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TECNOLOGIE
28 giugno 2012
Technologies: AROS: What is the state of Developing tools for middle and advanced Users?

On the begin of June 2012, a discussion on Amigaworld.net started by PhantomInterrogative introduced the experience made from the ADAM community (yes, ADAM, the home computer extension for the colecovision), left in the cold from the Coleco bankrupt in 1984; the post, summarized, tells how, in order to keep alive the community, users had to make the 'paradigm shift' to become developers of their own software; while a comparison between the two situations cannot be easily made (ADAM was not a successful machine and a 8-bit one, only a dozen users remain so far), however developers are a nowadays a rare breed among Amiga OSes, knowledgeable developers even more; due to the increasing age, even find adequate documentation for the Innards of the Amiga related OSes is pretty difficult, though efforts like the recent Amiga Wiki from Hyperion, the AROS wikibooks for users and for developers and several web sites that provide transpositions from the AmigaGuide versions exists; therefore a similar paradigm shift is probably a good idea even in the Amiga/MorphOs/AROS communities.

However, programming so far has not a task for everybody in the Amiga universe at least since the demise of Commodore (and the new system, unlike the old 8-bits, does not provide a main programming language in front of the face of the user, but that is another topic).

Right now the most rewarding way to build a proficient program in a NG Amiga system has indeed been using C/C++, and that is not on everybody skillset; other operating systems however are actually providing alternative languages that can be compiled or executed as runtime; well known are Java, Python, Lua, Visual Basic, VB.NET, etc - not to mention alternate toolkits such Flash/AIR or the latest trend HTML5; those languages and runtimes have a less steep learning curve and in some way is possible for somebody to produce simple programs or intermediate utilities and games; those rapid development tools can provide a shortcut for hobby programmers to use the Amiga systems in a more proficient way if available; but What rapid development tools (or in some cases what development tools at all) are actually available for AROS  so far?

NOTE: on the scope of the article, as middle and advanced user is meant somebody with a good experience with the system and a basic programming experience like Basic,HTML or basic javascript, able to learn at least new language basic skills with the help of tutorials and reverse engineering examples.


IDEs and Editors

Actually in order to write either code or fast text, in AROS there are four main editors available; the first is the System Editor; does not support syntax highlighting and has very basic features as copy/paste and find,however has a tabbed view that allows to have more files open at once.

For more traditionalistic coders, a port of Vim is available for AROS made by Hitchhikr; not the most recent port and am unsure whether is still working, but provides all main Vim features and syntax highlighting; usually distributed with Icaros Desktop up to 2009 as far as i know, is available on the AROS archives here.

then there is NoWinEd by Sh1nKurO; born as a base text editor to be used in a never taked-off magazine, is available throughout all Amiga systems with different look and features according to the version of MUI/Zune available; the common ones are: tabbed display, autosave, handling of UTF-8 files and autosave and auto-backup; other versions beside AROS one -due to some still unfixed Zune shortcomings - also support drag and drop of files.

Annotate! is so far the most advanced text editor on AROS; designed by Doug Bakewell then updated and maintained by Daniel Westerberg is distributed under the label Onyxsoft as GPL software; supports multiple tabs,syntax highlighting, advanced find/replace, macros, an AREXX port and - though some GUI design choices might look a bit unconventional, like the scrollbar without arrows on the left - do its own job pretty well. I used it to code my experiments with lua/zulu and it behaved pretty good. Had to investigate the xml syntax file in order to personalize it but, if you know xml, is a pretty trivial task since the file is pretty self-explanatory It can be downloaded here.

There is one Integrated Development Environments or IDE officially,called Murks!IDE that, in theory, could be used to develop applications under AROS, however i am not sure whether is still actively maintained since the files on the sourceforge.net repository are from January 2010. Murks looks kinda primitive at first sight and does not support syntax highlighting; it does however supports tabs and can be used to compile C and C++ projects.

