Friday, June 2, 2023

Sony Walkman still alive in 2023

I love listening to music, especially techno, hip hop, ambient and dance music from the 90's to today. I have some YouTube playlists I created here and here if you want to hear some of my techno and dance favourites! 

Throughout my life I have listened to music on a variety of Sony Walkman devices and different formats, from cassette in the 1980's and early 1990's, to Minidisc recorders/players in the late 1990's and 2000's, to the Sony Network branded Walkmans in the early 2010's. 

In that time, I migrated my cassettes to minidisc, and then the minidiscs were converted to MP3. I then gave them all away since I assumed I would never need them again. I buy my music digitally on Bandcamp, directly with artists on their websites, and occasionally on iTunes Store when that is the only other way to get it. 

In recent years I moved to listening to music using iPods (Nano, greyscale, colour and the later iOS versions) and then my iPhone for convenience when travelling to avoid carrying multiple devices. 

I also buy vinyl records of new releases since I got back into records again, many of which include the MP3 files as part of the purchase. Some annoyingly do not (LoFi records - yes, I am looking at you).

I generally buy direct from the artist or main distributor's website as much as possible to minimise the distributor cuts to their income from the sale. Buying locally in Australia reduces their cut significantly and just adds profit to local companies importing their records and selling for even higher cost.

I have been buying music from a very young age on vinyl, tape, then CD and continue to do it today digitally too. 

Small rant. I am a very strong believer in the importance of paying artists for their music, and buying physical blu-ray discs for movies and tv shows too. I use streaming platforms too of course, like most people for the convenience. 

But artists and creators need income to live, and by buying their music and tv content directly we can provide the incentive for them to keep creating new music and tv content for us to all enjoy.

The artists and creators receive much less money from streaming services such as Apple Music and Spotify, diluted further by the record companies and distributors taking their cut first also. 

The best way in my view to support your favourite artists is to buy the music digitally or physically direct from the artist, or using artist managed services like Bandcamp, and by buying their merch and tickets to attend their live concerts if they do them near you. I do this as much as possible.

I realise many people are very happy to use Spotify, YouTube, Amazon Music, Prime Video, Netflix, Paramount +, Disney Plus and similar subscription streaming services as it is convenient and available on your smartphone, Apple TV, Fetch TV, Google and other streaming platforms, I get it. 

But remember the artist gets very little income from you using these services. The platforms are great for discovering new artists and shows, but please consider buying their music and shows directly if you want them to create more.

On the music front, Bandcamp also supports streaming on their app, so you don't have to miss out listening to your purchasers at any time on any modern smartphone. And no, I receive no money or any kickbacks from any of these services to recommend them - I just want to help artists. Please buy their music and their shows if you like them. Ok, rant over!

With the desire recently to enjoy high quality HiRes FLAC format digital music instead of lower quality lossy MP3, I found I can't do that on iPhone. 

While in Japan back in January, I looked for a modern Sony Walkman to playback FLAC high quality audio files. Yes, they still make them. With my Sony XM4 headphones, I can enjoy HiRes audio over bluetooth with it also. 

I don't have the crazy money (AUD$5000) needed for the top end gold Sony Walkman models - that is so ridiculous. The matching balanced headphones costing AUD$2500 is also ridiculous. The cheaper models were all out of stock in Australia, with long pre-order lead times.

I am not a crazed audiophile by any means. But I did want to try out FLAC formatted music at the entry level to see what I was missing out on.

I opted for the much cheaper Sony NW-ZX507 Walkman model, which offers the same essential functionality I wanted, while it was on special discount during the traditional new years sales in Tokyo. 

All the models are in plentiful stock in Japan, and easy to pick up from any electronics store there. Also, way cheaper than they are in Australia.

I wish Sony would make these models easier to get in Australia, and for a fairer price too.

These higher end devices used to run a Proprietary Sony operating system which was quite clunky, but the new models now run on modern AndroidOS like my older Z1000 Network Walkman does (which is a much older no longer upgradable version). 

The ZX507 model uses standard USB-C and support HiRes audio with Balanced stereo output and normal phono output too, alongside the highly desirable Hi Res bluetooth wireless headphone support. 

I also got the official case to protect it as it was offered at a further discount if bought together.

