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Mehridian Sanders

OS based on TI-99/4a

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So I am not normally included in development. Most of my work is based on testing. It may be that my thought on this is uninformed and uneducated. For which I would look for any kind of creative criticism, suggestion, or possibly good humored argument.

 

I seems to me that there is no way to bring a total connection between the TI -99 and current world, without some kind of radical change. I love Solid State devices. they are cleaner, quieter, more dependable. If there was a way to bring about a newer OS for the TI that would allow for the induction of modern drivers, it would solve a lot of problems. However there are RAM, ROM, and GROM considerations to take into account. 

 

Is there a way to bring the TI-99 forward and keep the retro. Is there a way to make an OS that will function just like the TI-99 and allow for drivers? Is there a way to produce a processor capable of more? I know it would involve flashing ROMS. I think that there are enough Homebrewers that would enjoy a system that could do a bit more with itself. Making games that would keep the retro feel but be bigger in size ... like "Bards Tale (1985)" where the landscape is created at the time of player creation is procedurally generated, and bigger than just Skara Brae.

 

Atari is coming out with the VCS system. It will have dual boot ability. Onboard OS is Based on linux it is allowing for retro games to be played and allow for it to be used as a Media center for the home streaming. I have to admit that I am truly impressed with the technology. Check out the system specs here :Atari VCS  Pretty robust features for the coming age. 

 

TL:DR

Can we make an OS based on TI-99/4a? Can we do what Atari VCS did?

 

Thoughts and Comments please. and thank you for your time reading.

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Can it?  Yes.  The Geneve in some of its very earliest versions I believe booted straight into "TI-99/4A" mode.  The TI-99/4A mode (GPL mode) is all RAM that can be modified and configured however someone wants if they want to devise something new.

 

So, if someone really did want to devise something new, one could do all there testing via software using MAME and selecting the Geneve mode.  Have the HFDC configured so that LOAD/SYS loads a file that configures your new mode straight into the GPL environment.  Basically, the LOAD/SYS file sets all the CRU bits, etc. to a computer state you desire. What you do with it at that point, all depends upon what you place into the ROM at >0000 to >1FFF.  You would have immediate access to 512K ram to play in your new environment.  

 

Then, if you got something you liked, you could then explore building the necessary hardware around the operating system and flashing roms, etc.  Nothing says you would need to have GPL groms if you started from scratch at the boot room code level at >0000 to >1FFF.

 

Rewriting the ROM code at >0000 to >1FFF, you could in principle setup a multitasking enviroment.

 

Beery

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I suggested this in 2001 at Chicago Fair.

The idea that Gary Bowser and I discussed was swapping ROM 0 in lower and upper 4K pages of multiple upper pages similar to the SAMS memory.

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23 minutes ago, RXB said:

I suggested this in 2001 at Chicago Fair.

The idea that Gary Bowser and I discussed was swapping ROM 0 in lower and upper 4K pages of multiple upper pages similar to the SAMS memory.

With both MAME under Geneve emulation, and on the real Geneve, this could easily be done, but under memory management code for the Geneve versus SAMS.  I only suggest this as it sets someone up to at least brainstorm and test ideas and concepts, without the immediate financial investment in either building new hardware or modifying existing hardware.

 

Beery

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I suggested this in 2001 at Chicago Fair.
The idea that Gary Bowser and I discussed was swapping ROM 0 in lower and upper 4K pages of multiple upper pages similar to the SAMS memory.
Has there been discussion about using SPI IC ? In theory we could load all basic functions on a relatively inexpensive SPI.

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What exactly are you missing from the current TI-99 that can be overcome by adapting, rewriting or even replacing the Operating System?

I am asking this to redefine the specs, not to disencourage.

 

The operating system is programmed very open to extend it with drivers for new devices. The hardware is easily added to the serial port or sidecar or into the PEB.

 

The operating system is not so good in extending the interpreter with new tokens or anything but CALL routines without going very deep into the analysis of the operating system.

 

The hardware is at the moment running some dependencies, among them the DSR coming via CRU into the Cpu Memory Space 2000-3FFF.

 

It is not that the operating system is the blocking unit when it is about adding drivers for modern devices. It is that somebody has to write the driver in 9900 assembler and has to understand the whole logic and specs of whatever he is interfacing with.

 

Basically every DSR can be added even to an otherwise unexpanded TI running nothing but TI-Basic. You interact with the Device via its specified name like CS1, DSK1, WD1, RS232, HEXBUS,...

 

If you want something else than any Basic Environment to find and start your programs then the Problem is that you give full control to the started program. So if it crashes, your TI crashes. If it turns off the interrupts, it does that and eliminates your chance to hook in when it exits.

 

Most 99ers run a Ramdisk with a Boot program have a sort of different platform to find and start your programs.

 

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10 minutes ago, arcadeshopper said:

Have you looked at force command?

Greg mentions the latest and greatest DOS for the TI.  When in a FinalGROM it can it can effectively take over the TI reset process bypasses the startup screen and selection menu.  So whenever you quit a program (reset the computer), you are instantly back in DOS.  If you set up some batch files, you can even build a custom menu system.

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Greg mentions the latest and greatest DOS for the TI.  When in a FinalGROM it can it can effectively take over the TI reset process bypasses the startup screen and selection menu.  So whenever you quit a program (reset the computer), you are instantly back in DOS.  If you set up some batch files, you can even build a custom menu system.
Ok, so look at a grouping of batch files and have it run through FG99 on startup? Then write drivers for say.. an nvidia 680... and have a batch file to incorporate the various functions from the Gpu?

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4 hours ago, Mehridian Sanders said:

Ok, so look at a grouping of batch files and have it run through FG99 on startup? Then write drivers for say.. an nvidia 680... and have a batch file to incorporate the various functions from the Gpu?

 

4 hours ago, Mehridian Sanders said:

Assuming you have already written an interface protocol for PCI ? Or am I missing something in translation?

 

I've lost you here, I've never heard of using anything PCI on a TI-99/4A, let alone an Nvidia card.  There is a command for width assuming you are using an F18A.  Text and ANSI graphics can be inserted into batch files though.

 

I made a "quick and dirty" video for someone else quite a while back, it's not directly addressing anything we've been talking about, but you can see my Force Command color ANSI screen and see how the DOS loads stuff...

 

 

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ISA would be easier to adapt than PCI.  PCI is a cpu local bus, where ISA is designed to be an external bus. (and much slower too. More in line with the signalling speeds of the TI)

 

An old Trident card would be amusing to get working. (there were 8bit isa trident cards. Trident TVGA-8900C for example. It's a 16bit card, but can be driven in an 8bit mode, and thus can live in an 8bit slot.)

 

That's one thing that amuses me about the PEB-- the cards are a lot taller than ISA cards. Some jiggery pokery could be done to make an adapter riser, at least in theory.

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