Virtualization Challenge III – Acorn ARM Minix

(This is a guest post from Antoni Sawicki aka Tenox)

Recently came across this unfinished port of Minix 1.5 to Acorn Archimedes A310. According to the readme file this is a set of patches that needs to be applied on a standard Minix 1.5.10 code base on a Unix machine. The code then needs to be to transferred to Risc OS machine for compilation. Once complete then you need to manually create boot records and a file system. Sounds like a fun little project.

What I want is pretty standard:

  • A ready to use working disk image that anyone can unpack and run on a modern machine under an emulator of your choice (commercial OK).
  • Aclock binary and screenshot.

First person to deliver these gets a prize of £100 (that is 100 GBP / Pound Sterling). I strongly encourage to coordinate your efforts via comments.

If needed I can supply licenses for commercial Acorn emulators and C compiler for Risc OS, albeit I only have license for a modern ROOL DDE. I hope ancient version is not needed, but this part of the challenge. Note that I can’t just give away the licenses to anyone, I will only share or purchase new licenses for serious contenders on one to one basis.

Let the challenge begin!

So my old machine’s 16GB memory limit is becoming a problem

MacPro guts

And like a sucker I saw this 2010 MacPro for sale, $300.  It was running OS X 10.13 aka High Sierra, and I though oh cool it’s obviously able to run the latest OS, and even better with 32GB of RAM, and apparently the single processor model can go up to 48 or 64GB of ram giving me that breathing space I need.

So I happily get the machine, put in some new SSDs, and spinning disks, and decide that I’m going to split it up half for OS X, and half for Windows 10.  Sounds easy right?  And for the hell of it, I wanted to install a copy of 10.6.8 (Snow Leopard), since it’s the last version with Rosetta, and I’d love to compare GrandPa’s G5 to this 2010 space Odyssey.  Snow Leopard installs just fine, but the real fun comes from High Sierra and it’s APFS.  I installed & licensed a copy of Windows 10 Pro onto the Mac without issue, installed the bootcamp drivers, and.. well it installs Okay but drivers are a whole different story.

Apparently there is an ongoing war between Apple and ATI regarding bootcamp drivers, so the Apple UEFI cards won’t work with the stock drivers under Windows.  You can go and look for patched ATI drivers over at bootcampdrivers.com, although I had no luck with the Radeon HD 5700 that was in this machine, as it’s GPU never showed up in the Windows 10 device manager.

I still wanted to get accelerated graphics, and I decided to keep the old ATI card in the machine so I wouldn’t’ lose boot graphics from the UEFI ROM, but a card that needs additional drivers is fine, which opens the door to Nvidia.  I wasn’t ready to spend a fortune on a card, and I wanted one that didn’t draw that much power, so the 1030 was a perfect fit being cheap and not requiring additional power hookups.

GeFroce 1030

I just went with the cheapest one I could find retail.

Naturally the NVidia cards work fine in Windows, but of course Apple won’t use any stock plain PC cards.  But thankfully NVidia has ‘internet’ drivers that cover quite a few of their cards, including the 1030-1080’s. I had further issues with the built in audio drivers, which Windows always prefers to load some generic “High Definition Audio Device” driver, but it never makes any noise.  So I bought a cheap external USB Sound Blaster Play! 3 dongal, which works fine.

Old Xeon in MacPro

And then there is the fun with VMWare, I upgraded both VMWare Player to version 14, and Fusion to version 10.  And yeah, the Xeon W3565 is far too old.

No new VMWare for you!

Although my version 10 key of Fusion works on version 8, just as VMWare Player 12 works fine on Windows 10.

And if that wasn’t crazy enough, in the bootcamp boot driver selection, the High Sierra volume cannot be selected.  Even if you install onto a HFS+ volume, upgrade a 10.6.3 volume or whatever you do, High Sierra converts the filesystem into something that bootcamp doesn’t understand, so the only way to boot between the OS’s is to hold down the option key, and select the OS from the ROM, which thankfully after an update understands and boots APFS.

You think it’d be easy to just push an update to the bootcamp boot tool, but apparently it isn’t.

I don’t know why, but for all the money Apple is sitting on, they really don’t feel that together or with it.  I know in the whole ’99-05 time period they were not only fighting for their lives, but the whole OS 9 to OS X transition phase, just felt so much better done.  Ever since 10.4 it feels like things are just subtracted, nothing really useful added.  First Classic support, then PowerPC, then Rosetta.  Going from 10.7 to 10.13 really hasn’t been all that exciting.  Which has been the general state of things, with everyone for the most part just running VMS or Unix.

