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Printers+ really open sourced

By Chris Williams. Published: 1st Jun 2003, 01:49:08 | Permalink | Printable

Castle Printers 1.67 also on riscos.com [Updated 22:43 1/6/2003]

After intially heralding their first incursion into the open source world last October (those wacky, pre-Iyonix days), RISCOS Ltd.'s ambition to release their Printers+ software on Source Forge has this weekend been fulfilled.

Maintained by Dave Marston, you can now download the Printers+ sources via CVS and build your own version (if you have the right tools). Pre-built versions are available via the Select scheme and the project is released under the Mozilla Public License.

"Printers+ is an enhanced front-end for the RISC OS Printing system", explained Dave in the source code release note. "Printers+ provides a number of enhanced features over the standard RISC OS Printers application, including support for remote network printers, and some advanced printer features."

The key point to note here is 'front-end'. The behind-the-scenes printer dumper modules are not covered in the open sourcing of Printers+ although RISCOS Ltd. state that they "happy to co-operate with any developer who wishes to receive information on the PDumpers system in order to support new Printing systems and computer models". Relevant documentation and mailing lists are provided alongside the open sourced Printers+ release, which is always useful.

Open sourcing Printers+ throws open the opportunity for users to directly contribute to the way the RISC OS printing system interacts with end users and it also passes the support baton over to Dave. It's only a matter of time before the Style Guide Pedants Patrol return from their nightly rounds and begin auditing Printers+.

We're not sure if future development work on Printers+ is expected to be driven by RISCOS Ltd. staff, Dave himself or from user contributions, so questions have been asked. Getting third party developers to add to Printers+ would certainly lighten the work load on the core OS developers. Also, and this may seem funny, but releasing source code like Printers+ gives a glimpse into the kind of software developed at Acorn and later, RISCOS Ltd. Perhaps also, if there's enough interest in the Printers+ source code, RISCOS Ltd. could be inclined to open source further 'satellite' applications, although RISCOS Ltd. stressed last year that RISC OS certainly isn't going to become completely open source.

Also popping over
Earlier this year, Castle Technology unveiled their USB based printing system with the intention of allowing RISC OS 3 and 4 users to get their hands on it too. This was confirmed this weekend with the public, free release of Printers 1.67 on the RISCOS Ltd. resources site (the download link says version 1.66 but the version running on the iconbar says 1.67).

Undoubtedly, the OS development and USB driver splits weren't enough, as it seems as we've now facing a printer system split. Printers version 1.67 (that ships with RISC OS 5 and now available on the RISCOS Ltd. website) has various features Printers+ (now open sourced and pre-built in RISC OS Select) does not have, and vice versa. Printers 1.67 has pop-up USB support, printer cloning, support for long control strings and other features. Printers+ has the ability to connect to a "wide range of networked printers".

Despite this, we have to agree (for a change) with Iconbar.com in saying that seeing Castle's printing software hosted on RISCOS Ltd. website is a refreshing and welcomed sight.

Dave Marston got back to us, answering our questions on the future direction of development of Printers+. Dave told us that for a while now, he's been in contact with someone who is keen to look at a few things for Printers+.

"There are some other obvious things", added Dave, commenting on what's likely to be in store for Printers+, "like making use of the new printer identification features in Select 3, and getting it running on Iyonix, that I imagine will be looked at.

"Since sourceforge provides a way of tracking enhancement requests I think we'll make use of that, see what suggestions people have, and take it from there."


Printers+ Source Forge project

Footnote We've learnt that RISC OS Select users may be experiencing a difficulty with Printers 1.67 and although Paul Vigay suggests a largely DIY hack job to correct the problem, users may have to wait for an official fix.

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If the RISC OS Ltd. source is now available, perhaps Castle could combine this with their printers 1.67. Seeing as the Iyonix has a 1gigabit network port, surely this could be a main selling point. It would also give them the edge over RISC OS Ltd. of having all the features everyone wants. ----------- Smiler - :D Alex Melhuish

 is a RISC OS UserSmiler on 1/6/03 8:05AM
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Where can I join the Style Guide Pedants Patrol?

 is a RISC OS Usertakkaria on 1/6/03 9:36AM
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Style Guide compliance is in all our interests. It's what makes RISC OS work like RISC OS (and isn't that why we're here?).

