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TI - Cartridge Based Operating System -- (Potential & Discussion)

TI-99/4A OS99 FG99 RetroComputing

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#1 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 25, 2017 2:49 PM

Another TI user made a GREAT comment about not cluttering up another persons thread with off-topic chit-chat about an OS for the TI.  With that in mind, I thought why not start a new thread and see where it leads us.   :)

 

With the FinalGROM 99 on the horizon, now has never been a better time to start exploring options.  With one megabyte of memory, and GROM capability, nearly anything seems possible.

 

One thing is certain, as something like this grows and evolves, anyone will be able to download and install any new version within seconds.  Since there is no doubt how popular this cartridge will be, I'm pretty confident the potential user base will be quite respectable.  

 

Since an OS suggests 'disk access', we know the target audience will already have either a P-Box, Nano-PEB or some other variant to save data, but what about video requirements?  A large percentage of this demographic also runs F18A's, so would it not be wise to consider that a standard item as well?



#2 mizapf OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 25, 2017 3:15 PM

We Geneve users have some experience with an operating system: GeneveOS, aka MDOS. Maybe it offers some inspiration how an OS could look like.



#3 Opry99er OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 25, 2017 5:56 PM

Apple DOS 3.3 and ProDOS look very good. They are extremely simple yet effective.

Honestly, my XB2.7 Suite works much like a DOS system with just a few extra steps. From that one cartridge, I can CATALOG disks, format them, copy, transfer files to/from my TI via serial interface, etc.

It is a collection of individual programs, yes... but the cart never leaves the slot unless my son wants to run educational software or I want to play Henhouse or the like.

#4 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 25, 2017 6:25 PM

The XB2.7s is a great cartridge for sure, sadly over time some of the programs may become outdated, and it's not a cartridge one can update.  I'm rather partial to Gazoo's legacy cartridge anyway, so it's going to remain 100% AS-IS.

 

Now when you talk about the cart never leaving the slot, that's exactly what's happened with the FinalGROM 99.   I firmly believe that once this cartridge is released, it's quite literally going to 'take over' since it's such a game changer.

 

A few of the major advantages of this cartridge for a DOS environment (from my perspective) are:

 

1) The large size of programs it's capable of running.

2) The ease of updating and staying current with new software can be done by easily by ANYONE. 

3) The user base will probably be the largest of any modern cartridge in existence, so anything major developed for it WILL be used and probably adopted overnight.  



#5 Opry99er OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 25, 2017 8:48 PM

Well, I am sure that has some truth to it, but if you're hoping for an all-encompassing Operating System, that is a tall order for a programmer. All the functionality exists, spread across multiple programs--So I question the real demand for an all-in-one DOS system. I would love to have it, but I doubt anyone wants to reinvent the wheel. Maybe I am wrong.

#6 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 25, 2017 9:44 PM

So I question the real demand for an all-in-one DOS system. I would love to have it, but I doubt anyone wants to reinvent the wheel. Maybe I am wrong.

 

You may be right!  That's what this thread is for... to see where it leads us.  The nice thing about a DOS, it can be improved upon incrementally over the months, or years.  To me it sounds like a great project to keep people interested and improving our little black & silver toy to it's full potential.  You know, originally MS/DOS was a port from another system and then evolved over time.  Mizapf might have hit the nail on the head with the Geneve as a source for a starter block.

 

As for where it leads, who knows?  It could start off as something truly simple like 4A/DOS but over time evolve into a something more robust including seamless SAMS control, and other stuff besides being a simple program loader.



#7 Opry99er OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 25, 2017 9:53 PM

Does anyone know if we have the source for any of the disk managers? DM1000, DM2, etc?

I have not used Fred's DM2K, but I gather it is something different than a standard disk manager.

#8 sometimes99er OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 25, 2017 11:08 PM

We Geneve users have some experience with an operating system: GeneveOS, aka MDOS. Maybe it offers some inspiration how an OS could look like.