In 2010 an user called Proto started work on an alternate IDE called Ganymede that should have, in its intentions, cross-platform and commercial; the development thread on Aros-Exec is here where Proto shown screenshot and even videos of its incoming creature; Steve 'ClusterUk' Jones was in contact with him and had occasion to test some development builds, however in November 2011, Steve declared in the same thread that the development of Ganymede stalled; from the images and videos posted so far, Ganymede supported some interesting features, including syntax highlighting, a scintilla-style grouping of functions, a debugging report window; was also intention of Proto to find a way to support GDB for debugging. Personally i wonder if Proto could release its work done so far as open source and let the project be finished by other developers or if he is available to set a 'ransom' to free the code that might be collected via bounty;

The last IDE that want to mention is not native of AROS but is a pretty effective one especially for cross-platform productivity:  AmiDevCpp is a work of Heinz-Raphael "Heinz712" Reinke based on the free Development Environment WxDev-Cpp and Jocke "Zerohero"Birging 's Crosscompiler and runs on Windows. According to the AmiDevCpp web site, AmiDevCpp provides a comfortable Development Environment to Amiga Developers such as Project managment, Class Browser, Code completion and a lot more features; it also can be expanded with plug-ins that the web site call DevPaks.


PortablE

PortablE is a rewrite for modern systems of the original Amiga E, made by Chris Handley; it works translating the E code in C++ code and then amking it compile by the extension PEGCC in an executable. E language has been quite known under Amiga OS in the nineties, and after the fdevelopment of the original Amiga E language stopped in 2000, PortablE was one of those projects that took over the inheritance.

The PortablE web site explains more:

PortablE is capable of generating code for both the C++ (and AmigaE!) languages, which is then compiled to a proper executable. It supports Windows, AmigaOS3, AmigaOS4, AROS & MorphOS. (It can potentially support other OSes & generate code for other languages.)

PortablE has native executables for Windows, AmigaOS3, AmigaOS4, AROS (x86) & MorphOS, because PortablE is written in E itself!

It comes with portable modules to cover stuff like file & directory access, shell parameter parsing, graphics, sound & GUIs. These portable modules are NOT always supported by all OSes, especially not by Windows yet. You can find a complete list & description of all of them in the "Standard Functionality" document, but essentially Windows only supports Shell-like stuff.

Many Amiga modules are also provided for AmigaOS3/OS4/AROS/MorphOS: AmigaGuide, AmigaLib, Asl, Commodities, Console, DataTypes, Devices (inc. AHI & Timer), Diskfont, Dos, Exec, Gadgets, Gadtools, Graphics, Icon, Identify, IFF, IFFParse, Images, Intuition, Layers, Locale, Keymap, MPEGA, MUIMaster, Resources, ReqTools, RexxSysLib, Utility & Workbench. Plus part of class, mui/*_mcc, Other & Tools. Also 'libraries/ahi_sub' & 'libraries/cd_play'. (Additional modules can be added if there is interest, but the original idea for PortablE was to provide abstract modules that did not expose the OS.)

Additionally, some modules contributed by others are currently only available for some targets: 'mui/Lamp_mcc'(OS3/OS4), 'mui/TheBar_mcc'(OS3/OS4).

Modules that are specific to certain OSes: 'Picasso96API' (OS4), 'target/application' (OS4's application.library), 'target/cybergraphics' (AROS/MOS).

For Amiga-like OSes, 256MB of installed memory is the recommended minimum. A stack of at least 100KB is also required.


In the same web site is present a comprehensive documentation, links to the original E language documentation, and together with PortablE is possible to download several examples of tools and demos to compile and test.

Hollywood

Hollywood name is well known in the Amiga and AROS community; as a language syntax is between lua and Basic, which makes it quite easy to grasp; its actual incarnation is at version 5.0 and has been already used to build great tools on AROS such as the Amiga [AROS]Media Center and also small tools as Acuario (a screensaver), the image viewer LookHere, the profile manager for AROS Broadway and several games.

I asked Fabio 'Allanon' Falcucci, developer of AMC, of the SCUILib Hollywood Library (that provide tools to create advanced GUIs) and other applications made using Hollywood to write me an introduction and summary about its features and about Hollywood and AROS:

Hollywood is a great tool and a nice choice for all people looking for a simple yet powerful programming language, it offers many modern features and it is ideal for anyone that does not like all “C” stuff and weird constructs. It is based an Lua scripting language and its programs can be run interpreted or compiled, compiled programs are something like Java programs, they are compiled in bytecodes and linked with a JIT player that executes the code when launched. Speaking of AROS it’s a great resource for begginers but also for experienced programmers just because there aren’t much high level programming choices available to code under this operating system if we are excluding “C”. Nice examples of Hollywood are LoView and LookHere, two free image viewers done respectively by Tuxedo amd me, Dental Info and Dental Canal, both commercial products developed and sold by Ferrule Media, and AMC, a Media Center developed and sold by me.

