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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
20 settembre 2009
Diary: Technologies: AROS: Fall colors over the MESA...
Want to begin this article with a sad note: at the end of August my actual company decided to downsize and to change its location, and am among the laid-offs, so right now most of my effort in front of this keyboard goes in finding a new job in order to pay the bills and keep the apartment; hope to be able to dedicate time to my advocacy back soon (that of course means i will be employed): please cross your fingers...

[update in november: still no job, will let you know of anything].

The month of October looks like has been a bit unfortunate for this blog: several times, trying to look at the content, i was greeten from a white page: by the way the black-out (or white-out i might say) affects almost all the ilcannocchiale blogs: it is the second time that I sent notification to the webmasters about this and lately am starting to consider to move this blog in a more affordable platform, maybe even self-hosted.

But let's go back and talk about AROS. Right now the most important news in AROS front are the following ones:

As said last august, Krysztof "Deadwood" Smiechowicz ported version 7.5 of MESA to AROS, for now in software rendering mode only. Latter in the month he also ported GLU,GLUT and added a revised version of SDL that can use MESA. The addition of MESA as library allowed  people, especially Matthias "Mazze" Ruster to port some new games on AROS; among the contributions we have now Block Out II, a 3d Tetris clone, Abuse, a well-known platform game, a first attempt to port Open Red Alert (that later has been removed due to a bad bug in the upstream that prevent enemy AI to operate), 3d Pool Billiard (running kinda slow due to the software renderer, kinda playable if you keep the window at stamp size).

September news is that Deadwood decided to accept the Gallium 3d Bounty. Krysztof already started to meddle with Gallium 3d at the time of the MESA port; he started getting decent results, as seen in this movie here on youtube. Following those embrionic attempts, Deadwood compiled a version of GLExcess that includes the nVidia Gallium driver and, compared to the old software-only compilation, the difference is really remarkable.

The latest additions to the already rich porting gallery of Deadwood are the OpenAL/alut/ogg/vorbis libraries. Those libraries, as said from deadwood itself in AROS-exec, are used in several open source games to provide the sound experience; their porting will open the door, together with the perfecitoning of MESA and Gallium, to porting some open source 3d games, such as Warzone 2100, AssaultCube and Cube2; and is known the plan to use the hardware acceleration together with Cairo in order to improve Wanderer responsivity and performance, but as far as i know is all still related to Deadwood progresses.

Talking about 3d and Mesa, last month the e-zine The Vague came out for AROS using the last MESA port of Deadwood; e-zines are well known to amiga users thanks to the demoscene; though i was hardly been a follower, remember an Italian one made called Infamia - at the time even Tadsince1995 used to cooperate with it as coder - and reminding the experience I started The Vague. The AROS version is in the same .lha archive with the Amiga PPC and Morphos version; once double clicked the icon a requester ask to start either in full-screen (for 640x480 resolution) or windowed (as i started it being in qemu at 800x600x24 resolution) ,whether to use sound effects and the music replay rate. Nikos posted a youtube video of The Vague running on AROS here.


The Vague volume 1 on AROS


Its been exciting to see some good demoscene art and nice music on AROS: i liked The Vague and am waiting for further numbers, and possibly even more e-zines and (why not?) some AROS demos too :)

Last August the code of the Poseidon stack finally got released under APL and built together with the nightly builds, making so complete the Poseidon Bounty, the so far most contributed bounty in AROS history. I tried the stack on my old laptop, where a known incompatibility with the USB SIS controller so far occured, with November 12 nightly the USB devices are still not recognized, by the way. Once i find a way to download OWB from the nightly (writing the URL and then use wget to download it seems a good one), will post the dump of PCItool from my old laptop in order to help the debug.

Icaros 1.1.6 is already on the works but, since this blog post is kinda late, let me talk about the version 1.1.5, that I tried both as iso image on qemu and as live CD on the old laptop. So grub worked fine, but when I tried to select my sis900 network card with DHCP form the network control panel and press the "use" button in order to test OWB performance, the system froze hard. Everytime.
In defense of the network control panel, by the way, doing the same with the latest nightly worked pretty fine, apart the missing OWB in the nightly - beside an OWB folder and a OWB icon in extras/networking - for don't know what reason; i understand that OWB cannot be added to the nightly both for weight and license issues but my personal suggestionis to replace the actual useless directory with a script that might download the latest version on RAM, for new installs.