The unit is thicker than an iPhone 14 is, but much smaller in height and width.

The ZX507 Walkman came with USB C charging/sync connector and wristband strap.

Here are some closer views of the Walkman - you can see the controls on the right hand side:

The balance audio port and normal phono output connectors are on the top.

Strap holder is on the bottom if you like using those.

There is also a slot on the left hand side for adding a MicroSD card for additional storage capacity, something I will definitely add soon.

Charging away so I can try it out:

The fiddly non-attached tiny plastic covers over the ports will almost certainly be lost one day. Hence the case. Once charged up, I set to work connecting it to Wifi and setting it up for use. 

I also linked the Walkman wirelessly via bluetooth to my Sony XM4 headphones. The XM4's are so much better than the XM5's for travelling as they fold into a smaller size and use less space in your luggage. Why Sony took this away in the XM5 is totally beyond me...

I downloaded the AndroidOS Bandcamp app via the Google Play store, and logged in to access my library of music I have bought from there. I can then playback the audio files directly without waiting until I return home to Australia.

At this stage I just used the Bandcamp App since I didn't have access to a computer to do that.

Having transferred my FLAC files from my Mac Pro once home from Japan, I could then enjoy the full quality FLAC files. 

A nice feature of that playback on the Walkman is an animated tape playing shows on the Walkman when playing back! 

It even shows the name of the song and artists on the tape itself. Nice detail.

This is an example 16Bit FLAC file playing - Lukhash makes modern retro themed music and you can buy it on Bandcamp also. This release 'Amiga' was released in 2023, inspired by music on my favourite computer, the Amiga.

An even cooler detail feature is that if your FLAC files are high quality 24bit format like the song below, then the tape changes from a standard tape to a high quality Metal tape!

I love that kind of detail!

Is FLAC better than MP3 - yes, of course. 

Is it worth the cost to be able to enjoy it - hmmm, that is a more difficult question to answer. 

In my view, if you can buy the player cheaply enough, then yes. Remember that not all artists make their music available on FLAC format, most use the lower quality 16bit format rather than the superior 24 bit, so you will end up with a mixture of audio files anyway. 

I chose to make this Walkman strictly for FLAC and WAV files only, since I have the iPhone for MP3 playback.

While finding FLAC version of older and modern music I wanted to buy on Bandcamp, I came across a massive Cassette and Minidisc mixtape scene, which is very much alive in 2023!

You can even buy Ghetto blasters again to play tapes and listen to radio in 2023!! Really! I found this one for sale in Japan in January 2023 in Yodobashi Camera (Akihabara).

The ghetto blaster even has usb for playback of modern format mp3 files.

The 1980's are back in 2023! Who would have thought it!

I remember the pleasure of creating mix tapes on cassette and Minidiscs in the 1980's and 1990's, and it appears so do many other people! 

Recently I was given a free newish mixtape on real cassette from a local Australian artist, but I no longer had a cassette player to use it on. 

So, I bought a cheap cassette to mp3 player converter from Amazon thinking I would just convert that one tape to MP3 and that would be that, but it was a really crap player. 

The player looks and feels cheap.

The location for the batteries is just plain weird. Having to remove your tape first to change batteries is stupid. The battery cover is plastic, not metal as it appears to look.

The audio quality was awful. I could hear the tape whirring and bad background hiss through the headphones. I show it here just so you know what the unit looks like. Don't buy this DigitNow tape player, it is shit.

Quite a few artists are creating similar mix tapes on cassette and Minidisc in 2023 released on Bandcamp and elsewhere! They also provide the MP3/FLAC versions along with the purchase to use digital files on more modern equipment too.

This really made me want to buy some of these new release 2023 mixtape cassettes and get a Sony Walkman cassette and Minidisc player again to enjoy them on. But of course, I wanted to have a good one given the experience with the awful DigitNow one above. 

The challenge is that these Sony Walkman tape players are very old. Sony stopped making them in the early 2000's. I wanted a high end model released in as late a year as possible, that someone with way more skill than me had fully restored and replaced the drive bands, capacitors, tested, etc. 

I managed to buy one locally in Australia that had been fully restored, and I have to say, it is very impressive. Released in 2000, This Walkman is the WM-EX910 model, and this would have been one of the last high end EX series Walkman released. 

