FOSS Software

SheepShaver – emulate classic Apple computers under Linux

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Classic operating systems are enjoying great popularity again these days, including older versions of Mac OS, especially version 9. At that time, the manufacturer’s computers were based on the PowerPC (PPC) architecture. With the help of the emulator SheepShaver, retro charm is also reappearing under Linux.

However, the installation is not quite trivial, which is why it is described in detail below. We are assuming a current Debian GNU / Linux operating system as the base operating system, but the steps should also be reproducible in a similar form under other distributions.

First, the required dependencies for translating the source text must be installed:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install build-essential git automake 
sudo apt install libsdl2-dev
sudo apt install libgtk2.0-dev

The project’s Git repository can then be cloned:

cd ~/Downloads
git clone

The following commands can be used to translate the source text of the application:

cd macemu-master/SheepShaver
make links
cd src/Unix

This creates a Binary SheepShaver in the same directory which to with root rights / usr / local / bin can be copied and must be marked as executable:

sudo cp SheepShaver /usr/local/bin
sudo chmod +x /usr/local/bin/SheepShaver

In order to be able to use SheepShaver as a regular user, a must be sysctl variable adapted.

sudo bash -c 'cat <<EOF > /etc/sysctl.d/99sheepshaver.conf
# --
# Needed for SheepShaver Mac Classic emulator
# --
sudo sysctl -p /etc/sysctl.d/99sheepshaver.conf

Note: This change has an impact on the security of the system. If necessary, the value can only be set before the application is started and reset to the original value after it is closed.

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In order to equip the emulated operating system with network functionality, the kernel module sheep_net contained in the source code can be compiled and integrated:

cd ~/Downloads/macemu-master/SheepShaver/src/Unix/Linux/NetDriver
sudo cp sheep_net.ko /lib/modules/$(uname -r)/kernel/drivers/net
sudo depmod -a
sudo modprobe sheep_net
sudo bash -c 'cat <<EOF > /etc/modules-load.d/sheep-net.conf
# --
# Needed for SheepShaver Mac Classic emulator
# --

Note : After updating the kernel, the module must be recompiled and integrated.

This completes the actual installation of SheepShaver and the provision of the guest operating system can begin.

A ROM is required to use Mac OS 9. The so-called is best suited New World ROM .

The archive is extracted to a suitable location, for example in the folder ~ / bin / SheepShaver :

unzip ~/Downloads/ -d ~/bin/SheepShaver/

After starting SheepShaver in the command line, a graphical interface opens in which the following settings should be made:

Graphics/Sound -> Window Refresh Rate : 60Hz
Graphics/Sound -> Width : 1024 / Height 768
Serial / Network -> Ethernet Interface : slirp (to use the previously compiled sheep_net kernel module
Memory/Misc -> Mac OS RAM Size : 256mb
Memory / Misc -> ROM File : The path to the previously downloaded ROM file in the folder is ~ / bin / SheepShaver specified here.

In addition, an empty hard disk in the area Volumes using the item file Create must be created . It is advisable to also create this in the ~ / bin / SheepShaver folder and to assign a suitable name (for example OS9). A size of 1024 MB is sufficient to get started.

A corresponding ISO file, which from WinWorld, for example, is required to install the operating system downloaded can be . SheepShaver supports Mac OS up to version 9.0.4.

Attention : Mac OS only allows an installation from the ISO file if it is not marked as writable. This can be achieved with chmod -rw / path / to / ISO. If SheepShaver is run with root rights, this is not possible, so it is advisable to always run the application as a normal user.

The ISO file can also be added in the area Volumes using the item Add .

Click on Start to begin your journey into the world of Retro Mac OS. The system first boots from the CD. After completing the installation, the ISO image can be using the item Volumes -> Remove removed again .

When you start Mac OS for the first time, an assistant appears, which should be canceled because it cannot run under SheepShaver. However, all settings such as the keyboard layout can be triggered via the corresponding control panel.

Finally, a starter can be created with the following command in order to be able to call up the application more conveniently in the future:

sudo convert ~/Downloads/macemu-master/SheepShaver/src/Windows/SheepShaver.ico /usr/share/pixmaps/SheepShaver.png
bash -c 'cat <<EOF > ~/.local/share/applications/SheepShaver.desktop
[Desktop Entry]
Comment=An emulator for classic Apple computer systems

Mac OS 9 is an operating system from bygone times, the look and feel of which is still appealing today.

However, common applications such as a modern Internet browser with the latest SSL / TLS support are not available. The browser Classilia can still run, but is currently not being further developed.

By default, however, the Linux host system can be accessed in the emulation via the file manager, so that applications or files can be exchanged easily. A large number of interesting applications are still available for the aging operating system.

1 Comment

  1. This was extremely helpful! Thanks!

    Minor comment though:

    chmod -w / path / to / ISO

    … should suffice. Removing the read permission may cause access denied errors. Also, the user should take note that upon cloning the repo, the default folder may be:


    and not:

    macemu-main or macemu-master

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