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U1MB + SIDE2 = best practices?


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#1 DrVenkman OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jul 27, 2015 7:29 PM

It occurs to me that this combination of hardware in an XL/XE machine (or the analogous hardware with an Incognito board in an 800) basically gives the culmination of what a lot of us pined for but could never have afforded in the 80's: a machine capable of booting multiple OS's, a fast HUGE hard drive interface, and a supremely flexible and powerful DOS to pin it all together.  However, for people new to this kind of modern hardware with experiences and memories colored by decades of "how things work in an old Atari", all this new capability can seem overwhelming.

 

I was pondering this tonight as I attempted to format my new CF card for use in the SIDE2 as a hard disk in my 1200XL. The card I'm using is the smallest I could reasonably track down on Amazon these days and it was still 8 gigabytes. That's an INSANE amount of storage to even consider using in connection with an 8-bit system! My other handy card is a more-reasonably sized 512MB that I used years ago in my first DSLR, but even then it's huge. I realized that I have no idea of how best to partition and format a CF card of ANY capacity in order to best use these new capabilities of my hardware. 

 

In line with my first realization that there's no single good source of "New to this stuff? Start here!" information, it seems to me that my personal question would be a good starter issue that might serve to spark a thread for people using this combo to provide hints and explanations for the kind of things they've found to work best for them personally in their day-to-day "Atari-ing.  What size CF cards do they use, how are they partitioned and why? What OS slots do they have flashed in the U1MB and why? What BASIC versions (or other 8K roms) do they have loaded? Etc.

 

So all you experienced people, hold forth and elucidate the newbies! :)



#2 greblus OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 28, 2015 12:16 PM

I don't thing there is "best configuration" or "best use case" for Atari and the goodies we can have today. It's always a combination of nostalgia with some sort of unfulfilled dreams from the early days. Some of the people I see on the forums have this amazing motivation to "do something for the Atari" and that's where 8GB  CF card with 20 or more partitions will be useful, some want just to sit and contemplate casette sounds at 600bps (I love old ads in horizontal scrollers - especially polish pirated cassettes and intros - with all these old addresses, phone numbers, nicknames, it's like a time travel) and some want to play old games. Hmm, maybe it will sound silly, but I like to sit and watch Basic in screen saving mode, it's calming me down... It's such a unique feature...

 

My favourite configuration: 128MB CF card with two SDX partitions if I want to do some Action! or VBXE experiments, one small FAT16 partition for quick data exchange between my PC and SDX (FATFS.SYS) and FAT32 for Side loader to play games. Slots in U1MB - I used it once to test Altirra Basic (which is great anyway). I use HiSpeed OS to test AspeQt on Android and once I played Missile Command ;). But in the future I'll use Jon's Graphical OS (that's for sure) and his new U1MB BIOS.

 

Cheers,

W.



#3 morelenmir OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 28, 2015 12:41 PM

It occurs to me that this combination of hardware in an XL/XE machine (or the analogous hardware with an Incognito board in an 800) basically gives the culmination of what a lot of us pined for but could never have afforded in the 80's: a machine capable of booting multiple OS's, a fast HUGE hard drive interface, and a supremely flexible and powerful DOS to pin it all together.  However, for people new to this kind of modern hardware with experiences and memories colored by decades of "how things work in an old Atari", all this new capability can seem overwhelming.

 

I was pondering this tonight as I attempted to format my new CF card for use in the SIDE2 as a hard disk in my 1200XL. The card I'm using is the smallest I could reasonably track down on Amazon these days and it was still 8 gigabytes. That's an INSANE amount of storage to even consider using in connection with an 8-bit system! My other handy card is a more-reasonably sized 512MB that I used years ago in my first DSLR, but even then it's huge. I realized that I have no idea of how best to partition and format a CF card of ANY capacity in order to best use these new capabilities of my hardware. 

 

In line with my first realization that there's no single good source of "New to this stuff? Start here!" information, it seems to me that my personal question would be a good starter issue that might serve to spark a thread for people using this combo to provide hints and explanations for the kind of things they've found to work best for them personally in their day-to-day "Atari-ing.  What size CF cards do they use, how are they partitioned and why? What OS slots do they have flashed in the U1MB and why? What BASIC versions (or other 8K roms) do they have loaded? Etc.