One of the biggest advange of Hollywood is the complete compatibility between all supported OSes, if the programmer does not use explicitely platform dependant features the source code can be easily compiled for almost all OSes including AROS, Linux, Windows, OSX and all amigaish systems.

Hollywood states itself as a multimedia programming language oriented to make presentation and run interactive slides but with the latest release it have become more powerful offering commands to manage almost anything you can thing about: transition effects, pictures, videos, music, samples, sprites, layers, windows, they just some examples of object you can handle with Hollywood. Hollywood programs can interact with the users with the keyboard, mouse, pad and joystick. In my opinion it’s a perfect tool to develop 2d games (even complex games) as well as applications. With the latest release, 5.0, Hollywood exposes an interface for a plugin system: virtually there is no more limitations with plugin systems, anyone now have the tools to make additional plugin available for this great language; some examples released from the author are an XML parser, SVG support, Ogg Thora & Ogg Vorbis support, and some more available for free.
Unfortunately Hollywood it’s not perfect because it’s still lacks some features, in my opinion, that should be added; for example threads are not yet supported, and there is no support for 3D graphics, moreover 2D graphics are only partially hardware accelerated and this could lead easily to slowdowns when you fill the screen with animated and moving object. Another major missing piece is a GUI framework and it’s still missing because of the cross platform nature of Hollywood: there is no common GUI framework for all supported OSes. To try to fill this gap I have started a project to build a GUI framework coded with Hollywood, full platform independant. I’ve got nice results but my time is limited and actually the project is going quiet slowly, but this demonstrate again that actually Hollywood can be used for almost anything.
The good thing is that the author, Andreas Falkenhahn, is very active on this project and listen to the community resquests implementing features or modifying behaviours suggested by the user-base.

Concluding this brief summary about Hollywood I can say that actually it’s the only choice for AROS programmers (begginers or experienced) that does not like “C” (or does not have time to learn it) to unleash their creativity.

Fabio is also the owner and main contributor of the new blog Hollywood Tools, dedicated to tutorials, libraries and applications for all systems developed using Hollywood.

Together with Hollywood is provided, only for Amiga OS and MorphOS (probably due to the usual shortcomings of AROS), the Designer program; recently updated to version 5.0, it is a graphical frontend for Hollywood; according to the Airsoft Software website it is -beside a Multimedia editor for Hollywood - also a graphical editor that supports also the SVG format.

Considered the base requirements (kickstart 3, 68020, a board using Picasso96 or CyberGraphX) i might guess that Designer might be used via Janus UAE, but would like that someone that alredy tried to confirm or deny this.

Hollywood and Designer are commercial products and for pricing I refer towards the Airsoft Software website.

Amilua and Zulu

Whoever follows me knows that Amilua and zulu are among my favorite RAD tools on AROS; however, for the uninitiated will explain briefly that Amilua is a port of the scripting language Lua made by Matthias 'Mazze' Rustler with bindings to the Intuition interface and Zulu is a binding to Zune; lately other bindings have been added such as socket support and SQLite recently; Some interaction with AREXX and shell script is also possible parsing the Environment variables.

Using the syntax combined of Lua and the MUI class definitions is possible to create simple GUI programs and frontends; actually Zulu is powering the front-end of some utilities by Yannick Erb,including a nice weather widget, the Theme Manager and some utilities made by Steve Jones; an advantage of Amilua/Zulu is that the script can be launched from shell and from icon via icon tooltips so that will behave like an application; to write Amilua/zulu scripts any text editor can be used, however i personally like to propose Annotate, also because there are additional Syntax Highlighting extensions (one made by me some time ago) for Lua.

On the negative side of Amilua/Zulu is: first of all that the binding does not support callback hooks (events that call a function) and that prevents the building of more sophisticate interfaces; the existing apps need to redraw the app window in order to show updates and that might make the application look slow. Mazze once said that was thinking a way to enable callback hooks via Lua instructions rather than C like Zune is expecting; wish that some more developer might help Mazze in improve Amilua/Zulu that so far shown its power and potential once improved; personally would also love to see more bindings with Cairo and other (of course to be ported) graphical toolkits like WxWidgets; some impressive demos can be seen on the Lua all-in-one archive available for Windows and Linux; though not recent it still can be used to build fast tools and even videogames; an impressive one is this quake-style game using a binding with the irrlicht engine (like to see that ported too).

