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m68k's picture
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Joined: 2016 Dec 30
Wanted: A Web "simplifier" & other goodies

Now that I finally got the Internet working on my Abdroid B-II setup (thx to CBone's instructions an a from scratch install of OT 1.3) I am starting to get greedy.

Unfortunately 99.9% of websites - including the Garden - are utterly unbrowsable for iCab or Navigator. Curiosly enough, the MS IE still behaves the best among them all. So now I am looking for a web platform, that would filter out most of the Java nonsense, which I got no need for anyway.

Mind you that I am not looking to do my shopping on Amazon with this (but it would be cool, wouldn't it? Laughing out loud

But I can't even access Wikipedia or most other purely static webpages. So isn't there a way to "simplify" the webcode of a Wiki page or the Garden, to make it browsable from a vintage Mac?

PS: Anybody here know of a real X11 server for 68k, one that doesn't limit itself to just being a frontend for XDMCP hosts?

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adespoton's picture
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Joined: 2015 Feb 15

There are a number of web simplification proxies out there. An online proxy is http://oldweb.today/ [edit] oops; this one goes the other way, running old browsers in a new browser. I'll see if I can dig up the http web proxy I was thinking of.

If you want to run it locally, there's https://github.com/atauenis/webone and also https://www.macip.net/ which also acts as an appleshare bridge.

MikeTomTom's picture
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Joined: 2009 Dec 7

PS: Anybody here know of a real X11 server for 68k

eXodus 7 and MacX 2 are two I've used successfully on Basilisk II, both are "real" I think, tho' eXodus supports both X11 and XDM.

m68k's picture
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Joined: 2016 Dec 30

Both of these suffer from an inabillty to run them w/o a desktop server to connect to. I need an X server that works like Xming on Windows: You start it, go to the Linux machine and specify the DISPLAY variable and connect - that's all.

eXodus and MacX always ask for an XDMCP server to connect to.

MikeTomTom's picture
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Joined: 2009 Dec 7

I don't think that's correct, eXodus gives you a clear choice of creating either XDMCP or rexec/rsh sessions. With MacX it's not as obvious, but I use rsh sessions only, with it (and eXodus), when connecting to and running programs on the local server.

m68k's picture
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Joined: 2016 Dec 30

"rexec/rsh" have been considered big security risks for some time now and are actually disabled by default in many current distros. I don't want to compromise the target system any more than I have to for it would limit the usabillity of my setup tremendously.

adespoton's picture
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Joined: 2015 Feb 15

Pretty much anything running an X server on Classic Mac OS is going to have major security issues. Your solution of having a go-between is the only safe option.

m68k's picture
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Joined: 2016 Dec 30

For simplicity's sake I've decided to use a secured headless MiniPC of mine as a "go between" and further harden it via "hosts.deny". Thus I think its safe to use the rexec option of eXodus with that one..

m68k's picture
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Joined: 2016 Dec 30

Well that didn't work out as planned. Shock
Turns out that modern SuSE Linux distros don't even offer rexec & rsh anymore. Now I am left with the option to change to a more ancient distro or to ...

m68k's picture
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Joined: 2016 Dec 30

I finally managed to get X11 working on B-II /w MacOS 8.1, but it wasn't ez. First *no* modern Linux distro likes to establish an XDMCP connection to either Mi/X, eXodus or MacX. Fact is that display managers like LightDM will coredump at the mere attempt.
And on top of that comes the issue that Apple back then wasn't a true friend of the Internet protocol until rather late in the game (one more thing they had in common with MS). Thus products like MiX or White Pine's eXodus either work badly or not at all with OpenTransport, relying instead heavily on the feature limited MacTCP.

Now once I stumbled accross a MacSSH client capable of X11 tunneling I tried my luck again. As was to be expected, Mi/X and eXodus failed miserably, but MacX came through with flying colors. The negotiation phase between client and server does take half an eternity, as I reckon the X11 client has to be talked down the protocol path for the last twenty or so years. But once a connection has been established, the app (in rootless mode) behaves almost like a normal Apple window - smooth enough for typing, working, etc..

Its amazing what is still possible, when bridging the technology gap over two decades appart. Smile This even saves me the hassle of opening up ports for XDMCP, thus making my target system a lot less vulnerable to the outside world.

Ah and yes, I stumbled accross a patched 68k VNC viewer that actually works with TightVNC for Windoze 10 (it offers IP# restrictions, to help secure the connection). And that means that I got no real use for that Tumbuktu NT CD anymore which I bought just two days ago and I would like to donate that to whoever is in the habbit of collecting ancient silverware. Laughing out loud

PS: Now I understand why Netopia went out of business, once VNC and RDP became available for free.

adespoton's picture
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Joined: 2015 Feb 15

Great find on MacSSH! We should put up a howto somewhere outlining using MacSSH and MacX to talk to modern clients. Which display manager are you using with them?

