setting the wayback machine for the mid 1990s

Dear Lazyweb,

I want to actually run some of these old copies of Netscape that I have. I have an Intel iMac running MacOS 10.5.1. What is the easiest way to do that, without spending money? Presumably the answer involves running an emulator, of which there are many. I've tried a couple and not gotten far. (I don't have a preference on whether I run the Mac, Windows, or Linux binaries. Whichever is easiest.)

Facts please, not theories.

Tags: , , , ,
Current Music: Moev -- Right Hand ♬

31 Responses:

  1. satmandu says:

    Basically, you run Sheepsaver, which can emulate a mac up to MacOS 9.0.4 with internet access.

    Acquiring MacOS 9.0.4 is of course an excercise...

    Alternatively, pick up a VMWare image, and download a VMWare trial for OS X.

    • jwz says:

      Except for the part where I can't get sheepshaver to work.

      • dougygyro says:

        Have you looked at Basilisk?

        • jwz says:

          Ok, that finally gets me as far as a desktop... but I still can't run the 0.93 binary I have. There's no StuffIt on the "MacStartup.img" I found, and if I unstuff it on OSX and then copy the executable over, it shows up as a document instead of an application.

          • dojothemouse says:

            shows up as a document instead of an application.

            That will be an issue on MacOS no matter how well you do your emulation.

            You can solve it by fixing the file type and creator codes. You can fix the file type and creator codes by using "FileInfo" in OS X, or a number of old Mac OS utilities.

            • dojothemouse says:

              Of course, those old Mac utilities will show up as documents instead of applications also, unless you can solve this problem in OS X.

              If "MacStartup.img" already has RegEdit or FileTyper on it, then you can use them instead.

          • I've had a lot of success running Macintosh Common LISP under System 7 in Basilisk, and I'm pretty sure I've got Stuffit on one of those images -- I'll give it a shot tonight.

          • Could that be fixed in file permissions before copying?

            Sorry, I'm all theory, no facts, on this one. Would a Windows virtual machine work better for you?

            • badc0ffee says:

              More likely either the resource fork, or the type/creator filesystem metadata, didn't get copied. On old Mac OS <= 9, any file you copied over from Windows would look like an untyped document because it was missing this information.

              • cyeh says:

                Almost certainly the resource fork and the file type/creator info that is stored in the resource fork. Your best bet is to find either a .bin (MacBinary) or .hqx (BinHex) file of the installer and then unpack it only running under Mac OS 9 using StuffIt Expander of roughly the same era.

                • ahruman says:

                  Nitpick: file type and creator are stored in the file descriptor in MFS/HFS/HFS+ file systems, and as metadata in the AppleDouble ._ file on other file systems. It is not part of the resource fork.

                  If the image is mountable under OS X, you can use "SetFile -t APPL ", or File Buddy, to make it appear as an application. Setting the correct creator should not be necessary in most cases. If the resource file is damaged, this won't help, but StuffIt for OS X should still be expanding resource forks properly.

        • jwz says:

          Any tips on how to get networking up? The emulated OS's TCP control panel says "connect using ethernet, DHCP", so that side appears to be there. But the Basilisk prefs just have a text field for "Ethernet:" and I have no idea what goes there.

    • gryazi says:

      In relation to the VMWare suggestion, the VMWare Player is free in effective perpetuity, compared to the expiring trial versions of the more featured products.

      Because of the nerdgasm surrounding its launch, there are lots of Linux images around, probably including some 'retro' ones.

  2. hatter says:

    You can get a TestDrive accounts from DEC Compaq HP, though it's OpenVMS on Integrity not Alpha. Can't say 100% that the binary compatibility will work, but in lieu of any better VMS answers it's a starting point. (why yes, VMS was my first exposure to both the internet and netscape, though I spurned netscape for some time, with all it's new-fangled, non-compliant html)

    Don't know about vendor test accounts for SGI, but if you're really interested I could fire up my Indigo2 and X forward that version, I know there's a version installed and I'm not precious about installing others on it (it's all wired up, I just keep it turned off unless the winter gets particularly cold).

    the hatter

  3. brianenigma says:

    The path of least resistance may be to use BootCamp and a copy of Windows. This fits into your "not spending money" constraint only if you have a copy of Windows sitting around (or can "borrow" one from someone.) Running Windows directly on the processor is likely to be easier and less finicky than trying to do anything with an emulator.

    The only question remaining is whether WinXP (the earliest Windows that BootCamp supports) will run really, really old binaries. I don't have an answer to this, but maybe another reader does.

    • jieves says:

      I've run Netscape 1.0 on XP on a Mac using Parallels before, so I can confirm that those old binaries do, in fact, run on XP.

