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TITLE

Amiga Explorer Troubleshooting

 

TOPIC

General Amiga Explorer troubleshooting checklist.

 

DISCUSSION

Amiga Explorer must be installed on the Windows side (which requires an account with administrator privileges), and running on the Amiga side (e.g. with a double-click on "AExplorer" on the Amiga) before data can be transmitted from one side to the other. The exception to this is if you are using the Setup procedure for the initial transfer from the PC to the Amiga using the null-modem cable, in which case you are using only the PC side of the software.

Make sure that your version of Amiga Explorer is 4.1 or higher. To upgrade, just download and install the latest version). If you are running an x64 version of Windows make sure that you installed the x64 version of Amiga Explorer.

Possible Serial Cable Connection Problems

The most common causes of problems when using Amiga Explorer over a serial (null-modem cable) connection are:

  • Poor quality null-modem cable, incorrect wiring of the cable (or not a null-modem cable)
  • Incorrect COM port selected on the Windows side
  • Selected COM port not enabled in PC BIOS settings
  • Not following on-screen instructions (for example, entering "SER: to RAM:Setup" instead of "Type SER: to RAM:Setup")
  • Speed too high, or not set to the same value on Windows and the Amiga (we recommend to start testing with the default value of 19.2 kbit/sec, and not change any settings other than the COM port number, if necessary)
  • Fax, modem or mouse hardware or software, or digital camera or palm size computer software set to use the same COM port as Amiga Explorer
  • Same interrupt (IRQ) used by Amiga Explorer COM port and mouse or other device (possible symptom: transmission problems during mouse movement)
  • Insufficient Buffer Size in Amiga Serial Preferences (should be set to 4096 bytes or higher)
  • Packet Size is too large (512 bytes on both the Amiga and the Windows side is the safest setting), or insufficient number of Retries (50 or more may help on a very noisy line)

To address the COM port number selection and speed issues, right-click on the Amiga Explorer icon on the Windows Desktop, and select "Properties". Then select a different COM port and/or speed. Before experimenting with different speeds, please make sure that Amiga Explorer works at the default speed of 19.2 kbit/sec. Otherwise, it becomes more difficult to determine whether Amiga Explorer is not working because of speed problems, or because it is trying to communicate over an incorrect COM port (e.g. connected to a modem, instead of the Amiga).

Palm software, digital camera software and other software set to work on the same COM port as Amiga Explorer may have to be terminated to free the port, even if the software appears not to be in use, or else an error message may appear when using Amiga Explorer on that COM port. Amiga Explorer instead only uses the port when you are accessing the Amiga, and does not need to be disabled before using other software.

Important: If the above did not help you solve the problem, and you did not check the serial cables, please do so, cross-checking all pins (e.g. with a tester, or with a light bulb, battery and some wire) and comparing them with the null-modem cable schematics. Even if you you tried several different cables, or if the cable appeared to work fine with another program or when sending short files, that does not necessarily mean that the cable is a properly wired null-modem cable. Good cable quality is also imperative in order to support speeds higher than the default. The use of additional adapters may reduce the overall quality of the connection.

Both the Amiga Forever and the Amiga Explorer documentation include a chapter dedicated to null-modem wiring. The fact that a cable works fine with a terminal program is not in itself a positive confirmation that the wiring is correct and should work fine with Amiga Explorer, because many programs use only three wires (software handshaking or no handshaking at all) of a null-modem connection, whereas Amiga Explorer uses all seven wires (RTS/CTS, i.e. hardware handshaking). Also, a serial cable that is too long may pass the tester cross-check, but it may still fail during real use.

The performance of the Amiga serial port may be reduced depending on the resolution and depth (number of colors) of the frontmost screen, when Amiga screen modes are used (RTG modes do not affect performance).

Beginning with Amiga Explorer version 3.5, the default packet size on both the Amiga and the Windows side is set to 512 instead of 4096 bytes (the previous default value), which addresses both potential buffer issues with some serial configurations, and a possible problem of the Amiga serial.device operating in RTS/CTS mode on some versions of the Amiga operating system. The same value should be set on both the Amiga and the Windows side.

