Tag Archives: Windows

VirtualBox: Running A Favorite Old Game

Subtitled: How to increase the color depth in a Windows 2000 virtual machine, beyond the default 16 colors.

I was poking around Amazon.com over the weekend, and stumbled upon a great old Windows game that my wife used to enjoy playing all the time. Sadly our disk got damaged, so we hadn’t played it in years.

The game, Monty Python and the Search For The Holy Grail

For all of $5.00, including shipping I figured I couldn’t go wrong!

Once the disk came in, the first thing I did was stick it in my wife’s CD-ROM drive and run the Setup.exe file with WINE. The setup failed.

Undaunted, I fired up a Windows 2000 install in VirtualBox, and tried the install again. This time it installed OK, but the software wouldn’t run because the VM was stuck in 16 color mode.

This is very easy to fix!

With your VM running, select the Devices tab in the top menu, and then click on the Insert Guest Additions CD Image

Win2k running in a VM

Win2k running in a VM

This will bring up the following dialogue:

Win2k running in a VM

Win2k running in a VM

It’s now just a matter of clicking through the prompts like you would any other software install. You will be greeted with a Digital Signature error a few times, but simply click on Yes for each.

Win2k running in a VM

Win2k running in a VM

Finally, once everything is installed, you will be asked to reboot the virtual machine for the changes to take effect.

Win2k running in a VM

Win2k running in a VM

Once rebooted, you’ll want to Right-click on the desktop, and select the display properties. For many old Windows games, you will need to select 256 colors for the game to display correctly. You’ll be tempted to use the highest setting, say 32 bit color, but in the case of today’s game, the on-screen text will not display if you do!

Windows 2000 display settings

Windows 2000 display settings

That’s all there is to it, and the result is a happy spouse, enjoying a favorite old game once again!

Monty Python game, running in Win2k Virtual Machine

Monty Python game, running in Win2k Virtual Machine

 

Working With Windows Software

I’ve been using various Linux logging packages for my radio hobby over the years, but none have been up to the ease of use and features of a Windows package that I’ve used for almost 20 years, on my lone old Windows machine.

Really wanting to dump that machine, it was time to really work on getting the Win program to run happy on Linux!

The program is called XMLog, a logging and award tracking software package. The program will also control my radio, changing the frequency, filling in dynamic fields like frequency, mode, time, date, etc.

XMLog

XMLog

The software has always run semi-okay using Wine, but several of the features didn’t work properly. This made it unsuitable for production use on a Linux machine.

In the example below, the data window would never display:

3 W1AW QSOs_005

And in this example, the antenna bearing and distance never showed up either:

XMLog program features

XMLog program features

Oh my joy when I tried to run this software yet again, with a brand new Mint 17.1 install on my computer, the latest Wine upgrades, and the Software itself using some more compatible libraries!

Next of course was to get the software talking to my radio. To do this, you need to tell Wine what communications ports you wish to map to what devices. This is done by navigating to your ~/.wine/dosdevices directory as shown here:

Wine configuration directory

Wine configuration directory

Right click in an empty spot in the window, and select: Open In Terminal which will open a Terminal window where you will then define the communications port mappings.

In my case, I wanted Com1 to provide remote control to my radio, using the USB device called ttyUSB1. To map this, in Terminal, in the dosdevices directory, I simply type:

ln -s /dev/ttyUSB1 com1

Which will map USB1 to Com 1, so that the Windows software can find it.

Likewise, because I wanted to be able to send Morse Code using my computer’s keyboard, I also mapped a separate port for that. It this case:

ln -s /dev/ttyUSB0 com8

If you make a mistake, or the port is not correct, then Linux will actually tell you it’s bad, right in the directory listing. Here I mapped a port that I knew did not exist on my computer. See how it says link(broken) in the description. Tells us we need to delete it, and try again:

Bad Mapping

Bad Mapping

So that’s it, I can now run my favorite radio software, on my favorite operating system and dump Windows in the ham shack for good!

XMLog running on Linux Mint 17.1

XMLog running on Linux Mint 17.1

Of course you should also join Logbook of the World, and install the Trusted QSL software (in the repositories or use the link above) as well, to really get your radio fun going!

 

 

New Tools For My Lone WIndows Box

We only have one Windows computer on the farm. It’s used to stream our goat channel to ustream and youtube. In an effort to make life a little bit easier for ourselves, I’ve installed a new tool  called AutoHotkey.

When you watch television, you will notice at the top of the hour, a small graphic in the lower left corner of your screen. The ABC television network puts up a little ABC in a circle, CBS has their CBS Eyeball, and etc. This little graphic is called a Bug.

We use a small GoatsLive.com logo for our bug. and have been putting it in and out manually the last 5 years. With AutoHotkey and some clever scripting, it’s now inserted automatically at the top and bottom of the hour!

I’m also using AutoHotkey to change to a specific camera, and insert a custom graphic when I’m giving the goats their morning and afternoon cookies. I can fire off the script right from my Android cell phone!

So if you’re running Windows, and want some automation for about any task, give AutoHotkey a try!

 

Wine, Isn’t Something You Drink

Let’s face it Linux lovers, every now and then, there is a program you want to run that just isn’t available on Linux.wine

Fortunately, there is a way to fix that little problem. WINE

Wine is a nifty Linux program that acts as a compatibility layer, able to run many different Windows applications.

You can install Wine, by simply going to your Software Manager, and searching for Wine. After installation, you can then open the Winetricks software package to install your Windows application.

Are there things Wine can’t do? Yes, for instance, I use a Windows logging package for ham radio, that runs OK on Wine, but will not access the internet directly from the software like it does in Windows. It’s a minor annoyance that I get along fine without.

One program that runs very well under Wine is the old Windows Paint program. My autistic adult son has been using MS Paint since he was 5, to draw animation cells for cartoons he makes. When I moved him from Windows 2000 to Linux back in 2005, he was quite happy to still have his favorite program.

It’s not perfect, but it works for a lot of Windows software. As Linux catches on though, you’ll find more and more of your favorite software packages ported over to Linux.