macOS Catalina: maybe not the end of 32-bit

Some time back I said macOS Catalina was likely the end of the line for 32-bit Windows code on the Mac. I'm happy to say there is still hope. The clever and diligent people at CodeWeavers have just released version 19 of CrossOver Mac product (a commercial implementation of WINE for the macOS), which can actually run 32-bit code in 64-bit processes, on a 64-bit-only operating system.

I am flabbergasted. My flabber hasn't been this gasted since Apple managed to port macOS from the Motorola 68000 series to PowerPC processors, without having to rewrite most of the code, by creating a fast 68K emulator out of whole cloth.

I can't wait to try out CrossOver Mac 19.

See this CodeWeavers blog post to learn more.

macOS Catalina: the end of 32-bit VST support?

This past week, I received a flurry of emails from software vendors, advising Mac users to hold off updating to macOS Catalina, because it won't support 32-bit binaries at all.

Most significantly, one of these emails came from CodeWeavers, makers of CrossOver, an excellent commercial implementation of WINE--the same technology which powers NetVSTHost for Mac. They included a link to their own blog post which explains why this issue is so thorny.

The heart of it is this:

Most Windows applications our users run with CrossOver are 32-bit and CrossOver uses a 32-bit Mac executable, system frameworks, and libraries to run them. This will break with Catalina.

So, even if I were to repackage NetVSTHost for Mac using the most recent 64-bit version of WineBottler, the resulting 64-bit binary would run under Catalina, but would only be able to run 64-bit Windows VSTs. In my view, this undermines the most important use-case for NetVSTHost for Mac, so I see little point in pursuing it.

NetVSTHost for Mac was never much more than a convenient little hack--a way to run the 32-bit, Windows-based NetVSTHost.exe program on a Mac, without having to set up a full virtual machine (using e.g. VMWare Fusion, Parallels Desktop, or the Mac version of VirtualBox), or better yet, use an actual Windows PC.

I would advise anyone who has come to rely on NetVSTHost for Mac, and who anticipates upgrading to macOS Catalina at any time, to look into the two-system approach for which the NetVST Project was originally conceived. Details can be found on the NetVST Project wiki.