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Mac Emulators for PCs

Information and reader reports related to running Mac emulators on PCs

Last updated September 22, 2008


On this page:

Have you discovered something interesting about a Mac emulator for PCs? Let us know.

Introduction

MacWindows lists Mac emulators for PC on the Operating System Solutions page. All of these emulators are 680x0 emulators. Several companies have promised a PowerPC emulator, but so far have none been able to overcome the complexities of emulating a RISC processor on a CISC processor (Pentium).

For a help forum for Mac emulators, click here.

Hackers boot a Dell with Mac OS X (Intel)

Note: This hack is not an emulator: it's native booting of a PC with Mac OS X. It's also illegal.

March 24, 2006 -- Unidentified programmers have hacked the Intel version of Mac OS X to enable it to boot a Dell PC. A file called the "JaS4.2b patch" can be used to create a customized installer DVD for installing on a Dell PC.

A website called MacaDell describes the patch. The MacDell site has also has a page that describes how to use the JaS4.2b patch to create a customized installer disc for Mac OS X.

Using the hack is illegal because it breaks Apple’s Mac OS X license agreement, which specifies that the operating system be run on an “Apple-labeled computer.”

According to MacaDell, work on the hack began when a Russian hacker known as Maxxuss cracked the encrypted security layer in Mac OS X that usually requires the software to be installed on a certain Mac model. Other hackers added to the work, and a programmer known as JaS put the work together in the JaS4.2b patch.

The hack emulates the EFI boot firmware found in Intel-based Macs. It also emulates an instruction set called SSE3 in order to support processors older than the Dual Core used in the Intel Macs. MacaDell reports that the hack doesn’t work on every computer, and doesn’t support some functions, such as wireless networking and certain audio and video cards.

At this point, the Intel version of Mac OS X is only available with the purchase of an Intel-based Mac.

Basilisk II

In May of 1999, Developer Christian Bauer posted Basilisk II, an open source 68k Mac emulator for Windows 95/98/NT, BeOS, Amiga, and UNIX. In July of 2002, Basilisk II became GNU licensed and gained space at sourceforge.net.

A second version called Basilisk II JIT is an "an attempt to add a dynamically recompiling 680x0 CPU core to the original Basilisk II." Basilisk II JIT runs Mac OS 8.1 and earlier on Linux on x86 hardware. (The original Basilisk II runs on Windows.)

There is also a version of Basilisk II that runs on Mac OS X, making it a competitor to the Classic environment.

May 21, 1999
Aaron TC

There's a new Mac emulator for BeOS, UNIX, AmigaOS, and Win32 (9x and NT). It's called Basilisk II. It emulates 68k Macs and is freeware. It's a little tricky to set up but runs pretty good on a PC with a AMD K6 233 processor running Windows 95 with 32 Mb ram, its just a little slow and I'm not sure if it has sound because I didn't play around with all the options(not bad for freeware considering its in color).

PS It supposedly can go on the net, too

May 21, 1999
G. Alan

Basilisk II, a free Macintosh IIci/Quadra 900 emulator for many x86 operating systems including ports for Linux, BeOS R4, WinNT/9x and others.

The main drawback to Basilisk II is the lack of GPL (GNU Public License) 68040 emulation code. Currently it is using the 68020 codebase from the UAE (Unix/Universal Amiga Emulator).

I'm running the Win32 port on Win95B with a 200meg disk image file and MacOS 7.5.3 installed. 7.5.3 full universal version is available for download from ftp.apple.com.

The current release of Basilisk II (16.5.1999) by Lauri Pesonen has added 1.44M Mac floppy support under Win9x along with a couple of other features. The supported feature list is longer when running under Windows NT.

Basilisk II can directly use any SCSI/LPT/IDE/ ATAPI Iomega Zip drive _or_ use the Mac IomegaWare installed on MacOS. PC modems are supported and you can even get on the internet just like with a real Macintosh. Networking is not supported with Win9x yet.

Finally, you need to either extract a ROM image from a real Mac with a 512K ROM for IIci emulation or a 1meg ROM for Quadra 900 emulation _or_ you can use the hardware ROM carrier board from http://www.emulators.com which they use with their commercial Gemulator software.

So if you or anyone know of GPL-able 68040 emulation code please contact the authors of Basilisk II so they can continue to make the best FREE Macintosh emulator even better.

November 5, 1999
Derek McCabe

When I first tried to get Basilisk going, it lived up to its name... It turned my computer to stone. After playing with the options, however, I was pleased to see that an open-source, Freeware project had lived up to the claims. I have since used Internet Explorer 4.0, and I wish to offer a few hints to other people.

1) Cable/ADSL/"HSE" Modem users: Make sure you set up a proxy server for Mac OS to use if you want it on the Internet. Install the network adapter driver included with Basilisk, and you will get your network to register MacOS.

2) Don't use a WinModem. Check for key words in your "System" Dialog box such as "HFC" or "WinModem". Also, a diamond-like icon (a tilted square) icon and a device named "[anything] Enumerator" usually refers to the satan-spawn that is WinModems.

3) Get another Emulator. Basilisk is awesome, however, if you get an application that is not compatible, you will be very thankful that you got the second emulator. I suggest the fast, stable vMac, another open source, freeware emulator. The only problem with it is it won't work in colour!

