[Coco] CoCo TALK #18 an introduction to OS9

Steve Strowbridge ogsteviestrow at gmail.com
Sun Jul 23 10:35:23 EDT 2017

Kip, thanks for your info and for sharing, you have kind of shed some light
on what some of the "complexities" to owning and operating NitrOS9 are.
I've only been in the CoCo community for coming on 2 years, and I've been
all too aware of the great "Divide" or "Debate" of Disk Extended Color
BASIC (I won't call it a DOS) and OS-9
I've heard the term "serious" CoCo user/worker/developer vs. casual,
gaming, etc.

So I'm going to throw out some thoughts and ideas, and I'll start with this

WARNING:  The thoughts and ideas expressed herein are those of myself, and
myself alone.  They are not intended to shyte on any individual, group,
project, or product.   They reflect my own opinions, and are not endorsed
by Tandy, Radio Shack, The Color Computer mailing list, or the color
computer community in genera, viewer discretion advised

So, let's look at the fact we're talking about people who have chosen to
continue to work on, or with a 30+ year old 8-bit computer that runs with
typically less than 2MB of RAM and 2 MHz in speed, and was considered an
underdog machine, even in it's prime.

The fact that "we" (the CoCo community) chose to work with this machine, or
an emulated or replicated version of it, to anyone outside of the retro
community would be viewed of as absurd by any "sane" or "normal" person.
The fact we're working on this machine, literally means that it is a hobby,
and a hobby, by definition is something we do in our spare time to
_entertain_ ourselves, so even the "serious" CoCo user is using it for
their own enjoyment, and that's not a crime, criticism, or judgment, but,
from my perspective, a fact.

I have heard, that this list (the CoCo mailing list) is for more "serious"
type CoCo people, and, judging from the topics, I'd tend to agree, we
certainly enjoy tacking on to topics such as the legality of ROMs and
Assembly vs Machine code for example.

But, let's focus on NitrOS9... the serious, loyal, die hard CoCo folks love
it, but, it also reminds me of a small, local, independent band, everybody
has that underground band they love, but they want to keep it to
themselves, so it's their little secret, and they know something nobody
else does.  That mentality doesn't factor into the fact of that band
possibly wanting to be able to earn a living playing music full time, or
even worse, chasing the dream of becoming rich and famous, but, for some,
the fact they can hold onto a well kept secret, it's good enough for them.

Is NitrOS9 the well kept secret only known to those who can assemble, make,
cross compile, use multi platform development and imaging tools, and deal
with the complexity of different drivers, modules and what not?  What makes
the OS so great if you need to go through that much effort just to be able
to boot it?

We can continue to keep OS-9 the special thing we want to hold on to, and
be one of a few dozen people who listen to the song, or perhaps, we could
find a way to let the world hear the music, and it may be an even greater

As much as I agree, knowing how to do the lower level, much more technical
things about building and assembling that operating system are, in fact
very cool things, and make it even more Linux like even today, I think they
are alienating the OS from other people who may like to try it.  Our recent
CoCo TALK was meant to help some of those people even look at it, for
perhaps the first time.

One of the goals I'd like to see happen from this, is one or more plug and
play hard drive images available for anyone to download that they can hit
the ground running with on both the CoCoSDC and an emulator.
Barry Nelson has mentioned he's got a few, and hopefully a few others exist.

>From what I've seen and heard in my brief time with using NitrOS9, it seems
that the current repository has different versions of modules and command
line utilities that are almost "backwards" from the versions that Curtis
and Bill worked on.  In my preparation for demoing the OS, I discovered
that the G-Shell was an older version, the Play command was an older
version, and the DIR command didn't support wild cards, and this was my
first experience with the OS.

It seems there are some fragmentation and inconsistencies with what's on
the repo and what people are using out in the wild, and for the most part,
it seems up to the individual to make the version that's best for them.  On
the one hand, that level of flexibility is quite amazing, but on the
other... What a pain in the ass :)

For all the serious developers who are using it, other than Bill Pierce who
actually tells us what he does with it, what are y'all doing? This is not
meant to be a snarky, condescending question, but one of legitimate
In the almost 2 years I've been watching this list, I don't recall seeing
too many emails with people saying "hey, here is my new utility, and it
does the following", or "hey, here's an update to module _X_ or command _Y_
that address/adds the following"  (These may be on the Wiki, or forum, or
repo, haven't visited those yet, but... in the past 2 years I've heard of
and seen a _TON_ of CoCo RS "DOS" projects, like the CoCoSDC Explorer, Ed
Snider's medial player for the CoCo SDC, a half dozen games, and more.

Where are the OS9 applications, games, utilities? how does the average
person learn about them and get them?

I'm a person who never used OS9 and have only looked at it like 3 times in
the past 10 days, but I'm intrigued by it, and want to know more, but I
know there is probably a vast percentage of our community who would also
probably give it a chance if we could make getting it up and running more
user friendly to start.

