Comedy • Gaming • News • Science & Tech
MkLinux: The delightfully weird PowerPC Mac Linux Distro of the 1990s
Co-Developed by Apple, with Linux running as a user-mode task. Seriously.
June 01, 2023
post photo preview

In 1996 -- just two years after Linux, itself, hit version 1.0 -- a version of Red Hat Linux was ported to PowerPC Macintosh computers... by Apple.


The very same Apple that currently opposes people running macOS on any non-sanctioned hardware -- and who fights (rather hard) to keep non-macOS systems from running on Apple hardware -- used to actively help port other systems to the Macintosh computers.  My-oh-my how times have changed.

Known as MkLinux -- short for "Micro-Kernel Linux" -- the development was a joint project between Apple and "The Open Group Research Institute" in France.  And it was a truly fascinating beast... because it wasn't quite your typical "Linux" system.

In fact, MkLinux really consisted of two different kernels:

  1. "Open Group Mach" -- a variation of the Mach microkernel which had been ported to a number of platforms, including: HP PA-RISC, x86, and (of course) PowerPC Macintosh.
  2. "Linux" -- a port of the Linux kernel itself.

What made MkLinux so strange... is that "Open Group Mach" was the lowest level kernel.  It would boot the system and provide a subset of hardware access... then "Linux" would actually be run as a task within "Open Group Mach".

A user mode task, no less!  Yes, in MkLinux... the "Linux" kernel is run as a standard, user-mode application!


Over the years, MkLinux gained support for a number of different PowerPC Macintosh models (including some G3-based machines)... and, reportedly, had somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 total users before eventually being all but abandoned by Apple and moving to become a small, community project.

I have personally run MkLinux on a Power Macintosh 6100 running at 66 Mhz.  Was it a speed demon?  No.  It felt quite a bit more sluggish than MacOS (7.x or 8.0) on the same system.  But, you know what?  It was a surprisingly usable Linux system!  Mostly stable, and fairly high quality!

In order to preserve some of the memory of this marvelously weird Linux "distribution", what follows is a bit of a visual tour of what using MkLinux was like on PowerPC Macs of the 1990s.

The official MkLinux website (note that it was hosted by Apple itself):


As part of the installation process, you would place the Mach Kernel and bootloader into your Mac Extensions folder.


The MkLinux boot screen (a MacOS application that launched when your Mac booted... with buttons that let you choose whether to boot Mk Linux or MacOS):

Splash Screen

The MkLinux Installer!  Note this is a slightly modified version of the old Red Hat installer:

Installation Path

What kind of Mouse?  An ADB (Apple Desktop Bus) mouse, naturally!

MouseConfig Screen

Screenshot from a PowerBook 1400cs/133 running a customized MkLinux DR3 (Developer Release 3) installation:


Another screenshot of MkLinux DR3:


You can find an archive of the very first release of MkLinux on, and a great deal of in-depth details at  Unfortunately, that site hasn't been udpated since 2009.  Just the same, the information is historically fascinating.

community logo
Join the Lunduke Community
To read more articles like this, sign up and join my community today
What else you may like…
"The return of RSS" - Lunduke's Big Tech Show - September 20th, 2023 - Ep 045

Yes. This is a video.

Yes. RSS Podcast feed is returning.

Lots of good stuff. This is an episode less about the Tech world... and more about The Lunduke Journal.

Watch. Listen. And enjoy.

Live Streamed on September 20, 2023 6:26 PM ET
Lunduke's Nerdy Live Stream

Problems with the livestream on Locals? This stream is also live on...



September 18, 2023
Windows 3.1 Week is almost here!


September 13, 2023
"Andreas Kling creator of Serenity OS & Ladybird Web Browser" - Lunduke’s Big Tech Show - September 13th, 2023 - Ep 044

This episode is free for all to enjoy and share.

Be sure to subscribe here at to get all shows & articles (including interviews with other amazing nerds).

"Andreas Kling creator of Serenity OS & Ladybird Web Browser" - Lunduke’s Big Tech Show - September 13th, 2023 - Ep 044
September 12, 2023
"Talking about building Linux Tycoon 3 for Android & Gameboy" - Lunduke Journal Podcast Special Announcement

I'm ridiculously excited about this. So I had to talk about it.

Here's all the details:

"Talking about building Linux Tycoon 3 for Android & Gameboy" - Lunduke Journal Podcast Special Announcement
September 04, 2023
"The Art of Making Windows Tolerable with Chris Titus" - Lunduke’s Big Tech Show - September 4th, 2023 - Ep 040

I am joined today by Chris Titus -- Tech YouTube-inator, and software developer -- to talk about his quest to make Microsoft Windows far more enjoyable to use through his "Ultimate Windows Utility". A single application that fixes many of the shortcomings of Windows. Removing telemetry, debloating the system, and other such necessities.

