Apple II, Development, IIgs, Networking, Retro, Update

Beta Testing the Uthernet II

June 11, 2018

Last week, the day after I returned from my work trip to Montreal, I checked the mail and found that my Uthernet II card had arrived. Perfect timing! I wanted to take my time and document the unboxing and installation for my blog, so I just left it in my truck and decided I would not open it yet. I went back to work and counted the hours until I could go home and begin testing. Once I got home, the first thing I did was took a few pics of the unboxing:


It was packed extremely well and had zero signs of damage. The next step was to install it into my IIgs. I had asked Glenn at A2retrosystems.com which slot he would recommend and he replied promptly, telling me to use Slot 3 if available. My slot 3 was empty, so that is what I used. I made sure to install it with the arrow facing the correct way – towards the keyboard. I then inserted an ethernet cable through the same open port in the back that I used for the ribbon cable that connects the CFFA3000 to the remote button panel. I tied a fairly loose knot into the ethernet cable inside the machine. In the event that something hooks the cable and pulls on it, this knot should prevent it from pulling the ethernet port off of the circuit board, or at least that is my hope.

With the hardware all installed, it was time to install Marinetti and try the card out.


The installation went through without any troubles, however, there were not very clear instructions out there for which version was the latest version and where to get it. Here is what I ended up doing:

  • Download the Marinetti software from here: http://www.a2retrosystems.com/Marinetti.htm
  • Install the MARINETTI3.0b1 installer script
  • Copy the TCPIP and UTHERNETII files into their proper System folders, according to the included QUICKSTART document. (Later on, I learned of a newer Uthernet II LL file from http://speccie.uk/software/)
  • Reboot to load the Marinetti TCP/IP stack and the Uthernet II Link Layer.
  • Open TCP/IP in control panel and configure your IIgs to use the card.
  • Start a connection and enjoy!

After I had performed these steps, I found that for some reason I could not get the card to work. I tried to use DHCP, and it would not get an IP address at all. I then tried to use a static IP, and I could not communicate with the network in either direction. I decided to simplify the testing as much as I could. I had connected the Uthernet card to my WiFi Bridge and I figured maybe there was a compatibility issue there so I decided to eliminate that from the equation. I connected the card directly to my iMac via ethernet and configured the iMac’s ethernet to be on the same subnet as the Uthernet II. I could ping the card from the iMac without any issues. Now we were getting somewhere. Next, I ran a long ethernet cable all the way up the stairs to the router and plugged in directly. This proved to be a success and I could now get DHCP working as well as get ping to work from all of the machines on my network.

I fired up Spectrum Telnet and it immediately detected the card and the connection because it was in TCP/IP mode automatically. I told it to connect to one of my favorite telnet BBSs and off it went. Here is where I ran into my second issue. The telnet protocol does not support ANSI like the serial connections did. Once it connected, it would just sit at a blank screen. I could see traffic on the router for the port that I was connected to, but nothing was getting to the screen. I disconnected and switched to another protocol, Spectrum Text. This worked right away. I was able to connect, although it was extremely slow. Much slower than my TCPSER connections over serial to the Raspberry Pi have been. Also, the screen was echoing back everything I typed, causing some weird issues with the BBS. But at least it worked.

After this, I tried some of the other programs that use the Marinetti stack, mainly SAFE2 FTP and SNAP Usenet. First, I had to install a new TOOL and CDEV to tell my computer what time zone it is in. The tool was tool56 and the Time Zone CDEV was just called Time Zone. I found them in the system folder on the Communications hard drive image from here: www.whatisthe2gs.apple2.org.za

With these installed, I rebooted and then I opened up SAFE2 FTP. It was already configured to connect to Asimov so I made the connection and I was off. I could not download a file larger than about 50k. It would start, and when the file was about 10% downloaded, it would stop coming in and eventually the software would give up and hang. I went back to speccie.uk for some insight. Turns out, there is a newer version of the UTHERNET II Link Layer for Marinetti. It is version 2.0.3 instead of 2.0.2. I installed this version and rebooted, and tried my FTP download again – it worked! I downloaded an 800k file and it did not stop until the file was complete. After this, I fired up SNAP Usenet and although it was slow, it also worked great! I was able to browse and read Usenet posts with no issues at all.

