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.

MacBook 6,1 (Late-2009) with Mac OS X on VirtualBox

*** Please read your EULA carefully prior to completing this installation. Note that I have not made use of any hacks or tools and have used only my Apple recovery DVD. OS X Server is allowed to be virtualized under certain conditions on Apple-branded hardware, and I am running an Apple machine. My intent is not to cheat Apple, as I have already purchased their hardware and, presumably, their software. ***

My main system is a MacBook 6,1 (late-2009) model on which I normally run Ubuntu. However, I have been trying to find a way to run OS X under emulation (to avoid bootloader issues and to simply have it ready all the time). After researching for quite some time, I decided that it might be worth a shot to simply try running the restore discs that came with the machine under VirtualBox.

First, I downloaded VirtualBox 4.0.4 from Oracle (http://virtualbox.org), 64-bit version for Ubuntu 10.10. The version that is available through the repositories is missing some functionality as it is the open source version. I also downloaded the extension pack so that full USB capabilities would be available.

After installing VBox, I went ahead and setup a new virtual machine, selecting OS X Server 64-bit as the machine type, memory set to 2048 MB, and graphics memory set to 128 M (with 3D acceleration enabled). I also changed the networking to Bridged mode as this tends to work better for my purposes.

When first running the machine, insert the first disc that came with the machine and configure VBox to use that disc. You’ll see a lot of console information go by before the installation screens finally start. Once you’re in the GUI and at the point where you would normally select the drive to install to, there won’t be a drive available. Click on the Utilities menu and Disk Tools. With the correct drive selected, click the Partition tab and replace Current with 1 Partition. Make sure the partition is configured as HFS+ Journaled and then click the Partition button. Once complete, close the Disk Tool window. Your drive should now be visible as an option for installation.

Make sure you click Customize and select any additional software prior to continuing. Then click Install and find a few web sites to surf (http://www.s100computers.com).

Amazingly, everything except video seems to work properly straight out of the box. The video works fine, I just haven’t found a way to change the resolution to 800×600 (at 1024×768, the default, it overflows the screen and I have to scroll). Sound seems to work, although it’s not great quality sometimes. The system is responsive and I haven’t encountered any problems thus far.

I’ll be installing all my normal Mac software over the next few days and will try to remember to post updates.

This marks the point of having Ubuntu 10.10 64-bit as my main O/S, with Windows 7 64-bit and Mac OS X 64-bit both available any time I need them. I recommend the 8 GB upgrade mentioned elsewhere, however, as 2 virtual machines will quickly eat up your available RAM if you want to have any kind of performance.

For those wondering, I enjoy the look and feel of Linux on a day to day basis better than Mac OS X and Windows. All 3 operating systems have their good and bad points and it’s really just a matter of personal choice. My main reason for purchasing the MacBook was to get a well-integrated platform to install Linux on, even if that turned out to be a pain in the derrier.

MacBook 6,1 and 640 GB Hard Drive

After my recent memory upgrade to 8 GB, I received my hard drive upgrade. Going from 250 GB to 640 GB was intended to provide sufficient space for several virtual machines for development and other purposes. I first connected the 640 GB drive via USB and used Carbon Copy Cloner to image the system drive. I then physically swapped the drives inside the MacBook. However, one step that I neglected to consider was setting the 640 GB drive to be the boot drive. I had to boot the MacBook from the original drive via USB (thankfully, the MacBooks are capable of doing that) and use System Preferences to change the boot drive.

I now have a white, polycarbonate body MacBook (6,1 or late-2009 model, whichever you prefer) up and running with 8 GB RAM and 640 GB hard drive. Works great!

MacBook 6,1 (Late 2009) and 8 GB RAM

In looking to upgrade my MacBook to a more robust machine (capable of running several VMs without coming to a standstill), I wanted to get the maximum memory possible. Although Apple supports a maximum configuration of 4 GB, I found several references for the 2009+ MacBooks indicating that there was really no reason why the system couldn’t work with 8 GB total. Several users indicated that their machines were running fine this way and I decided that it was worth a 20% restocking fee to give it a shot.

I ordered item #CT2KIT51264BC1067 from crucial.com, which is a kit containing a pair of 4 GB, DDR3, PC-8500 memory sticks. These installed perfectly in the machine and resulted in OSX happily reporting 8 GB system memory available. I also have enough memory to comfortably support a Windows 7 or Ubuntu VM running with OS X rather than requiring me to halt all work except on the specific program I need on the VM.

A caveat: be very careful with the screws on the bottom cover. They are easy to lose (I’m short 1 now as I’ve had the cover off about 3 times). Also, although they appear to be standard Philips (+) screws, they are actually machined screws and you must be very careful with standard screwdrivers as they do not properly contact the screw slots. The correct screwdriver is available but costly, so I used a regular jeweler’s Philips screwdriver and a lot of care.

Next time: upgrading from the 250 GB drive to 640 GB (to make room for full-blown Windows 7 and Linux developmentĀ  environments).

Augen Gentouch78, Part 2

I discovered that the Gentouch78 has more than one version out. If you happen to purchase one of them with the 3.5mm headphone jack and the screen rotation feature working “out-of-the-box,” do NOT apply patches 1 to 3, no matter how tempting. Unfortunately, the backup of the firmware that I thought I’d made didn’t re-install properly. After installing patch 3, I found that the firmware my unit shipped with was actually newer. I haven’t been able to find the firmware anywhere, so now my Gentouch78 is actually less functional than it was when I received it.

