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Classilla, a New Port of Mozilla To Mac OS 9 170

oberondarksoul writes "Every now and then, you hear about a new port of Mozilla to one of the lesser-used platforms. Recently, a new version of Mozilla has been released for Mac OS 9 — an operating system no longer sold or supported, and with no new hardware available to buy. Dubbed Classilla, it aims to provide 'a modern web browser running again on classic Macs,' and the currently-released build seems to work well on my old PowerBook 1400 — despite being a little memory-hungry."
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Classilla, a New Port of Mozilla To Mac OS 9

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  • Seriously though, does anyone even use it? If I still had a Mac that old, I'd rather run 8.6 to be honest. 9 added nothing much more than bugs while running slower...
    • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @06:49PM (#28643753) Homepage Journal

      If you have the mirrored doors edition of 9, it added LBA48 support. Now that the smallest drives on the market are about 160 gigs, being able to use the portion of your ATA drive above the first 128 binary gigs is a pretty significant benefit. That OS version only shipped with one Mac model, though (the mirrored doors G4).

    • by Moridineas ( 213502 ) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @06:51PM (#28643785) Journal

      We do at my office (publishing)

      Well, we're down to only having 3 computers that solely run OS9, and more that still run apps in classic though.

      We use Quark Xpress 4.5 and a particular set of XTensions. Quark's upgrade path, to put it bluntly, sucks. Quark5 and 6 were IMHO utterly useless and Quark 7 is basically "as good as" Quark 4.5 in my book. We do use quark7 but the problem is that Quark7+the extensions we need run far SLOWER on the quadcore macs than on 800mhz g4s/g5s etc. Sad. Has nothing to do with the merits of OS9 versus OSX, it's just because the newer versions of the apps we need and use on a daily basis, well, suck.

      The writing is on the wall though, we're one or two hardware failures away from being Os9/classic free.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        There's always hardware emulation to run OS9

        • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

          There's always hardware emulation to run OS9

          Yeah, wasn't there a nice port of SheepShaver or something specially for Intel Macs?

          Not sure how fast it is, though - but maybe Quark running in Rosetta might be the problem. I seem to remember Office for Mac being a real dog until the last major release.

          And there are still plenty of PowerPC Macs around - old PowerBooks and Mac Minis still populate eBay regularly.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Moridineas ( 213502 )

            Yes, there is sheepshaver and I did give it a try awhile ago, though perhaps I should try again. Worth looking into. Thanks for the tip.

            Quark7 is a universal binary, as are the XTensions. They're written in LISP actually--kinda neat. From talking to the developer, the issue lies with architectural changes within quark that makes the XT run slower (can't vouch for this). The XTension takes marked up text and creates processed pages complete with columns, images, and footnotes, etc, optimizing line spacing, c

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Phroggy ( 441 )

          Not for the software my mom wants to use with her music students, there isn't. Sure, you can cobble something together that is technically capable of running the application, but unless the timing of both the sound and video is perfect, it's completely useless.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by pilgrim23 ( 716938 )
        the fact is, for single dedicated apps OS 9 was a robust operating system. heck 8.1 even 7.5.5 were dang good! I still have one 68K box I run 7.5 on but mainly that is to provide a network path for an older Apple IIgs I use for certain dedicated tasks (Yes Apple IIs still live)
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by mdwh2 ( 535323 )

          I'm not sure that "robust" is a word I'd use for an OS lacking memory protection.

          As for only running a single app, the rest of the computing world moved away from that model in the 80s.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by jonadab ( 583620 )
        I've not used Quark myself, but I have a friend who claims two rocks and a piece of string would be a reasonable substitute for it. Yes, he's a Mac user, and yes, he works in the publication industry (for a publisher that specializes in the ancient near east -- so among other job duties he gets to typeset ancient languages, e.g., Akkadian). I think the biggest complaint he has about Quark is that it appears to have been designed to make you go through all the steps you'd have to go through if you were wor
    • It's either giving that to my sister or letting her use my laptop.

      Just kidding. iMac G3 seems to run OSX 10.2.8 very well, so we've got that. But to run OS9 software, you need OS9, and that's it.

  • I think a port of the gecko rendering engine would be great, but I'm dubious about the performance of a XUL-based browser on such an old platform.

    Maybe someone could port gecko to my System 6-based Apple IIGS?

    • IIIGS (Score:5, Funny)

      by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples@gmail.BOHRcom minus physicist> on Thursday July 09, 2009 @07:09PM (#28643971) Homepage Journal

      Maybe someone could port gecko to my System 6-based Apple IIGS?

      No, but Apple ported Safari to the IIIGS.

    • Maybe someone could port gecko to my System 6-based Apple IIGS?

      Not going to happen without some sort of C++ compiler and decent graphics. Even then one would likely need a Transwarp GS/Zip GS card for a page to render faster then a weekend. After all, it takes the machine a couple of minutes just to decompress a small JPEG image!

      • > Maybe someone could port gecko to my System 6-based Apple IIGS?

