Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Setting Up the Work Environment

I couldn't wait any longer! I dusted off my Macs and booted them all up to make sure I wouldn't spend the whole month fixing hardware. They all work!

Mac G4, 128K, SE


Basically, I will be using a PowerMac G4 to do the software development and the Macintosh SE for initial testing. I decided to do testing on the Mac SE for a few reasons:

  • faster serial ports for data transfer;
  • ethernet card installed (broken?);
  • MacTCP and FreePPP installed for comparison testing;
  • SCSI port and a harddrive;
  • more robust System software (System 7.1);
  • same Motorola 68k processor as the 128K.
This should make testing much less painful. If I get anything working on the SE, I can give it a try on the Mac 128K. I have an external SCSI zip drive that seems to work well as an external harddrive (and lots of zip disks!).

All of my Mac OS 9 stuff is saved on a trusty Quantum Fireball drive in an external USB case. I connected it to the G4, turned it on and it just worked.

The PowerMac G4 doesn't have serial ports to run PPP, so I am using a Prolific PL2303 USB to RS232 serial adapter from ebay. These are so cheap and useful that any Mac user should have a few available. The adapter connects to a null modem, a gender changer and then a little RS422->RS232 port adapter cable that I found at a thrift store. I tend to buy any cheap, unique looking mini din 8 cables I see for just this reason.


Until I can get file sharing on the ethernet card working, I will use ZTerm or macutils to do data transfers to and from the SE.

Mac OS X has a built-in PPP server which I can run from the command line. To avoid an extra step, I can just skip the getty console login for now and run the pppd command directly. Running:
sudo /usr/libexec/pppd -d /dev/cu.usbserial 19200
will initiate a PPP connection to the SE's FreePPP and MacTCP networking stack, so that will be great for testing.

Initial Observations

Using Mac OS X 'Tiger' on the Dual processor PowerMac G4 in quite fast and easy. It really holds up well against the more recent OS X releases. Even though this is a 8 year-old OS and a 14 year-old computer, it feels like cheating to use them for a RetroChallenge!

The Mac SE is another story. The zip drive is slow and simple things like window minimizing and a dock are sorely missing. The crisp, bright, black on white display is always a pleasure to look at even if it is small.

No comments:

Post a Comment