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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.
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.
TECNOLOGIE
17 luglio 2009
Diary:Technologies:Amiga / AROS: Hacko ergo sum

This time will not talk about lua programming, also because since many of the project that i tried to work in either got covered by somebody else, (like the network control panel or the amistart calendar). Am also still thinking on how to build some tutorial to explain the base concepts on how to generate a zulu interface.

Andrea "Afxgroup" Palmete' accepted the OS4 Depot Gnash os 4 port bounty: considered that  Gnash is a project under GPL license, it might be possible, once the bounty has been satisfied, to port it in other amiga-like systems with adequate modifications (being a os4 project it uses reaction for its - thank God quite basic - GUI); so far results are pretty good: youtube movies are working properly and flash applications up to version 7 are quite supported too; a summer of code task should bring to the mainstream project the actionscript 3 classes support. Personally i still hope that somebody might build one day an open source builder for flash contents: in the past there were attemts such as f4l but now the projects looks abandoned and the project that should have replaced it, called UIRA, was actually suspended for political/legal issues; the original developers made a call for new people that would have liked to bring it on....

In the meanwhile Stanislaw Sszymczyk continued to update OWB that, so far, reached version 0.9.7 [edit: 0.9.8 is already out]: it fixes some errors that brought 0.9.6 version (like inability to submit forms in some pages such as the aros-exec forum one) and features also a basic bookmark manager. Beside that, the cookie handling has been updated in the mainstream version and implemented (fixed a bit more too) in the AROS version.

I am also glad to announce that now the AJAX editor of my blog platform is working too unde OWB, beside the minor annoyance to need to refresh the page once i saved the content.



OWB 0.9.7 on my blog edit platform - the bookmark window is in the bottom right.


Paolo Besser is working too in try to improve its Icaros Desktop distro: recently, beside the new Icaros Desktop 1.1.2 release, he published a new Automatic Upgrade tool that will detects upgrades either from an .iso file, a CD-ROM or from internet, downloading a nightly.iso and using it to upgrade the system I tried it yesterday but it makes my QEMU environment close, guess because the disk ran out of space (my system partition is small) while downloading the nightly .iso from the net.

And Chris "platon42" Hodges is working on fixing the port of Poseidon on AROS: one of the main problems that Chris is having now is that he is lacking a real x86 hardware where to test on: its actual method of testing is to develop on VmWare, upload its latest binaries on the nightly buillds and have users with real hardware report about any problems it might arise.  So far some peripherals are recognized and some can also be mounted, but in other cases we still have either system freezes and hangups or the new inserte dperipheral might not be recognized properly by the stack. Once that is done, seems there still are some problems with the fat.handler, where in example the OS command copy does not work properly from FFS/SFS to FAT yet...

Matthias "Mazze" Ruster is busy, together with the YAM developing team in porting finally the well-known Amiga mail client on AROS; the port is virtually finished, beside a necessary bug hunting for some specific system-related flaws.

Last June 6 I had the occasion and the privilege to participate at a monthly reunion of the Southern California Commodore/Amiga Network (SCCAN) in the town of Castaic, north of the Los Angeles County and San Fernardo Valley, almost at the limit of the huge LA urban area. In the garage of one of those almost-cloned suburb houses i was greeted from Joew May, one of the members and the house owner. On ce the garage door slide up i faced its "laboratory": on the various crowded shelf i seen a c64, a sx-64 (c64 executive), several amiga 500, 1200 and a 3000 with or without external hard disk, beside three or four a2000 with toaster piled in a corner. After a while other members of the group arrived, included Robert Bernardo, the founder and brought further hardware and software; i therefore seen UAE on a eee-pc 700, i was able to see a custom version of the c-one board which also supported Minimig in its FPGA programming, the sx-64 mentioned above and other relics from the 64 era, including a plastic musical keyboard overlay similar to the one distributed by SIEL in italy.


An overall view of the SCCAN : from the left, standing Jerold - a guest movie operator; then Robert Bernardo sitting with white shirt and glasses, then standing Tim, the c-one user and, sitting on the right Matt with its eee-pc running UAE. Just next to Robert look st the pile of a2000 equiped with Video Toasters:)

It was a pity that, since my wife and my mother in law were with me, i wasunabvle to stay more than a couple of hours but it was nice to see some other people with a common ground to share; beside those little reunions, the SCCAN and the Fresno Commodore Club also organize in Las Vegas the Commodore Vegas Expo (or CommVEx) on the last week-end of July; as usual for budget reasons i cannot partecipate: this was a good edition with excellent guest (among those,Dave Haynie, RJ Mical and miss Jeri "C-One" Ellisworth !!!) but at least it is my intention to go to Castaic again next end of August/begin of September.

In order to show AROS to the SCCAN members, I thought it was about time to introduce it in a much better way than it happened at SCALE, where I introduced VmWAROS on virtual machine, full screen but no sound and the network still to be fixed; that of course was unprofessional and, am afraid, even unconvincing.