By 2000 I had already moved onto a Minidisc setup, so I didn't know about this model until recently.
It is in excellent condition - no dents or scratches I could see.

This unit is so slim compared to the old bulky Sony TCM Walkmans I used to use in the 1980's! Basically this is the size of a cassette! 

Controls are hidden under a pull down cover to prevent accidental use when in your pocket, etc.

It also comes with an external Minidisc style controller and headphone passthrough, along with external battery compartment for using standard AA batteries instead of the prone to leaking gum stick rechargeable batteries. (I could still use them though if I wanted to I guess)

It is great to have this Walkman in 2023.

Sound mode controls and playback mode buttons are on the controller unit, along with volume and hold switch to avoid accidental presses. I was impressed the playmode can be set to auto fast forward through blank audio parts, fast forward tracks using audio detection, and auto reverse play mode, with auto rewind and play on the same side too. Very cool.

You can see that the tape that goes in is almost the same size of the unit itself.

I really enjoyed listening to the cassette mixtape with this Sony Walkman player - sound quality was excellent. No significant tape hiss, and no background noise from the motor through the headphones. Well worth the money.

You can't see it in this photo, but the display is backlit when in low light also, same as the Minidisc Walkman controllers also did.

It made me a little curious if it is possible to still enjoy the older Sony Walkmans on the move in 2023, using modern wireless bluetooth headphones. 

The good news is, you can! Here is the setup I used!

I found a solution from YMOO on Amazon that allows you to connect the phono port on your legacy non-bluetooth devices like Minidisc walkman and cassette walkmans to transmit the audio via bluetooth to modern headphones. This is very cool.

It can also work in receive mode if you connect it to hifi equipment that doesn't have bluetooth. You can then playback your modern smartphone or bluetooth devices to the hifi equipment via bluetooth!

I tested it also on the older Sony Z1000 Network Walkman:

I also tested it on the Sony Minidisc R91 Walkman, which I bought recently to playback new release Minidiscs I now have but couldn't play. The bluetooth wireless audio worked perfectly on both.

I am curious if it works with a modern bluetooth enabled car stereo also. You could then playback the minidisc and cassettes in your car again, just like we used to do in the 1980's and 1990's...I'll try it soon!

Doing this blog post made me realise that having older equipment doesn't stop you enjoying the newest music in 2023, thanks to some amazing artists out there release cassettes, CD, minidisc and vinyl records alongside the digital formats we all take for granted these days.

Being able to enjoy FLAC and WAV music files on my newest Walkman ZX507 means I still can enjoy my Walkman in the 2020's, the same as I have done in various forms since the early 1980's!

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Amiga 500 build Part 3 with AmigaOS 3.2.2, QNAP and Internet

Today, I continue onto Part 3 of the Amiga 500 build. You can click on Part 1 and Part 2 blog entries to get up to speed on the considerable work already done!

I am focused now on the setup of a AmigaOS 1.3/3.1/3.2.2 switchable configuration, and getting the Amiga 500 online with the ACA500 Ethernet module (X-Surf 500). 

Running AmigaOS 3.2.2 is a definite goal of this build, but not at the loss of Workbench 1.3 compatibility to run older demos like this classic - do you know it?

 Also, AmigaOS 3.1 is supported out of the box by the ACA500 Plus solution I am using, so I want to have 3.1 setup as well! Fired up a more recent e255 ECS demo from Bomb to pass the time while unpacking the box my new roms came in.

Given the ACA500 supports soft kicking into AmigaOS 3.1 and 1.3 environments itself in it's firmware, it means the physical rom in the Amiga 500 can be upgraded to the latest 2023 AmigaOS 3.2.2 rom chip! As mentioned at the end in Part 2, I did get a few of them...

I opened up the Amiga 500 to get started with installing the new Kickstart rom chip.

Have to admit, it is the first time to see a 1.3 Kickstart rom chip made by Sharp. You see the new 3.2.2 rom below just underneath it:

I used my chip removal tool to remove the Kickstart 1.3 rom chip and then installed the new 2023 3.2.2 rom chip. Amazing to think in 2023 we are still getting new AmigaOS updates for our Amigas! It is awesome isn't it?

I powered on the A500 without any Amiga CF card installed to make sure the rom works before proceeding any further. 

