Some time ago I wanted to use remote desktop so I could take over my Icaros desktop when I would be sitting downstairs with my laptop. The downside of course is that you have two computers on and also I found it to be a bit slow and also the resolution was not that great. With very little time I don’t want to sit upstairs in my office every day instead of sitting downstairs with my wife in the living room. Some of you might know how that is. You work all day and the few free hours you have in the evening are used upstairs (or a different room) which can lead to some issues with the missus. So better would be if you can do the work in the living room so you sit with the missus. My wife is never without her laptop for long so we are both busy but if I can join her in the living room it just works so much better. So remote desktop was not the solution so what now?
I can of course install Aros on my laptop but I need to use Windows so that is not an option for me. Also I don’t want a dual boot system. I suddenly remembered that in the past I ran Aros within Windows so after posting at the Aros-Exec site I was directed to the Windows hosted version. Soon it became clear that I could not run it in full screen so that was not the solution for me. I started to think about a virtual emulator like VMWare that will allow you to run a different operating system within Windows. I used VMWare before in the past. But it is not for free so I Googled for open source alternatives.
I came across VirtualBox from Oracle. (** The site seems to be not accessible for some days already) This just rocks and it turns out this is even discussed in the Icaros manual. The problem you will run in to is the resolution. You can’t set anything resolution in the Prefs settings for the screen mode. But as always there is a solution for this. Over at VMWAros you can find the solution for the screen resolution. I have the same resolution (1366×768) so I could just follow the instructions and now I am running it full screen. The speed is perfect and switching between VirtualBox and Windows a lot has no influence on the speed.
With having Icaros running hosted I thought about my issues with not having a C syntax highlight editor. What if I can have a shared folder available on both Windows and Aros? This way I can use a C syntax highlight editor on Windows and save it to that folder and right away compile it. I use SMBFS on OS4.x to mount these Windows shares to exchange files. Sadly due to the buggy network on my A1SE it is far from being the best solution. SMBFS can also be used on Icaros and again it is described in the Icaros manual. Sadly there is a problem with VirtualBox in combination with Windows 7. Files on Aros will be truncated in the first 49 bytes or so. Sadly this will prevent me from using this as a solution. I have not tested it yet but this would also affect a FTP connection. So using a FTP client on Aros to connect to a FTP server on my Windows 7 installation would also cause issues. I guess this is the first “major” issue I have found with Aros.
Currently I am playing with the syntax highlight settings of Annotate. You can change it to your liking. Sadly there are some issues with Aros when it comes to setting the colours. There is a solution that requires you to run a script that calls a utility that fixes the colours issues. I have done this but I am still experiencing issues. For example if I set something to yellow the next time I reboot it will have the colour red. When I reboot again it will have another colour. It could be, and I guess it is, that I am filling it in wrong in the syntax file since for example comment in my C source file keeps its colour. I hope this can be sorted soon. For now I am over the moon with VirtualBox and Icaros. It runs really great and I can switch between Aros and Windows 7 without everything coming to a halt. If I can have the syntax highlight issue with Annotate fixed nothing can stop me from doing some serious coding.
I have been using Aros (in the form of Icaros Desktop) for a while now and it is about time I write about my verdict on it. There is a bit of a dilemma for me in some weird way as I am a OS4.x fan boy. From the start I suppose to hate it, right? Some kind of wannabe Amiga OS on X86 hardware. How could I even consider thinking about it let alone install it? How wrong could I be? Well beyond my dreams because it was love on first sight.
It runs on my old x86 hardware that became absolute due to the fact Windows would not run on it anymore. It’s fine if you are happy to wait 5 minutes every time you move the mouse. That was a great start for Aros because I did not have to go out and buy new hardware for it. Imagine if it runs on old outdated hardware like this it will shine on new modern hardware.
If you got some spare hardware lying around you should really install Icaros to give it a try. You can also run it within Windows or even boot it as a Live DVD. Personally I would recommend to run it on real hardware to experience it to the max.
One program I am really missing on Aros is a syntax highlight C editor. I really can’t work without one anymore since I start using Cubic IDE and CodeBench on Amiga OS4.x. For now I will have to do without but as you start working with larger portions of code you start loosing the oversight and it becomes hard to get to grips with it. I really hope someone will create this because this is something I really need.
