Use Comms Link in Dosbox on Linux with Olivier’s USB Comms Link

Looking for PSION Organiser II Software
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Peter
Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Feb 21, 2021 4:53 pm

Use Comms Link in Dosbox on Linux with Olivier’s USB Comms Link

Post by Peter »

Hi!

I wanted to share how I was able to sync my Psion II on Linux using Dosbox and the original Psion Comms Link software. I used Fedora Linux. So for those interested, here it goes:

The FTDI documentation mentions the virtual COM port driver (VCP) is built into the Linux kernel, so no driver needs to be installed.

First you have to install Dosbox, then you copy the complete CL211 folder from Jaap’s site (https://www.jaapsch.net/psion/progs2.htm#pc) to the folder you use as the C drive for Dosbox.

Open the Linux terminal, connect Olivier's USB Comms Link (https://www.gossuin.be/index.php/shop) and type:
ls /dev/ttyUSB*

This way you know the address of the Comms Link. I got on different occasions /dev/ttyUSB0 and /dev/ttyUSB1 .

For this post let’s assume it is /dev/ttyUSB0 .

In the terminal you have type the following command before launching Dosbox:
sudo chmod 666 /dev/ttyUSB0

Otherwise Dosbox does not have access to the serial port. You have to do this each time. If anyone has a more elegant solution, please let me know.

In the Dosbox configuration file you need to have this line at serial1:
serial1=directserial realport:ttyUSB0

Some instructions in case you have never used Dosbox on Linux:
The Dosbox configuration file is located in the home folder under /.dosbox
The file you need to edit is dosbox-0.74-3.conf

Apart from changing the serial1 line, I also added the following line at the end of the configuration file in order to mount the C drive folder which Dosbox uses. For this I first created the directory cdos in my home folder:
mount c /home/peter/cdos

Of course you swap peter with your own home folder.

So now you can launch Dosbox.
type c:
cd cl211
cl

And this way you can sync your Psion II under Linux!
Peter

p.s.

I might have forgotten to add a step to the procedure:
adduser $(whoami) plugdev dialout

Let me explain what happened. Before arriving at the Dosbox method I had been looking to use Freedos running in Qemu, but I could not get the serial port to work. So I then resorted to the Dosbox method, for which I found on several websites that you had to put:
serial1=directserial realport:ttyUSB0 .

However there was one website that also mentioned:
adduser $(whoami) plugdev dialout

Which I did but it did not seem to have any effect, and now of course I don't know if on my computer it works with or without it.
In any case, if the steps above still do not work then try to adduser...

This was the website by the way: https://www.scivision.dev/dosbox-linux-serial-port/
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MartinReid
Posts: 97
Joined: Wed Jan 27, 2021 3:44 pm

Re: Use Comms Link in Dosbox on Linux with Olivier’s USB Comms Link

Post by MartinReid »

Dear Peter

I've never used Linux so please be patient with me.

(1) Does Linux 'run' the same .EXE files as a DOS or Windows operating system?
(2) When running DOSBox do you know the 'COM' port number it’s using?
(3) If it is COM1 or COM2 have you tries using MAKE.EXE to make a datapak?
(4) Do you have the facility to try..
(4a) Exporting a spreadsheet from the pocket spreadsheet.
(4b) LPRINTing from an OPL programme. (Old MS-DOS would be COPY COM1 LPT1).

It is refreshing to see another view of the Organiser - Computer setup.

Issuing the command - sudo chmod 666 /dev/ttyUSB0 - before starting DOSBox. In 'old' DOS you would of course use a PIF to automate start-up procedures. Does Linux support "batch files" or "shell script"?

Martin
Peter
Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Feb 21, 2021 4:53 pm

Re: Use Comms Link in Dosbox on Linux with Olivier’s USB Comms Link

Post by Peter »

Hi Martin

I'm fairly new to the Psion II scene. So be patient with me too. I dabbled a bit in some OPL programming but I crash my Psion more often than I would like. In any case I use it more as a PDA.

But to answer your questions:
1. No that is not possible. Linux is Unix based. Dosbox is an emulator which runs on top of Linux. So CL.EXE runs inside Dosbox. There are also versions for Windows and Mac OS. It is mostly used for running Dos based games, but you can also run Wordperfect in it, or even Windows 3.11.
2. I have not figured that one out for sure. But my guess is that serial1 in the Dosbox configuration file would be com1 and then you might be able to set serial2 as com2. How could I test this on the Psion?
3. I have never used Make.exe until now. I will try and report back.
4a. Yes exporting and importing with Pocket Spreadsheet works.
4b. I have never printed from Dosbox, and I have no OPL program with LPRINT in it. You are welcome to send me one and I could try.

Linux has bash in which you can script, but I have no experience with it.

Peter
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MartinReid
Posts: 97
Joined: Wed Jan 27, 2021 3:44 pm

Dosbox on Linux - with DevPACK.zip

Post by MartinReid »

Dear Peter..
Firstly what version of Organiser do you have?

(2) and (3) from above.. If you are relatively new to the Organiser COM1 and MAKE are all about 'creating your own datapaks' and can be dealt with later. (4a) proves you have a good connection and set-up.

I understand your 'using it as a PDA' - I use mine as 'password' store, the Diary as a payment schedule and recorder, and the pocket spreadsheets for all kind of stuff.

But in the workshop I use one to calculate machining parameters etc. Which kind of relates to your 'some OPL programming but I crash my psion'. There is an Organiser programming emulator (ORG2.exe) that will run in DOSbox that you might want to try - details (here) . This 'Developer' was supplied on a 5¼" floppy the contents of which can be found in 'DevKit.zip' but if you are interested I suggest you use 'DevPACK.zip' (compiled by Jaap and others) that contains different CM/XP and LZ emulators along with other 'stuff' you will find useful later. The republished manual in the link above explains how to use it and the other stuff.

You mentioned you can run 'Wordperfect' in DOSBox. If you are interested in trying PSION's office software suite PC-FOUR can be found (here) .

Anyway that's enough to be getting on with, I'm watching your progress with interest.
Martin
Peter
Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Feb 21, 2021 4:53 pm

Re: Use Comms Link in Dosbox on Linux with Olivier’s USB Comms Link

Post by Peter »

Hi Martin,

Thank you for all the info! And what an interesting website you have.

I guess programming in OPL will indeed be easier on a PC. When I tried it on the Psion I was on a hiking trip in Slovenia. And the Psion was the only gadget I had allowed myself to take with me, in order to keep the backpack under 8 kilos.

I had never heard of PC-FOUR. Really interesting software. Makes you wonder what Psion would be up to nowadays had they not left the consumer market. What I really like about all the Psion PDA's is that they always include a database and a programming language. I cannot understand how come that is not standard in smartphones nowadays.

I have an LZ64. When I first encountered it I was surprised by it's calculator form factor, but once you get the hang of the keyboard you quickly realize how intuitive the device is. And you can use it easily one-handed.

Peter
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