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Article archives

What is apache?

Posted by Mark Stephens on 07:35, 7/12/2018 | ,
 
With RISC OS switching to the Apache licence, here is your brief intro to the world of Apache....

Apache the software program
Apache is a key building block of the Internet. It runs on many of the servers which make up the Internet and allows them to provide the websites you use every day. Its many features include the ability to host multiple websites on a sever, control access and provide security, execute scripts and commands when you access pages, log website activity, and a whole host of other features. You use Apache every day without realising it.

Apache the licence
All software has a licence which defines what rights you have and what use you can make of a piece of software. For example, most commercial software bans you from trying to dissect it and give it away to your friends.

The Apache licence is one of several Open Source licences. These generally come with free software (as in you do not have to pay for it) which includes the source code. The big difference in Open Source licences is that some are viral (with the GPL you have to release any software which uses it under the same licence so it 'infects' the software) and non-viral (you can use it with other software including commercial software so long as you respect the rules on the original software).

It is possible to release software under more than one licence. A nice example is the PDF library Itext, which you can use for free under the AGPL licence (requiring you to release your code for free as well with the source code), or buy a commercial version (identical except it comes with a commercial licence removing this requirement so you can use in commercial software).

If your aim is to encourage maximum update and usage, you would choose a non-viral licence such as the Apache licence which is what RISC OS now uses.

If you own the software, you can choose to change the licence (as RISC OS Developments has done having acquired RISC OS), but you cannot modify the licence on software belonging to someone else).

Apache the foundation

There is also an organisation called the Apache Software foundation which provides a home for a large number of software programs developed under the Apache licence. Most of these are technical and you might have heard of them if you are a software developer (ie Ant, Groovy, Hadoop, Maven, Perl) or runs on servers providing Internet services (ie SpamAssassin, Tomcat).

Apache is an organisation of individuals (no Company/Corporate membership option) and anyone can join. It also organises conferences and promotes software development.

Anyone can use the Apache licence in the software. This is perfectly acceptable and many other software projects have been doing the same for many years.

If you want your software to be an 'official' Apache project, you also need to follow the apache rules on how software is developed. This lays down a clear methodology and governance.

Many of the software projects which are Apache projects started life outside Apache and have joined by adopting the Apache rules. For the last 2 years, the Java IDE NetBeans has been transitioning to an Apache project (I have had a minor involvement in that giving me a very interesting viewpoint of the Apache foundation).

More details on Open Source licences at GNU website
Apache website
 
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RISC OS source code to be relicensed under the Apache open source license

Posted by Jeffrey Lee on 20:40, 22/10/2018 | , , ,
 
Hot on the heals of the reveal that RISC OS Developments had acquired CastleInfo Technology and with it the rights to RISC OS 5, more news on the future of RISC OS has emerged this week: RISC OS Developments are working with RISC OS Open to relicense RISC OS under the Apache 2.0 License, a popular and fairly permissive open-source license.

Although some the OS's components were already available under permissive open-source licenses such as the BSD and CDDL licenses, ever since RISC OS Open's inception the primary license has been the Castle License, which came in commercial and non-commercial flavours, neither of which satisfied all of the requirements that the OSI deem necessary in order for the code released under that license to be considered "true" open source. So although the "shared source" Castle License was better than nothing and certainly played a big part in RISC OS's survival post-Iyonix, many people have also felt that it's been holding the platform back. ROOL and ROD hope that by relicensing the OS under this new license, developer and user interest in the OS will increase, and the OS will be kept free to grow and evolve into the next decade and beyond.

More information about what this means for RISC OS and what ROD's and ROOL's plans for the future of RISC OS are will be released at the London Show this weekend.
 
13 comments in the forums

The state of PackMan in 2018

Posted by Jeffrey Lee on 20:30, 20/8/2018 | , , , , ,
 
In a previous article we've looked at what software is available via !PackMan. But what if you're a developer who wants to get your software listed - where do you start?

 
Continue reading "The state of PackMan in 2018" | Comment in the forums

RC15 bring RISC OS to any Raspberry Pi

Posted by Mark Stephens on 07:52, 6/5/2017 | , ,
 



As ROOL had hinted in the run-up to the show, Wakefield 2017 saw the long-awaited release of RC15.