Jerry Pournelle RIP (1933-2017)

I had just heard the news that Jerry had passed away.  While famous for his scifi writing, his work for the military and pushing ‘smart weapons’, getting kicked off the ARPANET for wrong think, and of course being the first person to use a word processor to write a book and get it published.

He was also known as quite the tinkerer and getting the luck of having people send him stuff to play with, and he’d write about it in his column on Byte back in the day (starting in 1984!), and you can find his full BYTE credentials here.

Although at the time I had thought of it as very chaotic, all over the place, and full of, well just simple bonehead mistakes, in retrospect Jerry’s chaos had a tremendous impact on me, and in some unconscious way I had inadvertently followed in his style through virtualization.  And I can say that although some things are pretty obvious in hind sight, when you are in the middle of it, some bad things seem like good ideas!!  Although the price for ‘bricking’ a virtual machine is a lot lower, and the ability to quickly go back and forth, and experiment more pretty much consequence free is definitely a plus!

He, along with John C Dvorak were frequent guests on TWiT, with I think his last appearance in 2015, which I have to say I had always admired their cantankerous old man style.  One that I find myself increasingly take on with age.

From Jerry’s son Alex:

I’m afraid that Jerry passed away.
We had a great time at DragonCon.
He did not suffer.

(8 Sep 2017 – 3:45pm PDT)

He was 84

WRP for QT-Webkit

(note this is a guest post from Tenox)

Due to a popular demand, a previously mentioned Web Rendering Proxy has been ported to QT-Webkit, which allows it to run on Linux, BSD and other operating systems.

QT doesn’t support writing GIF images so JPEG is being used instead. You may want to adjust the option for image quality versus size.

The installation of required components is straight forward, on Ubuntu:

apt-get  install  python-qt4  libqt4-webkit

Generaly you if you can get qt-webkit2png to run, WRP will also work. Note for Windows users, you will need a X11 display server like the one that comes with Cygwin.

The script is available here.

Web Rendering Proxy

(note this is a guest post from Tenox)

WRP is a HTTP proxy service that renders web pages in to GIF images associated with a clickable imagemap of the original web links. It basically allows to use historical and obsolete web browsers on the modern web.

See a gallery of today’s news sites. All links are clickable!

CNN via Internet Explorer 1.5
CNN via Internet Explorer 1.5

 

Reuters via IBM Web Explorer
Reuters via IBM Web Explorer

 

BBC News via Mac Mosaic
BBC News via Mac Mosaic

 

Reddit via NextStep OmniWeb
Reddit via NextStep OmniWeb

 

netscape3
Netscape 3.x visiting DNA Lounge

 

For more background information and screenshots you can see my previous post on the matter.

There are two versions. Cocoa-webkit for Mac OS X and QT-Webkit for Linux/BSD/etc. The script can be downloaded here.

Surfing Modern Web With Ancient Browsers

(note this is a guest post by Tenox)

[Update: A full HTTP Proxy version has been made in this post.]

I spend a fair amount of time working with legacy operating systems. Apart from being obsolete themselves they suffer from a common problem – the web browsers are simply unusable on a present day Internet. You start by getting JavaScript error on google.com and it only gets worse once you go further. Try going to microsoft.com with IE 1.5 or qnx.com with the last version of Voyager. This just doesn’t work. With rapid progression of web standards, the situation will only be getting worse in time. Something had to be done.

Quite a while ago I’ve came across Opera rendering proxy for mobile browsers. This got me thinking. If you could render a web page on a proxy server to a simplified HTML, say 3.x., this would make a lot of web browsers happy! Also, for some unrelated purposes I have been using webkit2png which allows to create a whole web page snapshot in a single png image. What if such image had an image map of clickable regions pointing to the original links?

The idea was born, but was it possible to implement and would it work? Webkit2png was quite far from having all the required functionality. Fortunately though after some additional research I have stumbled upon picidae network. To my utter surprise they actually made all or even more functionality that I wanted in their picidae.py script. All that had to be done to adapt picidae to my purpose was to save the image as a GIF image, generate a simple HTML page with imagemap, an input box and strip all the unwanted stuff.

Webrender.py came to life. It’s a cgi-bin application that resides on a machine in the middle. It renders a gif image and spits it out to the browser together with a simple web page, containing a URL and search input boxes plus the gif and image map.

