The Compact Flash (CF-) card in the FireBee

The FireBee features a CF card slot mounted on the motherboard, serving as the primary "harddisc". Access to CF cards is supported without additional drivers.

You only need a common CF card, depending to its size and your usage preferences divided in one or more partitions. FireTOS can handle Atari/TOS compatible partitions up to 1GB and MS-DOS/Windows compatible partitions (FAT16) up to 2GB; with MiNT you can also use FAT32 and ext2 partitions up to 2TB(!).
But the bootpartition C: must always corespond to the FireTOS requirements.

Preparing a CF card for the FireBee

There´s no partitioning tool running on the FireBee yet, so the CF card must be prepared with another computer. Like mentioned above, the boot partition must be FAT16 / up to 2GB size. Also the "boot" flag should be set for the boot partition so it can be clearly identified by FireTOS; if not set, FireTOS will ask from which partition to boot.

For TOS-only usage, simply divide the space in as many 2GB partitions as possible (max. 16 partitions, drive letters A: - P:), e.g.:
  1. FAT16 2000 MB
  2. FAT16 2000 MB
  3. ...

For people using both TOS and FreeMiNT, we suggest a partition scheme like this (example here a 32GB CF card):
  1. FAT16 2000 MB (Boot partition, VFAT)
  2. FAT16 2000 MB (FAT, for TOS-only software)
  3. FAT32 28000 MB (much space, long filenames)

If you plan to install a full MiNT, unix-like system better use this type:
  1. FAT16 2000 MB (Boot partition, VFAT)
  2. FAT16 2000 MB (FAT, for TOS-only software)
  3. ext2 4096 MB (MiNT root drive, enough space for unix tools, long filenames)
  4. FAT32 rest of CF card (much space, long filenames)

The following are only short manuals, please read the documentations of the mentioned software for detailed information.

- Partitioning with Linux PC/GParted:


1. Connect the CF card to a Linux computer and start GParted. Check carefully that you select the correct device in the top-right dropdown menu!
All actions are not executed directly but are written to a "Todo list".


2. First delete all existing partitions (if any); select the partition and use menu "Partition/Delete" to remove it. Now create a new partition table with menu "Device/Create Partition Table"; the default partition table type is set to "MSDOS" and should not be changed.


3. Next select "Partition/New" in menu. We need one FAT16 partition as a minimum; enter your preferred size (up to 2GB), set "Create as primary partition" and "Filesystem FAT16". You can also enter a label for this partition (optional, but useful).
Click on "Add" button to add this partition to the "Todo list" of GParted.


4. You can add more partitions, according to your needs. Select the unallocated memory area in the main window, click on "Partition/New" in menu (or with right mouseclick "New") and the create partition dialog opens again.
Remember, FireTOS can handle only FAT16 partitions; with MiNT you can also access FAT32 and ext2. The picture here shows the example for an ext2 partition.


5. Like noted, all actions were only wrote in a "Todo list" yet.
So after you edited (and verified) your partition schema, click on the green checkmark button to execute the list, now the new partitions will be written to CF card.


6. Finally you have to set the "Boot" Flag for the first partition. Select the first partition in main window with mouseclick and choose in menu "Partition / Manage Flags" to open the dialog.


7. Only hook the flag "boot" here, with click on "Close" button the flag will be directly set. Now the CF card is ready to use.
After quitting GParted you can copy files to the CF card (for example our TOS addon archive or the FireBee FreeMiNT setup), then unmount the device from Linux and insert the CF card into your FireBee.

- Partitioning with HDDriver/Diskus:

If you have an Atari computer with a CF card adaptor and HDDriver (full version), you can use this great tool to prepare the partitions for your FireBee. But remember that the Bee uses its own builtin drivers, so never install HDDriver on the FireBee CF card, use it only for partitioning!
Please refer to HDDriver manual for further information.

Info: HDDriver has no own dialog for setting partition flags, namely the needed "boot flag". In theory, Diskus (free harddisc tool, also from U.Seimet) should be able to do that. Diskus sets this flag correct, but strangely it is NOT accepted by the FireTOS harddisc driver.
So FireTOS will always ask at startup from which partition to boot.

Additional Info

  • Here is a video tutorial on YouTube how to insert the CF card into the FireBee: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=vGHCi6gBj8c

  • Bootdrive not found:
    If the CF card is not found at boot, it´s possible that FireTOS configuration is set to use the old (Atari Original) hardware access mode. This can be changed temporary by pressing key 'c' when the PCI device list shows up at boot, then a menu opens for selecting the device boot order. Choose option "New boot IDE0-1 / SCSI0-7" here and press RETURN key.
    This setting can be saved permanently in NVRAM with FIRECONF.CPX control panel (in section "Boot").

  • Maximum amount of partitions:
    A MSDOS Partition table can hold up to 4 primary partitions only!
    The four (primary) partition limitation is a result of a common convention used by both PC BIOS's and operating systems called the MBR for specifying a disk's partitions. The MBR convention, which was written in 1983, provides for only four primary partitions [1]

    [1] From : https://superuser.com/a/596046

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