Can a Quadra Run NeXTstep or Openstep ?

Started by Rob Blessin Black Hole, April 24, 2017, 07:22:39 am

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Rob Blessin Black Hole

, I have a question for the Community with NeXTstep 3.3 being quad fat ....  how to difficult was it to add the support for different processors ,

The reason I ask is quadras of the same era had almost an identical architecture including 68040 25Mhz processors as the NeXT stations proven by Daydream and Darkmatter causing a NeXT to boot up as a MAC,
I've often wondered if NeXTSTEP could actually run on a quadra 68040 with some tweaks  , I'm guessing probably NeXT boot roms in software sort of a reverse Darkmatter  and may be it would have worked.
I've heard rumors there were actually a few NeXTStations  floating around that had mods a 601E or 603 Processor upgrade running on them , not sure if it was socketed directly or on an  xlr8 your mac daughter card  , if true I'm guessing they had it in the NeXTSTEP 3.3 code to id a Power PC chip as NeXT shut down its plant in February 93 , I'm wondering if any of the hardware guys moved over to Apple
Rob Blessin President computerpowwow ebay
303-741-9998 Serving the NeXT Community  since 2/9/93


The source has a lot more going on with the m88k, I'm pretty sure the NRW was the direction, and it was a LOT further along than that blank machine suggests, just like those unofficial 'brick' at apple with dual processor 88k's that apparently boots.  Libc, objc cctools, and cc all have m88k support.

That said, could it run? sure.  Just as a cisco 7000 RSP could run NeXTSTEP, you don't need a frame buffer, a serial port and RAM would be enough, just as an Amiga 3000 could run it as well.  The best 'fit' outside of NeXT was the Atari Falcon, 68030 and the same DSP to boot! ..

but why wasn't it?

NeXT had a dream of selling hardware, and Quadras simply were too numerous, and too cheap compared to next hardware.  the NBIC ended up being snake oil, as NS 3 had to go to non NeXT hardware, and ran fine without it.

It was political.

let me add, darkmatter, and many other mac emulators of the day injected drivers into macos and trapped calls to hardware to emulate stuff.. that isn't going to work for nextstep, but rather a port will be needed, in much the same way they ported it to the i386, sparc and hppa...

If it were 1994 it'd get a lot of excitement, just like the darwin stuff, although I guess overall considering how badly apple mismanaged darwin I guess we'd end up here anyways
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One class of machines that might be able to run early NeXTstep releases are Sun workstations. I remember a picture in one of the books on Apple or NeXT showing a Sun 3 workstation on a developer's desk at NeXT. Hm, time to dig into the NeXTstep 0.8 kernel to see if any support for Sun machines is still in there? :)

One major difference between Sun 3 machines is that Sun used its own MMU design (no 68851 was available at the time the first Sun 3 came out, the Mac II had the same problem) with the exception of the 68030-based Sun 3x machines (e.g., Sun 3/80) - but these came to market in 1989...

-- Michael

Update - there is a 1991 Usenet thread in mentioning that NeXTstep was developed on Sun 3 machines:


Hey Rob.  I actually own a mint condition Quadra 660av that I purchased a few years ago for sole purpose of installing NetBSD mac68k.  This was part of my NEXTSTEP m68k GCC porting effort.  After some tinkering I abandoned this idea because even with full source code available for NetBSD the community was unable to address some of the fundamental issues and limitations on the 68k Macs.

For example, NetBSD mac68k can only be started from a running System 7 or System 8 by running a MacOS application.  This, I understand, is because no-one has figured out how to properly set-up the hardware independently and outside of MacOS.

Another example is SCSI: it is so slow in NetBSD that it is crippling.  Furthermore, the interrupt load it puts on the CPU causes the clock to drift, resulting in system time slowing by minutes per hour under heavy IO load such as compiling.

There is just way too little low-level hardware information on those machines in order to make them useful for anything but MacOS.


Quote from: "t-rexky"
For example, NetBSD mac68k can only be started from a running System 7 or System 8 by running a MacOS application.

To be fair, even A/UX needs MacOS to lauch it.

Unfortuantly you have the AV variation, so you can't compare A/UX to NetBSD.
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Quote from: "neozeed"To be fair, even A/UX needs MacOS to lauch it.

Unfortuantly you have the AV variation, so you can't compare A/UX to NetBSD.

That I did not know...

Yes, unfortunately the m68k Mac hardware is getting more and more difficult to find.  When my machine turned up on local Kijiji I could not resist purchasing it despite some of its limitations.  It was from the original owner, with all the parts and boxes of software.  Everything in absolutely mint condition and not even any signs of yellowing.  I of course re-built the power supply and the main board with new electrolytics so it should be good for another 10 - 20 years.


Actually looking at MachTen, it sure could have.  Actually I'm more surprised MachTen didn't get more people on the platform, as it really is a Mach 2.5 + 4.3 BSD on MacOS.

And the kicker is that it will run without a MMU.

But yeah as proved with all the ports, there honestly wasn't anything special about the black hardware, in that NS could run on anything else.

I emailed them asking if they were willing to license or sell the product.. no reply.
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Thread revival!

I worked on a Quadra 700 back in 91 when I worked for Ultimate Technographics. They were awesome machines. One phillips screw to remove cover. Another one to remove the disk tower and release all internal parts. It was a great design, good form factor. Awesome Mac performance for the time.

There aren't many Macs of that era I'm fond of, despite having worked on them all my life. But the Quadra 700 surely is in my favorites from the 90s. Strangely, I dont have one in my collection.