• Published on | Sep 24, 2006 | by Chris Osborn

No computer is an island

No computer is an island, unless of course it's a Mac with an operating system prior to OSX.

Last night after getting rid of most of the old Macs I had, I was wondering if there had ever been a version of MAME that ran on 68k Macs. There was, so I thought what the heck and maybe I'll continue with my scheme of turning these junkers into "arcade machines" in order to get rid of them.

I fired up both computers to verify they are working, and both booted up fine. Same as yesterday, I hooked up my laptop to act as a bridge. This time however, the computers are running 7.5.5, and have been seriously stripped and don't include any network drivers or software. They also don't have any removable media except for floppy drives. So the question is, how can I get MAME onto them to at least see how badly it performs?

I'm sort of stuck in a catch-22. MAME is too large to fit on a floppy, so I either need to get it from CD or from the network. But in order to do that, first I need to get CD or network drivers installed. And in order to do that, I'll need to be able to read those drivers from a CD or the network!

A little bit of hunting and I found Apple still has old versions of MacOS available for download. The plan is that maybe if I can install a fresh copy of the OS, it'll give me the CD and/or network drivers that I need. I downloaded the 19 parts of System 7.5.3, which of course brought up a problem.

Another catch-22 that happens with Macs stems from the heavy reliance of the old OS on resource forks and type/creator file typing. When you download a file from the internet, either directly to your Mac, or through another computer and then SneakerNet it over, it's pretty much impossible to convince your Mac that the data in the file is a Mac application or some other kind of Mac-specific data. There's no way for a user to set the correct type/creator through stock Mac software, and there's no way to get things moved into the resource fork. When I downloaded the 7.5.3 onto my Mini, I was stuck with a bunch of .bin files which it didn't know what to do with. Apple wisely decided to try to stamp out the stupidiy of people embedding .dmg files inside of .sit, .bin, and/or .hqx files by ceasing to bundle StuffIt Expander with their computers. StuffIt is legacy and it's time for it to die, and the .dmg format can not only be used natively by OSX, but it doesn't require any special type/creator and resource fork manipulation nonsense to be recognized by the OS.

Fortunately I still had Expander on my laptop, so I copied the files there and extracted the .bin files, then used hdiutil to convert the .smi files into a single .dmg which I was able to burn with DiskUtility. I'm not sure if the conversion step was necessary, DiskUtility might have been able to burn the .smi by itself, but since it was in 19 parts I didn't want to waste a CD to find out and was happy to see hdiutil merge all the parts into a single .dmg.

Oddly though, the 7.5.3 install CD doesn't seem to have a System on it, and so it won't boot! The other trick of having the CD in the drive when the computer boots isn't working either. Apparently the OS is so stripped that it won't even mount a CD that's there at boot.

This though is as far as I got. Before I could come back to it, there was a recycle event at a nearby college, so I took the last 2 Macs there to get rid of them.

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