 

So all you experienced people, hold forth and elucidate the newbies! :)

 

Update:
I'm going to preface this rather long post with an explanatory note. What I write here is my own opinion, my own views and how they interact with what I personally want from my computers.  In regards the in-depth technical details FJC has written a very explanatory post below and you should refer to that when getting down to brass tacks of APT.  What I have written here is my own answer to your question and should be viewed in that way.  To me it is authoritative in that it accurately reflects how I do things, but you and others who read it should compare and contrast the underlying assumptions with your own intended uses of your own A8.  Nonetheless I think what I recommend is eminently practical and one valid approach to how you might go about arranging the data structures on your equipment.

 

In regards arranging your storage, to an extent it depends what you intend to do with it.  That is a boring and rather cliched answer, but valid nonetheless.  Obviously SDX does not use any of the windows file sytems.  However the fairly useful 'SIDELoader' functionality does use FAT32 or FAT16 and the potentially vital 'External'/'FATFS.SYS' system requires FAT16.  Therefore at first glance you would logically assume you might need to divide your whole CF card in to three sections of whatever comparative percentage of the free space.  At least that is what I did at first.

 

The 'APT' system seems to be the most widely used partition scheme for SDX - it may well be the only one - and is usually generated by FJC's almost ubiquitous 'FDisk'.  In terms of size I usually allocate 512MB to the APT/SDX section of my card.  Looking at this from a PC perspective it may feel extremely small, but I have found it far more than sufficient for an Atari.  It is my understanding the maximum number of IO devices supported by SDX is 15; 'D1:'-'DO:' or 'DA:'-'DO:' and you need to give at least some of these over for floppy access, even if these 'floppies' are actually emulated in some fashion.  A RAM drive is also handy to have on hand, in fact is provided by the default SDX config and I believe there is much software which expects it to occupy the 'D8:'/'DH:' designator.  Therefore after taking advice from several of the chaps here I personally give over 'D1:'-'D7:' to floppies, 'D8:' to the RAM disk and then 'D9:'-'DO:' for hard drives.  The maximum size - again, to my understanding - a single hard drive can occupy is 32MB.  However, way back in the late eighties I was bowled over by the review in 'PAGE6' of the "Supra HardDisk".  This legendary device - or so it seemed to me at the time - possessed the unimaginable storage capacty of 20MB!  Therefore in silent homage to its lingering greatness I make all my hard drives 20MB in size.  Obviously this leaves a LOT of room in the 512MB dedicated to APT/SDX.

 

Next comes consideration of the FAT32 and FAT16 partitions and this is a rather vexed and frustrating topic to me.  For the sake of simplicity I divide the remaining space on my CF card equally between these two partitions.  Their existence is directly - in my partitioning rational - tied to the 'SIDELoader' and the 'External'/'FATFS.SYS' functionalities respectively.

 

Looked at in turn, when coupled with the "Ultimate1MB" the 'SIDELoader' allows you to run *.XEX executables directly from its menu and mount *.ATR images as emulated floppy drives using files which in both cases are stored in the first FAT partition of the CF card.  For some people this is a killer feature and indeed it impressed me greatly as well at first.  While I am not the biggest gamer, at the time I first got the "SIDE2" and "Ultimate1MB" I had no other means of accessing *.ATR files directly from the A8 so it seemed very attractive, at least in principle.  The reality of the *.ATR manipulation offered by 'SIDELoader' is somewhat less than ideal, but again for some it no doubt fulfils all their needs.  Whatever the case the 'SIDELoader' needs a FAT partition on the CF card to read its input material from.  Moreover it is very nice indeed to have descriptive file names for these *.XEX's and *.ATR therefore a FAT32 partition is all but a necessity.  This is important as it leads to the need for a separate FAT16 partition to work with 'External'/'FATFS.SYS'.

