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Please find a major update to the APT soft-drivers, PBI BIOSes, and partitioning and hard disk management tools here: http://atari8.co.uk/apt/ All drivers are updated, with brand new tools provided on customised SDX 4.46 builds and an APT Toolkit ATR if you prefer to run them from disk or with another DOS. Existing tools like FDISK have been heavily revised, while most other tools are brand new. The tools are: FDISK MATR APTDISK APTDEV ATRMNT MOUNT CHECKAPT UFLASH General documentation is provided in PDFs, while detailed coverage is included in text files on the toolkit ATR, which also includes all the soft-drivers and both PBI ROMs. SDX soft-drivers (pre-installed on custom SDX ROMs) are provided for the following hardware: MyIDE / MyIDE+Flash MyIDE 2 SIDE SIDE2 Colleen Most important, perhaps, are the major updates to the Ultimate 1MB and Incognito PBI BIOSes. These updates provide very greatly improved compatibility with SpartaDOS 3.x, MyDOS, RealDOS, as well as many, many ATR-based game titles and demos. Non-standard ATRs are now supported, and a raft of efficiency and stability improvements have been made. Several bugs have been fixed, and useful new enhancements implemented. See the BIOS changelog for details. I won't say too much more, since it's getting late and preparing these updates has taken almost a month of intensive work. I must express my thanks to AA member ProWizard for inspiring the recent frenzy of development and assisting me so ably and generously via testing and bug reports. Thanks also to Candle for his work on the latest SIDE loader and his provision for UFLASH support direct from FAT32. If you find bugs, experience issues or just discover broken links, etc, please let me know and I'll fix anything as soon as possible. There is such a lot of material here that I could hardly expect perfection, but at least I guarantee any problems will now be easy to rectify and probably caused by my own stupidity or tiredness. Ultimate and Incognito users my simply want to flash the PBI BIOS update and SDX 4.46 build and then read the manuals later on. PS: IDEa BIOS to follow... just ran out of time and steam tonight.
This doesn't really fit anywhere else, since several hard disk interfaces are using APT these days, so I'm giving it its own topic. Following some helpful suggestions regarding the APT Partition Editor (FDISK: thanks Marius and others), I've been doing some significant revisions on that program, aimed both improving usability, and paving the way for some cool future enhancements to the way we move data around. While looking for inspiration for the new FDISK's UI improvements, I found myself (re)reading DrCoolZic's excellent UltraSatan manual, and noticed something I hadn't seen before: namely where he talks (in Chapter 4) about a driver which allows the use of partitioned removable media in Windows. Now, Linux has always been able to do this (AFAIK), and GPARTED will partition CF and SD cards without issue. But while one may use third-party partitioning applications in Windows to partition removable media, Windows won't mount those partitions when you put the card in the reader. However, DrCoolZic's method appears to circumvent that problem, and I'm now able to use the Windows 7 Computer management console to partition CF cards. What's this got to do with APT? Well - maybe you want three FAT partitions on your SIDE CF card, as well as APT partitions that the Atari file system can see. FDISK doesn't provide an MBR partition editor: it just asks some simple questions about how you want to chop up the media between FAT and APT. And - while the new version of FDISK will be more flexible in this respect - it still won't provide a full-blown MBR partition editor. What it will do is allow you to tag an APT onto the end of a pre-partitioned card, or even assign an existing MBR partition entry as an APT area. Anyway - I've just started playing with these removable media drivers, but I thought I'd share. Here's the info: http://www.atari8.co...gRemovableMedia
Since Phaeron added Corvus emulation to Altirra, and considering the excitement which sometimes surrounds these rare vintage HDD controllers, here's an XL/XE Corvus APT driver for SpartaDOS X: corvus_apt_driver_v.0.1.zip This works exactly like the SIDE, MYIDE and Colleen drivers which are already in wide use. Fire up Altirra, add a Corvus via System->Devices..., boot SDX, run CORVUS.SYS and then run the APT partition editor (FDISK) in the usual fashion. Be sure to select XL/XE compatibility (ports 1+2). Volume size is very limited at the moment since only a 6MB HDD is emulated, but it's fun nonetheless. Note: this driver uses the APT partition format, so if you happen to prep a disk (real or emulated), all your old Corvus partitions will be gone. Not sure where this is going, if anywhere, but the next task is to tighten up the driver and make transfers a bit faster (it's very slow at the moment since modularity has resulted in a lot of subroutine calls for every byte transferred). Error checking is non-existent and I have absolutely no idea how this will fare on real hardware. The firmware tracks should be safe since the driver only does block transfers in the user area of the drive. FDISK works transparently with the Corvus with the exception that the Firmware description string spills out of the APT device properties dialog, so I'll fix that eventually. All the APT tools I've tested work with it (APTDISK, APTDEV, etc), and you can explore the disk at the physical or logical level with KMK's excellent EDDY editor. You can even leave your Ultimate/SIDE HDD active and run it alongside the Corvus. Both devices show up in the partition editor. Speaking of Ultimate: if you're using the new BIOS, disable joystick input in the setup menu otherwise the Corvus will move the highlight cursor for you. The driver will eventually sense if it's working on an 800 and configure itself for PORTB, and avail itself of the extra joystick ports Incognito provides in XL/XE mode. Right now, it's XL/XE only.
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 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.