Author Topic: How to organize DATs for Robotron Computers  (Read 1848 times)

Offline Madir

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How to organize DATs for Robotron Computers
« on: August 23, 2015, 11:44:23 AM »
During my work on an Robotron A7100 Emulator I am confronted with managing the available Software for the system. I would like to be compatible to TOSEC because most of the Robotron systems don't have a big community like Commodore or Atari computers. So it is much harder to collect and preserve the available software. And I think TOSEC is the best chance to prevent the software from being lost forever.

The problem is that there are almost no original disks for the Robotron systems. Most of (even official) software was distributed on a file base so I have a lot of disk images with mixed original software (often different programs) and user data. I can extract the files from the images but what will be the best solution to organize this in TOSEC like Dats as they are used for complete images in most cases.
If I put all the files belonging to a program in one set there will be some duplicates because different software versions use the same files. If I put every single file of a program into a single set it will be difficult to use for the emulator and diffucult to find names for files shared by different programs.

Is there a "best" solution how to handle it for TOSEC?



Offline PandMonium

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Re: How to organize DATs for Robotron Computers
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2015, 05:06:08 PM »
Hey!

I know nothing about Robotron A7100 but if I got it right:
* it was some kind of computer with floppy disks (5.25 or others?)
* most content was distributed as a bunch files (even original software? in which media? weren't there original floppies)
* most people don't have (at least nowadays, given the rarity of such system?) original, unmodified disks with single apps or games
* the existent disks are all altered, with user data and (several) programs altogether.

That's indeed a problem, we aim to catalog software as close to original as possible. Just like in other systems, the ideal solution would be to dump (image) original media to a proper format and have the emulator read/emulate the image. Similar to what happens with optical discs or in those systems you mentioned, instead of saving a bunch of files in a zip (and calling it a multifile set). Even that creates problems when original media was writable (e.g. Commodore), since userdata (saves, edited files) would alter the original media and hence the ton of "alternate" dumps we have in Amiga.

 IMHO, being pragmatic, the best plan could be:
First, dump any untouched original media to the proper image format.
For the remaining apps, if they are not that rare, figure if it is possible to get an original dump from someone (or the least edited possible)
From the other mixed disks a) maybe dump them like they are and save that or b) reorganize any of the rarest / impossible to obtain software in a set has if they were the original release and dump that? c) save them has a bunch of files zipped (the worst solution possible, but that already exists in our Tandy datasets - and is a mess).

None of the mixed disks options is particularly great... lets see if anyone here gives other ideas. You may also receive good ideas and tips from other places with experienced users such as the MAME/MESS boards.

Also, don't forget that we are interested in cataloging it so let us know about your progress ;D
We don't have that system yet. Just for reference, I've extracted the existent file formats in TOSEC dats for our other Robotron systems and they are: .bas, .bin, .com, .dsk, .kcc, .pas, .sss, .z80

Offline Madir

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Re: How to organize DATs for Robotron Computers
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2015, 06:31:49 PM »
I know nothing about Robotron A7100 but if I got it right:
* it was some kind of computer with floppy disks (5.25 or others?)
* most content was distributed as a bunch files (even original software? in which media? weren't there original floppies)
* most people don't have (at least nowadays, given the rarity of such system?) original, unmodified disks with single apps or games
* the existent disks are all altered, with user data and (several) programs altogether.

It has 2 5.25" Floppy Disk Drives. There were 8 inch external drives available but used very rarely.
Original software is a very difficult topic for this computer. There exists some original floppies with Operating System and some Applications but this is only about 10% of the Software I found so far. I guess today it is impossible to get images for rest.
Other software was developed in one company, university or by private users and the distributed between the companies. Because software was often free that was the usual way. Other programs were unlicensed and modified copies of western software. Only the KC computers (already in TOSEC) were accessible for private use. The community for GDR computer is very small today (the best information source is: http://robotrontechnik.de/) and most of the systems including software were scrapped after the german reunification and replaced by western systems.

From the other mixed disks a) maybe dump them like they are and save that or b) reorganize any of the rarest / impossible to obtain software in a set has if they were the original release and dump that? c) save them has a bunch of files zipped (the worst solution possible, but that already exists in our Tandy datasets - and is a mess).

a) I don't prefer this method because the user data includes private documents like letters, databases with adresses and similar things.
b) That sounds good for most of the software and will ease the use in an emulator. But there is no chance to check a bunch of new images or extracted files from images against the database.
c) Seems to me a bit more original than b) and avoids duplicate images containing the same files with different disk structure but I understand that it is a mess.

Also, don't forget that we are interested in cataloging it so let us know about your progress ;D
For sure. There are a lot of other Robotron systems sharing the same problems