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Old 23 September 2006, 18:40   #1
MethodGit
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Acorn Archimedes, and how its almost impossible to emulate

thanks to the efforts of the diehard Archimedes community and their "We Hate You" stance on simple, easy emulation procedures.

I was willing to try out two new Archimedes emulators called Arculator and RPCEmu, and realised I needed to find the appropriate BIOS rom images first. Now while Google tends to locate most other general BIOSes a lot easier, Acorn ones seem to be like the Holy Grail. I absolutely cannot for the life of me find them. No torrent sites have them. P2P can't help me. And none of the rom collection burners even support Archimedes stuff full stop, it appears. And it seems that the Acorn zealots are even more deluded about the machine's commercial status than the Amiga ones. Seriously.

They'll most likely redirect you to a product called Virtual Acorn - 79 minimum to emulate an Acorn on your Windows, with no clear indication as to what emulator will be used, or what BIOS images will be included, if they're not bloody encrypted or shit like that. I mean come on, Amiga Forever costs only half that roughly!

Anyways, after a good deal of patience, I managed to acquire a version of Virtual Acorn through BitTorrent. But it only includes RISC OS 4.0, which - surprise, surprise ladies and gentlemen - isn't supported by either of the emulators.


Why, why, just why the fuck bother to bring out good and interesting emulators if their authors and the rest of the community make it absolutely, hideously, bloody difficult to find the necessary BIOS files required to give them a whirl? Kickstart hunts were never this bad in comparison I tell ya! (And for the record I'm not stuck in the slightest on any Amiga-related emulation issues, cheers.)


*headdesks for several more years*
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Old 23 September 2006, 18:49   #2
Minuous
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Old 23 September 2006, 18:58   #3
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Thx for info on these new emulators. they actually work quite well and my School favurate Chocks Away works great on Arculator . Much better then RedSquirrel and Archie emus.
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Old 23 September 2006, 20:20   #4
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Do a global seach with eMule. There seem to be bios rom files from several versions. I didn't download one and have no experience with the Archimedes, so I can't tell if they work.
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Old 23 September 2006, 23:50   #5
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The reason RiscOS rom files are so hard to find is that the OS still has commercial development & support ( unlike AmigaOS - regardless of what Amiga.inc may claim )
New RiscOS hardware is also still for sale + developed! Consequently RiscOS make more effort to protect their i.p.

Most people who emulate RiscOS still have native hardware so thay have access to their own Roms. Also piracy has never been as much of an issue on that platform. Both factors have made such files less widespread.

I would say as a rough rule of thumb there are two kinds of RIscOS machine - - and therefore emulation:

OS 3.1 & below: Ok for games & older apps. Though not free as such few care about 'sharing' of these roms, but they can be hard to find. One of the free emulators will do fine.
OS 3.5 & above: 'Modern' & officially supported hardware, so you will most likley have to pay the going rate for the roms... Virtual Acorn costs as much as it does becuause the author bundles RiscOS 4 ( or Select ) which costs him a significant licence fee.

The fact is that with RiscOS you are still in the same ball-park as Windows or OS-X. You can get hold of hooky copies but as there is a company actively developing + supporting the OS: if they catch you they may prosecute!

I hope this helps explain the reasons for some of the frustrations mentioned above. RiscOS is not ( yet ) a dead platform, so the i.p. is harder to find.

Last edited by Charlie; 24 September 2006 at 01:28.
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Old 24 September 2006, 01:19   #6
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Well, the Risc CPU, ugly as it has become, is still alive in PDAs and the such. The OS software itself is the same as it ever was. Apps are scarce, but at least the hardware guys are still active (a bit), and some drivers still get developed. But all that is on the RiscPC side of things, but since it uses the 'Risc OS', as Archimedes did, those OSes are still commercial.

I would hardly call the Archimedes alive, and RiscPCs are used mostly by enthusiasts and some remain in schools in the UK I guess, running the same old programs. But though it's great to see hardware still being developed, it's a bit of a letdown on the software front.

I've emulated a bunch of games on the good old Archie (as well as run them on my Archimedes A3000) and few are as neat as all the Amiga games, it never took off as a games platform. In fact, most of them are terrible, with Elite and Zarch being the shining stars. (And Zarch really is fantastic on the A3000 - on faster machines it's unplayable unless you somehow degrade the speed.)