RC15 (RC stands for release candidate) was the official release of RISC OS to run on the Raspberry Pi 3. All the issues found in RC14 have been fixed and this version is now considered stable and reliable to run. RC14 was actually fairly good but several 3rd party applications (which are shipped with RISC OS) did not. There are actually a lot of changes in RC15 (it is an ePic release) which you can read on the changelog.

It is still RISC OS 5.23 (so officially no new features) but it has needed a lot of changes to make it run on the latest version of the Raspberry Pi. The hardware used has changed significantly in this new model and this required some updates to the code to make it work correctly. In particular, it uses a different ARM chip (Cortex-A53) which no longer allows some 'old' ways of doing things. This does not effect BASIC code, and C code needs a recompile. ARM code is more messy as it needs to be updated if it still uses these old methods. Otherwise the software will crash. And much RISC OS software is still written in ARM assembly code. We have been playing this catch-up game for many years (remember moving to 32bit for the same reason).

The release is important because it once again means RISC OS can run on the whole range of Raspberry Pi machines.

Setting up RISC OS on the RaspberryPi 3 is a bit of an anti-climax... I plugged the SD card in, switched on and it all booted straight into the RISC OS desktop. It even autamatically setup my a network connection for me. A quick screen resolution change, and I was up and running....

RISC OS is available for the Raspberry Pi in 3 ways:-
1. You can download the SD card image and copy it onto your own SSD card for free from ROOL.
2. You can buy an SD card already setup from the ROOL store.
3. You can buy an SD card containing both RISC OS and all the software on the Nut Pi together on an extra large, superfast SD card from the ROOL store.

RISC OS does not really make much use of the extra features so it is not worth upgrading to a Raspberry Pi 3 for a faster RISC OS experience. Where you will see a real benefit is in running other Operating Systems (which can make use of the 64bit chip and multi-threading). This is the first Raspberry Pi which I feel runs Raspbian (the office Linux release) well enough for my personal real, everyday usage. I actually have my Raspberry Pi 3 mostly setup as a Linux machine to use as a web browser (it now includes Chrome) and run Open Office (easily accessed from my RISC OS machines using VNC).

The Raspberry Pi is an amazing phenomenon and it is great to see our favourite OS available for all the versions and providing a really cheap entry point for RISC OS and a whole new generation with the chance to try RISC OS.

ROOL official announcement

Raspberry Pi website


 
4 comments in the forums

A fresh look at the Desktop Development Environment Manuals

Posted by Mark Stephens on 10:28, 1/2/2017 | , , ,
 
TheDesktop Development Environment manual is the essential documentation to make the most of the Desktop Development Environment. Both have been adopted and are now updated by RISC OS Open. The manuals come free with the DDE and are also available to buy in printed manual form.

The first edition of the manuals was produced in 1994 and it has been revised several times. As you would expect from professional developers, RISC OS Open includes a changelog so you can see what exact changes have been made. Last major update was in 2015. The manuals have also been rebranded with the RISC OS Open cog logo and company name.

There are 3 manuals in the set.

The Desktop Tools manual (329 pages) covers all the tools in the DDE (Make, Squeeze, SrcEdit, ABC, etc). There is a nice introductory section at the start telling you how to setup and start using the tools.

There are lots of screenshots to show the features in action. It should not be regarded as a tutorial but there is lots of material on using them. The Desktop Debugging tool includes 60 pages explaining how to use it.

The last 100 pages are Appendices which cover a summary of changes added over the years and information which you would need to use the tools (Library file formats, alignment details, file syntax,etc).

The Acorn Assembler manual (159 pages) shows you how to use ObjAsm. It includes some details on ARM Assembler instructions but it is not a tutorial (it does include some good further reading suggestions for you to learn ARM code). The focus is on using the tool and its features (ie labels, macros compilation). There are also some short chapters on writing RISC OS modules and interacting with C.

The Acorn C/C++ manual (438 pages) provides provides detailed coverage of the C and C++ language features supported by the Compiler (as well as the libraries) and some useful details and tips on writing RISC OS applications from C or C++. The languages are cleanly separated out so you only want to write C, it is easy to skip the non-relevent items. Again it is not a tutorial on coding, but a detailed summary of all the details you need to develop code.

All three manuals include an index at the back to help you to navigate as well as very detailed section descriptions at the start and a clear structure.

All three books are part of the DDE or available in a printed version (discounts for registered developers). The printed package makes a fairly bulky doorstop (and a great table stand for my MacBookPro!). I also find that it is the sort of programming content which I like to read and reread offscreen.

