Area536 :: Rebooted

Jun 8, 2024 - 7 minute read - FreeBSD

Integrating my own package mirror into FreeBSD

After failing to install a number of packages from upstream binaries I decided to host my own FreeBSD packages mirror using Poudriere. I must say: the Poudriere software is the most elegant solution I encountered to allow users of an operating system to build and host their own package repositories. Actually integrating the resulting packages into a workable infrastructure is not entirely obvious. Here’s how I did it and why, which may be of use to others. Mind you: I use FreeBSD on a laptop as my daily driver, but this strategy should work just as well for server use cases. I’m assuming you somewhat know your way around administering FreeBSD systems and have a specific need to fiddle with the package mechanism.

Mar 30, 2024 - 2 minute read - MS-DOS MiSTer Retrogaming DOSContainer

DOSContainer build pipeline done

One of the main reasons why I’m building DOSContainer in Rust is ease of use, both for myself as a developer as well as the end user. Sure you can get the source code and build your own, but that’s not what I’d call user friendly. Yet I am intensely lazy, so I’d rather spend half a day automating the build/release process than do the steps manually whenever I have something meaningful to share.

Mar 29, 2024 - 8 minute read - MS-DOS MiSTer Retrogaming DOSContainer

DOSContainer releases page

As I’m coding DOSContainer, more and more games turn up on my hard drive in a playable form and I want to share those with the world. I decided to rip them out of the actual project’s Git repository and just host them on my website. If you’re looking for the current list, look no further because this is it and I will be updating this page as time goes on.

Mar 28, 2024 - 2 minute read - C64 gamedev

What happened to Larry on the C64?

Suddenly I realized that it’s been months that I wrote about my efforts to port Leisure Suit Larry to the Commodore 64. The good news here is that the project is still on my radar and far from abandoned. The reason why I’m not posting any progress is the fact that I’m upping my skills on the back of the other project I’m working on. The skills I need are in the area of Rust programming. Why would I need to program in Rust when creating a game for the C64? Hear me out.

Mar 27, 2024 - 2 minute read - MS-DOS MiSTer Retrogaming DOSContainer

DOSContainer Rust status update Q1

DOSContainer the Bash version functions, but it really is just a proof of concept for what I really want this product to be. As such, I ceased maintaining the Bash version except in case of glaringly hideous bugs. Instead, I’m now working on a version in Rust. The result should be a native binary for a number of platforms that does exactly what I want and comes in a simple, monolithic binary that simply works.

Nov 16, 2023 - 4 minute read - MS-DOS MiSTer Retrogaming DOSContainer

Status update on DOSContainer

Sometimes I get writers’ block. I’m in something of a rut when it comes to Larry on the C64. Nothing to worry about. I know myself and I’ll get back into it soon enough but that’s why I always have more than a single project cooking. Some may remember that I used to be working on DOSContainer, an attempt at creating a generator for bootable hard drive images for use with MS-DOS in emulated environments like the MiSTer’s AO486/PCXT cores, PCEM86 or DOSBox. I picked that back up yesterday and I’d like to report on the status for a bit because there’s good news to report: we have lift-off! That’s to say my jumbled mess of cowboy-code now generates a bootable hard drive image that my MiSTer accepts and launches The Secret of Monkey Island as if it were a console.

Nov 11, 2023 - 5 minute read - FreeBSD

How I still run FreeBSD on a Hetzner box

Rising electricity cost made me reconsider the economy of running a homelab this summer. Combined with a short period of sweltering heat, I was motivated to find a different solution to hosting my own services than to do it from home. Worst case was when I had a NAS sitting on the floor with a table fan strapped precariously to a chair in order to keep the disks’ temperature within spec. My choice was to either upgrade the housing and hardware of my lab substantially, to replace it with something rented, or to keep on messing with 3rd-rate hardware to keep up some semblance of stability. After some quick calculations I went for option 2: rent a box with Hetzner and migrate. To my surprise Hetzner had stopped supporting FreeBSD but I had no intention of migrating to anything else. Here’s how I dealt with this situation.

Nov 10, 2023 - 3 minute read - C64 gamedev

So why did Larry never appear on the Commodore 64?

As I’m slowly plodding along porting Leisure Suit Larry to the Commodore 64, I was becoming ever more convinced that Sierra simply never bothered to do this because of technical limitations. While this may well be a significant part of the truth, there also seemed to be a far more human issue at play between Sierra’s leadership and Commodore at the time.

Nov 7, 2023 - 2 minute read - C64 gamedev

Back to the drawing board, sorry AI

Ok, so scratch the previous post. Generative AI is a nice gimmick but the free version of ChatGPT is not the boon I thought it could be when coding stuff that’s a little off the beaten track. I’m back to coding my own Assembly generator and switched back to Rust for that. As I go, I’m also reconsidering the architecture of the input parser. As it turns out, the idea I had wasn’t all that conducive to being generated automatically by a script and I REALLY want to avoid hand-coding all of the word parsing logic.

Nov 3, 2023 - 4 minute read - C64 gamedev

ChatGPT and generating Assembly code

Why not use a tool if it’s available, right? I’ve been experimenting with ChatGPT for a while and it writes generally abysmal Assembly code for the C64. That’s probably because its training data on this specific language is tiny. Now I would really like to have a generator that does all of the boring stuff discussed in the previous post. Writing reams of repetitive code to parse out individual words is not my idea of fun, but it’s a necessary evil to get this game working. So I recruited the machine to do the machine’s job!