Click for MacWindows home

Mac OS X Public Beta Cross-Platform Issues

Last updated November 13, 2000

On this page:

If you have anything to add, please contact us.


On September 13, 2000, Apple released Mac OS X Public Beta (US $29 from the Apple web site). English, French and German versions are available now, with Japanese to follow. (See also the Apple press release.) Apple says it will release the final version during the first quarter of 2001.

The beta requires 128 MB RAM and an Apple stock PowerPC G3 or G4 processor, except for the original PowerBook G3. Processor upgrade cards are also not supported.

Apple calls Mac OS X Public Beta "Unix-savvy," in that it supports:

Mac OS X is more than just UNIX savvy: it is UNIX with a Mac-like user interface. Many of the standard UNIX commands work in the Terminal application, OS X uses a UNIX directory structure and multiuser conventions.

Native OS X Cross-platform software

Tenon releases beta of X Window system for Mac OS X. Tenon Instersystems has posted a beta release of Xtools, an X Window environment for Mac OS X. Xtools allows X Window applications running on other machines (such as Unix, Linux, and NT) to be displayed on the Mac OS X desktop using the Aqua interface. Xtools also includes X Window tools and libraries to support local execution of X applications and X games on OS X. The finished release will ship when Mac OS X ships next year.

Thursby to port DAVE and MacSOHO to Mac OS X. Thursby has announced that it will do a Mac OS X version of DAVE, its cross-platform peer-to-peer file sharing software. Thursby says it will "totally reengineer" the software for the new OS. Thursby said DAVE for Mac OS X will be available "within 90 days of Apple's formal release" of Mac OS X. Thursby will demonstrate DAVE for Mac OS X at Macworld Expo San Francisco in January.

Thursby has also told MacWindows that it plans to release a Mac OS X version of MacSOHO sometime after the release of DAVE for OS X. MacSOHO uses the NetBEUI protocol to communicate with PCs, and is easier to configure than is DAVE.

Classic X-platform apps that run on Mac OS X Public Beta

Apple has posted lists of Mac software that runs on the Mac OS Public X Beta. It has a list of current applications that run in Classic mode as well as a list of native Mac OS X applications. Both are lists of applications that Apple has tested with Mac OS X Public Beta. Apple defines "Classic compatibility" as:

These applications have been tested to ensure they successfully launch, provide basic functionality, and quit as expected on Mac OS X Public Beta.

We've gone through these lists to find cross-platform-enabling software. The current cross-platform-enabling software that runs in Classic mode are:

SoftWindows and Real PC do run bur are not currently listed, but Apple says this list is being continually updated.

Cross-platform-enabling software that has Mac OS X native versions on the list:

Emulators on Mac OS X Public Beta: SoftWindows runs, Virtual PC doesn't yet.

First crack at running PC emulators on Mac OS X Beta.

October 10, 2000 -- We've begun experimenting with running PC emulators on the Mac OS X Public Beta. The results have not been good, but we didn't expect them to be. Running a Windows emulator in OS X Public Beta is actually running an emulator inside an emulator (the Classic environment of Mac OS X) We tested on a Power Mac G4/350 with 128 MB RAM. Here are some results:

SoftWindows 98 5.0.9. We were able to launch SoftWindows and boot Windows 98.

Performance. Boot up of Windows is very slow. Performance of most applications is slower than in Mac OS 9. Sound and video in AVI movies was jumpy. However, performance seemed faster than running "straight" on pre-G3 Macs.

Compatibility. Most Windows software ran. However, Internet Explorer had problems. It froze, forcing us to restart Windows, and then blue-screened Windows. Windows would not recognize CDs.

With SoftWindows running, we were able to run other Classic and OS X applications, mostly without problems. Occasionally, a Classic application would temporarily freeze--but the cursor remained free, and we were able to get out of the problem by switching to another app via the Dock and then switching back.

Other problems:

We would be interested in hearing about your experiences with emulators and OS X.

Reader responses to SoftWindows on Mac OS X report. October 11, 2000 -- Several readers commented about yesterday's report on running PC emulators on Mac OS X Public Beta. Al Pawlowski had some success with RealPC, the DOS version of SoftWindows:

I spent all last Thursday working in Win95 under RealPC under OS X Classic and had no problems. I ran AutoCAD 2000 Lite, Word 97, Excel 97 and IE 4. I gave most of the programs a workout, except IE 4 which I only used for break surfing. The setup is an iMac DV 400/256M RAM. RealPC was set for 100 MB, optimal memory (about 85 MB) and 1 MB video (I use a 20 monitor on high res). The Win95 is the OEM b install disk that came with an old PC and I think it is pretty up to date.

