MAME and the preservation of software by Miodrag Milanovic was presented at BalCCon2k15 on 11/09/2015. It gives an indepth look into the project and how it stands for preservation over the more popular association of "free games". Take the time to watch the video and leave your thoughts in the comments.

  The below transcription is licensed as CC BY-NC-ND

OK let's start,

Welcome to the BalCCon2k15, 3rd times a charm. Dear guests, hackers hacking
welcome to our first congress in Novi Sad. This year we have lectures about
amateur radio visualisation of wi-fi traffic. Security on the networks and other

Special accent I want to put on workshops that will have it tomorrow workshops
for journalists and workshops for Voja Antonic gaming workshop. We have a
special guests from Berlin that will make its cryptography and how to make it.
Other guests and this year we want to share with all new knowledge to repeat
that we all knew so far and I want to say welcome to you and let start the game.
Our first speaker will be from Novi Sad, Miodrag Milanovic with MAME and
preservation of software.

Presentation - Miodrag Milanovic

Thank you, well let's start

How many of you actually heard about MAME? Yeh expected and How many of you
actually heard about MESS? also expected.

I will give the later point on this. This talk will be mostly what MAME is, what
we are doing and about the preservation of software and how we can all help
improving that.

Well first what MAME is, MAME is Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator but that is
the initial name of the project lately we did some changes how we do things and
we cooperated the sister project called MESS inside the project was started by
Nicholas Salmonia in the year of 1997 and it was actually running first one game
then five games and right now we are about 30,000 games actually playing inside
MAME itself. MESS is a sister project of MAME and it is basically an emulation
of computers and consoles and that is the thing that was not so important in the
past because he had less developers working on it and it was not so popular
among the people as we can see also by the recognition of the name itself and
the problem was well first name MESS you know English you know what it tells you
and but that was not the problem but the problem was that there was a small
amount of people working hard on emulation but things were not popular it was
not so well advertised and after all it's it was not easy to put those kind of
things those kinds of emulation inside the arcade cabinet and play game for free
which was obviously not our intention.

Next thing I would like to talk is why the preservation of software is so

First of all the most of the computer companies producing software basically do
not hold all the versions of their software and that is s really real real weird
thing but actually even the big big companies that produced games actually never
had to good database or the software itself and during the time some of them
like Williams for example gave the Roms to public but those roms were just the
latest versions of their software because they just added those in their
databases just the last one and not the previous versions and our goal is to
prevent problems like this.

Also things just get lost you know the problems could be some backup systems
trailers and various other things struck the data storages and we just had the
last of of some important software. As I said the storage mediums are just
unreliable and the problem is that software of the past were stored on cassettes
also on floppies is which have a limited time so basically after some time you
just lost due to the demagnetization of the medium you just lost date on it and
also when we look at what is saved in form of any any means of saving like
making a backup copies on the internet you basically have just the good and nice
stuff so you are limited to preservation of the software which is just well
known and well done and it is not up to us to decide what should be saved and
what should not be

Next thing will be how we actually do that from the side of MAME project we use
the source code as a document so basically our source code MAME is done in C and
you actually have the parts of code which contains just the CRCs and the SHA1 of
the files Rom files from the original games or from the original flavors of
various computers or arcade games. Why this is important thing is that source
code does not have anything that is legally owned by any other company so
basically it is safe to store data is a part of the source code, also you are
you have the one police on which you can actually check if some of the dumps is
valid or not and we have a tool inside our project that can loop through all the
known roms and check if one of your roms is available in our database. The
second thing we do from about two years in the past is XML software database we
called its soft lists and those actually are basically the same thing but made
in an external as external documents in which we have listed software in a form
of list of for example floppies and you have also very active grouping of those
so for example you have some games that are distributed on five floppies so you
have all of them listed and with their sizes and CRC so you can actually check
if those are real good dumps.