I have an A3000 because that was when the CPU still was beautiful, and it was another of the fantastic computers Acorn made, a great landmark when it came (just after the Amiga 1000!). Their BASIC really is the most intellectually appealing version of all BASICs ever written, with Acorn Atom BASIC as close second.

Certainly, the Archie/RiscPC scene is tiny, and it doesn't contain the great people of the Amiga scene collecting, hosting, researching, and developing the software that came out for it. And certainly not such busy forums as ours.

Redsquirrel is the best bet for emulating I think, if you want to do it for free. It does have limitations, though. But that's what I use, and it's worked well enough for me doing a small 'sprite snake' demo in assembler
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Old 24 September 2006, 01:32   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MethodGit
thanks to the efforts of the diehard Archimedes community and their "We Hate You" stance on simple, easy emulation procedures.

I was willing to try out two new Archimedes emulators called Arculator and RPCEmu, and realised I needed to find the appropriate BIOS rom images first
...
Although I own a real Archimedes 4000 I wanted to give one of those emulators a try and must say they perform rather poorly. Nothing beats the feeling (and the performance) to sit in front of a real box (same is true for Amiga boxes :-). Well, regarding the ROM's: believe me they can be found if you have a long breath. Took me 3-4 hrs to find them.
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Old 24 September 2006, 01:56   #8
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Yes - it's odd:-
Though the parent company has long since gone ( like C= ) and the RiscOS scene has never been as wide-spread or as prolific with regard to software as AmigaOS, yet there remains current hardware + OS development where there has been none for years with Amiga.

( I don't count MorphOS or AOS4 as for all its merritts MOS is a side-branch & AOS4 seems to have been killed-off. )

Here's a somewhat off-topic question:

How is it that a tiny community like 'RiscOS' continues to develop the OS + Hardware + Software & yet for the Amiga - nothing, but for what the remaining enthusiasts write?
( MacroSystems managed to produce the Draco in '94 so clones are doable )
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Old 24 September 2006, 12:32   #9
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I hope it's allowed to post links to auction sites here. If not, moderators please scrub this post. There is currently one box up for auction on "ePay" http://cgi.ebay.com/ACORN-ARCHIMEDES...QQcmdZViewItem

Good chance to buy one as those computers are usually cheap. Disadvantage of that auction: no mouse included. The Acorn needs a dedicated mouse as the protocol is different, so Amiga and Atari ones won't work.

Last edited by tteich; 24 September 2006 at 12:51.
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Old 24 September 2006, 13:10   #10
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Conqueror was another Archie game that came out. It was actually a more powerful machine than the Amiga but as someone else said, it didnt have hardly any games for it.
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Old 24 September 2006, 21:28   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie
How is it that a tiny community like 'RiscOS' continues to develop the OS + Hardware + Software & yet for the Amiga - nothing, but for what the remaining enthusiasts write?
( MacroSystems managed to produce the Draco in '94 so clones are doable )
The way Acorn went down was much cleaner than Commodore, the company was already somewhat well divided into various business units, ARM had been spun out some time before, and RiscOS LTD had already purchased a license to develop and sell the OS from Acorn (by then Element14) unencumbered by the kind of bizarre licensing conditions between Amiga and Hyperion.
The hardware is much easier to clone than real Amiga hardware, being much less complex to redevelop. The Draco, whatever its good points, wasn't cheap, and didn't even attempt to reproduce the custom chips. Furthermore, Acorn had effectively left the desktop market, focusing on STB type devices, but made it relatively easy to license their technology, so clones were a viable proposition at a time when the Acorn market was still relatively active.
In the Amiga world meanwhile, it would have been virtually impossible to get a license for anything, C= wouldn't have gone down that route while they were alive, and the subsequent bankruptcy procedures of themselves and Escom left anyone wanting to produce a clone with nowhere to go to get licenses for the essential stuff. Even when Gateway and Amiga inc. took over the reins, actually getting hold of the tech was near impossible, the companies had grand plans that could not be interfered with by people going off and making their own stuff. Not to mention the incompetence involved, Mick Tinker and Nate Downes were both foiled in their plans to produce replacement motherboards by being unable to obtain the AGA designs, or even chip masks to produce a licensed run of chips in the case of the latter, apparently not because gateway/amiga didn't want to license them, but because they couldn't find them.

The Acorn world apparently isn't all that rosy anyway, Castle technology purchased their own RiscOS license from Pace (Who bought element 14) and produced RiscOS 5 for their RiscPC clones, leading to two different branches of RiscOS in active development, though an agreement has apparently been reached to merge them back into one. It did however cause something of a rift, not unlike the AmigaOS/MorphOS split, the difference being, that the people actually in charge seem driven to get stuff done instead of talking about it.