Please to report it works fine, with the Copyright 2023 AmigaOS 3.2.2 boot screen appearing. Gives me a nice feeling having a refreshed 2023 Amiga 500 system :-)

Alongside this upgrade, I also plan to use a 32GB CF card with AmigaOS 3.2.2

Using this kind of large CF card capacity in a 1.3 kickstart system is not possible due to the 4GB limit (and 2GB partition limit). 

With AmigaOS 3.1/3.9 and some patches you can use the 32GB CF capacity, but it is a pain. The system partition has to be within the first 4GB on the CF card, and 2GB partitions are needed. I know you can create larger ones afterwards with adding other file systems like PFS, SFS, etc, in the RDB using hdtoolbox and then partitioning, setting the correct file system flags in Hex, etc, but it is a lot of mucking around. I have done on the A4000T and other Amigas in the past too.

Using 3.2.2 roms and AmigaOS 3.2.2 I have support to see and address the full 32GB straight away and can partition it however I want to. In short, I am lazy and want it to be easier in 2023. :-)

I then turned on the Amiga 500 and Press F10 on the ACA500 plus initial menu screen to prepare Profile #1 to be used with the AmigaOS 3.2.2 rom and required configuration. That way, I press '1' at the ACA menu on power on to boot into AmigaOS 3.2.2! 

Currently Profile 1 on the ACA500 plus is set to use the onboard rom in a 1.3 setup, which was when I had the 1.3 physical rom installed. The * next to the profile means I have made changes that are not saved yet.

Quite a lot to change here. I do need the AUX CF slot, change the CPU switch to the ACA1233n 68030 accelerator board instead of the 68000 CPU onboard. I turned on the Action Replay freezer because why not?

I then renamed Profile 1 to AmigaOS32 (no dots allowed) to make it easier to see which profile relates to what.

Ok, looks good. I did a barebones Amigaos 1.3 profile 2 setup too, although as covered later on, this profile is not really needed with the ACA500 plus - I still had a mindset it was needed from using the older ACA500 card. I will come back to this later.

Next, I booted from the AmigaOS 3.2 install disk and ran HDToolbox to review the partitions.

The 32GB CF card was used previously on my Amiga 1200 when mucking around with AmiKit Real 9 (covered that build here if you want to see how). I formatted the AmiKit partition (2GB) and labelled it as AmigaOS32 to use with AmigaOS 3.2.2. 

I didn't use the updated Fast File System's long filenames feature, as I like to leave the file system backwardly compatible to plug into my other Amigas for data transfers. I should really try it out though - the truncating longer file names copied from my Mac and PC is annoying!

I left the rest of the partitions (2GB backup partition, and multiple 4GB partitions) and drive contents intact, since it already has my games, demos and music installed. 

Copying the data again is a time consuming process! I could have formatted them as one partition to make things simpler, but copying 28GB of files again takes so long. I know, first world problems...anyway.

I then pulled out my set of AmigaOS 3.2 floppy disks. When you buy a set of AmigaOS 3.2 floppy disks, you unfortunately only get a partial set of original labelled disks, and need to write out the rest of them from ADF files on the CD. 

Note to vendors - please add an option to buy a complete AmigaOS 3.2.2 floppy disk set, or at least add an option to buy a complete set of professional disk labels ready to attach. Yes, I know the labels are on the CD but I don't want to have to find the right size labels to print them on and cut to size for each one...happy to pay for it for that fresh out of the package experience.

Yes, I know I could copy the adf files from CD on another Amiga to the hard disk and mount virtually, and yes, I know I could copy the installed AmigaOS 3.2 partition from one of my other Amigas. Indeed I did install AmigaOS 3.2 from CD before too. It works great.

I could also install using gotek floppy disk emulator via USB stick which would be much faster, but I don't have one hooked up to this Amiga though. 

But...I want to use the floppy disks and a fresh install. I prefer to install from them this time - No great reason for that given the quicker options available I know, but I just want to, ok?

I then walked through the installation. I have covered the AmigaOS 3.2 installation previously if you want more details on it, so nothing really new to cover on this part.

During the install it reminds me that it detects a 68030 CPU accelerator card (my ACA1233n) and that I need to install the MMUlibs after the installation is completed and system rebooted.

Installation completed!

On reboot it warns that I need to install MMUlibs again.