This episode is free for every nerd on Earth -- even those without a subscription to The Lunduke Journal. Feel free to share it with your friends.

"The Art of Making Windows Tolerable with Chris Titus" - Lunduke’s Big Tech Show - September 4th, 2023 - Ep 040

Some handy tools for Windows 3.1 here:

Browsers, wing, video players... bunch of good stuff.


This should probably wait till Sunday, but I know me: I'll forget.

post photo preview
How to run Windows 3.1 software on Windows 10 & 11 (64bit) & Linux
Because... because... why not?

Modern, 64bit versions of Windows… don’t support running Windows 3.1 software.

Linux distributions can’t run Windows 3.1 software either. (At least… not out of the box.)

This is, obviously, a tragedy. How on Earth are we expected to play Castle of the Winds or SkiFree on modern operating systems!?

Luckily, Wine does an astoundingly good job of supporting Windows 3.1 software… though many might not realize it (as most people are focused on the support for Windows 95 and later software).

On Windows

If you’re on Windows, you’ll want to grab a copy of Winevdm — a version of Wine specifically for running Windows 3.1 software on modern 64 bit Windows. Free and open source. Good stuff.

Installation is dog simple. Run “install” and — shazam — you can now run Castle of the Winds on Windows 10 / 11. Along with just about anything else you might like.

I don’t use Windows very often. But, when I do, I darn well better have access to Castle of the Winds and SkiFree. Darn it.

On Linux

Things are even easier on Linux. Simply install Wine from the default repositories for your distribution.

On Debian (and Ubuntu, etc.):

sudo apt-get install wine

On Fedora:

sudo dnf install wine

On Arch:

sudo pacman -S wine

Whamo. You’re good to go.

There are other ways…

Using Wine to run Windows 3.1 software (either on Linux or Windows) works fairly well for the majority of software out there. But, occasionally, you’ll run into snags.

Sometimes… some pretty big ones.

For those instances, looking at running Windows 3.1 in a dedicated emulator (such as QEMU, VirtualBox, or DOSbox) is going to net far more desirable results.

But, if the software you need runs in Wine, that route will give you the most “seamless” experience… as the software will run, in its own window, alongside the rest of your software.

Read full Article
post photo preview
DOS + Windows 3.11... on a single floppy!
Seriously! Fully functional Windows 3.11 booting on just ONE floppy! Bonkers!

Check out this craziness! Someone managed to squeeze a version of MS-DOS 7.1 and Windows 3.11 onto a single 3.5” floppy.

I repeat: You can boot directly into Windows 3.11… off a single Floppy.

Whoever created it goes by “DOS China Union” (seems to be a group of people)… and did this work back in 2006. I hadn’t seen this until now (and the original Geocities webpage is long gone), luckily a version is also hosted up at

Seriously. It’s absolutely insane. Check this out:

That’s what it looks like when first launching.

It then asks if you want to launch “Mini-Windows”, or just boot into DOS 7.1.

Shazam! There it is! Windows 3.11 booting entirely off a floppy drive!

And it works.

Sure, a lot of the software you’d normally expect isn’t there. But it has just enough to use. Which is pretty gosh darned impressive.

There’s the bootable floppy disk when looking at it in the Windows File Manager. Barebones… but functional. Amazing.

You can grab the floppy .img file from and it’ll boot in just about any emulator (or you can write the image to an actual floppy and boot from real hardware).

I’m going to be honest. I don’t have an actual use for this. But it’s such an incredibly cool accomplishment that I just had to share.

Read full Article
September 20, 2023
post photo preview
Windows 3.1 Week has begun!

Starting this very moment -- Wednesday, September 20th, 2023 at 8am Central Time -- The Lunduke Journal will be celebrating "Windows 3.1 Week"!

A chance to marvel in the beauty that is Windows 3.1!  To experience it all over again -- or for the first time -- and enjoy all of its quirks and peculiarities.  To run software from the Windows 3.1 era... and to see just how far we can push Windows 3.1 using modern hardware and services.

This week will include articles and shows from The Lunduke Journal -- and the entire community is invited to also post their own Windows 3.1 related awesomeness (in the form of screenshots, questions, cried for help, stories, etc.) to

There are many ways to enjoy Windows 3.1 (and related software) during the week, inclusing:

  • Running on hardware or in virtual machines
  • Windows 3.1 or 3.11 (or Windows for Workgroups)
  • An OS/2 version which includes Windows 3.1 (OS/2 Warp, eComStation, or ArcaOS)
  • Running Windows 3.1 software via WINE

There's no wrong way to run Windows 3.1!

This wonderful Windows-y week will run until 8am on September 27th, 2023.  A full week.  Of Windows 3.1.  Wild.

You can watch Lunduke's intro video here on Locals.

Read full Article
See More
Available on mobile and TV devices
google store google store app store app store
google store google store app tv store app tv store amazon store amazon store roku store roku store
Powered by Locals