As far as the future for Amiga is concerned, my money (If I had any ) would go to getting AROS running on 68k, and then to building an application base for it. If the coldfusion project reaches fruition, the possibility of a combination of a board containing a coldfire CPU and an FPGA carrying the Minimig's core logic, running a coldfire native AROS is a tantalising one, and far more Amiga-like than a slightly modified PPC reference board.
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Old 25 September 2006, 12:06   #12
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Secret Vampire:

Thanks for the reply - much as I understood too. Having always been a RiscOS fan & only fairly recently interested in things 'Amiga' I may have a somewhat warped view compared to most:-
I have little interest in the Amiga chipset beyond it can be emulated... The OS is the thing for me, hence my example of the Draco rather than a full chipset clone.
( Yes I've tended to think of RiscOS 5 as a kind of MorphOS - happily for that community to 'two camps' are on friendly terms )

Hmmm...
I'm keeping a close eye on AROS too. It has the potential for producing a future path for both the classic system & 'higher-end' users while keeping both groups closely related.
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Old 19 October 2006, 03:20   #13
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My two pence worth!

I currently have an A3000 and three A3020's but not one mouse! I have also tried several emulators but I can find no way of transfering the OS from the Archimedes to the PC without an Archimedes mouse. All the Acorn machines have hard disks full of software but I can only use them in tex mode or BBC Basic.
If anyone knows where I can get a mouse for the Acorns, I would be very grateful.
Maybe someone knows if I can make the cursor keys move the mouse pointer or knows the pinout and protocol of the Archimedes mouse so that I could find some other way of emulating it.
Thank you in advance.
 
Old 19 October 2006, 06:37   #14
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lost me on not being able to find the Archimeded roms, googling for found it on the second hit

Link deleted

// Mod Note:
The same rules apply for other computer ROMs so link deleted
http://eab.abime.net/faq.php?faq=eab..._ks_wb_faqitem

Last edited by Paul; 19 October 2006 at 11:47.
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Old 19 October 2006, 10:44   #15
tteich
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Be careful with posting links (especially if they are easy to find anyway). As the roms are still under copyright, chances are higher now that the referred site is being admonished, and the ressource lost for the community.
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Old 19 October 2006, 20:35   #16
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NattyFido:

I could never find a good transfer util ( pref one that would allow a RiacOS hdd plugged into a PC & read under 'doze )

The very frustrating way I did it was to transfer the hdd contents via adfs floppy to the emulated RiscPC. ( VirtualRPC & I think RedSquirel will read native floppies )

The lack of a mouse makes life tricky but don't forget RiscOS is a command-line based OS & the 'WIMP' is just a front-end.
Everything you can do under the desktop has an equivalent in the command line.
Press F12 to get there & if in doubt type: Help ( or H. ) followed by the command you want the syntax for...
The RiscOS command line makes perfect sence but is not much like that on any other computer so you may need to do a bit of head-scratching in conjunction with a manual.

'hope this helps.

PS
Wellcome to the EAB
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Old 19 October 2006, 23:16   #17
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I found my Acorn mouse recently at eB.. UK for a fair price. They show up from time to time. Good luck.
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Old 03 November 2006, 00:07   #18
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@Secret Vampire
I'm a "bit" surprised that you wrote such a long post about Acorn, but not even *mentioned* the BBC Micro and Electron machines. These are from Acorn too, that is ...
In Germany, the latter two had absolutely no relevance, but in UK and the rest of the world they obviously had ...
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Old 04 November 2006, 09:24   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andreas
In Germany, the latter two had absolutely no relevance, but in UK and the rest of the world they obviously had ...
Well, I'd say Acorn was only relevant in the UK. The only place where I've ever seen BBC's, Electrons, Archies.

Never saw any of those machines again after coming back home to Finland from the UK.

Edit: A quick google hints that they were also popular in the Netherlands..

Last edited by Jope; 04 November 2006 at 09:34.
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Old 04 November 2006, 10:17   #20
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Well here's my 2 bits. I have not found Archimedes a worthy gaming platform. I mean, there are very few games commercially produced for it, and although there are great games, such as Lemmings and Zarch and some more, besides thee games, nothing stands out. I do, however, like the OS, I like the simplicity of the interface and it's clean desktop.
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