By the way Amilua and Zulu are included in the nightly builds and in every AROS distro, so is easy to try out. If you new to Lua, there are some good generic tutorials in this website, plus some good hints and discussions (some of my own experiments) in AROS-Exec.

AROS Ruby and Zuby

Dave "Misterdave" Webster has been working on porting Ruby on AROS; following what Mazze did with Amilua/zulu he created a binding with MUI that end up being called Zuby (my fault? :P); however, Dave improved the binding keeping it abstract so that, unlike zulu, is not strictly tied to the MUI syntax in building Interfaces; in fact Dave has made Zuby able to use XML documents as reference to build the interface, as he shown in its blog, using Glade GUI Builder XML as reference for zuby to buid the GUI for the example shown.

Since had no news about ArosRuby/Zuby at least since last February - when the last post appeared on Aros-Exec, I asked further information to MisterDave via PM and he kindly answered:

Don't worry, I haven't given up on arosruby What I have been trying to do in the past 6 months is to keep the version in the Mercurial repository (http://code.google.com/p/arosruby/) as the 'definitive' version, which should be of release quality more or less. I tend to bundle this up and post binaries on to Aminet and Aros Archives, although I haven't done so for a while. Ideally this should be stable enough to put into an AROS distribution or I could create a GUI installer for users to install the binary release themselves.

There are a couple of C extensions that I am working on:
 * the socket library - I have been trying on and off for about 3-4 months to get this to work, but I think that there is some incompatibility between the Unix socket API and the AROS socket API, despite them theoretically being the same. This may just be a bug in AROS that has been recently fixed. I will have to download a new nightly and check. This feature has been the tipping point for me before contacting Paolone and the other distro maintainers, however, I may just go ahead anyway and add the socket library later on.

* The other part is the Zuby extension which hooks into Zune/MUI and implements the same interface as Ruby-GTK for the Ruby programmer (http://ruby-gnome2.sourceforge.jp/). The advantage here is that I can just use the default Gnome GUI builder Glade and use 'ruby-glade-create-template' to generate the ruby stub code. Now the tricky thing is that my own version of the source for this was built rather quickly and experimentally so, while it does 'work', I need to get rid of some rough edges. What I need to do is to check this piece by piece and add it to the public source repository over time.

Regarding your question about your RAD article, I did set up a blog to talk about the development on arosruby back in February, however, I have only made one post so far. Hopefully this might give you a bit more of an idea about what I have planned. If you want to ask me some questions then, yes, I would be happy to. http://davewebster.wordpress.com/

As with most hobby projects, the day job takes its toll on one's free time, however, I am on holiday next week, so hopefully I can get some more stuff pushed into the Mercurial repository. The repository has an updating changelog, so hopefully this will give you a good idea in the future of what I add, however, please feel free to nag me :) http://code.google.com/p/arosruby/source/list

Have no experience with Ruby Language, but for beginners like me there are good platform semi-agnostic tutorials on nettuts that also include screencasts; that should give at least the basic notions to get dirty with it, and then as usual, hope there will be some extra hints in the source code of the examples included in AROSruby and Zuby, however anybody that will grasp the base concepts can also write their own tutorials to help spread the technology...

[UPDATE - Misterdave did let me know that since the final code quality of AROSRuby is still not satisfying, he did not put any binaries to dowload yet; however, if somebody want to beta-test AROSruby my advice is to get in otuch with him via PM in AROS-Exec or in its own blog. ]

XAMOS

Recently the user Mequa started the operation of building an AMOS interpreter , rewritten in C++ that uses SDL and can be compiled for the modern Amiga systems: X-AMOS is a brand new addition to the panorama of the languages available for AROS - the first build from the begin of June - but since the roots on the original AMOS code it is expected to gain popularity pretty fast. The implementation, according to Mequa itself, is not yet complete, as answered to an user from Mequa itself on this post on Amigaworld.net explains what still is missing to have a more detailed reimplementation:

First of all, GOTO is not yet implemented in XAMOS, but may be in a future build.

For...Next is also not yet implemented, though you can use While...Wend to get identical functionality. So the current program is not yet supported.

Let's assume, however, that a future version of XAMOS will implement For...Next in the same way as it currently does While...Wend. Then the jump-points of both the For and Next will be pre-calculated.

