a part of E-Maculation

By Tony Taylor and Michael Goodine. August 2000, July 2001


Note from 2008: This is an old article. I have left it online because a lot of pages link to it. The directions herein still work, but to set up a much newer version of Basilisk II, you should check out this updated guide from our mac emulation wiki. Meanwhile, there is a guide to setting up SheepShaver (a PPC Emulator) over here.


The article that follows is intended as an introductory guide to the art of emulating the Macintosh computer and operating system on Windows based computers. This guide will first introduce you to various incarnations of the 68K Apple Macintosh computer, and to the operating systems used with them. Following this, the guide will focus on the actual processes behind Mac emulation, by explaining how to set-up and run a free program called "Basilisk II." Once configured to run properly on your Windows system, this program will allow you to use Macintosh software, CD-ROMS and floppy disks in conjunction with a Windows based PC. Even if you do not have any practical uses for the above, simply accomplishing them can be quite fascinating.


About Macintosh Computers

In 1984, Apple Computers introduced the first - of many - Macintosh computers. The original Macintosh was a small, compact computer, and featured a Motorola 68000 processor running at 8MHz with 128K of memory. From that year to 1994, Apple built Macintosh computers that used either the Motorola 68000, 68020, 68030, 68040 or 68LC040 (which is a 68040 processor without a floating point unit) processor running at speeds of 8MHz to 40MHz. The 68040 processor is the fastest of these, and was used mainly in Apple's "Quadra" line of systems. Macintosh computers that use one of these processors are commonly referred to as "68K" Macintosh computers.

Starting in 1994, Apple began to use "PowerPC" processors - developed in cooperation with IBM and Motorola - in their computers. The first models to use these processors were the Power Macintosh 6100, 7100 and 8100 systems running at speeds of 60MHz to 80Mhz. Since that time, Apple has used the PowerPC 601, 603, 604, 750 (G3) and 7400 (G4) series of processors, with the latest models running at speeds of 500MHz and higher. Macintosh computers that use one of the PowerPC processors are called PowerPC Macintosh computers, or simply "PPC" systems.

Apart from building Macintosh computers, Apple also develops the Macintosh operating system to run on them. Most emulation users will (thankfully) not have to deal with anything older than System 7.0, which offered up a number of significant improvements over its predecessor, System 6.

While 7.0 was used mainly on 68K models, its successor, System 7.1.2, was released specifically for use with the Power Macintosh line. Starting with version 7.5.1, the Macintosh operating system officially became known as the "MacOS" and was officially accompanied by the Macintosh "Smiling Faces" logo.

System (MacOS) 7.6.1 was the last version of System 7. MacOS 8.0 (released in 1997) gave the operating system a much more modern look, but was only useable on Macintosh computers with a 68040, 68LC040 or a PPC processor.

MacOS 8.1 was provided as a free update to 8.0 and introduced the HFS+ or Macintosh Extended file system. This release was followed by MacOS 8.5, 8.5.1, 8.6 and 9.0 which run solely on Macintosh computers with a PowerPC processor. A point which is important to note is that software made for 68K Macintosh computers can run on PPC models - because PowerPC Macs are built with the software to emulate a 68K processor - but software made especially for PPC Macs will not run on 68K machines.


About Emulators

Normally, IBM-compatible PCs cannot run any Macintosh programs, or read Macintosh CD-ROMs and floppy disks. That is where Macintosh emulators become important. Macintosh emulators are an attempt to "emulate" Macintosh hardware on PCs, so as to enable them to run the Macintosh operating system. Some emulators do this job well - while some do not.

Currently, while there are emulators available to emulate 68K Macintosh computers, there are none available that can emulate Apple's PPC line.

At this time, there are several options available to individuals new to emulation. Basilisk II and Fusion PC are two free emulators that can do the job of emulating a 68K Mac quite well, as well as a commercial product - SoftMac - available from a company called "Emulators, Inc."

Fusion PC (a free offering from Emulators, Inc.) is actually designed to run specifically in DOS (a scenario which offers up a number of speed improvements), but also runs (with a slight handicap) in Windows.

Basilisk II (the emulator which this guide will mainly focus on), runs on "straight" Windows and because of this, is quite easy to use. This freeware program can emulate many Macintosh models. Without going into further specifics, users can (broadly) select to emulate either the 68020, 68030 or 68040 processor.

BasiliskII is not perfect; it still has some obvious flaws. However, it greatly benefits from its freeware (and open source) status, and makes no grandiose claims as to its ability. Quite frankly, it does what it claims that it will do very nicely.

