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TECNOLOGIE
27 giugno 2010
Diary: Technologies: AROS: AROS on BBC and eaudio.device ported on AROS
Notice: since i have been really busy have little time to finish the other article;  now that have some moment available i think is important to mention those two good happenings in AROS land:

- first, saturday June 19 and 20, at the Vintage Computer Festival in Milton Keynes, was held the twentyfifth Amiga anniversary party; amiga users know about it because it also marked the first public appearance of the Amigaone X-1000, a new high-end machine with a dual core processor (even though at the moment Amiga OS can support only one); produced by Trevor Dickinson (an amiga aficionado and also estimator of AROS btw) in cooperation with Hyperion entertainment; a lot has been written about it on the Amiga Forums, in good andin bad, but my main focus is on the participation of ClusterUK development and its iMica stand, where Steve Jones proudly presented its range of AROS powered machines, inclusive of the new GMA950 drivers for intel graphic,written by Michal Schulz,  that grants a nice graphic performance boost. Myself tried the GMA driver on my favorite victim - my wife MSI netbook and my AROS stick some time ago and loved the fact that was running nicely in the external screen actually used by my old laptop; i tried to load a video and the experience was quite smooth and enjoyable; people can easily forget they are using a netbook. Among other initiatives of Steve, we also have the endorsement of the development of the Ganymede IDE - a new developing environment actually in progress made by Proto (dont know its real name sorry) - that should provide a more modern workflow under AROS; the project is commercial but, since Ganymede will be a quite high quality tool coded from scratch, guess developers might not be too bothered in spend some money on it. The interest of people towards the iMica stand, according to steve, was quite high; and was also nice to see younger people get interested in the Amiga technology.
Plus, an interesting twist is that BBC Click, one of the most important computer and technology TV shows in UK, interviewed Steve at the VCF; the interview was held by LJ Rich and will be aired on July 2nd; once a link will be available will be published in aros-exec. Interesting fact is that,according to Steve (since am not in UK and never seen the transmission so far), the show usually focus on consumer electronics and mainstream operating systems; so that appearing in a transmission like that is a sign of interest towards alternate platforms and an important occasion to show the existence to people normally quite oblivious to it.


the Imica stand at VCF - courtesy of Niels Bache - http://nbache.dk/

- the second good news is that the eaudio.device, a wrapper for the Amiga Paula chip audio.device to AHI system calls has been open sourced by its developer, Emmanuele Cesaroni. This device, originally developed for MorphOS, will allow the port of several Amiga software that uses the standard audio.device for their output and operations and, plus, will also allow emumiga to output the audio.device calls. The device has been ported on AROS by Krzysztof "Deadwood" Smiechowicz just two days ago and for test he compiled an Amiga Chiptune player, that is actually working.
TECNOLOGIE
28 maggio 2009
Diary:Technologies:AROS: the long and painful road to 1.0

I needed to take a leave a bit from the blog scene because my main laptop has been infected badly by a virus so that had to reformat and reinstall my OS: plus as bonus the backup DVDs i made looks like have errors and so i might be unable to recover my old AROS virtual disk: thank god i used to work my lua scripts on Windows and have copies on my SD card.

Anyway, despite Przemyslaw "Qus" Szczygielsky fixed its TCPPrefs control panel for AROS,this does not mean that I should abandon my lua Network config project: the problems withmy computer stopped me for a while but am ready to go on: at least i hope the related aros-exec thread should be a good didactic reference point for whoever want to start an Amilua project. Anyway, is my intention to post a tutorial when will have some free time.

I already set up the user interface: both mazze answers in the thread and some lua regular expression tutorials helped me in parsing the configuration files and do backup copies of it (in a bit rudimental way, parsing them and writing in a new renamed file via script), so what else is missing?
First of all I need to set the graphical frontend gadgets according to the preferences set in the files, including pre-set the cycle gadget on the actual network card; second i need to write the new configuration with the user set parameters. And last, if i would indulge in a little ego trip, a menu with a voice to show the about window ;) .


My Network Config Amilua app and part of the debug output window

Once done with this control panel, I would like to write sometihng to manage the Amistart calendar: one of the few widgets for Amistart, that also should be taken as example for those that want to write some more - is not happening yet, dont know why ;  another idea tingling my mind is to write a simple bookmark manager for OWB but so far there is no way to make OWB open a new address using the DOS getURL command and it is only possible to use the command OWB [url to launch] in order to open the program: it is not possible to use it with an open session: the old one needs to be closed first; i tested it personally.