AmigaOS 3.2 Workbench soon appears, looking good as I decided to install the glow icons during the installation rather than the boring original icons. Might regret that with only 1MB chip - time will tell.

I then pulled out the required floppy disks and got to work on the MMUlibs installation:

To do this, I rerun the setup from the AmigaOS 3.2 install disk. I change the installer initial screen option to the Install CPU Support Libraries option.

Next screen for the CPU card I select the Individual Computers (ACA Line) option, since I have an ACA1233n Individual computers accelerator.

After copying the required files across to my new installation on CF card, the install is completed.

After the reboot, I no longer get the MMUlibs warning message - the AmigaOS 3.2 Workbench screen appears quickly and uninterrupted.

Next, I went into Screenmode prefs to change to High Res Laced screenmode to fix the stretched icons which are running in standard PAL high res mode by default. I also changed that awful topaz font in the Font prefs to courier. Anything is better than Topaz - I hate it.

Next, I put the 32GB CF Card on a USB to CF adapter into my Amiga 3000's Rapid road USB (mounted on x-surf 100 ethernet card) to copy across the 3.2.1 and 3.2.2 AmigaOS 3.2 update archives across as they are ~16MB each.

I also labelled my CF card again, since it is now AmigaOS 3.2.2 and I need to tell the difference between the cards when swapping them out of the ACA500 plus:

One lesson I learned is the ACA500 plus AUX CF card slot is supposedly hot swappable. It *IS* hot swappable if you are using a pc FAT formatted cf card. If you plug an Amiga formatted cf card into it with multiple partitions, I found you need to power off before swapping and again when you finished. 

I then started unarchiving files I needed, although initially I still need to unarchive and install the AmigaOS 3.2.1 update and then the 3.2.2 update, which now includes the very recently released hot fix in the archive, so no need to apply the hot fix separately.

Unarchive completed. 

I got to work patching AmigaOS 3.2 to 3.2.1.  I am not sure if you can just run OS3.2.2 patch and not bother with 3.2.1 at all - I did them both anyway.

Update 3.2.1 applied fine, so after a reboot, I then started on the 3.2.2 update with the recently released hot fix in it.

Coffee time while waiting for the 3.2.2 update to complete.

All done.

After the reboot I now have the latest 2023 AmigaOS 3.2.2 installed on the Amiga 500 - fantastic! Lots of work still to do, but a milestone nonetheless.

Next I installed WHDLoad and copied the kickstart roms from my Amiga forever CD via USB onto the CF card, and placed into a new Devs:Kickstarts folder for WHDLoad to use.

As you do, you have to test it works, so errr, I got a little distracted with Mean Arenas.

I spent around an hour, testing to make sure it worked. It does :-)

There was some more essential testing needed with Apidya also, which arrived in the post while I was testing Mean Arenas.

It took some time, but eventually after a lot of testing I confirmed it was working fine. :-)

I got further distracted because at that moment I also got a package with the latest 2023 issue Amiga Addict magazine and some cleaning disks I ordered to use on my Amigas and Commodore 64 5.25 floppy drives! Busy post day!

Definitely have to try out the cleaning disks later on. I already have the correct fluid to put on the cleaning disks. 

A game I bought recently and tried on the C64 recently dropped something on the floppy drive heads and now the 1541-II won't read any disks. Hence the purchase! Hopefully this will fix it. 

As an aside, while installing Final Writer 97 using the built in ADF virtual disk mount functionality in AmigaOS 3.2.2, I discovered something I didn't know - you can unmount virtual disks from the workbench title bar menu using the Eject disk function! I was using the Shell commands up until now...heh. Learn something everyday.

Final Writer 97 installed fine from ADF, and works great on the Amiga 500 under AmigaOS 3.2.2.

Next, I set to work checking the Workbench 1.3 profile I did earlier.

Or so I thought - as it turns out, the ACA500 Plus has a lot more functionality compared to the old ACA500 I use on the Amiga 1000.

ACA500 plus now has a menu for A500 built-in profiles accessed with F3 from the main menu, which allows soft kick of Kickstart 1.3, with different Chip and fast memory combinations to choose from: 

This is incredibly useful for older Amiga demos and games that are picky and need these configurations.

