If you’ve invested in the Apple ecosystem, the joys of iMessage likely illuminate your life. Your phone and desktop and laptop all sync your messages. But what if your desktop is running Mac OS 9 or System 2? This is where [CamHenlin’s] MessagesForMacintosh comes in.
Unfortunately, it does require a more modern Mac to act as an access point into the wider iMessage network. The modern Mac sets up a GraphQL database that can be accessed. Then a serial cable connects your “retro daily driver” to a translation layer that converts the serial commands into GraphQL commands. This could be something simple and network-connected like an ESP32 or a program running on your iMessage Mac. [CamHenlin] has a second Mac mini in his demo, seen above.
[CamHenlin] leverages his library known as CoprocessorJS. It allows older machines to hand off complex workloads to more modern machines, allowing modern machines to act as a coprocessor. Getting a single binary to run across many different versions of Mac OS and System is tricky and there were a few tricks involved. Retro68 is a C++17 compiler that targets PowerPC and 68k architectures. Additionally, Nuklear Quickdraw is used to provide a GUI in a performant manner.
We’ve seen a huge influx of bespoke portable computers over the last couple of years thanks to availability of increasingly powerful single-board computers. The vast majority of these have been ARM powered using something like the Raspberry Pi 4, and naturally, run Linux. Only a handful have run on x86 hardware, usually because whoever built it wanted to be able to run Windows.
But this handheld x86 Hackintosh running the latest Mac OS on the LattePanda Alpha is truly something unique. Creator [iketsj] claims it to be a world’s first, and after a bit of searching, we’re inclined to agree. While others have installed Mac OS on the LattePanda to create Hackintosh laptops, this would indeed appear to be the first handheld computer to utilize this particular hardware and software blend.
Like other custom portables we’be seen, this one starts with a 3D printed enclosure. The overall design reminds us a bit of the YARH.IO we covered last year, and even borrows the trick of reusing the membrane and PCB of one of those miniature keyboard/pointer combos. Which in this case ends up being especially important, as in keeping with Apple’s own portable Mac OS machines, the screen on this handheld doesn’t support touch.
We especially like how the integrated Arduino on the LattePanda is being used in conjunction with some MOSFETs to control power to the handheld’s LCD, keyboard, and fans. While it sounds like the fans are currently running at full throttle, [iketsj] mentions he does intend on adding automatic speed control in the future. A dedicated “chassis controller” like this makes a lot of sense, and is something we imagine will only become more common as these portable builds become increasingly complex.
Like many before it, this Mac 512K case was originally slated to get turned into a kitschy desktop aquarium. But its owner never found the time to take on the project, and instead gave it to [Tony Landi]. Luckily, he decided to forgo the fish and instead outfit the case with a new LCD display and Raspberry Pi to emulate Mac OS 7.5.
In the video after the break, [Tony] walks viewers through the process of mounting the new components into the nearly 30+ year old enclosure. Things are naturally made a lot easier by the fact that the modern electronics take up a small fraction of the Mac’s internal volume. Essentially the only things inside the case are the 10 inch 4:3 LCD panel, the Raspberry Pi, and a small adapter that turns the Mac’s pre-ADB keyboard into standard USB HID.
[Tony] had to design a 3D printed adapter to mount the modern LCD panel to the Mac’s frame, and while he was at it, he also came up with printable dummy parts to fill in the various openings on the case that are no longer necessary. The mock power switch on the back and the static brightness adjustment knob up front are nice touches, and the STLs for those parts will certainly be helpful for others working on similar Mac conversions.
With the hardware out of the way, [Tony] switches gears and explains how he got the emulated Mac OS environment up and running on the Raspberry Pi. Again, even if you don’t exactly follow his lead on this project, his thorough walk-through on the subject is worth a watch for anyone who wants to mess around with Apple software from this era.