Having fun with AK.SYS

The fun/challenge working with old music equipment, is that the software and drivers required for them are also aging quite a bit. This also means it’s getting harder and harder to run older software on newer OS platforms.
Akai back in the day, developed the AK.SYS software to easily control any S5000/S6000 samplers remotely if they were equiped with the required USB card.

To be able to keep using this software, there are at least 2 possible options:
1. Use older hardware (old laptop) to run the software
2. Use a hypervisor (Virtual Box / VMware Fusion / Parallels) to emulate older hardware within a virtual machine.

Testing environment

MacPro 2009 (flashed to 5.1)
OS: Mojave 10.14.6
Vmware Fusion: 11.5.7
AK.SYS: 2.53

Windows versions

General installation notes
– Only 32 bit versions of Windows will work with AK.SYS
– Install the OS and the VMware Tools
– Present the AKAI USB device to the Virtual Machine
– Install the Akai USB driver
– Install the aksys253.exe
– Install the S56ak253.exe

Windows 98
Windows 98 basically should work but the VMware Fusion drivers for 98 leave half the devices not properly detected. As such, I would recommend against using Windows 98.

Windows ME
I personally consider Windows ME an unstable piece of crap which should never have seen the light of day.

Windows XP 32 bit
By most people considered to be the best choice for running AK.SYS

Windows Vista 32 bit
Although Service Pack 2 did at some point make Vista sort of usable, I’m not a fan of this OS.

Windows 7 32 bit
I would normally consider Windows 7 to be stable but I did managed to get a blue screen when the AK.SYS driver was misbehaving.

OS X versions

As the AK.SYS software was developed for the PowerPC platform, only OS X versions with Rosetta support (which lets you run PowerPC software on Intel) will work. This basically means that the latest version which will support AK.SYS is Snow Leopard 10.6.3. However, due to legal limitations, VMware Fusion will not allow you to run Snow Leopard guest or any previous OS X version.

This will leave you with 3 possible options:
1.Use Snow Leopard Server
2.Use VirtualBox instead
3.Use a “workaround” for the EFI file used by the virtual machine.