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TECNOLOGIE
22 marzo 2012
Technologies: AROS: Cooperare Necesse Est
The following is the translation of this post appeared on the italian blog on May 21,2011: despite almost one year is already passed by since that post, its actuality is still strong, especially concerning the new Directory Opus Magellan Cross Bounty and the recent Odissey Web Browser port by Fabien "Fab1" CoeurJoly; it summarize my basic idea about how the actual NG Amiga and like Operating Systems can find a way not to compete each other but instead, in a pure "divide et impera" fashion each one cover the different market segment and promote a better interoperability.


Sorry if lately i did not took care of my posts; might seems improbable but am still putting back the pieces from my SCALE exhibit; my main laptop started to behave erratically, with long pauses between keyboard inputs up to 10 seconds, USB that is not recognizing devices and sticks and browsers that regularly freeze when am trying to watch flash videos or trying to use google voice; [fixed last year with a re-format :NDR] to this add an increased workload (and a decreased paycheck :/) to have a snapshot of my actual situation.

There is an unfinished article here where am trying to talk about the ABIv1 development and the new kernel features (like VESA screen dragging and a further modularisation); there are still several details to be ironed out, including the optimisations made by Kryztof "Deadwood" Schmiechoviz(check) for some Graphics.library functions and the actual work in progress of Pavel "Sonic" Fedic concerning the graphic subset that will target Wanderer and the GUI; worthy to mention also the hard work made by Toni Wilen and Jason McMullan for the continuous improvement of AROS 68k, now also able to boot in some real hardware machines (despite optimization is still lacking); their work also have been helpful in improving AROS retrocompatibility and in making several native libraries that were not yet created work; lastly, i need to mention that Kalamatee continued its work in improving Wanderer and in its transformation in a modular tool, which should also be possible to add "plug-ins" (like the fanous tree view shown here some time ago).

But the real focus of this article is a post that I made on the Amiganews.it forum, proposing my personal point of view on how a cooperation could be set up between Amiga OS,MorphOS and AROS. Here is the post text:

I am taking the occasion to spin-off this amigaworld.net thread where, for the third(!) time in the last six months, somebody ask if there is a way to join forces between the three Amiga and like OSes.
Since am aware of the clear differences, both architecturally and philosophically speaking, existing nowadays between the several Amiga-like oses and also of the strong opinions among their developers and users, will not discuss of it.

Instead, will take advantage of the topic to underline some, for me, important points:

1) Amiga and like systems transversally cover almost all the available processors (ARM [hosted], PPC, X86, 68k for AROS, PPC on mac hW and pegasos for MOS, PPC fo os4 and 68k for classic) and price ranges (low for AROS, middle for MOS and classic HW, high for OS4);

2) is well known that Amiga and like systems are now reduced to a hobby market range with a very reduced number of users (probably all together in the single digit of the thousands) and that is a big no-no for any commercial venture since a ROI is not guaranteed;

Honestly i tihnk that those two factor are something that we should take advantage of: rather than try to have a dominating platform over the other two, right now i think the most important factor is make people aware that amiga and like systems exists, that there is a basic coherence among them and that all together cover most of the consumer computing; then would be good to work to increase the user base - no matter of what system and finally , once users are present, give them a way to use all three systems together in a workflow almost seamlessly.

Is my presonal opinion that Amiga and like systems have still appeal in the hobby market even among the non-amiga users that do not like the idea to user windows or mac and that consider linux too hard to handle properly: also, usually people does not have just one hobby: rather it might also be interested in side activities such as collections, robotics, ham radio, etc.

[brainstorm]
Think for a moment what potential can have for a person -probably even an ex amiga user that owns an old pc or an old ppc mac- and, due to the fact that those machine are by today standard and requirements obsolete, cannot use it; the possibility to have Morphos and AROS in those two machines running almost the same applications that communicate via network and therough AREXX keeping their own files synced or sharing the data processing - a case that i have in mind (because have a close experience with it) is about the fater of a close friend of mine, that used amiga to handle its Ham radio staton; right now i think is using windows but you can see how it might have been easier for him to use both AROS in the PC and the amiga, both communicating through AREXX; pity thisa example is purely academical since the ham radio software have never been ported on AROS.
[/brainstorm]

I assume the fact that, for an hobbyist that includes computing in its interests (possibly amiga and like), there is an added value in using its favorite machine to accomplish hobby related tasks. But, in order to reach this optimal situation i think that some level of cooperation are required: of course i cannot expect that all os4, morphos and AROS developers decide to join forces for it; what i consider more feasible instead is that some base ground can be laid down in order to increase the interoperativity.

This can be obtained providing both developers and users of adequate tools;
For the developers is important that some key libraries and technologies are available in all three systems to make the development and porting of application easier; those may be in example MUI, AREXX,SAMBA, AHI, LUA/RUBY/PYTHON, language bindings in the same style of Zulu and Zuby, maybe some extra tool such as QT and WxWidgets [there is lately some resistance to it due to the fact that those are not native toolkits, problem is we are in a chicken-and-egg situation: NDR]; every os can handle it in a personalised way but is important that base features and API need to be common or similar;

For final users instead, is important to have a way for the three systems to "talk" and "work" together: in example two portings of the same software can talk through AREXX,or a Lua or Python script that can be made run in two different Amiga Systems but it behaves in the same way and display in the same way thanks to libraries like Zulu (my favorite) that will allow to hae common GUI everywhere.