January 17, 2000
"SW"

Reader SW is happy with Basilisk II v 0.7-2:

Like its immediate predecessors it works just fine. I use it on a PIII 450 MHz running Win 98 Second Edition. Its performance equals that of a Quadra 950, apart from the graphics which are much faster on the emulator than in real life. It also runs in 1024x768 with millions of colors.

So far I haven't run into any 68K-programs that won't run. I could add that I use MacOS 8.1. And connect to the Internet using my LAN (Ethernet) and Internet Explorer 4.01 (including Outlook Express).

Highly recommended.

Basilisk II is faster on Linux than on Windows

February 14, 2000
Marcel Ovidiu Vlad

I have recently learned about BASILISK II from your website and I started experimenting with version 0.8 on PC hardware (a Sony Vaio Laptop Pentium III 500 MHz 192 MB RAM)

I run MacOS 8.1 with a Quadra ROM under following operating systems

  • BeOS 4.5 update II
  • Linux 2.2.14
  • Windows 98 second edition

Mac OS is noticeably faster under Linux than under Windows 98. The performance under BeOS is very poor, worse than in Windows. Under Linux I had no problems setting up an Internet connection over a LAN, but I failed to do this under Windows and BeOS.

If I am not mistaken Basilisk II is the only Mac emulator which has full Ethernet support (Fusion has some limited support for SCSI Ethernet cards)

Tech support for Basilisk II

August 3, 2000
Jody Nickerson

Basilisk II is a cross platform wonder. No matter what main OS I'm using I can always jump into BII to work away. It is the most feature rich of all the emulators and it is free It has one heck of a setup program that just keeps getting better and better. I've tried all the others but at the end of the day I always go right back to Basilisk. Of all the emulators it also has the greatest amount of technical support you'll find anywhere...just go to:

http://www.delphi.com/macemulation/start/ or http://www.delphi.com/basilisk2/start and you find more support than you can handle. I've been at the Mac emulation (for PC) front since the setup for Basilisk was no more than a text file, and it truly is a wonder of an app.

Mac OS 8 problem with Basilisk II

August 4, 2000 --
Kareem Trabelci

I bought Mac OS 8.0 and installed it on Basilisk II (Win 98 build). I selected of course the universal system...it worked smoothly until I found out that you can do anything while running Mac OS 8 on Basilisk except accessing your own files and folders !

Basilisk II has AppleTalk problem with some Mac ROMs

August 24, 2000 --

Rui Martins sent us workarounds for two problems he found with the Basilisk II Mac emulator for Windows:

Basilisk II (build 130) is an amazing solution. A true miracle. Still I found some troubles... Here some solutions found until now:

1) If the AppleTalk keeps telling that "an error has occurred", just use TCP for file sharing (Windows 2000 server, AppleShare IP, support it natively)

2) If the "MacOS Setup Assistant" freezes when choosing your keyboard layout. Remove all extensions to a "staging" folder, boot the Mac execute manually the Assistant, configure all that it requests, reboot, and restore all the extensions in the staging folder.

 However, the problems cleared up when he started using another set of Mac ROMs:

It was a ROM file problem. Some ROMs simply don´t support AppleTalk in Basilisk II. The ROM extracted from a Quadra 650 have that limitation.

Using an ROM from a Centris 650 (almost the same hardware...) it worked fine... File sharing, printing, even Timbuktu Pro...

Networking Basilisk II

September 25, 2000 -- Mimir Essedari is successfully using the Basilisk II Macintosh emulator in a Linux environment:

Real System: PIII-500 256 MB RAM Win98SE

Fake [emulated] System: Quadra 950 (Q605 ROM) 96 MB RAM Mac OS 8.1

Network: NT4 Server, Novell 4.11, SCO, 962Mhz Broadband Radio (2-10MB Connection to the Net)

We use an SCO server for our accounting/ordering/everything. DataComet allows the proper emulation for our most important server, works just fine. Complete access to NT and Novell, and Network Neighborhood via DAVE. There is one real Mac on the network (Quadra 605). My FakeMac boots quicker and runs faster than the RealMac.

No problems yet with Basilisk II. Increased performance by going from K62-450 to PIII--500 (of course). I ran the same setup under BeOS, very slow. Linux: Ran about the same. Haven't tried it under Win2K as of yet.

All network printers (HPLJ4000, QMS, Okidatas) work excellent and quick. Internet connectivity occasionally pops up a TCP/IP Address in Use, but that's to be expected. vMac running Mac OS 6 runs a little slow under Basilisk II, but it booted for the test. I can drop Word documents onto any desktop (Mac or PC).

The next step is to run Win2K with Basilisk II, while running Linux under VMware with Basilisk II.

My only complaint is coming from a Linux-geek, I'm not used to having to use Demo clients (Novell, DAVE) to get an OS to work in my environment.

October 30, 2000 -- Mimir Essedari updates his report and describes running Basilisk II in Linux:

Installed Linux Mandrake 7.1 through VMWare. Installed Basilisk II 8.1 using sheep_net. (sheep_net is a driver that came with UAE, and for Basilisk II under Linux it is required to get the Ethernet functioning.)

Once sheep_net was installed, 7.5.3 would no longer boot. Ran my 8.1 drive, and it would boot, but I can't get any AppleTalk connectivity, and TCP/IP appears to work until I go to use Netscape 4.08, where it stops responding right before the browser window opens. This has delayed my life long ambition of having two virtual Mac's talking together through Linux and Windows on the same machine...