Sorry for over serious reply :-)

 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 1/6/03 6:34PM
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Shame this release produces an error of 'can't find Printer:pdf.Resources.Support' as soon as it runs.

I'm using RISC OS 4.29. Obviously never tested on a virgin RiscPC with Select II.

 is a RISC OS Userquatermass on 1/6/03 10:19PM
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Select 2 is so last year ;)

 is a RISC OS Userjonix on 1/6/03 10:41PM
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quatermass: I assume you're talking about Printers+ are you? It has been tested on Select 2, since that's what I was running at the time.

Not sure this is the best place to get into support, but can you check that file is there in your built version (it should be) and see what Printers$Path is set to.

 is a RISC OS Userilludium on 2/6/03 8:27AM
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Actually I'm starting to think you're talking about Castle Printers, in which case ignore what I just said. :)

 is a RISC OS Userilludium on 2/6/03 8:57AM
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the relevant modules into !Printers.Modules and PDumpers. Not near the right computer to check atm.

 is a RISC OS Userwilf on 2/6/03 1:03PM
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ou need to re-install the relevant etc.

 is a RISC OS Userwilf on 2/6/03 1:06PM
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Oh sod it!

 is a RISC OS Userwilf on 2/6/03 1:07PM
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crack on! it's only right that vital stuff like printer drivers are free

 is a RISC OS Usernex on 2/6/03 1:20PM
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"it's only right"?!?!

I can see how it's desirable for users, but I can't see why it should be seen as the only way. Someone had to produce it, which generally requires someone's time, for which they might wish to be rewarded.

We all want free stuff, fact of life. But I can't see why it's "a right".

-- Dougal

 is a RISC OS UserDougal on 2/6/03 7:23PM
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why is it only right that you dont have to pay for software that runs the basic functions of your operating system?

 is a RISC OS Usernex on 3/6/03 2:04AM
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sorry, obviously it should cost me as much money, time and general grief to get my printer to work

 is a RISC OS Usernex on 3/6/03 2:09AM
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so now anyone that wants to be able to easily publically release the printer driver they have written for riscos so every one else can take advantatge of it will only have to notify one email address!

 is a RISC OS Usernex on 3/6/03 2:12AM
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but obiously i dont belive in making everones life eaiser by sharing my skillz thats why i have 6 games i have spent several hours on making and release them free at [link] but it's ok to have a version of dire straites romeo and juliet i have never owned on mp3 because that's different

 is a RISC OS Usernex on 3/6/03 2:15AM
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t.wa,t :P

sorry if i led you into the illusion that i give a shwite

 is a RISC OS Usernex on 3/6/03 2:21AM
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Feel free to stop ranting nex, ta.

Chris, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 3/6/03 10:04AM
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come in from the pub and post a few comments? why not!

 is a RISC OS Usernex on 3/6/03 10:40AM
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Now now nex. Your not the only person to write software and give it away - I've done quite a bit of that myself. I *chose* to do that, but I don't feel compelled to do it, there's no moral obligation for me to do it.

And this is my objection to your comment - it's not "only right" to be given software, it's down to the author. Like I say, we all like free stuff, but regardless of what that software is there is no moral obligation to give it away for free.

Also, note that whether you pay for something is unrelated to whether there is time and general grief involved :)

-- Dougal

 is a RISC OS UserDougal on 3/6/03 12:46PM
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Primarily to nex. Speaking as someone who has produced quite a few printer drivers for RISC OS users I can tell exactly why they are not generally free. The printers, paper and ink needed to produce the drivers are not free!!! I have to buy all the above items to be able to produce drivers. If I didn't buy them AND my users didn't make donations in return there would be no drivers from me. Once the driver is released I then generally sell the printer, but of course I never get more than I paid for it so someone HAS to pay. Dealers selling printers may be able to get away without paying for a printer to develop on but they certainly still have to pay for ink and paper consumed. Jonathan Briggs

 is a RISC OS Userjbhp on 4/6/03 11:47AM
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indeed, you need a beer, i reccomend the extra cold

 is a RISC OS Usernex on 11/6/03 3:36AM
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