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Those rumours...

...about a hacked OS X 86 than runs in a VMware image?

They're true. It's bloody slow though - even on a 3GHz hyper-threading box.

I decided to put on my journalist's hat and track the image down. It's not difficult to find - it's well seeded and carried on many BitTorrent trackers. The 2GB image takes a while to download, and then requires considerable unpacking. Once unpacked, you can open the image and start running. Some of the VMware device locations in the image need to be changed, and there's no networking, but it boots. And runs.

Well, "runs" is a bit of a misnomer, I think I prefer "crawls".

The lack of speed (the hype from the Wired article is best ignored) isn't surprising, VMware and Virtual PC need to know quite a bit about the OS they're running in order to optimise the virtual machine for the client OS, and this is only a hack of something that's actually intended for a specific hardware platform.

The hack has removed the current link to the developer motherboard TPM chip, which Rosetta needs to run. As Apple intends to preserve its hardware margins, we can expect that the final OS X for x86 will use TPM for a lot more than the current developer release - so the hacks used here are unlikely to work for anything else.

It's still rather odd seeing Aqua starting up on my PC.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 16th, 2005 10:55 am (UTC)
The image that's being discussed over here appears to run OS X natively after being written to a partition with DD. It's not that sluggish on a Dell Dimension 2400 with a P4 2GHZ CPU -- like running Windows XP on the same machine with only 128MB of RAM.
Aug. 16th, 2005 02:42 pm (UTC)
Well I have the 'hacked OS X Intel' running on Metal, both on Laptops using Pentium M CPUs and ATI graphics and on a P4 3.2Ghz with SSE3 and Nvidia graphics.

There are DD images about, or you could do it all your self. The images running about are SSE3 hacked so they will run on anything with SSE2 but the problem is Rosseta apps (iTunes) you need SSE3 enabled CPUs for them to work.

It is actually pretty speedy on metal, much much better than in VMWare and you even have networking, most of the power management stuff on a laptop works too. There is no wireless though and graphics adapters mainly default to VESA mode as there probably isn't that much in the way of native graphics support.

Well it is only Alpha atm, but I've seen Windows Beta which are in worse shape.
Aug. 18th, 2005 12:11 am (UTC)
[[Revised. I wasn't logged in and a first draft of this comment posted anonymously.]]

The flurry of hacker effort that's being put into this is impressive: last week, someone took the leaked Developer Kit and figured out how to install it natively on PCs don't have TPM chips. Over the weekend, someone figured out how to get it to install on older Pentium 4 CPUs with no SSE3 instructions (and hence, no Rosetta support). That version was slightly buggy. Yesterday, a bunch of patches appeared to fix bugginess on both SSE2 and SSE3 Pentium CPUs. This afternoon, patches appeared to bypass the SSE3 requirement, allowing PowerPC apps to run on older SSE2 Northwood Pentiums and Celerons. This evening, people are discussing how to get Quartz Extreme graphic support working.

What it looks like, to me, is a flash-crowd revolution among hybrid Mac-Linux geeks. They seem to want to present Apple with a fait accompli: if enough people get a taste of how easy it is to run OS X on Intel hardware, that might exert a bunch of pressure on Apple to re-think their TPM/Hardware protection scheme. I think these hackers are getting some of their motivation from the notion that OSX x86 might do what Linux hasn't been able to manage -- actually break the Microsoft OS monopoly.

Apple will probably pour cold water over all of this by issuing take-down notices to sites that are hosting discussion forums, even if those sites have no illegal download links or torrents. They've already started sending takedown notices to sites with screenshots and videos of unauthorized OSX x86 installations.

It feels like a Mack Reynolds story. "Subversive," Analog, Dec. '62, to be specific. (In that story, two Russian door-to-door salesmen are arrested by the FBI for threatening the American Free Enterprise system. The Russians are caught selling generic bars of soap to housewives for 4 cents apiece, in a carefully-crafted scheme to destroy Proctor & Gamble.)
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )