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   How to run FastTracker v2.xx at modern PCs
'I hope this won't suxx...' (sorry for bugs with slashes :-()

CRITICAL NOTE: Don't forget to change the direction of slashes in folder paths and commands!!!

RESSURECTION OF THE AGE

(How to run FastTracker v2.xx at modern PCs)

by Darth 'Snake' Nefelim
version 1.00 from 21.02.2005



The modern PCs are quite powerful things. You can achieve a hardly impressive quality of sound and video with'em. And as the new power of hardware becomes cheaper we can perform much easier! But as we grow older it's truly hard to learn something new.
In the second half of past century 90th there was a superb combination of powerful tracking and simplicity (or user friendly interface :-)). It was called - FastTracker v2 (FT2). Created by pair of Swedish programmers it becomes widely popular in the world of tracking. The time is going forward and it cannot be stopped. So our 'hero' was smashed by weight of time and became an old dead page in the History. The problem was in two things: FT2 was unstable under Windows '98 and above and Windows NT systems. Also it could not work with modern audio hardware, which uses IRQs above 7. Now this problem is successfully solved!
This little guide was written to help people restore their favorite tracker. Because of English is not my native language I hope you'll apologize me for some grammar and spelling mistakes. Current version of this guide is written above. I'm planning to add other methods of 'resurrecting' FT2 in future versions. I'll be pleased if you send me you questions, commentaries or my bugs.

NOTE: All I've written down here was checked out by myself, so it's not the whole truth - may be I made some mistakes or didn't understand some things. Please, report me about such bugs if you'll find'em.


WARNING! You're acting at your own risk. I'm not responsible for any harm YOU can make by yourself to your hardware.



TABLE OF CONTENTS:
1. Introduction to FastTracker v2.xx
2. System Requirements
3. DOSbox v0.63
4. Preparing Environment
5. Startup Configuration
6. FastTracker Launch!
7. FAQ & Troubleshooting
8. Links, Greets & Plans



1. INTRODUCTION TO FASTTRACKER V2.XX
FastTracker v2 (FT2) project was started in June '93 by two Swedish programmers - Frederik 'Vogue' Huss and Magnus 'Mr. H' Hogdahl. They were trying to achieve a new level of tracking and they succeeded. FastTracker v2.xx (last known version is 2.09) became one of the most popular tracker all around the world. The impressive 'power' of FT2 is compiled into 'funny' 600 KB in one file. You ever don't need to plug additional modules and drivers, to suffer from their miss and have problems installing, running or uninstalling this application. This fact is one of the main FT2 advantages, but it's also one of its main disadvantages. This program was live until its creators support it.
FT2 is a DOS application. So it only can work stable under this operating system and use appropriate drivers to access the hardware. My last successful launch of FT2 was in Windows '95 with old ESS Audiodrive card (SBPro compliant). FT2 was not working under Windows '98 and all other versions of this OS. The program just crashes while trying to launch it at NTFS drive. In all other cases I was not able to track, only file IO (input/output) operations was accessible. Could you track without sound? If you could, then you're a real Master of Tracking. :-))
If you need any other information about FT2, including the program (version 2.09), you can feel free to find it out with you Search Machine. The User's Manual can be found at MODULEZ.ORG or any other resource. You also can email me: I have both manual and program.



2. SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS
The successful launch of FT2 is impossible without required hardware and operating system. If you have both of them, then you just don't need to read this guide.

System requirements:
- operating system minimum ........... MS-DOS v3.xx or higher
- operating system maximum ........... MS Windows '95
- file system at hard drive .......... not above FAT32
- sound hardware ..................... any SB 100% compatible
- sound IRQ range .................... 3, 5 or 7
- sound HEX range .................... 220 or 230
- sound DMA 8-bit range .............. 1 or 3

You also can use such audio hardware like Gravis Ultrasound (GUS), Soundplayer of PC Speaker - all of them are supported. Check you hardware settings or specifications to compare them with listed requirements.

NOTE: the requirements written above is not critical - may be FT2 will successfully work at your own hardware. Just check it out by yourself.