(Note that in AMOS, the "F" in "Next F" isn't needed, and does nothing on that line, besides the "syntactic salt" of having to match with the variable given in "For" if not omitted.)

So then, if XAMOS is extended to support For...Next, GOTO and line numbers, here's how that program will execute:
1) Print "I am going to Crash" ten times, and exit the For loop.
2) On the GOTO, jump back into the For loop, and print "I am going to Crash" once more.
3) On the "Next", jump back to the For (pre-calculated jump-point). Here is where AMOS would crash.
4) On the "For", F will be 10 or more, so jump to after the "Next".
5) Repeat from 2), giving an infinite loop, printing "I am going to Crash" repeatedly and with F either increasing or remaining at 10.

In this thread on AROS-exec, Mequa also draw a sort of a roadmap for the further development of XAMOS:

Not in any particular order:

- SDL features:
Full collision detection (needed for games, simple collision already possible)
Multiple screen support
Screen Clone
Bob/Sprite Hot Spots (handles) including with Abk support
Bob/Sprite/Screen priority switching
Rainbows (behind screens, simple implementation already done)
Graphical text

- Language features:
Full syntax error checking (may be a lot of work - also with AMAL)
Call functions without using ()
Use of "To" syntax instead of comma
Call procedures without using Proc
Variable scoping and Global/Shared (currently all variable are global)
For...Next (as well as While...Wend)
Goto/Gosub, labels, line numbers (for legacy - usage discouraged)
Print statements with ;
Data statements

- Extended language features from AMOS:
Call procedures as functions as well as using Param (extended from AMOS)
Custom datatypes (already implemented as static types only)
Simple object orientation (much groundwork already done)

- Compiler (to C++ source) including AMAL

- GUI features:
Cross-platform IDE (may not be AROS-compatible at first or may require a rewrite for AROS).
Possible syntax colouring (in future)
Integrated sprite bank viewer

Other languages/tools

Python

There have already been available builds of Python for AROS, since PyAROS around 2004 and then the port of Python 2.1 made by Stanislaw Szymczyk for the AROS self-compile bounty; however as far as i know nobody made any MUI binding for it (that might have maybe be called -to follow the tradition- ZuPy?) nor many of the libraries used in other systems such as PyGame have been ported yet.

MUIBuilder

MUIBuilder is a small utility that should help build MUI and Zune GUIs, created by Eric Troel and ported on AROS by Mazze; last version was a recompile of original 68k 2.3 sources and wasreleased on January 2011; despite it generates C code i guess that some medium-experienced developer can translate the soruces for zulu, being however aware of the usual amiulua/zulu shortcomings.

MUIBase

MuiBase is a relational database written for Amiga systems, Windows and Linux; has an internal LISP-type syntax language that allows to develop pretty complex applications and display it via ZUNE/MUI windows; through the language it is possible to define some export filters of the data as text (as far as i know no complex database formats are supported, rather CSV or similars to export).

FreePascal

FreePascal has been ported to AROS last year by Marcus 'Alb42' Sackrow; as from the Alb42 words "Lazarus is a RAD for Freepascal which is very easy to use, as GUI-API it uses the own LCL (which is a port of VCL of Delphi). IT can use variant Widgetsets, e.g. GTK, GTK2, QT, Win and some more."

Marcus made Freepascal able to generate Zune interfaces,even if not in a typical MUI fashion (with buttons statically positioned rather than the usual cascading resizeable approach of GUI; as from the latest news I know of, on March 2012 Markus was working on the port of Lazarus/LCL (that is also developed in FreePascal); the progress can be seen in its blog and in this AROS-Exec thread.

AREXX

AREXX might be considered outdated by some but so far is one of the most important pieces on Rapid development since allows applications that have a port to communicate and allows also IPC control; is known that the version used on AROS is derivated from Regina Rexx and has some incompatibilities with some Amiga AREXX commands; insome case this prevents some amiga scripts to work completely under AROS. Staf Verhagen ported Regina Rexx on AROS and,as far as i know, is trying to iron some of the incompatibilities when is not busy with the ABI v1.

This article purposedly omits some projects that are present in AROS but lack advanced functionalities, like SDLBasic, that in its actual AROS incarnation has basic drawing tools but no sprites, for example.

It was my intention with this article to attempt in provide an overview of what Rapid Development Tools under AROS are actually available and how powerful they are; those tools that can allow some less advanced user to build basic applications and utilities in order to utilize AROS as base for their own projects. The situation is indeeed improved in the latest years despite i think there is still a good amount of stuff to be done.

