TSR – The Server Room – Shownotes – Episode 34 – 35

PCem, 86box, DOSBOX, Qemu, Basilisk and others …

Emulation of forgotten realms

PCem / 86Box

86Box is a fork of PCem. What both of them does is being a low level pc emulator to emulate a whole computer from an early one with CPU 8080 AMI XT Clone up to a Socket 7 Pentium from 1995. It also emulates some Graphics and Sound cards as well. Also has some interesting models like the IBM PS/1 and PS/2 models. I left the link for the list of currently emulated systems.

To achieve all this You need to use the corresponding ROM files for emulated systems (bios rom) and peripherals (f.e Graphics cards and Sound cards) I left a link with a quiet up to date link of ROM package to use with PCem

While not everything and every combination works 100% and without flaws… It is a well round and perfectly usable emulator of a whole system/computer. Sometimes maybe You need to tune and change some settings or choose another combination of HW components which best suits You intended SW You want to use and once in a while It can be that the piece of SW You wish to run on the emulated computer f.e under MS DOS 3.21 just dont play 100% well with the emulation itself. But as a whole its pretty usable and You can spend hours and hours putting together Your dream machine and feel like if its the 80s and 90s again. And looking at the prices of real HW from that era if You are able to find a good and working model of the HW of Your choice.. As this emulator is free its definitely a cheaper option and might just be enough for what You need it for.

PCem has a forum on their website where You can get help for troubleshooting or look for answers of what works what does not.

Personally I wanted to run AIX 1.3 on emulated IBM PS/2 but the installer gets kernel panic at nothing more than booting the boot disc. The last time i tried it was still failing or its just me who couldn´t make it work .. thats a possibility as well…sometimes I can make it boot sometimes not 🙂 IBM PS/2 are strange machines in a good sense of the word.

I probably need to spend more time on Pcem and try to make AIX boot and run on IBM PS/2

One thing I miss from PCem is LPT or COM port capture or redirection, implementation for Printing Support.

(( Note that in 86Box LPT Printer emulation is included in a form of Generic Text Printer / Generic Postscript Compatible Printer))

It d be possible then to capture for example a DOS application which can only print via LPT1 the output through an application under windows for example like Printfil ( left the link in the shownotes with a link which explains certain examples/scenarios where Printfil can help capture those printouts from these old DOS Apps). Im sure that under Linux/BSD there is other apps which would do the same and could capture data coming out from those LPT1 or COM ports if 86Box/PCem would handle them to get them out from the emulated machine. It d be awesome

PCem emulating a AMI 486 DX2/66 Clone Installing MS DOS 6.22 Spanish


DOSBOX / vDOS /vDOSPlus / TameDOS / DosBOX SVN Daum , DosBOX Mega Build

Sometimes all You need is a dos prompt to run some applications with networking and options to mount folders from Your local machine and You dont want to spend time emulating the whole computer around the chosen operating system You want to run as it is the case with 86Box – PCem.

For those LPT1 dicussion above..the situation is similar to PCem/86Box… some of these DOSBOX variants (VdosPlus if i remember does LPT1 redirection to file or to an app like Printfil in Windows to say an example) handles that thing as well so perhaps if its a must in Your workflow or for the app You intend to use perhaps its a better fit for You than going with the whole system emulation of 86Box/PCem where as discussed LPT1 port is not handled in the emulated environment.

Update: Added this screenshot to show that for example under vDOSPlus using Professional Write 3.0 Application I was able to Print via LPT1 and catch it with Printfil application when I spent some time with it.

vDOSPlus running Professional Write 3.0 under Windows 10 and showing a generated PDF File captured from Professional Print 3.0 via LPT1 with the help of Printfil.

I have to say that most of the apps I tried under these variants of DOSBOX worked with great success and joy, its very quick to be up and running and using some of Your old favourite DOS applications.

There are still a lot of companies out there using Legacy apps , hence why the demand for Legacy Hardware / Operating Systems and Architectures as well as their cost effective emulation as an alternative (as We will see further along this episode ) where/when possible are in demand. Some companies can not move away from Legacy HW/SW/Architectures many times because of costs involved or cause it d be a mamoth undertaking of a project resulting even more costs or sometimes the good old rule of if it is not broken do not fix it.