After some initial debugging and massaging out few bugs the solution worked perfectly! I could finally get the old browsers happily navigate modern websites! Check out some examples:

Internet Explorer 1.5 on microsoft.com
Internet Explorer 1.5 on microsoft.com

 Yes! You can finally browse microsoft.com with IE 1.5 🙂

Netscape 4 visiting netscape.com
Netscape 4 visiting netscape.com

Or go to netscape.com in Netscape 4.x browser. This was impossible just a few hours ago!

How about some other browsers:

QNX Voyager going to qnx.com
QNX Voyager going to qnx.com

 

Mozilla on UnixWare
Mozilla on UnixWare

 

Old Firefox on Haiku
Old Firefox on Haiku

 

CNN on Mosaic
CNN on Mosaic

 

apple-mosaic
Apple.com using Mac Mosaic

 

IBM WebExplorer on OS/2
IBM WebExplorer on OS/2

 

RiscOS !NetSurf on Wikipedia
RiscOS !NetSurf on Wikipedia

 

netscape3
Netscape visiting DNA Lounge

 

NextStep OmniWeb on Reddit.com
NextStep OmniWeb on Reddit.com

 

Enjoy!

Update: A full HTTP Proxy version has been made in this post.

Virtual Hands on Labs

(this is a guest post by Tenox)

Jason’s post on VMware reminded me of something that I wanted to post a while back. Not widely known, both VMware and Microsoft offer free and available to anyone, virtualized “hands on labs” on some or most of their products. Don’t think of them as videos or scripted presentations. They are in fact real virtual machines with real software you can play with. VMware HOLs for instance include putty.exe that allows you to SSH to the ESXi host to hack it.

If you don’t want to spend hours installing and configuring all this stuff and just want to learn the essence or gain some experience with enterprise technologies without breaking a bank I highly suggest to check them out. Also VMware labs let you preview upcoming technologies which are not yet available on the market!

VMware HOLs: http://labs.hol.vmware.com/ there also is a community page.

Microsoft, TechEd 2013 HOLs:  http://channel9.msdn.com/Events/TechEd/NorthAmerica/2013?y=Hands-on+Lab&t=available-online (I think you need Internet Explorer to launch them)

Enjoy!

Opus number 1 in stereo!

Well I had no idea that the Tim Carleton Darrick Deel collaboration of Opus number 1 was so popular!  I had blogged about it a while ago when I was looking for the infamous hold music.

Popularity of Opus #1
Popularity of Opus #1

I got one quick heads up that the stereo version of the popular ‘hold’ track would be uploaded, but once it was I got 5 notifications!  One from a Darrick!  It sure sounds nicer than the mono version, but when you are on a phone what do you expect?

Apparently NPR will only host the mp3 for the weekend, so of course I’ll keep a mirror.

For anyone unfamiliar with the song, here is a little bit of history from here:

This was not a proprietary mix made by Cisco. It was licensed to Cisco for non-exclusive use in their CallManager product. Tim composed this song and is who performed it for this recording. I helped him record it one day in his garage. This recording is actually from the late Eighties.

I had the opportunity to submit the song to the guy compiling the music on hold CD and he included it in our upcoming product. The Synths used to record the song had very favorable acoustic qualities when transmitted over VoIP with a G.711 encoding. As a result Tim’s Opus No. 1 became the default hold music on Cisco’s product.

The original version has a nice stereo effect on the clapping and a real breathiness and richness in the Synths. There have been a number of people over the years that have tracked me down due to this music. It is always exciting for us to find more people that like the music enough to track it down after an encounter with it while on Hold. Tim and I will discuss the options for making this available and post back here.

Aclock Reaches #200 Ports!

(this is a guest post from Tenox)

aclock-arm#197 – Aclock ARM Windows RT by Peter Godwin

IMG_1880#198 – Alock M68K LynxOS by Plamen Mihaylov

aclock-demos#199 – Aclock PDP11 DEMOS by Dima Naumov

And long long long awaited…

aclock-ppc-nthal#200 Aclock PowerPC WindowsNT HAL Driver by myself

No cheating with numbers! Compiled and ran today on my ThinkPad 860. Just realized it’s #200. I think celebration with BSOD is in order! The screenshot was made using IP KVM. I will make an actual photo of the laptop screen another day.

Again thanks for everyone for contributions!

Last but not least there is a screenshot of previously cross compiled Aclock PowerPC OS/2 running on ThinkPad 850. Both the port and picture are courtesy of Michal Necasek of OS/2 Museum. Hope he won’t kill me for leaking the photo:

Aclock PPC OS/2