What kind of format should we upload on Atari Legend?

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What kind of format should we upload on Atari Legend?

Postby Brume » Wed Nov 30, 2016 12:50 pm

Hi guys,

Well, that's not a secret anymore: ST Graveyard & Silver Surfer are working very hard on the new version of Atari Legend.
Dunno when it will be finished, but we should be ready 8)

The site will host all games we have dumped since... well, many many years.
Of course, we'll host cracked versions of games, but also orginal versions.
That's the reason of this thread: What kind of format should we offer on the site?

We could provide:

- STX files (Pasti format)
advantages : reliable format, famous format, fully supported by Steem and Hatari, small files, can be generated with Pasti or Aufit programs
disadvantages : most of the protected games can't be written back (depending of the protection). It works with a few of them -> need to be converted into SCP or RAW formats. A few games didn't work, but ijor recently updated Pasti dll. Everything should work now (@ijor: correct me if I'm wrong)

- CTR files (Kryoflux format)
advantages : supported by Steem and Hatari, small files
disadvantages : little-know format, it can't be written back at all

- IPF (Kryoflux format)
advantages : supported by Steem and Hatari, "validated" dump (100% error free?), small files
disadvantages : need to ask SPS team to generate such files from our dump. We can't do it by ourselves. Also the files we'll receive are "temporary" dumps and we'll have to wait to get the final version

- SCP files (SuperCard Pro format)
advantages : supported by Steem only, it can be written back
disadvantages : little-know format, size may be higher than CTR, STX or IPF

Let me know what you think guys. The discussion is open.
Also Feel free to add information.
Thanks,

Brume

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Re: What kind of format should we upload on Atari Legend?

Postby npomarede » Wed Nov 30, 2016 1:14 pm

Hi

just a correction, but Hatari doesn't support SCP format (maybe in a later version, but not planned yet)

As for IPF files, if you look around using google, you might be able to find an archive with 100 "official" IPF files or so ; I don't know who released them, not SPS I think, but at least you can grab them.

Regarding files, I think it could be nice for each format to tell if it was made with the original hardware / software (ie STX created on STF, or CTR/SCP dumped directly with the board), or generated in some ways by converting from one format to another (using Aufit or HxC for example).
In my opinion it would be nice to have all the formats as long as the files come directly from a real dump and are not the result of a later post-processing / conversion ; this could help later in case we discover that such STX dump for example uses a very special protection and we need a CTR/SCP dump to get more information on the inner disk layout.
If a file doesn't exist as a real dump, mark it as such (for example an STX image coming from an SCP/CTR dump), so it can be redumped later if needed.

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Re: What kind of format should we upload on Atari Legend?

Postby dlfrsilver » Wed Nov 30, 2016 1:23 pm

About the IPF : There are official ST games in IPF on our website, in final version. Any original dump uploaded on our server will give access to the official IPF related.

Just contact me for this.
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Re: What kind of format should we upload on Atari Legend?

Postby spiny » Wed Nov 30, 2016 3:07 pm

why not offer all the formats ?

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Re: What kind of format should we upload on Atari Legend?

Postby Brume » Wed Nov 30, 2016 3:10 pm

Thanks for the information, have corrected the initial post (will reply more asap).

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Re: What kind of format should we upload on Atari Legend?

Postby EmpireAndrew » Wed Nov 30, 2016 3:32 pm

Which format can be written to floppies for use on real hardware?

I'd vote for that one.

But the descriptions in the OP it looks like I'd be voting for "none of the above"?
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Re: What kind of format should we upload on Atari Legend?

Postby ijor » Wed Nov 30, 2016 4:48 pm

Brume wrote:- STX files (Pasti format)
advantages : reliable format, famous format, fully supported by Steem and Hatari, small files, can be generated with Pasti or Aufit programs
disadvantages : most of the protected games can't be written back (depending of the protection). It works with a few of them -> need to be converted into SCP or RAW formats. A few games didn't work, but ijor recently updated Pasti dll. Everything should work now (@ijor: correct me if I'm wrong)


There are still a couple of titles that are not supported (Power Drift and Vroom). I will post an update shortly and then everything should work. I also plan to develop a good solution for writing back Pasti images. But that would take some time.

