Using Atari ST(E) without floppy - can be good way

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Petari
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Using Atari ST(E) without floppy - can be good way

Post by Petari » Tue Nov 06, 2018 9:21 am

This is actually not that new and rare - some people do is over years already.
Why floppy is still needed in 2018, for machines equipped with some Flash card mass storage:
Playing games - many of it work only from floppy. Well, that changes and lot of games can now work from hard disk/Flash card, and usually in better way.
Just to add here that this is not about using some HW floppy emulator, here I talk about not using floppy controller in Ataris at all. In further text when say 'floppy' it may mean Gotek or HxC too.
Floppy may be a must for case when need to install hard disk driver, to partition disk/media.
Testing SW intended for running from floppy.
And I really can not imagine more situations.

Without floppy: can play lot of games, and it can be more by time. Some games can be fixed for floppy less usage without much knowledge - little more about later.
With bootable SD/CF card image holding partitioner and driver install SW you can do it without floppy.
So, only real need for floppy drive is for SW testing, what is not something spread this days.

I presented my Virtual Floppy TOS addition here and on site http://atari.8bitchip.info/tosimpr.html
And now have some new ideas to make it even better, mostly after discussion where was talk about how much faster Atari boots, reaches Desktop than some PC running Windows . Yeah, it is really faster, will not go in reasons why Windows is so slower with boot (although, using hybernation can make it about 10x faster) . Instead it: making Atari boot even faster.
First thing is: can do faster memory test, but real time waste is with floppy - there is first test of floppy presence, then loading of bootsector, etc.
Since we don't have floppy drive best is just to skip those steps. That can make it faster by some 5 secs.

So, more TOS mods.
And to make work/usage more comfortable and efficient: something like hybernate, just much better :D
Multiple saves of computer state, what can be loaded very fast later - so can jump quickly in middle of using some GEM program like assembler.
Idea is to have 10 save slots. User can perform state save by holding down left shift+Ctrl and pressing key 0-9 . That will save complete RAM content + couple other things in file. Later, user can restore that state by running restoring SW from Desktop or even faster way: restoring it in middle of boot, right after power on. Idea is to perform it by holding down one of shift keys and press 0-9 (after logo appears) - then it will load it and jump straight to saved state.
Important is to say that this will be not same as game statesaves, although is very similar concept:
Will be possible to save only regular GEM SW, using system calls and not own peripheral access code. So, some program what changes for instance keyboard access will even not detect that Shift+Ctrl + number key press combination. Disk access and other things must be intact too.
In case of games there is added code in middle of game's code to assure that it will detect key presses for statesave and Desktop exit. Can not do it with all potentially used Atari SW.

And bad thing: this will be done soon only for TOS 1.04 and 1.62 (under work). For 2.06 not in near future. It may have advantage that can get some new ideas, solving it better after some period of experience.
There is 2 kind of people: one thinking about moving to Mars after here becomes too bad, the others thinking about how to keep this planet habitable.

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Re: Using Atari ST(E) without floppy - can be good way

Post by sandord » Tue Nov 06, 2018 9:33 am

Petari wrote:
Tue Nov 06, 2018 9:21 am
Will be possible to save only regular GEM SW, using system calls and not own peripheral access code. So, some program what changes for instance keyboard access will even not detect that Shift+Ctrl + number key press combination. Disk access and other things must be intact too.
In case of games there is added code in middle of game's code to assure that it will detect key presses for statesave and Desktop exit. Can not do it with all potentially used Atari SW.
Perhaps you could hook it to the reset handler, pressing reset while holding control+shift for example to trigger a save procedure. If I'm correct, memory isn't wiped on reset only until some routine decides to.

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Re: Using Atari ST(E) without floppy - can be good way

Post by Petari » Tue Nov 06, 2018 11:08 am

Memory is not changed, but reset signal goes on peripheral controller chips and resets them too. What means that you can not read their original state then. And keypress detection is just one of possible problems with SW not using TOS functions. For instance reading exact values of MFP Timer's registers may be real problem.
Likely, keyboard read is possible to solve somehow, maybe with small HW change, but this is really not targeting to work with all SW. If will work with some 60%-70% of usual GEM SW that will be very good, I'm sure.
There is 2 kind of people: one thinking about moving to Mars after here becomes too bad, the others thinking about how to keep this planet habitable.

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Re: Using Atari ST(E) without floppy - can be good way

Post by Petari » Wed Nov 07, 2018 7:52 pm



That's early demo of faster startup and how state save and restoring works .
What is not visible in video is: save goes by holding down left shift+Ctrl + pressing key 1-9, or 0. Will save complete RAM, screen parameters + couple other things. Restore is with holding down left shift+Ctrl + pressing key F1-F9, or F10 (loads saved with 0) . Time depends from RAM in machine and mass storage speed (no floppy support at all, and will not be) , As may see, works fine with popular programs as Degelite, Devpac, ORCS resource editor, Desktop too :D
There is 2 kind of people: one thinking about moving to Mars after here becomes too bad, the others thinking about how to keep this planet habitable.

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Re: Using Atari ST(E) without floppy - can be good way

Post by sandord » Wed Nov 07, 2018 9:39 pm

Looks impressive! I reckon saving is blocked during disk I/O though?

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Re: Using Atari ST(E) without floppy - can be good way

Post by crashman » Wed Nov 07, 2018 11:20 pm

Let me use capitals...

AMAZING!!!

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Re: Using Atari ST(E) without floppy - can be good way

Post by Petari » Thu Nov 08, 2018 7:47 am

sandord wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 9:39 pm
Looks impressive! I reckon saving is blocked during disk I/O though?
Yes, and it is not recommended to do it in middle of any disk operation, not even when file selector is opened, for instance. Because disk content may change in time between saving state and restore. User needs to take care to not move PRG running (and done state save) and it's files to other place - then when it is restored will not find them where they were.
If some Desktop window is saved it is best to perform refresh (Esc) right after restore, to update content with current one.
There is 2 kind of people: one thinking about moving to Mars after here becomes too bad, the others thinking about how to keep this planet habitable.

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