At the begin of may I helped on write the AROS website status update: in this one I asserted that the latest months progresses brought AROS on the verge to be available for a daily usage; but in order to reach this goal still several obstacles need to be overcome, both on software availability, and on the system stability and affordability.

Neil Cafferkey still continues in its work on the ata.device; being this a critical piece of AROS, every time he or somebody else put its hand on it there is the risk something that used to work might break and, once it was fixed, might make it wonder how the hell was able to work before, but first let's get the facts: An updated ata.device patch has been provided with the Icaros desktop 1.1.1 upgrade; the upgrade has been temporarily removed by Paolo Besser itself due to the fact that on computers with southbridge board AMD SB600 or with similar architectures severe data corruption occured writing data in the disc partition; beside this, several users were greeted with a black screen and the red pointer with no further boot progress. For those the solution, was less drastic, citing from the Icaros website:

If you can't boot Icaros and the process stops after the red pointerappeared on the screen, please do as follow to fix the issue:

- turn on PC
- choose a resolution from Grub's menu but DON'T press Enter
- press 'E' instead
- move cursor after "ATA=32bit" and change it either to "ATA=nodma" or "ATA=nopci" (depending on what it works for you)
- press Ctrl+X to continue booting

Ifbooting has success open /boot/grub/grub2.cfg with the AROS editor,search for the "ATA=32bit" string and replace it with "ATA=nodma" or"ATA=nopci". You can do this easily, using the 'replace' option in the'search' menu of the editor.

At the same time, in answer to the problem exposed by Paolo Besser, Neil Cafferkey unveils what happened in the developer's mailing list:

I think I've found the cause of these problems: we don't set the
controller's timing registers.

My guess is that when DMA *did* work with older driver versions, it was
just a coincidence: ata.device re-set the drive mode that the BIOS had
already set, so there was no need to change the timing registers.

If we want to use a drive in a mode that the BIOS hasn't set, we need to
set the controller's timing registers to match that mode. Unfortunately,
there is no single standard for these timing registers. This is why Linux
for example has numerous PATA drivers: one for Intel, one for ATI, one for
Silicon Image etc.

This problem probably became more apparent because the new driver version
checks the cable report register bits to determine if the 80-wire cables
necessary for high-speed UDMA are present. My mistake was to assume that
all PCI controllers followed the T13 spec for these registers, but I
should have realised that that was unlikely given that the spec was only
published as recently as 2003. The T13 spec is implemented by Intel (and I
only have machines and emulators with Intel chipsets to test on), but I
suspect that T13 were actually following Intel's established design. Other
manufacturers have incompatible controller registers.

So on non-Intel controllers, the driver will incorrectly determine that
only 40-wire cables are installed, and downgrade the DMA mode from say
UDMA5 to UDMA2. Since the timing will then be wrong, data corruption is
likely to occur.

As a solution, I propose that, at least in the short term, ata.device does
not attempt to set a mode for any drive, but simply detects and uses the
mode already set by the BIOS. I hope that this will not lead to a
degradation in performace in most cases: in my small sample, BIOSes in
modern machines seem to set the best available mode for each drive by
default. I have this fix working locally. We already rely on the BIOS to
set addresses for PCI devices and enable bus-mastering, so this is just
one more thing.

In the longer term we could look at setting timings ourselves, but this
looks like a complicated procedure, and probably wouldn't give any
performance gain in most cases.

To help confirm my theory, I set a disk in one of my PCs to MDMA mode in
the BIOS instead of UDMA, and ata.device failed to access it after it put
the drive into UDMA2 mode. It had worked perfectly when the BIOS had set
it to UDMA (UDMA1 as it happens, but probably close enough not to cause
errors).

once the ata.device was fixed, the icaros update has been restored and is now available again for download.
In the Icaros Website Paolo expressed the fact that, despite he is doing the best to offer maximum stability and performance with the most recent system libraries and programs, sometimes it might happen that some components were not fully tested, also because is hard to test all hardware configurations, and especially for a small volunteered project as AROS; Paolo also assures how, despite the actual problem, the actual situation is even improved, considered that  now AROS boots even in machines where was unable to boot before, and that, thanks to the fact that the actual users and testers are aware of the beta nature of the syatem, damage was pretty limited; those kind of accidents might happen in open source projects- without mention Linux and its well known breakages - i might not say it happens often, but it happens.

Recently Neil also worked on fix other ata.device problems, including the fact that the device thought there were two DVD drive in case a SATA DVD drive was used. The change of the device enumeration system is also planned.