      I think that the MacOS and Unix versions would be much more fun, though.
      I have an archive of Really Old Versions of things like Stuffit, if you should need legacy utilites to go with your Netscape betas.

      I can't help but think that ResEdit fits in here somewhere as well ...

  4. sc00ter says:

    Before I knew about Parallels I tried Qemu ( with fairly good success. Fairly easy to setup. You could also try VirtualBox ( I use that on my windows laptop, but there is an OSX version.

    Of course you'll need an OS

  5. gible says:

    You could use Dosbox and install Win3.11 and run it from there. I have 3.11 install floppy images if you can't find them.

  6. ultranurd says:

    I have SheepShaver 2.3 running Mac OS 9.0.4 on my 10.5.1 Mac Pro. I just have the default Internet Explorer 4.5 install, I haven't tried running any old copies of Netscape.

    1. I got the SheepShaver universal binary from their downloads
    2. I got an old PowerPC ROM from this .smi.bin on the Apple support site (I extracted the ROM itself with TomeViewer on my old PowerBook booted into Mac OS 9.1)
    3. I got a disk image of Mac OS 9.0.4 from a friend who works at an Apple Store (apparently there is some internal repository that the Genius Bar guys can access for "support" purposes)
    4. I had to fiddle a bit with the network settings to let 9.0.4 get access to the outside internet: Connect via Ethernet, Configure Using DHCP, IP address, subnet mask, router, dns

    I tried using the install disc that came with my PBG4/400, but that disc gave me some error message about unsupported hardware. I'm guessing it was meant for a G4 only, but I don't know for certain.

    I don't know how to do the ROM extraction step without having a PowerPC machine that can boot into Mac OS 9, but I'd be happy to send the extracted ROM along (seeing as how it comes from the Apple support site either way).

    • ultranurd says:

      Forgot some steps:

        1. I burned the 9.0.4 image to a CD, and then had sheepshaver start up from CD-ROM (there's a pop-up menu for that in the SheepShaverGUI). It didn't want to use the 9.0.4 .dmg as a startup disk, mounted or no.
        2. I created an empty image in the SheepShaverGUI to be the install target and eventual boot hard drive

  7. deemon says:

    the cheap & easy way is to get a trial of VMware Fusion and run linux+wine in it. Linux is known to run fine, but no guarantees for really old Netscape under wine.

    • Under what definition of "easy", exactly, does the combination of linux+wine qualify?

      • jwz says:

        I just pondered the possibility of trying to install X11 under Linux 1.2 under an emulator and had to go curl up in the corner and have a little cry.

        • But, come on, if it doesn't work, at least you have the source so you can fix it.

        • bodyfour says:

          Might not be too bad... the emulated hardware tends to be simpler/older chipsets.

          Also, is there any reason you need the X server to be of that vintage? Why not just point $DISPLAY at

          You might even be able to unpack vintage slackware tarballs into a chroot on a modern linux box and run the binaries that way as long as you have the a.out binary format enabled in the kernel... Not sure about that one though. Probably easiest to just go the emulator route

        • Try this instead:

          Zip'ed disk image for Basilisk w/Netscape 0.93b and a few others.

  8. 0ccam says:

    How about demoing Crossover Mac ( ) or getting WINE for Mac OS X ( )?

  9. lionsphil says:

    If you have Windows 95 media and a CD key lying around, I have had success with Q (a port/frontend of QEMU). It's not fast, but Windows 95 and old browsers are not demanding, so it should still feel sufficiently nippy. Networking requires telling Win95 what card it is, but works for me (I did a silly dance with floppy disks, but my Win95 VM originates from using raw QEMU under Linux).

    For Windows 3.1, it runs under DOSBox, but that's probably a last-resort as it doesn't do networking. First-hand experience of this otherwise working fine, though.

    If you can't get hold of Microsoft code, maybe an old Linux distro under Q could work, but this is not something I've tried. I have tried old Linux binaries under modern distros, and got problems with libc versions. Also, do not attempt to substitute ReactOS for real Windows—you will only waste time.

  10. chipaca says:

    I can get you a VM image of an old x86 Linux (debian bo), which I have used before to run netscape 3 and which should be able to run even older versions, methinks.

  11. thrax99 says:

    I also use Qemu on my OSX mac. It's easy to install and comes with a DOS and some bland Windows-clone environment.

    Dosbox also works for me, for whatever that's worth.

    In terns of emulating old Mac on my OSX, I couldn't figure out Basilisk or Sheepsaver, but I got vmac to go ( Unfortunately it needs disk images for the actual applications and data, which I couldn't figure out how to make. Also, vmac has a tiny window, and it works the CPU pretty hard.

    tl;dr: I'm not giving up my beige Mac yet.