Anyway. I would think that there is no need to restrict images to a single format. Each one has its pros and its cons. As soon as you are ready to host flux level images, it means you don't have big space or bandwidth problem. Then, I think it is better to offer not all, but yes more than one.

I wouldn't include both SCP and Kryoflux RAW images taken from the same physical disk. Both flux level formats provide basically the same information, and its easy to convert from one format to the other in case somebody wants to. But if we have two dumps from two different copies of the same title, and one happens to be in Kryoflux format and the other in SCP format, then yes, I would keep both.

Some seldom used formats, like CTR or STT probably don't have much sense to keep unless it happens to be a rarity that is not available in any other format.

I agree with Nicolas that it is important to note the origin of the image. If it's a conversion or not. The Pasti format provides a couple fields on the file header that can be used to identify the origin. I use it myself when generating Pasti images, and I believe Aufit as well. Other information, such as if it's known that the dump was taken from an original disk or not, is also useful.

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Re: What kind of format should we upload on Atari Legend?

Postby npomarede » Wed Nov 30, 2016 4:59 pm

ijor wrote:Some seldom used formats, like CTR or STT probably don't have much sense to keep unless it happens to be a rarity that is not available in any other format.

I might be wrong, but it seemed to me that CTR was the same as RAW (both dumped with KF board), except that all tracks/sides/revolutions are merged in one single CTR file, while RAW dumps are made of one file per track/side.
So, I would keep CTR and not the RAW "one-file-per-track" format (which Hatari doesn't support)
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Re: What kind of format should we upload on Atari Legend?

Postby ijor » Wed Nov 30, 2016 5:32 pm

npomarede wrote:I might be wrong, but it seemed to me that CTR was the same as RAW (both dumped with KF board), except that all tracks/sides/revolutions are merged in one single CTR file, while RAW dumps are made of one file per track/side. So, I would keep CTR and not the RAW "one-file-per-track" format (which Hatari doesn't support)


Not at all. I don't have the details of the CTR file format, but it's certainly not flux level data, it's decoded MFM.

So I would certainly keep the RAW flux level files. But if you consider important to keep CTR files as well, I won't make a case against it :)

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Re: What kind of format should we upload on Atari Legend?

Postby npomarede » Wed Nov 30, 2016 10:05 pm

ijor wrote:
npomarede wrote:I might be wrong, but it seemed to me that CTR was the same as RAW (both dumped with KF board), except that all tracks/sides/revolutions are merged in one single CTR file, while RAW dumps are made of one file per track/side. So, I would keep CTR and not the RAW "one-file-per-track" format (which Hatari doesn't support)


Not at all. I don't have the details of the CTR file format, but it's certainly not flux level data, it's decoded MFM.

So I would certainly keep the RAW flux level files. But if you consider important to keep CTR files as well, I won't make a case against it :)

You're right, the CTR file was described by IFW as a more compact / less accurate version of the stream dump, but with good results most of the time.

Raw dumps with one file per track/side are KFStream dumps with the whole flux data. Hatari doesn't support those KFStream yet.

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Re: What kind of format should we upload on Atari Legend?

Postby exxos » Wed Nov 30, 2016 10:40 pm

I'm still living in the dark ages, anything past .ST and .MSA files, no idea what they are or how to use them.

I think for future Atari gamers, it should be a format they can easily write back to a real floppy (from PC) or copy to a hard drive where the image can be run from there. Mostly I see people running games from hard drives these days, but assume its just a file copying thing there. Assume HxC etc can load .ST files or some file formats directly, never had time to look into it. But HxC is popular for games like hard drives. But doesn't help new people who want to simply dump some games onto floppy to play. If they like the games, they will update to hard drive or HxC later for the mass storage solution.

IMHO, while things like flux images are good to keep originals, a archive of games should be online where anyone can copy them to a real ST without the need of buying extra hardware.
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Re: What kind of format should we upload on Atari Legend?

Postby dlfrsilver » Wed Nov 30, 2016 10:56 pm

npomarede wrote:
ijor wrote:Some seldom used formats, like CTR or STT probably don't have much sense to keep unless it happens to be a rarity that is not available in any other format.

I might be wrong, but it seemed to me that CTR was the same as RAW (both dumped with KF board), except that all tracks/sides/revolutions are merged in one single CTR file, while RAW dumps are made of one file per track/side.
So, I would keep CTR and not the RAW "one-file-per-track" format (which Hatari doesn't support)
Nicolas


Well Yes, the content of the CTR file is decoded MFM, but with all the informations necessary. The KFraw dumps are very heavy and made for preservation only and root work base, and not for direct use (that's unpratical at best because it's too big, and it takes a lot of space, even crunch in ultra mode with 7zip).

The CTR files were made for easy managing as well as being very short in size, fully transportable.

I personally never use the KFraw for anything other than making CTR or Amiga/CPC RAW files. The very ideal file being the software master file that we call IPFs. Very light, compress very well, and each of those ensure that the writing of them on any disk is always a 100% winner (if you have still good floppies ton write them on !).
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Re: What kind of format should we upload on Atari Legend?

Postby DarkLord » Thu Dec 01, 2016 1:05 am

EmpireAndrew wrote:Which format can be written to floppies for use on real hardware?

I'd vote for that one.

But the descriptions in the OP it looks like I'd be voting for "none of the above"?


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Re: What kind of format should we upload on Atari Legend?

Postby DarkLord » Thu Dec 01, 2016 1:05 am

exxos wrote:I'm still living in the dark ages, anything past .ST and .MSA files, no idea what they are or how to use them.

I think for future Atari gamers, it should be a format they can easily write back to a real floppy (from PC) or copy to a hard drive where the image can be run from there. Mostly I see people running games from hard drives these days, but assume its just a file copying thing there. Assume HxC etc can load .ST files or some file formats directly, never had time to look into it. But HxC is popular for games like hard drives. But doesn't help new people who want to simply dump some games onto floppy to play. If they like the games, they will update to hard drive or HxC later for the mass storage solution.

IMHO, while things like flux images are good to keep originals, a archive of games should be online where anyone can copy them to a real ST without the need of buying extra hardware.


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Re: What kind of format should we upload on Atari Legend?

Postby ijor » Thu Dec 01, 2016 4:54 am

npomarede wrote:You're right, the CTR file was described by IFW as a more compact / less accurate version of the stream dump ...


Well, it is obviously more compact, but I don't think "less accurate" is the correct description. It just has information at a completely different level. Can't replace the flux level dumps. It is always possible, and very easy, to convert from flux dumps to CTR without loosing any information. Not the other way around.

exxos wrote:I'm still living in the dark ages, anything past .ST and .MSA files, no idea what they are or how to use them...
IMHO, while things like flux images are good to keep originals, a archive of games should be online where anyone can copy them to a real ST without the need of buying extra hardware.


As I said, everybody wants something different. Yes, I think we all agree that ST or MSA images are the most simple ones. And that it is great that you can write them back without any custom hardware. But that simply doesn't work for most original versions. So as Brume, there would be cracks and there would be originals :)

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Re: What kind of format should we upload on Atari Legend?

Postby Steven Seagal » Thu Dec 01, 2016 11:05 am

As Steem runs everything (also HFE), I won't propose formats, but if atarimania already hosts the STX versions, maybe you could go for anything but STX?

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Re: What kind of format should we upload on Atari Legend?

Postby EmpireAndrew » Thu Dec 01, 2016 2:20 pm

ijor wrote:Yes, I think we all agree that ST or MSA images are the most simple ones. And that it is great that you can write them back without any custom hardware. But that simply doesn't work for most original versions. So as Brume, there would be cracks and there would be originals :)


So the cracked ones, or any software that isn't protected, would also be available as say .ST?

