git @ Cat's Eye Technologies The-Platform / master USAGE.markdown
master

Tree @master (Download .tar.gz)

USAGE.markdown @masterview markup · raw · history · blame

About The Cat's Eye Technologies Platform

The Cat's Eye Technologies Platform (version 0.4) is a bootable NetBSD-based disk image containing almost all of Cat's Eye Technologies' software distributions, pre-built and tested, and the open-source infrastructure needed to run them.

For more information, and more up-to-date information, on The Platform, see

Like virtually all software, The Cat's Eye Technologies Platform is provided "AS IS" and without warranty of any kind, express or implied. For more information, see the section License Information at the bottom of this document.

Using The Platform

The Platform is distributed as a disk image. There are two general ways to use this disk image: either

  • run a PC emulator such as QEMU and make it boot from this image, or
  • write it to a real disk drive (or USB stick) and boot from that device.

(It is not possible to burn this sort of disk image onto a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM.)

When running, The Platform does not have access to your hard drive (outside of its own disk image) and does not have access to your network. This is intentional; it means that you can muck around however you like inside The Platform and it should not affect (or be affected by) anything outside it.

In other words, running The Platform under a PC emulator is at least as safe as running anything else under that emulator.

Writing The Platform disk image to a USB stick is less safe, in a couple of ways:

  • It's easier to make a mistake while writing the image, and accidentally overwrite something you care about (such as your computer's operating system.)
  • Once you've booted into The Plaform from this disk, it does have access to your whole computer. It's not configured to use your disk and network, but it can be re-configured to do so with a little knowledge and not much effort, and it is possible to make very low-level and wide-reaching changes to your system this way.

Therefore, be careful! Make backups. Or use an old computer you don't care much about. Or use a PC emulator (one with a good reputation) instead.

...on Windows

How to extract the disk image

The disk image is compressed using 7-zip. You can download 7-zip here:

Note that while the compressed archive is "only" ~200M, the uncompressed disk image is 3.6 gigabytes. So make sure you have sufficient space before extracting it.

How to boot the image in the QEMU PC emulator

First, make sure the disk image of The Platform is on your desktop, and make sure it is named The-Cats-Eye-Technologies-Platform-0.4.img. (This is not a strict requirement, but the instructions below assume that this is the case.)

QEMU is a versatile PC emulator, originally written by Fabrice Bellard, and now maintained by a large number of developers. It was originally written for Unix-like operating systems, but it is possible to build it on Windows, and several people have done so, so you have several options for which distribution to use (as a web search for "qemu for windows" will reveal.)

The easiest to use that I've found, as of this writing, are the builds of QEMU for Windows on http://qemu.weilnetz.de/. Note that builder disclaims on that page that this is experimental software, and you use it at your own risk. However, I've found it to be reliable and, if there are bugs in this version of QEMU, they're IMO far more likely to affect the emulated system "inside" the emulator, rather than your Windows installation "outside" the emulator. (Still, always a good idea to keep backups, right?)

If you are running 64-bit Windows (and you probably are if your Windows and computer are relatively modern), you can download a recent QEMU for 64-bit Windows installer here (~20M):

And run it. Say "OK" to what it wants you to install.

(If you don't have a 64-bit Windows, you'll need a 32-bit version, which you can also find on that website.)

After it's installed, run a Command Prompt (you might need to hunt under the Start Menu for this.)

In the Command Prompt, type

"C:\Program Files\qemu\qemu-system-i386" Desktop\The-Cats-Eye-Technologies-Platform-0.4.img

...all on one line, and don't forget the double quotes.

You should see NetBSD boot up in the QEMU window. Now see Logging in and using The Platform, below.

Using other PC emulators

You are of course free to try booting The Platform under a PC emulator that isn't QEMU. However, I haven't had a lot of luck with other emulators. The last time I tried:

  • Bochs, it boots NetBSD just fine, but has major problems sending keystrokes to it; it sends far far far too many. Making it unusable.
  • VirtualBox, it couldn't boot NetBSD. (Apparently, "Of course it runs NetBSD" does not apply to emulators.)

How to make a bootable USB stick of The Platform

First, get a USB stick that you don't need for anything else, that is at least 4G in size. (The written image will be only about 3.6G, so any drive larger than 4G will just have wasted space on it.)

Download Win32 Disk Imager from here:

Run the installer. Install it as usual and run it.

Click the folder icon and select The-Cats-Eye-Technologies-Platform-0.4.img from your file system.

Select your USB stick's drive letter in the "Device" dropdown. (If unsure, start Windows Explorer and look at what "Devices and drives" says. Generally this will be maybe [E:\] or [F:\]; it will almost certainly NOT be [C:\] or [D:\]!)

When you're sure you've got the drive letter right, click "Write". And wait.

For using the USB stick after you've written it, see Booting from a created USB stick below.

...on Ubuntu

These instructions should be fairly easy to adapt to other Linux distributions, and even the *BSD operating systems; the main things that will differ will be how to install the packages (and what their names are) and the names of device nodes.

To extract the disk image, use p7zip:

sudo apt-get install p7zip
p7zip -d The-Cats-Eye-Technologies-Platform-0.4.img.7z

To boot the disk image under the QEMU emulator,

sudo apt-get install qemu
qemu-system-i386 The-Cats-Eye-Technologies-Platform-0.4.img

You should see NetBSD boot up in the QEMU window. Now see Logging in and using The Platform, below.

