Articles

Articles

Atari on Coldfire Information

Click through to read my synopsis of the current coldfire activity in the Atari world.

Current Projects:
Firebee!: An entire community of people is working with no compensation whatsoever to bring you this board hopefully within just a month or two left of development. Probably it will be longer but we can all be hopeful right? Amazing contributors include (but are by no means limited to!)

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Ccache is now available for FreeMiNT

Some of you may or may not have seen my usenet post, but now available in the development packages section of this site is an RPM for ccache. ccache is a gcc preprocessor cache. It's usage can speed up build times immensely. For people who are building their development software or making incremental changes to rpm builds, any software that was previously compiled will compile lightyears faster. On my falcon freemint takes 1 hour+ to build in total, after running a build with ccache enabled, if you make distclean and make a marginal change and rebuild the whole thing, the result is it finishing in only a few minutes.

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Open Source and Atari

As the title would suggest, this is an article that goes into depths not so much about the concepts and ideals of open source but instead dilvulges in plain detail how open source has helped the world, and specifically Atari. It will also go into detail as to describe my future plans and how open source could lead Atari to a very bright future.

To start we should probably go through a little bit of background of about how open source software has helped Atari already. Although the MiNT license may have originally been a proprietary closed one, I am unsure, MiNT is now very much so open source. The MiNT licensing scheme is a very BSD style "do whatever the hell you want with this code" idea. The MiNT kernel is perhaps one of the most unique pieces of software in the industry and one of the reasons Atari computers have remained so attractive to me in this day in age, along with the amazing power of MagiC. MiNT closely resembles a typical Unix kernel. The one most people would tend to be familiar with is Linux which originally started on Intel x86 platforms but is now portable to even Atari computers today. Unix kernels and operating system ideals offer a unique set of advantages and disadvantages. I believe that for both the knowledgeable and novice computer user, the benefits are endless. A typical unix kernel offers POSIX compliance which means a uniform programming and interface. There are several other features but my knowledge is not good enough to accurately detail them.

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My First and Final Attempt at Creating an Atari ROM Port Ethernet Board

Hey guys,

I wanted to give out a sort of update regarding the ethernet boards that I was building to adapt the Genius E3000-II to work with the Atari rom-port. Elmar Hilgarte already sells these adapters, but as he is overseas, I was hoping to create a cheaper solution for Americans. Also I have found that at times, he is unable to answer his email very quickly. More or less this is the story.

Originally on ebay, I found what I believed to be a Genius E3000-II, when in fact it instead was a Genius E3000. The difference between these two, besides the E3000-II having the pass-thru parallel port is that the E3000 uses the 8002 while the 3000-II utilizes the RTL8012 chipset. The problem with this is that no matter how much I check and recheck my connections, I cannot even get my falcon to boot with the adapter I built connected. What do I mean? I mean that I can have the romport adapter to create the new parallel port hooked up... And the machine runs fine with that interface, but if I have the ethernet adapter hooked on, the machine crashes. My theory is that the difference between the two adapters is substantial enough that the adapter doesn't communicate properly with it and causes the system to hang. A valid prospect considering the romport interface is not an additional parallel port, but instead rather a device designed specifically to communicate with this adapter.

To make life even more wonderful, I have tried to test my RTL8002 based adapter under windows and linux and it doesn't seem to work on either. So if I were to create this romport interface, it would be for other people.

But let's talk about that. I purchased 20 sheets of press-n-peel blue iron transfer paper from a company called Techniks I used literally 2 sheets with 15 prints on them ironing at different times and temperatures trying to get a good pattern on the PCB to etch. Not a single one of them was remotely good. I tried on precut PCB, on full uncut PCB. I seriously tried to get this stuff to work and it does not. It is horrible. I can only assume that something is "not quite right" with the laser printer image that my printer printed to it but even so, it seems kind of silly to me. So in the end I ended up breaking apart a ribbon cable and using LOTS of wire and LOTS of solder to create my adapter. I used an etch marker to create the connections to the romport. You can see this in my illustration below.

You may click on any of the pictures to get an ultra-zoomed in version.

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STiNG versus STiK2 versus iConnect versus MiNTnet versus MagiCNet

This debate will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each of the three popular TCP/IP stacks for TOS and MiNT. This is meant to be a comprehensive article that delves into the inner workings of these stacks as best as I can mentally do. Also discussed are plain eyesight observations about functionality and effectiveness.

