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Oregano future undecided

By Chris Williams. Published: 25th Nov 2004, 22:27:01 | Permalink | Printable

Meanwhile, TV Browser reaches version 3

Oregano 2 bannerThe future of Oregano is currently somewhat undecided. The RISC OS web browser is developed by Oregan, who recently launched version 3 of their TV Browser software.

TV Browser is a web browser designed for embedded products, including STBs and the Sony Playstation 2. In the past, TV Browser and Oregano have shared the same technology: think of Oregano 2 as a RISC OS wrapper around a central web browser core.

Earlier this month, we spoke to OreganoUK about the future of the RISC OS incarnation of the web browser, as they deal with end user sales and support of Oregano, originally overseen by Castle. OreganoUK boss Richard Brown explained that Oregan had been busy lately in completing TV Browser 3. He revealed that OreganoUK and Oregan had yet to sit down and produce an agreement on how to proceed with RISC OS work, and as yet there's no timescale on this development work - although a meeting in December would be ideal, for OreganoUK. Richard told us that even if he had an estimated release date, he wouldn't reveal it.

We're not sure how suitable TV Browser 3 is for RISC OS, and how likely it is that we'll see developments in TV Browser 3 on RISC OS. OreganoUK declined to commit themselves to anything, for fear of being accused of pre-announcing details - a stance seen as both admirable and frustrating depending on whether or not you're an existing Oregano user.

Perhaps it's a little cruel to talk more about the browser core given the above. However, we've been handed some screenshots and a video of the browser that had humble, very humble, beginnings with RISC OS: previously this month Sony posted a new network access CD to online Playstation 2 users, and this included TV Browser and a free game. The TV Browser is mostly used to render multimedia content, rather than surf the web, but that didn't stop one gamer last year.

Version 3 is XHTML, HTML, JavaScript, CSS2 and DOM2 compatible, with a 2MB footprint and can work within 16MB of SDRAM. It also includes a Macromedia Flash 6 plugin. For the Playstation 2, TV Browser 3 is branded as the 'Central Station browser', aka Oregan Media Browser, but Oregan is clearly credited during start up.

You can download a video of the browser in action from here. It's a 13.3M MPEG video, and happily plays in KinoAMP.

Video stills
Loading screen, showing Oregan credit at the bottom
Welcome screen after logging in
Flash driven information screen about a game, with respectable antialiased fonts
Another Flash driven information screen, showing off the kind of content that is delivered
The user interface is described as slow, which is a shame


A drop down menu, from the BBC News website
Ack! Something's not quite right with those fonts
Woo, a Flash game. You don't get many of them these days.
Not a bad looking site, apart from the font size issue
Don't panic! Don't panic! It's all under control
Some more friendly HTML handled well

Meanwhile, on the other side of the RISC OS platform, open source web browser project Netsurf is still some months away from releasing a feature frozen stable version, as its team say development is still on going.


OreganoUK website

Previous: Cambridge RISC OS meet up
Next: OpenOffice ARM port


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It still doesn't actually look very good though, does it? From the shots, it seems less good than even Opera, and makes the same mistakes as the screenshots of NetSurf make. (ie, rendering text too close to objects, and such.)

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 25/11/04 10:59PM
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dadadammdammdamm - another one bites the dust

 is a RISC OS UserGulli on 25/11/04 11:44PM
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I found Oregano2 unusable as a primary web browser on a SA/Kinetic Risc PC, and use O1 instead, so if O3 is slow too I can't see it getting much success on older machines. I can't say anything for the use of O2 on the IYONIX though as I've never used one :|

 is a RISC OS UserAndrewDuffell on 25/11/04 11:51PM
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My personal experience using O2 on an Iyonix has been very good (but maybe I have low standards?!).

Since one of the major sticking points with O2 always seems to be giving it a RISC OS interface, I'd support OreganoUK releasing just the renderer as a chargeable module (say) and allowing other developers to produce their own interfaces.

Perhaps this is technically difficult though?

 is a RISC OS Userflypig on 26/11/04 12:52AM
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This "Oregano furute undecided" doesn't surprise me much since we've been kept waiting for the next upgrade so darn long. As far as I understood OreganoUK wants to wait with the upgrade until they have a tested better version which takes into account most known bugs. On the other hand I'd rather have the odd additional update so that O2 is more use for me.

Considering the fact that Oregano 2 is pretty slow and has quite a few problems with the odd site I tend to use either Browse (with Aemulor) since it is quite a bit faster, or if that fails and I plan to to a bit more on the net and want sensible response times as well as usability - sorry guys - I use Mozilla Firefox running on Windows or Linux.