I can even soft kick Kickstart 1.2, select PAL/NTSC, CPU speed, floppy drives on/off, redirect Df1: as the boot drive, and activate the Action Replay function. This is very cool.

I tried out the Kickstart 1.3 with 1MB chip configuration , which works as the Agnus chip version in the Amiga 500 is new enough to support it. Here is the screen showing the status of the soft kick and other configuration prep after selecting the configuration.

And, voila, I get a Workbench 1.3 insert disk screen. no hard disk, and ready to load floppy disks.

Of course, I want to be able to boot Workbench 1.3 from hard disk too. Fortunately I already prepared a Workbench 1.3 2GB CF card for the Amiga 1000 to use with the older ACA500 card.

FYI that card is 4x512MB fast file system partitions, formatted Fast File System (no international support) prepared under Amiga 3000 via USB to CF converter with AmigaOS 3.1.4 HD Toolbox. 

As part of this partition setup work, I remove the 3.1.4 FastFileSystem driver loaded in the RDB automatically, and substitute the older fast file system drive from the Workbench 1.3 floppy disk. It is important the filesystem type in the partitions matches the version in the RDB. This means hard disk is then usable under 1.3.

That 2GB CF card is already setup with my old Amiga 2000 Workbench 1.3 Hard disk setup copied across, including many applications, games, demos and mods. I decided to take the easy way and backup the CF card to an image file on my Windows 11 PC using win32Diskimager

I then got a spare 4GB CF card and imaged it with the 2GB image file. I suppose I could add additional partitions in the future if I need them since there is another 2GB available now, but at the moment it is not needed so...I can just use it as is.

Fortunately, on the ACA500 plus there is a complete Kickstart ROM 1.3 configuration profile to select with F2 on the main menu, so I don't need to create custom profile for Workbench 1.3 hard disk booting.

I then removed the 32GB AmigaOS 3.2.2 CF card. 

After inserting the 4GB CF card containing Workbench 1.3 hard disk into the ACA500 plus and selecting F2 from the main menu on power on, my Workbench 13 hard disk boots up straight away - fantastic!

While we are mentioning the ACA500 plus initial power on menu, you can also see the System Information screen with the tab key - a lot of information is available there:

Pretty cool that I can see the Accelerator, and X-Surf 500 module is installed, and it's mac address.

There is also a User ROM images screen below, which I assume to add additional kickstart rom images of different sizes. I suppose this means I could in theory add the AmigaOS 3.2.2 rom here and soft kick it also! 

I like the idea of putting a kickstart 1.1 rom so I can run Archon on this machine - I should try it sometime, but not today.

This is because I want to get this Amiga 500 networked and connected to the internet, using the ACA500 Ethernet module (X-Surf 500) I installed. I am still waiting for the ethernet extender to extend the ethernet port on the X-Surf 500 to the rear plexiglass case port hole.

I am impatient to get it working though, so I temporarily routed a network cable to the port.

The ACA500 Plus includes a network installer option under the Installer Menu especially for the X-Surf 500 card.

The catch with the installer option is that it uses kickstart 3.1 soft kick configuration only, with no option to change which profile it uses so I can use AmigaOS 3.2.2. 

Without that profile set to use the AmigaOS 3.2.2 kickstart rom, the Amiga won't boot from the hard disk at all.

So, enter the Kickstart 3.1 CF Card I had in this ACA500 plus at the beginning! I needed to relabel that one too so I did so.

With the 3.1 CF card installed, I could choose the network installer option from the Installer menu, using F5. I need the AUX CF card too, which is activated by default:

When I select F5, it highlights the option. I can then hit the return key to boot with that configuration.

As mentioned, it then boots into workbench 3.1 from the CF card, with the network install virtual disk mounted on the Workbench screen automatically.

This is not that useful yet, since I actually want to use this on AmigaOS 3.2.2. But I have a plan.

On the Workbench screen, I then open the AUX CF Card (PC0), and create a drawer called InstallNetwork:

I then copy the contents of the virtual disk to it.

That done, I power off and put the AmigaOS 3.2.2 CF card back in, and boot into the amigaOS 3.2.2 profile I setup on the ACA500 plus.

I then make an assign for the InstallNetwork virtual disk to the drawer on the Aux CF card (PC0) where I copied the files:

I can then run the Network installer Individual computers provided for the ACA500 Ethernet module.