The stimulus to do that also came from the IRC channel, where an user asked how Icarosperformed on Virtualbox;  nic answered that he has been unable so far to make Icaros run on virtualbox properly and remembered - and me too -  that last year Michal Schulz made some fixes for AROS to run properly on it; other reason has been due to my subscription in the FSUGItalia board, where I introduced AROS and one of the users complained about the fact that VmWare was not an "open" virtual machine and was looking for alternatives such as Virtualbox.

So, at the end I downloaded and installed Virtualbox on my own machine and proceedted to look for make Icaros work on it.
According to an old multiplatform tutorial I should have first joined together all .vmdk files with the
vmware vdiskmanager, usually buindled with VmWare server but not with the player (thanks again to Kalamatee that provided me the file via IRC saving me from an approximate hundred megabytes download) and then I should have used qemu and convert the virtual file in a middle format that, using a Virtualbox tool, should then become readable from this one; and therefore I proceeded in all the iter to the Virtualbox converter... that was not there! Hoiw come?

A further search in google clarified that latest versions of Virtualbox can read VmWare virtual drives (nice to know having spent half an hour converting the files...) and so, once deleted the converted files I do the attempt to configure Virtualbox in run Icaros. The first boot attempt ends with the red pointer on the black screen and nothing else; considered that, whan I made my tests, the ata.device still were having big problems with AMD boards (and my Dell laptop has an AMD Sempron), i decided to follow instructions on Icaros site for unsupported SATA drives and so I  changed in GRUB the ATA=32bit string in ATA=nopci (ATA=nodma works too btw) and doing so i finally boot on Wanderer.


Icaros on Virtualbox: it works, despite some problems...
 
First of all I need to make clear that, unlike VmWare and qemu that adapt a screen refresh rate to the host machine speed and virtualisation capabilities, Virtualbox will run at full video speed (else known as 1-1 screen refresh) and will run excellent if your hardware support virtualisation else,like in my single core laptop, expect to wait up to three seconds for opening a wanderer window and show its icons.

Second, might be a mistake in my configuration but the Virtualbox network bridge tends to make exclusive use of the network, therefore forget to browse from AROS and windows at the same time; ti make sure the bridge does not give me any problem, i disabled it when i dont use VB, and will keep it like that until i dont understand what to do about it, or somebody will suggest me a workaround.

Third and last, the sound "kinda" work if i set a compatible sound card (AC-97 with a supported chipser) in the virtual machine, but the sound test make a kind of attempt of a sound (sound like BEEreberebereberebeepp-p-p, instead of a two seconds Beep) and then it freezes badly the virtual machine.

So for now Virtualbox is still there, sitting in my disc; probably i will do some more experiments in the future; about me i decided to switch to plan B and try the QEMU option.

Hopeful to have a better result (also because to what an IRC member told me) i decided to install the VE version of Icaros, that also includes KQemu, and follow the instructions given by Paolone in its web site for installing a QEMU environment on a netbook here, with some interpretation, of course. And the final result was really good: double clicking on the executing .bat file shortcut, Icaros start at full screen (i have another.bat file for work in a window), the sound seems to work properly, tried with milkytracker  (this .mpeg file make freeze and quit qemu environment btw) and the network works fine thianks to DHCP.


Icaros on qemu: finally something to show for evangelisation :)


Despite that i still gave problems in transferring files: considered the (damn!) net sandboxing system of qemu, making a subnet with IP addresses like 10.2.xx that is not visible from outside, this mieans that in order to transfer files i have to FTP from inside qemu towards my machine; and that is complicated from the fact that my machine does not have a static address, being used mainly through wireless. I tried a simple FTP address on it but so far it did not work, art least i was unable to see it from inside qemu. When i have some time will install the XAMPP package (doing web sites i need it even for work) and will set filezilla server.

But those were not all the experimentations that I made so far: when the Network control panel came out had the pretty insane idea to make a personal "emergency live-CD" with all I needed to go on line, like OWB, a IRC client, YAFS and the FTP using as base a nightly; this because my old laptop has a malfunctioning DVD drive that can read only CD-ROMs. Therefore, I found a copy of Magic ISO maker and started to experiment burning images. For my perosnal disappointment i have been unable to make any progress: either the CD booted showing a mangled scren or they did not boot at all (but they were showing if i boot from another original nightly). So, seems that so far the only way to make a bootable CD is to build AROS using the toolkit from source;  knowing that the GRUB boot file for AROS is called eltorito (yuo, same as the mexican food restaurant chain) i tried to make point the bootable option to it, still without success so far. Any advice for me?

