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cbone's picture
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Joined: 2011 Sep 17
Any thoughts or experiences with Mac-on-Linux (MOL)?

I came across an old forum post that talked about PPC Macs running Linux and then emulating older Mac OSes, which intrigued me! MOL is similar to Basilisk II, SS, QEMU and the rest except for the fact that it can run on newer Motorola chipsets, i.e., with the possibility running Mac OS 7.x on G3s and possibly faster PPC Macs.

If this is the case, has anyone used it? And more importantly, was it any good, or anywhere close to native speeds or decent compatibility? I'd love to resolve OS compatibility factors in Macs like my (still unbooting) G4 Minis w/something like this.. and it'd also allow me to look at the possibility of G5 iMacs running Mac OS 7, 8 and/or 9!
 

Like I said, it's an old post, so I'd love to hear if anyone here has tried MOL and what they thought of it Smile I think this is the latest link to it: https://sourceforge.net/projects/mac-on-linux/

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MikeTomTom's picture
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Joined: 2009 Dec 7

I think MoL is more VM than an emulation, in that it ran on PPC hardware, with no need to emulate the CPU.

Apparently Mac OS versions 7.5.2 to 10.4.8 are supported.

Some other info pages, if you haven't seen these:
https://help.ubuntu.com/community/MacOnLinuxHowto
https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/how-to-mac-on-linux-mol-kvm-on-ubun...
MoL FAQ (Wayback Machine)

BTW I have not in the past setup and used MoL although I did run PPC Linux's back then. I had a friend who used to send me screenshots of his MoL setup, which were quite impressive I thought. But I had Macs that could run all of the OS's MoL could run, natively, so I didn't have the inclination to explore it at the time.

I was more interested in the abandoned MoM (Mac on Mac) project Smile
Mac-on-Mac (Web Archive)

cbone's picture
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Joined: 2011 Sep 17

Okay! So in essence, what you're describing Mike is one step beyond emulation since the CPU is compatible with the virtualized OS, which would allow that older OS to 'do it's thing' Smile

Part of my interest in seeing MoL in action would be to have it 'allow', say Mac OS 7.6.1, to run on G3 Macs, which are much quicker than anything 7.6 could ever run on natively. Speed, compatibility and flexibility is what it could offer operating in newer Macs.

I understand that by doing this, the trade-off would be certain things beyond the OS would be limited or broken, like Firewire and USB ports, but other basic low-level functions, like networking and CD access would (or should) all work nicely.

On a Beige G3 Mac, Mac OS 8.1 would be close enough to 7.6, since it was unofficially more like Mac OS 7.7 anyway, but on faster Macs like my Pismo, such a feat could/would/should prove to offer stunning speeds since it's original installed OS is Mac OS 9.0.4! Even running Mac OS 8.1 on a Pismo may prove promising in that OS 8 has built-in G3-processor compatibility.

And lastly, as I mentioned earlier, it would definitely be a nice experiment to try on my non-booting G4 Minis, like Mac OS 8.6, even if newer things like Altivec are disabled due to native OS incompatibility.. just to know it's even possible to bend our Macs to run a specific unsupported Mac OS is a very exciting prospect indeed!

adespoton's picture
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Joined: 2015 Feb 15

Just FYI, MoL was ported to the Mac, as MoM. It was never really finished though, and I believe only runs on OS X 10.3.x. At one point, I looked in to how difficult it would be to run MoM on top of QEMU-PPC. The MoM code was a mess, and the entire configuration was a headache. So I abandoned the project.

cbone's picture
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Joined: 2011 Sep 17

Great insight, Adespoton!

Would you consider MoL worth running on any G3 or G4 Macs then? And if so, which PPC Linux distribution(s) would you pick? ..I'd image 1. the most stable one(s) and from those 2. the ones with the lightest resource requirements. Then again, you may not like the outcome of MoL altogether.

Too bad MoM never worked out! Shock

MikeTomTom's picture
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Joined: 2009 Dec 7

One downside re: MoL is a lack of sound, AFAIK sound didn't work because Mac OS X didn't have native ALSA or OSS libraries built in. MoM being a port of MoL suffered the same fate, but did provide a patch that could be used also in MoL...

And yes, MoM was an unfinished project. The author coding MoM gave up because MoL development had come to an end. Folks urged him to continue with it but he said since the advent of x86 Mac, he could see little point in continuing and that the source code was there if anyone cared to take over...

My interest at the time in MoM instead of MoL was simply that you needed to have a PPC Linux installed for running MoL, whereas MoM did not, it could run from a Panther 10.3.x desktop with X11 as the window manager.

MoM on Panther running Puma and OS 9.2.2

MoM on Panther 10.3.x running Puma 10.1.x and OS 9.2.2 (Click to expand the view)

The screenshot I found elsewhere (it's not mine) Panther here, is running on a G4. - MoM's Puma appears to see itself as running on a G3. The Mac OS 9.2.2 instance appears to be a MacOS9Lives custom build. MoM can run several instances of OS VM's at any time, and looking at this build he has 8.6 and Debian there as well (but not running in this screenshot). The person who owns this screenshot "AphoticD", is running MoM some years after the project was abandoned (judging by the Tiger and Leopard HD icons on Panther's desktop).

And to quote an excerpt from AphoticD's 2017 post:

I am surprised at how much quicker (and lighter) the Panther Mac-On-Mac virtualization is compared to the Linux based options. They were onto something good here. It's a shame development stopped 12 years ago!

adespoton's picture
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Joined: 2015 Feb 15

Now that we've said all that, it's been a number of years (2017 sounds about right) since I attempted to run MoM under QEMU-PPC. It is possible that in the interim, the emulation has improved in the areas where it was broken before. I may have to see if 5.1 running 10.3 and X Windows will successfully run....

cbone's picture
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Joined: 2011 Sep 17

yes! that would be truly amazing, adespoton Smile again, I'm not opposed to running a light and functional version of either a stripped-down osx or linux since the end-goal would be to have a high-performing classic mac os 7-9!