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RISC OS software to download from !PackMan

Posted by Mark Stephens on 07:00, 23/6/2017 | ,
 
In a previous article we looked at !PackMan and !Store. In this article we are going to highlight some of the software available in !PackMan and ask for your suggestions.

When you run !PackMan, it offers you a long list of files (with some nice category and filter options). You can see these in the screenshots below (click on the images for the full sized versions).

When you choose a program it brings up a window with lots of information, including more details, version numbers and dependencies (which it will generally handle for you automatically of tell you of any clashes. Here you can see I am installing the Povray ray tracing program which allows you to design and render 3D scenes.



!PackMan provides a home (and central repository) for many established RISC OS programs and, as a bonus, an easy way to update if new versions are released. !Nettle offers a terminal program for RISC OS, which is still (even in 2017) a very convenient way to access remote systems. You also have OpenSHH as an alternative option. You can also see a whole host of other applications available such as Rsync, FTPc and even other web browsers to try (I would recommend a really fast machine for those).



If you want to indulge in some nostalgia, there is a selection of emulators - upgrade your RISC OS machine to a Spectrum class machine today!



There are some good tools on other platforms which you may miss on RISC OS. My personal favourites of Bash and Grep are available as ports.



!PackMan is not just about software programs. You will find free fonts on to download including these excellent BitStream fonts.



That is a small selection of some of the gems you will find on !PackMan. In a future article, we will have a rummage around !Store. In the meantime, what are your favourite applications or recommendations on !PackMan?
 
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Chris Gransdon tells ROUGOL about Otter browser and other ports

Posted by Mark Stephens on 22:22, 17/4/2017 | , ,
 
A good crowd braved the Bank Holiday public transport to attend the April ROUGOL meeting with Chris Gransden talking about porting !Otter and other software to RISC OS.

Before the main event, there were brief 'teasers' for 2 other events.

The ROUGOL organizer (Bryan Hogan), is also helping to organise the Acorn User Show in Cambridge and more details will be appearing in the next few weeks.

Richard Brown (Orpheus) was also there to announce his new venture RISC OS Developments. This has raised significant funds to do some development and he will be announcing more details at Wakefield on saturday...

Chris Gransden started investigating porting !Otter and other browsers onto RISC OS when he spotted that the QT5 library (which !Otter needs) had been been ported onto RISC OS by another developer. Rather than trying to develop a new browser from scratch, Chris is getting an existing Open Source browser written for the Linux platform to run on RISC OS. The attraction of !Otter is that it uses a version of the Webkit browser engine, which has been JavaScript support than any native RISC OS browser. Chris logged into GMail on !Otter which is impossible in any other RISC OS browser. It also includes https and ssl support in the browser.

As !Otter and !QupZilla use QT5, this enabled him to get these browsers to run on RISC OS - he has not had to extensively rewrite and hack the code as the QT5 and UnixLib libraries allow them to run on RISC OS. This also means it is really easy to update as these applications are altered by their developers.

Chris had his overclocked Pi running the software and was able to explain how the !Otter/!QupZilla browsers work on RISC OS. The software is effectively providing a sprite display inside a RISC OS window. RISC OS does not have compositing support (redrawing just the bits it needs) which would speed things up. This is also using shared memory, and memory is high.

Because the software was written for another OS, it is designed to make use of fatures like threads which are not available on RISC OS. This is why performance can be sluggish as RISC OS does not have the capability to offload work onto multiple threads - it is all done by the single, main RISC OS task. RISC OS is also not able to make use of additional hardware acceleration which also speeds things up considerably on Linux.

Switching off JavaScript at the start and putting the fonts into memory can speed up the browser. Chris has turned off by default file caching (which is actually slower in RISC OS) and customisations to Otter which can slow the software still further. Still, you really need a fast, modern machine to run Otter on).

One of Chris's future hopes it to make use of something like Kronsos on the Pi and have a much faster cusotmised versions for machines which can support it.

The !Otter browser itself is still being debugged and once 1.0 becomes available, Chris will make available a proper RISC OS release. At the moment, it can be a bit complex to setup.

Asked the difference between !QupZilla and !Otter, Chris explained that !QupZilla was currently more stable (less bugs and shared libraries) but Otter would be a better long-term bet.

The !Otter port has come a long way since Chris first started it 2 years ago. It is much faster and more stable although still crashes. It probably is not yet an alternative to browsers on Windows/Linux/Mac but there is not lots of scope to improve further and it opens up a lot of sites to access from RISC OS. We look forward to seeing how it develops, especially once Otter 1.0 officially comes out. Chris has done an amazing job so far!

Otter browser main page and builds for non-RISC OS platforms.

ROUGOL website

 
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A tale of 2 package managers

Posted by Mark Stephens on 09:39, 8/4/2017 | , ,
 
In the 'early days' most software had to be 'sourced' from different locations. The only big source of software in one place was Hensa on the University systems if you were lucky enough to have access. You could also connect to Bulletin boards (Arcade BBS) or get floppy disks through the post from Skyfall or APDL).

You can still hunt around (and there are lots of sites with gems we will be looking at in 2017 on IconBar), but in 2017 you have really easy access to huge sources of software straight from your RISC OS desktop. All you need is TWO programs.

PlingStore ( ie !Store) gives you access to a range or both free and commercial software (which you can buy with a credit card via the software). All software includes details of the software, website links, screenshots and you can search and explore the software on offer. You will find lots of favourites from David Pilling, R-CompInfo, Steve Fryatt, Chris Johnson, Sine Nomine and many others.

PlingStore tracks which versions of the software you have downloaded so it can also offer you the option to get free updates or buy commercial ones. If you are using R-Comp software, they provide a service to update the store with your current purchases to you can use it for updates when they release new versions.