Going on with my activities, lately had occasion to work again on the translation of the Amiga Programming Guide by Gianfranco "ShInKurO" Gignina; he prepared a SVN repository on Google Code for allow other people to partecipate. Since am already susing SVN at basic level from my office in linux shell, i thought that was a piece of cake to handle. But, as usual, murphy decided to pay me a visit. To contribute I decided to download TortoiseSVN, a SVN client for windows that provide a graphical user interface integration. I already prepared the translation of the new parts of chapter 5 but, despite I did inserted the google code repository and the generated password in the settings (as https too) i have been unable to commit in the repository.My caontribution has been uploaded by ShInkUrO itself, which I sent it via email; i really hope to fix this soon.

And, to finish for this time, let me provide an interesting link that I found on the net: the "how to survive poisonous people" talk made by the SVN developer's team and hosted on Google video: it talks about problems that might arise when some community members are, to say it soft, "less cooperative"; thank God this happens less in AROS environment, but is still a good source of advice.



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
13 aprile 2009
Diary: Technologies: AROS: Icaros Desktop v1.1, Amiga Users and the Peter Pan syndrome...
NOTICE: Due to an overzealous filtering method of "il cannocchiale" blog platform, the links to the AROS-exec Group might not work (because the presence of the 'exe' string in the name); therefore please instead of click the link directly, copy it, paste it in the address bar and fix it by hand in order to access to the forum, at least until i dont get in touch with the group admins ad whitelist the group name...

Sorry if i took so long in write the SCALE article and other news last time: looks like i need to learn to be a bit more short, considered that an equal if not higher amount of time is needed to translate the article in english so all you international readers are found reading one month old news.... therefore new passphrase is "write less, write often" :) [and as you can see, in pure open source fashion is another "when it's ready deadline - Happy Easter to everybody :P ]

A little Parenthesis for the recent bad luck of the Aros-exec portal that has been hacked three times in the latest two weeks, the last recorded one on Friday april 10th with a malware-loaded pdf file brought through an iframe; looks like finally the attack was contained and the web site came back to normal, but for those emergency situations the alternative is to go in the other AROS portal usually less frequented (that is bad, is a good one, i also mirror my articles there), called arosworld.org.

Good news: finally I managed to use network from my personal laptop at home! The solution was simple but kinda hidden from the average user eyes, and i stumbled on it casually; i needed to check whether my used network stack (wireless in my laptop) is correctly mapped as Vmnet0, using the program vmnetcfg.exe, located in the same program folder of the VmWare Player; there is no icon on the start menu so find it is matter to look for it. Usually Vmnet0 is mapped on the ethernet card of the computer while the main network I use in my laptop is the wireless one so I had to set Vmnet0 to map the wireless network first. Once done, i finally had no further problems with the network.

Last March 26th has been finally released Icaros Desktop version 1.1 (so far known as VmWaros): i already talked about it last time and can only remind the most important new features:
- recent build of AROS;
- added IconDress script for a fast icon set changing system wide in just a click;
- added Janus-UAE;
- added OWB;
- a new PDF-reader, ArosPDF,based on xpdf by Craid-Kiesau;
- improved stability;
- new Wanderer version with added icon options and status bar;
- updated several applications, including amimemos, simpleeditor and MarranoFTP (still with some bugs though)
- added application-switch and screen-switch keyboard shortcuts windows-style;
- globally improved E-UAE performence and upgraded amibridge scripts;
- added nic for RTL8168, the actually built-in iMica network card;

further informations are available on the distribution site itself; plus The italian IT oriented website Punto Informatico for the second time mentions here the Icaros Desktop release, putting it in the last minute news. I set up Icaros desktop last saturday in my VM and found it very stable. There are still some problems with in example the Zune class Betterstring.mcc that in some applications, such as WookieChat, shows just the last typed character; the reason of this behavior is actually being investigated, also because Paolo Besser said that in its installed system it dont see that behavior, present in the builds that he make.

Steve "ClusterUK" Jones updated Amibridge scripts; since the original cripts by Paolo Besser ised to delete and rewrite the user-startup under E-UAE, the method implemented by Steve allows not to delete the user-srtartup and load simply the chosen application in its own Janus-UAE window, that later can be closed through commodities or closing gadget, so to have a tighter integration between the AROS desktop and the Amiga 68k applications. Despite there might be still some work to be done, including the double pointer problem - Steve says - the target is getting close. The script canbe downloaded from here.

An interesting, and a bit pathetic thread started - or i should say restarted, considered that it represents itself every now and then - some days ago on amigaworld.net and successively even on osnews, about an x86 port of Amiga Os 4.1; a small but noisy minority of users made hear their voice on how the Amiga OS future should go, as happened for Mac OS, through the Intel processor family also considered some key events, such as the purchase of Freescale corp. from Apple and the closing of other manufacturers, that have left a strong uncertainity halo on the PPC platform.
Hyperion some time ago let know their opinion and  that they do not have intention to port Amiga OS under x86 - due, as most readers pointed on the thread, to a combination of low ROI, high porting cost, high piracy risk that might make the operation a huge loss - and is also interesting to see how, once reminded this and also stated that at the moment AROS is "the only game in town" on x86 and x86/64 platform, those people literally thrown out something that can only called tantrums in the fact that was not a REAL Amiga-labeled os, that was NOT os4, etc.

