Mini vMac on the OLPC XO Laptop

   
   
   
   
   

In your post-Super Bowl daze, did you remember any of this year's ads? (my fav) Are there any that can compare to the Apple 1984 ad?

That revolutionary marketing experience ushered in the Macintosh, a revolution in computing for the 1980's. Now that we have the XO laptop from OLPC in 2008, we're in the midst of a whole new revolution, and thanks to John Ralston, the two revolutions are colliding.

olpc mac
Mac OS on the XO laptop

John has just added the Mini vMac to the XO laptop.

The Mini vMac emulates Macintosh Plus, the next generation of Macintosh after the 1984 ad, brining that moment in computing history forward for your enjoyment today:

To meet the goal of preserving early Macintosh software forever, Mini vMac is intended to be as simple and maintainable as possible, while still being usable enough that the software running within it is as usable as ever. Also as part of this goal, Mini vMac is intended to be easily portable to new operating systems. So far it works on Macintosh OS, Microsoft Windows, and the X Window System.
And if you download the Linux version, and follow John's directions, you can run Mini vMac on the XO laptop. John says:
Also, Mini vMac doesn't network, so there's no internet connection whatsoever. It runs at a reasonable speed, too--probably about as fast as a Classic Mac. Note that this is a viable OS--everything you do saves to your disk image, which is on your thumb drive. Anything you do can be saved and transferred between computers.
And as he's already proven, you can relive the 1980's with hot games like Space Quest II.

Other OLPC XO + Apple OS posts:

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22 Comments

Actually, someone who's been emulating Macs since the early 90s, Darek Mihocka of Emulators.com ( http://emulators.com/ ) bought an XO, received it before Christmas, and has blogged about it ( http://emulators.com/docs/nx13_olpc.htm )

I can't wait for Windows 3.1 to be ported!

LOL @ Irvin's comment! ;)

Does this require a license/copyright restricted ROM image? I don't know of any mac emulator which does not.

Yes, it does require a ROM image. And, of course, Apple is going to expect you to use Apple hardware in order to run the operating system (even though some older versions of OS are free downloads from Apple's website). It would be cool if Apple released the ROM, System Software, and HyperCard for the OLPC project -- but something tells me it just ain't going to happen.

Incidentally, if you aren't aware of HyperCard, check out some old episodes of the Computer Chronicles (see Archive.org) to see its use in education.

Sorry to be cynical, but wouldn't time be better spent working on making the OLPC software stable and more capable? I really struggle to see the use of emulating a 22+ year old graphical user interface. There are lots of features missing from the OLPC, but an ancient operating systems is not at the top of the list... Anyone who thinks it is, will find the OlPC as much a part of history as the famous ad this article cites, but sadly without the remarkable legacy of apple.

@Stephen: This is an offering from the We Do This Because We Can segment of the computing population. See: the AmigaDOS emulator and the XO port of DOOM. :)

I hope that the deployments of XOs in the developing world enable some recipients to awaken their own inner "We Do This Because We Can" coder. We'll see some darn fascinating software brought into existence when that happens.

@Stephen:
"Sorry to be cynical, but wouldn't time be better spent working on making the OLPC software stable and more capable?"

Whose time did you want to spend on something you find more important?

If it is your own, that would be ok. If you want to spend other people's time, that seems to be less fitting. If someone feels that s/he needs to spend her/his time to port Windows 3.1 to the Mac or XO, I think they should feel free to do so.

And to anyone who thinks preserving old OSes and programs is not important. This is just as unimportant as preserving old books and films.

Have you any idea how many TV broadcasts are gone forever? People have grown up with series that have gone completely (because they could reuse the tape). In a thousand years, these will be the dark ages, with no trace left about how we lived. (our paper disintegrates in decades, other media become inaccessible in mere years)

Winter

Here are some links to give my appeal to rescue our digital heritage some context:

Taking a trip down memory-chip lane
http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn7536

Time to Rescue Old Code
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,1960969,00.asp

WHAT'S NEXT; A Universal Tool to Rescue Old Files From Obsolescence
http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9507E4DD163FF93AA1575BC0A9649C8B63

Winter

Interesting post. Actually I've managed to run Mac OS 8.1 on the XO using BasiliskII, a 68040 emulator which runs really well. There have also been reports that Sheepshaver, a PPC emulator, will run Mac OS 9.0.4 on the XO, though I haven't been able to get that up and running yet.

Color Mac software from the OS 8 era works fine on the OLPC.