VIA's busmaster IDE drivers and Basilisk II emulator

October 23, 2001
Gregg Eshelman sent us this suggestion about running new Windows IDE drivers with the emulator:

VIA has released busmaster IDE drivers that work for all Win9x/NT/2000/Me. They're a separate download from the 4-in-1 driver pack.

What does this mean for Basilisk II users? The previous "limitation" of the busmaster drivers to only Win 95 (or risk of data corruption by force installing the driver into Win 98) is gone.

Your IDE drives now appear by name in Device Manager and thus in the SCSI list of the Basilisk II GUI. You can plug in some old IDE drive and use it directly with Basilisk II. Of course there's still the possibility of Basilisk II "puking" and wiping out your HFS formatted real IDE hard drive, but no guarantees one way or the other. I haven't tried that since updating to Build 130 blew away all the stuff I had on a small IDE drive. The "universal" busmaster drivers now make using a real IDE hard drive with Basilisk II much less "bleeding edge" than before.

Problem with Windows ME

October 23, 2001
Gan Eng Siong

I've running Basilisk II (with OS 8) on 2 PCs (one's a notebook) with Win 95 and they run fine.

Now I try to do the same with a P4 desktop and a PIII notebook both running Win ME but failed! Is there known problem running Basilisk II + OS 8 on Win ME host?

If you've seen this problem, please let us know.

October 30, 2001 -- A reader named Erich reports that he has no problem with Windows ME and Mac OS 7.5.3 running on Basilisk II.

November 9, 2001 --
(anonymous reader)

I've installed this Mac emulator program into PC with NT 4.0 Workstation with SP6a. It work fine. Only thing doesn't like is Photoshop open eps jpeg files -- it's slow. But when I switch to binary format it works the fastest. I've install this program into Windows Me, but it always hangs.  

February 25, 2002 -- Sirrus Firestrom reports he that has the same problem running Mac OS 8.1 in Basilisk II on Windows ME reported above.

Preblems and fixes for running Basilisk II on Windows XP (and other Windows)

December 13, 2001
Dr. Peter C. Yih

I have tried running Basilisk II, the latest build on Windows XP Home and Windows XP Pro, and it hangs on both, with the sound of the disk churning. I think it puts up the grey Mac screen, no happy Mac, and no booting.

The Fixes

December 14, 2001
Graeme Bennett offers this:

Usually, throwing away the Basilisk prefs and the PRAM file and rebuilding a configuration by reselecting the ROM file, hard disk image, etc., will solve the (extremely rare) problem he describes. Sometimes, simply switching from 68040 to 68020 emulation mode will do the trick. Basilisk rocks under Windows XP!

I've posted a detailed Basilisk compatibility list.

December 14, 2001
Ed Glassgow

I would first assure that he is using the NT4/Win2K port version. Since XP is a Win2K variant, this is most necessary. Other than that, I would look at video settings and ROM issues (make sure that the all the settings are configured correctly).

December 19, 2001
Dr. Peter C. Yih

Trashing the prefs file and re-config seemed to do the trick.

Another problem

February 25, 2002
Dr. Peter C. Yih

I am still having problems with Basilisk II on Windows XP home. I am using the latest build 142 for NT4/Win 2000. After the happy Mac shows up in the Mac Window, the disk is constantly reading. Trying to end the process yields no response. Only a forced shutdown / reboot clears it. The OS is from the system restore image on CD from Compaq.

Tip for Basilisk II Mac emulator : Initializing and IDE hard drive in HFS format.

November 21, 2000 -- Gregg Eshelman send us a procedure for formatting an IDE drive on a PC in HFS format using the Basilisk II Macintosh emulator for PCs. We haven't tried it, but it doesn't sound easy.

It is possible to initialize an IDE hard drive in HFS format with Basilisk II.

First look under Disk Drives in Device Manager. If you see Generic IDE instead of the real drive make and model names it won't work. The solution is to manually install the bus master drivers for your chipset. Most chipset makers like Intel and VIA will warn you that those drivers are only for the original Win 95 and Win 95a. They will work under Win 95B, Win 98 and Win 98SE (usually) but you must do some tests.

Copy a large (like over 10 megs) compressed archive file from one drive or partition to another then open and test it or just try to extract it. If it works, do the copy and test several more times. If the file is corrupt try disabling/enabling DMA. If you can't get the corruption to go away you won't be using IDE hard drives with Basilisk II. I can usually get this to work on VIA chipsets using their drivers and enabling DMA through Device Manager, NOT VIA's DMAtool. VERY LARGE WARNING! I've had problems on SOME computers with VIA chipsets and forcibly installed VIA PCI IDE bus master drivers with corruption of ALL KINDS of compressed archives JUST OPENING THEM. I've even had them go bad just sitting there, not being read or written to, not even defragging! The larger the compressed archive, the more likely it would get "hit". Not a virus. I ran every antivirus I could find and they all came up empty.

I finally traced it to the VIA drivers by disabling DMA with VIA's utility. On my previous motherboard with a VIA chipset and Win 95B then Win 98SE (Win 98 would not install) there was no problem. I have not installed VIA's drivers on my current PC and I'm not going to. (But it would be nice if the MS drivers used ASPI like VIA's so I could use IDE HDs with Basilisk.)

WHEW!

