So, I was bored and started playing with ArcaOS. This little trip down memory lane led to installing the current Open Watcom v2 and trying to compile my old RexxUtil project after 15+ years. Go figure, I found some issues and started fixing things. As I was fixing, I decided to test each function. I was on SysGetMessage and, as a diversion from looking at the stem functions, I remembered I had done a mkmsgf clone. I made a couple test MSG files with the mkmsgf to use with SysGetMessage and realized they were not correct.

Yep, down a rabbit hole. Well, I need to look at the real format of MSG files. I needed to decompile an MSG file to verify the format. In the end, there was mkmsgd. I can decompile an MSG and use the old IBM mkmsgf to recompile with most options.

I decided to mirror it on Github and I explain what I did in the wiki.

ArcaOS 5.0.8 Part2

This is a quick continuation of my Part 1. One of my initial issues was this:

The scroll bars are always present for the Computer window every time it is opened and no matter the window size. As soon as I pull the window larger, they disappear.

So, the Drives on my desktop was a shadow and looking in the Computer widow I could not find the real Drives folder. It was out of the Computer window which still did not make sense because the scroll bars would go away. Long story short, I deleted the desktop shadow Drives and moved the real Drives to the Desktop. Problem solved. How? Not sure.

Some of my issues using Dynamic Icons:

  • The window upper corner icon does not always open with the Dynamic Icon thumbnail. Closing and opening the window almost always clears this up.
  • The trashcan defaults to a default icon occasionally when there is a trashcan action.
  • BIGICONS directory not changeable, see below.

The installation directory for the icons is “\sys\icons\BIGICONS”. In the config.sys there is this statement:


However, I have tried setting BIGICONS, in the above statement, to another directory without luck. So, the way I install is to rename the BIGICONS directory to BIGICONS_ and copy the BIGICONS directory from this repo into \sys\icons.

My wish list items:

  • Globally turn the Menu Bar for Icon View off (Maybe there is and I do not know).
  • XCenter use the png icons rather than the defailts.

Anyway, my icon theme is here right now on my home Gitlab (Mybigcons). Here are some screen shot samples:

Time for a snapshot and to try and optimize and find the delay in the config.sys during startup/boot.

ArcaOS 5.0.8 Part1

My Confession … I was once an OS/2 user beginning in the mid to late 1990’s to around 2010ish. In the end I was using eComStation which, if I remember correctly, was based on OS/2 Warp 4 MCP 4.5. Currently there is Arca Noae. I have had Arca installed and played with it a little over the years, but I got into one of those rabbit holes recently with the release of Arca 5.0.8. As a note, I use Arca running on VirtualBox which in turn runs on my HP z820 Gentoo system. Just to provide context, the Neofetch output is below.

I installed with VBox set to use 1 CPU and that was based on several posts and the Arca Wiki. Not sure exactly why this is an issue.

Okay, I am starting with a fresh installation of ArcaOS 5.0.8. I just accepted the default values because I was not sure how deeply I was going to push this thing.

Virtualbox Additions

The first thing I did was to update the VBox additions. I did have the option check (or I assume I did) to install the additions, but they did not seem to get installed. That did not matter, I use VBox 7.0.8 and the Arca install said something like version 6.x.x, so I needed to do an update anyway.

I followed the readme.txt included with the additions and verified against Installing Oracle VM VirtualBox OS/2 Guest Additions on the Arca site. At the top of the Arca page it reads:


Missing from the Arca instructions, but in the additions readme:

copy libc06*.dll to C:\os2\dll

I was curious, so here is the issue. The additions instruction wants all the libc06* dlls in os2\dll , but he usr\lib directory is where Arca installs the lib06* dlls see below. It seems that in past Arca installs I made this mistake. So, when installing the VBox Additions do not copy the libc dlls.

Directory of C:\VBoxAdd

4-17-23 5:05p 48,179 0 a— libc06.dll
4-17-23 5:05p 48,179 0 a— libc061.dll
4-17-23 5:05p 157,161 0 a— libc062.dll
4-17-23 5:05p 157,161 0 a— libc063.dll
4-17-23 5:05p 157,213 0 a— libc064.dll
4-17-23 5:05p 157,213 0 a— libc065.dll
4-17-23 5:05p 1,361,666 0 a— libc066.dll

Directory of D:\usr\lib

8-26-21 9:26a 45,363 124 a— libc06.dll
8-26-21 9:26a 45,364 124 a— libc061.dll
8-26-21 9:26a 153,497 124 a— libc062.dll
8-26-21 9:26a 153,497 124 a— libc063.dll
8-26-21 9:26a 153,563 124 a— libc064.dll
8-26-21 9:26a 153,563 124 a— libc065.dll
8-26-21 9:26a 316,306 124 a— libc066.dll

I did have to change the “Host Audio Driver” manually to ALSA Audio from default in the VBox settings for the VM. It was default and I am not sure what default is, but I am using pipewire. Anyway, I get sound with ALSA and ICH AC97.

