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Partis brandishes mass storage drivers

By Chris Williams. Published: 3rd Jun 2003, 18:37:46 | Permalink | Printable

USB storage hopes for Castle USB

Earlier this year, Partis Computing let slip a few details about PowerUSB, their mass storage USB driver for Castle Technology Iyonix computers and the Castle USB podule. At the moment, no drivers for mass storage USB devices exist for the Castle USB standard. USB mass storage devices are really quite handy and usually small gadgets, you can transfer files to and from them like a removable hard disc.

Partis Computing's online store now lists further information on the driver software and a well rounded feature list.

"This is purely a Partis Computing product with no external involvement (except that Castle makes the podules!)" Gary Partis quickly stressed in his email to drobe.co.uk today. "We are support all Bulk Transport Mass Storage devices, which follow the SCSI/ATAPI command set."

So will PowerUSB sway the driver balance between the Simtec USB standard and the Castle USB standard? At present, many third party developers appear to be siding with the Simtec USB podule, giving Simtec's USB solution a somewhat edge over Castle's USB offering; Simtec USB users can already enjoy using various mass storage devices with their RISC OS computers.

Although Partis Computing say that this is their own independent work, we can imagine Partis (treading the path that Surftec abandoned) are definitely on Castle's christmas card list.

And yes, if you hadn't already guessed, the catch is this: PowerUSB isn't available at the moment, although it is, according to Partis, scheduled to be released "shortly after" the first couple of weeks into June when Partis Computing hopes to issue the 32 bit versions of their SCSI, PowerIDE and PowerATAPI software.


Partis Computing

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Are there more Castle USB users than Simtec due to Iyonix?

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 3/6/03 7:49PM
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Doesn't the Omega use the Simtec API too though?

I mean, will/might it, no sorry, maybe "was it going to", I mean, maybe it might if it is released, no, erm....

I'm constantly amazed by the plug'n'play-ability of USB devices though - I now have a WebCam, PenDrive, Digital camera, 6in1 flash reader and scanner that are USB (plus keyboards, but I use them as PS/2) and they all work great....

....under Windows/MacOSX/Linux.

-- #include "sig.h"

 is a RISC OS Usersimo on 3/6/03 9:56PM
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"They all work great" because the devices are well built and drivers are well written, not because of much inherent in the USB technology itself. I've written USB drivers for windows, linux and RISC OS can can safely say that it's far messier to write the windows versions than for any other OS. IE, it's actually _just as suprising_ that USB devices work as well under windows as they do under Linux, really. Remember that it took M$ three attempts to get their USB stuff sorted out, too. The corollory is that bad drivers, for RISC OS or any OS would make any device not "work great". Let's just hope that the RISC OS drivers are as smooth as their 'doze counterparts. :-)

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 3/6/03 10:11PM
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imj : M$ still haven't fully sorted out their USB crap. There are some hideous problems with it (have a device running then disconnect it and watch things go haywire)

 is a RISC OS UserNodoid on 3/6/03 11:45PM
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Actually I managed to totally take out 2 MacOSX boxes by plugging in a USB pen drive, then removing it without dismounting it. We had to power cycle!

If you do that under Windows, it'll bitch, but usually you can get away without corrupt files.

Linux sometimes will refuse to believe there is a drive there if you don't unmount it before pulling it out.

Not really unplug'n'play, as you have to dismount the drives under any OS I've found, dunno how this works in RISC OS?

IMJ: I thought the USB mass storage devices were reliable across platform as they basically use a standard API, so it's more down to the how clever the OS is than specific drivers (who needs drivers these days?)

-- #include "sig.h"

 is a RISC OS Usersimo on 4/6/03 12:15AM
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There is a standard API, but people implement standards in different ways. There's a nice site about a Linux guy's problems (I can never find the URL when I need it), and I can think of other problems too.

 is a RISC OS Usertribbles2 on 4/6/03 9:18AM
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simo> You must be doing something wrong with your OS X boxes then if you're managing to kill it by ripping a pen drive out before dismounting. I have 2 macs here (PowerBook G4, and Dual G4 1.25GHz), and use pen drives, usb (presented as mass storage) cameras, as well as firewire drives, all of which don't kill OS X if you rip the drives out.

Perhaps you havent run software update, or are using an obsolete version (10.1).

