Sunday, November 27, 2022

You Can Run Mac OS on the Nintendo Wii

With over 100 million units sold since its debut in 2006, there’s no denying the popularity of the Wii, but two Nintendo consoles later, people are still finding clever ways to expand the capabilities of the console. This hack focuses more on productivity than gaming, however, by turning the Wii into a Mac.

Apple doesn’t like its operating systems running on anything other than Apple hardware, so getting the Wii to run Mac OS 9 isn’t as easy as popping an installation disc into the console’s disc slot and letting it run. Not easy, but not impossible, because it turns out the PowerPC processor inside the Nintendo Wii is close enough to the PowerPC chips Apple used in its Power Macintosh G3 machines for this to work.

Pierre Dandumont explains how they managed to get Mac OS 9.2 running on a Wii on their website (courtesy of Google Translate) and as clever as the hack is, there’s layers of complexity that result in the operating system running less than perfectly.

Mac OS on the Wii with Mac-On-Linux

Making the Nincintosh (Mactendo? MacinWii?) relies on a hacked Wii’s ability to run a Linux-based OS through the unofficial Homebrew Channel, which in turn facilitates Mac-on-Linux, which allows Mac OS to run under Linux. A disk image of Mac OS 9.2 on an SD card is inserted into Wii and after booting the console and opening the Homebrew Channel, BootMii is used to start Linux and then Mac OS, minus the iconic startup sound—one of many issues when running the OS on a gaming console.

Issues with resolutions make Mac OS 9.2 look extremely ugly on the Wii, but Dandumont was able to get Internet Explorer 5 to load, minus a working internet connection, iTunes, with sound that crackles before the application quickly crashes, and even doomwhich musters just a single frame every minute making it completely unplayable.

Mac OS 9 debuted seven years before the Wii did, and Dandumont wondered if a more recent version of Apple’s desktop and laptop OS would have more success. Unfortunately, Mac OS X demands at least 64MB of RAM to function, and the Wii can’t offer up any more than 52MB, causing the OS to crash at startup. So as impressive as it is to see the Wii learning new tricks, it’s not a replacement for Apple’s hardware.

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