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Ignoring licensing/legal issues, is there any virtualisation software that will virtualise an older, PowerPC-only version of Mac OS X (e.g. Panther 10.3.9) on an Intel Mac?

If I understand correctly (and I very possibly don’t), such software would have to emulate a PowerPC processor, so it doesn’t seem likely.

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Interesting question. – Jannemans Aug 17 '11 at 11:55
up vote 9 down vote accepted

The PowerPC and Intel Macs are totally different architectures, so you are correct, you could only really emulate a PowerPC install on an intel machine, versus virtualize Windows/Mac OS/Linux on a intel machine.

There are some PowerPC emulators, but the one I know of for OS X would be PearPC. I have used PearPC a very long time ago, and don't know how well these work on newer machines.

Up until Lion however, at least PowerPC software was emulated using Rosetta. This was dropped in Lion though.

If you really do need a PowerPC machine, for dedicated work, I would personally buy a used older machine from ebay, which would be rather inexpensive depending on what kind of power you need.

Note: Removed iEmulator because its made more for emulating windows or linux on a intel OR PPC mac.

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Yeah, I’ve got a couple of eBay irons in the fire :) Excellent answer, cheers. – Paul D. Waite Aug 17 '11 at 13:30
Remote Administration works well even to older OS X's – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Aug 17 '11 at 19:15
I hear these have nice speakers. Spendy, but nice ;-) - TAM – bmike Aug 17 '11 at 23:41

Sheepshaver is another emulator for PPC chips. The default big-endian behavior and run-time switching make a true emulator both slow and tricky to implement.

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SheepShaver is another good example, but I didn't list it because @Paul was looking for OS X support. I removed iEmulator from mine because it looks like its only for emulating windows or linux versus Mac OS. – jmlumpkin Aug 17 '11 at 16:00

PearPC is a powerpc emulator that can emulate the powerpc versions of Mac OS X, however, it only runs on windows. You can run PearPC on OS X by downloading Wineskin.

The full tutorial is here:

Also, if you are interested in run Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar instead of Mac OS X 10.3 Panther, it is here:

Hope this helped!

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