Now that you have the IDE bus master drivers working, go to DOS mode and FDISK an IDE drive as one partition. This is a good use for old 1 gig or smaller drives. :) Do not format it. Reboot to windows, run the Basilisk II GUI and add the FDISKed IDE drive in the SCSI list then run Basilisk II. You'll need a ResEdit hacked version of DriveSetup to initialize the drive. Do not even think of trying HD SC as it does not "understand" IDE, even though the drive is pretending to be SCSI I don't know what HD SC might do. Don't try to get fancy with partitions, it won't work. Just initialize the whole drive as one HFS partition. Immediately exit Basilisk and reboot the PC. The drive is now invisible to Windows and can safely be used by Basilisk. If you "lose" the drive, try booting to DOS and use FDISK to delete all partitions on the drive and run through this again.

Third party drive formatters will not work. They all seem to expect SCSI Manager 4.3 or do other tricks like trying direct hardware access. Drive Setup apparently does everything only through the System or Mac OS, which is how a "good" Mac application is supposed to work.

Note of Warning

Using HFS formatted IDE drives with Basilisk II is very much unsupported. At any time you may lose all the Mac stuff on that drive. It "got" me when I updated to Build 130. Fortunately I didn't have anything on it that wasn't backed up. I did not test Mac OS 8.1 with HFS+. Even if it works you can't boot from it with Basilisk II. That would require another HFS format drive or disk file, just like a real 040 Mac. You have been warned! Un-backed up downloads may get toasted, or you can wipe out the wrong drive with FDISK.

Basilisk II Build 142 up to 175 percent faster

January 23, 2001 -- James Watters of the Mac Emulation Station reports that Lauri Pesonen has made available his latest Basilisk II Build 142 for Windows 9x/Me/NT/2000. (Basilisk II is an open source, 68000 (Pre-PowerPC) Macitnosh emulator for PCs.) Watters says:

Among other things, he has optimized the code using assembly language and created a single Basilisk.exe executable instead of the previous two Basilisk executables (one for Windows 9x/Me and one for NT/2000). Initial reports using Speedometer and Apple Personal Diagnostics indicate that the new build is 175 percent faster then the previous builds on Windows 9x/Me. I'll be running real world bench tests to confirm this.

There are also numberous bug fixes.

Basilisk II (Mac emulator for Windows) performance test results.

February 15, 2001 -- Reader Gregg E. sent us some test results for Basilisk II. He used the Speedometer utility that comes with Symantec's Norton Utilities for Macintosh to show that the performance of the current Basilisk II build has more than doubled over versions of a year ago.

This shows the performance increase in Basilisk II over time on Win 98 SE.

You can see that the difference between the optimized and non-optimized latest build is as big as the difference for an older version when going from a Pentium 225MMX to an AMD K6-2/350 with all the rest of the PC being the same. The gradually increasing performance through the middle on the AMD shows a period of incremental improvements.

I ran Speedometer [part of Symantec's Norton Utilities for Macintosh] on the previous build using the PIII 533Mhz and it showed Basilisk II even beating out the 68k emulation on early PowerMacs.

I think Basilisk II is now the top of the heap in 68k Mac emulation for Windows.

March 2, 2001 -- Jim Watters has posted benchmark results of Mac emulators running on Windows and Linux. Watters used actual Mac applications to test several builds of Basilisk II, SoftMac 2000, Fusion 3, and Executor. The fastest was a recent build of Basilisk II running on Windows 98.

Basilisk Problems and Workarounds

August 8, 2000
Peter Job s

Fire up the latest version [of Basilisk II], set everything up and off we go. Several crashes occur with illegal instructions. Try another ROM, and suddenly things start working pretty well!

Getting the correct ROM and correct machine ID seem to be very important. The emulated Mac now runs pretty well ( MacOS 8.1 on an Athlon 750 PC under Win98SE ). I have found that setting it to run at 16 bit colour in a 800x600 Direct-X window works best. Any other setting causes one or two funnies - the Apple logo loses its colour, and Label colours do not show up. Also - if I have used my modem in the emulated Mac, something is not reset because I have to reboot the PC to access the modem on the PC side. Speed is acceptable and the mouse movement is as expected. FreePPP, Netscape, Zip drive, CD-ROM drives all seem to work pretty well - I have only had one crash since changing ROM, and that happened when starting the emulator as Win98 had just showed the desktop after a reboot, and was still chugging away with an hourglass icon doing whatever unbeknown to me. Now I wait until chugging is over.

Basilisk for Mac OS X

There is now a version of Basilisk II that runs on Mac OS X, making it a competitor to the Classic environment.

January 28, 2003
J. Slade described this version:

It does not have Ethernet support, but may set up a better way to run Legacy OS 7.55 to OS 8.1 software on the newer Macs. I still have not found a good solution for OS 6.

January 30, 2003
Stewart Walker

It took a while to get Basilisk setup on Mac OS X, but it runs very reliably. The full-screen video is great on my beige G3; on the other hand, the small screen video is slow, but sometimes useful.

I used a Centris 650 ROM, configured Basilisk to run as a Mac IIci, and have System 7.1 running an old compiler and a CAD program. The CAD program runs off a disk image I installed it onto - the old copy-protection didn't realize it wasn't a real disk.

Under system 7.5, the emulator can mount parts of the OS X file system which makes passing files back and forth easier. I did run into an issue where some text files weren't parsed correctly unless I copied them to the emulator's desktop or its virtual disks, possibly it is a carriage-return/linefeed substitution issue that comes from the UNIX heritage of the emulator.

