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Mac
May 20th, 2013, 08:26 AM
Greetings.

I just recently acquired an osborne vixen machine from a relative. I have a few questions.

Is it a rare machine in any way? Mine works but I have no disks for it so I can't really use it. Where could I get some disks?
Also, this being my first CP/M machine, can i actually run any CP/M software or just the ones OCC gave with the machine back in the day?

TX_Dj
May 20th, 2013, 09:01 AM
Hey Mac, I assume we've talked about this in the past, elsewhere (youtube). Maybe I'm wrong. :)

Yes, the Vixen is an incredibly rare machine. There weren't many made at all. It was the last thing that OCC made before they really went out of business for good. If in fact, you are the same Mac that I've spoken to in the past about Vixens, then you probably know that I had been searching for one since they were released, and only rather recently managed to obtain one.

CP/M software is very portable - most things which don't require hardware-specific calls (i.e. those which work directly with the OS's device definitions such as console, printer, disks, etc) will work just fine.

However, the vixen will only boot vixen disks. Once booted, it will read any other Osborne format natively, and with MediaMaster, can read hundreds of other formats of disks. However- if those disks contain useful software for some other architecture, the jury is out on how viable the code will be on the Vixen. Things like serial port access often require tailor-made overlays or inserts for that machine's hardware, so a program can control it directly (rather than having to reconfigure a card's switches or jumpers for other baud rates, or things like that).

What you really need is:
- a 360k disk drive
- a DOS PC
- teledisk and imagedisk software
- about a dozen blank disks (to get the full software suite)
- a disk image for IMP (Irv Hoff's Modem Program, lets you Xmodem/Ymodem/etc code from another computer)

If you'd like, I can send you a complete set of master disks, all software known to exist for the Vixen in the online image formats, plus a working IMP disk. All I ask is to cover the cost of the disks and the shipping. Probably a total cost of about $15-20.

http://i.imgur.com/OJCyJuV.jpg

lotonah
May 20th, 2013, 01:44 PM
Hi TX_Dj,

Do you have an Osborne One disks? I could use a fresh set of them, all of mine have read errors (boot fine, though).

Thanks!

TX_Dj
May 20th, 2013, 02:51 PM
As an original Osborne user, I do have a ton of O1 disks... last I tried to read my masters, though, I had some trouble. Since they're all FM SSSD, getting images of them might be problematic. Maybe we could work out a similar deal to what I offered Mac for vixen disks.

Mac
May 21st, 2013, 10:05 AM
I don't really have any 5.25 disks or a 360k drive so your offer sounds great! I live in finland. Do you have an estimate on how much the shipping will cost?

TX_Dj
May 21st, 2013, 10:41 AM
Ah, OK - so I confused you with another guy I'd been talking to recently about Vixen.

Just estimating weight, it looks like it could be about US$16 for shipping alone. Probably a little less. I'll have to double check for sure, but I think there were two (non-source files) floppy images that don't work ("utils" and "crosstalk" iirc, the utils shows blank directory entries in every user space, yet the disk is "full" and "crosstalk" is a blank disk...) so if we scrub out the source code images, that is about 8 disks including 2 images that I have which are not part of the common archives (yet). Throw on top of that a disk full of archiver/library tools and a disk with IMP built for vixen (for transferring more files from the archives via serial), and we're up to a full box of disks. My cost on disks is $10 for a 10-pack. So we're still right about in the original ballpark of about US$25 total cost to you. Let me double-check these things

Hard to shake a stick at that, it would easily cost you more to buy a 360KB drive and floppies.

I will tell you this, though - you'll want to get a set of blank floppies, since these disks would become your master disks, you'd want a working set.

The master disks can be used as program disks (though they don't have much free space on them), but via the TurnKey menus, they will automatically generate proper program disks for you, as demonstrated in this video: (warning, long, boring video mostly filled with my rambling while the vixen is busy using TurnKey/SuperSUB to generate a Wordstar program diskette from the master)


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOzd7EKDA98

mloewen
May 21st, 2013, 04:34 PM
If you'd like, I can send you a complete set of master disks, all software known to exist for the Vixen in the online image formats, plus a working IMP disk. All I ask is to cover the cost of the disks and the shipping. Probably a total cost of about $15-20.


Was there a version of CP/M+ released for the Vixen?

I have an odd Vixen in my collection. It's missing the front nameplate and all the rear stickers, but it's in working order:

http://sturgeon.css.psu.edu/~mloewen/Oldtech/Osborne/Vixen.html

I've written disk images for it, collected from the net, but I've never seen CP/M+.

TX_Dj
May 21st, 2013, 07:25 PM
From what I understand, it was shipped only with 2.2- I've not seen anything regarding CP/M+ specific to the Vixen. All I have for mine is CP/M 2.2. Thought this was kind of weird, considering the Executive was a CP/M+ machine, and coupled with the rather late release of the machine.

That is a rather odd Vixen, I wonder what the story is behind why it's missing it's labels!

Amazingly well built machines, it was simply a joy to work on mine after being used to the more "erector set" nature of a Kaypro or even earlier Osbornes. It is far more "modular" in construction, rather than the metal-shop mayhem of a Kaypro or the suspension bridge of the OCC1/OCC2.

http://i.imgur.com/JJfoVX8.jpg

Frustrating, though - that the schematics and layout diagrams available online are obviously for the earlier prototype. The schematics almost perfectly match the production board, though. Had a laundry list, as one often does with any retro machine, of items that needed to be fixed, and still made relatively quick work of it.

Been a real pleasure working with it, the Qume drives perform flawlessly, and if I'd had this machine back in my youth, I'd have thought I'd died and gone to heaven with a pair of 390KB floppies!

Mac
June 10th, 2013, 07:36 AM
Alright i got hold of some JACKIN 5.25 inch disks, the box says "MD" and "2HD", How can I write vixen disks using a 1.2Mb drive with ImgDisk?

TX_Dj
June 10th, 2013, 08:56 AM
Well, you need DSDD disks... HD disks will not work.

You'll need to run dos on a machine with a 5.25 drive. If it is a 1.2MB drive, you'll need to configure imagedisk to write at 500KB data rate.

Then just load each image and write it out to the disk.

If necessary, you may need to force on the settings for double step, 40 tracks, double sided... though a lot of the disks in the archive are single-sided, so I'd see if you can get away with leaving that as "Original".

Mac
June 10th, 2013, 12:13 PM
Well, you need DSDD disks... HD disks will not work.

You'll need to run dos on a machine with a 5.25 drive. If it is a 1.2MB drive, you'll need to configure imagedisk to write at 500KB data rate.

Then just load each image and write it out to the disk.

If necessary, you may need to force on the settings for double step, 40 tracks, double sided... though a lot of the disks in the archive are single-sided, so I'd see if you can get away with leaving that as "Original".

The box of disks I have is unopened so I imagine they're not formatted yet. Basically the same as bulk erased ones? I'll try with these disks first. Thanks for the tips on the settings!