CoCo3 (Tandy / Radio Shack Color Computer 3) and DriveWire 4 with Linux

I picked up a CoCo3 several months ago and had been trying various ways to get it to communicate with DriveWire 4 under Xubuntu (an Ubuntu derivative). Yesterday, I finally had some success.

First, I was lucky in that my CoCo3 included a cassette cable (4-pin round DIN connector and 3 plugs on the other end). This is helpful as I have no diskettes at all for the machine, although I have a total of 5 floppy drives available. Additionally, I ordered an RS-232 Serial cable (round DIN to DB9) which I’m using with a USB-Serial adapter on the Xubuntu end.

When setting up DriveWire 4, simply unzip the archive to its own folder. Make sure you install OpenJDK runtime 8 (9 might also work). You’ll need to change the shell script to executable using chmod +x as well. Finally, add yourself to a group that is permitted to access serial ports. Generally speaking, I add my normal user to dialout, tty, and uucp. I believe, but I’m not certain, that each of these will permit access to the serial port. Once added, you have to log out (not necessarily reboot) and then log in.

Once you’re logged in, start DriveWire 4 and go to the Config -> Simple Config selection. Choose CoCo3 (presumably any of the others would work as well). Make sure your serial adapter is plugged in and select the correct serial port, followed by finished (the defaults are probably okay for starting out).

You now have a chicken-and-egg problem; if you’ll download the DriveWire3 cassette files, etc., from Cloud-9’s web site you’ll then be able to transfer the cassette file (.wav) to the CoCo3 and boot. That will allow you to transfer additional files, images, etc., and if you have the proper hardware can save disks and/or cassettes.

I’m sure I’m leaving out some things but maybe this will help get you off to a good start. Remember, if DriveWire is having trouble finding your RS-232 USB adapter under Linux, it is almost certainly going to be a problem with groups/permissions. If the adapter is found but doesn’t seem to transfer, you probably then have a null-modem vs. terminal issue and need to make sure you are in the correct mode with the correct cable configuration.

About Author:

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *