[Coco] The evolution of the Coco..

Roger Merchberger zmerch at 30below.com
Sat Apr 23 16:43:21 EDT 2005

Rumor has it that Steve Bjork may have mentioned these words:

[[ putting the rulers away for a second... ]]

>As for the operating system to use, my vote goes to windows XP Pro.

You've got to be joking. Isn't that like using a 12 pound (5.5kg) 
sledgehammer to swat flies? Personally speaking, I would not want to *have* 
to outfit a machine with 512Meg RAM just to run a CoCo emulator, and I'd 
also prefer not to have to reactivate the rascal every time I diddle with 
the hardware... etc.

Speaking of hardware, can you say "Hardware Abstraction Layer?" Thats the 
thingydoo that doesn't let user-mode applications diddle with the hardware 
directly -- that's why most emulators don't work well in NT/2K/XP.

If we're gonna have to write the extra video drivers and stuff by hand 
anyway, why not go with something free, like FreeDOS or somesuch? A *lot* 
lower hardware requirements, the DOS can "get out of the way" of the 
emulator much more easily, and one heckuva lot more documentation available.

Besides, WRT motherboard choices, I was thinking a 1GHz Via (Cyrix) core on 
a Mini-ITX board. No fans necessary (if using an external PS brick) so it's 
quiet; small enough to fit in a CoCo case if you so choose (tho I don't 
think _I_ would, as that would make fitting a CDRom Drive difficult), fast 
enough yet for an emulator in DOS to make a great platform, and the specs 
for Mini-ITX have been out long enough  that the boards themselves aren't 
that expensive or proprietary -- lots of 3rd party cases, PSs, etc. A full 
machine can be built for around $500, less if you forgo DVD and big HD.

[[ Getting rulers back out now... ]]

>   It's rock solid OS. I have not had a crash in over two years.

That *must* make it true for everyone, then. I deal with a *lot* of WinXP 
systems -- and yes, it's not really a *bad* OS, if managed well; unforch, 
it's not that easy to manage well enough to keep most "mortals" from 
hurting themselves. What happens when the underlying system gets infected 
with spyware? The emulator would still suffer...

>  (I can't say the same about my Linux systems.)

The uptime on my Linux servers is rarely less than 180 days; it would be 
longer if I didn't have to add hardware or upgrade kernels once in a while. 
(My webserver saw over 400 days, and my mailserver over 500 once.) My 
laptop linux system does stuff *way beyond* the Win2k on it (Win2k won't 
play DVDs on a 933Mhz Crusoe; too many dropped frames. My Linux plays video 
full-screen flawlessly with 40-60% CPU remaining. Also, my Win2K still 
sucks up 80Meg RAM on boot, my Linux boots into X with less than 40Meg 
used. If I forgo X, it uses less than 12Meg RAM. Can't forgo X on Win2K/XP.

However, if your Linux isn't stable, then I'm sure that my Linux luck is 
just a fluke. (10+ times over, no less!)

[[ Putting rulers away again... ]]


There's no such thing as a perfect OS -- Granted, IMHO, OS-9 and VMS come 
pretty close, if you ask me. However, I ( for one ) would not want a 
"hackable" emulator system, if the core OS for it was inherently "unhackable."

>  Best of all, every new hardware product these days has drivers for 
> Window XP.  Yes, I know, I would have to use a hard drive with XP.  But 
> is that truly a problem?

It is if you don't *have* to -- a design decision like that could limit 
what a lot of other people would want to do with the machine -- I'd much 
rather pop in a 256Meg CF card, no fans or other spinny things, low power 
usage, still faster than one would need in an emulated environment such as 
this, and I'd be able to hackabout wherever I wanted without worrying about 
DRM and other shiznit that MicroSoft and friends are trying to push thru...

>As for rebooting, you reboot the CoCo run under the emulator, not the PC.

Until the PC needs rebooting; which can and will happen, no matter what OS.

>I know I'm going to a lots of email on that because many of you don't like 
>Microsoft, but ...

It's not a matter of not liking MicroSoft -- I have Microsoft OSs all over 
the place; the one I use the most is in my Tandy 200.

If we could purchase licenses for MS-DOS 6.x for $5-10 each, I'd say that 
it would be a good alternative -- still relatively small, works relatively 
well, and cheap. There are a lot of freeware drivers for it out now for USB 
and friends, and you'd be using a flyswatter for flies, instead of a hammer.

>Even Steve Jobs had to "get over it" and make his Apple iPod work with 
>windows to boost market share.

We're not Steve Jobs, however, and I doubt what we're contemplating is 
going to go anywhere near the sales numbers of the iPod.

>And you are running Microsoft Basic in your CoCo.

Maybe -- If it's a CoCo3 then you're running a MicroWare hacked version of 
a MicroSoft Basic...

My $0.0000000000000000002,
Roger "Merch" Merchberger

Roger "Merch" Merchberger   | Anarchy doesn't scale well. -- Me
zmerch at 30below.com.         |
SysAdmin, Iceberg Computers

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