My only problem I had was that I couldn't plot/print because I don't have a network Postscript printer. I actually had IE running at the same time as a Mac version Navigator 4.08 and the OS X email program all at the same time. OT sure multitasks well. My net connection is cable modem via a router.

Joe Ballo pointed out some similarities to Mac OS X Classic and Apple's old version of Unix:

Actually it is not a surprise that [SoftWindows] ran. I remember [ in the old days ] that SoftWindows ran pretty much OK in Apple's A/UX. In that environment there was an OS 7.1 environment called - IIRC - startmac, that served as a sort of classic environment for Mac applications [ actually that's all there was for apps]. There was a performance hit but really no more than, percentage wise, there was for other Mac apps - about 10 percent. Can't say about VPC but my impression is that VPC is more tightly coupled to the hardware.

Scott Maier objected to our portrayal of running SoftWindows in the Mac OS X Classic mode as "running an emulator inside an emulator." Scott Maier points out that "it doesn't emulate any code or translate instructions" so differs from Virtual PC or SoftWindows. This is quite true. However, the Classic environment isn't exactly native support of OS 9 applications, either. Classic is kind of a run-time environment and kind of a "virtual machine" like Java in OS 9. At this point, Classic runs slower than Mac OS 9 does.

Emulators on OS X Server

July 11, 1999 -- Andrew Hendrycks tried running Virtual PC and SoftWindows on OS X Server. With Virtual PC, he go an error message saying that this version is "not compatible with Blue Box." SoftWindows, however, not only ran, but it seemed faster than under straight Mac OS:

I tried running MacOS X then booting into MacOS and launching VPC. In case you have not seen yet through testing, VirtualPC comes up with an interesting error. It specifically states that this version is "not compatible with Blue Box."

Hmmmm. I have already been notified that myself and most of Apple will be receiving Connectix's version of VPC for OS X. This eliminates almost all of the speed loss of emulation. It is exactly like running X Windows on Unix or NT in a Shell.

Again with OSX Server and SoftWindows 95 v5. It actually runs! There are a few quirks like some drawing problems in the display (not a big deal) and you lose the ability to use your CD ROM. However, unless my mind is playing tricks it runs noticeably faster. I brought one of our Directors over and he was quite surprised at the difference. The logic would have stated that "emulating" the MacOS and then emulating a second time for Windows would have made Windows pathetically slow. Add to that reports that the MacOS runs slower under OS X and things seem a bit confusing.

Emulator fun on Mac OS X: 4 OS's in one.

October 16, 2000 -- Ruud Dingemans reports that not only did he successfully run SoftWindows in Classic mode on Mac OS X Public beta, but he ran an old versions, SoftWindows 3 (which we believe ran Windows 3.1). Not only that, but he ran a CP/M emulator on it under DOS (z80mu). In case you weren't counting, that's four operating systems: CP/M>DOS>Mac OS 9>Mac OS X--with no problems, according to Dingemans.

Networking Issues

Installing Samba on Mac OS X Public Beta. October 3, 2000 -- MacNN has a page with information on installing Samba on Mac OS X Public Beta. (Samba is an open-source file server for Windows clients.)

Mac OS X Public Beta is blind to PC AFP-over-IP Servers

November 7, 2000

Scott Christopher of Miramar Systems reports that Mac OS X can't see AFP (AppleShare compatible) servers running on TCP/IP. The affected servers include Windows 2000 File Server for Macintosh, Miramar's PC MacLAN, and MacServerIP. Christopher says has to do with the fact that OS X Public beta does not use the Name Binding Protocol as does the Chooser.

In Mac OS's before "X", when Chooser is opened and you are looking for AFP Servers by clicking on AppleShare, NBP [Name Binding Protocol] Broadcast Requests are sent out and AFP servers reply with an NBP Lookup Reply. That reply contains the Type, the Server Name and sometimes the Zone. The Server name is then displayed in Chooser.

Mac OS X Public Beta does not use NBP Broadcasts Requests to locate AFP servers. Instead they are using IP UDP Server Location broadcasts. In OS 9, if you open "Network Browser" you will see "Local Services" and possibly some DNS .com/.net listings. If you open "Local Services" or the DNS listing, you may see your Mac OS 9 and AppleShare IP Servers. This is the only place where UDP is seen in OS 9 showing limited IP Capable servers.

This works fine for OS X Servers, AppleShare IP 6.x Servers and OS 9 systems with IP enabled but does not work for PC MacLAN, Windows 2000 File Server for Macintosh or MacServerIP. IP UDP has never been used by Mac OS's in Chooser to locate servers so when these PC AFP Servers were developed there was no reason to support IP UDP.