STiNG:
STiNG is a rather exceptional stack originally written primarily by Peter Rottengatter, and later taken over by Ronald Andersson. An update hasn't been seen for a long time, nor has any source code. Another day, another whining session. ;) But why is this stack exceptional? It's very simple. It's a clear cut, proper design that is rich in features not seen in a STiK compatible stack. Driver support is very nice, including several ethernet devices. It runs on any TOS or GEM environment and it is no doubt, the defacto standard in GEM and TOS internet programming. Nearly every major internet suite uses STiK (STiNG), period. STiNG has a client server architecture making no accessory or dialer program necessary to use precious ram on an older constrained ST. Memory usage of the TSR and actual Stack is a minimum. If you want to use CAB, under MagiC, on 4 megs of RAM, this in fact your only option besides STiK2. STiNG has a CPX based configuration, giving you minimal exposure to text files, making it a dream for even the biggest novice to setup.

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An Unbiased MagiC versus MiNT Comparison

Preface:

In my travels throughout the Atari community, there has been quite a bit of heresay regarding two of the most popular operating environments, MagiC and MiNT. Huge debates and even spirted fights have been sparked by loyal users defending their platform of choice. It is without a doubt, that at some point throughout these arguments, facts are contorted and perhaps presented in a misleading way. The simple fact is though, that any person can turn on a computer, use it, operate it, and take note of how things run, how fast they are, and how flexible it is. In this debate I intend to compare hand in hand MagiC versus the many MiNT setups there can possibly be. While each has advantages and disadvantages, I can only note, that neither of these systems are perfect in any capacity.

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Hardware Upgrade Dilemmas

Unbeknownst to many, a debate goes on in the Atari community. Often in secret, it is argued over and over again... What is the best path of hardware upgrades for Atari users. I've seen it argued on atari.org message forums and as well I've seen it argued on usenet.

The way I see it, is that there is three basic paths.

1) Emulation. PowerPC macs are able to run MagiC Mac and thus Atari software at lightning speed over the real Ataris, but at a significant penalty. Nifty Falcon demos, applications, DSP programs, and non-GEM games will not run on MagiC-Mac. In fact generally only the typical and at times boring selection of AES apps will run on MagiCMac. The positive side to this is that there are just not that terribly many applications that will not run. The negative side is that the applications that will not run are the ones that usually give the Atari it's true flair, style, and spirit.

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Toswin2 - Advantage MiNT

For those of you who might follow along into my small missions, I have taken quite a bit of effort into attempting to get the very popular ConNect terminal emulator sources. Why? In my humble opinion it was the hands down best 16 color terminal program for GEM. It seemed (and still does seem) very properly programmed and tends to work in every OS or strange combination that I could ever try it in. But more importantly, it's fast and renders the terminal very well. It seems that for most things terminal related, the Atari has always been color deficient. You first have the two stik telnet programs, Telstar and Telvt102. Both run in Mono mode only. Then you have the commercial Teli. I've seen it work, but it is slow. Then you have the commercial Draconis Drtelnet which is now freeware but uhm. I have never actually gotten it to work! Perhaps this isn't the authors fault but the installers for draconis stuff don't work for me on any other system I have tried them on. Any. MagiC, singleTOS, Aranym with easymint, ST, TT, Falcon. I can't get them to work.

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My Atari Ethernet Experience

Getting ethernet on my Atari computers has been an unfortunately long and difficult process. It was one problem after another and I figure if anything good can come of all of this, I can warn other Atari users of the potential problems that they might have and help them to decide which solution might be best for them.

My very first Atari ethernet experience involved an Asante SCSI Ethernet adapter. I bought one of these adapters from eBay just to give it a shot and see what could be done with it. After receiving the adapters I quickly found out that no person including me have ever been able to get an Atari to even BOOT with this adapter connected. I gave up and decided to put the adapter in the closet. There were other serious problems with this adapter from technical information that I found out from Asante including that if the adapter is addressed too fast it crashes. Thus I could not even get the adapter to function on a Mac powerbook as the scsi bus on there was too fast as well.

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The Advantages ARAnyM Offers

First of all a little bit of background. Aranym is an Atari machine emulator. In a world of tons of Atari emulators, Aranym is quite a bit different in a very refreshing way. This article will compare Aranym to the other emulators available out there and show you just why it is better.

Pacifist, steem, stonx and the likes are all great emulators. They have a specific purpose in mind. Emulate Atari computers perfectly to the point where all of the hardware specifically written atari software (games and demos) work perfectly. This allows stuff to work very well but also presents certain limitations. Ste sound is not the greatest thing in the world. Atari ST and even Falcon standard resolutions are pretty low quality by today's standards. Atari ethernet support is less than prominent and easily available so of course it wouldn't pass right through in an emulator, allowing you to use your broadband connection inside the Atari “virtual machine”. What can we do about this?

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