Think that we are now store is actually the best available dump of existing
software why this is important thing is that for example you have you can find
some floppy disk containing copy of, of one computer game and you make a copy of
that its not original medium but still it's that game you know and you have a
copy of it so that is best what you have in that moment but during the time you
find the original medium and what we do is then made a original medium dump and
during the time all the databases cleared but we never get lost those rarely
available so it's it's always good to have at least some version if you can't
have the original one of course if you're trying to push all the contributors
just to give us the originals from original medium anddumped on their own
verified methods which is most important for example for floppies and that's
next point so basically floppies or characteristic because they are just you
know changes of magnetic flux nothing else but the thing is that some of the
floppy protection is based exactly on some changes that are based on the speed
of or velocity of changing the they had over the by reading the data so you can
get into position that you actually can transfer after because you're not
emulating properly that that media.

Why meulation is important first we're trying to preserve documents in software
and we try to do that without any change on that software or documents that we
are able to to preserve some older software and are able to show you how it how
it worked in the past on the modern devices so we are using actually latest
technology to execute the old code also we are using the modern storage for the
old software so all the cassettes are basically now stored in a digital form so
we don't have a problem of like we had before .

Using MAME what is actually for and who should actually use it well first thing
that everybody thinks it is for is for playing games well it's not just that I
mean we started as a arcade emulator and that was year '97 so 18 years ago so it
was a long time ago and and basically our goal now is to to try to change that.
One of the important things that happened meanwhile was a merge between MESS so
what that gave us is basically be involved in development for computers and for
consoles into the world of MAME. MESS was always just as a sister project of
MAME so basically what we did is that we use the the source code of MAME as the
start point and then just add new devices emulation and the support for reading
cassettes and floppies and so on.

One of the most powerful things inside the main is its debugger the debugger is
very useful since you can basically develop and see how things are working on
actual machine from the past by executing it, you can change code, you can
change the data areas basically do you have sent box in which you can you can
play with the old computers and software for it I can give you an example of
that we are actually right now able to run Windows 2000 in the MAME so on the
Intel processors so basically we reached that level of emulation but also what
is important is that our goal is for me to be used in the development of some
new hardware and to use it as a development tool for creating new hardware that
actually does not exist because for example we have eighty cores for CPUs and
also a lot of other sound course and video course so basically you can easily
take all of that create some virtual machine that doesn't exist and write
software for it and then you can basically build it afterwards.

Important thing that happened that is going to happen but it's it's still in the
works is going open source. MAME was always source available so for all these
years we always gave our source to people and it was free to download and the
main problem why it was not open source is that there was misuse of some other
companies and persons that thought it was really good to make money off of it
and basically thing that they did is the build arcade cabinets and then these
old those arcade cabinets with MAME inside and also they used the name of the
main which is trademark and that's why we needed to register that trademark in
order to prevent this kind of problem and the main problem is that basically
after that we were those that were having a problem because of their misuse
because companies were sending complains to US thinking that we are actually you
know because we created the emulator but legally there were no problems. First
thing that we did is that we used SVN and first thing that we did we did we
joined two SVN, one was MAME SVN which was private and the other was MESS SVN
which was public during that time and we merged that created that first as a
public repo and then after that we decided to move to the Github and that was
really good an important step because that is how we gained more people to work
with our software and the good thing is that actually what we did is that we
open ourselves to community and said okay be aware that MAME is there but we are
open and that you can contribute easy to us and to be honest it's really save us
a lot of time for the merging of the additional things that people are sending
to us. Thing is that MAME has its own license in the past and its modified BSD3
license and that only change that actually is there is that we are basically you
can you know reuse code, you can without any consequences but actually you can't
use it for the commercial purposes you can't sell that and that's the the
restriction which is not recognized by OSI and that's the reason why you're
actually moving to the new license since there is really a large number of
contributors and we still a need need a way somehow to protect their rights
their code thing that I proposed was those it is three licenses most of the code
right now we are somewhere about 96% of coverage of code that is licensed but
because we needed to contact each and every contributor from the last 18 years
and that's a hell of a job so it's not that easy and 96% of the code is not
covered with the licenses and about I think it's about 84% of current code is
BSD3 and this is really important because this really gives a full freedom of
usage of our code and what is most important is that it is basically core of the
project is BSD3 and that makes things easier for any future use and the GPL2 and
LGPL2 are mostly code that is emulation of specific computers or arcades so
because there are some things that people really spent a lot of money and effort
in the past and they want to protect that in some way just at least to be able
to get a code back from whoever using it. One important thing is that why we did
move to the open source is that actually good thing for us would be usage of
other open source libraries and then we will be compatible when we are also the
open source fully and also there are a lot of companies that are actually giving
their tools for free to all the  developers that are producing open source
software which is sometimes really important for us especially for some
profiling and things like that. What also this should improve is making things
easier for academic usage and historic preservation we have a lot of contact
with people in past that ask us can they use for example MAME inside museums to
show things they actually own there so in some countries when you own your own
computer you can you can take its rom read the content and use it on the on the
emulator and that would be legal because you own the real machine as well in
some countries that's not the case but at least in some it is and basically they
couldn't do that because they're a museum and they're actually you actually need
to pay to come inside the museum and that would be commercial use even if we
agree on that they could have a problem this should at least some issues like
this so we are really happy if there are museums or school using MAME as a tool
for learning and showing somethings. Also what we want to do is to let llegal
owners of the rights for specific games or roms of course or some specific
software to be able to use my MAME as a platform so basically no we are not
going commercial but we will always be open always be free for use but we'll
just let the other companies that owned the rights for the specific game to use
the MAME as a core and to create a basically emulator that will run that game as
will be the MAME core.