I figure I may put together a custom image for MG that has MacSSH, MacX, and instructions for using them. It'd be neat to see a modern web browser running on System 7.1, for instance Laughing out loud

cbone's picture
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Joined: 2011 Sep 17

I see I created a monster, lol! Just ribin' ya, brother Laughing out loud

Wow! And you got a 'patched' VNC viewer to boot (yes, pun totally intended)? Smile please share which VNC client that is so I can hook my rig up widdit, too Wink

Your technical knowledge is several floors above my pay-grade (I'm at minimum wage here, seriously!) But I totally 'second' a 'how-to' on how you get such a rig going. I suppose it's either going to run on a Mac or possibly Linux (you see? I haven't the faintest as to how you did what you did, just that you're browsing modern web pages on our favorite emulator). My most updated desktop is a newer Windows slim desktop; would/could that work using other similar/equivalent software tools, or is it solely a Mac x11-driven process? You got me totally intrigued now!

This post is totally part two of an earlier post I made on the 'PPC/68k surfin' subject, but at a whole lower-level, lol!

m68k's picture
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Joined: 2016 Dec 30

I found that VNC viewer via the MacOrchard website. It seems to be a final version of the 68k VNC client/server pack hosted on the Garden, but w/o the VNC server (which I never got to work anyway).
It truly works smoothly with TightVNC and I hope for even better results with VNC for Linux as Windoze VNC forces you to inherit most graphic options from the Desktop settings. And its remarkably stable given that I work with a VNC screen rez of 1920x1080(!)

My choice for TightVNC was based on the inabillity of the VNC viewer to tunnel the connection via SSH. But even so I operate behind two firewalls and in my own private network, I still wanted some kind of access control. And TightVNC offers just that and its free of charge. The only downside to it is that its configuration GUI only works offline in Win 10, forcing you to restart the service by hand after each change.

PS: The VNC viewer is not an X11 app. X11 is a totally different means of connecting my system to the rest of the world, based on tunneling X11 requests via MacSSH from Unix/Linux machines. That does not work for Windoze, as WinTel machines don't utilize an X-server for their desktop display. The catch with SSH was to find the old ciphers to add, which are now deprecated for current distros, but are still good enough for a private network, where "man-in-the-middle" attacks are not an issue.

cbone's picture
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Joined: 2011 Sep 17

That sounds like a project I'd love to try someday! It's all about investing the time to set things up; I'm just slow at getting things to work, the slightly more complicated things, anyway. Would this compare to a proxy, like the one fogWraith shared on one of my earlier posts?

Also, I came across this today, I just don't know how helpful it might be, but I'd figure to drop it in here just in case Smile WebOne. The latest version is here: 0.10.1. Here's the forum post I found it at; I like the concept described and the name's catchy, too! I think it needs the .Net framework, so I'm not exactly sure if that means the server needs to be Windows because it also appears to have Linux versions (this is why I mentioned that these are projects that I'd like to try, time permitting). If anyone has a chance to try it, let us know how well it works!

Bolkonskij's picture
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Well, it's not just JavaScript rendering your older browser unusable, it's also the habit of slapping SSL encryption onto every single page, whether it is transactional or not. Just because your SEO agency told you so ... and by that leaving old / niche systems out in the rain. Besides, modern web development is a lot of throwing bloated frameworks at problems with ever more dependencies which is something that makes older Mac OS machines chew hard on.

Regarding the Mac Garden I can tell you that I was allowed to briefly peek into the coming redesign and I'm very excited to report that it'll work very fine on your retro Mac. In fact, I had the chance to test it on my Power Mac 8600/200 with Netscape 4.8 and it was very useable! Fogwraith is doing a great job! Now go bug him to finish it Wink

I also code all my own projects like Cornica or my Cheats Emporium with older browsers in mind (for I'm passionate about the late 90s web)

So there you go! That's the approach we as Mac OS community should be taking. Build specifically "open" (that is, use common webstandards) pages for Mac OS (and other retro systems). And get the word out. How many of you know the excellent image hoster the Mac Garden offers? 100% Classilla compatible.

Good news is that everyone can help out thanks to the Mac Garden free hosting. You just set up your webspace for free and off you go! Heck, I'm still waiting for someone to finally create a nice wallpaper / textures site that won't kill my browser by bombarding it with dozens of ads and tracking code ...