Apple has released some OS software and ROMs. Mac OS up to 7.5.3 is publicly available, and there's a PPC ROM inside this update:

http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=60408

You'll have use a piece of Mac software called Tome Viewer to get it out.

Richard

The only thing I can think of is:
Well good that a lot of hackers with free time are fiddling with the xo. I hope they get something useful out of it ;)

For the cynics in the crowd: isn't this the exact sort of experimentation that we would like to see kids do with these machines? It exploses things like architectural differences and similarities. For example, why can I run an x86 Linux binary on an OLPC but not old Macintosh software? Since most emulators are distributed without a ROM or OS, it is possible to start differentiating the various bits of a computer. It may not be rocket science, but it is the foundation for further discovery.

@jordan

What is the investment required to perform such a feat of loading an extraneous OS on the OLPC? How much mileage on other platforms you need, access to other software and knowledge, etc? I should think this is light years beyond what can be achieved if all you have is OLPCs
Yes, OLPCs are a Good Thing - but enormously limited in doing things. Constructing frameworks of knowledge? sure. Actually learning? not so. I am VERY curious to see results, but sad to foresee few unless some meat is added to the bones of constructivism. BTW, the internet ain't. Internet is mostly fluff, ethereal substance without the kind of 'aji' to bind things together. (as my comment proves :-)

@yamaplos:
"What is the investment required to perform such a feat of loading an extraneous OS on the OLPC? How much mileage on other platforms you need, access to other software and knowledge, etc? I should think this is light years beyond what can be achieved if all you have is OLPCs"

Yes, but there are several freely available emulators for Linux available. This is just one nice example. Emulating itself is an important subject in computer science. And some extra SD cards will travel far.

@yamaplos:
"BTW, the internet ain't. Internet is mostly fluff, ethereal substance without the kind of 'aji' to bind things together. (as my comment proves :-)"

Fluff? Is that the same Internet I visited?

I think a teacher that wants material for high school students can find some on ANY subject. At least, I can find advanced material for about as esotheric subjects as you can name. Elementary school stuff is harder to find, and a lot of it is in English (although Chinese seems to overtake English on the internet).

Winter

@Winter
"there are several emulators"
True, there are. My point is that you need to be pretty gifted and _experienced_ to get them to work anywhere, and somewhat more to get it on an OLPC. That is not the reality of Pennington. (for those who don't get the reference, Pennington was this cute bear that "came from darkest Peru")
That's my point about mileage. People are amazed on how easily I can fix computers and such. Yet it's sort of hard to realize how many hours of useless tinkering it took me to get there. And to be able to do that tinkering required humongous amounts of support mostly from a 2-parent household that had several jobs and were very literate to begin with. Yes, the OLPC is supposed to "jump start" a process of learning, but it need some substance inside that i do not see yet.

"...I can find.."
Hey, me too. But can Graciela in Cardal? Add to it what you say that it's mostly in English. You know why it is so? because we can afford it. They can't.
To begin with, they don't have the access to computers and connectivity we do. (OLPC will solve /that/). libraries where we can actually touch the books and borrow them home (OLPC will do a bit of fixing that - sort of a vicious circle - not much outside English) We also have the 'mileage' and, more importantly, we have expendable time. When I was a teacher in 'guay, that was two full-time jobs plus whatever gig I could land my paw on - that without preparing to take exams at the Uni. Being single, I could even afford to do some volunteer work. I do not think that Graciela, who hadn't seen a computer outside of a government office until she was handed an OLPC, or M├│nica, who actually had done a Microsoft Office class, are up to make change happen.

You know what, I actually do not disagree with you at all. It's just that I am amazed at how people Here seem to figure out solutions for people There when it's obvious they haven't a clue on how many blocks there are on the road. I am very happy about the OLPC initiative. It's a step in the right direction, But it's a way long road that is made a bit more difficult by those who seem to be ready to say "mission accomplished".

Thank you for keeping us on our toes - we need to see beyond trees blocking the view, even myself that sometimes feel I have all the answers.

@yamaplos:
"It's just that I am amazed at how people Here seem to figure out solutions for people There when it's obvious they haven't a clue on how many blocks there are on the road."

I wouldn't dream of thinking to be able to solve other peoples problems. The whole point of the OLPC is that they didn't try it.

The XO was designed to be a versatile tool in situations they could grasp in MIT. And then hope the people on the ground can actually make use of it. A bit like the sun-powered ovens they made. There is no point in telling these people what to cook. Just giving them a cheap heat source they can use.