The installer installs AmiTCP, which is configured for use with the X-surf 500. Similar idea to AmigaKit's wireless internet driver package I have used in the past.

I pick a location under SYS:Utilities for the AMITCP drawer and the install gets underway.

Interesting to note that there is a new program called "Network" installed in WBStartup to configure the ethernet settings for my setup here.

Install completed. Reboot time.

On the reboot I now get a wait/offline/online status icon on the AmigaOS 3.2.2 Workbench:

It then automatically pops up a window to configure the network settings. I tried the DHCP default option but it didn't work. To be honest, it never works with AmiTCP. I always have to configure with static IP. With roadshow dhcp works fine on the Amiga. YMMV.

With DHCP set, I tried it and as expected it failed. Status still says Offline.

So I configured it manually with an available home lan static ip address, subnet mask, default gateway, DNS (local and internet). I clicked on Save and then start. It worked! status is online, as below.

In the AMITCP drawer, there is a program called Mount iComp. 

Mount iComp allows you to connect over the internet directly to Individual Computers publicly available file repository to download drivers and software for my Individual computers hardware (Indivision, ACATune, X-Surf 500, X-surf 100, etc), without having to use a web browser. Very nice.

Except that it didn't work. When I double clicked I got this error:

I snooped around in the mount iComp script file to see what was happening. This script file is using SambaFS to connect to the public share over the internet. There is a line that starts the network first, but this is not needed as the network starts automatically on boot with the wbstartup program there. Hence the error. 

Not sure why Individual Computers put that line in given the installer for x-surf 500 puts the network program in wbstartup to connect automatically.

Easy to fix though. I commented out the network line in the file (use ";" to comment a line) and then saved it.

I then ran the Mount iComp program again from its icon and it worked perfectly. I can now see the public share over the internet using my Amiga 500!  Very cool. I see they put a icon on the share too so it has a nice icon on the Workbench screen - nice detail touch :-)

Behind the scenes in the shell, I took a look and I can see the iComp share is mounted as a SMBFS0 volume. 

I set to work copying the files to my machine so I have the latest versions of the software drivers, since I own a lot of this hardware already.

This is great, but of course I want to be able to web browse too, so I wanted to install the commercial iBrowse 2.5.8 web browser for AmigaOS, which I bought boxed back in the 1990's (as below) and again recently with the restart of active development. 

You can buy the latest version of iBrowse from here. You can use it a demo version for a short period to try it out too. Sadly you don't get the boxed version like below anymore, just the software and a license key. I like that a browser I used in the mid 1990's is still being developed in 2023. 

With the end of development for Internet Explorer, how many browsers in 2023 on modern computers are actively developed that were available then? Popular browsers today like Firefox started in 2004, Edge in 2015, Safari in 2003 and Chrome in 2008. 

I can only think of five web browsers still alive from the 1990's era, at the birth of the internet as we know it today: 
  • Lynx - a text based browser started in 1992. I remember using it at university on Sun Xterms to browse the internet! Lynx taught me to always include ALT tags in my HTML...
  • w3m - started 1995 - never used it myself outside of emacs
  • Arachne - started 1995, used in MSDOS at University and on my DOS pc today too
  • Opera - started in 1995, for Windows, Mac, Linux and mobile devices. 
  • iBrowse - started on the Amiga in 1996, and is based on AMosaic, an Amiga port of the original NCSA Mosaic graphical web browser released in 1993. (used AMosaic on my A1200 and Mosaic on Sun Xterms at Uni)

Netscape Navigator was also developed from Mosaic (I used both of them at University), and Netscape  ultimately morphed into and the modern Firefox browser we know today.

Sorry, prattling on too much about web browsers. If you are interested to learn more about the history of web browsers (it is quite interesting to see where it all started, you can see an all web browser timeline on wikipedia here).

I know you can also download and use one of the free Amiga browsers like AWeb, but there is not active development going on for that. Netsurf is another option which is being developed, but system requirements (060, graphics card) are too steep for this Amiga 500 to use it. 

So why not buy iBrowse - a 2023 actively developed commercial Amiga web browser!

You need to install AmiSSL first though for the latest web certificates, so I started with that - available on Aminet here and at version 5.8 as I write this.