  

I never looked much at the Geneve. Thought it was a TI-99/4A upgrade. Took a look at mainbyte.com and now it's perhaps more a PEB upgrade ? Do you have to have the TI-99/4A connected to operate ?

 

Now it looks like the TI-99/4A is branching out in different directions. 1. the Geneve with hardware from 1987, and 2. the TI-99/4A, still called the TI-99/4A, with inner hardware mod, OS99, DOS, prompt and GUI.

 

For the sake of the software, shouldn't we have followed the Geneve direction ? A Geneve in nano size to plug into the side port ?


Edited by sometimes99er, Wed Apr 26, 2017 12:27 AM.


#9 Opry99er OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 25, 2017 11:51 PM

I believe a fellow across the pond was working on an FPGA version of the Geneve...

IIRC, the original gate arrays are unobtanium.

#10 mizapf OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 26, 2017 1:56 AM

  I never looked much at the Geneve. Thought it was a TI-99/4A upgrade.

 

A stab at the heart! ;)

 

The Geneve may be called a TI-compatible platform. It is able to run TI-99/4A software, but apart from that, it is another computer.

 

Have a look at http://www.ninerpedi...tle=Geneve_9640

 

I invite everyone who is interested to run the Geneve emulation in MAME. TIImageTool contains a GeneveOS distribution and can create a boot disk.

 

As I once wrote: The Geneve is everything that the TI-99/8 should have been, just better.


Edited by mizapf, Wed Apr 26, 2017 2:06 AM.


#11 RXB OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 26, 2017 4:35 AM

Does anyone know if we have the source for any of the disk managers? DM1000, DM2, etc?

I have not used Fred's DM2K, but I gather it is something different than a standard disk manager.

I have seen the source of DM1000, DM1K, DM2K and even FW.



#12 sometimes99er OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 26, 2017 5:33 AM

The Geneve may be called a TI-compatible platform. It is able to run TI-99/4A software, but apart from that, it is another computer.

 

As I once wrote: The Geneve is everything that the TI-99/8 should have been, just better.

  

Never knew of the Geneve until about 2004. BITD I moved on to the C64 and then had the A2000 when it came in 1987.

 

The TMS9995 and the Yamaha V9938 certainly has my interest. Upfront I'm also interested in systems like A2600, A800, SMS and GBC.

 

But then this is about an OS. Isn't Forth more or less there ?

 

;)


Edited by sometimes99er, Wed Apr 26, 2017 5:37 AM.


#13 Meddler OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 26, 2017 5:35 AM

Another TI user made a GREAT comment about not cluttering up another persons thread with off-topic chit-chat about an OS for the TI.  With that in mind, I thought why not start a new thread and see where it leads us.   :)

 

With the FinalGROM 99 on the horizon, now has never been a better time to start exploring options.  With one megabyte of memory, and GROM capability, nearly anything seems possible.

 

One thing is certain, as something like this grows and evolves, anyone will be able to download and install any new version within seconds.  Since there is no doubt how popular this cartridge will be, I'm pretty confident the potential user base will be quite respectable.  

 

Since an OS suggests 'disk access', we know the target audience will already have either a P-Box, Nano-PEB or some other variant to save data, but what about video requirements?  A large percentage of this demographic also runs F18A's, so would it not be wise to consider that a standard item as well?

 

Well, fair enough for those with "systems" but the only thing "standard" would be the Console and a selection of cartridges for most people.

I would be delighted to put my TI99/4A to more use but balk at, if you will forgive me, putting good money after bad on this sad unit spoiled at conception.

The work here is both inspiring and impressive so I have no criticism of those utilizing this fine tool but I believe that until there is an affordable option that gives all the things that are missing from a basic computer then it will remain a fringe hobby for those with deep pockets.

My basic wish list that would get me to spend money would be some simple interface that provides some RAM and Printer output, I2C or some other modern interface would be nice. I loose track, FinalGrom and F18A might resolve all these things.

I mention I2C as the Arduina/raspberry crowd are being feted with hundreds of cheap add-ons that we are missing out on.