I will it do a little talk about maintaining of such a big project as MAME there
are currently 52 active developers, it's big and it's not that big when you say
see that there is 200 megabytes of pure source code so that is just C, C++ code
nothing else there is additional 60 megabytes of XML software definitions but
basically it's a it's a real large coat base and during the past yearswe where
for example five years ago most of the code was pure C and now everything is in
C++ it was a transition that took a long time but if you keep in mind about how
large the project is and that people are only working in their spare time it
really takes a lot of effort to put into to transfer everything and the thing is
that for example even on the the high-end computers city takes you at least 15
minutes to compile all from scratch so we're talking about almost five gigahertz
CPUs and you know and the thing is that it's, it's, it's a process it takes a
while but we're trying to do that.

Points of improvement well as I said this project is not done and will never be
done actually that's good thing and that's also bad thing. Good thing is because
we are actually always improving ourselves in trying to do more and more and
more inside MAME. We see our mistakes from the past and we tried to to improve
that somehow the worst thing we actually have is UI we were never very much
user-friendly and that's the problem with most of the users we have that it's
not easy to use, that is becoming more and more harder to use but you know MAME
was always developer friendly and every user friendly and we are trying to
change that. We are also in good cooperation with the author of VGFX and we are
trying to use that graphic library and to use it in our system and to me because
it's a it's a good starting point for us and I personally think it will be good
for the future of the project. Also a point of recruitment will be inter-process
communication so what is the idea? You were actually emulating for example PC
computer but you would like to have another PC computer and to make them talk to
each other so that's that's our goal basically to have multiple machines running
on your computer and be able to talk to each other right now we can do that on
the network layer so basically we have for example emulation  of all the Mac
computers from Motorola era they're able to use the network cards and able to
use the internet from today and you can actually browse using the browser from
the OS of old Mac computer and that's that's kind of interesting thing because
you you could actually try some things from the past you were not able because
they are things like fax machines and there were PDP11 and things like that are
trying to get into MAME and MESS and made basically make it available for people
to try out also. Also as I mentioned VGFX is is is our way I think out to use
the 3d acceleration of available hardware because there are a lot of arcade that
are actually made with 3D hardware and also we have things like Voodo graphics
that is that was lot very good for its time and basically our idea is to use
existing 3D capabilities in order to make this happen and to be much faster in
to use that when we have that available on our machine. Next thing is exposing
all who were using LUA language that I believe you probably a lot of you guys
heard about it and it's really it's it's a simple language easy to incorporate
it with C and C++ and basically idea is to expose as much as we can from the
core so basically you can create the plugins and some additional things to
emulation and make it more usable for example people are always trying to use
some cheats and things like that and also high scores that was thing that was
removed from the MAME some time ago and reason why it was removed because the
real machine didn't save high scores so emulation should not save the high
scores as well and thing is that you can actually with this kind of scripting
you can make a script that will actually do the same for you just on the on the
close of the machine it will just go and save the specific parts of memory on
file you will have your high score saved.

