"Struggle for Printing"
New EmuTOS, new FPGA configuration, new MiNT device driver, parallel port has been fixed, printing is working as of now

Up until now, printing with a FireBee was only possible through a network and PHERP. But for a few months now, the team has been hard at work to get the parallel port working as well, in order to support, first and foremost, local printing.

With a new FPGA version, a new EmuTOS and an xdd (device driver) for FreeMiNT, printing with the parallel port is now also possible on the FireBee with EmuTOS and FreeMiNT - as long as it's running over EmuTOS. The parallel port is now working flawlessly.

What you will need:

• The new FPGA version created by Medusa
• The newest EmuTOS 0.9.5 , which was released on October 25th, 2015

These two components must be flashed into the ROM as usual with FLASH060.PRG from FireTOS.

• For printing under FreeMiNT you'll also need the new device driver of Markus Fröschle, which belongs into FreeMiNT's xdd folder.

The long version of this "Never-ending Story":

Starting with the ongoing, overwhelming and - for the developers exasperatingly often re-emerging - wish of the project coordination to allow an all-encompassing usage of the FireBee by the end-users in all situations, and for all the use-cases they want, Wolfgang Förster asked a few smart questions to the team. They pertained to the non-functioning parallel port and the existing VHDL implementation. Wolfang also began to investigate the FPGA configuration and came up with a few rather plausible theories about the reasons for the non-functioning port.

Then, luckily, Roger Burrows and Markus Fröschle started searching for potential bugs in the parallel port at the same time as Fredi Aschwanden, all the while Mathias Wittau tried to butter up Miro Kropáček and/or Peter Persson to get them to invest their almost non-existent time in a workaround. Special praise is deserved by Rogers measurements on original Atari devices, without which many questions would have remained unanswered, and which only made this fix possible. Afterwards, several developers spent nights in front of the computer, poring over literature, creating various FPGA test-configurations and learning a lot of VHDL.

Through intelligent analysis of all the hereafter collected data, the problem could be identified by Markus Fröschle, and an approach for a solution for a working parallel port could be found. Naturally, a new FPGA configuration was then quickly created, one which was - in relation to the printing port - bug-free. It turned out, however, that there still was the problem that the port itself now indeed worked correctly, but approximately 40 times as fast as on original Falcons, because of which some system routines failed to use it. Therefore, Roger Burrows "quickly" rewrote EmuTOS to address this, and Markus Fröschle created an xdd for using the now-working printing port correctly under FreeMiNT as well.

Therefore, as of now, printing works fine with all printers over the parallel port, as long as EmuTOS or an EmuTOS-based FreeMiNT are used. FireTOS and also the official FreeMiNT setup with FireTOS are still waiting for things to come - namely, a similar patch as for EmuTOS. Once again, the indisputable advantages of open source have been demonstrated impressively. Luckily, we also do have licenses for the original TOS which at least enable us to solve the problem at some point in the future. After that, all NVDI- or Papyrus-printer-drivers should work as well.

The new EmuTOS also offers many other news for the FireBee such as AES improvements that allow to run many programs error-free (e.q. QED, which allows to print now perfectly fine anytime), BIOS improvements for automatic recognition of multiple IDE-buses, various EmuDESK optimizations and much, much more.

Have fun with your now-printing-enabled FireBees!


[Back to News]
Gamer :: 2016-09-15 18:32:09

Well this good news for the Firebee. But what printers can be used? it is just the ones included with NVDI or are there newer ones of today that can be used?
Mathias :: 2016-09-16 17:18:53

As NVDI is not available for EmuTOS, and we can recently print only from an EmuTOS system, it is independent from NVDI. It should work theoretically with every printer that comes with an paralell port. I for myselve tested it with a nice Lexmark T430, and got good resoults from QED for example.

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