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EeePCs and RPCEmu at ROUGOL

Published: 17th Nov 2008, 16:46:39 | Permalink | Printable

Monday night was curry and beer night London RISC OS users in Borough High Street, where Keith Dunlop and Bryan Hogan demonstrated RPCEmu on a little eeePC.

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Really wish I could be there - but I'm 1000 miles away tapping on my EeePC.

As you might guess I'm really keen to hear more info on that demonstration!

Hope you lucky Londoners have a great time :-)

 is a RISC OS Userwrankin42 on 17/11/08 9:30PM
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Well, tbh, it ran out of the box, so to speak. Keith followed the wiki instructions, Bryan pointed one change which we can update the wiki with, and uh, bingo. It ran. Pretty well, in fact - it was running 40MIPS (ARM710) on a 1.6GHz eeePC with the RPCEmu dynarec. Took a while to download all the source code and libraries and some twiddling to get networking correctly. Nothing too out of reach for anyone who doesn't mind typing into a terminal.

Could do with being packaged up for a distro... Oh, also, Keith was running Ubuntu Linux on his eeePC, and not Zandros (or whatever the official installation is).

 is a RISC OS Userdiotest on 17/11/08 9:46PM
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Being packaged with a Linux distro? Ooooohhh yes please!

I've got to wait for Christmas before I can get to my RPC to rip the ROMs- how will I wait that long?

I'm running the default Xandros. While I don't mind typing into a terminal I admit to not understanding 90% of what it hurls back at me.

I must say the wiki didn't look too complicated until it got to the networking at which point I got a bit lost. The really confusing bit was where you had two options on how to run it with superuser privilege - type sudo to start it each time or err... maybe I'll stick with sudo.

One of the great things about a genuine RPC is that it's very hard to damage unless you try to reprogram it with a pickaxe.

Just so I don't break anything I think I'll be enlisting the aid of my Linux-speaking friend. :-)

 is a RISC OS Userwrankin42 on 17/11/08 10:02PM
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As chris said it did *amazingly* sort of work out of the box!!!

The reason that I decided to do this demo was for various reasons:

1) I use artworks & techwriter for work.

2) It would be handy to be not restricted to my A9 on my desk for the above.

3) Would it work?

I really did not expect it to work but it did :o

The biggest issue was getting networking to work - got it working in the end though...

The best bit was when I was doing stuff RISC OS side to hear the sarcastic comments of here's an OS that he knows!

One of the points of this talk was to see if someone like me who knows very little about linux could follow the instructions on riscos.info and get it running.

Hopefully it was entertaining

 is a RISC OS Userepistaxsis on 18/11/08 12:36AM
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Before I forget - my Eee PC is running Ubuntu eee 8.04.1

It will be interesting to see how Bryan & Stewy got on with Stewy's 1000 running the standard xandros based distro that the Eee's ship with <-- the pair of them last seen trying to install necessary libraries... :-)

 is a RISC OS Userepistaxsis on 18/11/08 12:43AM
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Well the pair of us gave up and left the pub about midnight, without getting much further :-(

I don't really know much about the various Linux packaging systems (I'm a Solaris man!) so it was all a bit of guesswork. The EeePC only has the Asus site in its list of package sources, so it couldn't find the allegro libraries.

Adding in the Debian repository just caused it to complain that it couldn't verify the PGP key of the site and refuse to use it.

We tried downloading the *deb packages manually from the Debian site. This worked for the first allegro library, but the next one just hung the installer - probably because it had dependencies that it didn't know how to fetch.

So getting RPCemu running on a standard EeePC still needs some work :-(

 is a RISC OS Userhelpful on 18/11/08 1:27PM
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Oh, and I tried to update the wiki guide but got an SQL error. I've just gone to try again, and now the whole site is down with a SQL server failure!

Keith: One thing not made clear is that the Linux networking commands (iptables, etc) need to be run every time the machine is restarted. They really need to be put in some sort of startup script.

Of course, those commands need correcting on the wiki first...

 is a RISC OS Userhelpful on 18/11/08 1:34PM
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I have to say Xandros on my eeepc is the first OS which has simply worked since I bought my RPC ten years ago. As a result I am super cautious about mucking it up.

