Many Systems on a PowerBook

© Amit Singh. All Rights Reserved. Written in Mid 2003

Introduction

I run a large number of operating systems on my PowerBook 17, both because I am fascinated by operating systems and environments, and also because a lot of my professional work is and has been in this area. (In other words, I legitimately need to run quite a few of these systems.) It is helpful to think of the setup as an "iPod of Operating Systems" — I use a portable external FireWire drive that contains all the systems.

A somewhat naïve justification for doing this would be that it is very handy to have a number of different operating systems ready to boot at one's disposal: it might be that one needs to fiddle with the FreeBSD network stack, stare at the innards of GNU HURD, experience the new-age interface of Plan 9, or benefit from the ubiquity of more "common" systems like Windows and Linux.

FAAQ

Rather than digress further on the reasons here, I have attempted to address the "Whys and the Wherefores" of doing so in a FAAQ (Frequently Asked and Anticipated Questions) that explains, among various related things, my rationale behind running all these systems. If you must send me feedback, I request that you please read this FAAQ before doing so.

This page contains brief descriptions of almost all systems resident on my PowerBook. Note that these are not installation instructions: for each system, I have only noted uncommon actions (hacks, kludges, tweaks etc.) needed, if any, to make the system install and work. With the exception of Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X, all systems listed are x86 based, which would require using an emulator like Virtual PC, which at the time of this writing is pretty much the only production level x86 emulation option for Mac OS X (well, there is Bochs, and then there is (was) the "was soon to be released for OS X but turned out to be vaporware" Real PC from FWB Software, etc., but none so comprehensive (yet) as Virtual PC). By the way, I do use Bochs on OS X once in a while.

How many?

Does it really matter? There are almost all that I need, like, and use. Some are there for nostalgia. Some are frivolous (consider EmacsOS), and maybe even ludicrous (consider "HanoiOS within VMware within Linux within Virtual PC within Mac OS X"). If you must have a number, well, there are screenshots from at least 64 operating systems.

*BSD

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*DOS

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Educational

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Embedded/Real-Time

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Linux

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Mac

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Miscellaneous

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OS/2

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Windows

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What's not there?

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