I do wonder sometimes if some Amiga user suffer of a peculiar Peter-pan syndrome form or else...

I have to be honest: this kind of aggregating all together around the Amiga "Brand" was something that made sense when I was younger, a way to express an identity and a social role and to stand from the bunch: i used to have a painted "I <3 my AMIGA" sticker on the back of my black Fiat Panda around 1995 to 1999 but then, once started to work and to use different systems made me feel the inadequacy of hanging hard on a single platform: the coup-de-grace came when, in order to do a big gig i had to add some removable storage and so I went to buy a zip drive and a surf-squirrel; i never been able to make it work properly due to the fact that my ViperEC030 RAM area collided with the PCMCIA access and therefore every single time i tried to access the drive, either via shapeshifter or from the Amiga side, the system hanged up pretty badly and had to resort in buying a power mac aside (no, using less ram was not a viable option).

Then, several years later, my rediscover of AROS in a moment in which was looking for alternatives to my fast-decaying "alternative"xp install on my old laptop, made me reconsider the option of an Amiga OS-like system and of its philosophy: it was much more user friendly than linux and a well known environment for me; a deeper immersion in the AROS community made me realise its big potential as Open source system and as ideal prosecutor of the Amiga OS philosophy: fast, lightweight, modular, user-centered and can run fast even in less recent and cheap hardware. The big plus the fact of being open source: mantained and updated by the community itself, it guarantees an indefinite long life to the system and allows the flow of new ideas and philosophies, beside the possibility to be used in commercial systems that would like to use it (as in example Natami) without the need to pay licence fees or to stipulate binfing OEM contracts; in short as i already said, an ideal solution for the diffusion of the Amiga philosophy and methodology. What i see instead is still several old school Amiga supporters stuck in their principles like "intel outside" and "Amiga is a full Hardware and Software complete solution, and is the ORIGINAL one", and whines about wanting anything that has the "Amiga" brand: reminds me closely the monologue of Eddie Murphy in the "Eddie Murphy raw" movie when he talks about its experience when he was a kid and was asking the mom for a McDonald burger (watch it and laugh here) and, having instead received a home-made burger (better than the McDonald one for sure) he start crying because other kids that have the McDonald burger fools him; luckilly growing up the sense of what is important changes and so when Eddie is grown up he craves for the mom's house-made burger (the moment of the admission here at 3:30): in my own head i see AROS as the mom's burger and Amiga OS as the McDonald's burger; vantages are visible: your mom can make your burger the way you like instead of McDonald's that being a big industrial franchising has its own easy-to-make-fool-proof-recipes-and-cooking-methods (see the book McDonald's behind the arches to know more about their procedures), but both things have their reason to exist even in relation to the number of people they need to serve: right now Amiga OS and MorphOS have a number of users too small to become mainstream and afford the jump to the x86 platform making sure they will see a decent Return of Income from a non-indifferent effort.
So, if you look for AmigaOS on the x86, AROS is here already and, as already said, being open source, can be expanded from anybody who has the skills to do it; the proposal of AROS now, in this very moment, thanks to the self-compilation, to OWB, to the (partially) working USB stack that allows to use external medias that started to glance in the eye of several hobbyists ,returning amiga users and, hopefully, even on the eye of more business-oriented people such as Steve Jones, who give AROS installed in bundle with its iMica; as i said this is finally the right time to introduce AROS at a higher number of people, for now mainly hobbyists and geeks, then, once solved the lack of software problem, even for less tech-savvy people.

And in the sense of improving AROS a good new is coming from the developer's mailing list: Jens Langner and Pavel "Sonic" Fedin are cooperating in order to compile Betterstring.mcc in the cross-compiler without passing through MetaMake (the AROS building system); therefore now the Betterstring class for AROS will be added directly from mainstream and removed from the source tree; in future Jens plans to make other classes, such as NList and TextEditor, compile from the cross-compiler and therefore to be released together with AmigaOS and MorphOs updates; Jens also plans to port YAM - the most known open source mail program for Amiga OSes - for AROS.

Nik "Kalamatee" Andrews is actually working in further improvements of Wanderer: some pictures appeared on AmigaNews.it and a Demonstration Video made by Kalamatee itself on Youtube shows the Wanderer windows holding a win-style directory tree at the left and the already known status bar on the bottom: the interesting fact is that those features will be in future handled as external modules and therefore enabled or disabled at will; that show the intention of Kalamatee to make Wanderer a more modular system easy to customise and upgrade, even with third party modules that will surely appear.

