Another tack


Ian_Wade_G3NRW
 

I've been following the discusssions of Richard's BB4Linux developments with interest, but this doesn't really hack it for me.

Since retiring, I have been on the lookout for very small PCs that could be dedicated to a small range of tasks, in the true Unix tradition, but the best I could come up with, at a price I could afford, were the Linux wall warts with very limited I/O capability. Then, a few months ago I discovered the so-called "mini PC" (to me, mini-PCs were the PDP-8s and PDP-9s I programmed in the 1960s, but it seems the term has now acquired a new meaning!)

I bought a Quantum Byte mini-PC for a little over GBP 100:
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http://www.amazon.co.uk/Quantum-Fanless-Windows%C2%AE-Baytrail-T-Quad-core/dp/B00SCBWF52
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It comes in a small VESA-mountable box about 6" x 1.5" x 4", has 32 GB of SSD, 2 GB RAM, and most importantly has a good range of I/O: two monitor ports (VGA and HDMI), three USB ports, comms ports (WiFi, Ethernet and Bluetooth), a card slot (to expand memory up to 128GB) and an audio port. The box runs Windows 10/32, with about 10 GB of SSD to spare for apps. Dual-boot Windows/Linux, or even a Linux-only server, should be straightforward, although I haven't tried these yet.

I originally bought the box as a headless PC dedicated to weather station data processing, but its capabilities were very much under-utilized. So I now also run several other Windows apps (including a couple of large-ish BB4W WinAPI programs of my own) on a two-monitor extended desktop. The box also functions as a thin client with remote access to several other PCs on the local network. One of the remote PCs runs a compute-heavy software-defined-radio app -- the remote real-time graphics are displayed without a hiccup on the Quantum Byte.

The point of saying all this? Well, I do wonder, with all this compute and I/O capability in such a small inexpensive box, if there really is a need for BB4Linux? Apart from a few Linux pointy heads, who would use it? To me, the future would seem to be in BB4Android or BB4IoS, to catch the kids who are already coding in Pascal on their tablets.

P.S. In my grubby little hand I have a Raspberry Pi Zer0. Now what could I use *that* for ....?

--
73
Ian, G3NRW


J.G.Harston
 

Ian_Wade_G3NRW wrote:
The point of saying all this? Well, I do wonder, with all this compute
and I/O capability in such a small inexpensive box, if there really is
a
need for BB4Linux?

Well, the need is those that want to run BBC BASIC for Windows with
Richard's extensions on i86 Linux.


In the 1980s people were probably also saying "what's the need for a C
compiler that can target something other than a PDP-11?" Well, for
whoever wants a C compiler that can target something other than a
PDP-11.


--
J.G.Harston - jgh@mdfs.net - mdfs.net/jgh


Richard Russell
 

---In bb4w@yahoogroups.com, <g3nrw-radio@ntlworld.com> wrote :
> Apart from a few Linux pointy heads, who would use it? To me,
> the future would seem to be in BB4Android or BB4IoS, to catch
> the kids who are already coding in Pascal on their tablets.


I don't disagree, but it is rather depressing to think that the future of BBC BASIC is on devices that I cannot support because they use the wrong processor (mobile devices using ARM CPUs, in general). In any case anything remotely like BBC BASIC isn't possible on (non-jailbroken) iOS because low-level features such as the assembler and indirection are forbidden by Apple.


I suppose the main point of developing an SDL-based version of BBC BASIC (principally targeting Linux 86 and Mac OS-X) was as a - vain as it turns out - attempt to re-engage with the language having seriously 'fallen out of love' with it a couple of years ago. For quite some time my programming language of choice has been Liberty BASIC (particularly my own version LB Booster), not BBC BASIC, culminating in me resigning from the main BB4W support forum earlier this year.


The early successes I had with the SDL version did indeed give me some satisfaction, but then I made the mistake of announcing that I was working in it. I knew that it was never likely to attract a lot of support, but I never guessed that there would be such a negative reaction, including blatant anti-Linux propaganda (related to licensing) designed to persuade me to abandon it.


Richard.


R NBW
 

Hi Richard

Belated Christmas Greetings and best wishes for the New Year.

It is too early to say that the work you have done for the Linux platform is in vain. You have shown that BBC Basic (SDL) works on Linux. I would expect that it would work on most flavours of Linux just as successfully as those you have tried. As far as packages are concerned these can follow in due course as more people become aware. At the moment I think that too few people are aware of what you are doing. I've only seen reference in two places: this site and your BBC Basic Conforums. I've tried a Google search and there wasn't a mention. Possibly an item in the Linux Format forum might help to extend the interest base a little more, or even a mention on your BBC Basic For Windows web site.

BBC Basic (SDL) for Linux certainly has promise with the code you have shown that works.

I would say full steam ahead. As you have said, it is a personal challenge to you and I think you are moving in the right direction. Ignore the detractors. If they don't have a need for it OK. Personally, I'm not interested whether they do or they don't. It's a personal thing. I am sure there are lots of people out there who were brought up on BBC Basic and have struggled trying to use something else because it wasn't available on Linux. I am sure that most users will find that the SDL library (and other libraries that link with it) will provide all that they need.

Please carry on undeterred.

Ray


Richard Russell
 

---In bb4w@yahoogroups.com, <rnbwould@gmail.com> wrote :
> It is too early to say that the work you have done for the Linux platform is in vain.


I said "in vain" about restoring my enthusiasm for BBC BASIC. It's not too early to say that it has failed in that respect! :-(


> Possibly an item in the Linux Format forum might help


It's too soon for that: it's incomplete and buggy. I need assistance from BBC BASIC enthusiasts to hunt down the bugs and determine which of the missing features need to be added. Almost certainly it will also involve somebody writing an IDE since without that the functionality is very limited. Until then it would be most unwise to let it be seen by a wider Linux audience since they would inevitably compare it with fully-developed products.


> I would say full steam ahead... Please carry on undeterred.



On the contrary I've got as far as I want to go on my own and I have mothballed the project. As I've said before, I no longer have any interest in single-handedly advancing BBC BASIC, everything needs to be a collaborative project from now on. I've done the bit that only I can do, now it's up to the community to demonstrate how much they want it.


Richard.