other sites, but this article focuses on the official release.


So...does it work? Absolutely! As this screenshot shows, I was able to get Mac OS 9 running on a Mac Pro running Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard.



Aside from its lack of virtual memory, I could detect no behavioral difference between the SheepShaver environment and a genuine Mac OS 9-based Macintosh Performance, however, was certainly a factor, as described below.


The SheepShaver product itself lacks polish, and easily crashes. It is also very difficult to get files into the SheepShaver environment. Although the my boot hard drive appears on the emulated desktop as a volume named named "Unix", it does not see any of the resources on my volume, making it nearly useless. Other frustrating bugs include an error when drag copying a file from the Unix drive onto the SheepShaver desktop. Another alarming bug is on the PowerPC, in which SheepShaver starts up with a false application crash error. All in all, a great deal of promise is seen, but a great deal of work left to be done.


Likewise, Basilisk had many of the same user experience problems that SheepShaver had, although Basilisk did appear a bit more robust. The current release is Basilisk II, with no informative version number associated with it. The release date was May 2006, simultaneous with the SheepShaver release.



Running in Mac OS 8.1 on an emulated 68K machine severely limited the number of applications I was able to try. However, all fat (both 68K & PowerPC) applications I did try ran better on Basilisk than on SheepShaver. Interestingly, both environments are nicely self-contained, and these can be run in parallel with each other without problem.



Mini vMac was updated very recently on November 17th to version 3.0.4. Although it lacks most of the problems plaguing SheepShaver and Basilisk, it also lacks most of its features. The only configuration option made available is in the selection of disks to be added to the running environment. The original vMac allowed frame rate and RAM settings changes, but these were dropped for Mini vMac. Although a fine Mac Plus emulator, its interoperability with the rest of the system needs work.


However, Mini vMac comes with a number of extra utilities.





How do SheepShaver and Basilisk compare with the Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger's Classic Environment? To answer this question, I downloaded the shareware Classic application Speedometer 4.0. This application nicely allows tests to be formed in either PowerPC or 68K mode.


So, I divided the tests into two groups: PowerPC tests comparing SheepShaver with the Classic environment, and 68K tests, comparing Basilisk, SheepShaver and Classic. I ran both tests on various hardware, including G4's, G5's and Intel boxes. The results did not change when switching between Tiger and Leopard.


Speedometer 4.0 normalizes all of its tests to the speed of a Quadra 605. Thus, if a test result value is 2.50, this means that this test ran two and a half times faster than would be expected from a Quadra 605. Although Speedometer offers a myriad of test options, I limited to the basic "Performance Test" suite of 4 scores: CPU, Disk, Graphics, and Math. Of these, the CPU score is the most important and indeed the most informative of the tests, following closely behind by the Math score. The Disk score was much less informative, as it tended to be the same across all emulators and Classic. The Graphics test could not even be run at all on Tiger's Classic environment, as it requires the monochrome capabilities long since dropped from modern Macs (although SheepShaver and Basilisk were able to emulate this). For this reason, I will concentrate exclusively on CPU and Math scores, denoting them as a pair, so that "123.45/67.89" means that the CPU score was 123.45 and the Math score was 67.89. It is also worth noting that the same test performed many times will yield different scores, typically within 5% of each other.


Speedometer 4 requires a 68030 processor or higher to operate, so no speed tests could be run on Mini vMac. I do not view this to be terribly inconvenient, since those interested in Mini vMac are not likely to be worried about performance. However, casual uses of Mini vMac shows it to be no slower than Basilisk in most cases, and in some instances even a little faster.



PowerPC Tests: SheepShaver vs. Classic


For these tests, I configured SheepShaver to its defaults, setting the RAM to 256MB and a hard drive file of 512MB. The ROMs used are from Apple's freely available Mac OS ROM Update 1.0, and Mac OS 9.0.4 (the latest supported by SheepShaver) installed on the Classic hard drive. The Classic environment is the one used on Mac OS X 10.4.11 with the usual defaults (itself running Mac OS 9.2.2).


To my great surprise, SheepShaver's PowerPC performance (relative to Classic) depended greatly on the hardware it was running. On a Powerbook G4 1.5 GHz system with 1GB of RAM, SheepShaver ran approximately at half the CPU speed of Classic, scoring around 32/1300 to Classic's 78/1700. Moving to a two processor system, much more interesting results are found.


On a Power Mac G4 with Dual 1.25GHz processors and 1 GB of RAM, SheepShaver narrowly (but consistently) outperformed Classic by nearly 10%. At first, I thought the result was a fluke, but repeated tests bore this out. The screenshot below shows a typical example of SheepShaver beating Classic with a score of 80.835/3208.840 to 74.029/3176.391.