 

The idea behind the 'External' functionality - provided by a software driver for SDX called 'FATFS.SYS' - is to allow you to mount an 'External' FAT partition as a regular drive designator using 'FDISK' so SDX can gain read-only access to the files stored there.  Through this mechanism you gain an incredibly useful, indeed in my opinion the single most useful and user-friendly facility to transfer files from the PC to the A8.  While on your PC you simply copy the files you want to transfer to the appropriate FAT partition of the CF card and then carry it to your A8, plug it in, boot up and voila!  Fantasic!  Unfortunately, once more the reality of this facility is slightly less handy than its concept.  Firstly, 'FATFS,SYS' can only read specifically FAT16 partitions owing to the underlying filesytem structure of SDX.  Hence the need for a dedicated FAT16 partition in my own partitioning scheme.  Secondly, owing to the combined greed and shortsightedness of MS, a Windows PC can only 'see' the first partition on a piece of removable media like a CF card...  Therefore if you have a FAT32 partition for 'SIDELoader' and a FAT16 partition for 'FATFS.SYS' then Windows will only give access to the first of these...  Which in a stroke totally obviates the whole point of the 'External' functionality; you can't get at the partition to use it to transfer files!!!  There are ways around this; software driver hacks/filters which - again due to the short-sighted paternalism of MS - are themselves very unsatisfactory or the purchase of a much more expensive 'Industrial' CF card.  The latter solution is the best as 'Industrial' cards are marked in their firmware as 'Fixed' devices therefore Windows will access all their partitions fully as if they were physical hard drives.  However these are also often literally double the price for the same capacity.  Not ideal in any sense.  So...  Put the FAT32 partition first for 'SIDELoader' you cannot add files to the 'External' FAT16 partition but put the FAT16 partition first then 'SIDELoader' won't look for the FAT32 partition...  Its catch 22 - especially when you come to want to use the 'MATR' software for mounting *.ATR images directly form SDX but discover this piece of software does not seem to like two primary FAT partitions and crashes...

 

This situation has led me personally to scrub around the FAT16 partition all together, despite its immense utility and just divide the CF card up between a small 512kB APT section and give all the rest to a FAT32 partition.  Under this scenario you can still transfer files from your PC by first wrapping them up in a *.ATR image, copying that on to the now-accessible FAT32 partition and mounting them in SDX using the aforementioned 'MATR' which with this drive geometry is quite content to run.

 

So - that's my advice.  In summary; if you have a normal CF card then split it unevenly between FAT32 and APT, dividing the latter in to 8 floppy/RAM drives and then a maximum of 7 more hard drives.  If you do have an industrial card then you can enjoy the luxury of a second FAT16 partition and get the most comfortable of all file-transfer experiences through the 'External'/'FATFS.SYS' mechanism.

 

...Unless you use Linux as you primary PC operating system.  In a colossally decent nod to the actual reasonable needs of it users instead of the corporate greed of flash media providers Linux will access all partitions on any type of removable/industrial CF media.  So - there's that.



#4 flashjazzcat OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 28, 2015 1:14 PM

Couple of points regarding the above:

 

  • The APT (Atari Partition Table) scheme has nothing to do with SpartaDOS X per se. Devices using APT commonly support 512 byte sectors, of which SDX is able to take to take full advantage, but there is nothing about SDX which inherently supports or requires APT, although some third-party SDX utilities happen to exist for it. SDX is - in that sense - "partition table agnostic".

  • One of the chief advantages of ATR mounting as handled by Ultimate/SIDE not mentioned is the transfer speed - typically around double what you might expect from the fastest serial devices. That said, one should also not be without a serial device (SIO2xxx or equivalent) for those situations which require it.

  • "External" APT partition functionality is not "provided" by FATFS.SYS. External partitions are merely links to FAT partitions outside of the region of the disk reserved for APT partitions. FATFS.SYS just happens to be the method used by SDX to access the FAT file system. Such a file system could reside on any device - parallel or serial. Pragmatically, once could apply the FAT file system to a partition inside the APT region of the disk, although the partition would of course not normally be visible to the PC (owing to the indirection provided by the APT "container").

  • As written, use of Linux (or Mac OS X) completely overcomes the issues surrounding multiple FAT partitions on external media. While it is acknowledged that the difficulties encountered when using multiple partitions on removable media are caused by the Windows OS, this should not reflect in any way on the usefulness or otherwise of external APT partitions. Aside from using an alternative OS (Linux), one can easily get around the problem by simply buying one or more additional CF cards. I have some half a dozen cards here, ranging in size from 512MB to 4GB, all working, some second hand, some bought in Walmart sales... all cheap.



#5 Kyle22 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 28, 2015 2:04 PM

This page: http://www.ehow.com/...fixed-mode.html

provides info and a tool to set the CF card into fixed disk mode.



