A couple months ago I did a job for a local company here namedÂ Avis Plumbing and A/C. They are using an old Multi-User Serial system based on TheOS 4.1. The system works great for them except for the fact they were completely dependent on serial based hardware. They had these huge serial terminals, an old “mainframe” and a dozen odd CAT3 cables going every which way. After hours of research, lots of dead ends on-line and a few calls to the original company that made the software; I made some interesting discoveries.
My first idea was to virtualise TheOS. Since it’s simple, light-weight in effect: tiny. I figured making it portable would limit their dependence on proprietary hardware and free them from 10 year old Digiboards. After trying VirtualBox, VMWare and Bochs. I was about to give up. Until, I found a note on their support forums.
Under Network Interface Cards it reads:
The virtual NIC in the Virtual PC product emulates a Digital DS 21140 (Tulip) chip set. As such, you have full network connectivity using Corona in the Virtual PC box running under Windows XP. Simply set it up to use DHCP, and everything works fine.
Sure enough, I went ahead and plugged the Proprietary Parallel Security Key into my PC, enabled Parallel pass-through and BAM. I was prompted to enter my key. The installation went fine except for one big snag up. After a while I realised that the version of TheOS they had did not support TCP/IP. Bummer. Even worse the Theos-Software Company will no longer provide a license or the disks to update to the magic version with Telnet support. And probably just as tragically to move up to the next version TheOS Corona. The cost would be prohibitively high relative to the gains.
I ended up using USB-Serial Adapters and a copy of Tiny-TermÂ to simply replace the Dummy Terminals, rather than changing the server. At least now they have laptops on their desk. But I still dream of the day when I can reduce their mess of serial cables into one sleek little server in their wiring closet.
I’d really love to play with it more, if I could get my hands on a copy of Corona, it’d be a great project to see if I could migrate the data. I imagine there has to be other people out there who love their TheOS systems that would love them even more if they were able to backup all of their data to a flash drive. I suppose if that’s you, call us at 877-419-9634