3. DOSBOX v0.63
Because of DOS operating system is not enough supported by modern operating systems (such as Windows XP), you'll need the emulator to run FT2. There are plenty of programs that are able to emulate DOS properly, but first of all we'll choose DOSbox. This program is FREEWARE and this is very valuable in our case. If you can pay for the emulator, then why are you trying to use FT2? ;-)
The current version of DOSbox can be found in its lair (http://dosbox.sourceforge.net). I was using version 0.63. DOSbox emulates good the 486 PC with SB onboard. That's enough for FT2 to work stable and cool. First of all you need+ right, to download this program. :lol: Then you need to install it in any target folder you want ('C:/Program Files/DOSbox' by default). Don't forget to study the included README.TXT after installation, if you have any problems or questions.



4. PREPARING ENVIRONMENT
Before configuring and launching DOSbox you have to prepare your work environment. You'll need to do the following:

- choose any folder, that will emulate drive C: in you virtual DOS;
- copy your FT2 application to this directory;
- copy your instruments, samples and modules to this directory.

Truly said, you can choose more then one folder. You also can assign any folder to any virtual drive. For example: you can assign 'C:/Program Files/DOSbox' as virtual drive C:, 'D:/My Own Cool Music' as virtual drive D: and place 'E:/Someone's Junk' to virtual 'D:/Samples'. In any case you'll need to configure startup conditions of DOSbox. As more folders you've got as more text you'll write. For this guide I chose the following folder structure:

(Virtual Drive C:)
.
..
/MODs
/Samples
/Temp
/XIs
ft2cfg
ft2.exe

So I've picked up 4 (four) folders and 2 (two) files and placed them, f.i., to 'D:/Virtual DOS'. This folder will be used by DOSbox as virtual drive C:.



5. STARTUP CONFIGURATION
The DOSbox is console application. This means you have to specify parameters and commands in its command line. You can do this using CMD.EXE or just creating a shortcut with some parameters.
Create a shortcut and access its properties. After '/DOSbox.exe' write the following text:

C:/Program Files/DOSbox/dosbox.exe -D:/Virtual DOS/ft2.exe -fullscreen -exit -c 'RESCAN' -c 'MOUNT D :/ -t cdrom'


This will do the following:
1. DOSbox will startup at fullscreen (command: -fullscreen);
2. DOSbox will rescan the content of the host folder 'D:/Virtual DOS' - this is very useful if you change something there (command: -c 'RESCAN');
3. DOSbox will mount your CD-ROM (or DVD-ROM) drive as virtual CD-ROM drive D: (command: -c 'MOUNT D :/ -t cdrom');
4. DOSbox will mount host folder 'D:/Virtual DOS' as virtual drive C: and then executes FT2 application (command: -D:/Virtual DOS/ft2.exe);
5. DOSbox will automatically exit after FT2 closes (command: -exit).

NOTE: If there is too much folders you want to mount, then probably it would be a nice idea to create a batch file and execute it instead the FT2 application. Just write down all MOUNT commands and then add FT2.EXE.

That's it! But BEFORE launching this shortcut you MUST look the DOSbox configuration file.
DOSbox configuration file (DOSBOX.CONF) is located in its installation folder. Make a backup copy of default configuration file. Open it with any text editor (WordPad, Notepad). The structure of this file is as follows:

parameter = value

So you'll have to find a few parameters and check out their values.
The first parameter you need to check is called 'FULLRESOLUTION'. It assigns the full screen resolution. It is set to 1024x768 pixels by default. Cause FT2 uses 640x480 I think it will be good to change '1024x768' to '640x480'.

NOTE 1: Be absolutely sure your monitor is supporting this resolution. I haven't ever seen monitors that are not supporting this resolution, but+ Our world is a very sudden place really.

NOTE 2: The FT2 will automatically change the full screen resolution, so you probable don't need to change anything. I wrote this in case of compatibility. Use it on your own decision.