#6 morelenmir OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 28, 2015 2:19 PM

This page: http://www.ehow.com/...fixed-mode.html

provides info and a tool to set the CF card into fixed disk mode.

 

Would you believe I bought a CF2IDE adapter specifically to use this utility Kyle22! :)  ...and then I had to partially disassemble my DOS-based system to swap its secondary IDE device for the CF card/adapter to plug in.  After all that is was a sadness to discover it does not work with the modern editions of the SanDisk firmware - at least not those as modern or more modern than the ones Lotharek sells.

 

What I have read in a forum post from an anonymous 'insider' - so take it for what that is worth - is the flash companies do not want people to have an easy way of using existing cards as small SS hard drives and therefore blunting potential sales.  It sounds like perfect corporate logic to me!  The 'Industrial' units have such an unreasonable RRP price-hike so they can still make a premium from those customers who outright refuse to buy a SS drive, but still want something with a form factor that lends itself to embedded systems.



#7 morelenmir OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 28, 2015 2:47 PM


  • One of the chief advantages of ATR mounting as handled by Ultimate/SIDE not mentioned is the transfer speed - typically around double what you might expect from the fastest serial devices. That said, one should also not be without a serial device (SIO2xxx or equivalent) for those situations which require it.
  •  

 

I'd go back to what I said about it all being down to how you use them.  For me, the enjoyment of floppy disks is formatting them.  That really floats me boat.  It always has.  That and testing the new sizes, seeing how much I can get on them and maybe even experimenting with the various compression formats that might be available for the A8 environment.  I genuinely typed in a book of rather poor BASIC programmes just so I could have some authentic material to have on hand to play at file-management with.  The "SIO2SD" provides an almost identical visceral experience to using a real floppy - with the bonus of working in a machine that doesn't flake out after five minutes.  Its the perfect synthesis of the authentic Atari experience melded to the convenience of modern technology.  That is why I love it so much.  I adore just sitting there and listening to the Gatling rattle of SIO data transfer at POKEY 0, knowing I am transferring files and filling disks so much faster with better capacity than I ever would have been able as a child.  As I mentioned regarding electronics as a whole the other day - for me it isn't using the Atari as a computer that I get much enjoyment form, its doing things on it that I like.  I am unusual in that, absolutely; but it really is what I enjoy.  I'm hoping that the future direction of 'SIDELoader' or MATR will go towards providing something similar to the "SIO2SD" experience - but if not, no stress.  That little box of goodies does all I need for now!!!

 

  • As written, use of Linux (or Mac OS X) completely overcomes the issues surrounding multiple FAT partitions on external media. While it is acknowledged that the difficulties encountered when using multiple partitions on removable media are caused by the Windows OS, this should not reflect in any way on the usefulness or otherwise of external APT partitions. Aside from using an alternative OS (Linux), one can easily get around the problem by simply buying one or more additional CF cards. I have some half a dozen cards here, ranging in size from 512MB to 4GB, all working, some second hand, some bought in Walmart sales... all cheap.
  •  

 

Its not entirely the cost per se FJC, although those 'Industrial' cards are criminally expensive for what they are.  Its the handiness.  I personally don't want multiple different pieces of flash media hanging around.  I'll lose them if nothing else!  Mine is only a 4GB card, but DrVenkman mentioned his was 8GB - that should be enough for everything you can ever do with an Atari and then some!  Its bad enough that the "SIO2SD" uses SD and not CF but a different CF card for APT, 'SIDELoader' and 'External'/'FATFS.SYS'...  Not in this zipcode!!!



#8 flashjazzcat OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 28, 2015 3:06 PM

Regarding multiple cards: if you own one CF card and lose it, you have none at all. That's one reason I like spares. ;)

 

As for ATRs: I enjoy doing things in situ on the A8, but often the time required to do it exceeds what's available. I once got quite a kick out of doing a raw sector backup of a 32MB APT partition to a 32MB ATR in the FAT using Ultimate/SIDE in around ten minutes or so (I forget the exact timings, but I knew of no other way to do the same thing as quickly at the time).