And, talking about OWB, our Stanislaw Szymczyk , after a while where he took a pause from AROS development, released another new version of OWB. The Version 0.9.9 is downloadable, as usual, from the sand-labs web site and this time introduces, beside the usual flattening of several bugs, a loader, called StartOWB, that uses the artwork made by michaels and helps to track the long first loading (caused by the fontConfig cache building); beside that, now the main application menus are finally available with the right mouse button as for every other AROS application, giving it a standard interface. As far as i know,  the AREXX port in OWB is still missing, but hope Stanislaw will fix this soon.


The new OWB splash screen,designed by michaels

And then let's talk once more about the hidden hero of AROS, Matthias "mazze" Rustler: most of the software used on AROS has been ported by mazze, starting form several games (, then the unfinished port of Ignition Spreadsheet (that i still hope one day will be finished), LUA and its extensions, zulu and siAmiga - that are providing the base ground for several utilities, panels and give easy way for beginner programmers (like me) to produce something in AROS: the last fatigue of Mazze is the porting of Scout, the famous low-level tool for manage tasks under Amiga OS; undoubtely this might help to get rid of some annoying freeze of some shell windows or commodities, though for the well known lack of protected memory on Amiga OSes is still better to reboot the system as fast as possible.

Going further, any AROS user had to deal with the well known problems with our version of Dopus: despite being invaluable for file management, it has strong issues with advanced operations, such as extracting files, viewing pictures, even personalising buttons; this is due to the fact that this dopus port is pretty old (from 2000, if i remember clearly): now a new bounty  has been introduced in Power2people.org, for the port of the latest version of Dopus actually for Amiga OS-4 only; the bounty has been accepted by Neil Cafferkey and hope will improve this invaluable tool.

Last September once again Pianeta Amiga was held in Empoli, despite the fact that this year was held only at Saturday and the flow of people is really at its own minimum. This Year AROS was highly represented from, as usual Paolo Besser and, straight from the United Kingdom, Steven jones that brought its iMica platform. But here is the outcome according to Paolo Besser:

Thanks to Enrico Vitali and other well-known people of the italian Amiga community, the event has been amusing and interesting, but... well, I can't hide the mixture of bitter sweet feelings that left me only half happy. The good news, at least for Icaros Desktop, is that every visitor of the fair had the chance to see it in action, and most of them stopped at my table, asking for more informations or to see some demostration. I've also got many congratulations and many thanks for the effort, asking me for keeping up "the good job", but the bad news about all this, is that Pianeta Amiga this year lacked of visitors. Numbers had been fairly low (I've personally counted about 100 visitors) and the exhibitors themeselves were a tiny group that could comfortably stay in less space than the half area of the Palaesposizioni reserved to the event. "In the good old days you could see a crowd of people making long tails in front of the ticket booth - said Enrico while we were taking something to eat at noon - but today...", unluckily today's Pianeta Amiga loosely reflects the situation of the whole Amiga market. A tiny, fragile community which is hardly trying to keep its platform alive, even if the interest decreases a little more every year, and even if the whole IT market has completely forgotten the Amiga. So we have to thanks ACube, VirtualWorks, AmigaKit.com and everyone else that still persists, and spends money every year to organize a event which has just become a symbol, a tradition for the community, but which is practically perceived like a hobby, a nice meeting day with other people who share the same passion, even by people who professionally operate in the Amiga business.

It is sad for me to hear that despite the good news in the Amiga market (the SAM availability last year, the MorphOS on Mac Mini, icaros, iMica, Ares one, the settlement of the Amiga-Hyperion cause,etc., one of the last Amiga events is gone so unnoticed; despite my hopes, i think it is realistic that next year Pianeta Amiga might not be hold, if this is the trend; of course i expect thngs to change, but who knows....

