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Castle and Freeware news round up

By Chris Williams. Published: 9th Feb 2003, 23:36:42 | Permalink | Printable

Mini-FAQ on the Castle vs. PCI GPL allegations, lots of software news and more

RISC OS 5 vs. the GPL mini-FAQ
It appears the dust is only just settling after what's been a mostly frantic weekend following ARM Linux developer Russell King's claims of GPL code existing in RISC OS 5 ROMs. Look, even Cybervillage bothered covering it and iconbar.com dragged themselves long enough away from their in-depth Doomsday restoration narration, so it must be important. There's been a lot of questions on the subject so we think a brief and to-the-point FAQ would be a surprisingly good move.

"What is Russell claiming?"
Russell King has claimed on the Linux Kernel Mailing List that the PCI and some I/O resource allocation code from the Linux kernel is being used in Castle's RISC OS 5. The Iyonix range of computers, powered by RISC OS 5, uses PCI to provide its video, sound and USB so it's quite critical.
"What's the fuss about then?"
The Linux kernel source code that Russell claims is being employed in RISC OS 5 is covered by and distributed under the GNU Public Licence. The GPL was drawn up to protect free software and ensure that software released under the GPL always remains free. Generally speaking, if one program incorporates some other GPLed software, that program also falls under the GPL. GPLed software must be distributed openingly with full sources and can be redistributed by anyone as long as they follow the GPL.
"What evidence is there to support Russell's claims?"
Justin Fletcher did the initial research, the archive of his findings can be found here. To summarise Justin's findings: whilst having a peek inside the RISC OS 5 ROM image, he noticed some function names (such as "pci_alloc_primary_bus" and "request_resource") embedded in the kernel section of the OS ROM. These stuck out quite a bit for such a low level area of the OS plus these function names looked vaguely familiar. After a little searching on the net, Justin found the function names in kernel source files for Linux 2.5.49. He then compiled these Linux functions into ARM machine code and compared them with the machine code in the RISC OS 5 ROM to look for matching routines. Justin also contacted Castle late last year to alert them to his findings.
"What's going to happen? I've read a lot of angry people commenting on Slashdot!"
Where the situation goes from here is unclear but not entirely hopeless as some people are wailing and a number of settlements can be reached (if necessary). First of all Russell's claims have to be proven true and we're also waiting on Castle to tell us their side of the story, (y'know, the whole Right To Reply thing). We've been informed that Castle will be issuing a statement within the next couple of days to clear things up and we're sitting tight until then.

Any further questions? And now, onto other news.

Software news
WimpWorks goes 32bit
Jaffasoft have kindly informed us that their WimpWorks commercial IDE for RISC OS is now 32 bit compatible.
"WimpWorks is our Integrated Development Environment for RISC OS, which allows you to create Desktop applications in BASIC quickly and easily", Andrew Flegg of Jaffasoft explained. "For example, a simple clock can be created by typing just two lines of code!"

Applications created by the new WimpWorks version are also 32bit compatible.

File comparing made easier
As previously mentioned on drobe.co.uk, Jan-Jaap van der Geer has developed a cute utility that compares directories of files for changes in those files. Version 1.02 has been uploaded to the DirSync website and features various updates including the ability to compare files' contents even if they match as equal and extra support for various plugins.

"DirSync is a program that allows you to visually compare two directory structures", Jan-Jaap informs us via email. "There are several ways of filtering the type of differences you want to see (only newer files, only files that exist only in one of the directories and so on). You can mark those files you want to be equal, select the direction of copying, and then synchronise them."

Freeware goodies
Nick Roberts has released verion 5.01 of his macro assembler, ASM; needless to say that it's 32 bit compatible. Tim Rowledge's port of Squeak Smalltalk is now also 32 bit compatible and 30% faster than the last release (woo). The RISC OS PDF viewer, PDF, has been tweaked to version (a mouthful if we ever saw one, it looks like a serial number) and contains various updates listed on the NoughtPointOne hosted !PDF site. Dave "GCCide" Appleby has updated his Toolbox Res file conversion utility CCres to version 1.02 following a couple of bug fixes. Deep breath. Michael Foot of BBC B game conversion fame has released version 0.46 of his BeebIt software, which is a freeware 32 bit compatible BBC Micro computer emulator. Locate, Steve Fryatt's extremely handy file searching application, has been bug fixed to version 0.86.

Get drobe.co.uk in your language
Steven Knutson has pointed us to a great website that allows you to read this RISC OS website in various leading world languages, including but not limited to: Hacker, Pig Latin, Swedish Chef, Moron and Redneck. We particularly like the Cockney translation of the site. Have fun.

Free Iyonix reviews from Eureka
Eureka, the long running magazine for ARM Club members, is offering free copies of their Iyonix review by Dave Ruck, if you drop them a suitably grovelling email.

"The Spring issue of Eureka (the 80-page magazine for members of The ARM Club), which has the definitive report on Iyonix by David Ruck (druck) is now at the printers", exclaims Eureka editor Peter Jennings. "The print run has been adjusted to allow for a limited number of free copies to be sent to non-members. If you would like a free copy, and have not already requested one, email your name and address to: eureka@armclub.org.uk."

Comments / News / Flames

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Definitive review? That's close to an oxymoron. Or maybe just a moron.

 is a RISC OS Usertwattle on 10/2/03 12:13AM
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I've asked for a copy, so we can see what it's like.

Chris, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 10/2/03 12:46AM
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Druck is one of my RISC OS heroes. Chocky is another one, it was great seeing Freeciv appear on my screen. Chris, you're fast becoming a hero, Drobe has been excellent this year. And Castle are my heroes for bringing us the Iyonix. -- Gavin Smith, Carrickfergus

 is a RISC OS UserSparkY on 10/2/03 1:24AM
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Whoa! I haven't even released much software yet! *blush*


 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 10/2/03 1:31AM
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Oy, Castle - [link]

;) -- Gavin Smith, Carrickfergus

 is a RISC OS UserSparkY on 10/2/03 9:41AM
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On the subject of the dialectiser, this particular 'translation' (of this very page, no less!) made me laugh:


-- Thomas :)

 is a RISC OS UserTRM on 10/2/03 12:09PM
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Sorry, but we've already had more than a hundred requests for the free copy of Eureka and our supply has run out. If you applied before the weekend you should get one later this week.

 is a RISC OS UserPeter Jennings on 10/2/03 2:35PM
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Thanks for the update Peter :)

Chris, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 10/2/03 5:07PM
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Damn. I never got round to asking for one. I should join The ARM Club, really...

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 10/2/03 5:22PM
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