As is probably obvious I'm a total non-techie (yes there's still one non-coder RISC OS user left), so if you want to avoid my naive ramblings please skip this post.

diotest mentioned the possibility of RPCEm being packaged with a distro. Now my experience of installing Linux is that it is never as simple as it is made out to be. However I have heard about Linux distros that boot direct from a USB key. I'm told that these automatically recognise most standard hardware and boot with the added bonus of having your favorite apps preinstalled. A recent OS news article ([link]) implied that Ubuntu has made this easier.

OK you can guess where this is going - now smash my naive schemes: Why could someone with the knowhow not create such an install, with the relevant libraries etc. designed to boot into an emulated RISC OS environment and then make it available for others to download to their USB discs?

Converting a computer to a RPC would then be as simple as booting from a USB.

It'd be great for showing off RISC OS too - try before you buy.

I understand that it would have to be distributed sans-ROMs but I don't see why that should be too much of a problem.

I'm sure there are many other problems, but I thought I'd share this as an idea. It's worth a shot in the dark.

 is a RISC OS Userwrankin42 on 18/11/08 7:00PM
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Package it for a distribution, not as a distribution.

In other words, 90% of the recent article (about compiling and installing rpcemu) goes away as people just pick the 'rpcemu' package from the repository of available programs.

Whilst bundling rpcemu with a distribution to create a RISC OS machine crops up as an idea every so often, I'm not sure it's actually that useful? People seem to like the advantages that the host OS can bring, a browser that doesn't suck, for example. So running the two OSs alongside each other seems preferable to deliberatly hiding the host OS for the sake of nostalgic purity.

 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 19/11/08 12:01AM
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That wasn't my intention at all. What I meant was that if my understanding of the technical side of things is correct then having such a package to place on a USB would make life easier for those who don't want to remove or damage the host OS.

Helpful said he ended up leaving at midnight because he couldn't get the emulator to work with Xandros. I like Xandros and don't want to switch to Ubuntu.

It hardly surprised me, my experience with Linux is that 2 out of three apps just won't install because they need something I don't understand or can't find. I've used Mandriva, Suse and flavors of Ubuntu

Wouldn't it have been easier if all Helpful had to do was plug in a USB and turn the computer on?

Perhaps there is an easier way of achieving this - if so please share :-)

 is a RISC OS Userwrankin42 on 19/11/08 6:12AM
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"Perhaps there is an easier way of achieving this - if so please share"

Yes, you need a Xandros package. That way it'll install like every other bit of optional software on your eeePC. It will automatically stick an icon in your program launcher and you're done.

ATM, work needs to be done on rpcemu to allow it to be easily installed system wide. But is it not better that done that creating an elaborate, one application specific, method of installing software on one set of hardware?

Linux package management and application installation is a solved problem, we just need to make use of it.

 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 19/11/08 10:36AM
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Cool - looking forward to that icon :-)

 is a RISC OS Userwrankin42 on 19/11/08 11:00AM
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Pity the standard distro that comes with the eee doesn't have the necessary bits.

Not too surprising really as it is a cut down and customised distribution.

So if you want rpcemu on your linux Eee PC do what I did and install Ubuntu eee:


- it will be changing its name soon as Canonical have got the hump with it being called Ubuntu! :-(

It is worth saying here that Canonical have gone to *great* lengths to make installing Ubuntu and using it as painless as possible - it is far from perfect and isn't as easy as RISC OS (you will end up in a terminal window at some point...) but it does work.

By editing the config file I have managed to get it to have 128MB of RAM - which is nice.

Now I need to work out what the vertical res needs to be so I can get a bigger desktop as rpc emu (quite rightly) runs in a window...

It would be nice for it to appear in the package manager - would make installing it and runnng it much easier and yes Bryen I discovered that about the iptables thing too!

 is a RISC OS Userepistaxsis on 19/11/08 2:18PM
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"rpc emu (quite rightly) runs in a window... "

Doesn't it have a full screen mode?

 is a RISC OS Userwrankin42 on 19/11/08 2:48PM
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I don't know and I don't want it to run full screen as I will be using it to run Artworks and Techwriter.

For me this isn't a replacement for any of my native RISC OS machines it is to allow me to run the RISC OS applications I need for work when I am away from my A9 and Iyonixes

 is a RISC OS Userepistaxsis on 19/11/08 3:27PM
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Press Ctrl-End and pick fullscreen from the menu that appears.

 is a RISC OS Userhelpful on 19/11/08 6:36PM
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One thing we forgot to mention on the night, was that at the Guildford show ROOL were talking about producing a ROM image of RISC OS 5 for rpcemu. This would mean a completely free emulator could be produced, all ready to run with an OS.

 is a RISC OS Userhelpful on 19/11/08 6:42PM
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Whilst this may sound good, people should not forget that RISC OS Ltd has license agreements in place.

