ATARI LINUX CONSOLE

If you backed the successful Atari VCS crowdfunding campaign last month you might be pleased to hear you’re going to get more bang for your buck.

The Ataris VCS console will now ship with 8GB RAM, up from 4GB

Following criticism of its mediocre internal makeup the Ataris VCS console will now ship with 8GB RAM by default, up from the 4GB proposed during the funding push.

It’s a decent increase in memory that should help the system cope better with more intensive indie games (don’t expect AAA titles to play nicely on the machine with the middling AMD Bristol Ridge APU).

The RAM bump is just one of several bits of new information revealed through a Q&A blog post from team newcomer Rob Wyatt (best known as the brains behind the original Xbox system).

His more direct approach helps to wave away some of the vagueness and uncertainty that continues to surround the system.

The Linux based OS is called “AtariOS”

the ataribox runs linux

With close to three million raised in its IndieGoGo campaign the Atari VCS is now entering the difficult part: delivering a viable product and not just hype and promotion.

For every faux pas the project makes — shelved launch dates, device demos running on Windows, and foolish rebuffs to journalists — the central sell of a Linux games console backed by decades worth of gaming heritage remains both unique and compelling.

As previously announced the Atari VCS will run a custom Linux-based OS as well as give the ability for users to install a regular Linux distro on the machine.

Wyatt expands on this capability further in his Q&A, explaining:

“Our core architecture consists of the Atari Secure Hypervisor and a heavily modified linux kernel called the AtariOS. All of this is in flash memory and before the AtariOS loads, any external storage device is checked, and if a bootable device is found, the OtherOS on that device is loaded instead.

We don’t have a typical OS loader like UBoot or GRUB, and because the CPU is already in 64 bit protected mode from our boot code, the OtherOS will need its typical startup code changing.”

Although Wyatt stresses that the “changes are minimal” the company plans to offer example code to show users how to configure and boot a regular distro like Ubuntu on the VCS.

The separation of operating systems has one potential “downside” in that you won’t be able to access or use any Atari services outside of AtariOS

“While running OtherOS no Atari services are provided, the device is no longer an Atari device, its your device, to do with it what you wish. If you wish to return to the Atari world and use the Atari services then simply reboot to the AtariOS and everything will be as you left it.”

You can read the full post over on Medium (linked below) for further tidbits about the console, like the fact Linux games devs won’t have to do much to support the VCS, and why it’ll be a while before you see an actual working prototype.

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