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Help With...Everything

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Joined: 14 Jun 2010
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 2011 6:56 pm    Post subject: Help With...Everything Reply with quote

Been awhile since I've been here, but I was looking back through my first attempt to get NeXTSTEP working on my Thinkpad, and saw so much more potential if I could just get it working better.

I then saw a video of a guy talking that he had gotten into OPENSTEP because of Objective-C and iOS programming, and wanted to get a feel for the roots of it. This piqued my interest extremely, as I haven't learned any computer language but the basics of BASIC. I'm also extremely retro, so learning a language from scratch, no matter how old, would be cool.

But before I ask about development, I need to get a good computer working with OPENSTEP. That is why I'm here, as I'm in a tad of trouble.

I've got a Dell Optiplex GXa. Pentium II @233mhz, 4GB HDD, CDROM, Floppy (IDE of course), and it runs like a champ. Some of its great features are the ATI 3d Rage Pro (with 4MB) and internal 3COM networking (though its an unsupported type, a 10/100 sort, XL I believe). I also have enough ram to put it up to the max supported 384MB.

I know Apple has the OPENSTEP driver for the integrated ATI RAGE, but 4MB feels a bit...small. Especially when they suggest more. I have a Trident ProVidia with what appears to be a memory expansion module, but the Dell doesn't even seem to detect it, and Win98 (currently on the HDD) doesn't see it. I've also got an ISA Etherlink III Combo, and an ISA SoundBlaster 16, which are seen by the system.

Now, as I'm going for development, should I look into a faster computer? All my newer systems are PCI/AGP based, and I don't seem to have any more compatible hardware save for the Trident card (which i'm doubting even works, but for free, who's complaining?). Also, this is a slot based pentium II, so maybe I could pull a PIII card from one of my other computers (are they even compatible? Haven't dealt with many PII/PIII outside of laptops).

If the computer is acceptible, then how would I go about installing? I don't have access to a good computer with a floppy drive, so I read something about a Boot CD. But I can't understand the exact process for the life of me. I've got the User CD, the Developer CD, and floppy images that do me no good currently. Any link to a full, from scratch guide?

Then last but not least, what does one do to learn this style of programming? I've been around computers all my life, but BASIC is my only knowledge. I'm not a programming noob, per se, but I'm clueless as to the NeXT way of doing things.

Any help would be appreciated, and hopefully I can get this rolling.

EDIT: I've also been looking around, especially at the 'porting software' thing. That seems SO far away, but I'd like to get there. This seems like SUCH a daunting task to go from nothing to that kind of something, but if there's any way to start, I'd like to try.
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Joined: 05 Sep 2010
Posts: 45

PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 2011 8:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Check out the emulation/virtualization section and practice installing on VirtualBox. You can easily use the iso/img files directly. There are many tutorials there which can easily be used on a real machine.
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Joined: 18 Jan 2006
Posts: 62
Location: Kirkland, WA

PostPosted: Mon Feb 14, 2011 8:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your Pentium II machine should be OK for learning OPENSTEP programming. For actual software development or porting, it will drive you nuts. 4MB VRAM will do fine. You don't need 32-bit color, even 256 colors are sufficient for syntax highlighting and decent artwork (and don't forget the retro feel). Compatible network adapters (PCI & ISA) are relatively easy to find. Most DEC-based cards and even some Intel 10/100 PRO adapters will work. In my experience the slowest component in a "white" OPENSTEP system is the HD. For reasons I don't quite understand, modern EIDE controllers don't work very well with the built-in drivers. I've experienced very weird behavior on some machines - sometimes the system becomes completely unresponsive during HD access. I would rather go with an older (and slower) IDE controller. Your other option is a SCSI HD, but they tend to be noisier.
If you really want to learn programming, my advice would be to put something together as quickly as possible, get some books and start reading and writing code. Don't waste time and resources on building the perfect system, because that's all you'll end up doing - always looking for something faster and better. That said, I'd actually recommend a completely different approach - forget about the OPENSTEP system for now. If you don't have any experience, it could take you months to a put together a working machine, install the operating system and development tools and get familiar with them. Instead, just buy a used Mac (G3 iMacs are practically free and G4 towers are less than $50 these days), install Panther or Tiger and XCode and start learning. Mac OS X programming books are much easier to find and a lot of open source code compiles without any modifications. Once you learn Objective-C and Cocoa you can go back to OPENSTEP and port your stuff.
NS TurboColor, SparcStation 5, Ultra 10, Octane SSI, HP 9000 C110, AlphaStation 200, Apple IIgs|IIe|IIc, Amiga 500+|600|1200, Commodore 64|128
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Joined: 05 Sep 2010
Posts: 45

PostPosted: Tue Feb 15, 2011 5:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

other options:

1) install Linux and GNUStep and use that for learning how to program using OpenStep API.

2) install NeXTStep 3.3 or OPENSTEP 4.2 on a SPARCStation which should be smooth sailing since their hardware is very much standardized. Not as fast as a Pentium II/III but during my days, they were sexy with its 21" screen!

Install in VirtualBox or VMWare... it is quick and even in emulation, you can do a lot of things! Be sure to run on a fast computer Smile Core 2 Duo and upwards!
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