Winter

@Winter
"I wouldn't dream of thinking to be able to solve other peoples problems. The whole point of the OLPC is that they didn't try it."

I'm starting to get it!

People with problems are looking for solutions. MIT and OLPC isn't!

Gosh, took me a while. I am not sure you are 100% right. I fear you might be...

I certainly hope you are not too right.

Winter, we need solutions. People in need are waiting for someone more gifted to offer them comfort, hope, and a practical viable way to be out of need.

Maybe us desperate for solutions misread things. Maybe we expected too much, like the people who thought they would actually get an OLPC by Christmas if they contributed to G1G1 early, while as some have posted G1G1 made clear in their disclaimer that they had no such commitment.

Maybe those of us who think OLPCs were MEANT to make a difference are all in denial, and this is just some overpriced sociological experiment that is not one ounce different than taking our lumber and minerals at vile price - now it's our hopes and potential, taken away because they wouldn't even "try"?.

I am suspecting that you are way too right in your assessment, and maybe we are just too gullible, and invented for ourselves that this was going to bring some sort of a solution.

Sorry

As to myself, I believe in helping find solutions. I have benefited from generous people who have reached out to me when I was down, I hope now I can do likewise. And try to go beyond a "then hope the people on the ground can actually make use of it", but actually notice why they are not using it, and how they can get to use it so it works for them.

Sun ovens, eh? saw them everywhere when growing up - in the hands of foreign aficionados and help workers, in kid's science projects. Not once have I seen one in actual, normal use by a mom cooking for her family. Hope your comparison with them is not a harbinger of things to come for the OLPC.

Thank you. Your post has helped me realize better than anything that solutions will NOT come from inside the OLPC, but have to be done from the outside. I guess that's the whole point of this independent website. I really appreciate you guys helping me see this - I still wish that working within the OLPC establishment there is a different point of view, that actually wants to build solutions, and that they will prevail. But I have to keep "wishes" separate from "facts", and until it happens, work with independents like you to fill in the gaps.

@yamaplos:

"I'm starting to get it!"

Do I sense some sarcasm?

Winter

@Winter
it's called satori

Believe or not, your post was enlightening - I hope you meant was you said.

I still believe that if you are right in what you said, then those who think that way are wrong in not seeing and being compassionate with the needs and desires of people in developing countries. People in developing countries have little to afford to give to what sounds in your post like a rather heartless sociological / pedagogical experiment.
That is why I hope you are wrong, though I am much afraid the evidence so far would prove you are right.

@Yamaplos:
"I still believe that if you are right in what you said, then those who think that way are wrong in not seeing and being compassionate with the needs and desires of people in developing countries."

We seem to be talking in different directions.

I tried to say that it is useless to deliver recepies to foreign countries, but very usefull to deliver stoves:

http://www.ashdenawards.org/winners/trees

The sun-stoves might not have worked out well. But you can only know by testing. Other attempts to increase fuell efficiency did work out better.

Turning my words around by quoting a small snippet is not really helpful. Tools are helpful, but local craftsmen, eg, carpenters, know what their clients want. So it doesn't work to also require specific furniture made by Western standards.

Whatever, the OLPC tries to help local teachers to improve educators. And they get attacked from two sides. From one side, they should deliver USA made learning content and train teachers, from the other they should just dump a laptop with Windows on them.

They try to steer between these with a versatile tool that can be adapted by the "locals".

Winter

@Winter
to quote you again :-)
"Turning my words around by quoting a small snippet is not really helpful. Tools are helpful, but local craftsmen, eg, carpenters, know what their clients want."

local craftsmen?

I am a Uruguayan, with 2 Uruguayan teacher degrees and over 10 years in the field, including one-room schools, a low-income city school in the capital city, etc.

If you want to trust experienced locals to know what their clients need, brother, I'm at your service to share with you what us Uruguayan teachers need for our kids.

I am trying hard to get you to see that your European viewpoint is helpful, appreciated, but I am feeling that you want to prove me wrong at all costs. I'm sorry, but I really have to drop this. You win, I lower my head to your superior understanding of our problems.

Yamaplos:
"You win, I lower my head to your superior understanding of our problems."

I am really really puzzled what it was I wrote to give you this odd idea. I get the impression that, because I am European, some Americans think I must feel superior. Maybe it is something in my (lack of) command of the English language, using the wrong words or something, not understanding HOW you say things in the Americas.

Winter

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