KEEP - Keeping Emulation Environments Portable

December 12, 2011
Michael G Olson

I recently attended a workshop of the KEEP project (Keeping Emulation Environments Portable) in Rome. KEEP is an EU funded project to develop software that virtualizes old computer hardware and software environments. This allows you to run old operating systems and the applications that were designed for them on modern computers. The KEEP project is multi-partner project that than includes a consortium of national libries (BNF, Koninklijke Bibliotheek), the University of Portsmouth, a computer history museum (Computerspiele Museum), commercial partners (Tessella), and the European Game Developers Association.

The project is scheduled to end in February 2012 and has already released software version 1.0.0 on SourceForge ( ). This version supports:
* 5 platforms: x86, C64, Amiga, BBC Micro, Amstrad
* 6 emulators included: Dioscuri, Qemu, VICE, UAE, BeebEm, JavaCPC
* 22 file formats supported: PDF, TXT, XML, JPG, TIFF, PNG, BMP, Quark, ARJ, EXE, disk/tape images and more
* Integration with format identification FITS
* Web services for software and emulator archives

The development team is currently working on some significant refinements of the interface that are scheduled to be released at the end of the current project in February 2012. The current list of supported platforms and operating systems and can be expanded. In addition, the framework is designed so that you can add support for legacy applications if you have the software and licenses to do so.

The KEEP emulator UI has a wizard mode that allows the end user to select the disk image or application file and then let the software guess the correct platform, OS and application using FITS. There is also support for the end user to manually choose the platform, OS, and application if the wizard isn't able to determine the requirement environment.

I am very excited by the potential of the KEEP emulation framework. I envision it potentially satisfying multiple SULAIR use cases for providing access to legacy applications (games) and older digital manuscript materials (Word Perfect files, old operating systems). In the coming months we hope to test the KEEP framework to determine its suitability for our collections.

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