And, finally, another comeback of Stanislaw Sszymczyk, that released the 0.9.3 version of OWB: several bug fixed, optimised for better speed, the .htaccess login problem has been finally addressed and now OWB show a modal requester asking for username and password.
The latest OWB requires the latest codesets.library that can be taken from a nightly build .iso made after March 30. The new version, available for x86 and x86/64 can be downloaded from the sand-labs AROS OWB website.
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.
TECNOLOGIE
10 febbraio 2009
Diary: Technologies: AROS - Happy new year with Fireworks show!!!


My A1200/030 still working fine despite three years of inactivity

Sorry if i was not around lately, I have been in Italy for the christmas holidays and also had my religious marriage there. Now that I am back to the states, is time to talk again about AROS.

While i was abroad,i was, when pssible giving a look at AROS progresses using my PC in italy: a celeron with dial-up connection at 56k, therefore i was unable, due to lack of bandwidth, to see the newer deoms posted on Youtube and Vimeo until I came back to the states.

I also been able, to my own delight, to put back on duty my old 1200 in order to retrieve some more material to post on the net, such as old .mod files and found out how, after three long years of total inactivity, is able to boot perfectly (unlike my Macintosh Performa 6400, that cannot see its internal drive), and had the feeling of a real Amiga system on my hands; this brught, of course, in doing some comparisons with my actual AROS system that am using right now.
Beside AROS is basically an AmigaOS 3.1 clone, now its usability is of course improved from its ancestor and, despite some bad system hand due to Dopus, or some keyboard shortcut not working as expected, the experience is pleasant. If somebody would be able to fix the glitches, it might be even improved.

I recently installed the version 1.0.2 of VmWAROS in my virtual machine: following the instruction i first installed version 1.0 and then, once I retrieved the update ISO, AROS found it and mounted it on the desktop (and this is already a good improvement) and I simply had to make the "VmWUpdate" script run (its icon is under my software/System Apps in the Amistart menu); it updated everything quite fast, in around five/ten minutes. I will make some more tests in the future, also considered that am preparing < a href="http://scale7x.socallinuxexpo.org/conference-info/schedules" target="_blank"> my speech for the SCALE expo next February 21st (1.30 to 2.30 pm PDT program track B).

2008 has been the best AROS year so far: important bounties like self-compile and SAM-440 port have been accomplished: the first one, in particular, as stated from me here[link] has also raised considerably the porting of other applications from other operating systems, together with the GTK-MUI library developer by Kalamatee for E-UAE; furthermore, the development of VmWAROS reached its first milestone and now, at 1.0.2 version has bvecome even more stable and mature getting its own characteristics such as NewIcons (in a special verison for AROS made by Ken Lester itself), the PDF file reader PoorPDF and AmiBridge, a basic integration script system between UAE and AROS.

But the most exciting things begun to happen towards the end of the year: among them the ongoing port of Ignition, a nice spreadsheet program ported by Matthias "Mazze" Ruster

, then the port of mplayer made by Krysztof Smiechowicz starting from the Morphos port mantained by Fabien Coeurjoly; it is actually an "early beta" and has a quite basic GUI but has finally brought in AROS a decent video and audio support; then there is the OWB port by Stanislaw Sszymczyk that deserves to be treated apart.

And then we have the work of Michal Schulz, still ongoing with its own two bounties - the AROS Efika port and the USB mass storage bounty - its lalatest contributions on AROS before to dedicate itself full-time on the ANUBIS project: not too long ago he stated on the IRC channel that he had been able to boot an AROS CD throug USB CD-ROM: later in its own blog, Michal explained more deeply what was still lacking for an adequate handling of the USB CD-ROM on AROS:

Every modern USB presents itself as a SCSI conforming bulk-only mass storage device to the system. Therefore, in order to do any IO operations, I have had to do them in the old good SCSI style. Therefore, the mass storage class do contain a DirectSCSI method and exposes it to rest of the world.

What a coincidence! I have added a few-lines long implementation of HD_SCSICMD to the .device layer of mass storage. I have started AROS in QEMU and forwarded the USB->PATA converter with a DVD attached to it and AROS CD inside (I didn't want to test anything special, but it was the first CD I saw on the desktop). AROS booted and stopped. Then, the timeout errors appeared. A lot of them. A bit disappointed I've left my desk and did something else. Suddenly, the CD started to spin and AROS booted from USB CD device! Great!

A short investigation showed, that the CD filesystem used in AROS performs the INQUIRY SCSI command with a fixed size, whereas the USB protocol provides a much shorter data in return, which leads to a timeout. Then, it tries to get the full-sized TOC and such. Anyway, AROS team will either need to fix CD filesystem a bit, or I will have to give up 10 second timeouts in mass storage and introduce four pipes there: two of them with very short timeout (100 miliseconds or so) and two with the 10 second timeout.





So now AROS can mount and boot even from the majority of USB sticks; considered that the transfer protocol supported so far is USB 1.1, the best results can be obtained with SFS, that takes around one minute to boot; for some reasons both SFS and FAT are not supporting cache durinf the data transfer and, therefore, are quite slower.