With a bit more work, this would be a snazzy solution.

SoftMac 2000 and Gemulator Explorer from Emulators, Inc.

Emulators Inc. "scraps" its PowerPC emulator, offers refund for SoftMac.

September 18, 2000 -- Emulators Inc. has announced that it has discontinued development of its PowerPC emulator (for running modern Mac software on Windows computers). In a web-posted "open letter to all Emulators customers," company founder Darek Mihocka said that "The PowerPC public beta we announced at Macworld [Expo] is scrapped."

It wasn't clear if he company plans to resume a PowerPC emulator project. For instance, Mihocka says that he is "shelving further development on the whole SoftMac Professional PowerPC product until next summer." Yet, in another place, he says that the PowerPC project "is being shelved indefinitely." In the long message, Mihocka puts the reason for the action on the release of the Mac OS X beta, the lack of a Pentium 4 processor, and customers who expect to much. ("We don't apologize to stupid customers," said Mihocka.)

The message also offers a full refund to people who purchased the company's 680x0 emulator, SoftMac 2000, after June 15. People who purchased SoftMac 2000 between March 15 and June 14 can get a 50 percent refund. The refund offers continue until September 30th. Mihocka also said that satisfied customers will receive free CD-ROM upgrade to SoftMac 2000 SR-3 upgrade, but did not say when that would be. The new version will add Windows ME support and support over 1 gigabyte of memory.

Problem with SoftMac 2000 Mac emulator for PC

July 31, 2000 --
Vladimir Yamshchikov

This might be of interest for someone, and in turn I would appreciate to know if someone has the same problem or has managed to overcome it.

System: Dell Inspiron 7500 PIII@600MHz, 96MB, 12GB, Win 98 2ed.

Software tested: SoftMac 2000 Demo/Gemulator Explorer

Problems:

DVD/Superdisk combo does not work with Gemulator Explorer (GE).

CD-ROM/Floppy combo does work with GE, but partially (unable to read disks formatted on Mac, unable to create images from files)

MacOS 8.0 Startup Disk made on Mac boots SoftMac to MacOS 8.0. However, Drive Setup from MacOS 8.0 CD cannot be run to initialize Mac volume created with Makedsk utility supplied with SoftMac.

Strange, but Drive Setup from Mac OS 8.5 CD runs fine and initializes the volume.

MacOS 8.0 installation to the Mac volume proceeds fine, but subsequent booting of SoftMac from the Mac volume to MacOS 8.0 fails with System Error 10, and deeply hangs the entire system (Shift-Alt-Del does not work).

Any other experience with Dell Inspiron 7500 in this regard?

SoftMac vs. Fusion vs. Basilisk II

August 2, 2000 -- Jim Watters of the Macintosh Emulation Station web site has had problems with Emulator Inc.'s SoftMac 2000 Macintosh emulator for PC. He prefers the free Fusion and Basilisk II, both of which Emulators Inc. includes on its SoftMac 2000 Suite. (Fusion 3.0 is also a free download from Emulators, Inc.).

Emulator Inc.'s SoftMac 2000 Premium Edition SR-2 does not support sound, resolutions over 256 colors, printing or dialup networking. These are features that both Basilisk II and Fusion-PC support. SoftMac is also temperamental on most systems, crashing randomly causing the user to lose work. I have been using SoftMac 99/2000 since it was first released in August 1999 and have waited patiently for Darek to implement these features. This has not only been verified my me but by numerous customers on mailing lists, newsgroups and forums.

BTW: People are much better off using Basilisk II - it supports dialup and Ethernet networking, translucent file transfers between the Mac OS and Windows, millions of colors, and the builds over the last few months have been completely stable. As you know, Basilisk II is free and every month or so some new cross-platform feature is added which neither SoftMac nor Fusion-PC has. Since Basilisk II builds are available for Windows, Unix/Linux, BeOS and AmigaOS it is truly a cross-platform miracle.

Emulators, Inc. replies about SoftMac. August 3, 2000 -- Emulators Inc. President Darek Mihocka responded to the above report. Mihocka contridicts statements about SoftMac's features, saying that is does support sound and printing. He also offers his perspective of the three emulators, and talks about future product plans.

[Mr. Watters'] statements that our product does not support sound or printing are absolutely false. Not only does our product support those features, we bundle the PowerPrint utility from InfoWave with our product in order to allow people to print from the Mac OS to their PC printers.

We do not support color depths above 256 colors at this time, that is correct and is documented... We also do not support dial up networking at this time as our product does not currently support AppleTalk or TCP/IP. These are both limitations which we have long acknowledged and are working on in a future release. However, our other emulator, FUSION PC, which is similar to SoftMac and which we bundle with SoftMac, supports those features.

We acknowledge that both emulators are great emulators, SoftMac having its strengths in very fast speed and support for new versions of Windows (NT, 2000, dual processor, etc.) and FUSION PC having its strengths in supporting older systems (MS-DOS, Windows 3.x, Windows 9x) and supporting large color depths and dial up networking.

Our company intends to merge the best features of both emulators into each other. With the free release of Fusion PC 3.0, we have already completed half of that work, by merging the incredibly fast speed of SoftMac and its Windows 2000 support into Fusion. Phase two of the merge, adding "millions of color" support and dial-up networking support into SoftMac, is happening at this moment. One of the new innovations that we are adding as a result of the current work is multiple monitor emulation...