Feel free to comment with correction, updates, additions to this article incase i omitted something or made mistakes.


TECNOLOGIE
19 marzo 2009
Diary: Technologies: AROS: on SCALE, iMica and OWB Beta

The Westin Hotel in Century Boulevard, where SCALE was held

Sunday February 22nd, despite is already noon the sky is cloudy, with all the clouds getting flat on the low quota high pressure in a sort of whitish steamy ceiling over the city of Los Angeles.

My wife drops me in front of the Westin Hotel's parking lot in Century Boulevard, better known from LA people as the "Hotel Strip" just above LAX then she starts the car and head towards north. Carrying my two bags -one of which is my laptop- i too start to walk towards the hotel main door excited.

Despite the opening might be good for some family drama, i am just talking about my arrive at SCALE (Soutern CAlifornia Linux Expo) for my AROS intervention, listed under the Open Source for Beginners section; i am expected to talk at 1.30 pm and have still one hour left so i go check in at the reception and they give me a speakers red badge, some promotional stuff (cloth bag, a XL american size t-shirt which i can use as a camping tent as much is oversized for me) and start walking towards the hall ehere will held my speak.

My speak is expected to last one hour only so i need to follow my script thoroughly; this is my absolute first advocacy in a convention; so far the biggest crowd I have been in front with was together with the choir I used to sing in italy as Basso chorist; we had the honor, together with other four choirs, to sing all together for the Pope in Porto Recanaty in 2005, with a crowd of around 600,000 people: too big to realize it.
Here i have not even ten people in a theatre with at least 100 places, but is different: this people is MY own crown and I am the focus of them, together with AROS that in my laptop, don't look at the best of its shape: my laptopis a DELL VOSTRO 1000 with AMD sempron, 1.5 gig of RAM, 100 gig hard disk, broadcomm wireless card, EHCI USB card (PCI\VEN_1002&DEV_4386&SUBSYS_022A1028&REV_00\3&2411E6FE&0&9D) and a Sigmatel sound card:  definitely not the most OpenSource friendly laptop but, as a take its defense, it was bought to work on it, not to advocate on it...

i tried to make it boot from the live CD and the first sensation is good: AROS seems to perform quite fast and well (despite the widescreen is not supported by my ATI card and the aspect ratio of the screen looks a bit weird) and my sound card give no signs of life; plus i was unable to set my virtual machine to get connected [now solved, but i opened at the time a topic on aros-exec here] and still did not had (yet) the OWB beta version to show. Despite that i have been able to use poorPDF as a slide projector and also to show the VmWAROS Wanderer desktop complete with Ken's icons.


Here I am in the Westin Hotel's Theatre B talking about AROS

The overall intervention lasted one hour; guess all my inexperience in doing introductions showed up - i admit it - in missing to fully follow the script that I prepared and in making the slides getting along iwth the speak, so at the end i jumped some slidesand in some cases i indulged a little longer in details rather than in the focus points; at the end i had to show the available software a bit on a rush, but i hope to have been able to transmit the enthuisiasm, my own and the community itself one, in developing and promoting the use and further development of AROS.


Well, not exactly "sold out"...

The public, those few that came, were surely with an amiga background: almost everybody knew what Amiga OS was and many of them seemed to approve the concept; there has been questions on the toolchain and about memory consumption but, in general, i am afraid that without showing adequately AROS on the run - as i haven't been able to that day - they considered the project just a small curiosity: or not? Wish to see how many contacts came to aros-exec from Southern California lately...

But guess that anyway i have been able to show the commitment and the passion of AROS supporters: if i sohuld choose a sentence to describe what I did that day guess will choose the one from Joe "Zonker" Brockheimer from its own SCALE intervention (page 16 of the enclosed PDF file): "Do something,even if it is wrong".

Beside my own intervention i had very little time to wander around the expo: my wife could not park around the place (the parking fee for the hotel was a $14 flat fee and being at the end of the month cash was tight) and was waiting for me outside the hotel doing "pings" every two minutes:P therefore i tried to do a fast tour of the main lobby and i had the luck to meet Gregory John Casamento, a.k.a. bheron, GNUStep mantainer and assigned to the Kickstart replacement bounty in its own GNUstep booth: i introduced myself as an AROS advocate and had a short talk with him about the subject: he told me that is undoubtly difficult to retrieve reference material and also old hardware as well in order to complete the bounty (material such as Rom Kernel Manuals, technical newsletters, developers kit,etc). In case you want to provide some material to Gregory you can get in touch with him through his blog or his AROS blog, the AROS developer mailing list (subscription required)  or in aros-exec.