Still from Michal Shulz, we have good news even on the EFIKA port: the last January 26th Michal put on line a first beta version of AROS for EFIKA here, followed by a second version here due to some problems from Open Firmware in retrieving all packages: Other than that, Michal is aware that this version has still big glitches and has been released for debug purpose. According to him The Efika 512 source tree, once upgraded the sources with the latest contributions, reached the size of 150 megabytes, including a complete GCC tolchain and some more utilities.

O1i accepted the Phase 1 UAE Integration bounty: the results achieved so far are quite good: UAE opens its amiga windows under AROS, the amiga pointer is synced with the AROS one ad the integrated windows, that now runs at almost full UAE speed, can be re-arranged, mopved and resized from AROS controls. At htis moment there are still things not working properly in the integration, such as menus, closing gadget, border gadgets and non-workbench screens. The border gadgets, according to o1i are the hardert to get implemented; plus at this moment is not possible to launch Amiga OS programs from Wanderer; it is required to have an Amiga OS window open(such as workbench or a shell prompt) to launch the programs.

Mmartinkna posted a screenshot of AROS running under Parallels Desktop in Mac OS X; From what Paolo Besser wrote in its blog, Parallels Desktop is offering a better experience compared to VmWare, also because sound is working there. For the best experience possible, Paolo advise to set AHI preferences as AC97 (both for Music and for Unit 0) and to set ConfigIP to use the RTL8029 card.

Kalamatee has recently uploaded in SVN the beta version of its RTL8168 PCI and Gigabit NIC driver, asking for testing in the forum. Having still several glitches the driver is not considered workling; he is also trying to fix further the ata.device,especially for what concerns the legacy compatibility list.

Stanislaw Sszymczyk is the best purchase made by the AROS community in the recent times: its skills as programmer were already highlighted from the accomplishment of the self-compile bounty and now are further confirmed from its new task: the AROS OWB port; the first screenshot posted before christmas, desipite being just a google page with wrong colors and basic fonts, made me get strongly excited; the further status updates came so fast that it was looking unreal: OWB can already adequately show complex pages like Google maps and Google docs.
And, as a bonus, Stanislaw, going on with the development, enriched the toolshed available for the porting of new software: the new SDL port fromthe mainstream solved the messed-up colors problem seen in the first test screenshot and the new version of SSL, the 0.9.8j got ported too.

Since the Bounty requirement list asked for a Zune Interface for the browser, and also that the browser itself might be used as a zune component, the solution adopted by Stanislaw, once he realised that for some reason the AROS Genmodule generated code was not liked at all from the Webkit code, to write a static library that interfaces between the C++ webkit code and the C zune code; being the WebView interface properly implemented there has been no further problem: the screen redraw is incremental and therefore there is no need to redraw the page completely as the Webkit port of Rob used to be; the only reason that made Stanislaw not use the graphics.library instead of SDL was the missing alpha channel support in the first one.
Stanislaw thanks in its page Jorg Ströhmayer for the good organisationof its code in the OS4 port; that helped him in build the GUI onm Zune; he also revealed that "has been a pleasant experience" code again under MUI: its own tests with RegisterClass and its limitations made him build its own personalised tabbed browsing class complete with closing gadget.
Writing the class took Stanislaw around one week of work and brought him of fix some Zune bugs and to better understand its inner workings; the final resulting class bring OWB to be able to do tabbed browsing. Another requirement for the bounty was the use of Datatypes; Stanislaw's opinion is that the best Datatypes use should be for image decoding: actually OWB use internally an object hierarchy belonging to the ImageDecoder class, that implements different libraries according to the file format to decode; therefore Stanislaw wrote a new class that uses datattypes to decode pictures but this class use is actually limited from the following factors:

  • Picture datatype doesn't support progressive image decoding
  • AROS datatypes.library has no support for DTST_MEMORY source type
  • PDTM_READPIXELARRAY metod of picture datatype returns a data array with 0 values in alpha channel, requiring additional time-consuming processing

Because of that, the class had to inherit all those restrictions and therefore the image got decoded only once its data is all in memory, using also temporary files for that (and of course missing the progressice decoding); this limitation set back the Datatypes support only for those file formats that are not supported elsewhere.
For the future Stanislaw plans to add UTF-8 character set support to AROS, to use Zune widgets for handling forms and to allow more applications to use the Browser class at the same time; the latter one, according to its blog, due to lack of results has been momentarily set apart.

The latest surprise is coming from James "Jahc" Carroll, author of WookieChat: just some days ago he ported finally its SabreMSN on AROS, filling another important gap in the software landscape of the operating system. James needed the port of Open SSL to port the application; the port has been made by Stanislaw Sszymczyk; some components such as codesets.library are not supported or are faulty but the port of SabreMSN shows as AROS finally is achieving some room and respect in the Amiga developers heart, also thanks to the hard work of its developers and supporters.

