Luckily for us, OPENSTEP was made for many different platforms including x86, which means we can run it in a virtual machine on a modern x86 system (Mac or PC).

Install Virtualbox and the extension pack, then open it up and create a new virtual machine.

  • Name your VM
  • Type: Other, Other/Unknown
  • RAM: 128MB
  • Create a virtual hard disk now

Click create and it will ask you some more questions about the hard drive. We want these settings:

  • VDI
  • Dynamically allocated
  • 2GB

When that's done select the VM and click settings to edit some more advanced settings. OPENSTEP is pretty old so it needs some specific changes to work.

Go to Display

  • Video Memory: 64MB
  • Graphics controller: VMSVGA
  • Don't check any of the acceleration boxes

Go to Storage

  • Under Controller: IDE, click the CD drive icon
  • To the right of that, change it from IDE Secondary Master to IDE Primary Slave
  • Now click the CD icon with an arrow on it to select the CD image
    • Find and select Openstep-4.2-Intel-User.iso

Next we need to add a floppy controller. Yes, this was before the days of booting from a CD! It wouldn't know what to do with USB either, it wasn't even around yet when NeXTSTEP was introduced.

  • Click the Add New Controller button and select Add Floppy Controller
  • Click the disk with a plus sign next to the new controller and Choose Disk
  • Click Add, find 4.2_Install_Disk.img and add it, then select it in the list and click Choose
    • You'll need to rename the floppy images from .floppyimage to .img in order for Virtualbox to use them.

Now your storage page should look like the one below:

Now go to Audio and select SoundBlaster 16 for Audio Controller.

If you want to try networking, go to the Network tab and select Attached to: Bridged Adapter. The virtual network card in the VM will act like a real one and show up as a separate device on your network. You'll also need to click Advanced and select Adapter Type: PCnet-PCI II (Am79C970A).

On the USB page you can uncheck Enable USB Controller since the OS doesn't know anything about it.

Our VM is set up, let's install OPENSTEP! Click Start and it should begin to boot.

This guide was first published on Mar 15, 2019. It was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

This page (Set Up the VM) was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

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