I just played with NeXTSTEP 0.8

NeXTSTEP 0.8

NeXTSTEP 0.8

And I have to say, it’s pretty impressive!  Previous flies on my system, having owned a cube, I can say that the 68030 on this is WAY faster.  And I’ve always read about 0.8, and kind of figured it was basically lost to the winds of time.  It’s really cool to see it boot up!  And the emulated disks are so much faster than the magnetic optical drives of the day.

It’s amazing to think that in 1988, the current world of iThings had just started.

Atari System V UNIX Saga – Part I – Intro

(note this is a guest post from tenox)

SONY DSCA long long ago, my father had a printing business. An emerging technology called Desktop Publishing (DTP) was just taking to the mainstream. I have been involved in migration from Linotronic typesetting machines (see above) to more modern and GUI driven Atari TT with Calamus. Those were fun times. Long story short, I became an avid fan of Atari. Unfortunately as time progressed, Ataris got in turn obsoleted by Macs with Quark Xpress and Photoshop. I myself started exploring world of Unix and ended up selling my Atari to be able to run Linux. Bit of shame from time perspective as there were plenty of Unix flavors for the Atari: Minix, Linux, NetBSD and MiNT. Unfortunately they were released after I parted with the platform.

Atari System V on Cebit

Fast forward 20 years, Atari own UNIX version surfaced the earth. It was originally released in mid 1992 but died shortly after, no one ever heard about it. It has been lost to humanity. Only two good souls had working versions of the system and under pressure of the community finally made disk images of their installations. Some time after a documentation set has been found and digitized. Now I’m in process of trying to restore last existing set of damaged installation tapes. You can find little bit more history of the efforts on this thread.

RUNTIME_PRODUCT-QIC

Out of nostalgia and the fact that Atari TT has been designed as a Unix Workstation, but never got a chance to play with it in this role, I decided to purchase one for myself. I have turned to Best Electronics who is a local Atari dealer around the corner. They sell Ataris like brand new, assembled from spare or reconditioned parts. I paid a small fortune for it, but I got myself a brand spanking new Atari TT, factory sealed and smelling like new after 20 years. It was fitted with latest motherboard revision, TOS, 1.44 MB FDD, 4 MB ST RAM and 16 MB TT RAM.

tt

I was told to just hook it up to a VGA monitor and viola, it will work. Which it did… except to my utter shock in a whopping resolution of 640×480. It looked absolutely horrible stretched on a 19″ LCD panel. I don’t have any pictures but it looked like this. For games maybe OK but not for Unix or any sensible applications.

Using TTs professionally in DTP I certainly didn’t remember them suffering in the resolution department. So what was I doing wrong? Aha! In the old days we used to use special high resolution VME graphic cards.  So I went to search for one on eBay and Atari Forums. These obviously proven to be impossible to find… obviously. Additionally I learned that Atari UNIX does not support any of these as they required special TOS/NVDI drivers. In order to run ASV X11 with a decent resolution, one needs a special high resolution monitor called either TTM 194 or 195. These were “professional” 19″ monitors specifically for DTP work. They worked with the built-in graphics card in a special black and white mode at 1280×960, which is actually decent even in modern standards. In a fact we did have these monitors at the printing shop.

Unfortunately these are very old, bulky CRTs and weight 50 lbs. My wife would kill me if I brought one home and even if she didn’t I would hate having one of these on my desk. So why won’t the “TT High” mode work on a standard VGA LCD which normally supports 1280×1024? Well back in a day VGA standard didn’t support such resolutions and Atari had to make the monochrome monitors using ECL signal similar to old SUN/3 and HP monitors. Higher resolution modes were only added later by VESA BIOS extensions.

Researching the topic a lot of people were actually looking for an ECL to VGA signal converter but one did not exist. Some managed to use old EIZO CRTs with ECL support and with decent results, but still these are 50 lbs CRTs and I wanted to run ASV on a LCD panel. An adapter to convert ECL signal to a real VGA has actually been tried before but with rather awful results. Something had to be done!

TenoxVGA was born. And this will be covered in the next post… 😉

NetBSD 1.0 on the Amiga

NetBSD's old logo

NetBSD’s old logo

So while I was on the path of running some ancient Linux on the UAE Amiga 3000 emulator but without any real luck.  So for the heck of it I figured I’d give NetBSD a whirl.  Much like Linux, the first platform other than the i386 to get some mainstream love.

While 4.4 BSD had been adding support for the m68k via the HP 9000-300 series based workstations, the Amiga was something that was sold retail, and could be put in the hands of hackers, rather than lab rats..

So yeah, NetBSD started to integrate Amiga patches as of NetBSD 0.9 as it says from the install notes:

This version is strictly for the kernel hackers among you, there’s no sense in `normal’ users trying to install it, possibly killing their other partitions, facing kernel panics and not knowing what to do. Please keep that in mind, if you feel like going on…

So maybe I’ll try to bring it back to life some time now that I can at least run NetBSD 1.0 .. Or maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.