My proposal is to make publicly available a handful of VHD images, I'll be
happy to put links to them on my site, and have images that can boot and
play sierra games off the bat, as well as run BASIC09, compile, and you
name it, the ability to boot into modes that support the various games also
seems inconsistent, so again, a way to "user friednlyfy" the OS would go a
long way towards adoption.

When I got into the CoCo as a kid, I was mainly attracted to just playing
the games, but then I learned to program in BASIC and continued to program
for nearly 20 years on the CoCo and for MS-DOS.  So my simple and
non-serious fascination got me wanting to do more, dig deeper, and become a
more technical person.

I'd hope that getting a NitrOS9 bootable hard drive into more hands may
also spark some fascination with others, who once they played around with
it, may end up programming or doing something with it, that could further
help our community, and enhance the "enjoyment" of this "serious" operating

End Rant, end tyraide, now I'm back to playing some RS-DOS games on my CoCo
for fun :)

Steve Strowbridge, aka
The Original Gamer Stevie Strow
Website/Merchandise/CoCo links page:
Email:  ogsteviestrow at gmail.com
Get your "Game Play Goodnes" fix of CoCo and retro videos at:

On Sun, Jul 23, 2017 at 8:05 AM, Kip Koon <computerdoc at sc.rr.com> wrote:

> Hi Rick,
> I think we might share a similar passion.  I like exploring how the system
> software works especially when it comes to NitrOS-9.
> On the yahoo group Coco3FPGA there is a file called "NitrOS-9 Setup for
> Coco3FPGA.zip".  This is a link to my dropbox of the same file.
> < https://www.dropbox.com/s/xq67el8adcapij4/NitrOS-9%
> 20Setup%20for%20Coco3FPGA.zip?dl=0>
> This file has everything you need to take a TERASIC DE-1 from nothing to
> self-booting into NitrOS-9 with plenty of instructions.
> I know you have a Coco 3 and this document is for the DE-1, but I thought
> you might glean some information you need from it.  The Coco3FPGA specific
> drivers would of course not apply.  Use the latest disk image files in the
> NitrOS-9 build zip file link below.
> If you need me to create a Coco 3 version of this document, just let me
> know.  If you would like to have a local NitrOS-9 Repository of your own,
> just let me know and I would be happy to let you know how I did it.  You
> can download a copy of the source code for NitrOS-9 at the following url.
> < https://sourceforge.net/projects/nitros9/>
> You have to have a Linux setup to build it.  I am currently using Cygwin64
> running on Windows 7 to build my NitrOS-9 Repository into the latest disk
> image files suitable for putting on the CocoSDC, Floppies, etcetera.
> There is a web page of prebuilt NitrOS-9 disk images, but I can't seem to
> find where it is located so I will build you a brand new set.
> I have a local NitrOS-9 Repository pulled from the master NitrOS-9
> repository so I can build disks with the latest source code.
> I started the NitrOS-9 build last night before going to bed.  I left the
> build running all night.  I know 'cause I checked on it several times
> before finally falling to sleep.
> (The next morning after running the build all night.)  My build finally
> finished sometime during the night.  After inspecting the new disk image
> files, I noticed that some of the file names have changed so there are
> NitrOS-9 build files dated 5-25-2017 in among the NitrOS-9 build files
> dated 7-22-2017.  Obviously the later dated .dsk files are the ones to
> use.  Here is the link to my dropbox for the "nitros9 2017-07-22.zip" file.
> < https://www.dropbox.com/s/1z9kq9yv9187iz5/nitros9%202017-07-22.zip?dl=0>
> As to creating custom builds, I have definitely done that too.  Many times
> ever since the very first version of OS-9 v01.00.00.  Wow!  That was a long
> time ago.  :)  Feel free to call on my help any time.  I'm on Skype if you
> would like to talk sometime.  Send me a private email for my details to
> connect up.  Have a lot of FUN exploring the Wide Wonderful World of
> NitrOS-9 on the Mighty Coco 3.  Take care my friend.
> Kip Koon
> computerdoc at sc.rr.com
> http://www.cocopedia.com/wiki/index.php/User:Computerdoc
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Coco [mailto:coco-bounces at maltedmedia.com] On Behalf Of
> titan1a at juno.com
> Sent: Saturday, July 22, 2017 9:47 PM
> To: coco at maltedmedia.com
> Subject: Re: [Coco] CoCo TALK #18 an introduction to OS9
> I saw part of the presentation and was impressed. I'm a "somewhat new"
> Coco III user with an FD-502 controller, mouse, joystick, analog monitor
> and dual 3.5" floppy unit. The computer was different from any other
> computer I've run and I've run a few. Having a Cocosdc, Drivewire 4 system
> and using one of my "tweener" PC's would make really getting into the
> system much, much easier. I still can't figure out how to create a NitrOS 9
> boot disk. I don't want a game machine: I want a
> business/programmer/utility computer. With some help and time, it will take
> the place of some of my biggest computers. Is there anything this thing
> can't do?
> Rick (sparks) Ethridge
> Computers, vintage radio, coins and SWL.
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