'MACHINE' parameter MUST be set to 'VGA' (it is set by default). The 'MEMSIZE' parameters reflects the amount of RAM at your virtual machine. It is set to 16 MB by default. You can set it up to 64 MB. Don't forget - this will use your REAL RAM, so be sure you have enough of it. ^_^
The '[MIXER]' block of includes 4 (four) parameters, that reflects the audio hardware status. 'NOSOUND' should be 'FALSE', 'RATE' parameter sets up the mixing frequency. It is set to 22 kHz (22050 Hz) by default. You can set it up to 44,1 kHz (44100 Hz), but this can decrease the performance. Just try different variants by yourself. The result will be heard in FT2. Leave other two parameters ('BLOCKSIZE' and 'PREBUFFER') at their default values ('2048' and '10'). You also can change them by your own. The first parameter sets the size of memory block (in bytes), the second sets the prebuffer capacity (in milliseconds).
Find block marked '[SBLASTER]'. Set the type of your SoundBlaster ('TYPE', set to SoundBlaster 16 by default - read the above commentary for more types), its base port ('BASE', '220' by default), IRQ ('IRQ', '7' by default - can be set to 3, 5 or 7), DMA or low DMA or 8-bit DMA ('DMA', '1' by default - can be set to 1 or 3, leave it with no change) and High DMA or HDMA or 16-bit DMA ('HDMA', '5' by default - can be set to 5 or 8, leave it with no change).
Check out the block marked '[DOS]'. Both 'XMS' and 'EMS' must be set to 'TRUE'.
If you're expert in MS-DOS configuration, then you can add several command strings in block marked '[AUTOEXEC]'. This is useful to control SoundBlaster output.
FT2 requires mouse presence vitally. DOSbox automatically detects the mouse requirement and release it for launched application. Check the first block in file marked '[SDL]'. The AUTOLOCK" parameter must be set to 'TRUE'. Mouse sensitivity can be set by changing the 'SENSITIVITY' parameter value. Default value is 1.00 (100). Don't forget to save the configuration file on close! :-)



6. FASTTRACKER LAUNCH!
We've prepared the environment for FT2. So click twice at your shortcut and track, track, track! There should not be any errors. If you have one, then first try to check out your parameters at command line and in configuration file. If everything is normal, then try to find out your problem in Section 7 of this guide. If nothing helps then you really need a Help! Don't try to press F1 - check out the Web or email me. I'll try to help you as soon as I'll find a free time. If you choose the email, then write down your problem with maximum details or you'll never get a good help.



7. FAQ & TROUBLESHOOTING
Nothing to read in this version yet! ;-)



8. LINKS, GREETS & PLANS
First of all about my plans. I'm planning to add FAQ here. This depends on YOU. :-) Then I'm planning a test launch of FT2 at other virtual machines, such as VMware Workstation (already done) and Connectix Virtual PC. May be I'll describe this in future versions.


Greets and thanx goes to:
reed - for inspiring me to launch FT2 at DOSbox;
Vogue and Mr. H - for their beautiful application;
DOSbox Team - for the superb DOS emulator;
Urban Jonsson - for FT2 detailed manual;
David 'Yero' Geronimo - for answering my stupid question and valuable help :));
YOU - for reading this;
OKSha - for your existence, my friend.


Links:
- DOSbox - http://dosbox.sourceforge.net/
- modulez.org - http://modulez.org/
- The MODArchive - http://www.modarchive.com/
- Starbreeze Studios (developers of FT2) - http://www.starbreeze.com/ (you'll find nothing interesting about FT2 there)


Darth Snake' Nefelim, the native FastTracker fan


Copyright 2005 Darth 'Snake' Nefelim using information published by the DOSbox Team and Urban Jonsson.
Written for MODULEZ.ORG. Any commercial use of this article (publishing, hiring or renting) is strictly prohibited. For private non-commercial use only!
'DOSbox' is registered trademark of the DOSbox team.
'Windows' and 'MS-DOS' are registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation.
'FastTracker' is registered trademark of Triton Production (Starbreeze Studios).
'VMware' is registered trademark of VMware, Inc.
All rights reserved.


 
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