A couple of months ago I decided to have a crack at writing a new BIOS for Ultimate 1MB from scratch. Its purpose was simply to facilitate a bootable version of the WIP Graphical OS in ROM and add some extra PBI BIOS options, but the project quickly ran away with itself and became an exercise in completely re-thinking just about every part of the functionality.
The new BIOS offers:
- The ability to set the date and time from the setup menu
- Dual configuration profiles
- Categorized menus covering system settings, hard disk, device setup, etc
- Turbo-Freezer compatibility
- Customisable shortcut keys
- OS-independent Ultra-speed SIO for serial disk drives
- Optional BIOS logo screen and boot device selection menu
- Optional flash write protection
- System information page displaying CPU type, audio/video hardware, etc
- BIOS Plugin API for diverse hardware control (Ultimate 1MB only)
- Variable SpartaDOS X ROM sizes (192, 256 and 320KB), and the ability to boot the WIP
- Graphical OS (when 192KB SDX is used)
So this is a beta version of the new (alt) Ultimate BIOS, provided with a new (beta) version of uFlash which is designed to handle both original and new BIOS versions (and the upgrade process), a (required) PBI BIOS update, and some documentation. I've also thrown in a complete Ultimate 1MB ROM with the GOS intended for testing in Altirra (or on a real machine if you're feeling brave).
Ultimate BIOS Beta 0.24 Release.zip 937.43KB 376 downloads
You'll notice the word 'beta' crops up a lot. This is BETA software, so please ensure you have a means of recovery in the event something goes wrong with the BIOS flash, or something unexpected goes wrong with the BIOS. Although the last couple of builds have been well tested, it's a BIOS and is therefore critical to whether your machine boots up or not. I can't stress this enough, and I do not want to hear people complaining about bricking their machines and having no way to recover. A USB flash ROM programmer is an absolute must if you want to test this on real hardware.
The sensible procedure is to back up your entire Ultimate 1MB ROM first so that you can go back to it if you need to or if you simply don't like what you end up with. You can do this in-situ with uFlash or with your USB programmer. The (draft) documentation outlines the upgrade procedure, and you must upgrade both the main BIOS and the PBI BIOS both at once. That means load up uFlash, flash BIOS24.ROM to the "BIOS" slot and ULTPBI13.ROM to the "PBI BIOS" slot. Then do a power-cycle.
The NVRAM configuration data of the original BIOS is completely incompatible with the new one, so although your system clock should remain valid, nothing else will. You'll be prompted to set things up again after the upgrade. The defaults chosen (i.e. stock RAM) will be subject to change in the final version, as will anything else I feel like changing, although the OS ROM, BASIC and XEGS slot descriptions (which should survive the upgrade) won't change position again.
Things that don't work or only work partially or don't work at all:
- Boot device menu: works, but isn't finished
- "Redirect D1:" in the PBI BIOS menu is not implemented yet
- Other stuff
This became such a gargantuan task that I just want to leave the beta out for a week or two and do other things to get over it, before fixing what needs fixed and getting on with the new (alt) XEX loader, which is about half done but will take a while to complete.
Lastly, I want to offer massive thanks to Phaeron, Hias and Prowizard. The assistance they have provided in terms of testing, ideas, and technical insight was really fantastic, and without them, some of the neat features present just wouldn't exist at all. And had Hias not kindly agreed to let me use his High-Speed SIO code in the PBI BIOS (more or less verbatim), there'd be no High-Speed SIO.
Thanks also to MrFish for valuable feedback and ideas on the UI, and of course to Candle himself for the hardware and original firmware. The sole purpose of this new, alternative BIOS is to get even more functionality from this fantastic hardware, taking inspiration from his initial achievements.
I've probably forgotten stuff, but it's late, so - enjoy.
PS: Incognito BIOS to follow shortly.
Edited by flashjazzcat, Wed Jul 1, 2015 4:40 PM.