 

To respond to the original question: as a fan of the stock operating system, I use a late revision XL/XE OS 100 per cent of the time, and the BASIC slots are populated with Atari BASIC, Altirra BASIC (surely the handiest A8 BASIC currently in existence), and Asm/Ed (thought the latter is never used, as is the fourth BASIC slot). CF cards are split evenly between FAT32 or FAT16 and APT, with two or three APT partitions numbered C: and up. D1: and D2: are always reserved for serial peripherals or ATRs booted via Candle's XEX loader. D2:, in fact, is permanently pointed at a mirrored PC folder via SIO2PC - the same folder being the target folder for MADS. This enables me to compile an application and run it directly on real hardware, or flash a ROM to Ultimate by pointing uFlash at drive 2.



#9 ProWizard OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 28, 2015 3:35 PM

For years I have been telling that SDX is not my cup of tea. But this year that changed. With MyIDE 2, IDE+ 2.0, and SIDE2 ... everything works extremely well, thanks to APT and SDX and FAT16. 

 

I can understand that for people who are 'reborn in the a8 scene' it's all rather complicated. When your last memories are: booting DOS 2.5 from a 1050, I can imagine that the plethora of choices and options is such an overwhelming experience that you do not know where to start.

 

Perhaps, I'm not sure, for these people it's better to start not too big. Perhaps they should restart using a8 with one sio based solution first. To get used to all the new software and the way ATR files work. It asks the atari user for a different mind set to understand the fact that an ATR file is a disk-image for instance.

 

When you get used to that, and you like it, there is a big chance you want more.... more RAM, more storage space, more speed, more versatility, an RTC... etc.

That's the right moment to start looking for a solution like IDE+ 2.0 or SIDE2/U1MB. Both excellent choices.

 

I still prefer stock atari 8bit computers, with external solutions, although thanks to FlashJazzCat's new BIOS released for U1MB I think my U1MB atari 800XL with SIDE2 is a serious candidate for becoming my main system. 

 

My CF card is partitioned with a couple of APT partitions:

 

one SpartaDos FS main partition 32 MB with all my regular used tools like Bobterm and The Last Word

one SpartaDos FS partition 16MB dedicated to atari 8bit music

one MyDOS partition 16MB 

a couple of 180KB partitions in XDOS format

 

It's amazing that APT let me use my CF card in IDE+ 2.0 and SIDE... and in someway also in my MyIDE2 cart (as long as I use SDX I can access these partitions)

 

The reason I prefer stock atari's ... is that i also love simplicity. A stock machine with a plugin cart filled with games (I use The!Cart) ... so even my 6 year old daughter can use it... is great too; or simply booting a real floppy from a real diskdrive... it's all possible.

 

I must say as soon as you chose more powerful solutions, your original atari experience makes place for a (total) new experience. Personal I love that, and it's amazing how fast you are used to (or perhaps even spoiled with) all those new features. When I had my first 1050 I was amazed by the LOADING SPEED of this beast. Now I am falling asleep when I have to wait when a game like MULE is finally loaded on my stock 1050.

 

It's a matter of taste, and what you want to do.

 

A few more examples:

I have been running a BBS for a few years. This BBS was running on my Atari 8bit computer, but the visitors were from different kind of systems. Some of the visitors were not even aware it did run on an atari 8bit computer. Other people (also vintage computer users) did visit the board too. In this case I wanted my board to be LIGHTNING FAST. The regular users... I wanted their experience as good as possible, so the board has to be fast. The other users: i wanted to show them how fast and powerful my atari 8bit computer was... So for this purpose the fastest, most powerful and excellent setup was needed. That my system was still a vintage computer setup was not so important for me.

 

My most favorite part of the Atari hobby is coding. Most people here know that I only want to use atari 8bit hardware in this process, so no PC/MAC software is used here. But of course... compiling, debugging and editing sources do take a lot of time. So yes, when I do this, I also want the fastest setup possible. I don't want to compile thousands of lines on a 64K computer to a stock 1050 diskdrive no. I use a 512 bytes/sector partition for lightning fast data i/o.

 

But... in my room I also have a pile of original games on tape. I love the booklets/inlays of these tapes. It's a bright and colorful sight. From time to time I put a tape in my XC12 data recorder and I load a game. It takes a while... sometimes more than 10 minutes ... to load a game. But how cool is that? It's what I'm used to hear from my youth... it's great, and because I waited a long time for the game, I appreciate the game more and I do not switch my atari off within a few minutes to chose another game.

 

So it's just a matter of what do you want to do...

