CoCo3 Emulation under MESS 0.145

First, I’d like to say that it’s been a challenge getting this configuration to run. Not because of software issues but because there doesn’t seem to be anyone else that wants to do exactly what I’m doing.

For those who might not know, CoCo3 refers to the Radio Shack/Tandy TRS-80 Color Computer 3, which hasn’t been available for over a decade. However, it was a nice piece of consumer-grade kit, not quite at the level of the Amigas but still pretty decent. MESS refers to the Multi Emulator Super System, designed to provide emulation for many different pieces of computer hardware.

Just to quickly sort things, make sure your version of MESS is 0.145 and the ROMs that you are using were created with that version in mind. I am using the 48 TPI DS DD NitrOS9 image, but something to watch out for is that OS9 compatible disks must be named with an os9 extension rather than dsk in order for MESS to properly recognize them. Otherwise, it assumes a corrupt image but doesn’t report it as such.

Anyone interested in specifics is welcome to post a reply; I’ll try to update the system to the point that I have it working at that time.

Systemax 4110 and AROS (Icaros 1.2.3)

I now have Icaros 1.2.3 setup to dual-boot with Windows XP on a Systemax 4110 (same thing as a Uniwill 223II0). I’m currently using the default VESA graphics and the wireless card (Intel 2200) doesn’t work as there are no wireless drivers available for AROS at this point, but so far the machine seems to be more stable than my desktop machine.

Out-of-the-box, the Intel drivers on the live cd and on the installed version will not work. The 4110 has one of the older Intel chipsets and simply doesn’t work properly. However, the VESA drivers seem to work fine. Sound is improperly detected and will show up under Prefs -> AHI as Unit 0 blah blah blah. Sound doesn’t work on the default. However, if you scroll to the top of the list, you’ll hit the AC’97 sound setting, though, and this one works.

A USB connected (generic) mouse and the touchpad both seemed to work fine, as did the keyboard. Unfortunately, my built-in network card has been busted for several years so I couldn’t test it. However, it’s a Realtek 8139-based unit, so I see no reason why it wouldn’t work.

For those who might not be in the know, Icaros is a ready desktop distribution of the AROS project, which stands for Amiga Research Operating System. One primary goal is to duplicate the API of the Amiga OS 3.1 to the extent that software will cross-compile on either platform with no changes to the source code. There are many other goals and targets involved as well, though, and a full-blown UAE-based (Amiga 68k) emulator is included. Icaros is the preferred distribution as the AROS distributions from the web site are designed primarily for system developers and not for end-users.

AROS brings the look and feel of the Amiga workbench to a standard (x86) PC and is already nicely featured. Missing items include printing (unless you have the proper hardware, i.e., old printer with correct cabling), WiFi networking, and full-featured browsers. However, I’ve found that I can mostly live without oodles of Flash ads and popups, so the OWB browser has been working well. One other missing feature from OWB is the ability to properly login to a WordPress blog. I have to edit this on another machine.

You can find the main AROS site at http://aros.sourceforge.net. This is the AROS system development site and is not really intended for end-users. The community site (lots of support, suggestions, bounties for features, etc) can be reached at http://www.aros-exec.org. Another site of interest is http://archives.aros-exec.org where a lot of 3rd-party software is already available. Finally, browse around the search engines and you’ll find many more sites catering to various aspects of AROS and Amigas in general.

Vintage and Retro Computers

I recently joined a forum dedicated to Commodore Amigas. It’s amazing how many people are actively involved in buying, selling, and trading a system that is, at a minimum, 18 years old (assuming Commodore’s final production at around 1992). Yet these machines have a huge following and are very much in demand. New hardware is still being developed and sold, new (and old) software is still being developed and maintained. I am now expecting my first (an A1000) to be delivered over the next few days and am looking forward to it. I won’t need to emulate one any longer but will have the actual hardware to tinker with.

On the S-100 front, I am in line for one of a batch of new production boards that is currently being built and should be available over the next few weeks. I’m also attempting to get a few parts from eBay, if possible, although affordable parts are few and far between. I think some of the sellers haven’t quite figured out that your item isn’t necessarily worth $1,000 if no one is ever willing to pay more than $300. It doesn’t matter how many appraisals or estimates you have stating the value at $1,000 if no buyer exists at that price point. Oh, well, guess it’ll just sit in their warehouse for an additional 27 years. Or maybe they’ll sell the unit 20 years from now when that $1,000 price tag is only worth about $250 in future buying power.

AmiKit, Amiga Forever 2009, and Ubuntu 10.04 (64-bit)

Recently, I’ve been attempting to get Amiga emulation running. The Amiga’s have always seemed pretty cool and had a lot of neat features. The look-and-feel has always seemed better than Windows (and Mac OS in some ways). Unfortunately, the information provided with AmiKit is insufficient for installation using Amiga Forever 2009. Here are some hints and tips that I’ve figured out as I scratched my head trying to figure out why things couldn’t work properly. A main reason is that AmiKit is seems primarily developed for Windows and Linux is an after thought. I can’t afford a real Amiga right now and just happen to have Amiga Forever 2009 from my birthday last year (thanks Jessica!!!).

(YMMV as always. I’m running Ubuntu 10.04 on a MacBook 6,1. However, a lot of the below information is probably applicable to other Ubuntu flavors and versions as that is the way of things.)

If, like me, you’re running Ubuntu (or other Debian-based distro), you can just forget about using the AmiKit installer. Xdialog is required but has been deprecated under Ubuntu 10.04. Otherwise, it probably wouldn’t work with newer versions anyway. Self-extracting Linux installation utilities seem to have about a 25%-75% success ratio; if it’s specifically written for your version of Linux, it might be as high as 50%-50%, but there’s only a 25% chance of that 🙂

Anyway, first use the package management facility to install E-UAE. I found out tonight there are a bunch of hidden options in E-UAE that are configurable through ~/.uaerc. Imagine that. However, overall, UAE and E-UAE are phenomenal and I’m glad to see someone supports the system as much as they do.

Now, create a folder in your home directory (or other accessible location) and copy all the files from the AmigaForever CD into it. I created ~/Emulation/Amiga/AmigaForever. Ignore the directive about the -Rav switch for copying… you can just drag all the files from the root folder of the CD into your chosen directory. When complete, make sure everything is set writable for you (you can go to ~/Emulation/Amiga/AmigaForever and issue chmod +w -R * as this will add the writable attribute for the owner to all folders). Next, from this directory, create a symbolic link from Amiga Files to Emulation (ln -s Amiga Files Emulation). Make sure the backslash () is there or the command will do some funny things. Now, move into the Emulation folder and create a symlink from Shared to System (ln -s Shared System). All of this paragraph is necessary because the folder structure appears to be hard-coded into AmiKit’s installation process and the Amiga Forever 2009 structure doesn’t match.

Next, follow the remaining steps shown in the Linux setup guide provided by AmiKit. Basically, the parts you want to follow are the ones that discuss how to “build” your virtual machine: CPU, memory, rom locations, etc. Just the above steps are necessary to prep everything. If you don’t perform the above, you will receive a message of “Unknown Command” after the 2 commands the installer tries to execute, followed by a message of “Not Found.” Apparently, there aren’t that many people running under Linux on their own box as I found very little complete information to help troubleshoot this problem.

If anyone has any additional input, please let me know. Hopefully, this will help you get past the worst of the installation process. Now, off to play!