Personally I'd like to see .ST if unprotected
Writeback flux type images if protected *along with* say an STX.

That way those who use emulators are not inconvenienced and those with real hardware (the sot likely to own stuff like KryoFlux machines) are also not inconvenienced.

However if the cracked versions are also available it generally negates the need for the flux images really (at least for me).
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Re: What kind of format should we upload on Atari Legend?

Postby Stefan jL » Thu Dec 01, 2016 5:59 pm

I vote for SCP... and not only for protected stuff, i would use it just for non-protected disks also just because it is easy to write back to disk.

MSA is probably the best for non-protected disks if you don't have SCPro, it is common and it only needs an ST (easy to write back to disk).
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Re: What kind of format should we upload on Atari Legend?

Postby farvardin » Thu Dec 01, 2016 8:52 pm

I only use .ST format, others are of no use on the machines I'm using (MiST, emulators, HxC etc), but I don't mind .MSA files, because they can be easily converted to .ST.

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Re: What kind of format should we upload on Atari Legend?

Postby cb » Thu Dec 01, 2016 9:53 pm

Those .st files should be avoided. When it comes to unprotected disks, MSA is much better than .st. Smaller files easier to convert back to real disk. Of course if you only use emulators there isn't much of a difference.
The .st disk images were the format used and created by PacifiST. Maybe it was OK back in 1998 but that's about it. I never understood why it grew so popular since the msa file format did exactly the same, only better.
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Re: What kind of format should we upload on Atari Legend?

Postby DarkLord » Thu Dec 01, 2016 10:36 pm

Is it so hard/difficult to maintain a few different formats? I understand all the people who use emulators and their associated formats but there are also quite a few people like me, who do not use emulators but only real hardware. In our case, .MSA is much preferred.

Can't both routes be taken and preserved?

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Re: What kind of format should we upload on Atari Legend?

Postby dlfrsilver » Fri Dec 02, 2016 2:02 am

Well i should add something about *.ST files (or even MSA files). Many of them in TOSEC or anywhere else have errors, are uncomplete, or defective.

It would be awesome if somebody created a tool that could check the content of those files, highlight the bad sectors and give the ability to correct them with fresh new good sources.

Just my 2 cents about this equivalent of the Amiga ADF format for Atari ST. Other than that, it's as good as the MSA file format.
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Re: What kind of format should we upload on Atari Legend?

Postby npomarede » Fri Dec 02, 2016 8:46 am

As .ST image have no checksum, I don't see how you can determine that a .ST file has bad sectors ? .ST are just plain dump of sector content with no additional infos, there's no real track/sector/side, so it would be really hard to check the state of a .ST file automatically.
Only possible solution would be to play all the games till the end on each .ST files, and even so, if you get a crash, it could be a bad crack.
That's why low level formats like SCP/kryoflux are better suited to check the validity of a dump.

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Re: What kind of format should we upload on Atari Legend?

Postby tcat » Fri Dec 02, 2016 2:04 pm

Hi,

I am not regular here at this forum, and I have not heard of many other formats, but .ST, .MSA.
Sometimes I see PASTI that I cannot use being tied only to Windows platform.

I like .ST for its simplicty, because it is a raw dump from floppy, on Linux can be created by a single `dd' command, also cloned back onto another floppy with it. .MSA I believe is some kind of simple compresssion of repeated successive bytes, but also has been around since the beginning, right?

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Re: What kind of format should we upload on Atari Legend?

Postby npomarede » Fri Dec 02, 2016 2:11 pm

Pasti image (.stx) can be used with Hatari on Linux, OSX or even Android (Ataroid) ; in fact on every platforms where you can compile Hatari sources :)
MSA is indeed a compressed version using an RLE scheme (plus some track headers), not very efficient size in the end. Better store each .ST images in a .zip file to get much better compression ratio.

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