Installing NetBSD 1.0 on the Amiga is somewhat straight forward, providing you are doing this from a new Amiga.. First just create a small-ish (15MB? lol) partition for AmigaDOS, and make sure it is bootable.  The work partition should be big enough to hold the compressed packages of NetBSD, I went with 60MB, while NetBSD 1.0 is a mere 15MB, well compressed of course.  After that you’ll want to create a ‘root’ partition of say 65MB, a 32MB swap partition and a giant /usr partition.  I created a 384MB virtual hard disk, so my remainder is 209MB which is more than enough.  From there you have to make sure that they are not set to auto mount, and edit the filesystem type to be the following:

root partition  : 0x4e425207
swap partition  : 0x4e425301
other partitions: 0x4e425507

Where the ‘other’ is of course the /usr partition.  Then with that in hand it is a simple matter of loading the boot loader from within AmigaDOS.  The one weird thing I found is that while this part goes all fine,  later on under NetBSD you can only mount AmigaDOS partitions read only, so how do you get a new kernel back onto the Amiga side?  I suppose a working network, and a 2nd machine.. Which would make sure, and of course NetBSD was built with the idea that everyone was collaborating over the internet so people would have net access.

So basically from within AmigaDOS you kick off the bootloader, kernel, and shove in a ‘root filesystem‘ diskette.  Next thing you know we are going through the install where it’ll pick up the partition tags, format the disk, and go ahead  and install..  Again another ‘trick’ is the partitioning scheme where NetBSD maps in the AmigaDOS partitions into NetBSD space.  My install looks like this form the NetBSD side:

NetBSD slices

NetBSD slices

It may not seem too obvious but back here the ‘a’ partition is the root, ‘d’ is the AmigaDOS operating system partition while ‘e’ is the work partition where our install was saved. From there it really is NetBSD and it just acts like any other NetBSD.  So of course I could prattle endlessly about this, how historic it is that NetBSD on the Amiga shows that the older hp300 port could not only be adapted to new platforms, but even eventually extended to support the 68040 processor which had a different and incompatible MMU.

For those of you are are impatient, you too can run NetBSD 1.0!  You can find a pre-installed image here. And just use the prior exe & config from the WinUAE beta that included MMU support.  Just alter the config so that it picks up the NetBSD disk.

NetBSD 1.0

NetBSD 1.0

The only catch I’ve seen so far is that trying to bring up the ethernet adapter hangs the system.  Sadly I don’t have any fix for this as of yet…. (edit: yes beta 4 and beyond work fine!)

AMIX

AMIX Ad

AMIX Ad

Back in 1990 Commodore took the Amiga in a new direction with it’s new Amiga 3000, by commissioning a port of A&T SYSV Unix to the Amiga. Taking advantage of the 3000’s 68030 CPU and 68881 Math coprocessor, along with its integrated SCSI controller. It certainly was the hallmark of typical UNIX machines of the time.

When originally announced there was some big interest in the platform by SUN, as their original SUN-1, SUN-2 & SUN-3 lines of workstations were all 68000 based machines, and being able to rebrand a mass produced Commodore model would have been a good thing, however the deal ultimately fell through.  The machine would have been the Amiga 3500, which later became the Amiga 3000T.

Another thing to keep in mind is that SUN’s SYSV (Solaris) was targeted to the SPARC processor, and it is unlikely that they would benefit from selling a 68030 based machine in 1991.

Typical of the time, AMIX installs from a set of boot floppies, and then pulls the rest of the installation from a tape drive, such as the A3070.

AMIX was released at a time when the UNIX world was rapidly moving to RISC processors, SUN had their SPARC, SGI had their MIPS, IBM and their POWER, Motorola built UNIX machines around their 88000 RISC processor, NeXT was also going to move to the 88000 until they gave up making their own hardware and shifted to a software company.  So who would want a then dated 68030 based machine when the industry had made their first steps into the world of RISC computing.

So how does it measure up?  Well it is SYSV, and if you’ve seen one, well honestly you’ve seen them all.  What is kind of neat is that AMIX includes OpenLook and a C compiler, which is kind of a rarity for the period.

Another flaw was that when the 68040 processor was released it’s MMU was incompatible with the 68030, and the VM subsystem for any UNIX would have to be rewritten.  While NetBSD can run on both the 68030 and 68040, AMIX never was updated, and so it can only run on 68030 based machines.

AMIX never did get any critical traction, and slipped into oblivion with the death of Commodore.

Up until recently it was impossible to run AMIX in any emulator, but there has been a lot of work on the ARANYM and Pervious emulators which included doing 68030 MMU support for the possibility of running early versions of NeXTSTEP. Toni Wilen was able to adapt their work onto WinUAE and it is not possible to run AMIX.!

Reading through this thread,  I was able to put together the needed bits, and get it running under CrossOver, by using the pre-configured settings for WinUAE, and replacing the exe with the new beta exe, the supplied hard disk image from amigaunix.com and I was up and running in no time!  The only real change from the config was to change the SCSI ID of the hard disk from 0 to 6.

Screen Shot 2013-01-13 at 8.48.54 PM

AMIX starting up on WinUAE

The default password is wasp.  I thought it was kind of interesting that AMIX includes ‘dungeon’.  really cool!

Open Look on AMIX

Open Look on AMIX

I am unsure of how to enable the high resolution graphics, but sadly the Amiga known for its multimedia capabilities, AMIX with stock graphics runs in monochrome.  Such a major underwhelming thing.

Oh well, for anyone inclined you can now run AMIX, and enjoy another dead SYSV.