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FreeBASICpi - a Retro BASIC image for the Raspberry PI


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So, in short I created a Raspberry PI image that boot straight into a custom text editor that strives to provide a retro nostalgic programming environment. It's still just a baby, but it's getting better day by day. If you feel so inclined flash it to a card and pop it into a pi. It was developed with the PiZero in mind using the Base Lite Raspbian OS so it should work on any model Pi. 




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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for asking @retroclouds,


It actually kinda started as a lark. I grew up with the TI99/4A, Tandy Color Computer, and a bunch of other home computers. I basically learned to code in BASIC before I could read. Time moved on, I learned some other languages, but BASIC has a special nostalgic place in my heart.


So I set out to recreate that nostalgia and my granddaughter has an interest in programming. I wanted to gift my experience to her. From the moment that I found out about the Pi, I always felt that using a Raspberry PI as a platform for BASIC would be kind of neat. Feeling that the GUI got in the way a bit, and wasn't in the spirit of the classic computing I started with the Lite Raspberry Pi (Debian) OS. I really wanted to reserve as much OS juice for the environment as possible. Not having a window manager really free up the resources. 


I kept tabs on the development of QB64, FreeBASIC, and SDL_BASIC over the years, so I knew those were viable candidates for interpreter/compiler.  QB64 seemed like a clear winner because the IDE was built in but unfortunately, the developers recently made the GUI a requirement - so that was a non-starter. SDL_BASIC is cool, but for reasons I can't recall - I think it couldn't access the Framebuffer from the console or something. FreeBASIC is quite mature, has an active community so I latched onto it. It's QuickBASIC-like dialect feels like home because that's what I coded in most as a teenager.

Then... the painful process of finding a Linux console editor. I have a pretty specific wishlist. Multiple file buffers, syntax highlighting, common keybindings (ctrl-c for copy, and so on), one key compile and run. I tried what seems like every single editor, so I was forced to do the ridiculous and write my own.


miEdit is based on kilo.c a lightweight editor and written in FreeBASIC. I wrote it specifically for Linux and the Raspberry Pi, so it's not very portable (or even desirable for Windows). Being written in FreeBASIC itself gives it some pretty nifty advantages, It's really easy to customize and extend for one. Direct access to the console and FrameBuffer for two. Fairly easily implemented offline help for three.

The rest was just configuring the Raspberry Pi as lightly as possible, and to start miEdit at boot. Not big magic. I'm sure even more optimization is possible, but I'm a Linux user, not really a power user, or guru.


I'll try to get a video up tomorrow, but I've been kinda sick this week, and work ate all my free time.



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