Video: What is the MiSTer?

Submitted by Scott Dowdle on Tue, 11/16/2021 - 19:24

I'm guessing, given the fact that I've posted a considerable amount of content on it already, that you know what the MiSTer is.  Here's a presentation from the Retro World Expo 2021 (just a few days ago) by two prominent retro YouTubers.  Two things that come through in their presentation are how new stuff is always coming out for the MiSTer (hardware addons, software cores, etc), as well as how passionate they are for such a well performing device.  Enjoy!


Video: 35 Fedora Releases in 30 Minutes

Submitted by Scott Dowdle on Thu, 10/28/2021 - 19:36

Here's a fantastic video (with a little audio hum, someone want to do some audio filtering to fix it up?) of Fedora Project Leader Matthew Miller (how long has he been FPL?  [the longest yet]) discussing 35 Fedora releases in 30 minutes.  As a user, I lived through all of this and it is nice to go through it.  Enjoy.


Video: MiSTer FPGA Overview

Submitted by Scott Dowdle on Sat, 08/14/2021 - 19:39

I've owned a MiSTer FPGA for close to two year now.  I didn't buy everything all at once and kept adding additional things over time.  A few months ago, I finally had the complete setup although there are many aspects of the MiSTer (like analog output) that I have yet to take advantage of.  I really enjoy the fact that new cores are coming out every few weeks.

I happen to be a Patreon subscriber to all of the MiSTer developers and it is definitely fun to get early access to things as they happen.  I don't know if the Sega Saturn core currently in-the-works is going to be fully-functional or not as that may exceed the capabilities of the DE10-Nano hardware but they are definitely giving it their all.

I really enjoy a number of the arcade cores as indeed I played a large number of them growing up.  In my youth, arcade machines were everywhere... at "the arcade", grocery stores, pizza joints, movie theaters, convenience stores, etc.  There are also a large number of video game consoles including the Atari 2600, 5200, 7800, and Lynx handheld, Nintendo NES, SNES, Gameboy, Gameboy Color, and Gameboy Advance, Sega Master System, Sega Genesis, Sega CD, Sega Game Gear handheld, Neo Geo, Turbo Grafx 16 / CD, etc.  There is also a wide variety of retro home computers including all of the ones I grew up with.  It is just incredible.

The MiSTer FPGA is like having a few hundred vintage devices all in one tiny little package that can easily connect to a modern display and controllers.

While a lot of people enjoy creating their "retro experience" using software-based emulators, I really appreciate the whole notion of recreating the original hardware in FPGA on-the-fly.  It is simply amazing.   Most people don't know what an FPGA is nor that it is possible to use them to recreate the original hardware.  Below is the best video I've found where the presenter explains what an FPGA is and how it compares to software-based emulation.  He also shows all of the components, many of them optional, and puts them all together.  He also builds his own SCART cable for use with analog displays.

I've only used an HDMI TV for the display and they work wonderfully.  I'd definitely like to get an analog display setup sometime so I can take advantage of the 2P (two player) Gameboy and Game Boy Advance cores that allows two players to go head-to-head by replicating two handheld consoles and connecting them together with a virtual link cable.  You can do side-by-side or top-and-bottom split display outputs on a single HDMI TV but allowing each player to have their own physical screen seems the better way to go.  Enjoy the video!  Oh, and BTW, IT IS LINUX BASED!


Video: AlmaLinux 8.4 installable Live XFCE Media

Submitted by Scott Dowdle on Fri, 06/04/2021 - 19:47

I've been wanting and trying to create live media for EL8 since the initial 8.0 release of CentOS.  The main problem I ran into is that RHEL has decided that their customers aren't interested in live media and they didn't produce any... and CentOS hasn't either.  I've been using livecd-creator from the livecd-tools package for years for making personal remixes of Fedora and CentOS 7.  In EL8, livecd-creator comes from EPEL and it has had various issues since the initial 8.0 release... and I've only been able to produce broken .iso media if I could get it to build at all.  Luckily one or more Fedora developers have taken pity on me and been updating / fixing livecd-creator in EPEL recently.

Another problem is that RHEL also decided that since they don't have live media anymore, the RHEL Anaconda installer no longer needs to support live media installs, and they have removed the anaconda-live package from their stock repositories... although I did learn today that it is built by CentOS but just not placed in the public repositories... but if you look for it hard enough, it can be found in their newly opened up build servers.

I've been working with AlmaLinux a bit lately and they provide the anaconda-live package in their off-by-default (and shouldn't really be used for production systems) devel repository.

With the updated livecd-creator and the newly found source(s) for anaconda-live... I've renewed my efforts and finally was able to produce an AlmaLinux 8.4 installable XFCE live media.  I did run into some qwerks that are explained in the screencast below that shows me booting the media in a KVM virtual machine, doing and install, and then showing a little bit of the post-install desktop system.  The .iso includes a /root/livecd-creator directory that has all of the files I used to build the media with and the system has all of the needed packages pre-installed for building.  Anyone who might want to make their own remix can do some minor editing (updating the repository URLs as they currently point to a local mirror I'm using... as well as customizing the package list as desired) of the included files and build their own.  Enjoy!

If anyone wants a copy of the .iso, just email me (see web page footer for contact info) asking for a download link and I'll reply back... as I do not publicly promote MontanaLinux as it is primarily a personal remix.

UPDATE: Anyone who wants to build their own media needs to be aware that there are currently two bugs in livecd-creator... one already fixed in the livecd-tools package currently in epel-updates-testing, and one that needs to be manually patched.   The manual patch is easy though, just edit /usr/lib/python-3.6/site-packages/imgcreate/ and add a new after line 239 (Line 239: # XXX-BCL; does this need --label?).  Put in the following:
            makedirs(isodir + "/images")
So make sure you are using livecd-tools-28.1-1 from epel-updates-testing with the given 0ne-line patch and you should be able to build working media.

UPDATE 2:  I fixed the XFCE media so now it uses SDDM rather than GDM and the live media automatically logs into XFCE.  I have also added media for KDE Plasma and GNOME (aka WORK).  They all seem to be working well but I haven't tested them on UEFI.

UPDATE3: I believe I'm missing one or more packages needed to install the bootloader on UEFI systems.  All of my (working) testing has been on Legacy BIOS-based VMs.  I'll get it fixed ASAP.

UPDATE4: It should work on both Legacy BIOS and UEFI (including secure boot enabled) now.  It was an issue with livecd-creator that has gotten fixed.

Video file