OS9 on Ubuntu

The first thing to know about emulating macs from The Before Time is that if you where using Classic Mac OS at the turn of the millennium, you probably used an iMac G3. This machine was ubiquitous-at least at schools in my area. This machine used a PowerPC chip rather than a 68k, so the emulator you want to use is SheepShaver. If you want to use a 68k there’s Basilisk II, which has a very similar setup, and just needs to be installed via apt.

In order to run SheepShaver you’ll need to download some additional stuff, so you might as well do it up front. Redundant Robot has become the de-facto distributor of these files (email me if this ever goes down, I’ll host’em.) Specifically you’ll want the New World ROM and A pre-made bootable OS9 install.

Next you’ll want to compile a copy of SheepShaver. This is thankfully very easy thanks to StackOverflow:

Install dependencies:

sudo apt install build-essential libgtk2.0-dev x11proto-xf86dga-dev libesd0-dev libxxf86dga-dev libxxf86dga1 libsdl1.2-dev osspd git

clone the macemu repo from github:
git clone https://github.com/cebix/macemu.git

Build SheepShaver:

cd macemu/SheepShaver
make links
cd src/Unix/
./autogen.sh
make -j3

Install the binary into your path

sudo cp SheepShaver /usr/bin

Run Sheepshaver with

sudo padsp SheepShaver

This will get you to the setup menu. In the Memory/Misc tab, add the new world ROM file. Then, back in the Volumes tab, add the .img file you downloaded, and create a new (big) empty volume to store your apps. Next add a valid directory that you do not care about because it will be consumed by sudo-enabled fire as “unix root.” Now you should be able to boot into the machine by hitting “start.”

In order to get apps working, you’ll generally want to first get them out of your unix folder and only then unpack them (most vintage mac files are in Stuffit format, so you’ll want a copy of Stuffit Expander to be your first install.)

Unfortunately, the Redundant Robot image is too small to fit many apps. What you’ll want to do is make your own image. Make a blank disc with SheepShaver’s interface download¬† this disc (you’ll need an account.) In order to boot from a file, it needs to be read-only (in fact it will render any writable file that it tries to boot from unbootable.) But you need to run SheepShaver as root. So to render the file unwritable to root, you need to make it immutable with

chattr +i ~/Downloads/Mac_OS_9.0.4.toast

Then add it to the boot list and it’ll boot to the installer.

SYLP is dead, long live SYLP

emf.sdf.org, or “The Shipyard Liberation Project” hasn’t been updated in years. This is mostly because I haven’t had anything to add to it-I think I got every last graphic I could, contacted everyone who’s email address still worked, etc. I’d also all but run out of space for my SDF account (I even had to host the 3d models from Ares on my own site.) Somewhere along the line, I lost access to my SDF account, but by then I was using Unix every day so I didn’t really miss it.

Fast-forward to now, I’ve realized that the fine folks at the Internet Archive have a sweet upload utility that allows you to upload whatever files you want, and (critically) add metadata to them so that some sort of context can be preserved. So I’ve uploaded those files to the archive, you can enjoy them here. That puts out the “what if SDF deletes my account” fire, but some stuff remains:

  • Files with appropriate licenses ended up on OpenGameArt rather than on SDF because I figured more people would see/use it. They ought to be mirrored on the archive.
  • Someone from the Ambrosia forums kindly ripped the graphics from a TC called “The Novel One.” I’ve got the graphics somewhere, but I haven’t been able to find the thread.
  • The “Open Source TC” had some assets at some point, and the notion was that anyone could take it and run with it. I’ve never run across a copy of it (it was hosted on DropBox of all places)
  • The list of missing shipyards on the SDF site still stands – if anyone out there has any of those graphics, I’d love to see them!

Estes and Escape Velocity’s Rocket Design

I first noticed while thumbing through old Estes ephemera on this site  when I saw it staring me in the face:

Snippet from the 1990 estes catalog
1990 Estes Catalog

Estes is a company that has, for a great many years, built and sold flying model rockets-as in, you build them, stick a solid fuel engine in the back, and launch it into the sky. It’s very much an orthogonal hobby for someone who’s a fan of spaceships. The same camp where I learned the art of model rocketry was where I found out about Escape Velocity, which brings us back to the point. If you’re an Escape Velocity or EV Nova fan, you probably recognize that as fictional space pirate “escort Frigate” the Atinoda Kestrel.

A diagram of the Kestrel, with labels for flavor
The Kestrel

Probably the most iconic ship from that game, it made its way into EV Nova as a post-game bonus option and NAEV as its poster-ship. Matt Burch, author of Escape Velocity, had this to say in an Ambrosia Times interview:

Ambrosia Times: […] Is it true that some of the graphics in EV are the result of a model rocketry hobby?

Matt Burch: Well, I used to build model rockets when I was little, and a couple of the ship designs in EV are loosely based on my memories of some of my favorite Estes kits.

That confirms my suspicions. So, which other ships are based on Estes rockets?

 

From the 1990 catalog, we’ve got these two:

Cropped catalog page of an oddly configured two-finned rocket
Estes Star Seeker
EV graphic from Evula.com
EV’s Executive Transport
Clipping from Estes catalog
Estes Strike Fighter
EV graphic of the lightning
EV’s Lightning Fighter

I’d seen the Rebel Cruiser described as having “babylon 5 roots” but I think its lineage is very clear from this:

Screen from a 90s Estes catalog
Estes Starseeker
Screen from EV
EV’s Rebel Cruiser

I’m less sure about the Clipper (which I think is the astro blaster.) The configuration is the same (two back-swept wings with giant winglets and canards in the front.)

Astro Blaster from the 92 catalogue
Estes Astro Blaster
Screen from Escape Velocity
Clipper from Escape Velocity

There are two possibilities for the Manta, and I’m not sure which one it really is, despite it sharing the name with one of the rockets. Maybe a combination of both:

Clipping from estes catalog
Estes Delta Clipper from 1986
Manta from 1994 Estes Catalog
Estes Manta (’94)
Screenshot from EV
EV’s Manta

So, several of the ships in EV share more than a passing resemblance to Estes rockets. There may be others that I’ve missed, or other sources of inspiration. I’d love to hear about them!