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Posted by Jeffrey Lee on 18:30, 20/10/2012
| Emulation, Games, Hardware, Open source, Retro, RISC OS, RISC OS Open Ltd, Shows, Software
18 comments in the forums
Here's a quick round up of some of the recent activities in the RISC OS world.
London Show reminder
Next weekend, Saturday the 27th of October, is the date for this years London show. The show is to be held at the usual location of the St Giles Hotel in Feltham, London, and will be open from 11AM to 5PM. Tickets cost £5 on the door.
Although the theatre presentation schedule isn't yet available, the exhibitor's list is. Apart from all the usual subjects you should also keep an eye out for ROOL's first official, stable release of RISC OS for the Raspberry Pi.
As mentioned above, the first stable release of RISC OS for the Raspberry Pi is expected to be unveiled at this years London show. The port has come on a long way since it was first shown at last years show, and is now pretty much on par with the other platforms with regards to features and usability. The distribution is to be available in the form of an SD card complete with ROM image, !Boot sequence, and a selection of pre-installed software, based around the work Chris Hall and others have placed into the Pi alpha distro.
Other news from ROOL in recent months includes:
- The release of SDFS, an SD card filing system for all the modern machines (BeagleBoard/ARMini, PandaBoard, Raspberry Pi)
- The release of several 32bit compatible NIC drivers for the RiscPC/A7000 (previously the IOMD port of RISC OS 5 had no drivers available, except under emulation)
- Work on step one of the multi-stage filing system improvements bounty has begun
- There have also been several performance improvements over the past few months - faster remapping of memory and shorter drive mount times, resulting in significantly shorter boot times for modern machines, faster font plotting, and last but not least a SmartReflex driver to allow the BeagleBoard-xM/ARMini to run at its full speed of 1GHz instead of 800MHz.
GCC 4.1.2 release 2 released
Hot on the heels of release 1 of GCC 4.1.2, the RISC OS GCCSDK team have released release 2, with a focus on fixing the bugs that were found in the initial release.
- Aemulor Pro now freely available for ARMv7 machines
A new version of Aemulor Pro, compatible with all the modern ARMv7 machines (BeagleBoard, ARMini, PandaBoard, etc.) is now available to download free of charge from the Spellings website at http://buyit.spellings.net/. A Raspberry Pi compatible version is expected to appear in due course.
- ArcEm 1.50 alpha available
The ArcEm team are back with a new website and a new alpha release. Compared to the previous 1.00 release there have been many significant improvements. In particular the RISC OS version is now ARMv6/ARMv7 compatible, and fast enough to play most Arc games at full speed on an Iyonix. Members of R-Comp's ARMini/BeagleBoard/PandaLand support schemes also have access to a more polished version of the emulator, and several games to play on it, under the moniker !AcornMode.
- Atari emulator Hatari ported to RISC OS
In recent weeks Franck Martinaux has released a RISC OS port of version 1.6.2 of the Atari ST emulator Hatari. The emulator is reported to run at full speed on BB-xM, and is available from Franck's website at http://www.norisc-nofun.co.uk/software.html.
Posted by Sion on 20:00, 25/3/2012
| Education, Graphics, Hardware, IYONIX, Open source, Programming, RISC OS, RISC OS Open Ltd, Software, Video
3 comments in the forums
RISC OS 5.18 released
RISC OS Open have announced the release of their latest stable release of RISC OS, version 5.18 to be precise. This update features no less than 340 improvements since the last official release and has been officially vetted by Castle Technology for the Iyonix PC and R-Comp Interactive for their ARMini.
The new ROM image should be able to upgrade all versions of RISC OS from version 5.07 or later and is provided with a flash programming tool (for Iyonix users), which also takes a backup of the previous version just incase you wish to go back.
The OMAP3 (i.e. ARMini) version of the operating system now supports hardware CMOS memory fitted on a carrier board plugged into one of the headers on the motherboard. This permits saving of common configuration settings which will be retained when the power is off. CMOS memory carrier boards are available now from the ROOL store and are suitable for use on the original Beagleboard, Beagleboard-xM, and Pandaboard.