To write the disk image to a USB stick,

dd if=The-Cats-Eye-Technologies-Platform-0.4.img of=/dev/sdX bs=1M

where sdX is the name of your (unmounted) USB device (could be sdb or sdc; check mount while the device is still mounted.)

For using the USB stick after you've written it, see Booting from a created USB stick below.

Booting from a created USB stick

Shut down your computer. Plug the USB stick into a USB port. Turn on your computer.

If your computer displays NetBSD/x86 BIOS Boot and a numbered menu with five items, congratulations, it booted into The Cat's Eye Technologies Platform.

If it didn't, restart your computer and go into its BIOS configuration (how you do this differs from computer to computer, but it's usually a matter of hitting a key -- maybe F1, maybe Escape, maybe something else -- right after it boots up.)

Here are some things to check:

  • Make sure the USB drive is listed in the boot devices, and make sure it's at the top of the list (i.e. that it boots before the hard drive.)
  • On systems with EFI, you might have to enable "Legacy Booting".
  • Similarly, you might have to disable "Secure Boot".

You might also have a key you can hold down during boot to get a "boot menu" which lets you select the device to boot from (for me, it's F9.)

But systems vary so much at this level that I don't know how much more I can say on the topic of coaxing your computer to boot from a USB stick. Search the web for more information, and especially for information specifically for your model of computer.

...

When NetBSD does boot, for the first time, you'll get an error message like

ERROR: ABORTING BOOT (sending SIGTERM to parent)!
Enter pathname of shell or RETURN for /bin/sh:

At this point, just hit Enter.

Then type the following:

mount /dev/sd0a /

(note that there is a space between the a and the last /.) And then

/home/user/.local/bin/ee /etc/fstab

(again, note there is a space between ee and the / following it.)

This will start a text editor, and let you edit the mount points of devices. Now cursor down to the third line and change wd0a to sd0a. (See footnote.)

Then cursor down to the last line (the cd0a one) and delete it (Ctrl+y).

Then Escape Enter Enter to save the file and leave the editor.

Then type

reboot

and this time, when the system boots into NetBSD, it will not give you this error and it will let you log into it normally.

Footnote: NetBSD reads this fstab file when it boots up to see what disks it should try to mount. The disk image is normally treated as a hard drive image, so fstab contains a record telling it to try to mount the first hard disk (wd0a.) All we are doing here is telling it to try to mount the first USB drive (sd0a) instead.

Logging in and using The Platform

Once it has booted, log in as user. There is no password. You will get a so-called "shell" prompt, which looks like $, at which you can type commands.

Note that any changes you make inside The Platform -- for example, files you change, or new files you write -- will be saved to the disk image file. If you keep the archived .7z file you can always extract a fresh copy of the disk image file from that, if you want to start over.

To shut down The Platform, type

su

(and the prompt will change to a # to indicate that you now have awesome Super User powers), then type

shutdown -p now

You can also just close the emulator, or power off the computer, but these actions risk corrupting the disk image.

While logged in, most of Cat's Eye Technologies' programming language interpreters and compilers can be started just by typing their name (in Unix-speak, these executables are on the search path.) For example,

bef ~/catseye/befunge-93/eg/robot.bf

(Type n, s, e, or w to walk around the maze. Run into a wall to end the game and return to the shell.) Or, run

maentw

to start the Maentwrog interpreter. (Type bye to exit.)

You can also use shelf to navigate to the language project directories, and run tests. So, for example,

shelf_cd befunge-93

There is also a script to run all the tests for all the projects:

cd ~
./test-shelf.sh

License Information

The Cat's Eye Technologies Platform is based on NetBSD, and the NetBSD licensing terms are essentially as follows -- although do note that this is an approximation. For more precise information, please see NetBSD's page on NetBSD Licensing and Redistribution.

Copyright (c) The NetBSD Foundation, Inc and contributors.
All rights reserved.

Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without
modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions
are met:
1. Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright
   notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.
2. Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright
   notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the
   documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.

THIS SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED BY THE NETBSD FOUNDATION, INC. AND CONTRIBUTORS
``AS IS'' AND ANY EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED
TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR
PURPOSE ARE DISCLAIMED.  IN NO EVENT SHALL THE FOUNDATION OR CONTRIBUTORS
BE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, EXEMPLARY, OR
CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, PROCUREMENT OF
SUBSTITUTE GOODS OR SERVICES; LOSS OF USE, DATA, OR PROFITS; OR BUSINESS
INTERRUPTION) HOWEVER CAUSED AND ON ANY THEORY OF LIABILITY, WHETHER IN
CONTRACT, STRICT LIABILITY, OR TORT (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE OR OTHERWISE)
ARISING IN ANY WAY OUT OF THE USE OF THIS SOFTWARE, EVEN IF ADVISED OF THE
POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGE.

On top of NetBSD are various pieces of software with various licensing terms (all of which allow for redistribution, but not necessarily commercial redistribution.) The source code, and the license documentation, for each of these pieces of software is included in The Platform disk image. For details, please consult the documentation of the specific software package in question.