This is the reason why I'm so interested in the new Firefox project of the Unix Porting Project!

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 26/11/04 6:36AM
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I know this might not be the best time for the "I told you so" speech, but I just can't resist: I told you so! ;-(

I guess hope always dies last. :-(

Lets look forward to Netsurf supporting JavaScript, then. :-)

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 26/11/04 8:07AM
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I see NetSurf (but I am biased) and the UPP as the future of RISC OS browsing. In a few years time I don't see that there will be any room in the market for a commercial browser.

 is a RISC OS UserAndrewDuffell on 26/11/04 9:54AM
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AndrewDuffell: Unusable? That's a bit unfair. It does a better job than O1 sometimes, and rarely does a worse one in my experience. O2 is unquestionably slow, though (waiting for the buttons to appear is very annoying). If O3 is even slower it may well be a waste of time.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 26/11/04 10:01AM
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after wasting money buying O2, i feel like a twit paying for a mucking web brower, and an almost completeley useless one at that, and as castle have moved to the software you cant see i cant even sell the pile of bricks. as far as i'm concerned a riscos version of any future oregano can go wet itself in the corner. if you want a decent riscos browser put your money/time into netsurf, which when it behaves is a nice browser, or contribute to the upp project and speed up the riscos port of firefox.

 is a RISC OS Usernex on 26/11/04 10:23AM
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SimonC: On SA RPC O2 is too slow for an enjoyable web experience, and if you cross off a browser window before it has finished loading the ridiculous HTML GUI then it crashes O2. I only think of fireing up O2 if O1 and NetSurf can't do the job. Maybe it is okay [speed wise] on a IYONIX, but I wouldn't know as I've never used one.

 is a RISC OS UserAndrewDuffell on 26/11/04 10:24AM
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If Oregano2 is supplied with the Iyonixs from Castle, what their option if Oregan drop their RISC OS developments? Maybe that's up to ROD to choose the next step now?? I found Oregano2 quite good to use, just could not access some links on some sites (Javascript support error message!!) and at times a waste of my printer toner when I could not highlight text by dragging the mouse over part of the page for selection printing. NetSurf looks nice (if it had Javascript support the better), or the Firefox enthusiasm sounds even better.

 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 26/11/04 10:28AM
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Personally I wish there was something I could do to support NetSurf. My existing programming skills are, um, unhelpful! I wonder if some kind of donation scheme for a dedicated javascript-implementer would work?

 is a RISC OS Useradamr on 26/11/04 10:32AM
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Hi all,

The current development version of Oregano does indeed run on RISC OS, as can be seen from some updated screenshots I've uploaded to [link] These screen shots are taken from today's build, and benefits from a number of bug fixes and other improvements that were not in the latest PlayStation 2 release. The PlayStation2 build was specifically produced to browse the Central Station site, and is not really suitable for general web browsing. As for reports that the Central Station UI is a bit slow, I've also seen reports stating its faster than the previous version..


 is a RISC OS UserLeo on 26/11/04 10:43AM
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Leo Thanks for the update. Nice to hear there is progress!

 is a RISC OS Userblahsnr on 26/11/04 10:59AM
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The screenshots look very nice. Is the only thing preventing this from becoming an obtainable product an agreement with OreganoUK?

Having used Browse, Webster XL, Fresco, and the latest Netsurf, I still prefer O2 for browsing. Even compared to many of the Linux browsers it doesn't fare too badly (except Mozilla). I'd pay for an upgraded version.


My worry about Firefox on RISC OS is that it already runs very slowly on my reasonably specced PC. I fear the same may be true on current RO hardware (although I'll be happy to be proven wrong).

 is a RISC OS Userflypig on 26/11/04 11:14AM
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"not really suitable for general web browsing" ... yet it IS what's invoked when you use the "Configure External Network Device" option from the setup disk. This allows folks with just a PS2 and no PC or whatever to set up their web-based router/firewall etc. And this is how you sneak it as a web browser. :-) I see the latest network disk doesn't allow non-LAN IPs to be entered for browsing (which the original disk did allow) but a quick prod on the router to get it to forward port 80 out to some other site works a treat. I'm also pretty sure it is slower than the original - certainly scrolling is dreadful on the new disk.

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 26/11/04 11:16AM
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Despite all its faults it still looks like Oregano is the most likely way we're going to get a full-featured browser. All credit to the Netsurf developers, but the much bigger world Oregan operates in would seem more likely to deliver the full goods (sooner or later, more likely later).