As the ROMs now several new modules, some of the module location numbers have changed. Because the *UNPLUG settings only remember the module location numbers you may need to review any unplugged modules after the upgrade to ensure the desired ones are unplugged, and that crucial modules are not left unplugged by mistake.
For the full release notes and download/installation instructions, please see the ROOL press release.
Raspberry Pi released
The Raspberry Pi Foundation have launched their much anticipated, and dirt cheap computer, the Raspberry Pi. The machine is currently being sold through a number of electronic retailers, namely Farnell, RS Components, and Allied Electronics. However overwhelming demand for the device means that it may take a month or two for production to ramp-up and all backorders to be filled.
The Raspberry Pi is a single-board computer developed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation. The foundation plans to release two versions, priced at £16 and £22. The Raspberry Pi is intended to stimulate the teaching of basic computer science in schools and has been designed for use with the Linux operating system, although a port of RISC OS to the machine is already underway.
The design is based around a Broadcom BCM2835 SoC, which includes a 700MHz ARM1176JZF-S processor, VideoCore IV GPU, and 256 Megabytes of RAM. The design does not include a built-in hard disk or solid-state drive, instead relying on an SD card for booting and long-term storage.
MPlayer ported to RISC OS
Chris Gransden has ported the popular cross-platform media player and encoder MPlayer to RISC OS, this significant advancement means that RISC OS can now fully play MP4 and other mainstream video formats.
Chris’ port is a direct build of the Linux sources and does not feature much RISC OS integration as of yet. It makes a good attempt at playing most MPEG, VOB, AVI and WMV formats, plus many others. You can expect reasonable frame rates up to 480p resolution on recent RISC OS hardware which currently includes Beagleboard and Pandaboard based machines.
Bundled along with the MPlayer download is MEncoder, which is a simple movie encoder, designed to encode MPlayer-playable movies.
You can download this latest version of MPlayer from the riscos.info website here.
Version 3.38 of OpenVector, OpenGridPro and DrawPlus has been released. These applications are all open-source enhancements to Draw, providing enhanced layering and object library capabilities as well as the ability to draw advanced grids and other object layouts. This release features improved compatibility with Cortex-A8 hardware such as the ARMini and BeagleBoard. Compressed drawfiles and libraries can now be loaded when alignment exceptions are enabled. Consistency of layered merging has also improved.
Version 1.71 of PlayIt, a disc-based engine for playing sound samples, has been released. It is used as a resource by several audio players including DigitalCD. This new update contains no new functionality but several significant bugfixes, increased 26/32bit neutrality, and changes for ARMv7 compatability.
BarFree from Bernard Veasey has been updated to work on RISC OS 5.18, BarFree copies revised ‘Messages’ and ‘Templates’ files to your ’PreDesk’ directory within its own directory called ‘Free’ to enable different style Free Space windows.
Charm has been updated to version 2.5.3 to add support for 'new' and 'delete' keywords for allocating and releasing storage for records. Charm is a high level programming language with a compiler than generates efficient code with a small memory footprint.
Posted by Jeffrey Lee on 21:00, 17/10/2011
| RISC OS, Random stuff, RISC OS Open Ltd, Shows, RISCOS Ltd
39 comments in the forums
Here's a quick roundup of everything that's happened over the past few weeks.
New software releases
Version 2.8 of the NetSurf browser was released last month. The major new features in this release are a new cross-platform system for handling frames and iframes, and an improved image cache.
Peter Nowosad's Charm programming language also saw a new release last month. Version 2.4 is the first version of the language to be 32bit compatible, so if you're looking for something a little bit different from your programming languages then now's a good as time as any to give it a go.
A new version of StrongHelp was released to the StrongED mailing list, featuring several bugfixes, mainly for ARMv7 compatability. Download it here.