Neil is actually checking DHCP system, due to the fact that, once the shell command arostcp stop is given (or  a CTRL-C break command, as is called in unix environments), the DHCP stack become unresponsive and bring the CPU usage to 100%.


At the same time Michal Schulz worked on improve graphic performance on ATI Radeon - same graphic card that he as on Efika; bot Michal and Nik  "Kalamatee" Andrews  seen how the themes design (bad) implementation is among of the culprit in slowing down Wanderer performance - this in a fairly slow system such as Efika is much more perceived ; therefore Michal worked hard in accelerate several display redraw functions and the performance on ATI radeon both on x86 and PPC are improved quite dramatically.
Kalamatee, beside its actual task in improving and modernizing Wanderer, is considering whether to take the Graphic Subsystem Bounty, but so far nothing more is known about this topic.

And, at last, a rare happening in the actual Amiga oses landscape: with a joint effort, users from both Amiga OS, MorphOS and AROS partecipated to reach the $4000 goal set for the Poseidon USB Bounty: Thanks also to the initiative of a community member, that offered to double further received offers, the actual bounty quota is at $4170. Chris Hodges, the author of the Poseidon stack, started to work at the port - which source code will be open - and the stack will be released on the APL license; this will also allow other Amiga-like oses to port and to update extend and improve the stack code.

Outside the Amiga communities (with maybe the exception of the Haiku os) the bounty system concept might sound unknown - considered that in example a bigger open source player system such as Linux usually projects are founded from those government and commercial entities interested in their further development and maintenance; for smaller projects and communities, instead - such amiga-like oses -  the bounty system is the major (almost unique for AROS) source of funding. Therefore projects like this really are funded from the community and literally belong to the community, in a sort of similar fashion to the gothic cathedrals in the middle age.

And now a last word on the Aros-exec portal: last May 22nd the portal, after another virus exploit, was once again closed: now, after a week, the portal is finally back online using an updated and exploit -free xoops version and also a nice blue-metal new skin. I by the way remember that aros-exec is mainly a development-oriented portal; is my advice to point final users to the more user-oriented portal Arosworld.org. test
TECNOLOGIE
11 novembre 2008
Tecnologies:AROS:Anubis OS: Anubis, son of AROS and the "leap" legend
[Edit: sorry to have taken so long in publishing this since the italian version: been busy in my job and in real life.]

I would have liked to start this thread with some mythological tone, such as Conan the barbarian and similars, talking about heirs to the throne, heritages, traditions and other stuff like that: i sincerely admit i was tempted to do so.

I will instead start talking about a day, three weeks ago, when Michal Schulz posted a link on the #aros channel on IRC: this link.

It is nonetheless that the sourceforge page of what has announced this week from Damocles as Anubis OS, the latest incarnation inspired by Amiga OS, based on a Linux kernel and with a Graphic subsystem that, according to the Anubis mailing list, should be based on xcb,xlib and a mix of Glib/Gtk and Zune. Further details have been explained here.

In short, is their intention to do with Amiga OS what has been done from Apple in OS X: somebody already uised the term "carbonize".

From what both Michal and m0ns00n (Hogne Titlestad) told me, the main reason that make them start the project has been an essential steadfastness from other AROS developers towards more innovative goals: Damocles already complained about the conservative approach of many of the core developers. as i wrote here.
So, Michal, together with m0ns00n and Damocles started to define the base functionalities and requirements of Arix. Michal will begin tu put full steam on it once the Efika port will be done; task that is bringing along the comppletion of the USB mass-storage bounty, another important requirement.

In a following IRC chat session, Michal told me how Amiga OS seems to have an history of lost opportunities, both for management and markerting mistakes, but also for ego trips and "balcanization" of the resources. He thinks at ARIX (sorry i dont like the name Anubis OS too much) as the Amiga OS that should have been, with resource tracking, protected memory and all those features that first Amiga OS then AROS were unable/unwilling to develop for the known reasons.

Michal is a pragmatic person and for him the usual debate about whether if you use a POSIX kernel in an Amiga OS that ceases to be an Amiga OS is or not is over: he decided that it is and, i hope, wil prove it quite good in the future.

Anyway, has to be known that Anubis OS cannot be considered an AROS fork: technically AFAIK a fork happens when a project is duplicated and modified but, being Anubis based in a different kernel, figures as an indipendent project.

The announcement was taken not too good from the amiga boards: for the aforementioned reasons above and for the cronical lack of development that is afflicting all incarnations of Amiga OSes, a heavy FUD cloud spreaded around, like has rarely been seen before. The maini nconcern among other amiga users is the runaway of the already few developers towards a system that might not even reach an usable state, and the progressive death of the already existing systems.

