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hloberg

Geneve laptop from Win7

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is is an old laptop with an F12 button missing and bad battery I thought it might be fun to see how much of the branding I could remove from Win7 & how fast I could get the MAME/MESS Geneve to boot to make it look like a Geneve laptop. almost all the Win7/HP branding has been removed except a brief Win7 logo (I think I can even remove that since I did once before). It takes less 20 secs for the Geneve swan to appear, not bad for a 10 yr old laptop. The Geneve boots from the HD. I have 3 HDs at about max size attached and loaded. I also have the mouse pointer vanish after 2 seconds to help complete the illusion. You  may have noticed I have the MESS menu still at the top. That's temporary till I finish making all the loading and test. FYI, MAME/MESS does a excellent job of emulating the Geneve. it's going to take a while for me to go through and organize all the Geneve stuff. When I do I'm going to make a section in https://ti99resources.wordpress.com/. My plans are to paint the laptop that 80s beige/tan color to complete the fakery.

FYI: I just realized you could here the music I was listening to (ST: Enterprise OST) & the music crescendos just as the Swan logo appears. Pure coincidence. 🙂

 

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Surprised how good the graphics are on the Geneve, almost Amiga grade. This, as it's own console, could've been something. We really need to make an FPGA of this machine. Oh, that old laptop I'm using is an HP AMD. Not the greatest, but it was free.

By the way, that's a totally usable version of Win7 under MAME/MESS Geneve. Stripped to min to speed booting (No net for one) but usable.

to remove the Win branding you:

0.) log in using BIOS instead of UEFI to remove PC brand logo (doesn't work on all computers)

1.) in MSCONFIG set logon to NO GUI.

2.) Use the high contrast black mode theme in Win7 (also works in 10). For some reason this shuts down a lot of the Win branding.

3.) A program called logon studio changes the logon, logoff screen to whatever you want. I used the Geneve swan.

4.) A Mouse off program sets the mouse to shut off after 2 seconds.

5.) A little program. that unfortunately I have lost, will remove the last of the Win branding from the logon screen.

6.) have the bottom dock auto-hide.

7.) remove all the icons from the desktop.

you are now left with a black screen. put MAME/MESS short cut in startup and you're done.

I tested this with a faster laptop with a SD drive and Geneve came up in 5 seconds! But that computer is way too expensive to stay Geneve.

BTW, I tested this with Linux. I works but it didn't come up any faster that I saw. So being an MS I stuck with what I know.

 

 

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On linux. To make this faster and more transparent one could do this on Linux. As I posted I tried it on this laptop with linux but it wasn't any faster due to I had to use a linux desktop to get xwindows for MAME. I tried a more stripped Linux but, not being a Linux guy, I never could get just the xwindows components to work or strip away enough un-needed stuff to speed the boot process. 

In time I want to make this almost indistinguishable from the real thing. Ending would be set up small Linus for fast focused boot and to redesign MAME a little so could swap floppies without using the menu. That way could have dedicated  TI-99/8 or PCard work more realistically booting from floppy. Of course I need @mizapf help to do that. My guess would be to have MAME read .DSk file table on disk request rather than menu click. 

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One advantage of using Linux for MAME is that the mouse pointer is not automatically captured. If you use Windows, you lose the pointer if you attach the mouse via "-colorbus mouse" (guess why I added this "deconfiguration" option; previously, the mouse was always connected).

 

Nevertheless, you will need a graphic desktop. We recently discussed the other options of using the framebuffer directly, but it seems to be unsupported for years now.

 

What performance do you get reported when you stop the emulation?

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What performance do you get reported when you stop the emulation?

100% But, I had to use and older version MAME/MESS v149 to get to run on this laptop. versions v20 and up run too slowly on this old AMD. the only problem I have run into using v149, so far, is I can't get Genmod to work. but I really don't need it anyway. I have been using the latest MAME/MESS on my i5 desktop with no problem. Even the 99/8 works fine with latest on my i5.

