[Coco] NitrOS-9 newbie needs some help
NickM at qm.qld.gov.au
Sun Aug 8 23:07:33 EDT 2004
I've been absent from the CoCo scene for awhile due to home renovation
commitments. Recently, I have been trying to catch up with the CoCo world
and have decided to once again have a crack at OS-9 on the CoCo3.
This will be my 3rd attempt to get into OS-9. The first being when OS-9
Level 2 first came out for the CoCo3. Just like many of you, when Level 2
became available, I immediately went and bought a copy from Tandy/Radio
Shack. The thrill of running a powerful multi-tasking multiuser OS on my
beloved CoCo3 was so great. I imagined all these wonderful apps appearing
utilizing all this power. I began planning all the fantastic games I would
Alas, it was all a dream. I spent several months trying to learn about OS-9
but found myself spending more time trying to get it to work reliably than
actually doing something constructive with it. When things did work, it was
Needless to say, it really starting to get up my nose and when I finally had
enough, I packed it all up, stored it on the book shelf and went back to
programming assembly language from the RS-DOS environment.
Around 1993, I got my hands on a Burke and Burke hard drive system. I
thought I would give OS-9 another go. I figured that most of my previous
problems and dissapointments were due to running the system from floppy. As
before, I spent hours, days, weeks trying to get that darn hard drive system
working. As before, I gave up in frustration, put the hard drive and OS-9
aside and went back to programming assembly language in RS-DOS (releasing
Pac-man Tribute, Gate Crasher, Digiwiper).
Now we have the talented Boisy releasing the latest version of NitrOS-9 for
free. I've decided to try again with this new, much improved version of
I downloaded the files from the NitrOS-9 website, unpacked them to 2 double
sided 40 track disks and proceeded to boot.
An hour later and I was still unable to boot it after re-downloading the
files (I'm using the 6309 version...and yes, I have a 6309 installed!). I
couldn't believe it was a fault with NitrOS-9 otherwise more people would be
complaining. It must be my CoCo3. But I have never had any problems with my
CoCo3! I've been developing stuff for some time with it and it has never
given me the slightest problem...only with booting NitrOS-9.
I opened by CoCo3 and noticed I was running the older 1986 GIME chip
(because I was testing it for that elusive and rumoured 256 color mode). I
replace it with the 1987 GIME. Bingo! NitrOS-9 booted!!
First thing I wanted to do was make a backup copy of my NitrOS-9 disks so in
went a blank 5.28" disk and "format /d1". It began formatting when around
track 10, it hung. I reset and tried repeatedly. Each time it failed at
random times during the format. I decided to replace my Floppy Controller, a
tandy FD502 with a Tandy FD501 controller. This time it formatted. In fact
it formatted and backup up several disks. I thought I had it licked so I put
my CoCo3 back together and just bit the bullet that I would have to use the
long length controller that looked like a swimming pool launch pad hanging
out the right hand side of my computer.
I should have known better, it failed a format...and several formats after
that. It certainly was more reliable that my FD502 but still not reliable
enough. Heck! Even RS-DOS NEVER failed a format for me!
So I went back to the FD502 and decided to play with the capacitor and
resistor that one normally removes when installing the 512K upgrade. I tried
a few combinations but formatting a floppy would fail at lease 9 out of 10
This leads me to the present. My next idea is to try and replace the RAMS in
my 512K upgrade (I have a 2 x 256Mb SIMM type upgrade) with another
brand...if I can find some.
Here are a few questions....
1) Why should NitrOS-9 be so fussy? I have NEVER had a problem with my CoCo3
(A PAL unit mind you, could this be the problem?).
2) Other than the formatting, NitrOS-9 otherwise behaved perfectly. Is there
a GUI available for it? I have downloaded the "Getting Started with
NitrOS-9" and the "NitrOS-9 Level 2 Windowing System" manuals (which are
very good!). It seems to me that much of the GUI elements are already built
in to the system. I know of MultiVue but I shudder at trying to run that
3) Are there additional manuals available? I read in the "Getting Started"
manual about a "NitrOS-9 Commands Reference" and a "Technical Reference"
4) Have there been any new (well, newer than 1992) applications written for
Boisy and everyone else involved have done a marvalous job with NitrOS-9. I
guess I'm looking at it all from a newbie/outsider perspective. NitrOS-9
could do with a bit of "glitz". This would come in the form of a GUI front
end and updated applications. Sure, I'd like to develop for it but it's
taken me over 15 years to get this far. I hate having to battle with the OS.
The OS should be a tool towards creating other applications. So far, OS-9
has been like a bent screwdriver with me spending more time trying to get
the bends out that actually fixing the job at hand.
NitrOS-9 certainly has fixed many of the problems of the original CoCo3
I'me determined to get it right this time. I've spent a week on it so far.
I'll give it another week...before giving up again.
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