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Emulating a Mac on an Android Device

This guide will offer some basic details on what components are required to run a virtual 680x0 '68k' Macintosh on Android devices.

I. The Essential Parts of a 'Mac' Body

1. A Mac Skeleton

Think of the emulator app as a Classic Macintosh computer with a monitor, keyboard and mouse. It forms the skeleton of your virtual Mac, but your skeleton needs the rest of the Mac body! The 68k Mac emulator is called Basilisk II and you can find Basilisk II for Android here.

2. A Mac Brain

This Mac skeleton, just like the Scarecrow from 'The Wizard of Oz', does not come with a Mac brain! The Mac brain, in this example, is called a ROM file. ROM stand for read-only memory, and just like our own brains, a Mac cannot think or move its muscles without it. Therefore, a 680x0 ROM 'brain' will be needed for your virtual Mac. Usually, a Mac ROM file can copied from a Mac you or someone you know owns. So use your brain to find your Mac's brain because this part will require some research. It is very important to understand that the Basilisk II emulator can only run with 680x0 Mac ROMs.

3. A Mac Body

Once you have a brain for your virtual Mac, it will also need a body to store your Mac programs! The body in this case is called a volume image. This virtual volume can be an image copy of a hard disk, a floppy disk, or an optical disc, also known as a CD or DVD-ROM.

4. A Mac Heart

And just like the Tin Man from the 'Wizard of Oz', a body won't run without a heart! The equivalent of a heart in our emulator is an operating system. The Basilisk II emulator can only run Macintosh System 7.0 through 8.1, but to run Mac OS 8, you (normally) need a Mac ROM of a 68040 Mac.

Thankfully, unlike a 68k Mac ROM, you don't have to search for a body or heart for your Mac. The Macintosh Garden has a collection of hard disk images with a 68k Mac OS.

5. Some Mac Muscles

All of these Mac parts are excellent, but they are all useless unless they have some muscles. The beauty of running a Mac, virtual or physical, is the collection of application programs and games it can run and play. That's where the Macintosh Garden comes in! It is an archive of abandoned vintage software. Application and game titles can be browsed or searched, and each program offers a download link as well as some information on the title and what Macs they can run on. To keep things simple, most applications and games will state if they can be run on the Basilisk II emulator.

II. Setting-Up Your Mac

Configuring Basilisk II

Once you have installed Basilisk II, found a 68k Mac ROM and downloaded a hard disk image with a Mac OS, you need to tell Basilisk II where the ROM and hard disk are. This is done when you first launch the emulator. The screen has four tabs called Volume, Memory/Misc, Graphic/Sound and Network. The tab you see when you open the emulator is the Volume tab.

The Volume tab is where you tell the emulator the location of your Mac hard disk image. Clicking the Add button displays a dialog box. Usually you start in the Basilisk II data directory, so you will need to select the two dots on the second row to move up directories until you reach the directory that contains your image. Once you locate your Mac image, you need to select it and press the Okay button to add your Mac image so Basilisk II can run it. You can add up to four Mac images.

After adding your Mac image, you should also select the 'HostFS Dir' button. This tells your emulator what folder to access inside of your emulated Mac. The Android folder you select will show up as a hard disk inside your Mac. You can use this folder to move files in and out of your Android folder. This is needed to add applications and games to your virtual Mac.

The next tab is the Memory/Misc tab. This tab is where you tell your emulator where your ROM file is by clicking the 'ROM File' button. You also specify your CPU type, Mac Model ID, both based on what 68k ROM you have, and the amount of RAM your Mac will run. Usually 32-64MB of RAM are enough for most Mac applications and games.

The third tab is the 'Graphics/Sound tab is where you can select your screen size and turn your Mac's sound on or off. For advanced users: the Mac screen size, and other settings, can be set manually by editing the emulator's preferences file, located in the emulator's Android folder by using an Android text editor. Only make changes to this file if you know how to safely do this.

The fourth tab is the Network tab. You can select two network options, Internet (slirp) and UDP tunnel. Of the two, the Internet (slirp) option works very well for online access inside your Mac. Once turned on, the Mac will need to be set-up to be able to access the Internet.

III. Getting Your Mac Online

With a disk image with Mac OS 7.6.1 or 8.1, you need to have the TCP/IP control panel and all four Open Transport 1.3 or 1.3.1 68k extensions installed in the System Folder. If you have system 7.6.1, or if your do not have the Open Transport for 68k on your Mac OS 8.1 disk image, you will need to download and install them:

Note: an easy way to replace Open Transport 1.3 with the 1.3.1 files is to drag all of the old files to the desktop, then drag the new files and let go of them over the closed system folder. The Mac will place the files where they belong and you can restart your Mac. You can then delete or save the old files.

Once Open Transport 1.3 or 1.3.1 are installed, you can open and set-up your TCP/IP control panel:

  1. Select 'Connect Via: Ethernet'
  2. Select 'Configure: Manually'
  3. Type-in the following IP and DNS numbers:
  • IP Address:
  • Subnet Mask:
  • Router Address:
  • Name Server Address:

Then just restart your Mac and install and launch a web browser, i.e., iCab 2.9.9.

Note: both the Open Transport 1.3 installer and 1.3.1 update files should work on all Mac operating systems from 7.1 through 8.1.

An intro to emulation, installing software and uploading files to the Macintosh Garden guides can be found here.