So in short this is the essay about my SCALE partecipation. If only i had the OWB beta under my hands a couple of hours earlier probably my introduction should have been even juicy than it has been, but then my network problems with VmWAROS surely could have made it look again stuck, who knows?

By the way, the most important news of the month and fo the whole story of AROS is that finally OWB beta is here!

After the first attempt made by Robert norris on provide AROS with a modern web browser trying to convert Webkit  and that lead to the december 2007 semi-working alpha version, able to navigate but slow quirky and quite unusable comes - also thanks in part to Robert's job - the AROS port of Origin Web Browser comes bringing javascript and CSS support, along with tabbed browsing and a download manager.

To install OWB is required to have a recent AROS build (february 19 or later) or to copy the files muimaster.library and arosc.library from a recent nightly build in your libs: directory.

For VmWAROS users Paolo besser prepared an update .iso based on a newer build that contains both the new required libraries and a stacksize icon fix (before of this update assign the stack size from an icon does not work). This update has to be used together with the VmWUpdate script. The iso can be downloaded from here.

Please BE VERY CAREFUL in doing the update and follow the enclosed .pdf file: i missed to read it and simply done the upgrade as a simple VmWAROS upgrade and lost amistart, the configIP stopped working together with arosTCP and, after i made the fatal mistake to try to reinstall the old version of VmWAROS with the installer i was greeted by a sudden reboot, followed by a skinnless error requester in old topaz font  "Mountfile 'AROS:Devs/DosDrivers/PIPEFS' is invalid: wrong number of arguments" and an OK button. Pushing the OK button the system rebooted and showed the same requester again, over and over. The only viable option I found to restore the system was to boot from a recent nightly iso and install again the system. Then, in order to get the net working again had to reconfigure AROSTCP by hand; so, in case you might do a mistake like mine and you might not find the instruction to do it on net (usually in the AROS wikibooks) am going to repeat it here:


  • in ENVARC: create the AROSTCP directory;
  • go through shell inside ENVARC:AROSTCP typing ENVARC:AROSTCP; the path at the left should become like 1.AROS:Prefs/Env-Archive/ArosTCP> ;
  • type echo "true" > autorun - will create the "autorun" file that contains the value "true".
  • from sys:system/network/AORSTCP copy the directory db inside ENVARC:AROSTCP typing those instructions:
    cd ENVARC:AROSTCP
    makedir db
    copy db sys:system/network/AROSTCP/db ALL
  • still in ENVARC:AROSTCP type the command echo "env:arostcp/db" > config - that will create the file "config" inside ENVARC:AROSTCP;
  • at this point follow the same instructions used for the manual configurations in VmWAROS, edit the following files: netdb-myhost, interfaces and static-routes, and then reboot the system.


Hmm, guess is about time to restart that project of mine to configure AROSTCP made in lua...


OWB open on my italian blog

Before and after the  problem I tested OWB on VmWAROS (form the office, where the virtual machine has no issues in connecting) and also contributed on its debug; the actual veersion 0.9.2 is already out and includes some of the fixes and features requested by the users; still there are some problems in sending attachments from yahoo (the attachment does not get recognized) and in saving mails in gmail; beside that my OWB experience has been quite pleasant; despite the obvious slowliness of the Virtual Environment enhances some small glitches such as the not full asynchronicity of CURL library (that load the page components), the browser is fast, mouse wheel is fully supported, the page rendering is quite good and the user interface, although a bit basic, is clean and enjoyable. If you want to see OWB in action, nikos posted avideo on youtube. Best performances can be achieved by assigning a stack size of 1024000.

Future plans for OWB include bookmarks and history support; furthermore, some threads are already started on aros-exec to propose a phase 2 browser bounty that should provide a plug-in system and a flash player port as in example SWFDEC or GNASH; for the latter one there are some concerns due to the results of a recent static port on Haiku - where with static port is meant that all libraries and dependences were included in the binary file - and that turned out to be quite heavy: 135 megabytes...