Possibly, SheepShaver's G4 emulator is a simple "pass-through" on this machine, presumably taking advantage of the second processor.


However, running the same test on a Power Mac G5 Dual 2.0GHz with 2.5 GB of RAM yielded less impressive results. Despite the G5 system nearly double the speed of the aforementioned Dual G4, Classic's performance CPU scores remained about the same, whilst SheepShaver fell to half speed once again. In this screenshot example, Classic scored 71.649/3289.094 and SheepShaver dropped to 36.426/1717.396.



Apparently, SheepShaver's G4 emulator is optimized for the G4 but not so optimized for the G5. Also, the advantage of a second G5 processor did not seem to help SheepShaver as it did in the G4 case.


The numbers go from disappointing to downright miserable when we move to the Intel platform. Although there is no Classic environment on Intel-based Macs, one might expect that SheepShaver's performance might improve due to its faster Xeon processor. Unfortunately, the opposite is the case: without a native G4 processor to pass through, all PowerPC assembly calls must be emulated on an Intel machine. On a Mac Pro 2 x 2.66 GHz Dual-Core Xeon with 1GB of RAM, a machine which should be about 2.5 times the speed of the aforementioned Power Mac G5, a typical SheepShaver score is shown here as a mere 6.464/1107.541.



In other words, a Mac Pro which would otherwise be double the speed of a G5 ends up running SheepShaver at less than one-tenth the CPU speed. The only bright spot found here is in the Math score, which remains the same between the G5 and the Mac Pro.


The conclusion to this is rather mixed: SheepShaver's best performance is on a Power Mac Dual G4, running at about half speed on other PowerPC's. But how likely are G4's going to be upgraded to Leopard anyway? Apple's minimum requirement for Leopard is an 867MHz G4, but recommends a G5. Early tests suggest that PowerPC performance drops by about 10% when switching from Tiger to Leopard (while Intel systems see virtually no change). For this reason, G4 users who still need Classic are probably less likely to upgrade to Leopard, and thus do not need SheepShaver. G5 users who do make the jump will find their Classic apps falling to half speed. Intel users (who never had Classic to begin with) are not likely to be attracted by SheepShaver's abysmal Intel performance.



68K Tests: Basilisk & SheepShaver vs. Classic


For these tests, SheepShaver and Classic remain configured as they were for the PowerPC tests. Basilisk was configured to a reasonably generous level for a 68K machine: 68040 processor setting, 32MB of RAM and a 250MB hard drive running Mac OS 8.1 (the last operating system to support 68K machines). To be as normalized with Speedometer as possible, I used the Quadra 605 ROMs for this configuration. Speedometer was set to run 68K tests.


On the Power Mac G5 configured as above, Classic's 68K emulator weighed in with a score of 35.660/310.186, which is about half its CPU score on PowerPC and 1/10th the Math score. Since SheepShaver was using the same 68K emulator found in Mac OS 9, I was expecting a similar ratio to its PowerPC score, something in the 18/170 range. Instead, the results were much lower: 3.384/114.992 as shown in this example.




Basilisk fared worse, with a mere 3.026/58.766 score. Why these numbers are out of proportion is hard to explain. The only thing I can guess is that the G4 instructions most used by the 68K emulator must be ones which SheepShaver and run more slowly.


I then moved to the Power Mac Dual G4 system, the system which SheepShaver outperformed Classic in the PowerPC tests. On this platform, Classic's 68K scores remained relatively unchanged with 34.004/309.321, SheepShaver showed more than 2X improvements with 8.992/257.930, and Basilisk declined to 2.243/45.722. From these results it is clear that Basilisk offers no benefit to the PowerPC user, as SheepShaver running in 68K mode outperforms it. Note also that SheepShaver's Graphics test ran an order of magnitude faster than Basilisk's. With Basilisk's limitation to Mac OS 8.1 and lower, and lack of free access to 68K ROMs, it is hard to imagine why a Power Mac user would be interested in Basilisk.


Again, surprises await us as we change platforms. Running these tests on a Mac Pro, Basilisk begins to shine, weighing in at 14.298/197.060 over SheepShaver's 0.599/15.140.



The reasons for this become clear when you realize that SheepShaver is performing double translation: It is running a 68K emulator on a G4 emulator on an Intel machine, whilst Basilisk can go directly from 68K to Intel. This makes Basilisk's CPU more than 20 times faster than SheepShaver's, and its Math 13 times faster.