DOSBOX running Microsoft FoxPro
vDOSPlus running Wordstar 4.0
vDOSPlus running Wordperfect 6.0



Can emulate a plethora of architectures and You can run a lot of different operating systems.
Some runs so slow probably You will never want to run it again ( i definetly had success and pain following a step by step to install HP-UX 32bit UNIX under Qemu on an emulated PA-RISC CPU where just the text only install took more than 4 hours. the system does boot after and works but painfully slow. Good thing is Qemu is getting better each time . ))

Also for example I have AIX 7.2 installing and booting fine under Qemu emulating Power architecture ( have to use a specific qemu build which is older than the current version and the AIX 7.2 iso You use has to be specially prepped with the required QEMU drivers injected into ( for network and disc drivers if im not mistaken) and if You have it all then that baked installer ISO will boot , install and can power up afterwards with relatively correct normal speed ( install takes about 20min and a boot up around 5min lets say.. networking works and easy to setup relatively)

Even better examples can be older SunOS Operating sysems, some of them can be a bit sluggish but definetly worth trying out and playing with them.

All the above (AIX, HP-UX and SunOS step by steps for qemu You can find on the mentioned Links part of the shownotes at astrobaby s website … there is always something interesting to read there each time I visit his blog. )

Qemu running PA-RISC 32 bit HP-UX 11.11
Courtesy of Astr0baby.wordpress.com

Basilisk II

Basilisk II is an Open Source 68k Macintosh emulator. That is, it allows you to run 68k MacOS software on your computer, even if you are using a different operating system. However, you still need a copy of MacOS and a Macintosh ROM image to use Basilisk II. (( google can help ))

Emulates either a Mac Classic (which runs MacOS 0.x thru 7.5) or a Mac II series machine (which runs MacOS 7.x, 8.0 and 8.1), depending on the ROM being used

I left a good amount of links to tutorials and videos how to set up and configure Basilisk II (most of these tutorials are either for Windows or for Mac OS X) You can still get hints and important gotcha-s even if You are under Linux/BSD Systems.

It came in handy for me as I prepared a separate Windows 7 VM under Virtualbox to try out Basilisk II and Sheepshaver on this FreeBSD Laptop ( The Lenovo X220)

Basilisk II running System 7.5.3


(( the name is a pun on ShapeShifter which was a 68k Mac Emulator for AmigaOS obsoleted by Basilisk II)

SheepShaver originally appeared for BeOS in 1998 as a commercial application (first as shareware, then via the now long-defunct BeDepot). Due to the demise of Be, it has been re-released in 2002 as Open Source software under the GPL.

Tutorials which explain Basilisk II can be sometimes/most of the time used for Sheepshaver as well or vice versa…

Sheepshaver Running Mac OS 9

End of Episode 34

Start of Episode 35

Mini vMac

Similar to Basilisk II can run classic 68k mac operating system and apps

Emulates a Machintosh Plus

I have a great video where it shows how to set it up in the Links.

Mini vMac running Sysem Software 7.5.5


Another PowerPC emulator ( similar to a PowerMac G4 what it emulates but about 500 times slower than the original hardware)

You can use it to run newer than classic mac os operating systems ( which were compatible with a PowerMac G4 for example like Mac OS X 10.2.8 Jaguar)

As per the website both OpenBSD and NetBSD for PPC build crashes on boot …..its sad. I definetly have to try it myself maybe newer builds do work???

PearPC running Mac OS X Installer


SimH is the mecca when it comes to legacy systems like DEC VAX , PDP, HP-3000 Series III to mention a few.

SimH could worth its own episode.. Just like Mainframes.

Tons of videos and tutorials how to run different operating systems on various architectures-hardware emulated by SimH can be found with google.

I added my favourite one from Stephen’s machine room with step by step instructions for Simh and OpenVMS installation and also explains how to add Hobbyst License keys
(( Remember the Sad Truth it will be over 2021 December 31st ))

Simh running VAX/VMS v4.7


Virtualbox apart from being free it can be great when it comes to older but not so old Operating Systems like DOS , OS/2 , AIX 1.3 PS2 as mentioned above when I talked about PCem/86Box , Windows NT or even Windows 3.11 .. These Operating Systems I had more success and joy running in Virtualbox instead of Vmware for example.

It is a great alternative to Vmware Workstation which is a paid application and as mentioned if some older Operating System does not install or work properly under Vmware give it a try under Virtualbox You might get lucky.

Virtualbox running OS/2 Warp

Update: Linked a Youtube video in the shownotes where AIX 1.3 is booting and installed fine with networking on Virtualbox. Its good news. However I got as far as booting up from the two SCSI floppies and once it asks for the Install Floppy I get a kernel panic and it reboots — reading the comments below the video I see i need to use some patched discs with the proper injected drives to make it work with Virtualbox as I do not have those floppy images I need to obtain them first before I can continue with this

Update 2: While I could not install it myself for what I explained just above , I left a link from a blog (astr0baby.wordpress.com) where You can download a Virtualbox VDI HDD Image and two floppies with which You can create a Virtual Machine under VirtualBox and boot an already installed system.

