Want to be able to run classic Mac OS applications compiled for the Motorola 68000 series of processors on your ever-so-modern Mac OS X machine? Or maybe you'd rather run them on a Raspberry Pi, or an Android device for that matter? There's an emulation project that's trying to achieve just that: Advanced Mac Substitute (AMS).
Emulators of older computer platforms and game consoles are popular with vintage game enthusiasts. But emulators also could be attractive to others with some emotional (or economic) attachment to old binaries—like those with a sudden desire to resurrect aged Aldus PageMaker files.
Advanced Mac Substitute is an effort by long-time Mac hacker Josh Juran to make it possible to run old Mac OS software (up to Mac OS 6) without a need for an Apple ROM or system software. Other emulators out there for 68000 Mac applications such as Basilisk II require a copy of MacOS installation media—such as install CDs from Mac OS 7.5 or Mac OS 8. But AMS uses a set of software libraries that allow old Mac applications to launch right within the operating environment of the host device, without needing to have a full virtual hardware and operating system instance behind them. And it's all open source.
I got a demo of AMS from Juran at Shmoocon in Washington, DC, this past weekend. He showed me an early attempt at getting the game Load Runner to work with the emulator—it's not yet interactive. A version of the project, downloadable from Github, includes a "Welcome" screen application (a sort of Mac OS "hello world"), Mac Tic-Tac-Toe, and an animation of NyanCat.
— xraytext (@xraytext) January 21, 2019
Applications are launched from the command line for now and are executed by the emulation software, which interprets the system and firmware calls.
Unfortunately, there's still a lot of work to be done. While AMS works on Mac OS X up to version 10.12—both on Intel and PowerPC versions of the operating system—the code currently won't compile on MacOS Mojave. And the Linux implementation of AMS does not yet support keyboard input. I was unable to get the front end to execute at all on Debian 9 on Intel.
But there's hope that these hurdles can be cleared. Juran said that he's considering a crowdfunding program to support further development of AMS and is looking for others willing to contribute to the project. With luck, I'll be laying out the neighborhood newsletter on Aldus PageMaker 4 for Mac and hunting down binaries for Balance of Power.