As I have a ACA1233n, it means I have an 68030 accelerator in this Amiga 500, so I can use AmiSSL:

With AmiSSL successfully installed, I then installed iBrowse 2.5.8, which needs 68020 minimum, so the ACA 1233n accelerator is essential to proceed further here:

As this system doesn't have a graphics card, it is important to use the lowest colour icons and minimise use of animations for best performance - I have no FPU on this accelerator so I need to select 68020 without the FPU:

I select to use the ILBM imageset as we don't have a graphics card:

I then select the non moving transfer animation with the lowest colours, again as we have no graphics card. 

Actually, this reminds me I have a A500 adapter for the zz9000 graphics card (Zorro 2 firmware) I got last year . Thinking about it more, it would need to be using my checkmate 1500 plus cased Amiga 500 as it doesn't fit in the A500 original case, and it already has a happy home in my Amiga 2000. Anyway, let's move on!

Install completed.

I then copy my purchased ibrowse 2.5 license key file to the installation drawer to activate my iBrowse registration.

I then launch iBrowse and it works, so that is a good start.

I then browsed to Aminet, and it works perfectly. My Amiga 500 is now online thanks to the X-Surf 500!

I was going to stop there originally, but then the Mount iComp sambafs setup for the x-surf 500 from earlier got me thinking - can  I connect my Amiga 500 to shares on my local QNAP NAS?

The limitation here has always been that SambaFS on the Amiga only supported v1 samba connections, and the QNAP requires v2 as a minimum.

As fate would have it, as I was doing this blog post, this week saw the release of a new version of sambafs for AmigaOS 3, with support for Samba V2! I will need to try it out later!

Regardless, I found a way to enable v1 support on the QNAP by reading up online. I can set the lowest SMB (samba) functional level to v1 on the advanced options under Network  & file services > Microsoft networking:

I then applied the change on the QNAP.

Going back to the Amiga 500, I made a copy of the Mount iComp script file and .info file as a start point using the Shell, calling it MountQNAP.

I then created a host file entry in AmiTCP for my QNAP, so I don't have to put the IP address everywhere. For privacy reasons I won't share the ip address. The text file is in the AmiTCP/bin drawer.

With the hostname set in the hosts file, I then went to the MountQNAP file I copied from Mount iComp file before to start to customise the samba connection for the QNAP. 

I need to specify a valid QNAP user and password with access to the shared location, as set in the QNAP configuration. Basically like this:

run <>NIL: $mnt volume VOLNAME: User=username Password=password service //qnap/sharename

I set it to connect to the QNAP Music share first, mounted as QMUSIC to differentiate it from the Music partition I already have under AmigaOS 3.2.2 on this Amiga 500. For privacy reasons the username and password are obviously not the real ones.

It worked first time and the QMusic disk icon appears on my AmigaOS 3.2.2 workbench screen. How fantastic!

I can see the QNAP Music shared volume mounted as SMBFS0 via the Shell:

I fired up Delitracker and loaded some modules located directly on the QMusic shared folder volume and it loads and works great over the network!

You can see the MountQNAP icon I copied from the original Mount iComp icon earlier is now in the AMITCP drawer as below:

I decide to leave out the MountQNAP icon on the workbench desktop, so I can easily mount my QNAP volumes when I want them. 

I also then modified the MountQNAP file to add two more network mounting lines to mount two other QNAP network shared - photos (QPHOTO) and videos (QVIDEO). So now I have three network shares available from my Amiga 500 with AmigaOS 3.2.2!

They mount as SMBFS0, SMBFS1 and SMBFS2 volumes, as shown in the Shell below.

There is more to do with the Amiga 500 build, but I think the ethernet setup with X-Surf 500 installed on the ACA500 plus wth the ACA1233n and AmigaOS 3.2.2 already makes this already a very usable system now. 

Now I can also easily swap CF cards and profiles on the ACA500 plus menu to boot into Workbench 1.3 hard disk or AmigaOS3.1 hard disk setups too.

Next I will work on getting my MAS Player  working for MP3 playback, so I can playback the MP3's on my QNAP music network share on the Amiga 500! I also want to setup the new AmigaOS 3.2 dock, Miracle Piano, MIDI, SambaFS V2, and some other things as well. Stay tuned for the next part of the build!