What this means to the OS X user is that they will never see any of these servers in the "Connect to Server" interface that has replaced "Chooser". The Mac user can still use these servers but they will have to enter the IP address of these servers in order to connect.

There is already a portion of AppleTalk in OS X Public Beta, they use it to print. I sure hope they plan to implement AppleTalk client functionality. Besides, it would be faster to Mac OS 9 systems...

However, Group Logic says Mac OS X can see its ExtremeZ-IP server on NT/2000, and why:

November 9, 2000 --
Rob Newberry of Group Logic

We'd like to point out that ExtremeZ-IP servers _ARE_ seen by Mac OS X Public Beta clients. ExtremeZ-IP is the only AFP server for Windows NT that supports the Service Location Protocol (SLP), which is the replacement for the older AppleTalk-based NBP protocol (ExtremeZ-IP does support NBP as well). SLP is used by Mac OS X, as well as the Network Browser in Mac OS 9. Group Logic has supported this protocol since ExtremeZ-IP 1.1.

For more on the differences between NBP, SLP, DNS, and LDAP, see Apple Tech info article 60514.

And a reader says NetWare 5 also uses SLP:

November 10, 2000 --
Mike Maday

With the OS X final release on the horizon, we were searching for information on how OS X advertises itself on the network--it's SLP.

If you have a NetWare 5 network with IP clients, they too, also use SLP. SLP can be configured for static or dynamic (broadcast) request to find clients. SLP is RFC based, so the NetWare, OS X, and the ExtremeZ-IP will work together in unison.

NOTE ABOUT NETWARE AND SLP: Several readers pointed out the NetWare IP is not the same as NetWare 5: NetWare IP was an add-on product to NetWare 4 that encapsulated IP in IPX. It used SAP (Service Advertising Protocol) over IPX . NetWare 5 is native IP and uses SLP.(Thanks to Mike Maday and Ford Pedersen.)

Bug in Mac OS X Server 1.2 and OS X Beta with PC AFP clients

November 2, 2000 -- Scott Christopher of Miramar Systems told MacWindows of a bug in Mac OS X Server and OS X Public Beta dealing with Mac file names with PC clients.

In trying to prepare PC MacLAN for use with OS X, I have been doing a lot of testing with OS X Public Beta. What I found is that OS X Public Beta and OS X Server v1.2 do not return valid short names to PC AFP clients.

This is going to be a real problem since some applications (i.e. MS Office Suite) refer to the short name of the file it is trying to open when you double click or right click/open in Windows Explorer.

This it what we found:

OS X Public beta returns "!3278E" for the short name of a file named "Long File Name.xls". Excel gets error because the file extension is truncated from the file name.

OS X Server returns "______~1.__ " for the short name of the same file. Excel has a problem finding this file as well.

We have submitted bug reports to Apple and have contacted them by phone.

PC MacLAN installs an Apple Filing Protocol (AppleShare) client on Windows.

Mac OS X Public Beta closes hub ports

November 7, 2000
Chris Gehlker

There is a strange bug in OS X that causes at least some hubs to disconnect.

I'm running a G4, a 6400 with a NIC card and an old 200 MHz Pentium in my home office. They are connected by cable to a SOHOWare NDH305 hub that's in turn connected to a Cisco 675 DSL router. This setup is plug and play under OS 9. All I had to do was put PC MacLAN software on the PC and everything just worked.

Under OS X, the hub turns off whatever port the G4 is connected to during startup. That port goes dark and stays dark until power is cycled. The other machines are not effected. The only way to get online with OS X is to plug the G4 directly into the router.

NDH responds to an email but they say they don't know enough about OS X yet to offer any help. OS X will work with the router if I bypass the hub.

Connecting Mac OS X Public Beta to the Internet using DSL

November 10, 2000 -- Roaring Penguin PPPoE, a PPP-over-Ethernet connection DSL client for Linux, also runs on Mac OS X Public Beta. Installation is a bit tricky--it involves using the Unix command line--but it does connect Mac OS X to the Internet over a DSL link. One of the tricks is not to decompress the software from Mac OS 9. You need to startup with OS X and decompress it at the command line. This is covered in one of several web sites with installation instructions.


Mac OS X: support right mouse button? October 30, 2000 -- Macintouch reports that Mac OS X Public Beta supports the right mouse button in at lease one two-button mouse, bringing up contextual menus a la Windows.

| Top of This Page |

Other MacWindows Departments

| Solutions | Tutorials | Tips | News Archives |
MacWindows Home |

This site created and maintained by John Rizzo
Copyright 2000 John Rizzo. All rights reserved.