To use any of the above Mac emulators, you will first need to acquire a Macintosh ROM (Read Only Memory) file from a real Macintosh computer. You do not need the physical ROM module itself; you just need to run a small program (such as this one) on the real Macintosh and the ROM will be saved to a file format for transfer to your PC. This is done quite easily, and many emulators are distributed with a ROM extraction utility. You should be aware, however, that not all ROMs are compatible with all emulators. BasiliskII, Fusion PC and SoftMac can use 1MB, 512K and 256K ROMs from most 68K Macs. While using a 1MB ROM with an emulator allows users to run Mac OS 8.1 and earlier, using 512K and 256K ROMs with an emulator allow users to run only versions of the Mac OS from 7.6.1 and earlier. The best ROMs to use are the 1MB ROMs from Macintosh Quadra computers. I have found that the 1MB ROM with the checksum "420DBFF3" from the Macintosh Quadra 900 does work well with Basilisk II.

It is also important to know that none of the three major emulators (Basilisk II, Fusion PC and SoftMac) can use 128K ROMs from older computers, including the Macintosh Plus, 2MB ROMs from mid-range models, or 4MB ROMs from PowerPC Macintosh computers, or the 1MB "NewWorld" type ROMs used in some iMac models.

Apart from a ROM, you will also need to get the Macintosh operating system software to run on your emulated computer. Apple has provided many versions, (currently System 7.5.5 and earlier) as free downloads from their web site. The most convenient way to get this rather large download is to buy a MacOS CD-ROM, which also makes the system's installation process somewhat easier. If you are planning to buy a MacOS CD-ROM, it is recommended that you purchase version 8.1, as it offers a number of significant improvements over its predecessors. It is also quite inexpensive to obtain (via retail, on eBay or otherwise), it supports the HFS+ file system, and is much nicer to look at than earlier versions.


Setting Up BasiliskII

If you do not already have the latest version of Basilisk II for Windows, download it. Unzip the package (this guide will refer to "C:\BasiliskII") and move your Macintosh ROM file into it. If you do not yet have a ROM file, use the "GetRom" program in the Basilisk II folder to get the ROM from a real Macintosh.

Something else you may wish to take care of now is the Basilisk II "cdenable.sys" or "cdenable.vxd" files. If you are using Windows 2000 or NT4, you should move the ".sys" file from the Basilisk II folder to your "\WinNT\System32\drivers" folder, and if you are using Windows 9x, the ".vxd" file should be moved to your "\Windows\System" directory. These files will enable the emulated Macintosh to read CD-ROMs and other media.

The contents of your Basilisk folder on a Windows 9x system might look like the following at this point:



The name of your ROM file can be different from the one I have used.

Now, run the "BasiliskIIGUI" program to begin configuring the emulator. It should look something like this (the look varies by version number):



At this time, it is not necessary to configure everything available to you, but you must adjust a few key points. First, you should select the "general" tab, and if you do not have the same ROM file we used (from a Quadra 900), you should select the model you took yours from. Next, select the "memory" tab, and point the emulator to the location (in Windows) of your ROM file, and give the emulator some memory. You should give the emulator as much memory as possible (though not all of your system's RAM), but a figure as low as 16 MB is workable in most situations. Now, select the "screen" tab. These settings can be increased, though for best performance, until you need higher settings, it might be best to leave the defaults selected. While you are here, you may want to change the DirectX settings to run in a Window.

In the "audio" tab, you can again leave the defaults selected. Selecting the "disk" tab, can give you the ability to create a Macintosh hard disk file, which you should do right now. A disk of 100MB is probably enough, but if you have the hard drive space to create a larger one, I would recommend that you do this; a disk of 500 MB will probably last for a long time. Under the "floppy" tab, you can de-select "boot from floppy allowed" (reselect later if you plan on using this). Also on this tab, your floppy drive (probably A:\) should be double-clicked to be enabled under the emulated computer.

You are now ready to boot. Or try to, anyway. Hit "okay" to save your GUI settings. Run the GUI again, and hit "run." If you see a white disk/blinking question mark icon you know that you are now (somewhat successfully) emulating a Macintosh computer. The icon that you see now is how the Macintosh computer tells you that you do not have a valid disk with system software with which to boot from. From here, this guide will tell you how to go about installing the system software on the emulated Macintosh.


Installing the Mac OS

There are a number of different ways to install the MacOS, which we will explore in this guide. If you have a CD-ROM with an acceptable OS on it (8.1 or earlier), you can simply insert it into your CD drive, launch Basilisk II, and install it onto the hard disk you created earlier (after formatting the hard disk you created when prompted), as per the on-screen instructions given from the disc. After doing this successfully, you may also want to shut down the emulated Macintosh, so as to configure the GUI to reflect your individual system nuances.

