Quick & Dirty method to install Atari Mint

You have chosen the bold path to run MINT on your Atari but have read from several forums that it's difficult to install, no fear this small how-to is for you.

MINT is a lean multitasking Atari OS that consist of a new Kernel and a new AES. It provides a pre-emptive multi tasking system with networking and new filesystems. It also provides a Unix like environment for those who care for it (and who installs it that way). The information here is aimed to setup a simple MINT system and will not include steps for the Unix like environment. To exploit the potential of MINT, the Unix like environment should be setup.

By following the few steps below, you will achieve the following: MiNT running 2 lines programs and a clock program. The desktop here is Teradesk.

MINT is workable on a 8 MHz ST with 4MB but for it to be useful it should be on a machine with a 16MHz 68030 and greater than 4 MB of RAM.

An automated way of installing MINT is via EasyMint, which installs the entire MINT beast. 

The method shown here will install only a minimal system with basic functionality. Hopefully this will get you heading in the right direction.

Steps to manually installing MINT

  1. Prepare the hard disk

    The hard disk should be already made auto boot - meaning that the drivers for hard disk is already installed to a working condition. Follow the instructions in Jookie's site to install the driver for the hard disk.

    If a new hard disk is used, create a TOS partition as large as your system allows ( 1GB for Falcon, 512MB for TT030) for booting up, and divide the rest of the space to 2 or more partition. This allows for expansion using the new MINT filesystem that a Unix like environment requires.... that's if you care for it.

    You need around 1.5MB of free space for this minimal MINT system.

  2. Prepare the MINT related files

    Download the following MINT files from the SpareMint archive and XaAES archives. As of writing, the current stable release version is 1.18.0 and there is a nightly build snapshot of version 1.19.0. We will use the current stable build version 1.18.0 here.

    1. freemint-1.18.0.zip
      -- This is the main archive containing the kernel, AES and other supporting files needed by MINT.

    2. tera408.zip
      -- Teradesk: This is the desktop for MINT.MINT doesn't come with a desktop so you will need this.

    3. qed.zip
      -- This is the text editor to edit & customize MINT. In actual fact, any text editor will do.

    The freemint-1.18.0.zip itself pose several problems. Unless you downloaded the file on the Atari, the size means that you cannot easily transfer it from PC to Atari via a floppy; you need to have an network. Also, long folder names are used in the archives, which means TOS ST-ZIP will have  difficulties with it. Luckily gzip available in MINT can un-zip this file.

    Chicken & Egg problem, you need MINT to unarchive the zip file that contains long folder names. But you don't have MINT until you can unarchive that very file!!

    To solve this issue, do everything on the Darkside - that's Windoze and with the tool WinZIP. WinZIP understands both gzip and tar, so we can extract out everything onto a folder on Windows. While at it, unZip also both the Teradesk and QED zip files.

  3. Prepare the TOS environment

    Well, not prepare but actually tweak TOS so that none of the AUTO programs starts and none of the desk accessories ACC and CPX start or get loaded. This is because TOS applications can sometime hinder the bootup of MINT or cause some problem during bootup. 

    To stop AUTO programs, desktop accessory and CPX from starting, just rename the extension. 
         i.e. PRG to PRX, ACC to ACX and CPX to CPZ.

    If your system needs some special PRG to boot the graphic card (emulate.prg or redirect.prg) or you need NVDI to speed up the screen updates, you can enable them. But make sure they run before MINTxxx.PRG.

  4. Copy of MINT files to the hard disk

    From the unarchived MINT zip file; copy from the folder \freemint:

    1. MINTxxx.PRG in the AUTO to the AUTO folder of the boot hard disk
      This is the file in the zip file AUTO folder, you need to copy only 1 file. Decide which one to copy, suggest the MINT030.PRG for Falcon/TT030. Make sure it's the last PRG in your AUTO folder.

    2. The entire mint folder to the root of the boot hard disk
      This folder contain subfolder 1-18-0, in which contains the AES and MINT config file. The folder 1-18-0 is called the SYSDIR folder. You can install extra "goodies" like extended drivers for devices, filesystems and other system related files in the SYSDIR folder. These extended drivers are located in the ZIP file DRIVER folder.

      • To redirect output written to the screen to a output console, use the extended device driver called conout2.xdd. So copy conout2.xdd from the Zip file DRIVER/XDD folder into the SYSDIR folder.

      • If you want to use extended filesystem such as Ext2 File system, then copy the ext2.xfs from the DRIVER/XFS folder into the SYSDIR.

      • If you want to use networking with MINT, then copy the inet4.xdd network driver from DRIVER/XDD to the SYSDIR. Additionally, you will need to copy the network card driver as well to the SYSDIR. Normally the network card drivers are found in DRIVER/XIF folder. For example if you are using a SCSI-link ethernet, copy over the SCSILINK.XIF file to the SYSDIR.

      Further configuration is needed to use the extended filesystem and networking. These will be discuss in later chapters.

    3. The entire tools folder to the root of the boot hard disk
      This contains tools & utilities which you need later to make MINT run better.

      Root of Drive C: contains:
    1. MiNT folder
    2. TOOLS folder
    3. DESKTOP folder
    4. QED folder

    For Teradesk desktop:
    1. create a folder called desktop at the root of the boot hard disk.
    2. copy the unzipped Teradesk files into the folder desktop.