With this approach is possible from one side to keep authonomy between all Amiga and like Systems and also keep the hold on the market segment where the system has its main focus (advantage for the flavor-specific developers) and, from the other side users are allowed to use and interoperate the flavors in a coherent way (advantage for final users); as a plus, a similar versatility should look more viable for new users towards all flavors and with more users usually there is the hope that there might be more interest for investments from commercial entities on the technology [and - with some daydreaming, if and when somebody might decide to port AROS towards other non-amiga 68k machines (vecchi mac 68k, falcon, maybe even x68000) so to allow the use of AROS even in those systems and in the same time make AROS become a vaid option to still use those system proficently for their own hobbies].

Would like to hear other opinions about my viewpoint.


Despite the text above was supposed - beside its length - to be self-explicative, want to further explore what said above:

- the first important problem is not the disappearance of one of the Amiga-like OS, rather than the disappearance of the Amiga philosophy and way of doing things as a whole: there are very few users left (as said above, in the single digit of thousand overall) and,unless made for 'acts of love', is simply not feasible for complex commercial programs, not suitable for the so-called average Joe and, among geeks, is either considered extinct,useless or its existence ignored, also due to the fact that new generations never used one and also that those seems to have a more 'disposable' approach towards consumer electronics hardware and software.

Now, with the Amiga and like OSes stuck in a stuation like this, bickering among neighbors can only do more harm than good and ultimately lead also the most hardcore fans to think it is a lost cause.

What was my proposal, then?
1) that each flavor continues to take care of its main reference target hardware and their base core technologies, since full spectrum coverage from all systems combined is, and will repeat it more and more, a vantage point;

2) An agreement is sought on the technologies (like network protocol, scripting languages and IPC scripting languages like AREXX, interpreted languages with binding like lua and zulu, GUI libraries like ZUNE,MUI [and others if required]) and in a minimum subset of commands features and API needed to have an advanced interoperability between the systems; those are basic networking and distributed computing needs though, but Amiga os and like have been sorta left behind in this part:

To tell the thuth, those tools, especially the interoperativity ones should be part of every operating system; a (big) problem of the original Amiga OS was that the OS Maker support got lost in the moment on other systems small and home LAN were flourishing (though the same home maker did not do any effort to create a network infrastructure too as far as i know) and therefore Amiga OS was left behind until third party apps and stacks did not appear; however, is indeed a basic need now to have ways for applications and file systems to interoperate between them and between like OSes and with other OSes, o course.

If can also be done in a more amiga-ish way even better.



3) [is a necessary repetition] Is essential to be aware that right now the very same idea of what has been Amiga OS, its own philosophy, its user experience, its coding style and guidelines and the technologies related with it are endangered; in my opinion is very important to increase the external awareness of the EXISTENCE of Amiga and like oses, its usefulness on hobby projects and is available on omst of the processors and platforms (am a bit biased on this when i think on AROS but ppc is well covered by os4 and MorphOS too);

4) When the 68k AROS port from Jason and Toni started to deliver usable results i personally thought that this was the good time to propose AROS not only as a viable actively developed alternative for old 68k machines and homebrew hardware like monimig and Natami, but also as a viable alternate OS for other 68k platforms such as Atari falcon, the japanese x68000, and even (heresy!) ST machines and propose itself as a transversal OS for active retrocomputing use;

5) Last but not least [and another for me fundamental repetition] is the most difficult thing to do: change the way we are relating with each other; when the 'Red vs Blue' war was exploding on the net, i already stopped using proficiently Amiga and getting interested on it since at least a couple of years earlier and so lost (fortunately?) this part of Amiga history; as far as i hear from several users, seems that the actual state of things is broken beyond repair [in some cases perhaps kept artificially so] but then i can see people like Fabien 'Fab1' Coeurjoly, Itix and others help other developers to port their programs on other Amiga-like systems (see OWB, mplayer,screenrecorder); something even unthinkable just some year ago; all this reminds me the dynamics of a dying small country town like the one I grew up in Italy, as said in one of the answers to the same forum thread as above:

...am honest to say that i refuse to have a revenue oriented viewpoint at the situation, at least i refuse to think that there should be a winner system: main problemis to have a user base that is transversal to all Amiga and like systems, that should be the goal instead to behave like disputing neighbors in a small town in risk to disappearance thay, instead of working together to make tihngs such a tourims flourish to keep the place alive and thriving, mind only to fight with each other; yes because THIS is EXACTLY the actual situations; and while some of you might enjoy to be the disputing neighbor, i don't; since i used to live and grow in a place with people behaving the same way, i feel so frustrated to see all good work and a nice potential thrown away in name of some few ego-stroking personalities.



Nothing else to add, guess the above is self-describing; so now is time to act.
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