If I get a new Mac, can I run IBM stuff?

I’ve currently got an old mac powerbook at home (g4). It’s gradually losing its ability to do things - not enough memory, CD drive quit working, not enough storage space, etc.

I’d like to upgrade to a new computer. Most of the stuff at work is IBM based, and usually I have no trouble taking word, powerpoint etc. off the Mac and using it at work or vice versa. However - there are a few CDs from work, or from other companies that I’d like to use at home.

So far I can’t get macs (mine when it worked, or my brother-in-law’s new desktop), to read these disks. Do I have no choice but to
a) either not use them at home, or
b)buy a windows / IBM style machine?

Or is there
c)some kind of IBM emulation that should allow me to use them anyway?

I saw this thread
but it doesn’t seem to be addressing the issue I’m trying to get at. Should a new mac powerbook be able to read any IBM style disk? Or am I living in magical pixie land?

The new intel-based machines can run Windows and all the “IBM” stuff you want.
However, they don’t come with Windows - you need to buy it separately.

I am not sure you can actually run AIX on a Mac, but I guess you could try…

Perhaps I should be more precise.

If I purchased a good, recent Mac laptop or desktop, then installed windows, would I be able to :

  1. Run any disk or program that worked on a comparable windows based IBM clone and,

2)swap back and forth between Windows OS and the Mac OS, so I wouldn’t have to suffer with windows any more than neccessary?

Yes and


But, here’s how I’d go about it. I’d buy Parallels, so that you could run Windows transparently on your Mac. And you’d only launch that when you needed to. Otherwise, you’d have to use Boot Camp, but that won’t let you run Windows side-by-side with the Mac. You’d have to shut down your Mac, then boot into Windows (and vice versa).

And, as said, you’d have to bring your own copy of Windows to the party, as Macs don’t ship with Windows (of course).

Thanks. I really appreciate your help, as well as the help of the other posters.

I don’t know much about this stuff but couldn’t Apple design and sell a Windows clone OS? Not only could it power the “Windows side” of the Intel Macs but it could also be marketed to dedicated Windows users who are looking for alternatives to Windows OS (running like hell away from Vista, for example) but still want to use their Windows-based computers and software.

To boot AIX natively, with no MacOS X anywhere in sight? Would require that AIX’s installation media come with native support for EFI (as opposed to BIOS which your average off-the-shelf PC has instead).

XP, for example, does NOT, hence the existence of Boot Camp, an Apple-supplied bit of software that slipstreams the XP installation CD files with an Apple-supplied EFI wrapper or driver or some such thing so that XP can be installed to and be recognized on an EFI box. There is no Boot Camp for AIX but if it knows from EFI natively that would not be necessary.

To make use of all the hardware (video cards, wireless networking cards, software-driven media eject mechanisms, etc)? Would require that AIX’s installation media come with drivers for same, or that you can acquire them after installation. Do AIX drivers exist for all of the above? Heck if I know!
To boot at full PC processor speed in a process window within OS X after booting OS X, either via Parallels or VMWare? Probably far less of a hassle and fewer issues. I’m more familiar with Parallels. People have installed OS/2 and Windows 3.11 for Workgroups and FreeBSD and the old NeXT OpenStep and other off-center PC operating systems as well as XP and Vista. Perhaps not satisfactory if your intention would be to spend all your time in AIX and never use OS X at all, but to use AIX on occasion should work pretty well.

The AIX thing was a joke, at the expense of the OP’s old-fashioned “IBM” terminology.

More importantly, it’s still not clear to me whether Macs can read the same CD-Rs and DVD-Rs that PCs can. Not install software from those discs, so no Parallels or Boot Camp, just read the files on them. I think that was part of the OP’s question, and I strongly suspect that the answer is yes they can, but I too would like to know.

Generally speaking, yes, OS X can read PC-formatted CDs and DVDs.
There are some incompatible formats (usually having to do with unclosed TOCs on CD-Rs), but even those can be read if you are running some version of Windows using Bootcamp or Parallels or Fusion.

Apple wouldn’t be interested in developing another OS. They want you to use OS X exclusively (and I don’t blame them!), and didn’t have to develop or include Boot Camp if they didn’t want to. They realize that Windows still holds a 90% market share, and saw the need to allow Mac users to install Windows for those times where all the other work-arounds failed to bridge the gap.

I have heard rumors of some software that might allow you to run Windows apps right within OS X, without having any kind of emulator or Windows installed at all, but who knows if something like that will ever surface. That would be as close as you’d expect to get in your post above.

No, No, No, No!

Don’t get Parallels. Parallels is nowhere near as good as VMWare. I thought they were both the same until I tried VMWare. VMWare Fusion is the one that he’d want. Just buy a copy of that and then install windows with it.

It already exists (and has for at least a year and a half), in some form, as Crossover. It only supports a small base of software so far, though, and I’ve had very mixed results with it.

Ahh, nice. Did not know that. Thankee.

That would be equivalent to Wine, which allows *nix computers to run Windows binaries natively. But even to get to where Wine is today, i.e. impressive but patchy Windows compatibility, has been a massive and heroic achievement. I can’t believe that Apple are keeping something bigger than that up their sleeve. Maybe they have an Apple-enhanced Wine, but it would still surely be a long way from running all Windows applications.

I couldn’t conceive of Apple developing something like that themselves. I only see something like that coming from third-party developers (such as Crossover).

That’s not how Boot Camp works. The Boot Camp software is just a repartitioning utility. EFI is capable of emulating a legacy BIOS, which is what it does. On early Intel Macs, a firmware update is required to add the BIOS compatibility module.

The slipstreamed CD was used in the beta to include the Windows drivers for the Mac’s hardware. With the release of Leopard, the Leopard CD contains the Windows drivers. A CD-R is not required any more.

Although not supported, operating systems other than Windows XP and Vista can be booted on an Intel Mac, so AIX probably could be booted.

Crossover is just a proprietary version of Wine with some closed source enhancements. The developer contributes stuff back to the Wine project. Apple has built on open source software before - the Safari browser uses KHTML, and there’s a lot of open source stuff in OSX itself.

True. Personally, I’d love to see them realize something like that. Of course, if they think it would be a really good selling point for switchers, they just might pursue it.

Thanks for the clarification! I did not know that… I have ignored Leopard for various reasons, and Tiger was the era of the beta to which you refer and that’s my only familiarity with Boot Camp.