Here is a confusing point. The Arca Install Wiki states, “IDE The IDE storage emulation is the highest performance option, higher than both the AHCI emulation and the NVME emulation.” Then the instructions go on to replace IDE with SATA.

Monitor Resolutions

There was an issue I had to (yet again) relearn with video. My problem is that I am not a multi-monitor person. Instead, I use an Ultra-Wide Monitor (unfortunately not one of the fancy monitors). The Arca install would not allow greater than 1600 width and I wanted 3440, specifically 3440 x 1327 like my ReactOS VM. I found the tweak/fix on the Arca Site and more info on the VBox site. The Arca instructions just briefly repeated here:

VBoxManage setextradata global GUI/MaxGuestResolution any <Enter>
VBoxManage setextradata "<VM-name>" "CustomVideoMode1" "<custom resolution>" <Enter>

FYI, I am using the Panorama Video Driver. Everything worked, now tweaks and eye candy.


Just to ramble, a few changes I made as I remembered my OS/2 days:

  • Status Bars – turn off default for Icon View
  • Icon Size->Icon View: Set dynamic on as default and layout as gridded
  • Desktop manually select “As Placed”
  • I shadow the Drives folder to the Desktop and set single column
  • Drives: Remove the A and B drive icons Wiki
  • Drives: Remove the reserved drive selection
  • Drives: Drive letter before drive letter
  • Deselect “Display Folder Menu Bars” for main windows
  • Solid Color Palette to change default window solid color
  • Various XCenter tweaks
  • Styler changes to the title bar

Finally, I installed my Buuf icon theme. I think a Buuf theme might not be agreeable to everyone, but I used a modified Buuf theme on OS/2 and eCS. The ArcaOS Dynamic Icons makes it extremely easy to construct a theme.

Desktop, Computer, Network, Programs, and Drives Buuf windows

Arca Setup Window

My Issues

During the install and setup, I experienced one Desktop hang while I was adding my network drives.

  1. Is there a way to globally turn the Menu Bar for Icon View off?
  2. Turning on Dynamic Icons did not turn on for Templates folder – I did it manually
  3. The window upper corner icon does not always open with the Dynamic Icon thumbnail. See previous Setup window pic and Command Prompts below.
  4. The scroll bars are always present for the Computer window every time it is openned and no matter the window size. As soon as I pull the window larger, they disappear. See below.

Top corner icon not changing to correct thumbnail

Computer window scroll bars

The end … for now

As for me, I am still waiting for ArcaOS 5.1 and UEFI support. I have an old Intel NUC I would like to try it on …

Full VBox window running Arca 5.0.8 after install and tweaks

Using ReactOS, some more random notes.

So, first item, I have been using the nightly release builds. I started with the 0.4.14 version, but I wanted to try a newer version. As a note, upgrading from 0.4.14 to the nightly did not work for me, but I am not sure if it supposed to work. However, I have not had issues upgrading to newer nightly builds. I do take a snapshot before each update.

I am running ReactOS with VirtualBox, my current version is 7.0.6_Gentoo r155176, on a Gentoo host. I had no problem installing Guest Additions and video and sound work in my VM. The current ReactOS version:

Current ReactOS nightly version I am using.

First a disclaimer, the following issues I list might be from something I have done wrong and not a ReactOS issue.

One issue I have always had is saving the running VirtualBox VM and restarting. It is not a huge issue because the VM starts very quickly. It would be nice to restart without having to reopen all my apps. I have had this issue on two systems. This is the error I get:

Blue screen when restoring VBox machine.

Next issue is remote drive mounting. I keep most items on a Synology NAS share which is mounted on the host Gentoo system. I share the host directory with the ReactOS VM through VirtualBox using “Auto Mount”, “Make Permanent”, and a driver letter. When I used /Persistent with the net command, ReactOS would not restart after a couple of boots (cannot really remember), it displayed a red stripe with a frozen display. I just made a bat file on the desktop to mount with a drive letter. This might be a mistake on my part.

Another minor issue was installing Open Watcom v2 using the GUI installer (link is an example open-watcom-2_0-c-win-x86.exe file). On a new install it is just an uncomplicated way to get OW installed. The following is the GUI installer from the ReactOS desktop. Click no, the screen flashes and the same dialog is displayed. Click yes and the app closes.

