Friday, July 27, 2007

Vista, USB and DriveWire, Part 2

My first attempt to get the PC to CoCo connection running via DriveWire on a Windows Vista PC didn't quite work out. For those contemplating the move, here what I've got so far...

You would think I'd know better, but when I ordered up the Serial to USB adapter I went ultra cheap. I purchased a unit made by Prolific out of Taiwan. After hot plugging it, Vista immediately located the correct driver online and loaded it up, without the need to install from CD. Unfortunately, the driver is for XP, not Vista. Still, the ports showed up properly and everything tested out okay.

Next I hooked up the cable that comes with DriveWire to the CoCo. I installed DriveWire onto the PC from a thumbdrive. When run, DriveWire popped up with an error message stating it could not locate the COM ports and quit. Running the server in compatibility modes (I tried Win 95, ME and XP) and with administrator privileges didn't help, alas. Prolific will not be providing Vista drivers, dammit, and is relying on third party vendors to supply them. Serious suckage. The two I was able to locate just crashed the device, and had me spending an hour or so uninstalling and reinstalling shit, so we won't go there.

Then I tried it with the old install I had on my ME machine, copied directly to the thumb drive and then into Vista. That forced DriveWire to fire up (with the old settings) and I was able to manually set it to the COM port selected (I did all tests on COM3 and 4, Vista has hidden COM 1 and 2 somewhere and I can't find 'em... or the Prolific Driver just isn't installing them to begin with... hard to say). This almost worked.

The CoCo, under HDB-DOS, would COPY, BACKUP and load BASIC programs from the server just fine. Unfortunately, it reported an I/O ERROR every time I tried to load a machine language file. Once again back to the compatibility settings, but again to no avail. I did not test it on NitrOS-9, yet.

[Side Note: The compatibility mode in Vista is actually workable and super easy to use and tweak. Other than this, I haven't found anything it won't fix that was built for Win 95 through XP. All my old stuff is working fine on Vista, awaiting it's turn for the full 32-bit Vista treatment. Of course, old DOS stuff won't work at all without an alternate DOS installed, such as DOSBox. For us Tandy fans, DOSBox even emulated Tandy graphics/sound like the old 1000 series!]

I emailed Boisy at Cloud-9 and he was kind enough to make a couple of suggestions and answer questions. (Seriously, Boisy and Mark rock at customer service. Stand behind their products 100%, so buy from these guys without pause.) First, there's no plans for a Vista version of the server, which granted, is asking a bit much. heh. Second, he recommended trying a USB to Serial adapter with the FTDI chipset. He runs DriveWire with such a converter on a Mac and says he's found them to be way more reliable than the Prolific brand.

So that's where I'm at so far. Next week, when there's money in the CoCo-fund again, I'll order up an FTDI chipset serial to USB converter and give that whirl. FTDI just released brand new shiny drivers for Vista, so I'm hopeful. At the very least, I can reasonable eliminate the hardware as the problem. I'll report more when I get it up and running.

Anyone else had success or failure running DriveWire in this manner under Vista? How about on an older machine with serial ports installed? Any thoughts? More to come....

Angel's Luck,

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