If you have the MacOS on floppy disks, and you are happy using the version you have, you might want to start Basilisk II now, format the disk you created when prompted, and insert the floppy disks containing the OS, installing them as you would on any other Macintosh.

If, on the other hand, you do not have a copy of the MacOS, your situation is somewhat different. You should probably start with the Mac emulation starter (4, 376K) which I have prepared. Simply download it, unzip it, and place it in the Basilisk II folder. Run the GUI, select the "disk" tab and select it in the same fashion you did earlier with your floppy drive. This hard disk contains the essential System 7.5.5 files, along with StuffIt expander 5.5, for use in the OS.

Once the starter disk is placed in the Basilisk II directory, select the hard disk from the GUI's "disk" tab and boot the emulator. What you should be looking at now is a reasonably functional emulated Macintosh!

Now, since the starter disk contains only a small fraction of the actual OS, you should visit Apple's download directory, to download (free of charge), the full System 7.5.3 files. Apple tends to move these around, but they are usually located in a directory called "Older System." You may also wish to download the System 7.5.5 update while you are here.

Once you have downloaded the OS, run the Basilisk II GUI, select the "My Computer" tab, and click to enable the drive containing the 7.5.3 files you just downloaded. Before booting the emulator again, make sure that the hard disk you created earlier is enabled, along with the starter disk. If you have not yet formatted this disk, do so when prompted. After you have successfully created the new disk, create a directory on it. Now, locate - via the "My Computer" option now enabled - the 7.5.3 files, and drag them into the folder you just created. Once this is completed, drag all of the contents of the starter disk onto the new (and much larger) disk you just created. Shut down the emulated Macintosh.

Once back in Windows, run the Basilisk II GUI, and from the "My Computer" tab, disable access to PC drives. In the "disk" tab, move the starter disk from left to right, to disable it.

Launch the emulator again.

From the MacOS, install Stuffit Expander. An alias should be created on your desktop. Drag and drop all of the System 7.5.3 and 7.5.5 files onto Stuffit Expander (on the desktop) to expand them. Double-click the first disk file of System 7.5.3, to mount the entire package on the desktop. Find the existing OS on your hard disk (the one you took from the starter disk), and drag the "finder" file inside the "system" folder into the trash. Next, drag the entire system folder into the trash as well.

Double-click the System 7.5.3 installer mounted on the desktop to install your new (larger) OS. When you have finished and rebooted your system, you can install the 7.5.5 update, or simply begin to explore the Macintosh operating system, for you are now fully emulating a Macintosh computer!

If everything is working properly, your system might look something like this:



(Click on the image for a larger picture)


Note that the above screen shot was taken with MacOS 8.1, running in a Window. System 7 will look somewhat different.

Mac OS 8.1 was used on the Macintosh in the above picture and a version of System 7 will look a bit different. With BasiliskII, an emulated Macintosh can run full-screen as well in a window like shown on the picture.


A Few Useful Notes

The "System Folder" contains files essential to the Macintosh operating system. Mess with this on a limited basis before you have mastered the OS.

Items you put inside the "Apple Menu Items" folder (found inside of the System Folder) will be available in the Apple menu found on the top left corner of your screen.

Basilisk II can you the startup sounds found within some ROMs when booting. If you ROM does have the startup sound on it, the emulator will save the sound to a file named "startup," followed by the checksum of your ROM. If your ROM does not contain a startup sound, you can create a ".wav" file to use when booting. It should be named to reflect the above information (i.e. "starup_420dbff3.wav") and be placed in the Basilisk II folder.

Stuffit Expander can be used to expand many common file types, including the Stuffit (.sit) type, the MacBinary (.bin) type and the BinHex (.hqx) type.

If the Apple menu (found in the left hand corner of your screen) is in balck and white after installation of the OS, you should enable color via the "monitors" control panel. This is a bug in Basilisk II.

StuffIt Expander is program that can be use to expand many files download from the Internet, among them are the StuffIt (.sit) file type, which is the most popular compression format on the Macintosh, the MacBinary (.bin) and BinHex (.hqx) files. It can also be use to mount disk images (.img) onto the desktop. To expand a file, just drag and drop it on the StuffIt Expander program or an alias of it and the file will be expand automatically.


Links to Other Sites

Following are some links to sites where you can get the software you need to emulate a Macintosh computer.

BasiliskII Official Page. The main Basilisk II page. Contains information on versions for multiple operating systems.

BasiliskII for Windows Page. The main page for the Windows port of Basilisk II.

Apple's Download Site. Download the Operating system here.

AusMac.net. A first-rate software archive is contained here.

VersionTracker.com. Another software archive. Updated daily.

Download.com. More software. Look here if the above doesn't pan out.



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Copyright 2000. This article is copyright and it is not to be use elsewhere without permission.