Dragon 8-bit emulator xroar for Fedora Linux

According to the site www.6809.org.uk/dragon:

The Dragon is an 8-bit personal computer based upon the Motorola MC6809E microprocessor. Made in Wales by Dragon Data Ltd., two variants were sold in the UK: the Dragon 32 (32K RAM) and the Dragon 64 (64K RAM, serial port, other very minor differences). The on-board ROM contains a version of Microsoft Extended Colour BASIC, but more advanced operating systems like NitrOS-9 (a modern redevelopment of OS-9) and FLEX are available.

I had very little information about Dragon computers, but back in 2000 or possibly 2001, I bought a Dragon 32 from a nearby flea market. That computer had no power supply so I could not test it at all. I was also in need of extra money, so I auctioned the Dragon 32 very soon, getting a little bit of profit from that deal. I really have no exact recollection about how much I paid for the machine, but I would suspect it was something like 20-30 FIM. At that time, we had no Euros in Finland. The same flea market table had a Commodore VIC-20 available too, so I bought it as well.

Again, I am not sure, but I suppose the untested Dragon 32 sold for 50-60 FIM. Unfortunately it turned out that the computer was faulty, but I sold it "as is" and accepted no returns. The VIC-20, however, worked fine and I still have it stored in my closet. I have one original game for Dragon. It is a Manic Miner tape release.

Today I wanted to see that Manic Miner port in action, so I googled for a tape file. I finally found one from the great Jet Set Willy & Manic Miner community site. They have all kinds of interesting information about Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy releases, so I recommend visiting that site. I joined them some time ago.

Next I googled for "dragon emulator" and found http://www.6809.org.uk/xroar. It seems to be a good emulator, although I must confess I was a little disappointed, because it does not have machine language monitor capabilities. It was my intention to hack the Dragon Manic Miner to get infinite lives and free room selection, but without a ML monitor it is too hard. But I guess that is just the way life is now.

Here are the RPMs for Fedora Linux. Make sure to get dragon-system-roms RPM too, it is essential for the xroar emulator to work!

For testing purposes and amusement you will probably want a game, so here is one for you:

Unfortunately this emulator does not know how to uncompress zipped or gzipped tape images, so you must uncompress Manic Miner first:

gunzip /path/to/the/downloaded/manic_miner_dragon_rerelease.cas.gz

Then become superuser (root) to install the emulator and system ROMs:

dnf -y install /path/to/the/downloaded/xroar-0.34.8-1.fc27.1.x86_64.rpm

dnf -y install /path/to/the/downloaded/dragon-system-roms-1.0.0-1.noarch.rpm

And finally test xroar with Manic Miner game. Wait for a short while until it is loaded!

/opt/xroar/bin/xroar manic_miner_dragon_rerelease.cas

After the game has been loaded, it looks like this, saying PRESS ENTER TO START:

dragon manic miner start screen

However, for me, pressing ENTER does not work until the short intro tune has played. After that ENTER will start the game. You use SPACE for jumping and LEFT CURSOR KEY and RIGHT CURSOR KEY to move.

But I had my Logitech Rumblepad 2 USB Controller attached to my laptop. The keyboard would not work in Manic Miner before I disabled the joystick like this:

dragon manic miner disable joysticks

Unfortunately this Dragon port of Manic Miner is probably the least attractive I have seen. The graphics and sprites are authentic, all right, but the game has only two colours: black and white! It makes the game look very boring indeed. But there is no reason to blame the Dragon programmer for that. My best guess is that this version runs on Dragon 32, too, with only 32 kilobytes of RAM. So maybe it was necessary to trim down everything and disable extra colours to make the game fit! On Dragon 64, I am sure it could have had colours.

Have fun!