I'm pleased to announce the release of the v.2.0 'alt' firmware for the Ultimate 1MB, Incognito, 1088XEL and SIDE/SIDE2. The update had been slated for release late in 2017, but the emergence of the 1088XEL and the requirement for custom U1MB firmware for the new motherboard heralded a prolonged period of firmware development and redesign for all supported devices. Since the 1088XEL's XEL-CF compact flash adapter can handle dual physical disks, I redesigned the U1MB PBI BIOS to accommodate primary and secondary devices, which in turn prompted significant alterations to the XEX loader. Many useful changes and augmentations were carried back to the 'standard' firmware builds (targeting the SIDE cartridge).
Since releasing the 1088XEL U1MB firmware here a couple of weeks ago (which has been subject to a minor fix pertaining to DracOS compatibility since then), I realized that the SDX "soft drivers" (for SIDE, MYIDE, Colleen, etc, which hadn't been updated since 2014) could also benefit from some fixes and augmentations. Likewise the various APT tools (FDISK, ATRMNT, MOUNT, etc) on the 'toolkit' disk, many of which required amendments in order to work with the updated PBI BIOS. Then I remembered that the APT Toolkit manual and the APT API Programmer's documentation hadn't been updated in years either...
It seemed imprudent to relase - say - the new SIDE/SIDE2 ROMs with old versions of the soft-drivers and outdated documentation, so the past couple of weeks have been spent on documentation and toolkit/driver updates. I finally started assembling the ROMs and ATRs a few days ago, and even this was a painstaking process. I closed my website down imagining that the site updates and media uploads would be completed within twenty-four hours... five days later, it was still closed.
In any case, I completely underestimated the sheer volume of software, firmware and documentation, so I can only apologise to those who have recently been gently pestering me for the U1MB update via email. Many complain of poorly documented hardware and software products in the A8 community, so I hope the time I've spent on four fairly lengthy PDF manuals has not been wasted.
Not everything is complete. The MYIDE SDX ROMs and drivers are not yet uploaded and many download sections have placeholders for the moment. But U1MB, Incognito, SIDE and 1088XEL owners may download the latest firmware and tools and consult freshly updated documentation:
Installation instructions and readme files will be updated in due course. I reached the stage this evening where not uploading everything would delay release by another week or more.
As usual, please use this thread to discuss any installation or usage issues. The updates to the SDX soft-drivers (SIDE.SYS, COLLEEN.SYS, etc) have not been subjected to testing by anyone but myself, so if any early adopters encounter problems, please let me know.
Also released is the RAPIDISK driver (which allows faster HDD transfers at 20MHz) and Rapidus-specific BIOS plugins for U1MB (also on the 1088XEL).
I hope to make some 'quick-start' videos and general guides over the coming days/weeks, but as usual it's all a question of available time.