CDFaker now 32bit
Steffen Huber has released a 32bit version of Andy Armstrong's CDFaker utility, which allows you to mount ISO images and read their contents via CDFS. Apart from being 32bit compatible, this release is also fully ARMv7 compatible.
Martin Weurthner's popular InterGIF utility has also seen an update. The main focus of this release was to make the utility ARMv7 compatible.
Music player DigitalCD and related modules (TimPlayer, DiskSample) have been updated to add support for more tracker music formats, along with a few bugfixes.
New C/C++ tools release
And last but not least, RISC OS Open have released version 22 of the C tools package. The main development focus for this release was on improving objasm, to add support for the full ARMv7 instruction set, and to add support for some features offered by the assembler available in ARM's RealView package (which has a shared heritage with objasm and the other 'ROOL' tools).
For purchasing information, see ROOL's announcement.
RISC OS 5 news
OMAP4 ROM now available to download
As mentioned in the previous news roundup, Willi Theiss has been working on porting RISC OS to TI's OMAP4. This work has now found its way into ROOL's CVS, allowing them to add a (Pandaboard-compatible) OMAP4 ROM image to the downloads page. However as this is a first release, expect to see a fair number of bugs and missing features.
Raspberry Pi port on the cards
Veteran developer Adrian Lees has expressed an interest in porting RISC OS to the low-cost Raspberry Pi computer. Previously the possibility of a port was put into doubt by the question of whether anyone would have access to the required hardware documentation, but since Adrian works at Broadcom alongside Raspberry Pi Foundation members it sounds like lack of documentation will be the least of his issues.
Bounty pot reaches £1K
The amount of money available to developers through the ROOL bounty system has now reached £1000.
However none of the bounties have yet hit their (secret) target values, so it looks like any budding programmers will have to wait a bit longer before they're able to take on any of the tasks listed (unless they want to do it for free!)
Correction: As has been pointed out by ROOL, bounties don't have any target funding values. Instead, interested parties merely need to get in touch and say that they're starting work once they feel that the money in the pot has reached an acceptable value. For more info on the workings of the bounty system, see here.
On the subject of bounties, developer Rob Sprowson has recently had a go at analysing all the different filesystem wishlist items and boiling them down to a list of defined bounties, which can be found here. It's probable that this list (or something close to it) will be adopted by ROOL and added to the bounty area of their website in the near future. Not to be content with just making a bounty list, Rob has also had a go at fixing a few filing system bugs recently, mainly focusing around making sure FileSwitch and the filer are happy with files between 2G and 4G in size, as well as fixing a couple of bugs in RPCEmu that stopped large files from working there.
London show approaching
And finally, this is your official reminder that the 2011 RISC OS London show is here in just under two weeks time, on the 29th of October. Apart from the usual names on the exhibitors list it's worth pointing out that there'll be a pre-release version of the Raspberry Pi board on show. And if Adrian hasn't got it running RISC OS natively by the end of the show, it sounds like the RPCEmu team will be there with a copy of the RPCEmu emulator as a fallback. Unfortunately one notable absentee from the exhibitors list is RISCOS Ltd, who are unable to attend due to a clash with another commitment.
Posted by Michael Drake on 19:09, 16/8/2011
| RISC OS, Sound and music, Software, Open source, RISC OS Open Ltd
9 comments in the forums
André Timmermans, author of DigitalCD, has released an update to his tracker music playing module TimPlayer. The new version adds support for several new tracker file formats, as well as including many other changes and fixes.
Meanwhile, RISC OS Open have secured permission to release the SharedSound module. This should improve the situation regarding sound support for owners of modern ARMv7 powered RISC OS systems.
Posted by Jeffrey Lee on 01:20, 2/8/2011
| RISC OS, Random stuff, RISC OS Open Ltd, Video
5 comments in the forums
Here's a quick round up of all the interesting things that have happened over the past few months that we didn't find the time to report on.
ROOL bounty scheme
ROOL officially announced their bounty scheme, and then followed up that announcement by beginning a process of doubling-up the first £1000 worth of bounty payments - for every pound you contribute towards a bounty (except the ROOL admin bounty), ROOL will also contribute a pound.
