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By Chris Williams. Published: 29th Oct 2005, 22:55:30 | Permalink | Printable

Open source RISC OS and USB on a RiscPC

The difference between online and print media is that on the Internet, readers can respond immediately to articles. However, it's always nice when someone takes the time to write in an old fashioned letter. Two good ones are below, and if you want to voice your opinion, just email in. In other news, osnews.com has created a RISC OS category, and riscos.org has ditched its blog.

Date: Sat, 15 Oct 2005 14:05:31 +0100
From: Gavin Wraith
Subject: Should RISC OS be open source?

The phrase "RISC OS" can mean an awful lot of things, and I am not talking about different versions. RISC OS consists of lots of modules, and lots of protocols for how they communicate. The dependency graph between the modules is complex. Paul Middleton makes the interesting remark that Paint and Draw might be good candidates for open sourcing. I think one can generalize this to say that it is those components which have no other components depending on them that are the best candidates for open sourcing. When you look at the format for Draw files, for example, it is clear that the original intention was to make it possible for people to add their own draw object types, as DrawPlus and Vector do. The protocol aspect of RISC OS is less amenable to amateur tinkering. On grounds of principle I am generally for open source software, but I recognize that for it to be useful a certain amount of consensus and planning is necessary.

Making software free and making it open source are rather different. There are advantages in having a copyright holder who has the power to determine what an official distribution is, who can decide what changes to adopt from a pool of public experimentation, and who can turn a deaf ear to ill-informed clamour for this or that feature. I have found it instructive watching how the authors of Lua cope with the clamour. But Lua has had the advantage of being open source from practically its beginning, whereas RISC OS has not.

Date: Mon, 24 Oct 2005 16:57:25 +0100
From: Richard Ashbery
Subject: 512Mb Flash seems to work effortlessly on UniPod

I've described my experiences purchasing and installing a 512Mb flash memory stick with an STD UniPod. Plug the Flash stick into the UniPod USB port and automatically up pops a USB Flash memory iconbar icon and a filer window. Space available is reported as 488Mbytes. This is incorrect but who cares - it does the job. What's more it is tiny and is probably one of the cheapest I have found that seems to work reliably.

Dane Elec (whoever they are) manufacture the zMatePen series - I have already tried a 128Mb flash "stick" from the same company which also worked without any problem. Order the flash from 7dayshop.com for 16.84 UKP and add 4 UKP for postage and packing.

Type following parameters into the OtherDevs !MassFS text file:

# Device: 512MB Dane Elec zMate Pen (USB 2)

and away you go. Don't expect USB2 transfer speeds with a flash memory interfaced to a RiscPC but here are some typical timings:

Time to transfer 9.2 MB zipped sprite: a surprising 50 seconds.
Time to transfer 4.6 MB zipped EasiWriter file containing sprites: 45 seconds

I was expecting a few minutes. Things to bear in mind with flash memory: There is a filename limit of 8 characters (DOS floppy limit) and lower case names will automatically convert to upper case. Therefore to maintain the filename integrity it is essential to zip all files before transferring them. Don't close the filer window by hitting close icon. Instead click on the "Dismount" option in the device iconbar icon. This will ensure that data is not lost when the device is unplugged from the USB port. To get the filer window to open automatically when the device is plugged into the USB port, click "Menu" over the iconbar icon. Then Click "Auto-open" in Options section. As usual with these devices, a useful green LED indicator shows when the device is writing/reading data.

Richard Ashbery


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(512 000 000 / 1 024) / 1 024 = 488.28125

Also can't you format the drive to be not DOS?

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 30/10/05 12:48AM
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To : Richard Ashbery about file name limit of 8 characters, I used Win95fs, and a 128MB pen to copy web pages and software from the library computers, Note before I save files on a PC to be transfered to my Risc PC I change the spaces to "-" as the RISC OS space and windows space is not the same using select and Win95fs, with me that is, I have a Risc PC and a UniPod and the latest drive format at 40gig, note you lose space on all drives when you format them, this space is mostly used by the catalog.

 is a RISC OS Userrunningman on 30/10/05 1:48AM
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as a note that i forgot to put in 128MB pen formated to 124MB

 is a RISC OS Userrunningman on 30/10/05 1:52AM
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Just in case anyone was wondering about mavhc's rather cryptic comment, he means that the space reported on the memory stick is correct. At least it is if you bear the units in mind. Physical memory manufacturers measure bytes using the SI standard, ie 1 kb = 1000 bytes, 1 Mb = 1000,000 bytes. Software authors traditionally define 1kb as 1024 bytes (2^10) for efficiency reasons. By extension, 1 Mb is 1024 * 1024 (2^20), or 1048576 bytes. As the orders of magnitude increase, the discrepancy becomes a larger proportion of the total.

 is a RISC OS UserLoris on 31/10/05 12:54PM
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Funny, I thought the discrepency was always the same proportion of the total - namely 2.4%

 is a RISC OS Userdemondb on 31/10/05 5:13PM
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That's true for the first megabyte (or whatever your smallest unit + 2 is). It's 2.4% for the first megabyte, then it goes up to 4.6% which is (1-(0.97.6^2)) up to a gigabyte, then 6.9% and so on.

You can see that the proportion must change since when you're talking about bytes there's no discrepancy between the two.

 is a RISC OS Userflypig on 31/10/05 10:39PM
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Measuring disc size in a unit which is meaningless to computers is a common trick of the hard disc manufacturers. However where as a drive can be just about any size, determined by the number of tracks, heads and sectors per track, memory can only be manufacturered in sizes which are powers of 2, so should be given as true megabytes or gigabytes. So if anything they should be claiming a 128 (true) MB stick as a 134 (damn lies) MB stick.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 1/11/05 9:32AM
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