Apple Desktop II v. GEOS

4 replies [Last post]
Joined: Sep 15 2015
Posts: 21

Hi all,

I've got myself a battery backed 8MB RamFactor clone from a2heaven. I've got myself a mouse card and mouse. So which GUI is the best for Apple II.

I loaded Apple II Desktop into RAM, as well as MousePaint. How is GEOS looking? Is GeoPaint better than MousePaint? Is the GUI itself better or worse? the Apple Desktop GUI looks better to me.

Does anyone have any opinions they can share?

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Joined: Mar 17 2016
Posts: 18
Re: Apple Desktop II v. GEOS

My 2 cents:


  • More of a "walled garden." If you want a seamless & consistent GUI experience among all your apps, this is likely as good as it gets on 8-bit systems.
  • Does not play nice with ProDOS. Specifically, it will write illegal filenames to the ProDOS file system (with spaces in filenames & so forth), which ProDOS based utils and apps will choke on.
  • Likes to poll the floppy drives a lot.
  • Can't work with more than 4 volumes at a time (2 of which will be the floppy drives if you have them). This can be an issue if you have a CFFA or SCSI HD with multiple partitions.
  • I never cared for the GEOS UI much, but that's just me. The mouse has an annoying "snap" behavior when using the menus.
  • The Paint program does B&W DHR only.

Apple II Desktop

  • Much closer the IIGS/Mac Finder experience, at least from a "Look" perspective. "Feel" is a different matter entirely. The menu layout and behaviors are different enough to be annoying (e.g. dragging files from one folder to another on the same volume copies, not moves as expected, "select all" may or may not work at all depending on how many files are in a folder). Nevertheless this my favorite of the two, though I use it more as a utility for file/directory manipulation than as a launcher, preferring ProSEL as a launcher.
  • The text viewer "desk accessory" is handy -- when it works.
  • Has no difficulty seeing all mounted ProDOS volumes.
  • If you have an accelerator that's faster than the usual 3.5MHz, you may find it nearly impossible to double click. There is no way to adjust this provided in the app.
  • It will not exit cleanly to ProDOS Quit (crashes into the monitor). I always thought this was due to mods Apple made to it for running under ProDOS 16, but I managed to track down the original MouseDesk and it does the same thing.

Both of these environments will benefit greatly from an accelerator such as a Transwarp or Zip Chip.

As for paint programs, my favorite is 816Paint, which has separate (and nearly identical UI) versions for HR and DHR on 8-bit (as well as SHR if you have a IIGS). All of the flavors follow Apple UI conventions fairly closely.

If you go with Apple II desktop, there are some other 8-bit "Desktop" like apps you may want to look at. Most of these use DHR, but a few use MouseText or a DHR interface that looks like a mix of MouseText and DHR graphics. There a several versions of these apps floating around on asimov and elsewhere. The versions listed below will all run under ProDOS and are "hard drive installable." Some will recognize the RamFactor and install themselves to it or use it for scratch space.

  • Beaglewrite (aka MultiScribe) 3.3 (DHR)
  • MouseWrite 2.6.8 (MouseText)
  • MouseWord 1.0 (MouseText)
  • MouseCalc 1.0 (DHR)
  • PublishIt! 4 (DHR)
  • SpringBoard Publisher 2.0 (DHR)
  • Dazzle Draw 1.2 (DHR)
  • GraphIt 1.0 (DHR)
  • Instant Pascal 1.5 (DHR)

6502enhanced's picture
Joined: Feb 23 2006
Posts: 243
Re: Apple Desktop II v. GEOS

I would prefer ProSel. It's much faster than the graphic based systems. Like it very much on my CFFA.

Joined: May 27 2013
Posts: 792
Re: Apple Desktop II v. GEOS

What about catalyst?

I like it.

Joined: May 26 2016
Posts: 1
Re: Apple Desktop II v. GEOS

I agree 100% about ProSel. I spent a weekend using Prosel to setup a cool menu system of my favorite games and apps with the CFFA and its a dream.