To my surprise Icaros contains VNC Server so I can sit downstairs with my Acer laptop and connect to my Icaros desktop upstairs. I use TightVNC Viewer in my Acer laptop to connect to my Icaros desktop and it works great.
With my upcoming holiday I will be able to use Icaros a lot more which is something I am really looking forward to. Mostly I will try to do some more programming and playing some games with the emulator. Of course I will be writing about it like I always do.
Not only has Aros made me write and post more articles in a short period (weekend) of time but it also made me spend more time on forums since a long time. The place to go when it comes to Aros and forums is Aros Exec.
It has proven to be very helpful when I was setting up Aros on my desktop machine. Always quck and helpful replies which is what you need when you are in a bit of a pickle.
One part I am really keen on trying is emulation. I want to play the old Amiga games on Aros through emulation and also use a joystick. Since USB is not an issue (A1SE owner, remember? 🙂 ) I should be able to use a USB joystick and have some fun. I use Janus-UAE for emulation but there is also AmiBridge that offers a lot of integration. I have not really checked it out but since I just wanted to play Amiga games without too much bells and whistles I decided to use Janes-UAE and do only a few settings to start playing those games. AmiBridge actually works together with Janus-UAE.
I started with Back to the Future II and I was amazed how good it actually ran considering my outdated 2004 hardware I am using. Next up I will try to source a USB joystick to complete the experience. If it all works I have a great way of reviewing some more Amiga games.
A good place to look for software is The Aros Archives.
I was surprised to see The Vague 2 (The Vague 1 is of course also there) on The Aros Archives. There’s a lot more and on this Sunday afternoon I know what I will be doing.
If you read my previous article you know I had a problem with running OWB. If I start it I will get a distorted screen. I decided to install AEROS to see how OWB would behave and of course I was really curious about this Aros system as well. AEROS is a hybrid distribution of AROS and Linux (in the moment debian 6.0 is used) available for ARM and x86 systems. AEROS will run hosted under Linux. Basically getting a lift from Linux. For this Aros version you will need some Linux knowledge when it comes to setting up the partitions. Pascal Papara did say in his interview with BoingsWorld that this would be simplified in the future. It is a work in progress so we will see a lot of improvements. Once I had it installed I tried OWB which started just fine. Since that started just fine I wanted to do new clean install of Icaros. To be honest I prefer Icaros above AEROS but AEROS also has it advantages. Since it runs hosted on Linux you will have a better support of your hardware.
This time the Icaros live DVD starts without any problems. I have the hard drive and DVD drive together on IDE port 2 which is different than before which might explain why it boots without any problems. It seems I spoke to soon since after I created the two partitions and rebooted and continued with the formatting and installing it give me also a distorted screen. This was right after I select to have the partitions formatted. Maybe it is the graphics card? Anyway I will start in the safe mode and continue with the installation. If after a new installation OWB still fails I might pick up a new graphics card on Monday.
It seems I made some progress since after the installation I select to boot with “Icaros Desktop (16M colour vesa graphics)” I can get OWB to start just fine. But if I start with “Icaros Desktop” it will not start OWB. Even if I set the resolution the same as “Icaros Desktop (16M colour vesa graphics)” which is 1280×1024.
The above picture shows how it looks. Earlier this afternoon I had to leave it as it is since we had a BBQ party but of course the minute I returned (did I actually drank less to be sober to continue or am I imagining this?) I fired it up again to see how to fix it. I sort had given up since it does work in that one start option “Icaros Desktop (16M colour vesa graphics)” but you still want to investigate if it can still be resolved. And I got it resolved so that I can start as “Icaros desktop” and get OWB to work even if the resolution is 1024×768. Thanks to the good help of magorium over at Aros Exec who provided me with the solution. That just really makes my day. I am already really excited about Aros but it just keeps getting better and better all the time.