Frustrations and disillusionment might hit even die-hard supporters. Many of the Aros-exec usual lurkers know Nikos: beside being a strong fan of the platform he is also one of the testers and one of the main bounty contributors ever, but in this thread he say that decided to take a leave from AROS, disappointed from the apparent lack of progresses, especially in the hardware acceleration section. By the way this happened just before Deadwood released its new MESA port and announced the start of the Gallium3d Bounty. The community reaction has been something you will rarely see in other open osurce community: almost everybody sent its own comment to nikos (including myself) expressing support; that convinced him to stay and luckilly for him, the new results on AROS seems to keep him busy...

Another AROS-friendly machine recently surfaced: provided by Pascal "Phoenixkonsole" Papara, the ARES one is an AMD Athlon x2 powered machine provided in a small tower case, bigger in size than Steven's Atom powered iMica; the graphic card is a performing nvidia GeForce 7200 with 256 megabytes DDR2  video RAM; phoenixconsole expects support from Gallium3d in order to enhance 3d capabilities; the machine hosts 1 gigabyte 800mhz DDR2 RAM (can be expanded up to 8 gigs) and can host up to four 5,25" devices; has a DVD/RW drive and a 3,5" floppy drive (foreseeing a catweasel support); it has a SoundBlaster Live as sound card and the network card is a Realtek RTL8139d that has a RTL8139 family chip and, quite interestingly, just today Hitchhikr released an rtl8169.device driver that in theory should support it. Paolone had occasion to test it with its Aspire One netbook and said it works nicely, adding another device to the netbook puzzle (right now still wireless and sound are unsupported on Aspire One).

Phoenixkonsole also plans to put in bundle with Ares One Icaros Desktop and a suite of programs for AROS including: the registered version of FryingPan and the incoming AROS Port of Cinnamon Writer: the latter one fills another software gap under AROS, presenting the first Word Processor available for the platform.


Cinnamon Writer is about to spice AROS


Now, if only Ignition port were finished we surely might had a decent AROS base office suite, together with MuiBase; the actual problem in finishing Ignition is non trivial. According to mazze itself in this thread on AROS-exec, it is depending from the actual order of "struct node":

Problem is that AROS has the elements of "struct Node" wrong on X86. This is supposed to be fixed with ABI V1. Unfortunately, Ignition makes *heavy* use of linked lists.
I could:
-continue porting when V1 ABI is released

-fixing list handling in Ignition which would be a lot of work which wouldn't be any longer necessary when V1 is out

-compiling me a version of AROS with the right order of Node. I could continue porting but I couldn't release the result until V1 is out.

All sucks somehow.


Further in the thread, phoenixconsole ask for how long might still take to Staf Verhaegen to finish the ABI 1.1; Staf's answer does not look too encouraging:

If I don't get help months to years from now. Problem seems to be that for being able to work on ABI V1 you need very good knowledge of AROS internals, Amiga OS internals and low level programming. It seems it is difficult to find people that have these capabilities and want to do it as their hobby activity. Additionally no glory or money can currently be gained by it.!!!

Staf is quite right: actually very few people have the required knowledge to help him in fix the ABI, and the actual AROS documentation, that should help provide that kind of knowledge is still kinda incomplete: lately even the quite famous "Linux lady" Carla Schroeder wrote two articles about the importance of documentation in Linux magazine: they can be found here and here, hoping to give guidelines for the actual coders, and maybe some non-coder to help therm in write it.

Simone "samo" Bevilacqua finally ported BOH to AROS, and it behave nicely even under qemu! BOH is one of the new generation commercial software available on the Amiga platforms (a little but, considered the platform diffusion, important avantguarde of a hopefully bigger production that include even Cinnamon Writer itself) and has been prepared for all the Amiga platforms so far: os 4, morphos and now even AROS. Despite some gitches with the sound due to the SDL libraries (and i expect things to imnprove thanks to the recent Deadwood work), the game runs fine even on qemu.


BOH for AROS



This coming year, God and Cash willing, is my intention to attend once more the Southern California Linux Expo in Los Angeles; will introduce the new features of AROS, the Icaros distribution, the new software and, if possible, even a native AROS box. Will write more about it soon; just mind that if somebody want to help me next february can get in touch with me at the email on the right side of the blog - the Get in Touch with Simone Bernacchia link, that I will repeat here, just remember to replace the sentences between square brackets.
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