Also I believe that for the forseeable future our hope lies in specific gateway services. Not the kind of stuff that will serve you a gif of a page (that's ok for reading the news maybe), but one's with true interactivity. Using server-side magic it could e.g. scrap your mentioned wikipedia page, parse it and serve it in simple html according to 3.2. specs, making it very accessible even with Netscape 3. It's all possible, it just takes some will to get it done. Contact me if you're interested and I'll see how I can support you.

m68k's picture
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Joined: 2016 Dec 30

Thx, I found my new Homepage Wink

cbone's picture
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Also I believe that for the foreseeable future our hope lies in specific gateway services. Not the kind of stuff that will serve you a gif of a page (that's ok for reading the news maybe), but one's with true interactivity. Using server-side magic it could e.g. scrap your mentioned wikipedia page, parse it and serve it in simple html according to 3.2. specs, making it very accessible even with Netscape 3. It's all possible, it just takes some will to get it done. Contact me if you're interested and I'll see how I can support you.

You hit the nail square on the head! that's exactly what we all need Laughing out loud that what I was hoping to explore and hopefully find when I started the convo of looking into having or setting/coming up something like this for our old Macs and emulators!

Is that what m68k achieved using x11 and the MacSSH client he used? His description got a little too technical for me, you guys make me feel like a newbie, lol!

Jatoba's picture
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Joined: 2018 Apr 16

As always, nothing beats this. Can't "simplify" much more than that! It will run well even on the slowest potato.

Still a criminally underrated app.

cbone's picture
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Joined: 2011 Sep 17

I want to learn how to navigate this browser; I don't know if it was Wannabe or Lynx that seemed impossible to navigate inside of.. like I had no idea how to enter an url to even get to click on a link!

Jatoba's picture
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Joined: 2018 Apr 16

I would guess probably not WannaBe. IIRC, its interface was straightforward. Is Lynx a Mac OS app, or OS X?

adespoton's picture
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Joined: 2015 Feb 15

Back in the 90s I was running Lynx on everything from SGI and Dec Alpha mainframes to my 68K Colour Classic. It always worked better via ZTerm from a mainframe over 2400 baud modem than directly on the Mac though; not sure why.

cbone's picture
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Joined: 2011 Sep 17

As Adespoton also mentioned, Lynx was developed for most operating systems, so much so that they fail to mention the ancient version made for Classic Macs, which actually goes by the name of MacLynx, sorry, I'd totally forgotten about that Doh!

The Mac OS X version is called Linxlet, and it works on Panther, and I'd imagine that it can run all the way up to Catalina.

adespoton's picture
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Joined: 2015 Feb 15

You can also get its competitor, Links, via Fink and MacPorts. I don't think a Classic Mac version of this was ever built, but the source is available should anyone want to try. I still use Links today; it's fully capable of modern protocols.

Bolkonskij's picture
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Joined: 2009 Aug 3

Funny, I know that right at that moment someone (not me) is working on porting it to Mac OS. And then this discussion pops up Laughing out loud

Jatoba's picture
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Joined: 2018 Apr 16

Please keep us updated. Smile

cbone's picture
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Joined: 2011 Sep 17

That's excellent news!

Antonin29's picture
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Joined: 2018 Apr 10

Well if someone can port this to classic OS it'd be great if he could also do as well early OS X (up to 10.2.X or something.)!

adespoton's picture
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OS X should already be able to install Links (and possibly elinks) via Fink or MacPorts. Fink package manager has been around since the OS X Preview, so is probably the best bet.

Jatoba's picture
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Joined: 2018 Apr 16

Fink package manager has been around since the OS X Preview

Shock Holy cr**! I didn't know it went that far back.

OS X (10.4+ only) also has TigerBrew (PPC port of Brew).

It'd be really cool if Fink still works with 10.2 Jaguar, though. That would be awesome.

We need an OS 9 package manager too!

adespoton's picture
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Joined: 2015 Feb 15

Worth reading http://finkproject.org/news/jaguar.php and see if the steps still work. I see no reason why the repo would be taken down since it was mostly hosted by SourceForge which is still running.

m68k's picture
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Joined: 2016 Dec 30

Can I use that to browse the Garden? ...hmm

cbone's picture
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Joined: 2011 Sep 17

Wannabe is definitely browseable and the added search plugins include one for the Garden; thanks Jatoba for this gem!

I managed to lookup and download some stuff from the MG using Wannabe and the search plugin for the Mac Garden and I added the search plugins to my Apple menu as the plugin instructions suggested and it worked perfectly!