If ROOL released a freely available RO5 image for rpcemu, there is a possibility of them leaving themselves open to legal action by RISC OS Ltd. This is something I guess they will check into very carefully before making such an image available.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 20/11/08 7:35PM
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You assume anybody in the market has the money to bring such a motion. I don't believe for an instant ROL can possibly be solvent, throwing away the last of the cash to fight a scheme to help keep RISC OS in use would be arrogant in the extreme, given that purpose is why they were created themselves; and in the long term, they have failed.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 20/11/08 7:41PM
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Don't forget that ROL has only 3 sources of income (I think): -

1) RISC OS Select Subscriptions 2) License fee paid from Virtual Acorn for use of RISC OS 3) License fee paid from Advantage 6 for use of RISC OS

If ROOL suddenly release a RO5 ROM image for use with RPCEmu, that could have detrimental effects to the businesses of Virtual Acorn and therefore ROL. I would have thought it would therefore be in ROL's interest to stop such an image being released for the open source emulator.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 20/11/08 8:21PM
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You state I don't believe for an instant ROL can possibly be solvent, throwing away the last of the cash to fight a scheme to help keep RISC OS in use would be arrogant in the extreme, given that purpose is why they were created themselves; and in the long term, they have failed.

Was not ROL created for the purpose of developing RISC OS 4? On that they have suceeded. We have had several RISC OS 4 based updates that benefit both Risc PC/A7000 users and Virtual Acorn users. RISC OS 4 has been 32bitted and is available on the 32bit A9home. Advantage6 continue to make headway with making RISC OS 6 available for their machine, at which point Select will also be able to be softloaded.

I therefore dispute your ascertation that in the long term ROL have failed.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 20/11/08 8:28PM
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I think ROL was created by people from the community to keep RISC OS alive. The method of this was the development of RISC OS 4.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 21/11/08 9:32AM
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I thought that Castle's licence for RO5 specified that it must not be used on an emulator.

Am I mistaken, or has the situation changed?

 is a RISC OS UserStoppers on 20/11/08 8:43PM
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That does sound ideal. I'd be interested to know how that progresses.

 is a RISC OS Userwrankin42 on 19/11/08 10:35PM
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except that rpcemu emulates a RiscPC which RO5 currently doesn't run on.

I am sure this will change in due course but it will take a lot of time and effort to achieve.

 is a RISC OS Userepistaxsis on 20/11/08 1:44AM
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The other thing ROOL had at Guildford was the RiscPC HAL, so RISC OS 5 can (does?) run on a RiscPC and hence on rpcemu. After all, what do you think RISC OS 5 was developed on?

 is a RISC OS Userhelpful on 20/11/08 2:40AM
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If you've got a HAL, you don't need to emulate any legacy machine hardware at all. You just implement the HAL calls in native code, and gain considerably in performance and reduced complexity.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 20/11/08 9:18AM
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"You just implement the HAL calls in native code": the native code being Linux in the instance in question?

 is a RISC OS Userbucksboy on 20/11/08 11:01AM
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Yes. You simply translate HAL calls in to the high level API calls of whatever host OS you are sitting on.

Take something like the real time clock, instead of having to trap memory accesses to the IOMD chip and simulate the II2C commands needed to read the clock chip on real hardware, you simply make a call to the host OS and perform a simple bit of arithmetic to convert the time value to RISC OS format.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 20/11/08 11:29AM
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"You simply translate HAL calls": would that be a lot of work? From what you say, RO5 would appear to be a better emulation bet than RO4/6.

 is a RISC OS Userbucksboy on 20/11/08 6:05PM
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In terms of what developer time is available, yes. A lot of work.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 20/11/08 6:09PM
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Stoppers, you are mistaken. It explicitly allows emulator usage. It disallows "non-ARM-ports" however, but emulated ARMs are fine.

 is a RISC OS Userhubersn on 20/11/08 9:18PM
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I stand corrected. Thanks.

 is a RISC OS UserStoppers on 20/11/08 11:32PM
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Compared to taking a Risc PC emulator and creating a hardware emulation of an Iyonix to allow the current RISC OS 5 ROM image to work, creating a generic HAL emulation is far less work.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 21/11/08 12:13AM
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