Further details on the DeskTop Tools Manual can be purchased from RISC OS Open website or they usually have some copies as Show events. Maybe something to check out at the South West Show later this month.

If you are looking to write software, you should also consider the Style Guide which tells you how the software should look and act to fit into RISC OS nicely.
 
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ROOL updates RISC OS development toolset to release 27

Posted by Mark Stephens on 10:07, 15/1/2017 | ,
 
DDE (the Collection of tools for developing software in Basic, C and Assembly) has been updated to release 27. If you have a DDE26, you should receive an email telling you that you are eligible for a free update. Developers with older releases can upgrade for 25 pounds.

The update includes changes to multiple tools, so ROOL provides a complete new release to replace your existing DDE26 release (simply deleted and use the new version).

The headline of the update is to bring the tools in line with Zero Page relocation. The software will now run correctly on a ZPP enabled RISC OS system and all the tools and libraries have been updated to work with ZPP.

As an additional bonus, the Basic Compiler (!ABC compiler) has seen some upgrades with fixes, long lost examples now back again and a new manual.

In the email, ROOL also draw developers attention to their technical development notes for builds and reminds us that !Make is now really a legacy option.

The full announcement is here

If you are not currently a registered developer and interested in writing software for RISC OS, it is also well worth signing up for the discounts and announcements.
 
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Mysterious new product to be announced at London Show the day before London show

Posted by Jeffrey Lee on 19:30, 23/10/2015 | , , ,
 
In a surprise announcement, ROOL have revealed the existence of "Titanium", a new RISC OS machine based around a dual-core Cortex-A15 SoC. No - it's not CJE's dual-core Cortex A15 IGEPv5 machine - it's an entirely new board design produced by Elesar Limited, and utilising TI's 1.5GHz AM5728 (a cousin of the also-1.5GHz TI OMAP5 used in the IGEPv5). And unlike the IGEPv5 or the Wandboard (as used in R-Comp's ARMX6), which are technically meant to be for embedded or developer/prototyping markets, the Titanium board seems to be aimed squarely at the desktop PC and server markets - it utilises the standard ATX form factor and power connector, has dual DVI video output, dual gigabit Ethernet, four SATA ports, eight USB 2 ports, and even two PCI-E slots.

It's unclear exactly how much of the hardware is currently working under RISC OS, apart from SATA, which is called out as using a new version of ADFS developed by Piccolo Systems (previously known for the RISC OS 5 SDFS driver and related disc management utilities). However with the machine launch expected to be only a few weeks away, and with pre-production units being on display at the London Show tomorrow, expect to see much more information about the new machine appear over the next few days.

The Titanium board is available to pre-order now through Elesar's website (with choice of RISC OS or Linux as the OS) - however that will only get your the bare board. Users are encouraged to wait for news from CJE and R-Comp, who are both on board with the project (if you pardon my pun) and will be announcing their own plans for fully cased consumer units within the near future (quite possibly at the London Show tomorrow).

Also, have we mentioned that it's the London Show tomorrow?
 
6 comments in the forums

ROUGOL & London Show news

Posted by Jeffrey Lee on 18:15, 13/9/2015 | , , ,
 
Bryan Hogan of ROUGOL has got in touch to let us know the details of some upcoming events.

RISC OS Open at this month's ROUGOL meeting - Monday 21st September

First up is news that Rob Sprowson will at this month's ROUGOL meeting, talking about all the things that ROOL have been up to recently, and some of their plans for the future. The meeting is due to start at 7:45 PM at the groups usual hangout of the Blue Eyed Maid pub in London SE1. Admittance is free.

For more details of the event and venue, make sure to check out the ROUGOL website.

RISC OS London Show 2015 - Saturday 24th October

The second bit of news is that this years London Show is due to take place on the 24th of October, at the usual location of the St. Giles Hotel in Feltham. The show runs from 11 AM to 5 PM, with tickets being 5 at the door (and under-16's free). Details of the theatre presentations are yet to be announced, but so far there are 25 exhibitors confirmed as taking part, and the list is still growing. Highlights this year are likely to be:

Remember to check the show website for all the latest details.
 
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Aemulor/Spellings.net account details posted online

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Portsmouth show reminder

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RISC OS 5.20 released, free Portsmouth show in planning

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Newsround

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