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Posted by Jeffrey Lee on 20:15, 30/7/2013
| Hardware, Open source, RISC OS, RISC OS Open Ltd, Shows
17 comments in the forums
RISC OS 5.20 released
First seen at the recent Midlands show, RISC OS Open Limited have now officially released RISC OS 5.20 into the world. This stable release of the operating system is available for the Iyonix, ARMini/BeagleBoard, and for the first time for RISC OS 5, RiscPC and A7000/A7000+ IOMD-based machines, including Kinetic RiscPCs. In addition, a stable version of the base hard disc image is now available as well. All users of RISC OS 5.20 are required to at least upgrade to the new version of !Boot as the 5.1x era !Boot will refuse to run on the newer OS.
There are far too many changes for me to attempt to cherry-pick the interesting ones to list here, so to find out what's changed between this release and the last I suggest you check out the change summaries that ROOL link to from their press release above.
This new release can be downloaded free of charge from the ROOL downloads page, or you can purchase physical ROMs (for IOMD machines) or installation CDs (for other machines, or for Kinetic cards with flash ROMs) from the ROOL store. And if you go down the download route, please consider donating to one of the open bounties to help reward ROOL and the RISC OS developers for all their hard work.
The Raspberry Pi and OMAP4 ports are yet to reach "stable" status, so are still only available in the form of (potentially) unstable development builds and (for Raspberry Pi) official beta releases available from the Raspberry Pi Foundation website. In particular, the latest Raspberry Pi release, RC11, has been updated to RISC OS 5.21 and so is roughly equivalent to the stable 5.20 release that's available on other platforms.
Portsmouth show in planning
Not content with just managing the OS source code, ROOL are planning to host a free RISC OS show in Portsmouth, to be held on one of the Saturdays in September (most likely the 21st or 28th). The show is to be free to both visitors and exhibitors, but in order to make it happen ROOL need to know who can turn up and when - so whether you're a visitor or an exhibitor, please get in touch with ROOL and let them know your availability.
Posted by Jeffrey Lee on 17:30, 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 Richard Goodwin on 07:53, 1/6/2012
| Acorn, Hardware, Media, Retro
Comment in the forums
has a nice write-up charting the rise and fall of the Archimedes range. OK, so some of it was cribbed from Chris Whytehead's Acorns site
(with credits), but it's nice to see a 4-page writeup on a major tech website.
We have cake here in the office, but apparently it's not for this, it's for something else
going on next week.
Posted by Sion on 19:00, 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, 25/6/2010
| RISC OS, Acorn, Hardware, Media, Open source, RISC OS Open Ltd, Shows
12 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 14:25, 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 15:08, 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...
Posted by Chris on 12:06, 26/2/2010
| Acorn, Hardware, Interviews, Technology
1 comment in the forums
There's an interesting article up here
with Steve Furber
, one of the designers of the BBC Micro and ARM processor. It's been linked to from Slashdot
, which is where we came across it.
There's some background in there on the development of the original ARM designs, as well as the StrongARM and the current SpiNNaker
project, an attempt to come up with a more biologically based style of computation.
All fascinating stuff, and especially so at the moment with the explosion of ARM-based computers out there.
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