Initial PC to Amiga Transfer

Amiga Explorer includes a special "self-transfer" functionality, to transfer the Amiga connectivity software files from the PC to an Amiga connected over the serial cable. The feature is special in that it does not require custom software (terminal, PC file system, Amiga Basic, etc.), however it also has a weakness in that pairing settings verification, error correction and status information are not available during the short initial transfer.

If the initial transfer fails, you can try and copy the two Amiga Explorer files via one of the alternative methods described here:

Possible TCP/IP Connection Problems

The most common causes of problems when using Amiga Explorer over a TCP/IP connection are:

  • IP address of Amiga computer not specified on the Windows side (note: 127.0.0.1 is a special value which always means "this same computer", and should only be used if the Amiga side of Amiga Explorer is running in the Amiga emulation on the same Windows computer)
  • TCP/IP not installed correctly (PC and Amiga cannot "ping" to each other at the addresses specified in Amiga Explorer)
  • Firewall, proxy server or router between PC and Amiga do not relay data on port 356, used by Amiga Explorer
  • Attempt to start Amiga Explorer (e.g. in Amiga "Startup-Sequence", or "WBStartup") when TCP/IP is not yet running on the same machine
  • Passwords on Amiga side and PC side do not match (notes: the password is case-sensitive; the number of asterisks displayed on the Windows side is unrelated from the actual password length; reinstalling the software does not reset the password). This may cause errors such as "An error occurred accessing Amiga Explorer resources." The default password is "AExplorer" (capital "A" and "E").

Windows Side

Installation of Amiga Explorer requires administrator privileges. If Amiga Explorer has just been installed on the PC side, and the Properties cannot be selected, reboot the system and reinstall Amiga Explorer. A few cases like this have been reported (probably due to some items which were in use during the first installation), and they were all solved reinstalling the software in this way.

Older Versions of Windows

Amiga Explorer 2009 and higher require Windows XP SP3 or newer. The last version to support previous versions of Windows is Amiga Explorer 2008.

On Windows 95 (including SP1 and OSR2), files copied from the Amiga to the PC have their original dates "touched", i.e. changed to the current time. This is a limitation of the original Windows namespace extension code, and has been solved in Windows 98 and in more recent versions of Windows.

The Desktop Update included with Internet Explorer 4.00 introduced a side effect whereas nested directories (i.e. directories containing subdirectories) copied from the Amiga to the PC may in rare cases result in some subdirectories being copied to the root of the destination, rather than in their correct location. This issue has been fixed in newer versions.

On Windows 95 and Windows NT 4.0, when Amiga Explorer cannot communicate at all with the Amiga side (e.g. for a cable problem, or incorrect speed setting, etc.), double-clicking on the Amiga Explorer icon may cause the Desktop to become unresponsive until Amiga Explorer (and/or TCP/IP, if used) give up the initial attempt to communicate. This is because Windows namespace extensions (like Amiga Explorer) share the same task as the Desktop code, so that each task has to wait for the other to be complete. It appears likely that separate tasks will be used for this purpose in new versions of Windows, solving this issue. In any case, this delay should normally not last more than about 30 seconds, although it may take a bit longer in certain TCP/IP configurations, and in certain (particularly unfortunate) incorrect serial wirings it may occur that the serial interface receives an apparently correct signal that makes it wait for an indefinite amount of time.

If Amiga Explorer was originally installed on a Windows 95 or Windows 98 system, and fails to work after an upgrade to Windows 2000 or Windows XP, it may be necessary to reinstall Amiga Explorer, so that it can write some new registry settings which were not available on certain versions of Windows 95 and Windows 98.

Amiga Side

On the Amiga side, using Amiga Explorer in TCP/IP mode requires the original bsdsocket.library, or a compatible TCP/IP library. The libraries provided by AmiTCP/IP version 4.x (released in 1994, and which became the reference for Amiga bsdsocket.library functionality) or newer, Miami and WinUAE, for example, work fine. There is a known issue in relation with the TCP/IP stack which was part of the "Enlan-DFS" and "Inet-225" products, which, by design, included limited compatibility with the bsdsocket.library, specifically to support certain programs such as AmiPhone, but not to offer full compatibility with the original library having the same name. Important features used by Amiga Explorer, such as asynchronous socket events, are missing in this library. Under these circumstances Amiga Explorer may issue a "TCP/IP library cannot be opened" message and not function.