        Not going to happen without some sort of C++ compiler and decent graphics. Even then one would likely need a Transwarp GS/Zip GS card for a page to render faster then a weekend. After all, it takes the machine a couple of minutes just to decompress a small JPEG image!

        Well, good thing I found a TransWarp GS a couple of weeks ago! :)

        I'd imagine the amount of RAM would be a pretty huge hurdle, too. I've got a ROM 03 machine with a 4Meg memory

  • by PineHall ( 206441 ) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @06:50PM (#28643767)

    It is old code. From the FAQ:
    the decision was made to split Gecko off at 1.3.1

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 09, 2009 @07:02PM (#28643901)

    Wow. This is the first OS9 story [] on Slashdot since this one [] from February 2002. Incidentally, that one is the *only* other one.

    Well, either that, or the Firehose is broken.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by timothy ( 36799 ) Works for Slashdot

      Might well be that it is the only other one! I was pleased to have good reason (at least, I thought it was good) to use that icon ;)


    • Are you implying it's possible that a Slashdot 2.0 feature is broken? Nonsense!
    • Mac OS Classic was always under-reported on this site in the "olden days" (i.e. when it was relevant to everybody else.) I have no idea why, since it was the most successful non-Microsoft operating system for, what, 15 years?

      • by zsau ( 266209 )

        In the olden days, this place was much more of a free software place, ISTR. Now it's just general computery stuff. Also, Mac OS X is in some ways the continuation of Mac OS, but in other ways it's very much not; the userbase nowadays is a lot more diverse. Mac OSwas used relatively little by the target audience of this place, that changed when Apple appeared to "get it" by putting Unix underneath a sparkly gui (but the command line's never been the reason Iuse GNU/Linux on my computers, except for about eig

    • Are you implying this isn't a repost? I didn't even know that was possible.
    • Are you implying that this isn't a repost? I wasn't even aware that was possible.
  • by MichaelCrawford ( 610140 ) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @07:10PM (#28643985) Homepage Journal
    If you analyzer your logs with a tool such as Analog [], you'll find that a significant number of your web sites' visitors are still running Explorer or Netscape versions 3 or 4. At least that's what I find for my sites - and it's been that way for a long time.

    There are lots of reasons for this. Some people cannot afford the new hardware required for Mac OS X. Some of those who could buy the hardware have a big investment in software that uses Apple Desktop Bus (ADB) dongles that wouldn't work on OS X even if the newer Macs were equipped with ADB - they haven't been for years.

    Some software has been discontinued, with the vendors out of business, and so will never be ported to OS X-native. If the software is useful enough to the end user, then they'll keep running Mac OS 9.

    Finally, some people simply don't know how to upgrade. Until very recently a relative of mine was running Internet Explorer 5.0 on Mac OS X 10.2 - no doubt riddled with well-known security holes, but she simply didn't know better. I bought her Mac OS X Tiger for Christmas (Leopard won't run on her G3), then visited soon after and installed it for her, then downloaded and installed all the updates.

    All of these are reasons that I plan for Ogg Frog [] to support the Classic Mac OS.

    (And there are many Macs out there that are too old to run Mac OS 9; they'll be running 8.6 or some such.)

    • by merreborn ( 853723 ) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @10:56PM (#28645689) Journal

      Out of 2.9 million hits from IE browsers on our most active site since the beginning of the month, roughly 5200 are from versions of IE older than 6. That's about 0.1% of our IE users, and 0.05% of our total users.

      Also, I've caught obvious UA spoofing in our logs -- one script reported a different, random UA with every request -- many of which were browsers you'll never actually see in the wild -- like "Lotus Notes web client"

      What's more, even the biggest sites don't offer an A-grade experience for older browsers. Hell; I remember not being able to access using IE 3 in 1998! If microsoft dropped IE 3 support a decade ago, surely most of the web can as well. Even Yahoo offers a limited experience [] to users using old browsers, and facebook throws "get a better browser" messages up if you visit with IE6.

      In the end, it's just not economically feasible, in many cases, for developers to spend time supporting 0.05% of browsers, especially when those browsers are so old that they support only a fraction of modern standards. I salute your efforts to make your properties accessible to _absolutely_ everyone, and I'd love to do the same, but we just can't justify the development cost, for the sites we run. We'd be spending thousands of dollars to support a number of users we can count on one hand, to the detriment of our tens of thousands of users on modern platforms. Frankly, if any of our frequent contributors are on older platforms, it's almost more cost effective for us to buy those few stragglers modern netbooks.

      This is true of all software. Sure, we could write everything to run on DOS and Mac OS 7, but it'd be expensive to develop and test on so many platforms; there'd be minimal, if any gain in adoption; and we wouldn't be able to take advantage of more recent technology. In the end, taking the "support absolutely everything" philosophy just isn't a sound business decision.

  • and not supported by the Mozilla Foundation, but it is a Mozilla 1.3.1 based web browser.

    Too bad it does not support the 68K MacOS 7.5.X environment, there are a lot of people running Mac 68K emulators and that is the version of Mac System that Apple allows to be downloaded legally for free.Usually the Basilisk II [] Mac 68K emulator, which seems to be popular.