When PlingStore runs, it checks on the Internet to update its information, so it can tell you about new software, updates or special offers.

!PackMan has developed out of RiscPkg. This brought dependency manangement based on Linux solutions to RISC OS (software can now describe what other software it works with and what it needs).

Dependency management is a big problem on many platforms (and trying to fix it on the Java platform has been the big issue for the last 2 releases of Java). Simply, the problem is that you download a new piece of software which needs version 4 of another library. So you install that on your machines. You then find that all your other software stops working as it only runs on version 3.... RedHat came up with a good solution to this problem which RiscPkg uses.

!PackMan builds ontop of this with a slick front end. It also includes a list of software and it knows what other software (dependencies) this software has. So it can ensure you have the software or download it for you as well. As with PlingStore it gives you a wide range of software and it can update its details with new releases when you run it. There is no payment options in !PackMan so all the software is free. !PackMan has some nice features to not only install the software, but add to Apps, run on startup, etc.

Both applications need some discipline to get the most from them. They do not look at your system and spot existing software, and PackMan has a standard location for all software. So you may be better off deleting existing software, and downloading a new copy in the new location through the package manager.

I am also pleased to say that there is little overlap and duplication between the software both offer. In general (apologies for slight over-simplification) PlingStore offers both 'original' commercial and free software from well-known RISC OS companies and developers while PackMan gives you access to the conversions to RISC OS platform from riscos.info and other sites (fonts, !Otter, games, tools, etc) which has grown from Peter Naulls' original Unix Porting Project.

Both applications are free and should be on your machine!

!PackMan
PlingStore
 
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Running RISC OS under emulation with RPCEmu

Posted by Mark Stephens on 10:58, 24/1/2017 | , ,
 
In previous articles, I looked at VirtualRPC as a way to run RISC OS on my Mac. Another options is RPCEmu.

This offers 2 potential main advantages over Virtual Acorn - it is free and it runs RISC OS 5.

The software can be downloaded from http://www.marutan.net/rpcemu/ and you can also get a USB drive with the software on it from RISC OS Open.

RPCEmu is available for Mac, Linux and Windows. The Windows and Mac versions both come as ready to run applications while Linux needs you to build the source code (which is also supplied). This is because it needs the Allegro Game Library. This process is not as daunting as it sounds and the instructions are clear and cover each step. If you are already a Linux user, you may already be doing this,. If you are not it is a really good introduction to compiling software which will open lots of new software to you....

The Mac version of RPCEmu has some isses with Retina screens on the later Macs (it works fine if you move it onto an external monitor). You can get around running this by running the software in low resolution (Menu and Info options). This trick does not appear to work on the 2016 October MacBookPros :-(

RPCEmu allows you to configure the software and choose settings like mouse buttons, etc. A copy of RISC OS 5 is included and a Hard drive to setup a basic RISC OS 5 installation.

This gives you a fully-functional RISC OS 5 machine, which can access the local hard drive. I have a shared directory on my setup so I can have a single shared copy of my RISC OS applications between Virtual Acorn and RPCEm. (You cannot share everything because RISC OS 5 and 6 have different setups and !Boot drives but it it useful to be able to shared data and third party software.) In usage I find RPCEmu runs slightly slower than Virtual Acorn but the speed is perfectly acceptable on a high end machine.

So if you are looking for an easy way to run RISC OS on your non-RISC OS machine, or even something to improve your Linux skills, have a look at RPCEmu.

RPCEmu website
 
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RISC OS 5.20 released, free Portsmouth show in planning

Posted by Jeffrey Lee on 21:15, 30/7/2013 | , , , ,
 

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.
 

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Mail client Pluto updated, open-sourced

Posted by Michael Drake on 11:39, 19/4/2013 | , , ,
 
Jonathan Duddington, author of the RISC OS e-mail client Pluto, has announced that as of now, Pluto is available for free. The project has been open-sourced, enabling other developers to take over maintenance of the software. Jonathan has also updated the program for ARMv7 compatibility, enabling it to run on the most modern hardware.

Pluto is written in C and lets users to manage their e-mails and usenet (newsgroup) subscriptions. It has a fast and consistent user interface with many options for sorting and organising articles, a built in editor for composing e-mails or news postings, and a search facility amongst other features. Thanks to Jonathan for his generosity. The lack of a powerful and free Mail user agent was one of the platform's shortfalls.

Jonathan also announced an update for his eSpeak text-to-audio speech synthesizer, enabling it to run on modern ARMv7 hardware.
 
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Emulation roundup

Posted by Michael Drake on 11:05, 19/4/2013 | , , ,
 
The popular open-source RiscPC emulator RPCEmu has had an update. Version 0.8.10 is available now. The changes since the last release include various bug fixes and extensive under-the-bonnet refactoring in preparation for future improvements.

More work has been done on RISC OS Open Limited's IOMD RISC OS ROM for RiscPC class hardware and emulators such as RPCEmu. The IOMD ROM is now mostly complete. In related news, benchmarking has shown that RISC OS 5 runs faster under emulation than 26-bit versions of the OS.

As for Archimedes emulation, the open-source Archimedes emulator ArcEm was updated to version 1.50 at the end of last year. (Yes, we're a bit late with that.) An extensive change log details what's changed since the previous release. The main improvement between this release and the earlier ArcEm 1.50-alpha was to fix operation on the Raspberry Pi.
 
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Newsround

Posted by Jeffrey Lee on 18:30, 20/10/2012 | , , , , , , , ,
 
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.

ROOL updates

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.

Emulation news

  • 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.

 
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Newsround

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