Augen Gentouch78 and Linux / Windows 7 64-bit

My wife purchased an Augen Gentouch 78 pad for me for Christmas and gave it to me early because we both wanted to see what it could do. Turns out that it’s a nice little device for the money, although it’s not an iPad as many people point out. However, it also doesn’t cost $600 to $900, and it’s very functional, even if it is a little rough around the edges.

One of the first things I wanted to do was apply the most recent patches. I tried this through Ubuntu 10.10, both using Wine and using a Windows XP VirtualBox, but failed. Wine really isn’t setup for this type of operation and didn’t recognize the device as connected. The Windows XP VirtualBox gave the illusion of working and was able to access the device’s drives, but couldn’t perform the patch using update.bat, nor directly using fastboot.exe.

After some research on the ‘Net, I booted into Windows 7 64-bit instead. It seems that people have had a lot of problems with Windows 7 not installing patches to the ’78 properly. I went ahead and downloaded the PDANet drivers from www.janicefabrics.com rather than trying the various versions of Augen and non-Augen drivers, as PDANet seems the most consistent based on various sources. I installed the PDANet Windows 7 64-bit drivers (using “Run as Administrator”) and made sure they connected to the device while normally operating. No patches have been applied to the device to this point.

The procedure I used was to grab the most recent version of patches (v3 at this time) and unzip them as required into C:os. I started a command prompt (normal mode, not administrator), changed to C:os, and ran update.bat. The program sat at the waiting for device prompt at that point. I then held the “back” button and pressed the reset with a paper clip and continued holding the back button. Once the backlight comes on, the device connected to Windows and the recovery and boot programs transfer, followed by the system program. Note that these should occur within 60 seconds or less. Several procedures recommended not releasing the back button until the system file started, so I held the button to that point. I then released it and left the PC. I’m not sure how long the transfer took as I was gone about 10 minutes and the file had completed by that time.

At this point, I disconnected the USB cable and pressed the reset with a paper clip. It took about 3 minutes for the unit to completely boot, but it was definitely the newest version. One of the little rough issues with these units is that the system reports Telechip 8900 development board in a number of places as the Android version used still has a great deal of default data in it. Doesn’t really matter to me, but someone looking for a polished unit will probably want to get the new Samsungs that are going to hit the market soon.

My impression is that the unit is great other than the power button, which is poorly located and difficult to operate, and the resistive touchscreen, which isn’t as responsive as the capacitive screens. The power switch is pretty much a “live with it” item, while the touchscreen calibration program can relieve some of the discontent, at least.

I still need to apply other patches and will possibly install one of the 3rd party patches ultimately, as there are some great hackers and devs out there. At this point, the unit works pretty nicely.

Xubuntu 10.10 and Windows Shares

Ubuntu offers a more direct method of connecting to Windows shares than that provided through Xubuntu. The Places -> Connect to Server menu item that everyone is familiar with in Ubuntu isn’t there in Xubuntu, but you can start Applications -> System -> Gigolo and get mostly the same functionality. Simply click the double computer icon (the left-most) and enter the correct information.

Now, you’re probably wondering where the hell the files are mounted… the same problem actually exists in Xubuntu as Ubuntu, if you are using the vanilla system. You can easily find the mounted files by navigating Places -> {Your home}. Right click in the file area and click View Hidden Files. Now, find a folder called .gvfs (gnome virtual file system, I believe). You should see any mounted shares in that location. Click and enjoy the goodness of uploading files via Firefox, etc. The love is there, you just have to look for it.

MacBook 6,1; Windows XP; and Windows Update

I finished installing Windows XP Pro (32-bit) along with Apple’s 3.0 Boot Camp drivers (included on the main DVD). Everything seemed to be working fine but my XP version was dated, so I ran Windows Update. I mistakenly allowed it to update the NVidia 9400M driver, which completely toasted my video. I had 640×480 resolution at 2-bit color, so had to go into the device manager and completely uninstall the NVidia display device. I’m now running with VESA only, which is pretty slow compared to the built-in graphics. Here’s hoping that running the Boot Camp update 3.1 fixes the issue.

Stop 7B after Moving a Machine with VMWare Converter Tool

I recently had to move a virtual machine from Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 to VMWare ESXi 4.0. The easiest way to perform this seemed to be the VMWare Converter Tool, which worked with no problems. The machine was a Windows Web Server 2008 SP1 (not R2). When the machine was fired up, however, I got a STOP 7B code. Well, the complete code was actually STOP 0x0000007B (0x80599BB0, 0xC0000034, 0x00000000, 0x00000000). Looking through various sites, I didn’t see anything specific for this migration, but several references to hard drives not found. Checking the settings, the original system was configured as a generic SCSI device, while VMWare had automatically imported as an SAS device.

To fix the problem, I first made sure the machine was powered off and then right-clicked it in the inventory list. Select Edit Settings and then click on the SCSI controller that is listed. If it’s listed as a LSI Logic Parallel SAS controller, click Change Type and select LSI Logic Parallel instead. Reboot and the machine goes through and sets up the correct drivers with no further problems.

Don’t forget to install VMWare Guest Additions. Even if you remote into your system from another machine most of the time, there are still some good drivers.

Systemax 4110 with Ubuntu 10.04, Part 2

Yesterday, I attempted to install Ubuntu 10.04 through the Alternative distribution in the hopes that it would give me more flexibility in selecting or manually editing the graphics driver for X to be used. Unfortunately, the results are less than stellar. In short, it appears that the drivers that come with Ubuntu are not going to function properly and I haven’t even been able to get a stable system boot to manually edit any files. I’ve essentially had to give up on Ubuntu 10.04 on the Systemax 4110 for now as I have too many other pressing concerns. I’ll be trying with Slackware to see how it performs and will try Ubuntu when 10.10 is released in the October-ish time-frame.