With this episode it is a 33% increase in podcasting content for you to… enjoy is not the right word. Tolerate?
Commander X16 a New Retro Computer
The mission of the computer. Similar to the Commodore 64 but made with off the shelf components. As far as the architecture goes, it is actually closer to the VIC-20 on board design but far, far more capable. I am rarely excited about new things, I like my old computers and really existing technology. I tend to drag my heels at the very thought of getting something new. This, for whatever reason gets me excited and I can’t exactly put my finger on it.
This all started out as a kind of pondering in 2018 and in February 2019 with a video from David Murray, the 8-bit Guy’s Dream Computer. the discussion started by the 8-bit Guy
The initial design started with the Gameduino for the video chip which had some technical hurdles and was based on an obsolete, as in, no longer supported, chip that doesn’t have a large pool of developers and hackers working on it.
After some discussions and planning, it was decided to base it largely off of the VIC-20 as most of the chips are still available today and it is a known working design. Some of the changes would be a faster processor, better video and better sound components.
One of the goals of this project is to make it easy enough for one person to understand the whole board to make it easy to program.
Some of the highlights out of the list of specifications are:
- WDC 65×02 @ 8 Mhz CPU (8-bit)
- 40K of “Low RAM” 512K of “High RAM” standard Expandable to 2MB
- Two AY-3-8910 sound generators (stereo)
- “Vera” Video chip specifications
- 128K of internal video RAM
- 640×480 @ 60 Hz analog VGA output
- PETSCII font
The graphics are on par or superior with the Amiga 500 and VGA graphics of that time which, for an 8-bit or 16-bit system which should make for some very interesting games to be targeted against this platform.
There is an emulator that can be downloaded from Github and YES, there is a Linux build for it. There is nothing to install as it is a self contained application where you can start mucking about with it. I just tested it, wrote some very basic BASIC programs and demonstrated to my kids how much fun it is to write your own programs so easily.
What makes this project interesting for me is that it is a kind of rebirth of the Commodore 64 in a kind of VIC-20 board design. Although this is still in the works, it is looking to be a fun educational tool and hobby device that can be a target for game development that uses mostly off the shelf components. I would call this a kind of Neo-Retro system that will hopefully end up in my collection of retro(ish) hardware in the not too distant future.
BDLL Follow Up
Manjaro Linux has formed a company and although I could really care little about Arch, I am glad to see that someone is looking at Linux which is free software and making a living from it. Forming a profitable company around Linux can’t be a bad thing, so long as those working on it don’t lose the focus on the core reasons they got into Linux in the first place.
MX Linux 19 is the next BDLL challenge. I don’t look at this as much of a challenge as this is the other distro that I have
Latest from openSUSE
From the openSUSE Corner comes some rather exciting new updates. The YaST Development Sprint 84 has brought about several improvements to YaST. The first was to address YaST’s usage of Qt UI Event handling. It has been a kind of non standard method and they always kind of “misused Qt to hammer it into shape” and it recently broke with the latest release of Qt. Digging into it a little bit, I am not sure why they are using Qt in a “non standard” way, maybe to be accommodating to the YaST ncruses interface, I have no idea, I am sure there will be more to come on all that.
There are updates to the wireless networking portion to make it more intuitive. This is a welcome change as this is quite likely the only think in the YaST installer that has really been a glaring issue for many users. This change should come to Tumbleweed soon.
Enhancements to the Partitioner with encrypted devices has been ongoing work. There are some changes that will be trickling down to broaden the set of technologies and use-cases that the partitioner supports. Already YaST does a lot in this regard so I will be keeping an eye on this for future development.
Snapshots 20190905, 20190907 and 20190909
The exciting new bundles of software joy that has come down include KDE Applications 19.08.01 which contain improvements to Kontact, Dolphin, Kdenlive, Konsole, Step and more. This is the first I learned of Step and this is an interesting education piece of software that I haven’t ever heard of before. In short it is an interactive physical simulator that allow you to explore the physical world in a simulated environment. This is something I will have to try.
The anti-malware application Clamav received an update that addressed two vulnerabilities, the Gnome web browser package epiphany plugged another memory leak. Plasma Desktop received a minor update to 5.16.5 and fixed KWayland-integration builds with recent frameworks and Qt 5.13.
The snapshots, in totality, are all scoring in the low 80s being considered moderately stable.