SimCity for Unix Liberated

(This is a guest post by Antoni Sawicki aka Tenox)

A long long time ago SimCity classic was ported to UNIX by DUX Software. They provided downloadable demo versions for SunOS, Solaris, HP-UX, IRIX, OSF/1, OpenDesktop, UnixWare, Linux and BSD.

SimCity SGI IRIX screenshot from DUX website

In the winter break wave of nostalgia I really wanted to play SimCity on my HPUX workstation but the 5 minute demo mode simply won’t cut it. In 1993 you could unlock the demo to a full version with a purchasable key. However even if I could find an old license code, these keys were “Host ID” locked, so you could not easily use it on a different machine.

In 2008 SimCity Classic has been open sourced as part of the OLPC project under a new name Micropolis. This was truly epic endeavor! Many thanks to everyone involved. Unfortunately the source code been “patched up” to compile on a modern system before it was released to the public. The updated code won’t build on any vintage Unix any more. Typically when a developer decides to free up their obsolete version they just toss out some licenses codes. Sadly this time no one bothered.

The only option left was to bypass the license checking code. Fortunately modern binary analysis tools like IDA Pro make patching old apps relatively straightforward. In a few hours I was able to finally liberate SimCity out of the demo mode!

SimCity on Solaris 7 (also works on 8 and 9)
SimCity on HP-UX 9 (doesn’t work on 10 or 11 due to TCL/TK issues)
SimCity on OSF1 aka Dec Unix aka Tru64
SimCity on IRIX 5.3 on MAME (doesn’t work on never IRIX due to COFF binary)
SimCity on SunOS 4.1.4 on QEMU
SimCity on SCO OpenServer / OpenDesktop (ODT)

UPDATE: patched IRIX as well. Special thanks to Mr^Burns for providing preinstalled IRIX 5.3 MAME image!

UPDATE: patched SunOS version as well. Special thanks to Daghdha for preinstalled SunOS 4.1.4 QEMU image!

UPDATE: patched SCO version as well.

You can download the demo versions and patches here. Happy gaming on your vintage Unix Workstation!

If you just want to try the game without bothering with an ancient unix, you can simply sudo apt install micropolis && micropolis on a modern Linux – it’s identical except for multiplayer