This how far I got in Virtualbox trying to install AIX 1.3 PS/2
The Ready to Use VDI Virtualbox HDD with the Boot floppies work just fine 🙂

UNIX under the Hood


Another very awesome emulator this time emulating Big Iron from IBM

Hercules is an open source software implementation of the mainframe System/370 and ESA/390 architectures, in addition to the latest 64-bit z/Architecture. Hercules runs under Linux, Windows, Solaris, FreeBSD, and Mac OS X.

I left in the shownotes my favourite Mainframe related Youtube channel moshix. Have a look at it if You are interested in the topic. moshix has an incredible and extensive knowledge of mainframes and anything surrounding or running on them…. He could be a perfect candidate for a future interview at The Server Room Show. 🙂

There is also an additional Printing app which exists do to what we discussed above for DOSBOX

Hercules Emulator running


Comercial Offerings

EmuVM / AlphaVM

Their AlphaVM-Basic is their offering towards hobbyst..When i did ask them for a quote back in 2019 they told me first year license is 400 euros with an annual prolongation cost afterwards for 100 euros.

It emulates an Alpha system with one CPU and up to 1GB RAM. Supports OpenVMS and Tru64/DigitalUnix systems. Too bad the last batch of – issued OpenVMS hobbyst licenses will expire be finished in 31st of December 2021 🙁

Stromasys Charon
….. HP3000, Sun Sparc , Alpha , VAX – They cover nearly everything … and they charge according to it.

I did talk about them in previous episodes. They hold the holy grail when it comes to Legacy Architectures

Charon-AXP / AXP-Plus – Alpha Architecure
Charon- HPA – HP 3000 PA-Risc
Charon-PDP – PDP
Charon-VAX – VAX

  • Charon-SSP/4M – Sun-4m/V8 1/4
  • Charon-SSP/4U – Sun-4u/V9 1/24
  •  Charon-SSP/4V – Sun-4v/V9 1/64

IBM zPDT – IBM system z Personal Development Tool

I left a Youtube video from 2012 which explains zPDT a bit..It uses USB hardware key for authentication and costs per year around 8000 – 9000 euros the license fee. It includes and comes with all IBM z software os and additional applications. lot of stuff .. but a lot of money for serious devs and their companies.

Imagine it like Hercules on steroids with all the latest and greatest from IBM z OS and application wise working together under Linux … anything gets more awesome than this?

I never managed to get my hands on it nor to see it in person running….. one day ….im sure


Of course nothing beats real hardware, the touch and feel and the smell and noise of it.
If You can get Your hands on Or You already have and nothing stands in Your way go for it.
It is the real deal the true way the way it was meant to be

For the rest of us unlucky poor folks We can try to emulate and get a grasp of that greatness with its quirks and caviats. (mostly loosing on speed and features mainly) Our only plus or advantage is that it definetly wont raise our electricity bill nor will take up extra space in our rooms.

Cause remember when they say that it is like the original … it is just not the same



Setting Up Basilisk II (Windows)

Basilisk II – How to Install Mac OS System 7.5.3

Printing from Sheepshaver and Basilisk II

Getting Online in Basilisk II (Windows)

Essential 68k Mac Software for Basilisk II

Sheepshaver (abandoned since 2006)




Mini vMac

How to Install Mac OS System 1.0 – 7.5 in Mini vMac and Run Classic 68k Applications

vDOSPlus and Wordstar




WordPerfect for DOS Updated

EmuVM / AlphaVM


SimH , OpenVMS , VAX , Hobbyst License

OpenVMS Hobbyst License Registration


WinWorldPC Library of Abandonware Software

A Blog to get some ideas about virtualization – emulation of older systems amongst other topics

Emaculation Forum about Mac Emulation

Macintosh Quadra and Mac OS 8 in a form of Electron App * Win / Mac / Linux*

End of an Era – HP Ends OpenVMS Hobbyst Licenses in 2021

Printfil.. Print Sofware for various scenarios

Printfil and DOS Emulation / Printing

Moshix Youtube channel .. Everything about Mainframes

Hercules emulator

IBM zPDT Youtube video

IBM Master the Mainframe Program (online, free)
Probably the closest one can get to an IBM Mainframe for Free

Young Guy Who Bought a Mainframe for His Home (Awesome)

Betaarchive – Beta and Abandonware Forum

OpenVMS moving towards x86 in a form of Virtual Machine through Virtualbox

PCem List of Emulated Systems

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About IBM PS/2

AIX PS2 Install images:

AIX 1.3 PS2 (x86) on Virtualbox

AIX 1.3 PS2 (x86) on Virtualbox Ready to use HDD Image and Boot Floppy

AIX in the world of today (Video)

Author: viktormadarasz

IT OnSite Analyst for a big multinational company