Linux will be the end game if I can figure out how to get xwindows to run without a desktop? I'm a MCSE with MS but noob with Linux. 😀

 

 

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25 minutes ago, hloberg said:

What performance do you get reported when you stop the emulation?

100% But, I had to use and older version MAME/MESS v149 to get to run on this laptop.

OK, I see ... you know, I usually disclaim having ever written those old versions ... ;-)

 

If you run X11 (xwindows), why would you not run a desktop environment? You can autostart MAME so you won't see the desktop. I'd recommend to use a lightweight desktop like LXDE. You'll need some libraries like SDL and Qt anyway.

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If I were to try and make it as light as possible, I would:

 

1) Start with a fresh debootstrap (or similar, such as say, arch base) environment; Just enough to get a console, and functioning network stack.

2) Install X and fluxbox (to get a functional skeleton xwindows config we can modify)

3) Modify the X config for fluxbox, and substitute mame's executable instead.

 

This way there would a hyper-minimal init, hyper minimal x, and just the bare necessities.

 

Specifically, after this is done, you will have functional xinit configuration you can prod.

https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Xinit#xinitrc

 

We would edit it, and prevent it from starting fluxbox. We would instead direct it to start mame, and append the ampersand at the end, as instructed.

 

Edited by wierd_w

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I tried installing fluxbox and totally flux it up. 😀

seriously, an early attempt with Linux was Debian server with fluxbox & tried to install X components but never got it to work. I'm sure it's all to the fact I didn't know what the flux I was doing. I'm leaving the laptop as is but want to do an old i5 desktop to a TI-99/8 & could revisit the Linux . Then I only have to do is recompile MAME to read disk dir on request instead of menu selection so you can swap disk (only, he says 🙄 ) .

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8 minutes ago, wierd_w said:

hmm..

I suppose I could dig out that modded chromebook, and do a proof of concept with it?

This Linux noob says yes. 

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2 hours ago, hloberg said:

Then I only have to do is recompile MAME to read disk dir on request instead of menu selection so you can swap disk (only, he says 🙄 ) .

What is the "request" that you intend to make MAME mount a disk image? Or: What do you have in mind how this disk exchange should look like?

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5 minutes ago, mizapf said:

What is the "request" that you intend to make MAME mount a disk image? Or: What do you have in mind how this disk exchange should look like?

it's not an official request just an idea at this point

Idea is this; computer has real floppy drive attached. on each of several physical disk put the same file DISK.DSK. but in each DISK.DSK is different content on each of the different physical disk. want to change the floppy content in floppy1, just pop out the physical floppy and pop in another with the same named DISK.DSK file. 

but the difference from now, don't click on menu to eject and insert the new DISK.DSK file table directory. instead, re-read DISK.DSK file table automatically on the new physical disk with no menu interaction. this eliminates the need to click the menu to swap disk files. that way you can swap disk in a drive and never use the menu making the illusion more real. of course, I have no idea how this is to be done.

For now I'm still drudging my way through Linux to see if I can get the boot time under 7 secs and how to remove the PC branding off UEFI boots, if possible.

 

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13 hours ago, hloberg said:

This Linux noob says yes. 

OK.

 

I will do the following:

step 1, create a flat image VMDK in virtualbox that is 1gb 2gb in size. (Base debian is bigger than I expected)
step 2, install debian using netinstall cd, with hyper minimal options.
Step 3, configure the VM as I desire.
Step 4, use DD to transfer this image (with /etc/fstab entry calling for GUID of filesystem for root volume) to a USB stick.

Step 5, verify operation

then, when all works as expected:

Step 6, zip the resulting image and post it.

 

 

Since this is probably going to be aimed at "old hardware", I will use the i386 branch debian, not x64 branch debian.

Edited by wierd_w

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OK, I have the virtual machine able to start mame with a minimal xwindows and twm.

 

I suspect it is an ancient version of mame, however.  Is there a repo I can add?