    At least they try for PowerMac Mac OS 8.6 compatibility, which is good for those PowerMac users who cannot upgrade to Mac OS9.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by AtariKee ( 455870 )
      8.6 compatibility is very good... so far. I'm testing the browser on my Cube, a Bondi iMac (running 8.6) and a Performa 6400 (ditto). It's definitely faster than Mozilla, Netscape, and WamCom, and fairly stable. Only certain sites make it crash, such as Alltop [] (if you hover over a link), and it has some rendering and scrolling bugs (such as on Blogspot []). But on the whole, it's much more stable than the older browsers. And Slashdot [] no longer crashes either :)

      I jumped on as a tester fairly early in the pro
  • Look and Feel (Score:4, Insightful)

    by butlerm ( 3112 ) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @08:50PM (#28644871)

    One reason might be that the people who can still run Mac OS 9 like the look and feel better than Mac OS X. I certainly do - the new "shiny" / hyper-animated look and feel is one of the primary reasons why I have little current interest in getting a Mac. I feel the same way about Vista, but at least there I can turn it off.

    User interfaces should not be "exciting" - they should be functional, and minimize eye strain and unnecessary distractions, especially for the people that have to use them eight or more hours a day.

    Of course few things are quite as bad as trying to read an online article when an animated ad is flashing away in the next column...

    • Re:Look and Feel (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Concerned Onlooker ( 473481 ) on Friday July 10, 2009 @12:59AM (#28646111) Homepage Journal

      Boring does not equal functional. I'd say that the improvements made in OS X were all worthwhile. Easier to use and easier on the eye. It's like having air conditioning in your car. It's not absolutely necessary but at the end of the day you feel so much less tired.

      • Yeah, I'm still an OS 9 holdout, but I'm going to have to switch soon because of the lack of tools on it. I'm excited about this browser, which will help me hang on a little longer.
    • Shiny and hyper animated? I take it you haven't used Leopard or know where the preferences are? Currently, OS X is more neutral and minimalistic that OS 9, IMHO. And the animation is more informative than flashy (perhaps we can exclude the dock). The only really shiny parts left are the buttons and the dock (once again). But even so, it's been toned down a lot since the candy and pin-stripe days of 10.0.

    • Try OSX for a few weeks. "animated" features like exposé might seem useless at first but after a while you'll find you can't live without the feature. With a screen-corner gesture you can display all windows, all windows a given type and/or even drag them between virtual desktops by adding another screen-corner gesture. After a while you never "lose" any windows and moving them around becomes a very intuitive and physical experience, like moving pieces of paper. Anything you don't like you ca
  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @08:56PM (#28644897)

    the currently-released build seems to work well on my old PowerBook 1400 -- despite being a little memory-hungry.

    Some things never change.

  • If you've never tried to install Linux on an Old World Mac (any PowerPC,PCI based mac older than a Blue and White G3 or iMac G3) then you're in for a treat. Think slamming your balls in a car door fun. Almost all the modern Linux distributions have dropped support for BootX (the MacOS Linux loader) and Oldworld machines. Why not boot from Openfirmware you ask? Because it flat dosen't f*****g work. The details of why escape me, and I don't care enough to look it up. Throw hardware upgrades into the mix
  • by Ralph Spoilsport ( 673134 ) on Thursday July 09, 2009 @11:34PM (#28645749) Journal
    Oh, but never mind - the processor is slower than the connection - the computer itself would be the bottleneck...



  • Awesome! I know no one cares, but when you use Mac OS 8/9 (which is otherwise a great OS), the biggest problem you meet is an utter lack of a decent browser that can display a normal modern website normally.

  • by noidentity ( 188756 ) on Friday July 10, 2009 @07:42AM (#28647827)
    Since this thread might have some people still using PowerMac 8500 and related machines, I've recently hacked the 7300/7500/7600/8500/8600 Graphics Driver [] to support resolutions in the 1600x1200 range on a stock PowerMac 8500 (probably works on the other models as well). I now have a 20" 1680x1050 LCD connected and working perfectly, locking on to the analog signal with perfect pixels. I figured out where the timing parameters are stored in the driver, allowing other new resolutions as well (like 1440x900), and fine-tuning of the pixel rate. Even with a CRT, this allows higher resolutions. Contact me [mailto] if you'd like try the driver or have a different resolution.
  • I'm surprised their roadmap doesn't mention upgrading the javascript engine ahead of the other browser components.

    Tracemonkey had, and I'm sure will have again, a JIT to emit native PPC code. That will be a MAJOR performance increase across the whole browser (recall, Mozilla is held together with bailing wire and JavaScript). The embedder-facing JS API has only had one incompatible change that I know of in the last bajillion years, and I'd be willing to bet the "JS_FRIEND"ly stuff wouldn't be too bad eith

  • Firefox doesn't work the same as Mozilla did. Some people miss Netscape and Mozilla. I can't even find a place to download the last version of Mozilla for Mac OS X.

  • I'm looking forward to the port to DOS 5.0.

A committee takes root and grows, it flowers, wilts and dies, scattering the seed from which other committees will bloom. -- Parkinson