Firefox would be wonderful, of course, but will we ever see it? It seems a bit of a high risk, high reward effort, and one that should be supported (so I ought to follow up on that and subscribe to the UPP!), but I'm not going to operate on the principal that it will appear and ignore other browsers in the meantime.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 26/11/04 12:01PM
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I use O2 currently on a much-modded Kinetic (VF2, Unipod, lots of RAM): it /is/ slower than O1, though not IMO unusably so, and somewhat more capable. It is less capable now than it was a year ago - more sites seem now to use Javascript in a way that O2 can't cope with. Netsurf is commendably quick but really not feasible as a general-use browser due to lack of Javascript support, IMO.

What I do strongly believe is that this platform is effectively dead as a standalone home computing solution without a capable browser. When the day arrives when your mobile does better on the internet than your GBP 1300+ Iyonix, well, it's time to leave.....


 is a RISC OS Userbucksboy on 26/11/04 12:05PM
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The new code still has a number of bugs and optimizations that need to be made before it is ready to be released as a full blown web browser.

 is a RISC OS UserLeo on 26/11/04 12:05PM
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Leo: has oregano now been made so it doesn't use RISC OS via all the wrong interfaces? It was so bad last time I looked that a mouse swapper swapping buttons by claiming KeyV didn't have any effect on O2! Also it seemed to delay button presses until the next wimp poll, so dragging a window title while the computer was busy didn't work unless you held on the title bar until it picked it up then dragging. Slow I can cope with usually, but making everything a drag I can't! :/

 is a RISC OS Userjohn on 26/11/04 12:06PM
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The 'Configure External Network Device' is designed to let you set up a router via its web interface. These generally use fairly 'normal' web pages, they don't usually contain tons of Javascript, DOM or CSS that seems to be the norm for quite a numbe of web sites these days. Using it to browser other web sites is just plain naughty.... Also note that in this mode there is no MP3 support....

 is a RISC OS UserLeo on 26/11/04 12:08PM
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bucksboy: I think you'll find it's been that time for a while. It would seem that the only money there is to be had in the RISC OS world now is hardware, which seems a bit of a shame, and can't be good for the market's survival.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 26/11/04 12:08PM
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I'm still hoping someone ports khtml or gecko, though khtml is aparently not the easiest of things to port (no native win32 port) it was good enough for Apple's browser which most OSX users swear by.

 is a RISC OS UserNoMercy on 26/11/04 12:33PM
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As work is currently concentrated on getting the core browser functionality complete, there have been no changes to the RISC OS UI. For certain areas Oregano requires more information than the standard WIMP interfaces provide (Such as specific keyup/keydown events required by the DOM, and knowing the difference between Page Up and Shift + CursorUp (Or is is Ctrl + Shift + CursorUp?)), and therefore does certain actions differently than other WIMP applications (such as Oregano1). This has lead to a couple of issues that may be looked at if changes are made to the RISC OS UI parts of Oregano.

 is a RISC OS UserLeo on 26/11/04 12:46PM
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NoMercy: But then again, most Apple users swear by MacOS X.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 26/11/04 1:08PM
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Mac OS is the lesser of the two evils

LEO: Any sites the latest Oregano doesn't work with?

 is a RISC OS Userem2ac on 26/11/04 2:56PM
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 is a RISC OS UserLeo on 26/11/04 3:02PM
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JGZ: well, not to one up you or anything, but I was the one who "told you so" first ;-)

My argument in "The RISC OS Browser" issue was that ultimately, commerically browsers would not prove practical for RISC OS. Given the complexity and evolving nature of browsers, open source ones would always win in the areas where it would ultimately count.

I'm not trying to say that O3 might not prove important to RISC OS, but on balance, it doesn't seem like the best solution.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 26/11/04 3:53PM
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Why was chocky's last comment voted down? It is perfectly on topic. I'll vote it back up once.

@mrchocky: Can't remember when you first said it, but I think I came to my conclusion on my own soon after Oregano1 was released. Actually I was already suspicious when I found out that it came from Oregan, the ones who did all the multimedia edting software for RISC OS and suddenly dropped it all. I was a CineWorks user then.

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 26/11/04 10:22PM
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If ROD is handling the desktop of RISC OS now, I wonder if they could support / influence Oregan to make a positive decision to continue in our market? The thought that comes to my mind is that Oregan are uncertain if they should invest in RISC OS future when we talk about Browse, Fresco, NetSurf, etc. Maybe Oregan's views are that RISC OS is a small but sustainable market with possible growth, but with competitive browsers in RISC OS then maybe NO.?? I personally believe a choice of browsers is great, but I also fear that our encouraging too many competitors in the RO browser small market of ours may see us shooting ourselves in the foot? I hope this thought is wrong, choice of browsers would be nice, at least one fully blown (developed) browser would do the trick!

