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I'm toying with the idea of using System 7 as my daily work station at home, most probably via Basilisk II running on some Linux flavour, but possibly on an actual Performa 5200.

One piece of modern software that I would like to keep is Discord. I know this is probably far fetched, but would it be possible to run Discord in some way on System 7? Either via a browser (which would lead to the follow up question of whether there is a "modern" browser that can run on System 7) or some other sorcery.

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  • You might be able to run a bridge of some sort to a more 'contemporary' chat system, say irc, or a terminal client on a more modern system connected via SSH (assuming there's a client.) This is a stub of an 'answer' so I'm posting it as a comment, but it would probably sidestep issues like needing modern SSL support – Journeyman Geek Feb 6 at 11:23
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    Probably not what you want to hear, but Discord has a public API, so all sorts of "lightweight clients" ought to be possible. – Brian H Feb 6 at 19:09
  • @BrianH The API idea is interesting. Perhaps one approach could be a custom Web Render Proxy-sort of thing as mentioned in RETRACs answer tailored specifically to Discord. – hexamon Feb 6 at 20:37
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    @JourneymanGeek Such a thing would be Bitlbee. Collecting all sorts of messaging under the hood of IRC. – PoC Feb 7 at 11:32
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    @BrianH It would be possible to write an Application from scratch. But this is very hard to achieve because of the lack of modern Crypto. Porting OpenSSL to a linkable library in a way that it's easy to incorporate upstream changes is a real challenge. (This is something all old OS are suffering from, not only Macs.) – PoC Feb 7 at 11:35
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There are no reasonably modern browsers capable of running modern web apps for System 7. Classilla is the closest thing, and it requires Mac OS 8.6 or 9. And I'm not sure it could handle Discord, either.

You definitely cannot run the desktop app on a classic Mac directly.

Still, I can think of a couple indirect ways to achieve what you want:

There are web proxies which render modern web pages into simple images and HTML that old browsers can handle. See Web Render Proxy in particular. I haven't tested Discord, but it can handle some web applications.

Another option would be to use something like VNC to login to a remote desktop on a modern machine, running the Discord app or a web browser.

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  • The Web Render Proxy idea is exactly the sort of unlikely, lateral solution I was hoping for. Love it. I'd mark this as the Answer, but I want to test first to make sure Discord specifically works since that is what my question is about. – hexamon Feb 6 at 20:32
  • If there's a discord application for Linux (I don't know), using abandoned MacX from Apple, it might be possible to run it as remote X application. My experiences running Firefox as a remote browser are very bad. MacX supports only 256 colors, and is really slow with transfers of loads of bitmaps. – PoC Feb 7 at 11:31
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[Only a partial answer, more a collection of thoughts]

The 5200 is about the worst PPC Mac that has there been. While having a 603, it's crippled with a 32 bus interface and an 8 bit IDE. A straight guarantee for low performance. The 601 based 6100 is faster. So performance might be a rather limiting factor.

While the 5200 was first delivered with System 7, it might be a good idea to update to 9.1, much like it's suggested to use 8.1/8.5 on 68k Macs. 9.1 improves performance considerable over 7, as most code is native PPC, not being slowed down by emulation. In addition support for many interfaces got improvements, especially all around TCP/IP integration, quite related to your project.

Which brings the next important step, a modern Browser, but there is none. The most modern browse contemporary to Mac OS 9 is the Internet Explorer 5, stalling since 2000. Netscape 7 and Mozilla 1.3 are a bit more modern, but still way behind what the discord web interface requires. Classilla is essentially Mozilla 1.3 with development up to the mid 2000s and patches until some years ago. (I'm not sure about the state when iCab stopped development). As well not fit for the job. So no chance to run the discord web client soon.

The last resort would be a discord application, but the earliest I find requires Mac OS X at least. Being introduced in 2015 first, Discord is simply too new for any classic Mac. In fact, not even G3 board would help, as Discord only runs on 10.9 and later, so it's x86 only.

First introduction data of a software (here 2015) is always a good indicator what OS is required, as next to noone develops new mainstream (*1) applications for long gone systems.

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  • 8.5 cannot run on 68k Macs, and I would not advise 9.1 on a very low-end, crippled PowerPC like the 5200. 7.6 will get you the best performance on such a system. Run 8.1 or 8.6 if you absolutely need the newer OS to run apps. – Cody Gray Feb 6 at 8:11
  • @CodyGray 8.5 runs quite well on my most beloved Mac, my 630. It's true that 8.5 does not run out of the box, but by copying a few files from 8.1, it runs smooth. Also, 9.1 runs way faster than any 7.x on a low end PPC due containing next to no 68k anymore. – Raffzahn Feb 6 at 12:10
  • That... that cannot be true. If you're running OS 8.5 on a Quadra/Performa 630, then you surely have a PowerPC upgrade installed. Apple officially says you can't even use 8.5 with a PPC upgrade card, but you can. However, 8.5 on a 68k? I don't believe it. 8.5 introduced a PPC-native Finder. No way you're getting that on a 68k, even a 68040. If the files you're copying from 8.1 are the System and the Finder, maybe. :-) – Cody Gray Feb 6 at 12:13
  • @CodyGray Well, it got a CPU card installed : A 486 DOS card (MaybeI should try to run OS X 10.10 or later? :)). I don't remember what files I had to flip, but it wasn't much and it runs flawless since more than 20 years. 8.5 still consists in most parts of 68k code. That's also a reason why it's not great for PPC. 9.1 is way less burdened with that. – Raffzahn Feb 6 at 12:18
  • Sure you don't have a PPC logic board swapped in there? The 630 has exactly the same case as the PowerMac 6200/6300 series. The 6360 is an awesome PowerMac (the others in the series were horribly crippled garbage, exactly like the 5200/5300 series you mentioned). Not sure if the 486 DOS card would continue to work with a PPC motherboard swap. I guess I need to ask a new question about how you managed to got OS 8.5 to run on a 68k? That's pretty interesting to me. I spent many years up to my neck on pre-Intel Macs, running a repair shop and generally hacking. Never seen that before. – Cody Gray Feb 6 at 12:21

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