After this, it dawned on me that I could not write an image from my IIgs to the CFFA drives, so I decided to try out ADTPro. I was able to use it with no problems. I was able to create a new blank image on the CF card via the CFFA’s control panel menu, exit back to GS/OS, fire up ADTPro 2.0.2, and transfer an image from my iMac to the blank image with absolute lightening speed!

I reported all of this to the beta testing group on Slack and Glenn told me that the Marinetti stack is limited to 512 byte size for all incoming packets. He says that it either needs rewritten, preferably written to use the hardware LL of the card, instead of the software LL that it uses now. That is for someone with a much better understanding of the code than I have. Hopefully, we can get that done though.

So far, I am very impressed with this card. With the proper modifications to the Link Layer and TCP/IP stack, it could be the best form of communication that the IIgs has available. I feel like the engineering/design of the circuit board and hardware components is near perfect. For a IIgs running GS/OS, the software is a bit lacking behind the hardware at this time. There are things that I want to use it for that are just not as fast as they should be on Ethernet. But only when I am using Marinetti within GS/OS. When using ADTPro, the speed was everything I was expecting and more! It really works well with the CF card in the CFFA3000!

The next chance I get, I want to load up some more ProDos applications that do not use Marinetti, Contiki web browser, Telnet65 and also there is a bulk data transfer app that is for use during the beta test that I want to use as well.

I’ll have the results of these tests in my next post.

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4 Comments

  • Reply Andrew Roughan June 13, 2018 at 4:50 am

    I’m sorry that you weren’t sure how to install Marinetti. Did your U2 come with any instructions about this? If not then please suggest to Glenn that he does provide something to point people in the right direction.
    Glen’s site has a web page with all the information you should need.
    http://a2retrosystems.com/Marinetti.htm
    If that’s unclear please let me know so I can help clarify.

    • Reply Jeff Ramsey June 13, 2018 at 7:32 am

      Hi Andrew,

      Thanks for reading and commenting on my blog post. (so cool!) Glenn gave us instructions for the 2018 U2 beta to go to his site, a2retrosystems.com, to download the software and read the instructions. I did this, and I didn’t have any issues installing Marinetti. My issues were related to my WiFi Bridge hardware. My only issue with that Marinetti webpage is that the known issues portion of the page is outdated (It even says so on the page,) and thus it does not really help you to know if the issue that you are experiencing is a known issue or one that has been resolved with an update since 2015. When I was having trouble getting a connection, I was fumbling around the page, looking for any info about troubleshooting my connection. That is where I seen the link for speccie.co.uk having a “Starter kit” available. I downloaded that, and noticed that it used a newer version of the LL than the 3.0b8 download provided.

      I’m sure Glenn plans to provide some printed instructions with the card once he releases it from beta. I’ll make sure he is aware of all of this. Can you confirm that there is a 512 byte limitation on incoming packet size? Is this a limitation of Marinetti or the U2 LL?

  • Reply Andrew Roughan June 14, 2018 at 7:09 pm

    I was responding specifically to your blog wording: “however, there were not very clear instructions out there for which version was the latest version and where to get it”. If something is not clear then please call it out.

    I am in the process of producing a 3.0b9 image which will include the latest Uthernet II link layer.

    The incoming 512 byte issue is captured here https://sourceforge.net/p/marinetti/feature-requests/34/
    TL;DR: We’re not sure how to solve it yet.

    • Reply Jeff Ramsey June 14, 2018 at 9:40 pm

      I see. The instructions included in the reader file were good as far as how to install Marinetti, just outdated on the website as far as what is the latest version and I didn’t see any current changelog info. For example, there is no mention about the 512 byte limitation on incoming packets. I think it could be better if the website was kept up to date as what the latest versions are for the Uthernet II LL and Marinetti, as well as an updated changelog readable within the website. Maybe a single link for downloading the current stable version and another for the latest beta/unstable version. I don’t mean to complain, just suggestions from someone who is new to retro computing hobby trying to catch up.

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