The Best of NeXT Collection


62 points | by mpweiher 8 days ago


  • PAPPPmAc 8 days ago

    The NeXT community is delightfully dedicated (not quite "Amiga people," but solid) and there are several good online archives of free software, as well as a surprising amount of at-the-time-expensive commercial software where there are negotiated free keys, or other low-cost copyright-holder blessed modern distribution (largely thanks to the efforts of the folks at Black Hole Inc.)

    Finding software for white-box x86 OpenStep turns out to be somewhat harder than for the fetishized black-box 68k NeXT machines.

    I recently put together a nice ca. 1997 OpenStep 4.2 machine on top of a Thinkpad 560E ($20 $80 of accessories/upgrades and $100 worth of SCSI2SD and proper chain of adapters...), which has been a blast. It's happily running (or as happy as OpenStep ever is, its a hair sluggish next to ... basically all of its contemporaries) with full driver support and such. Current fight is that it doesn't seem to believe in netmasks other than 0xffff0000 so it's been a little fussy to have connected on my network.

    I've in particular been looking for some decent serial communication/terminal emulation software that actually supports OpenStep on x86 (not just NextStep on black hardware with their various generations of mutant serial ports), I like being able to zmodem files around between vintage machines and kermit is a little cantankerous.

    • cable2600 8 days ago

      The Amiga parts are expensive and they were not made to last past 10 years. So collecting Amiga systems is expensive. There are emulators for the Amiga that make it cheaper. Even a white box OS to run Amiga programs.

      What is there available in NeXT emulation? I went with the Amiga not the NeXT because the Amiga cost less.

      • PAPPPmAc 8 days ago

        I was chuckling at the insane dedication of the Amiga folk, who have at this point built all-new Amiga-compatible 68k hardware far beyond what existed at the time, new generations of system software, modern repro parts for everything, an incredibly robust emulation ecosystem, secured distribution rights for or replaced almost all the commercial software that existed for the platform, etc. I have an A500 in my collection, they're interesting machines, and fortunately not workstation-expensive.

        There are several decent options for emulating NeXT stuff. Previous ( ) emulates Cubes and Stations quite well (and its 68k core is derived from Hatari, which is derived from UAE, bringing this full circle). x86 OpenStep runs well in QEMU (with some careful VM configuration choices) or VirtualBox, there are several guides for setting it up.

        • forest_dweller 8 days ago

          The guys that created the vampire accelarator boards for Amiga now have a open source (ish) OS called Apollo OS. It has a hardware abstract layer which hopefully means there will be a decent x86 port.

          There was also Icaros and Morphos but I am not sure what going on with those.

      • dmd 8 days ago

        Best of my wife's NeXT and accordion collection:

        • DanielKehoe 8 days ago

          I love to see how the NeXT obsession can't be shaken. I just emailed the site's creator to see if he is still maintaining it. Notably, it's missing a link to the archives of NeXTWorld magazine which are on Simson Garfinkel's server at Good stuff there (disclosure: I wrote for NeXTWorld with as much purple prose as I could muster).

          • felixding 8 days ago

            For those who love NeXT's aesthetics:

            "NEXTSPACE is a desktop environment that brings a NeXTSTEP look and feel to Linux."


            • orionblastar 8 days ago
              • Tepix 8 days ago

                I had a NeXT pencil. Yay!

                It's too bad that the NeXT computers were too early to feature flat screens. With the pretty SGI desktop PCs we got to see the award-winning 17.3" 25:16 1600x1024 1600SW monitor.

                • ngcc_hk 8 days ago

                  The comment missed its impact. The www is developed there first abd without the internet revolution might be delayed. I always thought Steve touched so many IT things but network. Seem the web page missed that.

                  • twoodfin 8 days ago

                    Reminds me of an under appreciated Jobs quote[1] from the NeXT era on his fabled visit to Xerox PARC:

                    They showed me what they are working on. And they showed me really three things. But I was so blinded by the first one that I didn’t even really see the other two. One of the things they showed me was object oriented programming – they showed me that but I didn’t even see that. The other one they showed me was a networked computer system… they had over a hundred Alto computers all networked using email etc., etc., I didn’t even see that. I was so blinded by the first thing they showed me, which was the graphical user interface. I thought it was the best thing I’d ever seen in my life.

                    Maybe the best way to describe NeXT is Jobs getting back to the two other things he missed at Xerox.


                    • linguae 8 days ago

                      I agree with your assessment regarding NeXT. NeXT can be thought of as a pragmatic Smalltalk machine that was adapted to the needs of the higher-education market that NeXT originally courted up to the release of the NeXT cube. For example, instead of pure Smalltalk with its live object environment, NeXT chose Mach + 4.2BSD as its foundation (which made NeXT able to run Unix software), and it chose Objective-C as the primary programming language for implementing NeXT software, which added Smalltalk's object system to C.

                      I've been knowledgeable of NeXT's history for over 15 years (I was a high school student when I first learned of the history of NeXT), but I'm curious about the decisions that led to NeXT picking Mach as opposed to pure 4.2BSD? I'm aware that Avie Tevanian, who was a PhD student at Carnegie Mellon who worked on Mach, was an early NeXT hire, and I'm also aware that before Steve Jobs founded NeXT, he led a project called the BigMac which would have integrated the Macintosh with Unix ( NeXTSTEP could be thought of as a continuation of the BigMac project.

                      • lukeh 8 days ago

                        I haven't watched it in a while, but you will probably enjoy Avie's oral history (along with Blaine Garst and Steve Naroff's).


                        • spijdar 8 days ago

                          Straight up BSD from the CSRG at Berkeley had an absolutely abysmal virtual memory subsystem. Processes had very small and hardcoded VM size caps in the kernel, and some algorithms that worked okay with 1 or 2MB of RAM were scaling poorly with the massive 4 or 8MB systems showing up.

                          Despite being meant as a research system, Mach2 was effectively 4.3BSD with a good, fast, and scalable VM system. I imagine this had to play a role.

                          (The Mach VM would be reabsorbed into 4.4BSD and inherited by all the *BSDs -- it's since been replaced in all AFAIK, but still interesting)

                          • ngcc_hk 7 days ago

                            I do not know it is earlier or later. The control guy side Steve did meet Linus to adopt linux. Somehow the personality not fix. He moved to BSD. Linus is very opposite to the Mach philosophy. Hence it may go the non-Mach way. I do not think the Mach sounds like Steve level choice. But if he has a hand the simplicity is. And the choice of objective c is also amazing. Still using unix (or linux) is the choice.

                            • athms 7 days ago

                              This story is fiction, Linux didn't exist in NeXT's early days. Jobs did offer Torvalds a job at Apple in 2000 to work on OS X. Torvalds turned it down because he despised Mach and refused to stop Linux development, which was a condition attached to the offer.

                          • ngcc_hk 7 days ago

                            Guess he never a networked guy and as bill has teased him never a programmer. But his impact beyond his limited self and beyond of limited self is what is great about him in his next stage. Otherwise we are still using a small iphone to these days. (I like that one and even get a SE for small size. But not only that.) RIP Steve. He is the greatest IT guy that does not that much in love with networking and programming.

                          • macintux 8 days ago

                            > ... many third party NeXT developers added their own magic dust to create revolutionary products, like the world's first web browser...

                          • lucd 8 days ago

                            *NeXT computer

                            • mpweiher 8 days ago

                              Fixed. (HN auto-capitalizes... :-/ )