Friday, April 18, 2008

Rhapsodizing Nostalgically



I dusted off my Power Mac 8600/200 today and fired up the external drive onto which I installed Rhapsody DR1 a year and a half ago. Rhapsody was the result of Apple Computer buying NeXT and incorporating an Apple-inspired GUI into the NeXTStep/OpenStep operating system. Developer's Release 1 looks like the Frankenchild of NeXTStep and Mac OS 8. It's limited in its functionality but still fun to play with. I never got networking going when I first set up the machine, so I thought I'd try it again today. A Rhapsody DR1 box expects that it is connected to a NetInfo network and acts persnickety if it determines otherwise. I ended up hosing the system trying to get the network going the first time but I just reinstalled it since there was nothing important on the drive. In the photo above you can see the list of processes I have running and the system information once I got it reinstalled. It only takes about half an hour from start to finish on this Mac.

The File Manager looks like it was lifted directly from NeXTStep:



"Homescratch" is an HFS+ formatted internal Mac OS drive running OS 9.1. Under Rhapsody it is a read-only file system and you don't see any of your Macintosh files. Rhapsody also includes a few sample apps as well as the development environment, if you choose to install it.

One of the coolest apps, in my opinion, is a Mandelbrot application:



Even on this 200 MHz machine the Mandelbrot app runs beautifully: you can select an area of the fractal, click Run, and it repaints the screen with the detail of the fractal in just a few seconds. Nerdy!

To get these screenshots off the 8600 and onto my PowerBook took a bit of work. Floppies are read-only filesystems under Rhapsody DR1, so that didn't work. I ended up turning on FTP on my PowerBook running OS X 10.5.2 by editing /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/ftp.plist and enabling it, then issuing launchctl load ftp.plist. Once the service was running I was able to ftp from the Rhapsody box to the PowerBook. Interestingly, in the Rhapsody Terminal you can drag and drop files to get an expanded path. From there it was simply an ftp put to move the tiff files, created with Rhapsody's Grab.app, to my PowerBook.

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