About the goals for the future, main goal is to create a MAME core as a
universal platform for emulation so basically too to make it defacto standard
for emulation and to make more people and more companies to use it as it is a
start up point. My next personal goal is to finish licensing process it's a
process that actually took me about a month to reach some initial state in which
we have a lot of things covered but somethings, some people are actually really
hard to find and that's basically the problem we can't go without at least
trying to contact each and every contributor for past from past and that's
time-consuming. One thing that we actually would like to see is our official
mobile version and we know that there are a lot of mobile versions of MAME but
those were basically based on the code that we produced beginning of 2000, yeart
2000 you have at least 10 years lost of development and that's a lot, what was
done during that time that was to be that is what we would like to change. Also
we would like to add whatever is left to be emulated and that's not a small
amount of things definitely we started with you know when I started working on
project I noticed for example that there are no computers from this region at
all added so I try and that one by one and after a year then I noticed there
there were a lot of Eastern European computers at least at all not available and
I also then start to adding them I tried to contact some Russian developers,
some developers from east Germany, excuse, Germany and they were really helpful
they they sent us roms and they sent us their version of emulators and help us
fix some issues and actually during the time we added you know hundreds of
machines that were just never never any of interest for the western people but
after some time you see that there was just you know those machines were really
interesting for people for example everyone wants to see how the first the first
machine that runs the Tetris looked liked and what's that machine how it booted
how it worked you know you just want to know how it looked and that is what we
actually try to do so there is always something to be emulated and I hope we
will get more contributions during the time.

Yeah I think I'm almost at the end of my time so I would like to ask you if
there is some questions? 

Q1: I have one comment and two questions, the first is regarding media. My 
experience with my own magnetic media is that if it is well stored it will work, 
I have my tape and floppies from over 30yrs ago adn they still function perfectly 
actually and i'm very happy about it. What I wanted to ask was do you have any 
cooperation with cryoflux people they made device to read the floppy disk, and 
other question is do you have cooperation with other people who work on specific 
emulators for the other machine.
A1: Yeah well I will start with the second one so actually be to have cooperation 
with people working on other emulators and during the time we were known as borg 
emulator because we assimilate everything that we find but basically it was not 
that true but thing is that what is different between MAME and the other emulators 
is that we actually have a goal to emulate everything you know and all of those 
other projects have a goal to emulate just specific machines or just from the 
specific manufacturer for example and thing is that when they are finished they're
finished and there is nothing to improve those projects basically are most of
those projects have even better capabilities in some places than MAME and the
reason is that they can basically optimize their work because they're doing one
thing we're trying to generalize that and that's that is a problem but it is
also good thing because you have so we have the good communications with with a
lot of authors for example for the author off Modeller emulator also from PSX
author and we have communications also be other I have the good communication
with some Russian developers everyone of every of us here the communication with
some of the people. Thing about the cryoflux and the the other ways of
preserving the the media well thing is they kept their format closed and that
was our biggest problem we could create the image of media but we didn't have,
we were not able to read it because they just have a dll and just provide us
just the interface that was not enough for us because we are actually
multi-platform project so we need to work on Linux and OSX as well and things
that happened is that basically one of our guys did reverse engineering of whole
their their streams basically he documented everything put that online and the
day after they  put their documentation online with the full description of
everything they were matching but they were just from the differentauthors  so
basically they were thinking of opening themselves but it was just a moment of
decision so basically at the end we have the cryoflux port thank you.

Anymore questions? Feel free to ask, yeh.  

