Introducing Mini Micro

Alexander Boden on Flickr

Come explore the world of virtualization, where there are computers inside computers!

Virtualization is a popular computing buzzword today. It refers to creating a simulated computer that runs inside a real computer. Virtualization lets Mac owners run Windows software on a virtual Windows PC, for example, or a Windows user run a virtual Linux box on their computer. Virtual game consoles and retro computers, called emulators, also allow you to play old GameBoy games or other classic arcade games on a desktop PC.

In August 2021 we released a new virtual machine called Mini Micro. Rather than emulate a classic computer or console, Mini Micro is a fresh design created as a virtual computer from scratch. The kind of desktop computer you have — Windows, Mac, or Linux – doesn’t matter. Mini Micro will look, feel, and work the same on any operating system.
Mini Micro does have a classic feel that captures key elements that got many of today’s developers hooked on computers. For example, it boots up to a command prompt, a blinking cursor that is a gateway to a built-in programming language.

In this case, the language is MiniScript, a new language designed to be clean, simple, and easy to learn while powerful enough to write real programs. Mini Micro has sprites, tile maps, pixel graphics, digitized and synthesized sounds, game controller input, and simple networking.

Here’s how to give Mini Micro a try.

Get Mini Micro

To install Mini Micro on your computer, go to https://miniscript.org/MiniMicro. You’ll see Mini Micro boot up within the web browser. While you can use Mini Micro this way, you can’t save your work, so you’ll want to download it to your computer.

Under Download Mini Micro, click the link for what kind of computer you have: Mac, Windows, or Linux. (a) It will download as a compressed archive; double-click it to open it up. On Windows, you will probably see an Extract All button at the top of the window at this point. Click that button to fully unpack the archive.

Figure a

Now you should find the Mini Micro app. This will be called Mini Micro.exe on Windows, or Mini Micro.app on the Mac (though the .exe or .app part may be hidden). (b)

Figure b

To launch Mini Micro the first time, right-click the app file and choose Open. If you get a security warning, click the button telling the system to open it anyway. The Mini Micro app is safe but not always recognized by an operating system. Next time you can double-click it like any other app. (c)

Figure c

Explore

Interact with Mini Micro mostly by typing. Try typing help and press Enter or Return. Mini Micro will respond with a short message, including instructions on how to get more help.

Mini Micro also has a built-in disk called /sys which is short for system. This contains all sorts of interesting stuff, including a folder of demo programs and games. Enter the commands below, one at a time, to start exploring these:
cd “/sys/demo”
dir
load “flappyBat”

Note that the dir or directory command pauses after the first page of results and shows something like 7 more. Press the spacebar to continue to the next page. If you get an error from any of the commands above, double-check your typing and try again. You must capitalize, punctuate, and use quotes exactly as shown.

If you’ve typed them correctly, a game launched — and probably ended game over very quickly! In the flappyBat game, you must press the spacebar to make your bat flap and avoid the pipes as long as you can. (d)

Figure d

When the game is over, you’re back at the blinking prompt, ready to type another command. Enter run to play again, edit to peek at the code, or go back to dir to find a different demo program to try.

That’s all we have space for in this issue, but there is plenty to explore! Use help and try all the demos. And don’t be afraid to experiment — every mistake is a chance to try again!

Learn More

Virtualization

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtualization

Three Types of Virtualization

https://wamsinc.com/2016/06/17/three-types-virtualization/

Virtualization: A Complete Guide

https://www.ibm.com/cloud/learn/virtualization-a-complete-guide

Mini Micro

https://miniscript.org/MiniMicro/

Flappy Bat

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.wlgamer.flappybat&hl=en_US&gl=US

What is Virtualization

https://www.redhat.com/en/topics/virtualization/what-is-virtualization

Also In The February 2022 Issue

Meet the brilliant mathematician and pioneer of coding, Ada Lovelace!

Do you think your internet is slow? Wait till you learn about dial-up!

Time for a blast from the past as we look back at some most memorable technology from the early days of modern tech!

Interesting stories about computer science, software programming, and technology for February 2022.

Links from the bottom of all the February 2022 articles, collected in one place for you to print, share, or bookmark.

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