TECNOLOGIE
10 dicembre 2008
Technologies: AROS: Small steps, Sparks; small steps...
ATTENTION: due to a strange bug on il cannocchiale blog platform, the aros-exec links does not appear correctly, therefore fix them in the address bar; hope this problem will be reparied soon...

The title is, for who remembers it, a catch phrase from the movie "Contact" and also one of the things that I took as philosophy of life; if you want to do something it is better to go slow pursuing smaller goals than try to do the big leap all at once when things are not going right away.

It means that, doing small steps,  the path to the achievement is followed anyway, slowly and one day looking around you realise that your goal is closer than expected. The secret is fragmenting big tasks in smaller, more affordable chores; taking those on and completing em means getting to the final goal a small step less, minor maybe but still a step less to go.

Of course i am thinking about AROS situation; let me show the actual latest small steps to the 1.0:

Stanislaw Sszymczyk has finished recently the bounty for the AROS self-compilation, a very important step for every operating system considered that, as somebody commented in the OSNews announce, some developers don't get interested in an OS until it reach this goal; so even simply this step might be a good thing and a reason to attract, in theory, new developers.

And with small steps even the new evrsion of VmWAROS is close to be completed: Paolo Besser announced the "feature freeze" for the actual version that si undergoing a massive beta testing before the public release.
Considered that, up to the last year, AROS was left without any official distro and the announced one, called Velocity, had to be cancelled by its mantainer, fishy_fis, due to personal problem and to a bad car accident that involved him.

Paolo Besser has achieved,with a combination of shell scripts, to create a simple UAE integration in the new version of VmWAROS. The integration system, called "Amibridge", use an idea already conceived by fishy_fis itself and put together by Besser on its own and allows to launch UAE and specific Amiga programs with the click of an icon on Wanderer.
Furthermore: thanks at my own initiative to get in touch with Whoosh777, mantainer of the Amiga and AROS port of Ghostscript to ask about a port of a new version.
Strangely, nobody ever gave to Whoosh777 any feedback on the AROS version of Ghostscript so he decided to keep it on hold.
AROS internals were changed since the last version of Ghostscript shipped and, despite mine and Paolo debug reports, seems like the new version of Ghostscript is actually not working correctly.
But Paolo found out that the previous version is actually still working fine and that allowed him to write another script that, through Ghostscript, creates jpeg previews of a PDF document pages on RAM and show them through picshow. The script has been called PoorPDF.
Last but not least, a slight esthetical improvement has been done by the cooperation of Ken Lester and its own famous Ken's Icons, portedt to AROS and customised for the occasion.
A well known feature of the ken's icons - the icon's different appearance between selected and unselected - brought to a review of the icon.library and of the way icons are actually built under AROS.

Nikolaos, here let us know that another historic problem of AROS - the impossibility to change CD-ROM in a drive without the need to reboot in order to see the new one - has finally been solved partially by Error; still, appIcons are not supported (appIcons are tye icons that shows up when a removable media is mounted) but is still another small step in the right direction.

Matthias Ruster is meddling with the port of Ignition, an Amiga OS spreadheet recently released open source under GPL 3: in the last month he achieved slow but remarkable progresses: first of all some essential parts for the program running, the gtdrag,pScroller and pTextEdit classes were added to the program repository in october; Matthias has been able to compile classes demos and make them partially work on November 19 [screenshot], then has been able to make the spash screen open in November 30 [screenshot]; the last known progress has been made on December 4, when he had been able to make the GUI start for a while [screenshot]; right now Matthias is working to make the preferences endianness safe; [edit: last update today december 11 Matthias has a working GUI and can insert text in the cells [screenshot] ]; hope in further updates soon.

According to the Bounty list on Power2People.com. on December 1st the first part of the Kickstart Replacement Bounty expired. The assigned coder, bheron, aslo known as Gergory John Casamento, chief mantainer of GNUstep, posted a first status report on the developr mailing list last December 5:

My apologies for not giving more status on this sooner, but I've been bogged down lately due to both business and personal matters. Currently Alex Perez [edit: MisterBIOS on #AROS] and I are working on this bounty. Alex has identified some hardware which can be used to burn the ROMS to chips which could be used in an actual Amiga. According to him this was difficult to find. I am trying to find resources to help me understand the existing ROMS better so that I can proceed with their replacement. [Edit: I helped bheron sending him a link to the Natami Knowledge Base website that includes part of the HTML version of the RKRM autodocs and Henrycase offered himself to purchase and send to bheron a copy of the Amiga Guru Book found in ebay, hoping it might be helpful]

I'm not disassembling them (naturally) but I have been trying to get hold of ROM kernel manuals and, to be honest, an ACTUAL Amiga... up until now I am using UAE with roms from the Cloanto CD-ROM Amiga Forever.

I have also gotten SASC in order to compile GCC so that I can build AROS under UAE. (like I said... still need Amiga hardware)

 I know that the deadline for this has passed and I assure you when I took this task on I thought I would have the time to accomplish it by the deadline (which was admittedly pretty tight).