#14 atrax27407 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 26, 2017 5:54 AM

I have the source for DM1000



#15 Asmusr ONLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 26, 2017 8:49 AM

Once I have a FinalGROM 99 I expect my use of disks to be very limited, and so will my need for an OS.



#16 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 26, 2017 9:07 AM

I'm sometimes amazed at the different perspectives two people can have on something.  I don't see my TI hobby as, "putting good money after bad" at all.  I find it utterly exciting and enjoyable to see what I can make this computer from my youth into.  To me, one of the neat things about the TI is that it can be expanded in so many different ways that people can truly have a "personalized system".  I have two systems operational now, both totally different in their configurations, and both with room for future upgrades!  :grin:

 

I also don't see this as a hobby for those with deep pockets, if it was, I sure wouldn't be here! ;)  How many hardware items will the average person buy in a year?  Say I only buy one item this year and it costs $125.00 with shipping, if I divide that by 12, my hobby will only cost me around $10.41 a month this year.  That's pretty darn cheap for a hobby if you ask me.  

 

True, the FG99 will take a lot of the load off the disk drives for some people, especially the gaming crowd, but there is still software that requires disk access in one form or another.  Like the old Six Million Dollar Man TV show, "We can rebuild it, we have the technology to make it better than it was.  Better, powerful, faster".   

 

 



#17 Stuart OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 26, 2017 9:09 AM

 

I mention I2C as the Arduina/raspberry crowd are being feted with hundreds of cheap add-ons that we are missing out on.

 

I2C you can do through the joystick port - http://www.stuartcon...m#i2c_interface. The issue though is that pretty much every type of device will need a software driver to send/receive data specific to that device. Straightforward enough for the Arduino/Raspberry crowd where the population is in the millions, and the computers have got a gig or so of RAM.



#18 PeBo OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 1, 2017 8:14 AM

 

2) The ease of updating and staying current with new software can be done by easily by ANYONE. 

 

That is what I loved the most about FR99...

 

When JetPac was first released in TurboForth (before the stand-alone cartridge conversion) I was very disappointed because the version of TurboForth I had (1.2.1) was not up-to-date, and couldn't run it...not being skilled at eprom burning (ya, I know, I'll get there eventually) it meant if I wanted to play the game I'd have to find someone to burn the updated TurboForth for me, so I could create a new cart.

 

Well along came FR99, and I could just download the newest version of TurboForth and put it on FR99, and I was off to the races (or off to the rocket building in this case)...the idea of using Forth (or EA or Cortex) without swapping carts is outstanding (and has saved SO much wear and tear on the TI's less than durable cartridge port). The fact that FGR99's GROM support will open the door up to running pretty well every language available on the TI from it will most definitely be a game changer.

 

(no pun intended....the reset button on the FR99 (or FGR99) being, quite literally, a "game changer" after all)



#19 x24b OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 10, 2017 9:31 AM

For reference material, this might be of interest. No need to reinvent the wheel when you have the original wheel blueprints...

 

http://www.computerh...ly-source-code/

PC DOS version 1.0, which supported only floppy disks, was shipped when IBM first released their PC in August 1981. Microsoft then substantially rewrote the software to support subdirectories and hard disks; version 2.0 was released with the IBM PC-XT in March of 1983.
Microsoft retained the rights to the operating system and licensed it to other computer manufacturers, calling it MS-DOS. With the permission of Microsoft Corporation, the Computer History Museum is pleased to make available the source and object code to Microsoft’s MS-DOS operating system versions 1.1 and 2.0, for non-commercial use.

 

Attached Files



#20 Gip-Gip OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue May 16, 2017 6:36 PM

I may get started on my own OS once I find out the quirks of C99. Would anyone happen to have the documents to the compiler? ftp://ftp.whtech.com/programming/c99/C99REL4/c99%20v4%20for%20994a%20manual.pdf

 

P.S. I started my own dedicated thread if anyone wants to discuss the idea


Edited by Gip-Gip, Tue May 16, 2017 8:26 PM.






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