Open Watcom v2 Install Screen

However, if I run it from the command line using the -i option (no dialogs) everything is installed. This is minor because after the install I unarchive nightly OW builds into the Watcom directory.

Open Watcom v2 After GUI Install

I did try to install Visual Studio 2017 and I get an error. It is no big deal; I just want to see if it installed, but it might not be supported.

MS Studio 2017 Install Attempt.

Occasionally, or maybe more, when an install dialog or other dialog is displayed some of the text is missing.

One installation I found useful is the GNU Utilities for Win32. I unarchive it in the root and put the binary directory in Path. This helps swapping between ReactOS and Linux considering I am always typing ls rather than dir.

Okay, there are some rambling thoughts/comments. Overall, I cannot understand why 0.4.15 is not the “latest and greatest” for downloading. It is much better than the 0.4.14 version.

Gentoo Gnome 44 with Kernel 6.2.8

Gnome 44 is in the Gentoo repository, not stable yet. The transition was not as painful as my early transition to Gnome 43. The only issue so far has been gnome-clocks, but that is very minor. Most extensions worked, had a like replacement, or after tweaking the metadata.json file version.

Edited 3-27: After update to vala-0.56.4, gnome-clocks-44.0 compiled and installed.

Nautilus 43.1 Open in Terminal

A quick one, I wanted to use gnome console with the current Nautilus. Anyway, I started with the example in nautilus-python and python (which I do not like using) and fixed things the way I wanted them to be.

It can be downloaded here. Once installed and Nautilus restarted, it will provide a menu item when a directory is right clicked called “Open in terminal”. If this menu is selected, a submenu is available to select either Gnome Terminal or Gnome Console.

Edited 5 Dec 22. Sorry for the poor pictures but added for clarity. Selecting a directory in the right panel displays Open in terminal selection.

Clicking the Open in terminal will pop up a selection between Gnome Terminal and Gnome Console.

Vortex PC66 (68 Key) Follow-up

The Vortex PC66 is a retro-ish PCjr keyboard. The PCjr was sold March 1984 to May 1985 and first used a chiclet keyboard that was junk. In 1984, the PCjr was shipped with a new keyboard. The following picture is an original 1984 PCjr keyboard and a Vortex PC66 (68 key) keyboard. The Vortex 66 (66 key) is more like the original without the left Ctrl and Windows/Super key which I do not think would be usable for me. I first saw the PC66 in a YouTube video A Modern IBM PCjr style Mechanical Keyboard! Vortex PC66.

The keyboard can be connected 2.4 wireless via USB dongle, wired via USB cable, and Bluetooth. I had problems using the wireless and wired connections on my desktop, but it did work on my laptop. Just a hazard of running Gentoo, I would need to configure and recompile the desktop kernel. However, I settled for using Bluetooth which was one of the reasons I bought this keyboard. Bluetooth can be paired with three devices, and I can easily switch between the paired systems. I have my desktop and an Intel NUC at my computer desk and connect temporary systems as a third device at times. The following are the connection instructions.

PC66 Connection Instructions

Up to the point of using the keyboard, I worried about the lack of dedicated keys I was used to having. After using the keyboard for a week, I am incredibly happy with the key combinations. What makes the special key usage easy, in my opinion, is having the Fn key in the lower right section of the keyboard. For example, I am already used to dropping my thumb on Fn and tapping Backspace for Delete. Again, the 68 key version of the PC66 has a “Windows” key and it serves as the Super Key to bring up Gnome Overview. The following lists the key combinations for the PC66.

Keyboard Combinations

The keyboard is small, but I have used a Logitech K780 for a few years and I like the small size. The PC66 does not have a number pad, but I rarely if ever use the keyboard number pad. The positive is that without the keypad the actual keys are larger in the same footprint of the K780. I have not used my PC66 on MAC or Windows, but it works well on Linux/Gnome. Finally, while I am not a retro computer collector, I do like the mechanical keyboard click. Enough of my ramblings, interspersed with pictures, here is the condensed list:

  • The price. The PC66 is pricey and for me it was more a want than a need.
  • It is heavy. Heavy enough to be used as a weapon, since I do not carry the keyboard with me it is not a concern.
  • Works with Linux which should not be a real surprise.
  • The PC66 can switch between up to three systems which was big have to have for me.
  • The height is quite a bit taller than any of my other keyboards, but I use a wrist pad that makes this issue unimportant.
  • The Function key (Fn) combinations take a while to get used to, but the placement of the Fn key and combination layout make it much easier.
  • The mechanical click is great, and the key size is perfect for people with fat fingers like me.

I originally thought I would give the PC66 a try and ended up storing the K780, so I think it will be my daily driver.

PC66 in use