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.

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 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 Another site of interest is 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.

Systemax 4110 with Ubuntu 10.04

I’ve been trying to get my trusty old Systemax 4110 (1.7 GHz CPU, 1 GB RAM, 80 GB drive) up and running with Ubuntu. Unfortunately, I have been unable to get 10.04 running so far from CD or USB due to an issue that’s occurring when the boot process switches from the normal splash screen and starts X. It looks like the Intel video driver is not compatible at some point, although Debian 5.05 loads without a hitch. Currently not sure what to make of this but I’m continuing to troubleshoot. I’ll post more when I figure out how to modify the driver being loaded during installation.

I like the 4110 (re-branded Uniwill 223II0) due to its small size and decent power. I’ve run Puppy, Vector, and several other flavors of Linux on the machine since I purchased it (2004) and have had great success with everything. This is actually the first Linux problem that I’ve encountered but rumor has it that there have been issues on certain old Intel GMA-type chipsets that are causing issues. This unit has the 855GM video in it and is probably having compatibility issues.

So far the only other real problem that I’m aware of with these PCs is the lack of SDHC support on the media card slot. I rarely have need of that function anyway, so it isn’t a showstopper for me.

Lexmark and Linux

A few weeks ago, I contacted Lexmark’s technical support to note my disappointment that no Linux drivers were available for the X6675 and other such consumer products. Many home offices use these types of machines and Linux (specifically Ubuntu) is starting to show up more. My point to their technical support group was that since they already had a fully developed Mac OS X driver, it should probably be a reasonably short cycle to also have a Linux driver.

In the past when I’ve contacted Lexmark about the lack of Linux support on their low-end and consumer machines, I’ve basically been told, “Sorry, we only support Linux on business-class products. Consumers do not run Linux.” That’s the gist of what is said, not a direct quote.

Imagine my surprise a couple of weeks ago when I was browsing Lexmark’s site and found a genuine driver for the X6675. Printing was now possible, although I’m not sure about scanning (I have a dedicated scanner for those needs). A huge bonus for those of us using Linux as I can now have a printer that is shared through the network with all the Windows machines and doesn’t require a serious hack to make it work. A couple of caveats, though. The driver is currently 32-bit only (just use the command-line options to force it to install anyway) and the system expects you to connect via USB cable during installation. Just exit at that point and possibly re-install the printer if necessary to get the wireless functionality. I use our X6675 with both 32 bit and 64 bit Linux using wireless (on both the PC end and the printer end) with no problems at all.

Kudos, Lexmark!

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!