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By Chris Williams. Published: 3rd Apr 2006, 08:15:01 | Permalink | Printable

NetSurf, more RiscPC emulation and more to follow

MoreDesk screenshotPlease sir, can I have some more?
Power users can now get to grips with a much larger desktop, thanks to 7th Software's new MoreDesk utility. Virtual workspaces can be created and switched to, creating the effect of a much more spacious desktop. DIfferent backdrops and windows can be assigned to each separate desktop, and the application is known to run on Iyonixes, StrongARM RiscPCs and VirtualRiscPCs. The software will set you back fifteen quid, although a free demo is available.

Author Steve Revill, whose name you might recognise as being one of the Pace engineers during the time the company flirted with RISC OS, said: "MoreDesk allows you to organise your windows on over a space which is larger than the normal desktop. It does this by creating a grid of desktop spaces and by allowing you to select which of these is the one you are currently looking at."

QEMU the music
Hot on the heels of RPCEmu, Daniel Clarke has taken recent work that allows QEMU to run RISC OS applications, and grown a RiscPC emulator from it. While RPCEmu interprets ARM processor instructions in sequence to perform its emulation, Daniel's work attempts to recompile the software running on his emulator on-the-fly into something the host machine can execute.

He said: "I feel it would be excellent to have a working open source 'just in time' RiscPC emulator to complement the range already out there."

Daniel's project has hit a few snags that prevents RISC OS and ARM Linux from booting up. Those curious enough can take a look at the project here, as hosted by Peter Howkins. Meanwhile, a Mac OS X port of RPCEmu has begun, but it's still very early days yet.

MoreDesk screenshotNetSurf road map announced
The team behind open source native web browser NetSurf are homing in on their promised version 1.0 release - which will be officially branded as being stable enough for users who can't keep up with the daily fresh-off-the-compiler builds. Their goals at the moment include fixing problems with cookies and HTML lists, finishing off the configuration user interface, adding support for CSS absolute positioning, and squashing some hundred or so known bugs; more details here.

Plans are also afoot to develop NetSurf to the point where it can be productively used on other platforms, such as on a typical Linux desktop using GTK+. It can already produce a GTK+ version (pictured), but this is more useful as a debugging aid rather than as a competent web browser.

Coder Daniel Silverstone told NetSurf users: "When NetSurf 1.0 is released, it will be promoted to a fully fledged browser and we expect that NetSurf 2.0 will be simultaneously released as a RISC OS browser and as a GTK browser on as many platforms as we can compile it for."

Meanwhile, the browser now supports multiple simultaneous downloads from the same site, produces thumbnails of pages when windows are iconised, supports more CSS-based pointer types, as well as various other recent tweaks and bug fixes. It's hoped the NetSurf developers will be able to meet up at the forthcoming Wakefield show to take part in a live coding sessions, allowing punters to see how the browser is put together by the team and offer immediate feedback.

Xara open source available, MW Software spotted nearby
As promised, the source code to vector art package Xara Xtreme is now available. Published by Xara, also known as Computer Concepts, the makers of ArtWorks and Impression, Xtreme is being aimed at the Linux and Mac platforms. However at least a few of you have noticed that ArtWorks 2 developer Martin Wuertner has been getting stuck in by discussing various issues on the Xara Xtreme mailing list, and posting source code updates to the project.

In brief
Hell raiser Neil White's game Crazeeman has been ported to the ARM powered GP2X games console. More to follow...

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Discussion

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Just to point out a slight issue with the article, Daniel Clarke's QEMU work is independant of Nick Burrett's/Peter Naull's SWI magic version of QEMU and not based upon it as the article says.

 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 3/4/06 12:00PM
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FYI, with the recent move from CVS -> SVN of the GCCSDK repository, we also created a separate QEMU repository to track QEMU developments together with the enhancements made by Peter/Nick. Daniel's contributions would be more than welcome. If Daniel is interested (I don't immediately find an e-mail address of him), we could perhaps discuss this further in the GCCSDK mailinglist ?

 is a RISC OS Userjoty on 3/4/06 12:31PM
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I understand why the NetSurf people are not planning to add javascript but it's a shame. I upgraded from Browse to Oregano just for the javascript feature. Too many sites now have little snippets of javascript here and there for a browser without such support to be useful to me. There is nothing worse than getting so far into a site and then benig unable to progress.

Anyway, I know the NS authors are fully aware of the limitation and I'm sure the users are happy enough to avoid any javascript sites. This point aside, NetSurf is an excellent piece of software and kick-ass fast. =)

-- Sprite

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 3/4/06 12:32PM
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Spriteman: Indeed, NetSurf would be the best overall browser for RISC OS, were it not for the lack of Javascript. Nonetheless, I use it 99% of the time :) I'm looking forward to the 1.0 release.

One suggestion made by several people, is that ROL (or Castle) join in the development of NetSurf, since it would benefit the platform as a whole. A capable webbrowser is a basic neccessity on any platform and NetSurf must be the most RO-ified browser available to us.

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 3/4/06 1:15PM
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I've got a partial port of RPCemu running on my Mac. It boots into the OS just fine and I can play around with !Draw at about 7 MIPS. However, I can't work out how to get it to access disc images. All of the problems I've had have arisen from the fact that my Mac is big-endian and RISC OS is little-endian, so I suspect it's reading the images with the bytes flipped the other way round. If anyone has any ideas how to fix this, or if the other person or persons who have started a Mac port could use another developer, I can be contacted at: [link] -- Andy Jackson

 is a RISC OS Userbeardedstoat on 3/4/06 1:29PM
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CrazeeMan is now at version 0.3 changes include, slightly larger play area, and a high score record, and (prorbaly slightly illegal) original pac man samples [link]

 is a RISC OS Usernex on 3/4/06 7:14PM
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joty: I would give you Daniel's email addy, but I can't find one for you either :)

 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 3/4/06 8:20PM
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The only thing that stops me using Netsurf all the time is it's lack of fully correct cookie handling and its CSS positioning issues that sometimes render sites unusable.

Thanks for letting me know what the work they're doing on GTK is all about. I'd been seeing comments about it in the CVS submission notes recently, and wondered what it was all about.

 is a RISC OS Userninja on 4/4/06 3:48PM
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To flibble: it's firstname.lastname@aaug.net with firstname/lastname to be substituted ;-)

BTW, your "I'm not a spammer" mechanism at your contact page [link] does not really seem to work.

 is a RISC OS Userjoty on 11/4/06 1:43AM
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