 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 26/11/04 10:43PM
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One thing that O3 has, that we are unlikely to get by another route is flash 6.

A firefox port would be a brilliant addition to RISC OS, but it has no internal support for flash (etc), so we would still have the same versions that are available to standard risc os browsers.

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 27/11/04 11:32AM
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Getting firefox to run natively would be fantastic and an incredible effort, but I think it would be one definite road forward, whereas depending on Oregan's benevolence for RISC OS users and OreganoUK's very slow development of O2 would be commercially unrewarding enough to sustain reasonably up-to-date web conformity.

For me, Netsurf and Firefox are the way forward, both maybe similar in nature, but different in development, could create a sustained balance in progress for RO browsing. I agree with chocky concerning his last comment and in this respect the UPP probably holds the key. Also, perhaps at one point, we may start to support Netsurf philantropically? Just a thought...

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 27/11/04 4:40PM
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Leo> Perhaps it might be worth looking at DeepKeys at some point to get the additional key information like Shift+Page Up etc, as a reasonable number of people use Zap and would have this anyway. Whether this'll fix the problems people have with keyboard stuff, I have no idea...

 is a RISC OS Useraardvark on 28/11/04 11:56AM
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Porting the whole of firefox wouln't be needed, the gecko rendering engine alone would be great... though I do wonder why the netsurf team are building a html rendering engine from scratch when gecko and khtml are available under open source licences, thought one of the benifits of open source was sharing code between projects.

 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 29/11/04 03:01AM
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I've just had a quick look at DeepKeys (Which was an effort, everyone seems to ship the module, but I only found one person who also shipped the help file...) and although it provides the key information required, it doesn't seem to provide key up and key down information. Which is needed by Oregano to make certain DOM events work correctly.


 is a RISC OS UserLeo on 29/11/04 09:31AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ] You appear to have overlooked the fact that 2 years ago a port of Gecko/KHTML/rendering engine of choice would have been pretty well impossible and, given the issues with C++ and GCCSDK, I'm dubious it's possible even now. That said, the 3.4.4 pre-release seems to be much better in this respect, although there's a very nasty floating point related bug still to be ironed out. Note that Peter has said that it will be some time before any port of Firefox is available (and he has far more knowledge about porting things from other platforms that the NetSurf developers have). I do like the attitude that says "oh, they should have just done this", without taking account of the situation at the time. Note also, that a port of Gecko alone is pretty well useless - there's the minor issue of implementing a UI, network fetching code, image rendering and other things I haven't thought of.

 is a RISC OS Userjmb on 29/11/04 1:40PM
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I can apreciate that it's unrealistic at the current time to port any heavy C++ code, and writing your own may have been the best course of action at the time, but just keep your options open.

As for the porting the whole of firefox vs just gecko.. porting any library and not using it is pointless, but it would simplify the task of writing any browser if the renderer was a drop-in component, hence why there's mabie 20 or so mini-browsers for windows all using IE as a drop-in rendering engine.

Sorry for the IP address, it's NoMercy (yes the pain in the arse one) managed to scrub my auto-logins :/

 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 29/11/04 2:26PM
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NoMercy: oh dear. no.

"It's unrealistic at the current time to port any heavy C++". No, it's not - what brings you to this conclusion? The current issues in GCC with C++ appear to be quite minor, and only affect a few programs.

"porting any library and not using it is pointless". Really? Oh well, I'll just delete all the libraries from riscos.info that I'm currently not using. That'll be a useful thing to do. In any case, porting libraries is often very easy, so the effort involved is neglibile. Moreoever, it's not always the case that you end up using a given library.

I suggest you should have more practical experience on this topic before making such suggestions.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 29/11/04 5:16PM
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i'd like to slightly retract my vaugly harsh comment about O2 and future versions of RISC OS Oregano, all hail to the Oregano developers for brining quality browsers to riscos, i just found O2 to be a bit cluncky and have some of the same issues as O1, as far as my narrow mind could fathom, there was, for me at least, little or no advantades of O2 over O1, i'm sure on the iyonix O2 is quite useable, and as a user of a now ye olde risc pc i shouldnt expect the latest software releases to run especially well, because if new softare dosnt take advantage of the extra power the iyonix has then both the software and the iyonix become redundant. if that makes any sence.

 is a RISC OS Usernex on 09/12/04 2:46PM
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