Q2: ...unheard...
A2: Yeah were in communications, yeh I exchanged a few messages with him 
afterwards and I see that and it's it's really good thing that there are actually 
people to promote our software in the world because i think is that most of the 
people who see it as a way how to play free games which is not our intention and
basically idea is using it for something totally different and for example we have 
the contribution that expanded our LUA support and the good thing there is that 
basically the guy who created the script which for example show you the hitboxes 
in a game so you can actually see where it will strike you before it strikes so I 
mean it's it's it's a cool stuff but you can actually do that without any code 
change so you have just a scripting language in which you can do that and that's 
that's really good because it lets people imagination working they they they could 
create something new and the good thing is also that you know I've been working 
with two different computers different devices and during the time they're just 
over on the new technology and we just need to move into it and to improve ourselves
and to be able to emulate something from the past in order to use it. For example
now you just can't execute any of MS DOS sixteen-bit applications. You were able
to do that on the 32 bit OS but you can't do that on the 64 bit OS so yeah we
need to find a way in order to to make people be able to use those kind of
applications because they store just the old data they can't move their software
or they don't want to do that it it's I mean it's easier to emulate
<unclear> and just to copy all software and then use the same software
there and the read the data or to just you know taking rewrite everything so
it's that would be very time consuming.

Any other questions? OK, sure 

Q3: You said that with your database of software
that you want to make sure that you're not against someone's copyright, so do
you have some criteria how you decide if something is abandonware or not you
mentioned Windows 2000 I imagine you would not put this into your code database.
So what do you put in how do you decide?
A3: Well just let me explain; basically what we what we put in our database are 
just some filename, size and CRC and SHA1 so you basically have just a hash of and 
the size which is enough to distinguish files and we do not provide any of those 
roms because we can't and there are some companies they gave us the right to 
provide their roms and basically you can find them on our site those are just some 
simple games but it's it's ok I mean during the time we believe that there will be 
some other companies that will also give their games for free and at least those will 
be available. I mean they can't sell it anymore but the main problem is that you
have issues like for example if it was a game from Sony era you have a CD which
contains the data that is not that problematic so you will have the company that
is having right on the code but the problem is for example that music is that is
used for that game was licensed just for that one release and for the time
period of i don't know 3-4 years and after that even Sony can't sell it anymore
with those songs they need to put something else or to re-license so it's really
I mean those legal stuff for really tricky and we are trying to be out of that
but you know it's it's as I said it's for example for the re-licensing it's
really time consuming just to contact all the people to ask them what license
would they like to go for for their code to be used but then you have other
problems some of the people just don't understand the difference between
licenses not sure if they're not sure how they will be protected and the thing
is that what we noticed is that MAME license didn't protect anyone basically
thing that we changed in past we said it's not allowed to be used in commercial
use didn't save us from commercial use I mean everyone who wished [to] actually
did that and we can't do anything because we are not recognized license you know
and there is no we don't have a lawyer who will go and say you know but it also
depends in which country you are and it's it's kind of complex things but we
never stored delivered the software we just delivered the hash and the name and
size which is enough to distinguish them.

Q4: ...unheard...
A4: Yeah, you have a torrents, you can, yeah it's really easy to
find any roms for for MAME but what I mean they always ask us why do we put
fruit machines why do we put pinball machines I mean those are as well arcade
for now they're not playable that's the fact there are also a lot of drivers
that are not playable they're not emulation is not finished or protection is not
yet done and basically what we say is that we will always give the full set and
officially you can always get the full set of games listed so people people will
then download torrents etc and they will distribute that all over the world so
software will be preserved that way so basically we are making sure that not
only nice things are saved but everything is basically saved so even if it's
produced by the IBM or if it's produced by Sony or if is produced by some
company that never heard of it will be saved you know and that's that's the
whole goal of the of the preservation of software that we are trying to achieve.

OK I think that will be it. OK one more question sure.  

Q5A: Hi I have a
question you're said that MAME was once open source and then it went close
source am I right did I understand you well or? 
A5A: No, no, no it was always source available but it's basically I mean it was 
you you can always download source but it was never open source until recent times 
Q5B: So the source was available I can public domain or?
A5B: Yeah, yeah you could basically download each release SVN you notice good. 
SVN was not public and you could actually not see whole development during a 
time when the release time comes we replace the source code at our website so 
so that's basically change now we moved to GitHub and basically you can have the 
source always available and you can download even the old releases from the 0.1.

OK I believe that's it. So thank you everyone and I wish you good rest of the

References for MAME and the preservation of software