Installing NextStep/OpenStep on VPC

Several years ago, I spent a while working on a project that involved converting a huge pile of Objective-C, NIB files and C++ from NeXTSTEP to Mac OS X.

One tool that proved to be critical to the process was Virtual PC v5.0. In particular, because the applications to be converted used a bunch of custom palettes and NIB files, we had to write some code on both NS 3.3 and OS 4.2 to do the interface conversion.

I wrote a bunch of installation notes. These are a few years old and VPC has changed since, but these should still mostly work.

Yes, both NS 3.3 and OS 4.2. While Mac OS X will sometimes open some of the NIB files from NS or OS, you really want to open and save each NIB file on a version of each major release of the AppKit since the original platform.

And because of certain idiosyncrasies of the NIB files, we had to write IB palettes on OS 4.2 to do some conversion there, too.

We also modified the NS -> OS conversion scripts to turn them into OpenStep 4.2 -> Mac OS X conversion scripts, mostly by adding a phase to turn Display PostScript calls into NSBezierPath invocations.

Fun stuff. Someone just asked about this on the cocoa-dev list, so I figured I would pull the notes forward from my old weblogs.

Update: Ovidiu asks if you can boot OpenStep/NeXTSTEP directly on an Intel Mac. Honestly, I have no idea. Lacking a bootable floppy drive is the initial hurdle, though.

However, there is a better way. You can run NeXTSTEP and OpenStep under Parallels under Mac OS X. There were some issues with the 1.0 release of Parallels, but I think they have been addressed in later releases.

8 Responses to “Installing NextStep/OpenStep on VPC”

  1. Clark Cox says:

    Ahh memories…

    I’m currently in the process of updating the very codebase of which you speak to run as Universal binaries.

  2. Ovidiu says:

    Wow, this is really cool! Can you install OpenStep 4.2 on a new Intel-based Mac? This would be pretty awesome, but I doubt the drivers would work.

  3. John C. Randolph says:

    I have seen OpenStep 4.2 running under Parallels.  Chris Hanson brought it to a Cocoa Heads meeting a couple months ago.


  4. Gavin Eadie says:

    Bill … The ftp repo at doesn’t contain those old disk image files any more.

  5. bbum says:

    Bummer.  No idea where they are these days, then.

  6. leeg says:

    Clicking on my name gets to a blog where I wrote much about my experiences getting OPENSTEP/Parallels working. Networking’s fine but slow, graphics is good, mouse is a bit jumpy. I was talking at WWDC with people who say that Microsoft VPC no longer supports OPENSTEP/Mach. You definitely can’t boot native on a new Intel Mac, as there’s no SATA driver (and no way to use a boot floppy).

  7. leeg says:

    BTW, the floppy images are available over HTTP from Apple:

  8. joo says:

    I’m looking for a reseller to get OPENSTEP on Intel developer version.
    Tried to get contact to BlackHole Inc. but get no answer.
    Does anyone knows where to get the software?

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