Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Neat: A MAC 128 On A Stick

Very soon we will see the launch of VMWARE’s IPO.

VMWARE, which started out pretty much as a science project of EMC (EMC-N) the Network Attached Storage Kings, makes software that allows large computers to run many smaller computers virtually.

It’s a neat trick and I remember running Windows 98 through VMWARE under Linux a few years back. It was very slow and on the hardware I had there was not much point and it seemed, very, very difficult to exchange data from the computer’s principal Linux OS to the virtual Windows 98 PC running within a window. It was useless – to me anyhow – but neat.

I would like, however, to point out that virtualization is just a short step from emulation and that bright nostalgic geeks have been writing emulators (sometimes with legal ROMS, sometimes without—their status is somewhat vague) for years. Mame, the 80s Arcade Simulator, is probably the best known, but there are also ones available for PDP-8s, Commodore 64s, and of course Apples. One great one I just came across is called ‘Apple-on-a-stick’ where you emulate an early 128k Apple MacIntosh off a USB key. You can find all you need to know about how to run an Apple off a USB stick or in my case an IPOD (now there’s an irony) here:

Scroll to the bottom for the easy way. Voila!!! What can you do with it? Pretty much what you could with an old Mac 128 running OS7 – not much, but what was Shakespeare able to do with only pen and paper? – but I think that’s beside the point unless someone can find me a copy of Risk.

There’s a sweet geek nostalgia to all this that the principals of VMWARE will do very well by. No one of course has any spare time, but if you should happen to want to revel in a bit of eighties Mac nostalgia, I can think of no better way. It is, really, pretty cool. Perhaps not as cool or useful as an Iphone. But certainly cheaper?