But this is not the surprising piece. The real news is that Basilisk's 68K emulator is faster than SheepShaver's G4 emulator, with a CPU score more than double. In other words, Intel Mac users interested in performance are better off finding 68K versions of their software to run on Basilisk than to use PowerPC versions on SheepShaver. For example, Microsoft Office 4.2.1 (containing Word 6, Excel 5 and PowerPoint 4) will run better in Basilisk than in SheepShaver, whereas the PowerPC-only Office 98 cannot run in either emulator (due to virtual memory incompatibilities).



Installation: SheepShaver


SheepShaver emulates a PowerPC-based Macintosh; particularly, a Power Macintosh 9500 series computer. Although PowerPC-based Classic operating systems contain 68K emulators themselves, SheepShaver does not. It emulates a G4 processor (minus the MMU). If you wish to emulate a 68K-based Macintosh, you should install Basilisk or Mini vMac.


Unlike what you might have heard, all of the items needed to run SheepShaver are freely (and legally) downloadable. You are not required to buy an old Macintosh and run some obscure ROM-reading application to use it. There are, however, three separate pieces to the puzzle that you will need to assemble to get SheepShaver operating. The first piece is the SheepShaver software itself, which can be downloaded from its web site.


The second piece needed is a compatible Macintosh ROM file. This is commonly found inside the System Folder as a file named Mac OS ROM. Unfortunately, not all such files are compatible with SheepShaver. If you have access to System Folders for Mac OS 8.5, 8.5.1 or 8.6, look for this file and you have a decent chance of it being compatible. The ROM files from Mac OS 9 do not appear to be supported. However, one simple way to acquire a compatible ROM file is to obtain it directly from Apple. There are three free Macintosh updaters, each containing a SheepShaver-compatible ROM file, which may be downloaded from these locations:


Mac OS ROM Update

Mac OS 8.6 Update


These links download installers containing packages called tome files. Inside these tome packages are the Mac OS ROM files you will need to extract. The Classic application TomeViewer can easily extract it.


The ROM files described above are called New World ROMs, as they were a new direction Apple began to take with regard to ROM distribution beginning with Mac OS 8.5. SheepShaver also supports some Old World ROMs as well, although these must be read from a ROM reader. For a detailed discussion on supported ROMs, visit the SheepShaver FAQ.


The third and final piece needed to run SheepShaver is the system software itself. Depending on the ROMs used, you can go as far back as System 7.5.3, or as high as Mac OS 9.0.4, or anything in between. The choice of System 7.5.3 as the minimum was not an accidental one, as this was the last bootable version of the Macintosh operating system distributed freely by Apple. (Beginning with System 7.6, Apple charged for OS updates.) Users lacking access to any version of a Macintosh OS can at least be able to download this version. System 7.5.3 comes as 19 disk images, and a System 7.5.5 updater is free for System 7.5.3 users.


Users of New World ROMs, however, must boot with Mac OS 8.5 or later. This is not likely to be a major inconvenience, as most people interested in using SheepShaver are long-time Classic users who probably have access to a later version of the system software anyway. In our example, we will be using the ROMs extracted from Mac OS ROM Update 1.0 and a Mac OS 9.0.4 boot CD.


Regardless of which ROMs and System Software is used, SheepShaver emulates a Power Macintosh 9500 series computer. The 9500 was presumably chosen as it was one of the last Macintosh computers produced by Apple which could boot in System 7.5.3, as well as Mac OS 9.


Once you have all three parts, we are ready to begin. Opening up the SheepShaver folder, you will find two confusingly named applications: SheepShaver and SheepShaverGUI. Why these are two separate applications instead of one is beyond me. Essentially, SheepShaverGUI is nothing more than a preference file generator for the main SheepShaver application. This is certainly a poor Macintosh User Experience (the first of many to be found here), as typical Macintosh applications simply provide a Preferences menu to adjust these settings. In any case, we first launch SheepShaverGUI and get this window:



This ugly window is where you add your volumes that the emulated Mac sees. We begin by creating a blank hard drive. Click on the Create... button and you will see this dialog:



Just when you thought that the windows couldn't look any uglier, this God-awful dialog appears. The decoupling of folders on the left and files on the right is rather bizarre, something only a Unix geek could love. Navigate to the location where you want to create this hard drive. Unfortunately, the default is root, not something more reasonable like the SheepShaver folder.


You might suspect that to get to a folder on your desktop, you merely need to double-click the Desktop item, or even possibly the Desktop Folder item. Sadly no, you must instead navigate through Users then whatever username you have, and followed by Desktop. Similarly, you will not find your mounted volumes by Desktop but instead in Volumes. In case you are wondering, ./ does nothing (as it simply refers to itself), whilst ../ refers to the parent folder (unless you are at root, in which case ../ acts just like ./ would. Don't ask, it's Unix.


The default size is set to 40MB, but for a Mac OS 9 installation, you will need to make it much larger. I recommend making it about 500MB. Put the name of your hard drive file in the Selection: / text field and press OK. If you have a Mac OS 9 image file, perform the same file-picking contortions to point to it (no, this file picker does not remember where you were previously, so you always start at root). If you have a Mac OS 9 boot CD, you can place it into the CD ROM drive now.


Note: It is important to verify that your Mac OS 9 CD can indeed be used with SheepShaver. Some CD's will boot but fail to install because they were intended for installing on specific Macs and not accept the virtual Power Mac 9500 (the hardware SheepShaver is emulating) as valid. Other CD's may be general Mac OS 9 installers but fail to boot, as SheepShaver seems to have problems booting with Mac OS Extended (HFS+) CD's, whereas Mac OS Standard (HFS) CD's boot fine. Finally, you may have a valid installer on a Mac OS Standard CD, but the CD itself is not bootable. These are all frustrating problems that you may encounter, and it may require some tinkering. I for example, had to boot with my Power Mac G4 system CD, but use a separate disk image to install. If you run into difficulties, email me and I may be able to help.


Now switch to the Memory/Misc pane. Set your MacOS RAM Size (MB) to at least 256, and click on the Browse... button associated with ROM File, and navigate to your Mac OS ROM file. Your dialog should now look something like this:



Finally, click on the Serial/Network tab, and set your Ethernet Interface to "slirp" (this will pass along your Mac's internet access to SheepShaver). This dialog should now look like this:



There are other settings available to adjust as well. I prefer my emulated screen resolution to be 640 x 480, but you may wish to adjust this (and other settings) to your own liking. Once you have finished, press the Start button.


If you are running on a PowerPC-based Macintosh, you may see the following scary message:



Don't worry about it. Just press the Close button and ignore it. This false crash message is just one more of the never ending bugs found in SheepShaver. Intel-based Macs do not appear to have this particular bug.


Assuming all went well otherwise, the emulated Mac will boot up and you will be asked to erase your newly created hard drive:



Go ahead and initialize, and then run your Mac OS 9 installer. Once you are finished, your desktop may look like this:




NOTE: You will also see a mounted volume named "Unix" on your SheepShaver desktop. This is actually just the root level of your actual Mac Startup volume. Although I am glad that the items on my startup disk are accessible from within the SheepShaver environment, why the volume should be named in such a confusing and misleading manner, is frankly beyond me.



Installation: Basilisk II


Basilisk emulates a 680x0-based Macintosh; either a Mac IIci or a Quadra 900, depending on whether you wish to use System 7.x or Mac OS 8.x (respectively). Its processor choices range from 68020 to 68040. If you wish to emulate a 68000-based Macintosh, you should install either Mini vMac (see below for instructions); on the other hand, if you wish to emulate a PowerPC-based Mac install SheepShaver (see above for instructions).


As with SheepShaver, Basilisk requires three pieces to be assembled: the Basilisk software itself, the ROMs from a 68K machine, and System Software compatible with the chosen ROMs. The first part is easy, as the Basilisk software can be downloaded from its web site.


The ROMs, however, are a bit trickier. Unlike the case of New World ROMs available on Power Macintosh computers, the ROMs for 68K Macs were never officially distributed as software by Apple. Legally, one is expected to somehow acquire a 68K Mac and run one of the ROM reader programs to obtain this ROM file. An excellent tutorial on this procedure is available.


However, a number of people have already done this and put these ROM files out on the internet. Shrewd Google searches for such text as "IIx IIcx SE30 rom" and the like can yield links to more than a dozen such ROM images. Although I do not endorse or condone the distributing of copyrighted ROM files, it is likely that Apple has greater concerns than these 20-year-old ROM files being posted.


The System Software version needed to run Basilisk depends upon the ROMs used. A Mac Plus, for example, could use System 3.0 up through System 7.5.5, so this is the range of availability using Mac Plus ROMs. Despite what the documentation claims, I have not had much success emulating a Mac Plus, or anything below a 68030-based Mac. For this reason, I recommend using ROMs only from the Mac IIx and later machines for Basilisk, and consider using Mini vMac if you must use ROMs from an earlier Macintosh model.


As noted in the SheepShaver installation section, System 7.5.3 was the last freely available operating system for the Mac, and the aforementioned link can be used to access this. The Emaculation web site, a site devoted to Macintosh emulation issues, has a pre-configured System 7.5.5 starter disk that can be used with Basilisk.