 

 

VirtualBox_Genevian_14_01_2021_05_48_34.png

 

 

TODO: 

 

Figure out how to make MAME auto-start Geneve emulation

Remove GRUB2 bootloader timeout
Autologin, and automagically run startx.
Automagically invoke "sudo shutdown --now" when mame exits. (DONE! VM now downs gracefully when you kill MAME)

 

 

Edited by wierd_w
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MAME 0.206 is not ancient, maybe a bit beyond "use before". You should not experience any problems when upgrading to 0.227, but some bug fixes.

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I was meaning, that is the newest that is in the debian repo for i386

 

If you can give me a ppa that keeps it current, that would be great. I would add it.

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VM now automagically starts X when normal user logs in. This automagically starts MAME.  When mame exits, "sudo poweroff" is called, causing a graceful shutdown. Appropriate rules to not demand sudo password for poweroff command has been added to /etc/sudoers

(Normal user is named "genevian", and it is a member of sudo group.)

 

Still need to do:

 

Kill GRUB screen/timeout
Autologin as "genevian"

Make MAME automagically start geneve emulation

 

 

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To have MAME start the Geneve emulation, just put the driver name in the command line. As usual. Also, you can skip the info screen (-skip_gameinfo).

 

To get a current MAME, you can unpack the tarball from WHTech. I usually put the current MAME on WHTech, limited to the TI emulations.

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OK. I will pull the tarball, and set it up with that.

 

Is the tarball sourcecode?

 

 

EDIT:

 

Tarball is 64bit.  Will not run in i386!

Edited by wierd_w

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Could you imagine to build MAME from source? (I'd be happy to explain how to set up the environment; it's pretty simple. Maybe via personal messages.)

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That's what a good readme.md is for.

 

I have used gcc and pals to build packages from source before. (where PPAs dont exist, and where the distro repo has something so woefully out of date that it makes me cry blood)

 

 

In this case though, I think I will just use the driver package with stock (old) mame from the distro.

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The advantage of building from source (if not using the tarballs from WHTech) is that the executable is much smaller by limiting to the TI family, and it contains all recent bug fixes. If you have some basic experience, here is a description: https://www.mizapf.de/ti99/mame/buildmame

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I would need to build another VM with more storage for doing compiling in.  Would use it to make easily installable .deb files

 

might do that later.

 

(cluttering the minimal image with dev toolchain is no bueno)

Edited by wierd_w

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Successfully pulled the rom zips from one of hloberg's posts.  Old mame from distro can start genmod from that package.  Now I just need to bring in disk images, configure paths, and tweak mame invocation so geneve slot info is correctly passed.

 

I will make appropriate folders in the "genevian" user's home directory for disk images and pals, so that we dont end up with permissions shenannigans going on.

 

 

Edited by wierd_w
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OK, it makes my crappy i5 laptop hum quite bad running in the VM, but the VM starts the genmod emulation and boots mdos now.

 

I enabled support for mounting windows file shares. (was how I got the data into the vm's disk image) Created a folder in /mnt called cifs. (legacy name for windows file share tech)

 

For those with NAS boxes, this could be used to mount their NAS.  The utility of this should be clearly apparent.

 

 

Disk images are stored in /home/genevian/.shared/mame/disks

 

ini folder, with copied ti99 config ini files, located in /home/genevian/.shared/mame/ini
(has subfolders for games and cart; How to tell mame to use this location is another matter however.)

 

I have never messed with setting up MAME this way before, I just lifted all the invocation from hloberg's archive, and did unix style path translations and corrections where appropriate.

 

 

Observe

 

 

VirtualBox_Genevian_14_01_2021_09_18_14.thumb.png.b73835e93228113828086bc04b02957e.png

 

 

For utility reasons, it might be beneficial to create a FAT32 partition, move disk images there, and have the system automatically mount that partition in the ~/.shared/mame location, then move all the disk images and config files THERE.  That way windows loving kids can put the stick in a windows machine, and use the tools there on the images.

 

 

Edited by wierd_w

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