Ao far somebody in the developer list thinks bheron did even more than asked from the bounty requirement starting tasks required for the phase 2; those news are in any way very good because gives confirm on how Gregory took its task seriously and on its dedication on proceeding towards the bounty completion.

BTW, Gregory can ask a time extension for the bounty and, honestly, i am sure he will receive it: would also like to ask people  to help bheron in retrieve amiga ghardware in order to complete the bounty: bheron and MisterBIOS can be contacted through #aros channel ,the aros-exec forum and the AROS developer mailing list. This call is a personal initiative of mine, so in case they ask tell them you went to know through my blog.

Than another good new comes from the advocacy side: TADsince1995 held an AROS presentation conference last November 29 inside the Linuxmeeting in Palermo, sicily. The presentatio has been successful: AROS has been favorably received from the attendees; this is the outcome using the words of TAD itself:

As I previously announced, yesterday I presented AROS at linuxmeeting. It was a little success! The average age of people was under 20, but there were some older people who used amiga.

Both those who used amiga in the past and who didn't know what Amiga is were very interested. During the presentation I did a little introduction on the history of Amiga and then I showed them VmwAros running on qemu. Even if it was running slow on qemu they were amazed by aros speed!

In the afternoon I was able to show AROS running native on my Acer laptop at its full speed (thanks to people here who helped me on some issues regarding the installation). People reunited in front of the screen and cannot believe how fast the system booted up (about 6 seconds) and how fast applications loaded.

One of them said that he was interested on porting applications to aros and the organizer of the event proposed to start an aros local group.

This shows that AROS is not ignored because is old technology or for other futile reasons, going even against my own ideas that i put in this blog some time ago: looks like simply AROS is not known outside the Amiga communities despite the appearance in some italian and european magazines: probably at that time it was simply considered a kind of curiosity, and looks also like magazines have no more that power that they used toi have even in the latest ten years, internet now do a better job in updating people and giving informations, therefore seems that many people did not even see AROS coming through the press and therefore they underestimate and ignore its own existence.
Presentations such the one made by TAD or those made by Paolone in Pianeta Amiga and in Brusaporto last year are occasion to introduce people outside Amiga circles, or inside Amiga circles but that so far did not care about - to AROS; still too many people have the Amiga as a Games machinein their own mind, also because few bought something more than a base 500 or 600 and used it in video grpahics, multimedia or programming: at least its older brother, the commodore 64 in Italy got  a bit more serious reputation, beside the games one, in the very local and peculiar Totocalcio card processing system (Totocalcio is a game once very popular in italy: people try to guess soccer matches results, and can be played in a simple way or, using double or triple combinations per match, in a so-called "system" card: being based on statistic, many computer programs came out in order to help people win), even supported by a local industry called SIEL who at the time sold integrated c64/totcalcio card printer systems, i seen one still at work like five years ago: this kin of programs hardly make their way in the Amiga world and the most fertile ground for semi-professional use in italy for amiga was the video titling: probably if there was a PAL version of the toaster there should be still some amiga around....

And, at the end, sometihng about my persona commitment with AROS.

I started some time ago to write sometihng in lua: i downloaded the all-in-one lua distribution under windows in order to learn to program it' it is my intention to write a preferences requester for a fast network config under AROS; i am starting with lua from scratch, therefore from the most basic operations that every language has: operations, conditions and files input/output (and here i got stuck: haven't found a low level tutorial for that yet) and at last Zulu, the well known LUA extension for MUI graphical interfaces.
The text file inside extras/developers/lua gives just some Zulu commands list but expect you to be familiar with the internal MUI workings and does not tutor you in it.

A chat with Olivier2222 in #aros made me understand some basics on how to draw the GUI in the right way; will try to summarise it shortly:
Olivier 2222 made a comparison with an HTML page using <IDV> structures and its hierarchy: starting from the window object has to be added a vertical group first then, inside an horizontal group (that might contains some more vertical groups and so on)and then the objects inside all (like textfield, or dropdown,etc.) If you need a space between the objects you add a separator.

Using those (more detailed in the chat) advices I started to do a test GUI and i finally seen something appearing, then making it work will be a different pair of shoes.
Olivier2222 told me to give a look at the MUI 3.8 developer docs to better understand the inner workings of the various objects. He gave me mainly C examples but, since i think i got some basics now, i hope to share my knowledge once will know some more.

Furthermore, I sent an AROS presentation abstract for the next SCALE (Southern CAlifornia Linux Expo) that will be held on the last week of February 2009; if the abstract will be accepted that will be my fisrt official presentation; i am looking for suggestions in order to set up something good when will be the time.

As i said at the beginning, the small steps philosophy work: just go on one small steps at the time: results will follow.

[last minute edit: i knew i forgot something: netsurf. Looks like for the moment sszy put netsurf port apart but he still has a plan B....;)]
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.
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