Installation of OpenStep 4.2 in
VMware 3.0 and VirtualBox

Version 1.12 - Oct 30th, 2009
Laurent Julliard

Original page at

UPDATE #2:Thanks to astroboy for making the audio driver work again!

UPDATE #1:The instructions below have also been used successfully to install OpenStep 4.2 on a VirtualBox 2.1 virtual machine.


Being a GNUstep developer in the years 2000s I find it very handy to have the original OpenStep software at hand to quickly check something about OpenStep original look and feel or APIs. Having a second PC just for the purpose of running OpenStep was not very practical: first because the hardware supported by OpenStep 4.2 is now getting out of date and second because interrupting your development work and reboot is really tedious. Of course you also have the option of buying one of these wonderful original NeXT black hardware... In this case I wish you good luck! (I have one of these by the way ;-).

So one day I decided that it would be really cool and very handy if VMware could host OpenStep 4.2 for Intel. A quick search in the* and vmware.* newsgroup did not prove very useful and the various attempts apparently failed... This is where I decide to try it by myself and after many hours of trial and error I was able to make it work !!

Just to prove that it really works and before we jump into the installation let's have a look at a couple of screenshots showing VMware running OpenStep 4.2:

The procedure below was documented using VMware 3.0 for Linux and Windows. Ken Turner reported a successful installation with VMware 3.0 running on Windows XP. In any case I recommed that you also read Ken's web page especially because it speaks about the installation of OpenStep 4.2 in the Virtual PC software)


This page has been put together on a voluntary basis. I offer absolutely no guarantee what soever that the installation will work for you. I take no responsibility for loss of data or system corruption caused by use or misuse of software cited on this page. Also note that VMware does not support OpenStep 4.2 for Intel. If you have questions send them to me (laurent AT moldus DOT org) or even better to the vmware newsgroups (


A big thank to:


And now let's go !!

VMware Installation and Configuration

To install VMware just follow the normal procedure.
  1. Install the VMware RPM  and after installation run
  2. Then launch VMware and use the Configuration Wizard to create a new virtual machine. 
  3. Allocate 32MB of memory (or more if you have plenty of RAM). Size a virtual IDE disk of about 600 MB and finish the Wizard.
  4. Then click on the Settings->Configuration Editor. We are now going to tune our Virtual machine settings
  5. Go to the IDE section and open it.
  6. That's it for the moment (I did not configure any ethernet, serial or parallel port to start with). Save your virtual machine configuration.

OpenStep 4.2 Installation and Configuration

Part 1: Installation of the OS Basics

  1. Insert the OS 4.2 Installation in the floppy drive, the OS USer CD in the CDROM drive and "Power On" your virtual machine. When the boot prompt appears on the screen type -s to boot in single user mode. Then answer a couple of questions about language, keyboard, etc...
  2. When asked, insert the Device Drivers floppy (the customized one!)
  3. Then OS asks you to tell what driver must be used for your CDROM drive. A list shows up. Type 7 twice to go to the end of the list and choose driver #2 "Intel PIIX PCI EIDE/ATAPI Device Controller (v4.03)...."
  4. OS then asks the exact ssame question for your Hard disk. Do the same as before. Type 7 twice and finally choose 2 again (yes I know it's the same driver but don't worry)
  5. At that point you are asked if you want to load additional drivers. Say yes : type 2, then 7 and finally choose the Floppy Disk Driver (6).
  6. Then type 1 to continue.
  7. At this point you should see the boot screen with loads of messages. Verify that both the Hard disk and the CDROM are detected ok. Then you get the shell prompt (#). Make sure the Device Driver floppy a) is still in the floppy drive and b) is writable. Then type: 
  8. mount -n /dev/fd0a /install
    sh /install/rc.cdrom

  9. From there the installation should go smoothly, choose the entire virtual hard disk for installation.
  10. At  the end you of the installation you'll see a message saying "Patching the EIDE driver....". Then 2 lines about problems related to ejecting the floppy. Don't pay attention to it.
  11. DO NOT REMOVE THE FLOPPY YET. Press return as requested and wait for the virtual machine to reboot. Then remove the floppy.
  12. End of the first phase.


Part 2: OS Configuration

  1. Shortly after restarting, you should see the OpenStep Welcome Screen (loading Openstep, Reading Openstep Configuration,etc...)
  2. Then OS wants to load the EISA driver again. Insert the Customized Device Driver Disk as requested and type 1
  3. Then you go through the Startup Phase (nothing asked and it finally says startup complete)
  4. An alert box will show up asking you to load the EISA driver from the floppy disk. Insert the floopy and click OK
  5. Then comes the Configure Panel
  6. End of configuration phase


Part 3: Software components Installation

When you see the Install NextStep dialog box on the screen proceed as for a normal OpenStep installation. Choose the software components you want install. Then click on "Install". At the end of this installation phase OS restarts and then you'll be automatically put in the OpenStep desktop under the default "me" user.

From here do the following

Part 4: Fine tuning the drivers setup

Now that you have a working system, you can install a couple of other drivers to enhance your OpenStep system:


Hope you enjoyed the trip! And that you are now having fun with OpenStep 4.2 in VMware. Pending problems where contribution would be welcome:

Comments, feedback, ideas welcome.

Laurent Julliard <laurent AT moldus DOT org>