No child’s play: Tinker installed Mac OS 9 on the Nintendo Wii

A French tinkerer has managed to install an older version of the Mac OS operating system on an old Wii games console. But he had to use a few tricks to do this. He also encountered insurmountable hurdles at some points – especially when it came to newer versions of the Mac operating system.

The question of whether a Linux operating system runs on the Wii occupied Pierre Dandumont almost ten years ago, he writes in a blog post. The impetus to try it with a Mac operating system finally came from a YouTube video in which a hobbyist installed the innards of a Mac Mini M1 in the housing of a Wii and successfully got it running.

Dandumont’s plan was much more ambitious, however, as he wanted to use ancient hardware by technical standards to run an operating system that is very specifically assigned to a specific computer. In the end, the virtualization software helped him Mac-on-Linux – Strictly speaking, a direct installation was not possible, although the processor of the Wii, a PowerPC G3, already fulfilled an important requirement.

So the French installed a Modern Linux, which is specially tuned for Wii and GameCube. With its graphics card with 3 MB memory, 88 MB RAM and 512 MB flash memory, the Wii scratches the minimum of the system requirements for using MacOS 9.2. The low-resolution video output of a maximum of 480p should turn out to be particularly problematic in the further course.

With the help of the Homebrew Channel software, Dandumont then created the prerequisites for the installation of further software. Using BootMii as a further detour it is possible to finally install Linux. Compiling Mac-On-Linux proved to be another hurdle.

After successfully installing Mac OS, Dandumont had achieved its goal. But using it on the Wii doesn’t bring much joy, he writes. Above all, the graphics performance leaves a lot to be desired and the disk image on the SD card is not particularly fast either. In addition, a tedious sequence of steps is necessary to start Mac OS – he was not able to set up an automatic boot process.

While he managed to sneakily get the first-person shooter Doom and Internet Explorer 5 running for the Mac, he eventually gave up trying to install Mac OS X Puma (10.1). The main memory is probably not enough, he concluded.

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