Although none of the bounties are yet to reach their (hidden) donation targets, it's worth noting that the biggest bounty so far has over £300 allocated to it. So although the bounties aren't likely to come close to the average hourly wage of a professional programmer, they're certainly not going to go for chump change either.
Jim Lesurf has announced that he is offering a £300
bounty prize to the first person to add USB audio support to RISC OS.
BBC Domesday site
No more hunting down rare laserdisc players - the BBC have launched a new section of their website containing the content of the 1986 Domesday system.
Proving that online videos of Acorn shows aren't just a modern thing, Mike Cook has pointed us towards this video he uploaded of the 1985 Micro User show. Ah, the memories.
More news sites emerge
In what's possibly an attempt to plug the gap left by our lack of updates, several new news sites have sprung up:
- Vince "One C or two" Hudd has turned RISCOSitory into a news site, which he looks to be updating on a fairly regular basis.
- For those who despise reading and just want a list of links, Martin Hansen has just the thing for you - he's added a section to the RISCOScode website that he's using for quickly linking to newsworthy things.
- And then there's the newest contender, riscos.blog.com, which seems to be updating at a faster rate than RISCOSitory but with shorter articles as a result.
GCC 4.1.2 crawls closer to release
With the first prerelease being over a year ago, you'd be forgiven for thinking that we'd all be using GCC 4.1.2 by now. But to prove that good things come to those who wait, it was only in April of this year that work began on the release preperations. The GCC team are still no doubt after your feedback, so if you're maintaining a RISC OS program that relies on GCC, please have a go with the latest version and report your findings.
RISC OS 5 development
Apart from the bounty announcement, plenty of other things have been happening with RISC OS 5 recently:
- Tom Walker has sneakily sneaked some sources into ROOL's CVS: A S3C2440 HAL and a S3C6410 HAL, targeting the Mini2440 and Mini6410 respectively. Although the ports are very rough around the edges, what's interesting is that (a) the S3C2440 is the same SoC as used in the A9home, and (b) the S3C6410 is the first ARMv6 device to natively run RISC OS.
- Not to be out-sneaked, Willi Theiss has recently announced that he's been working on a port of RISC OS to the PandaBoard, a development board closely related to the BeagleBoard but with a cutting-edge dual-core Cortex A9 processor instead of the BeagleBoard's ageing Cortex A8. Although the port is currently only using one core, early benchmark results suggest that the out-of-order execution and improved VFP hardware are enough to deliver a significant performance boost over current hardware.
- TBA software have been keeping themselves busy by releasing a test version of an updated BBC BASIC with VFP/NEON assembler support.
- Chris Wraight has released test version of his revamped Calc/SciCalc application.
- Rik Griffin has also been hard at work on an improved Filer_Action module.
- And finally the IOMD (i.e. RiscPC) version of RISC OS 5 has also seen a few improvements recently, making it much more usable on real hardware (although there's still plenty left to be done)
Posted by Jeffrey Lee on 22:00, 25/6/2010
| RISC OS, Acorn, Hardware, Media, Open source, RISC OS Open Ltd, Shows
11 comments in the forums
Tech-centric news site The Register have an article
up that gives a brief overview of Acorn, the BeagleBoard, and the fact that RISC OS runs on it. Not exactly new news to the average RISC OS user, but the article is still worth a look just for to see the comments from old hands such as Eddie Edwards
, and Hugo Tyson
, and some extra trivia tidbits
linked to by commenter jlocke
Now, who wants to be the first to enlighten Peter Gathercole that adding (working) pre-emptive multitasking to RISC OS is in no way "trivial
Posted by Chris on 15:25, 19/4/2010
| Hardware, Open source, Programming, RISC OS, RISC OS Open Ltd, Video
17 comments in the forums
Watching video on RISC OS isn't very easy. We've run an article here
on how you can download and convert YouTube videos into a format RISC OS can understand. Though it's very clever, and the tools
involved are actively developed, it's not as simple as clicking 'Play' in a browser window.
