Not so long ago, (at least as reckoned the retro-computing event time-scale), I saw a video that blew my mind. I really didn’t understand all of what was happening when I saw it, and in the name of full disclosure, I still don’t fully understand all the ramifications. I understood that this bit magic was new, and as such I should fear and loathe it, as is meet, right, and natural. But, I fought that feeling and you should too. So, open this link in another browser tab if you have the bandwidth or ability, and I will tell you this saga of high adventure.
It was Thursday, 25 JUL 13 and I was in Kansas City, MO when I first encountered a pairing of a Raspberry Pi with an Apple II. I witnessed a presentation by Ivan Drucker on the subject demonstrating the possibilities available using the Raspberry Pi Linux based OS, Raspbian, paired with A2SERVER (Network file server and network boot host for Apple IIgs and IIe computers) and A2Cloud (Mass storage, internet access, and floppy disk transfer for any Apple II computer via David Schmidt’s ADTPro and VSDRIVE). I remember after the talk that I needed to study this more, because there was no reason that the interface between a Pi and an Apple couldn’t yield a greater overall end user experience. Just a few months later, into the mix enters David Schmenk’s Apple Pi video. Watch it and study it. There is no explanation except what you can observe . Oh yeah, and an entire blog dedicated to explaining the Apple Pi.
This is your Apple II on the Raspple II!
I have to admit, I delayed getting a Raspberry Pi because it seemed I would need a HDMI connection which for me would mean a new monitor purchase for it to be meaningful, and I didn’t want to use that for a justification to buy a new monitor, apparently. So, I put off it off until Ivan Drucker started posting about the Raspple II and I could see this metamorphosis taking place. That broke me and I purchased a Raspberry Pi not too long after.
I wanted to get to know the Raspberry Pi and play with it a little in my way. Looking around, I found that I could run a Linux based penetration testing distro on a Raspberry Pi, and thought, “How funny would it be to demonstrate to somebody how I could hack into my home network and own my network boxes with an Apple II?”
So I pieced some things together, The Pi, Charles Mangin’s Apple II keyboard to USB Arduino, an SD card with Kali Linux ARM pentesting OS and got it up and running. In an Apple IIe the parts are very storable, enough to evade a casual inspection under the hood. Too funny. I fired it up and tested it out. Nice! I could enumerate and test my home network from an Apple II looking base. Nobody wants to hear that their security could potentially be penetrated by an Apple II! Who’s got time for that? The set up worked well, was easy to convert to, and I can’t wait to spring that illusion sometime.
So while I was fiddling on that set up I remembered about using Putty and Xming. briefly, Xming is an X Server for Windows and I remembered that I could SSH into a Linux OS and have it serve up X Windows. I’ll explain more about this later on, but the big picture is that I would not be needing to purchase a new monitor.
Yesterday was the day that I had everything I needed to made a foray into this Raspple II adventure including the enthusiasm. I decided that the platform would be the Apple IIGS, I set about with the set up, picking the cards and what not. This setup will include a Uthernet card, a Drew ][ audio card to feed GS audio into my computer’s audio, and a hard drive of some type that I have not determined as of yet. Choices include a Focus card with a 500MB IDE hard drive, a Focus card with 256MB CF, a CFFA 3000 with USB support, and a MicroDrive CF. Currently I am using the 256MB CF Focus because it was the first one I loaded out and it had ProTerm on it.
One minor setback, but I am glad I found it: My second(fifth?)-hand Apple IIgs came with a corroded battery pre installed. I finally observed it and pulled it out for replacement. I was lucky in that the battery did not leak to badly, although there was a lot of corrosion, not so much to the to the battery holder terminals, so my afternoon was engaged in a clean up operation. I then discovered hoe amazingly sophisticated the Apple IIgs was designed: All of the major computer component fasteners are tabbed allowing easy access and replacement. I did not know that. When I was satisfied I moved on with the set-up.
Before and after battery maintenance.
I set up the Raspple II. The package is downloadable from Ivan’s site, and the instructions are very clear and easy as far as SD card set up and deploying the system. After I had the package set up and working, I disconnected everything on the Raspberry Pi board except the ethernet and the USB power. I then added a USB to serial connection. This was attached to my printer port on the Apple II gs.
That’s it so far, I do not even have the Uthernet connected as of yet.
My Putty SSH session and LinApple window.
I was able to connect to the Rasberry easily through the serial port using ProTerm 3.1 Just by going to Online => Parameters and choosing Baud Rate:4800/Emulate:DEC VT-100/Uncheck Status Bar?/Line Status:Online, I was now at the Raspberry Pi command line from the Apple IIgs’s screen. I am also able to log in to the Raspple II via ssh connection using Putty and issue the command “startldxe” to bring up the GUI on the windows machine. I can also use SFTP to transfer files between Windows and Raspbian. There’s a lot more that I can experiment with, but I am currently having an issue with KEGS deploying and want to work some more to figure this out. I will update soon when I make some more headway.
Raspberry Pi desktop served up with Xming.