We have also never had any problems with other free emulators, such as Basilisk II or vMac, and we not only encourage people to use and try those emulators, we even asked, and received, permission from their authors to bundle their emulators with our package. And if someone prefers one over the other, well, that's why we give the user the choice of all 4. If someone is running Windows 9x/NT/2000 and they don't wish to pay the $99 license fee for SoftMac, then Basilisk II is an excellent alternative.

Since the August 1999 open beta testing period... our product has been rock solid and has run solidly for days on end...Only until a few months ago, May or June I believe, was Basilisk II actually stable under Windows. Many users reported lock ups and crashes doing such simple things as pressing Alt+Tab to switch away to another Windows app. Those problems have since been fixed...

... As we have already announced at Macworld and even earlier, the SoftMac Pro product [a PowerPC emulator] is being written with Linux in mind and we have committed to releasing a Linux version of the emulator within the next year...One does not have to be open source to be cross-platform.

Darek Mihocka
President, Emulators Inc.

SoftMac problems with sound, printing

August 4, 2000 -- Jordan Bettcher, webmaster of EmuMac, describes the sound and printing problem:

SoftMac SR II the latest build provides no way to configure sound settings, all the other versions never have either. When you boot the Macintosh up, and there's no chime. When I even try configure sound in SoftMac, it locks up. I also know that if you ask any other person who has ever tried to use SoftMac they will also tell you that they have never been able use sound.

Now for printing, just like sound, SoftMac 2000 SR II and earlier builds don't supply settings that allow you to configure Printing through your LPT 1 port. And if you try to print anything it will not work because the drivers do not work, people would also agree with what I just said about printing.

September 22, 2000
Jordan Bettcher

SoftMac 2000 does not support sound or printing, I have tested these functions, many times with all of the different versions, and haven't found any of my attempts successful.

...SoftMac SR II, the latest build, provides no way to configure sound settings, all the other versions never have either. When you boot the Macintosh up, and there's no chime. When I even try configure sound in SoftMac, it locks up. I also know that if you ask any other person who has ever tried to use SoftMac they will also tell you that they have never been able use sound. Now for printing, just like Sound SoftMac 2000 SR II and earlier builds don't supply settings that allow you to configure Printing through your LPT 1 port. And if you try to print anything it will not work because the drivers do not work, people would also agree with what I just said about printing. I have tried Tech Support to try to fix these problems, but [don't get an answer].

Fusion supports Sound, Printing, and modem use. Jim Drew [Microcode Solutions] initially designed Fusion, and sold it. He worked out all the bugs and basically made it almost perfect for stability. Darek bought Fusion from Jim Drew, and optimized it for 686 processors, now Darek claims that Jim put Fusion in better hands (Emulators Inc.) which is completely wrong, because Jim Drew could have done the same thing that Darek did to the coding of Fusion, Jim made Fusion what it's, and Darek just changed a small feature. And now you know why they are fighting.

[Note: Emulators Inc. bought Fusion from Microcode Solutions, and now offers it on a CD-ROM.]

August 7, 2000 -- Torsten Fastbinder has not been able to produce sound with the latest version of SoftMac 2000 Service Release II, the Macintosh emulator for Windows:

Sound does not work for me with SoftMac, neither in Win 98 nor in Win 2000 (in contrast to Fusion and BII).

I tried all of them [versions] (SoftMac.exe SoftMacO.exe SoftMac2.exe), full and demo, even the latest SR II, in Win 98 SE and Win 2000 (dual boot): no chance.

I have a Christal PnP Audio System 16bit ISA Card. BII and Fusion can get sound out of it without any problem. SoftMac just produces some sort of grmmmpf at startup. When I try to set the sound volume in Mac OS it crashes.

Sound in the SoftMac emulator for PCs. December 27 --

Rob Snyder writes that SoftMac v. 8 does in fact play sound, though it is limited:

Sound in SoftMac does work, but under Classic emulation only. Which means the users are limited to BW screen and only 4 megs of RAM.

SoftMac experiences, Basilisk II video settings

August 8, 2000 -- Shareware developer Peter Job shares his experiences with Mac Emulators:

My background in Mac emulation started with my Amiga A1200, long before I ever bought my first Mac. I bought both ShapeShifter and Emplant 1200 (precursor to Fusion ) and used both, preferring Emplant because it was usably fast, but finding ShapeShifter more stable. My experiences with these caused me to want to own a real Mac, and since then I have bought 3, and now write Mac shareware.

I still run PCs, and have used PC Mac emulators at various times in the past. I bought SoftMac, initially, because it did not require booting into DOS which Fusion did at that time, and have used various releases of Basilisk including some very flaky early ones. Recently I had a need to test some of my shareware on a 68K Mac and decided to dig out SoftMac for the purpose.

[Job then upgraded to SoftMac SR-1.]

I now find that the SoftMac copy-protection keeps kicking in. I copy-and-paste my extremely long code, set the options, and off we go. Then I try to change options - screen size or memory allocation - and BANG go all my settings, everything reverting to the unregistered defaults and refusing to change. So enter long code again, change settings and off we go again. Loop round these actions a few times, frustration level rising. I have also had SoftMac cause some horrible "System has become unstable" blue screen messages from Win98, resulting in difficulties booting the emulated Mac after restarting the PC. Possibly I need to try other ROMs, but blood is nearly at boiling point.

