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blog:2024-02-29

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Feb 29th, 2024

Today there are all sorts of Commodore emulation hardware and software projects to choose from. You have products you can (or at least could) buy from Amazon, like TheC64, TheVic-20, or TheAmiga. Or you can buy a Raspberry Pi and install your own Commodore emulator OS, like Combian 64 or BMC64, to create your own C64 computer stand-in. But, back in the early 2000s, there wasn't much to choose from if you wanted a Commodore 8-bit gaming system.

We had VICE to run on our PCs, but as portable/mini C64 alternatives, the only one that comes to my mind is the C64DTV, released in 2004. Then, in 2007, ASUS launched the EeePC 701, which I bought as soon as they became available. After playing around with the default Linux OS that was pre-installed on this first ever “netbook” PC, I wiped the hard drive, installed my preferred Linux OS and installed VICE. In my opinion, the EeePC was the perfect mobile C64 gaming system.

Granted, in 2005, I had my GP2X, but now the EeePC also provided a keyboard; something the GP2X obviously lacked. So now, not only could I conveniently play my favorite C64 games away from my real C64, I could also use it with productivity software and even code. And, if I found the EeePC's compact keyboard and 7“ screen too confining, I could just simply plug it into a full sized monitor and keyboard.

When you think about it, the EeePC was like a combination between the GP2X (for portability) and the C64Mini (for the ability to plug in full sized peripherals), which would not be on the market until over a decade later.

Since 2007, my EeePC has gone through many Linux operating systems, but VICE has always been included with every install. As the years went on, I've put less demands on the little netbook and the OS requirements have been greatly reduced. It now sits as a dedicated VICE emulator system, which powers/boots up directly into VICE.

All that is installed on the EeePC now is a JeOS (Just Enough OS) version of ALT Linux p9 (sysv), with alsa (for sound), Window Maker (for a window manager), WMVolMan (for easy USB device mounting), VICE 3.4 SDL2, and XFE (for managing disk images when needed). All of this takes up less than 3GB on the EeePC's 4GB SSD hard drive.

It's not as fast booting or shutting down as BMC64, but 62 seconds or so for boot up and 15 for shutdown aren't too bad, in my opinion. I also need to run VICE with FastSID, if I want to keep game-play at full speed, but that's not a real problem for me. The EeePC isn't supposed to be a complete replacement of my vintage C64 or C128. It's just something to help take the pressure from day-to-day use off of my aging systems, hopefully giving them a longer operational lifespan. For most things, the EeePC fills in just fine. It also saved me from having to spend another $100 or so on having to buy a Raspberry Pi to wind up with pretty much the same thing. And you know, the form factor of this compact and functional Commodore emulator system is quite handsome. A couple times a year, I give the EeePC a wipe-down with a micro fiber cloth spritzed with vinyl/plastic protector (no, not including the LCD screen), which I use on my truck's dash. It seems to have kept the thing in pretty good shape over the years. The battery even has some staying power left in it!

Additional

I finally got around to purchasing myself a D-SUB9 USB joystick adapter from Retronic Designs, so I can use my favorite joystick TheBOSS to play my Commodore games. I'll post about my experience after I get a chance to experiment with it.
CBM EeePC 1 CBM EeePC 2

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blog/2024-02-29.txt · Last modified: 2024/03/01 01:38 by David