Running VICE

VICE is a conglomerate of Commodore 8-bit emulators.  For the inexperienced user looking to do some retro-gaming from those wildly popular machines from the late ’70s and throughout the ’80s, it can be a daunting and frustrating task to operate those “friendly” computers.  Particularly because you had varying-sized game cartridges, floppy software, cassette software, and a ranging mix of memory expansions that can cause the most grief in booting up an old game.

Fear not, it’s Boray to the rescue!  He provides a nice link to a Windows utility, PRG Starter, that will deter those PRG loading blues — particularly for PET, VIC 20, and C64 BASIC programs — although there is quite a bit of logic for the more esoteric program loads, too, and for the other VICE emulated machines.

After permission to examine his source code, I decided I could use a simply elegant utility such as this for my Fedora desktop — after all, like Windows, GNOME offers the same customized launching feature via an associated filetype extension.  You can find the C source archive to the simple launcher dubbed run.

After associating filetypes, such as .prg, p00, .a0, .crt, .d64, .g64, and .rom, to launch a customized command, run, you simply double-click the Commodore 8-bit binary file and it will run the correct VICE emulator with any associated command-line options, such as memory expansion, attach as a cartridge, or boot from a floppy or tape.

You can even do this from the command-line.  Here are some examples (with the verbose option on):

$ run -v quikman2k8.prg
**** Commodore VIC 20 ML program ****
xvic -memory none “quikman2k8.prg”

$ run -v berzerk-mmx+.prg
**** Commodore VIC 20 ML program with 16kb memory expansion ****
xvic -memory all “berzerk-mmx+.prg”

$ run -v Super Zaxxon.crt
**** Commodore 64 game cartridge ****
x64 -cartcrt “Super Zaxxon.crt”

And of course my favorite:

$ run -v mega-cart.rom
**** Commodore VIC 20 with Mega-Cart ****
xvic -cartmega “mega-cart.rom”

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