Luckilly, open source projects hardly die: they might become unmantained until somebody else starts again to take care of it or integrates the code in their own project; luckilly for AROS this fate looks far from happening: the project look active as ever so far, and hoping this state will last.

And, like to show that AROS, despite the imminent departure of "Doctor" Schulz and the announced "pregnancy" (kitty is a female cat :P) is still vital, let's talk about the so-far spiritual heeir of the Doctor: Stanislaw Sszymczyk that, according to its job for the self-compilation bounty, now almost [edit: no more almost: done!!!] finished has achieved considerable result, such as:
 - non dynamic port of the latest versions of python and perl;
 - self-compilation at first in RAM, then under SFS of AROS in AROS;
 - extension of the POSIX layer compatibility adding instructions such as vfork(), wait() and waitpd();
 - DOS.library modification in order to allow soft-links;
Beside that, sszy also standardised the development packages in the variuous port of AROS under GCC 4.2.2 and included their compilation in the AROS build system in order to have a system of compilers and cross-compilers built for all targets.

Furthermore, Stanislaw gave a look to the sources of Netsurf and OWB; beside some minor issues, the browser can be ported quite easily starting from the OS4 port if the GUI was not a ReAction one; so Stanislaw is looking for someone (looks like o1i might help, and i want to mention ShinkurO due to its experience on workarounds for the zune bugs) to help hm in doing a zune GUI for it.
The OWB port looks a bit more complicated due to the fact that the Gladelib port is required under AROS and so far sszy was unable to do the port.

Another important update comes from the API completion report: Krzysztof Smiechowicz completed its review job that kept him busy since last april; according to its data the completion level of AROS is around 80%. This report is also the ground for a concrete roadmap to follow so that a version 1.0 of AROS will be available in a more human timelapse.

And is also a good step that finally in the mailing list somebody is starting to talk about the strong need for documentation. Krisztof Smiechowicz has already started in adding documentation on the ABI v1 here and hopefully some more important documentations will continue to come soon.

At last look also that somebody will finally take care of the printer.device in a laid back timing; about me i was looking and sent cdocumentation to the guy interrested to help himin the development, included the old Ghostscript port on AROS now no longer working [edit: seems a new port is on the way]; lets hope to see something soon.
TECNOLOGIE
2 novembre 2008
Technologies:AROS: Going at a higher level of involvement
Well not one of my deepest posts today, more kind of a maintenance one...

Contributing to an open source project is - or at least should be - also a social moment: several people work together in their own free time to a common interest and a common goal. Things might be a bit more complicated when all the working people is scattered around several thousand miles between americas, europe and australia.

Let's tell the truth: if internet did not existed, probably not even open source communities might have been existed, or maybe not so much of it  and widespreaded as they are now.

The working and cooperation instruments are surely less evolved than the ones that can be found in a professional working environment, well not true: i used svn and vim in a recent task at work, and used eclipse in another; anyway, usualy many communication problems got solved through mailing list, instant messenging and IRC.

Despite IRC is considered "out" from new generations, is still a very useful and interesting instrument for group chat and talking.

i mention IRC because in the latest two weeks had occasion to find the "IRCous" skills of pidgin, my default messenger and miranda, the backup one; therefore i have been able to connect quite regularly in the official AROS channel; there "i seen things you humans cannot imagine", if i want to be geeky and cite Blade Runner...:)

It is quite exciting to talk directly with someof the most important AROS system and software developers such as Michal Schulz, Maag^da, Stanislaw Szymczyk and the others.

See Maag^da introduce its new Autodoc for AROS, having Szymczyk and Schulz talk "live" about the latest developments in their own bounties (congratulations, Stanislaw: the bounty is almost done!) and exchange with them ideas and opinions - despite is not a new thing anymore and despite i haven't been an avid IRC user but just a casual user before - is a step forward from being a simple forum lurker and an avid news reader: it makes you "be there" and get some job done actively.

I just downloaded LUA for windows and started to give a first look in SDLBasic, knowing the latter attempts of Mazze in porting it under AROS (with no avail at the moment). I also collected some ideas for some script applications i would like to do, not world changing utilities but still something...

[edit: i gave a first look at the zulu documentation: the lua/mui interaction look quite basic and low level, i sincerely hope to understand something on it; by the way, considered that i have to start from scratch, hope that in the next future will get i better...]

I am also trying to understand how to build some window themes, once i will find the way to make my virtual aros-box communicate with the network.



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