 

Feel free to ask whatever you want to know here on the forum.

My serious advice though: take your time to get used to everything is possible, and don't go too fast ;) Start with a simple setup and once you are used to that, you always can get a step further.

 

Have fun anyway!

Atari is great!



#10 mytek OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 20, 2015 4:06 PM

So after 20 some years I finally get back into the Atari 8 scene. For me its like the idea of time travelers from the future having plucked me up and taken me to their century. Everything is so different in so many ways, and yet traces of the older technology can still be seen at the core. So that brings me to my question(s).

 

Thus far this thread has been focused on formatting and partitioning of the CF card to be used with the Side2, but I am trying to get my head around the whole reasoning behind both of these devices, which although separate pieces of hardware, always appear to be implemented together. This last part is what really throws me. If these are better used together than apart, why does each have its own independent RTC and Spartados loaded? So I'll try to answer my own question. Is it because of the removable nature of the Side2 that makes this necessary, thus allowing the computer with the Ultimate1MB to still function? And lastly what are the main disadvantages of only using the Side2 without the Ultimate1MB?

 

I guess what I would like to see out of this thread is a better breakdown of both devices with Pros and Cons discussed when only using one or the other in a given computer. Hopefully "past" me  :dunce: can be educated to integrate better in this modern  :jango:  Atari 8 society.

 

And let me say thanks ahead of time for any information that is provided to enlighten me about this subject. I have a lot of catching up to do.

 

-Michael



#11 DrVenkman OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 20, 2015 4:17 PM

They're separate devices and each have a built-in RTC and the ability to load SDX from ROM. When you use SDX from one, you disable it on the other. 

 

The SIDE2 has basically two functions: for productivity-type usage, you set it to to provide PBI hard disk functionality and the attached CF card is seen by the Atari as a large, very fast hard disk, while still retaining access to the SIO bus for external devices and floppy drives. Using it in this way with the included RTC and SDX provides a very fast, RAM- and  ROM-based DOS, plus the hard disk partitions on the CF card. This doesn't require use with extended memory but if you do have it, with or without a U1MB device in particular, SDX can provide a large, fast ramdisk as well.

 

The second use for a SIDE2 cart is to load .XEX executable files from the CF card. There's a different partitioning format for this purpose, but that's not worth going into for the purposes of this post. You can even partition the CF card so that part of the storage holds your entire .XEX library, and another part of the storage is used by SpartaDOS X for Atari hard drive usage, all on the same card.

 

The U1MB also provides SDX and an RTC in addition to its primary use as a RAM expansion and OS switcher. Use with a SIDE2 cart isn't required at all - you can boot the expanded-memory Atari from any SIO device, or from an actual cartridge (not the SIDE2 cart).   

 

In other words, the two devices each provide SOME of the functions of the other, but not all of them. They can each be useful without the other.  Used together, they are useful in other ways.



#12 flashjazzcat OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 20, 2015 4:17 PM

The reason they're better used together is that Ultimate 1MB turns the combo into a proper bootable PBI hard disk. This allows the mounting and booting of disk images and booting disk based DOSes from the hard disk. Without Ultimate, you still get SDX, HDD and RTC (hence SDX and RTC on the cart), but the HDD is accessed via a driver in SDX (and is in that scenario NOT a PBI HDD) and is not usable with another DOS (SDX boots from the cart, drivers and all). Without Ultimate, you can use the loader to run XEXs, but ATRs are not supported since the HDD cannot be booted.

So if all you want to do is run XEXs and use the HDD with SpartaDOS X, SIDE on its own will do. But with Ultimate's PBI BIOS, the system is a good deal more powerful and versatile.

Edited by flashjazzcat, Thu Aug 20, 2015 4:27 PM.


#13 mytek OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 20, 2015 6:57 PM

They're separate devices and each have a built-in RTC and the ability to load SDX from ROM. When you use SDX from one, you disable it on the other. 

 

The SIDE2 has basically two functions: for productivity-type usage, you set it to to provide PBI hard disk functionality and the attached CF card is seen by the Atari as a large, very fast hard disk, while still retaining access to the SIO bus for external devices and floppy drives. Using it in this way with the included RTC and SDX provides a very fast, RAM- and  ROM-based DOS, plus the hard disk partitions on the CF card. This doesn't require use with extended memory but if you do have it, with or without a U1MB device in particular, SDX can provide a large, fast ramdisk as well.