    For QED Editor:
    1. create a folder called QED at the root of the boot hard disk.
    2. copy the unzipped QED files into the folder QED.

  5. Configure the MINT environment

    Please save your files in Unix newline otherwise MINT will not read in the configurations correctly. Do not edit in other OS and copy onto your Atari. This normally introduce the wrong newline characters. Best is to edit in QED and save in Unix newlines.
    Follow this url to learn how to force for Unix newline in QED.

    1. Configure where to load MINT AES (in this case the XaAES environment) from: 
      Run QED (qed.app if you unZip from above or use any editor of your choice) and load the file 

      Find the line
      and modify the folder part so that it points to the correct folder and AES to load
      Save and close the file.

    2. Create the XaAES settings file
      In the C:/MINT/1-18-0/XAAES folder, make a copy of the file called EXAMPLE.CNF and rename it to XAAES.CNF.

    3. Configure graphic mode for MINT/XAAES:
      Next load the file

      Find the lines
         #video = <mode>
      and uncomment it by removing the # sign and enter the video mode. The 1 means defaults to whatever your current resolution is.
          video = 1
      video = 26 will select 640*480*16 colour VGA mode (falcon).
      video = 27 will select 640*480*256 colour VGA mode (falcon).
      video = 2 will select 320*200*16 colour (ST-Low)
      video = 3 will select 640*200*4 colour (ST-Medium)
      video = 4 will select 640*400*2 colour (ST-High)
      video = 6 will select 640*480*16 colour (TT Medium)
      video = 8 will select 1280*960*2 colour (TT High)
      video = 9 will select 320*480*256 colour (TT Low)

      For CTPCI resolutions, use the following.
      The hexidecimal is the modecode for that resolution
      video = 0x4265 will select 320 x 200 x 32bit @ 70Hz
      video = 0x4263 will select 320 x 200 x 8bit @ 70Hz
      video = 0x143D will select 1024 x 768 x 16M colours
      video = 0x143C will select 1024 x 768 x 64K colours
      video = 0x40A5 will select 1280 x 1024 x 16M

      For other resolutions, please follow this guide to obtain your modecode.

    4. Configure the desktop for MINT:
      Still in XAAES.CNF, find the lines (usually the last few lines in the file)
          #--------- Teradesk ---------
          #setenv AVSERVER DESKTOP
          #setenv FONTSELECT DESKTOP
          #shell = c:\teradesk\desktop.app
      and uncomment it by removing the # sign and correct the folder and program extension of the desktop to PRG
          #--------- Teradesk ---------
          setenv AVSERVER DESKTOP
          setenv FONTSELECT DESKTOP
          shell = c:\desktop\desktop.prg
    5. Configure TOS to run in a GEM window:
      Still in XAAES.CNF, find the line
          #setenv NAME value
      And add the following below it
          setenv ACCPATH		C:\
          setenv ACCEXT		ACC,ACX
          setenv GEMEXT		PRG,APP,GTP,OVL,SYS
          setenv TOSEXT		TOS,TTP
          setenv TOSRUN		C:\tools\toswin2\tw-call.app
          setenv SDL_VIDEODRIVER	gem
      Next find the line
          #run <path>\<application>
      And add the following below it
          run c:\tools\toswin2\toswin2.app
      Save and close the file.

    Wouldn't it be easier if I just gave you these files modified? 
    Sure it is, but that means you will not have known of these two important files that configures MINT and XaAES. By now, you should at least have a hint on how to switch the desktop to the one you like and also run other programs along when MINT boots up. 

  6. Reboot to MINT

    You're good to go. Reboot and cross your fingers.

    For starters, it may be needed to set MINT to NO MEMORY PROTECTION for it to proceed.
    To do this, press <left shift> as MINT boots up at the splash screen and toggle NO MEMORY PROTECTION by pressing the number 5 key. Press <ENTER> to accept and continue to boot.

    You will see some drivers not able to load as they are for different type of machine, and you can stop them from loading by renaming them from XDD to XDX.

    Teradesk may complain that it is unable to read/save the INF file, that's because it is not there yet! So just click OK to continue. You may force a save by press <CTRL-S> on the desktop.

    Once you see the desktop, you have successfully running MINT. 

  7. Testing Mint MultiTasking

    Download the following file MintTest.ZIP. It contains 3 programs - clock.prg, lines.prg and xferrate.ttp.

    Both clock.prg and lines.prg are from Atari MTOS distribution disk. Clock.prg display a clock face with second hand while lines.prg draws lines in a GEM window. You may need to resize the gem windows to see the desktop and other programs running.
    Xferrate.ttp is from Anondyne Software and display the speed of your HDD on a TOS screen. This can demonstrate the redirection of output to a GEM window nicely.

    Just run these programs in any order, without closing any one of them to see MINT multitask.
    Don't forget to read the xferrate.txt on how to use it, while clock and lines are running.... ahhh the beauty of multitasking. 

What's next....?

For one, you should be customising the look and feel of your Teradesk desktop.
Test your old applications if they are working on MINT or download newer version or alternative
Further customise MINT and XaAES, like changing the fileselector, installing a taskbar, installing hyper view etc.
Of course, get networking on MINT and get to the Internet with CAB, Highwire, Chat....
Don't forget to get that Unix part of MINT up with the new filesystem and all those Unix goodies.
Tons to do now that you're on MINT. 

Next: 02 Personalising Mint

updated: 4 Feb 2021
created: 18 Dec 2009