So, forget that, try Fusion 3.0. Ah - the same old Setup from the Amiga days! Things worked pretty well, except for the mouse movement which I find VERY strange. Carpal-tunnel syndrome starts to become a possibility, so why not try Basilisk again.

I still want to persevere one more time with SoftMac and requested a SoftMac SR-2 license code, sending the email to Emulators Inc and getting another curt reply saying I should mail the sales address instead. Which I have done. With no response as yet...

So until I find out if SoftMac SR-2 is a better bet, I will stick with Basilisk. At least my shareware works on it ;)

Another disgruntled SoftMac user

May 28, 2003
John Campbell

I have to add to the discussion of SoftMac. I made repeated efforts to secure a response to my emails seeking help with printing and sound after I had bought SoftMac 2000. Eventually I sent one last email offering them the chance to respond before I went public on their poor software and worse after-sales.

This prompted a frantic outburst from Dalek, who accused me of timing my email exactly to coincide with the opening of a world computer fair that he was attending at the time. He also accused me of trying to fraudulently seek a refund on a product that I had bought over the Internet and had no intention of using.

Actually, at that point I had only wanted to get the thing working, but Dalek's inappropriate affective response give me the impression that the better course of action would now be to seek a refund. Dalek refused to deal with this so I tried the suppliers.

Unfortunately, the English company that supplied the SoftMac now said that they had "changed hands" and were no longer dealing with SoftMac because of a history of difficulties.

If anybody else has had similar experiences maybe we should catalogue them and then lodge the evidence with whatever websites, magazines, groups, companies and public bodies who could help.

SoftMac is an interesting marketing idea as so many people would want to be able to run their old Mac stuff on a new PC, or swop files with pc-bound friends and colleagues.

But as a product it fails to meet the claims made for it and has a ridiculously bad after-sales service that people should be warned about.

By the way, I had an email from Dalek where he clearly says that PRINTING IS NOT SUPPORTED and that I should have know that before I bought it.

General Mac emulator tips and topics

Benchmark test results for Mac emulators

August 4, 2000 -- Jim Waters of the Macintosh Emulation Station web site yesterday posted benchmark results of several Macintosh emulators for PCs. His tests on a 500 MHz AMD K6-2 PC show Basilisk II running slower than SoftMac 2000 and Fusion.

August 7, 2000 -- Simon Biber has another set of Mac Emulator benchmark results by Brian Weber posted. The tests show SoftMac 2000 running faster than Fusion and Basilisk II. All three emulators have been revised since these tests were posted last December.

Tip: Creating Mac CDs with Mac emulator on a PC. August 18, 2000 -- Jim Watters of the Macintosh Emulation Station web site sent us a tip on how to create a Mac HFS CD-R on a PC using a Macintosh emulator and some other software:

I thought this technique would be interesting to you and your readers. I use this technique all the time to create Mac CDs using a Backpack CD-RW drive on Windows 98. Email me if you have any questions.

People with IDE CD Writers can burn pure HFS (Mac) CDs in Windows without access to a SCSI drive. Here's how:

1.) Get Nero Burning Rom, install it, and reboot.

2.) Create a Hard Drive File under 650 MB using Fusion's setup.exe, Basilisk II's Disk tab or HFVExplorer.

3.) Use your Mac emulator to format the new hard file.

4.) Copy all the files you need to the new hard file and lay it out just the way you want the CD to be. If you make the hard file bootable you will have a bootable HFS CD.

5.) Shutdown the emulator and start Nero.

6.) In Nero - Cancel - (not close) the wizard, go the file menu and select Burn Image.

7.) In the open window that pops up choose to view all files then select the Hard File you just created and click Open.

8.) Next a Dialog box pops up and tells you this is a foreign file format and asks you to set some options. Choose OK.

9.) The foreign image settings window then appears. Under "Type of Image" choose HFS (leave the rest of the settings alone) then click OK.

10.) Next the Write CD window comes up. Select the Burn tab. Make sure the "Write" checkbox is checked. Check the "Disc-At-Once" checkbox. If you don't use the Disc-At-Once option or can't (some writer don't support it) you should probably check the Finalize CD checkbox. I also uncheck the simulation check box but you can leave it checked if you want (It just takes longer).

11.) Click Write (and keep your fingers crossed).

12.) Once the writing process is complete, the disk will be ejected and you can try it on your Mac or Mac emulator.

Microcode Solutions talks about G3s for PCs

March 2, 2001 -- Jim Drew, CEO of Microcode Solutions sent MacWindows some information about an upcoming PowerPC emulator product that would include a PowerPC processor for PCs.

We are not developing the PCI card. Our software, along with other software will be bundled with cards.

There is no information available concerning who is developing these cards, or a release date. The cards will be used for other secondary CPU purposes, such as games, Photoshop filters (Altivec support for your PC), other emulations, etc...

iFUSION is an Amiga product. It runs on PowerPC equipped Amigas, and gives you a G3 emulation, even with a 603e processor.

Our PC version will not have the "FUSION" namesake. I have not yet decided what the product will be called. The PC version will be a software emulation that can use real PowerPC hardware if available. It is a G3 level emulation that uses OS8.6 or later. No ROM image is required (like previous emulators).

I will release more information in the near future.