With later Mac II style ROMs, Basilisk can run up to Mac OS 8.1, the last 68K supported operating system. My recommendation is to begin with this starter disk to install the operating system onto your hard drive file. Once that is completed, than you can insert a Mac OS 8.1 installer and upgrade your emulated Mac.


If you have been following along with the SheepShaver installation procedure, you will see that Basilisk behaves nearly identically with respect to operation. You begin by launching the BasiliskIIGUI application to configure the preferences used by the BasiliskII application. We create a hard drive file large enough for Mac OS 8.1, say 250MB. If your Mac OS 8.1 installer lives on a disk image, add that as well; otherwise place your Mac OS 8.1 CD into the CD drive. We will also save time by including the System 7.5.3 starter disk available from Just as with SheepShaver, I will adjust the Serial/Network settings to use the oddly named "slirp" Ethernet Interface, and change my video resolution to 640 x 480 in the Graphics/Sound pane.


Finally, we move to the Memory/Misc pane, where we make our final modifications. For RAM, 32MB seems reasonable for the class of machine we are emulating. For Mac Model ID, we select the Quadra 900 (MacOS 8.x) option, since we are using the Quadra 605 ROMs and wish to run Mac OS 8.1. Likewise, we set the CPU type to 68040, and point to the ROM file we have:



We can now click on the Start button to boot up our emulated Mac. You will no doubt notice how much faster Basilisk is in booting up, as compared with SheepShaver. Much of this has to do with the fact that System 7.5.3 is a much smaller operating system than Mac OS 9 is. You should now see this:



Initialize and install Mac OS 8.1 on your hard drive. When you are finished, your window will look something like the following:


And again, you will notice a mounted hard drive named named Unix, which (as with SheepShaver) maps to your Mac's boot drive. At this point you are ready to use Basilisk.



Installation: Mini vMac


Mini vMac emulates a 68000-based Macintosh, such as the Mac Plus, SE and 128K. To emulate a later 68K-based Mac, use Basilisk (go here), or if emulating a PowerPC-based Mac, use SheepShaver (go here). In this example, we will be emulating a Mac Plus with 4MB of RAM.


Compared with SheepShaver and Basilisk, Mini vMac is a much simpler application to get started. First, you go to its web site to download the application.


Without doing anything else, you can launch the application and get reasonable information of what needs to be done next:



What you must do next is obtain the Mac Plus ROM file, rename it vMac.ROM, and place into the same folder as the Mini vMac application. (Please read the Installation: Basilisk section for hints on how to obtain Mac Plus ROMs).


Once you have done this, you can relaunch Mini vMac and you will see the following:



This is essentially how a Mac Plus appears upon startup with no System software. Fortunately, Mini vMac offers a much better user experience than do SheepShaver and Basilisk, and so the next step is easier. Under the File menu, the Open Disk Image... allows us to select a boot image to run in our Mac Plus.


Hard drive files created within Basilisk can be used with Mini vMac, provided the boot system is no greater than System 7.5.5 (the latest which can be run on a real Mac Plus). If we use Emaculation's starter disk image, we can get to a reasonable working position.



You will also want to download some of the utilities available for Mini vMac, which will nicely enhance your experience.


In addition, it is worth downloading the original vMac, as its bundle contains items useful for Mini vMac, such as a System 6 startup disk.





None of the options we have discussed is a truly suitable replacement for the Classic environment. If you use Classic applications continually and interactively, then your best bet is to stay with Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger on the fastest G5 system you can obtain. If your needs are much more modest and are willing to keep your expectations low, then perhaps one of these emulators may be acceptable to you.


Unfortunately, the performance of these emulators are inversely proportional to their usefulness. On Intel-based Macintoshes, the 68K emulators outperform the PowerPC emulator, although 68K emulation is far less useful. And PowerPC emulation performs best on exactly those machines least likely to be upgraded to Leopard: G4 systems.


The obvious question is thus: Why do you still need to use Classic? Most Classic applications have native OS X equivalents available today, so if it is a matter of paying the upgrade fees, you will find this to be a preferable alternative to emulation. If it is simply to run some older games or utilities which you have grown accustomed to, SheepShaver and Basilisk are your best solutions.


Although SheepShaver, Basilisk & Mini vMac are the most notable solutions for running Classic, there are actually others out there as well. Could these be useful to you? We will review some of these lesser known alternatives next time.



Coming Up: More Classic solutions for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. See you in 30!

[ Part I | Part II | Part III ]
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