Users of the GENESiS TCP/IP software as distributed in the "Amiga OS 3.9" package may have all ports from 0 to 1023 blocked by default ("$ *.*.*.* deny LOG" line in "AmiTCP:db/inet.access" file). To allow Amiga Explorer to access port 356, add a line with "356 *.*.*.* allow LOG" before the line blocking all other ports (lines are processed top to bottom). Please note that this file is usually generated automatically by the Preferences tools which are normally included with GENESiS. If you change the settings using such a user interface make sure that in that tool too port 356 is granted access, or else verify that the inet.access file still grants access to port 356 after you save the settings. Thanks to GENESiS author Tomi Ollila for his kind help in this issue.

Miami Deluxe includes a similar firewall functionality, which can be configured to let Amiga Explorer traffic through. Amiga Explorer user Rhett Rodewald kindly provided the following instructions:

  1. In the Miami Deluxe control panel, select the "Database" page and select "Services" in the cycle gadget at the top of the page.
  2. Click the "ADD" button.
  3. Add a new service: Name = "aexplorer", ID = "356", Protocol = "tcp". Make sure to hit the enter key to save the changes.
  4. Select the "TCP/IP" page. Click on the "LAN-Connect" button. Set the Firewall to "AUTO" and add a new acceptable service to the firewall by Adding two "NEW" items: The first one should be "Accept", Proto = "TCP", and D-Port = "356", and the second one is "Accept", Proto = "UDP", and D-Port = "356". Leave the S-IP and D-IP blank unless you know what you are doing and want to further restrict which computers may use this service.
  5. Hit "OK".
  6. Remember to save your settings. (Menu item "Settings -> Save as Default")
  7. Bring Miami "Offline" and then back "Online" to make the settings active.

We received a report concerning a software problem causing the Amiga to crash with a specific combination of "Amiga OS 3.5", Miami 3.2b and a Hydra Ethernet board when the Amiga is being accessed using Amiga Explorer. This issue has been solved by installing and using MNI Ethernet drivers for the specific Ethernet board instead of the default SANA II drivers.

An error message like "Unable to load SER:: packet request type unknown" may indicate that "SER: to RAM:Setup" was entered in the Shell window instead of "Type SER: to RAM:Setup" (as instructed on screen).

An error message like "There has been a conflict accessing the Amiga Explorer resources" usually indicates that some Windows antivirus software is locking the Amiga Explorer namespace extension while it tries to scan the Amiga. This can be solved by disabling the verification of that storage area (which normally does not even contain any Windows files that could be checked) in the options of the antivirus software.

An error message like "Unable to load Setup: file is not an object module" during the initial Windows-to-Amiga software installation usually indicates that the transfer did not complete properly due to a cable wiring problem. This initial part of the installation consists of a plain serial file copy, rather than being controlled by Amiga Explorer, so exact error messages cannot be issued. You can run "List RAM:Setup" instead of "RAM:Setup" in the Shell to verify the size of the Setup file, which should be at least 45000 bytes. If the problem persists, be sure that you have verified the cable as described above.

Log Files

If you need technical support in relation to a problem with Amiga Explorer please try to provide log files of both the PC and the Amiga side where possible/applicable. Amiga Explorer has two specific settings to enable logging, which in case of persistent difficulties can be a great aid to better track the origin of specific problems. By default, logging is disabled. On the Amiga side, logging is enabled using the "LOGGING" and "LOGFILE" ToolTypes. On Workbench versions prior to 1.3 you may need to run "Assign T: RAM:" (or other path) in the CLI in order to use the default log file destination, if "T:" is not defined. Similarly, the Windows side has an Enable Logging option, and the possibility to specify the path and file name of the logging file. Since log files can grow very large, it is recommended to start with an empty or new log file, and specifically log only those actions which are causing a problem (e.g. the copy of a specific file, or opening a certain directory). From a privacy perspective, it should be noted that the log files may contain small references to the beginning and end of the contents of the data packets that are transferred.

Related Links

 

Article Information
Article ID:14-109
Platform:Windows, Amiga
Products:Amiga Explorer, Amiga Forever
Additional Keywords:RS-232
Last Update:2014-02-18
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