Silent Running

Thursday 27th January 2011, 21:54 Posted by urbancamo

I've been playing Aliennerds infocom adventure Silent Running this evening. The plan was to port an inform interpreter over to Ultrix, but the truth is, I couldn't wait to get going, so I returned to the SoftPC PC emulator on the DECstation 5000/240 running Ultrix I was using the other day. My installation of jZip was still ready to run on the E:\ drive, so I ftp'd the .z3 data file over from my debian server, and I was good to go.

Silent Running Adventure


I had a thoroughly enjoyable time playing the adventure, the puzzles were just about the right level of complexity, so I didn't have too much playing 'guess the right word'. It took me in total about an hour to get to the end. I'm sure the fact that Silent Running is also one of my all time favourite films helps. I remember recommending it as an end-of-term video for the sixth form kids to watch (when the teachers could no longer be arsed teaching) and also a magical moment where Deborah McCabe made an entrance (she was a serious crush at the time).

Step on some 20-ish years, phew. Previous screenshots posted had involved me using the print utility in Ultrix to capture a screen/window to a postscript file, ftp that to atom and then load it into gimp to create a png. I made an attempt to get 'xv' compiled up on atom as attempting to run gimp as a remote X-window onto the DECstation was causing the X-server to crash on it. When I got 'xv' compiled up this evening it faired much better, and I was able to grab and save png files natively. They should look a lot better as a result.

The other thing I noticed with SoftPC was an option to change the default graphics card, options being VGA, EGA, Hercules and CGA, so I opted for CGA then attempted to run Jason Knight's 16 Color Demo again. The results this time were much more satisfactory, so a well done to Jason as well!

SoftPC - 16 Color Demo - Intro Page


SoftPC - 16 Color Demo - Pixels


SoftPC - 16 Color Demo - Balls


That's about it for this evening! It's all gone rather nicely this week, given the decidedly painful time I've had previously. I've even sorted out how to reprogram the backspace key to generate X-Windows event 'BackSpace' rather than 'Delete'. This was causing no end of fun when writing these entries using nedit remotely displayed, because everytime I hit backspace the editor would delete the character to the right, not to the left.

There aren't many x-window utilities listed under /usr/bin/X11 on the Ultrix box:

$ ls /usr/bin/X11
Xprompter       dxconsole       dxpsview        dxwm            xdpyinfo
Xws             dxdb            dxpuzzle        getcons         xhost
Xws_R4          dxdiff          dxsession       makepsres       xmbind
bdftopcf        dxkeycaps       dxshowfont      mkfontdir       xmodmap
dxbook          dxnotepad       dxterm          mwm             xset
dxcalc          dxpaint         dxuam           pswrap
dxcalendar      dxpause         dxue            resize
dxcardfiler     dxpresto        dxuil           uam_home
dxclock         dxprint         dxvdoc          uil

but fortunately xmodmap is one. So with a single line I can remap the backspace key to generate a BackSpace event:

keycode 188 = BackSpace

Of course this applies to every window, so I need to remap it back afterwards, otherwise is screws up delete for any Ultrix based decterms. There is a way of doing this per application, which I will look into (I suffer from the problem when accessing any remotely displayed x-windows onto a DECwindows based box).

Oh, and in the end I got jZIP running natively, so here is a screenshot of that version:

Silent Running - native jZip