Stanislaw also prepared a bug tracker for OWB that, after a little stay in google code, now hgas been relocated for good in sand-labs, together at the OWB download link. The description page of all work occurred in OWB,instead, is still here.

Another innovation made by Stanislaw Sszymczyk is the possibility to build AROS parts outside the source tree: in other words is now possible to compile AROS in other directories beside those supposed to be used in the source tree; this characteristic comes out handy for the development of alternate versions of applications (such as hosted, native, with or without debug output) in parallel; plus, with updated cross-compilers it is also possible to compile binaries for different processors at the same time (sam,efika,i386,i3856/64,etc.) and that allow to the developers to only run "make" to update the components without need to reconfigure everything.
So far the compilation outside the source tree can be done on few applications only due to the fact that some tools need to get required files from the source tree and that might cause problems; furthermore is not possible compile both inside and outside the source tree at the same time yet.
(Thanks to Nick "Kalamatee" Andrews for a better explaination of the function).

Recently the boot mechanism of AORS is changed: if the system is updated with a recent build it is required that the file aros.boot is present in the root of the system disk; said file needs to be copied manually form the build iso, else the system will complain about a bootable drive missing in the hard disk and will not proceed further.

Steve Jones can be an unknown name to the most of the new member of the Amiga/AROS community and for those that left Amiga as main system before 1995/96 while for the old guard members this mane is linked to the Siamese System, the system created to readdress Amiga graphical output on PC graphic boards through RTG and that was supposed to be one of the cornerstones of a PCI based Amiga system; the plug on thje project has following been pulled by Gateway and nothing came out of it.
Now Steve comes back in the AROS landscape introducing a new compact PC machine based on Intel Atom with selected hardware for the best performance under AROS, and is equipped with the latest VmWAROS distro version: the machine name is iMica (purposely reminds Amiga) and the price is quite affordable, around 250 UK pounds - around 400$. The AROS support has also been endorsed by Kalamatee efforts in provide a working network card drivers; on the sound side iMica uses for the moment a SoundBlaster Live with EMU10k chip (supported and proven working), in the hope to see more sound card drivers available in the next future; as usual, if somebody has experience in low level programming and wish to join the developers team for writing new drivers is welcome. More informations about iMica are available in the AROS Show.

Pavel "Sonic" Fedin has released a new beta of the Windows hosted AROS; despite still has problems in the refresh, also due to the way AROS actually manages themes, this new version will allow developers and users to run AROS in Windows without the need of a virtual machine.
To distribute the Windows-hosted version, Pavel resurrected the old Snapshots functionality of Aros.org; the latest version of AROS windows hosted can be downloaded here.

Michal Schulz is still going on in the Efika port of AROS; being the most of the code done, now he is focusing in optimizing the port; just the last March 9th, Michal released a new test iso downloadable here, to fix some third party MUI classes instability that caused Zune preferences to crash or not to be launched at all, and he further fixed USB stacks including a OHCI bug that brought not to update some periferals status or to retrieve some "zombie " periferals;  then ha added a new Efika port feature: a specific debug that will show precise particulars on where a program or a library crashed; in the todo list of Michal there will be also some way to prevent AROS to freeze in case of system crash in a similar fashion to the os4 Grim Reaper.

Oliver Brunner is still working at its Janus-UAE; latest features are the amiga public scerens support as AROS screens and the GTK-MUI GUI update made similar to the windows UAE in order to handle the full screen support.

Fabio "Allanon" Falcucci has recently released a pictures and thumbnails viewer made with Hollywood and that uses its own SCUI-lib routines for the user interface; the program, called LookHere, can be downloaded here.

And to finish, good news from Paolo Besser: the version 1.1 of VmWAROS is in progress; Paolo decided to increase the version number due to the new boot system and devices fix as mentioned above. The new version shows very interesting features, as the IconDress script, that allows to exchange icon sets extracting it from .ipkg archives and replacing the actual ones; new applications will be bundled such as the new ArosPDF by Craig Kiesau, the new MPlayer build and, of course OWB; and last Paolo intends to give a mahjor clean-up to the distro, removing those applications that still use the old muimaster.library which is responsible for the non functioning zune Preference panel. The removed applications list is available in this thread on Aros-exec; in the same thread Paolo ask those applications developers to recompile it linked to the latest library version so that he will add the fixed application again to the distro. The latter is particularly important for Simple Editor and for marranoFTP, especially the latter one, having no other FTP clients available on AROS.
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