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See also: Software | Plugin | Front-End | Developer | Compiler | Virtual Machine

Meaning: One who mimics another.

In computers, it is software that pretends to be something else, usually an operating system or game console.

Basically, there is a host OS which is the original OS. From there a program is started which emulates a program or OS which is called the guest OS. A host OS can also run another host OS, thus beeing a guest OS and host OS at the same time.

Cross-Platform programs are not Emulators although they may have components that emulate drivers and libraries of the OS ported-from.

Sea Monkeys! Emulator and VMs for non-Operating System computers

Sorted on alphabet

  • 2os2 - proprietary emulator for Linux or Windows. Runs various guest OSes including Windows, Linux and FreeBSD
  • ARaNyM - Atari Running on Any Machine. An Open-source Atari VM.
  • ArcEm - A GPL Acorn Archimedes emulator which runs on Linux (X), Windows, MacOSX.
  • Basilisk II - GPL emulator for MacOS. Allows one to run 68k software on non-68k hardware. Ported to BeOS R4 (PPC and x86), Unix with X11 (Linux, Solaris, FreeBSD, IRIX), AmigaOS 3.x, Windows NT and mostly works on Windows 9x, too. You still need a copy of the guest OS. A fork of it, available on homepage, also runs old MacOS apps on OSX
  • BeBochs - running Bochs as host BeOS
  • BeebEm - emulates the Acorn BBC microcomputers, with authentic 5 3/4" floppy loading sounds!
  • Bochs - highly portable emulator for x86. Free Software
  • CoLinux - Software which acts as a layer between Linux and Windows, on Windows. Fast.
  • Cxbx - GPL XBox emulator for Windows. Currently able to play Turok Evolution retail game on an ordinary Win32/x86 computer.
  • SkyEye GPLa fast simualtor for ARM CPU-based board. guest OSes include uClinux, ARM Linux, uC/OS-II...
  • Cygwin - for running UNIX programs on Windows
  • DOSEMU - emulates DOS inside Linux
  • Flopper - "a bootable-disk emulator. It reads a diskette image file (a file that contains all the sectors of a floppy disk) and boots it. This way, you can boot (and run) a bootable diskette off of your hard drive. It also can take screenshots (pictures of the screen) and perform speed throttling (slow the CPU down to simulate the speed of an older PC)." (taken from it's homepage, previous text regarding this is GPL)
  • KEGS - Acronym: Kent's Emulated GS. An Apple //gs emulator for MacOSX, Windows, Linux, and Unix/X11. Hosted on Sourceforge.
  • Mac-On-Linux - Open source Macintosh emulator that runs on top of LinuxPPC. It runs on Macintosh hardware, so the processor is NOT emulated. It can boot Mac OS 8.6-to-9.2 within Linux without a ROM image.
  • OS/2 - natively emulating Windows 3.1
  • PearPC - emulates the PowerPC. For Linux, Windows. License: GPL. For supported OSes, see the website. Yes, MacOSX runs although the emulation is a bit slow. Reported speeds are about 5-15 times slower than a real Mac.
  • Plex86 - free, non-portable virtual machine for Linux/x86
  • QEMU - A fast processor emulator. Consists of 2 modes: 1) user mode emulation, where Linux programs compiled for another architecture are emulated and 2) system mode emulation where a full processor and peripherials are emulated. For specific details about which CPU's, see the site.
  • SheepShaver - "a MacOS run-time environment for BeOS that allows you to run MacOS applications at native speed inside the BeOS multitasking environment on PowerPC-based BeOS systems." SheepShaver howto.
  • SIMH - A highly portable simulator, allowing one to simulate various historic computers, like VAX, PDPs and many more. Runs on various OSes (Windows, Unices, Mac, etc).
  • Simics from Virtutech, commercial. From the site: "a full system simulation platform, capable of simulating high-end target systems with sufficient fidelity and speed to boot and run operating systems and commercial workloads. Simics provides a controlled, deterministic, and fully virtualized environment for a variety of hardware and software engineering tasks." There is a list of interesting white papers on the site.
  • Soft Windows 95/98 - proprietary Windows 95/98 emulator for IRIX, PPC, AIX, Solaris, HP-UX.
  • UAE - emulates Amiga programs on Unix
  • User Mode Linux - Aka UML. Run Linux inside Linux.
  • VirtualPC - proprietary Windows emulator for PPC by Microsoft (formerly Connectix). After purchase by Microsoft, support for BSD and Linux among others were dumped.
  • VMware - proprietary emulator, like Bochs. Linux only. More user-friendly than Bochs. Uses kernel-module.
  • Win4Lin - proprietary emulator which emulates Windows on Linux. Uses kernel-module.
  • WinTel - an Aqua GUI frontend to Bochs. For OSX. Proprietary
  • Xen - a fast x86 virtual machine.

'Emulators' for API/OSes

Not really emulators; listed for convenience. Included are for example implementations of APIs.

Sorted on alphabet

  • BeWine - running WINE as host BeOS
  • CoLinux - a Linux system run atop Windows.
  • MACE - Macintosh Application Compatibility Environment does not strictly emulate a Macintosh, instead it emulates the Macintosh operating system and Toolbox (the ROM) resulting in the ability to run Macintosh software. Mace will NOT require a Macintosh ROM or the Mac OS like most Macintosh emulators. The emulation of the Mac OS and Toolbox (ROM) will be less compatible than other emulators. Mace will make Macintosh applications look like Windows applications.
  • Softpear - Running MacOSX binaries on non-MacOSX OSes or architectures. You may need a seperate emulator to emulate the POWER (PowerPC) architecture (on non-POWER architectures). Basically 'WINE for OSX', still in (early?) development though.
  • WABI - by SCO (formerly known as Caldera). Allows one to run Windows 3.x apps on Linux.
  • WINE - letting people run various Windows (95,98,NT - possibly 3.x/ME/2K/XP/2K3) programs on x86.

Emulators for Games

Sorted on alphabet

  • DodGE - Dos Game Emulator. Free software. No longer in active development.
  • DOSbox - A DOS emulator aimed at playing DOS games. Can also be used for other purposes.
  • gnuboy - portable emulator for Gameboy (color)

Emulators for Music

Sorted on alphabet