At the Emaculation Mac emulation forum , Drew said that the iFusion/350Mhz G3 card bundle would "retail for less than $300."

PowerPC emulator for Windows

PearPC is the first PowerPC emulator for Windows. It is an open source piece of software, still in early versions.

August 5, 2004
Richard Shinebarger that using PearPC, an open source PowerPC emulator for Windows, he can run Panther on a PC:

I have it installed with macos 10.3. Not the fastest in the world but I can surf and run Mac programs.

(See our emulators listings for more info.)

CherryOS Mac G4 emulator for Windows

CherryOS is no more. The web site at cherryos.com is gone. It looks like the controversy over supposedly pirated code may have taken its toll.

October 18, 2004
In mid October, the CherryOS web site announced that the Mac emulator for Windows was shipping and available for US $50. Over the weekend, however, the developer removed the web site without an explanation. The company is called Maui X-Stream.

A story in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin reports that the developer took the web site down because of large volume, and accused Mac users of hacking the site:

"The hackers smashed it all to hell. We had a bunch of servers up for this, and they just destroyed them," he said. "The purists out there get their backs up about anything affecting Macs."

The story also says that CherryOS may contain code from the Open Source PearPC Mac emulator. If this is true, Maui X-Stream would be in violation of GPL license, which forbids the selling of open source software without freely distributing the modifications to the original source code. The story says that Maui X-Stream create a new web site.

CherryOS, G4 emulator for Windows, is back. March 11 2005 -- Maui X-Stream Inc. is now shipping CherryOS (US $50), a G4 (AltiVec) emulator for Windows XP that can run Mac OS X on a PC. CherryOS is possibly the most advanced Mac emulator for PCs. Some of its features include:

  • Network and Internet access
  • Drag and drop copying of files from Windows and Mac OS X
  • CD/DVD drive access

Questions remain about CherryOS code source. March 11 2005 -- A story from Wired News reports that the developers of CherryOS, a new Mac G4 emulator for Windows, may be improperly using code from an open-source emulator, PearPC. Maui X-Stream denies it, and states on its web site that "CherryOS uses a unique architecture in its approach to G4 emulation."

If Maui X-Stream is using PearPC code, it would have to release the source code for free, as stipulated under the GNU public license. Otherwise, the PearPC developers could sue for damages.

Whether or not it is true that CherryOS contains some PearPC code, it does appear that CherryOS goes beyond PearPC to some degree. CherryOS has a longer feature list, including support of G4 AltiVec emulation. PearPC does not have AltiVec support, according to its web site. CherryOS also has more integration features with Windows then PearPC.

Comparison of CherryOS and PearPC emulators. July 9, 2005 -- A reader named Tom (no last name given) sent us a report comparing two Mac emulators for Windows, CherryOS and PearPC. There have been allegations that the commercial CherryOS contains code from the open source PearPC. However, Tom says that Cherry OS has features not found in PearPC, but the later is faster:

I tried both CherryOS and PearPC. Whether or not it is true that CherryOS contains some PearPC code, it does appear that CherryOS goes beyond PearPC to some degree. CherryOS has a longer feature list, including support of G4 AltiVec emulation. PearPC does not have AltiVec support, according to its web site. CherryOS also has more integration features with Windows then PearPC.

PearPC has Altivec support since about March this year. It's pretty fast and even faster than CherryOS. Maybe the competition with CherryOS forced some developments that would have taken longer without. Since a week or so, PearPC supports G4 altivec mode with Tiger, which was a problem before due to graphics problems. Some developers working on some kind of graphics acceleration which should boost PearPC performance quite soon.

CherryOS...never such thing like cut and paste with Windows, nor did they ever had sound support... they kinda built in HFVExplorer to access the Mac-harddisk-images.

For my part I have networking up and running with PearPC, set up for filesharing between WinXP host and Mac OS in PearPC in both directions and I set up Windows printing using Samba+Cups so I can print from MacOS to a printer connected to my host-PC.

CherryOS web site vanishes, again. July 28, 2005 -- The web site for CherryOS (cherryos.com) has been replaced with an auto-generated page, known as a customer trap page. CherryOS was a Mac emulator for Windows from a Hawaiian company called Maui X-Stream. The company was the center of a controversy using code from the Open Source PearPC Mac emulator in violation of the GPL license. The CherryOS site has disappeared before, only to reappear later.

Tutorials for running old Mac OS on PCs; Add Classic to Leopard

Monday, September 22, 2008

Michael Goodine has posted a couple of tutorials to running Mac OS 9 and earlier on Windows PCs using two open-source PowerPC emulators. He has a guide for using SheepShaver, and another for using Basilisk II. (We have some information on Mac classic emulators for Windows PCs, though we haven't updated it recently.)

It's worth pointing out that SheepShaver and Basilisk II come in versions for Mac OS X, which lets you run Mac OS 9 and earlier on Intel Macs, and can act as a replacement for Mac Classic, which is no longer included with Mac OS X 10.5 and later. Referring to the Mac versions of the PowerPC emulators, Goodine said "hey both run pretty well." He points out:

Actually, the development of both of those emulators has veered in that direction [running OS 9 in Leopard]. I think that Mac users have more interest in the emulators now. The Windows ports are described as "experimental" these days.

If you have interested in SheepShaver of Basilisk II

See the list of Mac emulators for PC on the MacWindows Operating System Solutions page.


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