Improving this situation has been hampered up until now for two main reasons:
- RISC OS hardware has been too slow to play back video at an acceptable rate;
- RISC OS software hasn't supported popular codecs (formats), some of which are proprietary and expensive to license.
The first of these is already well on the way to being fixed. The Beagleboard is modestly powered in comparison to the average desktop PC, but it's perfectly capable of playing video at a decent rate. The diminutive boards have been shown running 720p video (a high-definition format) while running a Linux distribution - have a look here
to see this in action.
The RISC OS port can't quite match that yet. All that might be about to change, though, due to the development of something called Theorarm
. This is a library of routines to enable the playing of videos in the Ogg Theora
format on ARM-based machines. Ogg Theora is a relatively new format, but it has some interesting features. Perhaps most importantly, it's entirely open source, so videos encoded using the technology can be played back by any suitably-written software. Moreover, Theora is one of the contenders for the [video] tag in the new HTML5 specification. That means that it may become a significant rival to the more common MPEG and Flash videos on the web.
Theorarm is interesting, as it's been optimised for newer ARM chips using hand-written assembly code. This makes it very fast. The developer, Robin Watts (of Warm Silence Software
fame) has done some development work on the Beagleboard, with promising results: "With post processing disabled, I can play a PAL DVD sized film (720x576x25fps, 48kHz stereo audio track) in realtime with software YUV2RGB. The limited profiling I've done, along with some back-of-an-envelope maths suggests that we should just about be able to do 720p films if the YUV2RGB process is done by hardware." That means, in English, that DVD-quality film can be played back on a Beagleboard with decent audio too. If some of the complex conversions from YUV colour format to RGB could be carried out in hardware, then higher definition films could be played.
This is pretty exciting stuff for Beagleboard owners. If Theorarm is ported to RISC OS (and there's no reason, other than developer time and effort, why it couldn't be), then we'd have the basis of a fast, native video playback system. Some issues would require addressing, of course, since RISC OS can't handle the Beagleboard's YUV facility - see here
for Jeffrey Lee's proposals to fix this - but these are all surmountable.
If anyone is interested in getting involved, then the ROOL project is the place to start. In particular, the proposals for working on the GraphicsV
vector need attention from developers with the right level of experience, and the draft API on the ROOL site could do with some more exposure.
A few years ago, RISC OS lacked fast hardware, a half-capable browser and a media player capable of showing popular streaming video formats. The first two are being actively addressed
- what are the chances that the last one will be as well?
Posted by Chris on 16:08, 8/4/2010
| Hardware, Programming, RISC OS, RISC OS Open Ltd
9 comments in the forums
There's been a fair bit of effort to get RISC OS software working on ROOL's port of RISC OS to the Beagleboard and other OMAP-driven boards. The shift from software that works on the Iyonix to software that works on the OMAP family isn't as big as the shift to 32-bit of a few years ago, but there are still some issues. Most importantly, the OMAP family of processors use the 'ARMv7' specification, which means that certain instructions that work on the Iyonix's IOP processor (or earlier) fall over.
The ease of fixing a recalcitrant application depends on how it's been written. If the app's written in BASIC, then all should be well. If it's written in C, then a recompile with the latest version of the GCC or Norcroft tools should fix it. If you've got some hand-crafted assembler to cope with, then the process is a bit more involved. There's a full list of these technical issues here
As time goes on, more and more software is having fixes applied to enable compatibility. Over the last few days, David Pilling's Ovation Pro
have been updated to work with the new hardware. The text editor Zap has also been fixed
, though there's not an official release of this yet. Apps like NetSurf
already work, and there's some indication
that EasiWriter and TechWriter will soon join the list.
More details on the applications that work on the new hardware platform can be found here
. Hopefully this list will keep on growing. Meanwhile, at least one RISC OS user
is happy with the experience of using the BeagleBoard...
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