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.

Are there emulators or virtualization that can run apps or even enough of the OS to be useful to run PowerPC apps?


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
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    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: http://www.emaculation.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=8306

Also, if you are interested in run Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar instead of Mac OS X 10.3 Panther, it is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vseh2Jshj4

Hope this helped!

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The QEMU emulator and virtualization tool is flexible enough for this task.

I and others have experience getting MacOS 9.2.2, OS X 10.0 - 10.4.11 working using QEMU. You have to be careful however as different versions of QEMU may or may not work. As an example, I have found that 9.2.2 will NOT install using QEMU 4.1.0 whereas it seems to do fine using 2.5.~. Anyway, I have found this to be the greatest emulation platform because it also provides for large screen resolutions (I have all of my platforms running at 1920x1440X32).

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It's worth mentioning that after Rosetta was removed from MacOS in Lion, there were attempts to 're-install' it in Lion. However, the technical obstacles were far too great to make this viable.


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