 

The second use for a SIDE2 cart is to load .XEX executable files from the CF card. There's a different partitioning format for this purpose, but that's not worth going into for the purposes of this post. You can even partition the CF card so that part of the storage holds your entire .XEX library, and another part of the storage is used by SpartaDOS X for Atari hard drive usage, all on the same card.

 

The U1MB also provides SDX and an RTC in addition to its primary use as a RAM expansion and OS switcher. Use with a SIDE2 cart isn't required at all - you can boot the expanded-memory Atari from any SIO device, or from an actual cartridge (not the SIDE2 cart).   

 

In other words, the two devices each provide SOME of the functions of the other, but not all of them. They can each be useful without the other.  Used together, they are useful in other ways.

 

 

The reason they're better used together is that Ultimate 1MB turns the combo into a proper bootable PBI hard disk. This allows the mounting and booting of disk images and booting disk based DOSes from the hard disk. Without Ultimate, you still get SDX, HDD and RTC (hence SDX and RTC on the cart), but the HDD is accessed via a driver in SDX (and is in that scenario NOT a PBI HDD) and is not usable with another DOS (SDX boots from the cart, drivers and all). Without Ultimate, you can use the loader to run XEXs, but ATRs are not supported since the HDD cannot be booted.

So if all you want to do is run XEXs and use the HDD with SpartaDOS X, SIDE on its own will do. But with Ultimate's PBI BIOS, the system is a good deal more powerful and versatile.

 

Ok this is the kind of info i was after. Thanks guys  :)

 

I have just one more question (maybe two). Can the Side2 be used all by itself just like a hard drive and allow for direct writes from the Atari its plugged into? So for instance, instead of using a floppy or SIO2PC when writing programs and then saving and reading them back, can the Side2 work in this exact same way? This really isn't clear to me, and this kind of functionality is what I desire.

 

-Michael



#14 flashjazzcat OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 20, 2015 7:04 PM

Yes: SIDE is a fully functioning writeable hard drive on its own, providing you use SDX and do not intend to boot anything from the HDD.

#15 mytek OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 20, 2015 7:23 PM

Yes: SIDE is a fully functioning writeable hard drive on its own, providing you use SDX and do not intend to boot anything from the HDD.

 

What exactly do you mean by not booting anything, does that rule out booting up from a selection games and or applications stored on the CF, or are you referring to not being able to boot up an alternative DOS? I suspect the later, since this is geared towards having SpartaDos running the show.



#16 DrVenkman OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 20, 2015 7:46 PM

What exactly do you mean by not booting anything, does that rule out booting up from a selection games and or applications stored on the CF, or are you referring to not being able to boot up an alternative DOS? I suspect the later, since this is geared towards having SpartaDos running the show.

A standalong SIDE2 cart has two modes, controlled by a physical switch on the cart. Slide the switch one way and the Atari will boot up to the usual Atari blue screen. SpartaDOS X will boot up and drop you at the D1: prompt. You can mess about in SDX and do file management stuff, load programs off disks (either the onboard CF card partitions or anything you may have connected to a real SIO device), or drop into BASIC with the BASIC command, whatever.

If the SIDE2 switch is in the other position, booting the Atari brings up what is called the SIDEloader. This is an on-screen menu of .XEX files contained on another partition of the CF card (not the same ones you can access from SDX, but a separate FAT partition). The files on that partition can be scrolled through with the keyboard or a joystick. Pressing RETURN or the joystick FIRE button will load and boot the selected .XEX files.

WHEN USED IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE U1MB, this SIDEloader can be accessed from within the U1MB setup screen and the files you can boot from the SIDE2 CF card also includes Atari formate .ATR disk images. This capability is NOT part of the standalone SIDEloader in the SIDE2 cart itself.

Edited by DrVenkman, Thu Aug 20, 2015 7:48 PM.


#17 mytek OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 20, 2015 8:18 PM

Thanks Dr --- that is very understandable. So it looks like for my immediate uses, the Side 2 by itself would suffice (and unless I'm mistaken, perfectly usable in an XEGS). Just for grins, is there anyway to get around the ATR problem without the Ultimate1MB?

 

Thanks a bunch.

