A team of open-source developers has released software which emulates the PowerPC processor architecture and enables users to run Mac OS and some Unix OSes on PCs powered by Intel x86-architecture processors.

The project, known as PearPC, is not yet stable enough or fast enough, though, to be more than a tool for enthusiasts, the developers have warned.

Using PearPC on a standard PC, they have successfully run Mac OS X 10.3, OpenBSD for PPC, NetBSD for PPC, Darwin for PPC and Mandrake Linux 9.1. PearPC translates PowerPC instructions into x86 instructions, but currently "the client will run about 40 times slower than the host," the developers said.

Main developers Sebastian Biallas and Stefan Weyergraf are looking for extra people to help develop the project, which is now hosted at SourceForge. Another Mac/Windows compatibility project called SoftPear, also under development, will enable Mac OS X applications that have been developed for the PowerPC to be recompiled for x86 CPUs, according to SoftPear's website.

Most of the cross-platform technology that exists involves emulating the Windows PC environment on Apple hardware - the opposite of what PearPC is attempting. Commercial products such as Microsoft's Virtual PC compete with open-source projects like Darwine, designed to let users run the Wine (Wine Is Not an Emulator) environment with Windows applications on Darwin and Mac OS X systems.