With a new DVD drive sourced I was ready to install Icaros. I managed to boot the DVD but once I tried to create the partitions and have them formatted (as part of the installation process) it presented me with an error. The exact error message has slipped my mind. But after trying to change some setting in the bios regarding the optical drive it actually did not boot into the desktop at all anymore. It started to hang on the optical drive part and it looked like it was not responding. I thought I would boot with only the optical drive connected and indeed it booted. Connecting the HD back it started to hang again and by accident I discovered that pressing CTRL-ALT-DEL made it continue and boot the desktop. I actually wanted to reset the PC which turned out to be a great move. After I installed Icaros I removed the optical drive and it boots just fine. This has nothing to do with Icaros but with my desktop machine I am using which is very unstable. Just today it suddenly refused to boot and when I plugged it into IDE port 2 it did boot again. For now it will do just fine as a testing machine and who knows I might put down some money for new hardware that will run Icaros without any problems.
So that’s all the problems you had? Not really. First up it became clear that the on-board SIS graphics card would not work. Unless I preferred a C64 look for my desktop. I wanted to continue and not having to wait a couple of days before I would be able to source a new graphics card. So I decided to take the ATI Radeon 7000 from my A1SE and use it for Icaros. I could always pickup a new graphics card for Icaros at a later time. The Radeon card works just fine and presented me with a nice looking desktop.
Next up was the networking part. After figuring out what driver to select I got it to work. For a moment I was worried it would not support my on-board LAN card which would have signaled the end of my Icaros testing. First check was to connect to my FTP server running on my Acer laptop using MarranoFTP. This worked just fine and I will try to see if I can move really large files over the network. Might not seem like a big issue but when you run OS4.1 on a A1SE this is the kind of thing that matters.
Sound is also important and I kind of figured the on-board sound card would not be supported. After trying some settings it was clear that this was the case. Since I was stripping my A1Se anyway I decided to get the SoundBlaster card from it and use that for Icaros. When I wanted to set and test in in AHI prefs I got the error message “no emu10kx data for unit 0”. With my A1SE experience I calm and cool and just moved it in another PCI slot. After trying to set and test it and click play a test sound it froze the system. Still calm and cool I moved it to another PCI slot and it worked just fine when playing a test sound. Next up it was time to play some mp3 files and it also gave me the opportunity to test the network by moving a 250MB zip file full of mp3 files. Again this might not seem like a big deal but for A1Se owners it is. Getting 250MB of data over the network is impossible on that machine so getting it done with Icaros on old hardware would put a big smile on my face. And there it is that big smile. Pumping data like there is no tomorrow without even a single glitch or a complete freeze. Even unpacking that big zip file was fast and problem free. I still need to tweak a bit with the settings since when I play the mp3 files it does give me a poor sound quality.
I did encounter a few freezes when testing various settings of the system. But like I said I am using a desktop machine that is about 10 years old and ended up being a spare one due to being unstable and unreliable. But for seeing what Aros can do it is ok enough. Currently I have one major issue left and that is OWB. When I start it I get a distorted screen and so far I have not been able to resolve this. I have posted about this on the forum so I hope someone can give me a solution.
About time! Aros has been around for some time already and I never really gave it a try. Sure I tried the Linux hosted version a few times and I had Icaros installed on one of my old laptops and booted it a couple of times but that cannot be called giving it a try. Finally I have a spare unit left I can use for Aros. It was my main machine running Linux but it started acting strange so I bought a new laptop to replace it. The issue it had is that suddenly it refuses to boot but after I had the new laptop I started to look a bit more in to it. I thought it was the IDE port and when I disconnected the optical DVD drive and plugged the HD in port 2 it booted again. I still believed it to be to unstable to be my main machine but it was the perfect candidate for Aros.
I decided to try Icaros since it seems to be the most complete package and I liked it from before when I installed it on a laptop. With the HD in IDE port 2 I plugged the optical DVD drive on the same cable as the HD and after playing around wit the jumper settings it detected the optical DVD drive. But during the booting of the Icaros DVD it gave me the same errors as with the Linux installation I had running before. This led me to believe that the optical DVD drive is faulty. I managed to source 3 DVD drives so I will know soon if it was really the drive. I am a bit worried about the system I am using as I am sure it will give me some problems during the installation. At least I am giving it a try. I will keep blogging about my experiences with getting Aros up and running.