 

-Michael



#18 flashjazzcat OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 21, 2015 3:15 AM

And with Ultimate 1MB, you can boot MYDOS or SpartaDOS 3.x from a hard disk partition. You can't boot an ATR without Ultimate because the OS is unaware of the existence of the hard disk until SDX has first booted up and installed the hard disk driver. With a PBI HDD, meanwhile, which you get with Ultimate, the OS sees the HDD from the instant the OS starts up, so the SDX driver is not needed and you can do more or less what you like with it.

#19 MacRorie OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Sep 5, 2015 9:37 PM

Question on this:

If I have SiDE2 set up to boot by itself (U1MB SDX disabled, as well as it's interface with SiDE2), it boots, but it does not read X:>SPARTA.DOS> or a CONFIG.SYS file?  It reads the Autoexec,bat, though.

 

Is there a way to change this behavior?

 

Thanks



#20 Kyle22 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Sep 5, 2015 9:42 PM

It will read CONFIG.SYS in CAR: only at boot because the SIDE2 interface is not visible to the system until SDX loads its driver.

 

The way to change it is with this utility here: http://sdx.atari8.in...DXImageUser.zip


Edited by Kyle22, Sat Sep 5, 2015 9:43 PM.


#21 Paradroid90 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Mar 6, 2018 4:48 PM

Hi everyone, sorry if I am highjacking this thread, but I have recently come back to the Atari 8 Bit world and invested in a 65XE, Ultimate 1mb and SIDE2.

 

Both the Ultimate 2 and SIDE2 have been flashed to the latest firmware and made sure (Eventually) that I used 1gb Sandisk CF Card(Blue) with the SIDE2.

 

Problem is, alot of games and utils just refuse to run. Boogie Nights, Stunt Car Racer, Yoomp! are just a few that refuse to load via the SIDE2 with either sandisk CF Card or the original CF Card I was using.

 

Some stuff does work like Manic Miner, Prozac Dream. Then their are some XEX's which work first time after being transferred to CF and then will not load again (Deathchase XE, Bombjack). All files mentioned are all .xex or .atr files loaded from the SIDE2 loader.

 

Has anyone come across this level of non compatability before? also any tips on how to address it?

 

Thanks in advance :-)



#22 flashjazzcat OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Mar 6, 2018 4:53 PM

What kind of CF card are you using?

Yoomp! is known to work, as is Boogie Nights, but Stunt Car Racer can't run from the loader since it has its own integral IO code.

Anyway: unless things work consistently, you're experiencing transmission errors.

#23 Paradroid90 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Mar 7, 2018 12:53 AM

Thanks for the reply flashjazzcat. The 1GB CFCard is a Sandisk SDCFJ-1024 which is blue in colour which showed up in FDISK. Like I say I get the same errors on both of the Adata 4GB card I originially used,  and the replacement 1GB CF card.

 

Yoomp crashes at the same point on both cards. That explains Stunt Car Racer's issue.

 

Also what do you mean by transmission issues? Could it be an issue with the SIDE2, or do I have to keep trying CF Cards until one works?

 

Is this an easy fix?

 

Thanks in advance :-)



#24 flashjazzcat OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Mar 7, 2018 1:44 AM

I don't know if there are multiple versions of Yoomp! floating around, but the XEX I have has always worked, as does the ATR. Make sure BASIC is disabled in the loader options, since leaving it on can create problems with many titles.

By transmission errors I mean hardware glitches, effectively, which are the only things that can account for issues whose behaviour is apparently random. I wouldn't expect too many cards to be unstable with a SIDE2, however, so you may be looking at some other gremlin. Check the BASIC setting first.

#25 Paradroid90 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Mar 7, 2018 2:16 PM

I don't know if there are multiple versions of Yoomp! floating around, but the XEX I have has always worked, as does the ATR. Make sure BASIC is disabled in the loader options, since leaving it on can create problems with many titles.

By transmission errors I mean hardware glitches, effectively, which are the only things that can account for issues whose behaviour is apparently random. I wouldn't expect too many cards to be unstable with a SIDE2, however, so you may be looking at some other gremlin. Check the BASIC setting first.

 

Mr Flashjazzcat, you are a legend :-) Switched off basic on the SIDE2 Loader and all the images which did not work before now work :-) I am off to play some Yoomp and dropzone :-)






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