Ian. -- Ian Hawkins (g0tai)

 is a RISC OS Userpiemmm on 4/6/03 11:28AM
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I also have no problem pulling out USB devices under XP. Earlier Windows versions, yes, I did encounter problems. But with XP I can plug/un-plug to my hearts content, and nothing goes wrong.

 is a RISC OS UserWalks on 4/6/03 11:47AM
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XP has options to say how conservative its writes are, and you can tune it between "I like to remove my device a lot, so don't cache anything" to "I'm going to tell you when I dismount so I can save the write time".

 is a RISC OS Usertribbles2 on 4/6/03 11:55AM
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Using Mac OS 10.1.5 things go horribly wrong if you don't dismount those little key-ring memory sticks. Of course, the machines should be upgraded to a newer version of the OS but the end of my tether was reached a long time ago with them, and they are being replaced with PCs later in the year. In my opinion, OSX has been a huge backwards leap in terms of usability, and the reliability of the machines is not much better. The cheap (I built it for under 500) machine I'm currently on runs Photoshop and InDesign far faster than our 1.5k+ Macs, is far stabler, and happily accepts almost any hardware I choose to plug into it without bother. -- R.

 is a RISC OS Usernot_ginger_matt on 4/6/03 12:28PM
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I have a PC to run the Adobe software, but having used MacOS X Macs, I would have preferred them for their superior interface and text display. However, the cost at Christmas was beyond reach :-( -- Michael Stubbs, Leeds

 is a RISC OS Userarenaman on 4/6/03 12:39PM
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not_ginger_matt> 10.1+ was only ever considered a beta, a prelude to 10.2(jaguar). So I'm not too suprised it died a lot.

My OS X box is my main dev box at home (from about 10 (IRIX, RISC OS, Win, OpenBSD, Linux, Solaris)), and it copes perfectly well. If you're having problems with it then I'd suggest upgrading to 10.2 before you waste money on PCs

-- Ian Hawkins (g0tai)

 is a RISC OS Userpiemmm on 4/6/03 2:10PM
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Nodoid/simo> Suggest you refrain from comment about what you (clearly) don't understand.

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 4/6/03 7:35PM
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so will we have probs on RISC OS?

after all one of the groovy things about it is that things can be smoothly become FS's


IDE zip drives on the simtec interface.

When I stick a zip in I get an icon - when I eject it (by the button!) it goes. now how kewl is that?

hopefully the USB stuff works as well...


zip files

using !SparkFS it appears like a standard filer window

so you can run apps, copy files blah blah as normal

try that one on another OS...)

 is a RISC OS Userepistaxsis_RISC OS on 4/6/03 7:52PM
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All very welcome - but today I saw an advert for the latest TIME PC that comes with ports on the front for just about every conceivable mass-storage medium! Perhaps that could be offered for the Omega? -- Andrew Harmsworth, Cambridge. www.gcse.com owner and author

 is a RISC OS Userharmsy on 4/6/03 8:43PM
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Harmsy - there are a number of "all in one" devices that can read/write MMC/SD/MemoryStick/SmartMedia/CF/Microdrive etc. these are available with USB connections (even USB2), add that and a firewire/SCSI port, and you effectively have a connection for every conceivable mass-storage medium - now that's what would be cool for RISC OS, I use mine all the time (on the PC's).

But, apparently I don't know what I'm talking about....

-- #include "sig.h"

 is a RISC OS Usersimo on 4/6/03 9:07PM
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Simo: cool - someone tell STD! -- Andrew Harmsworth, Cambridge. www.gcse.com owner and author

 is a RISC OS Userharmsy on 4/6/03 10:14PM
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epis : I chuck a zip drive into my linux box, power back up and hey presto, it's instantly there. Bang in a disc and irrespective of the format (kernel 2.5.70) the disc appears and is read. Oh look, let's bung on a MacOS HD onto the SCSI chain and have it read as if it was any other device.

Now, what was your point?

 is a RISC OS UserNodoid on 4/6/03 11:20PM
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What has linux got to do with RISC OS USB?

Chris, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 4/6/03 11:25PM
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Nothing unless the source code for the USB static is based on the Linux one...

Seriously I agree, this discussion is way of track -- Steve

 is a RISC OS Userknutson on 5/6/03 12:32AM
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As Steve points out, open source software is very useful if it provides functionality that we need (like drivers or desktop software, see the unix proting project).

However, I don't quite see the need to evangelise Linux (or MacOS or whatever) in an article about RISC OS USB.

Chris, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 5/6/03 1:26AM
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which was my point...

 is a RISC OS Userepistaxsis@work on 5/6/03 9:02AM
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g0tai: The main problem is that the machines offer no advantage over their PC counterparts. Previously, Quark was very stable on the Mac running OS 8.6, now it's worse than a PC running it (Win2k) as Classic is by no means perfect. And then there's the cost issues. We use almost exclusively Adobe software here, and the PCs have access to the identical software library to the Macs. The only thing that Win2k doesn't do as well is colour calibration, but the publications we create don't rely on the precise representation that a glossy high-street mag would. So, what is the point of spending so much more money on the Mac? Well, speed would be the obvious answer. But it's not a valid one. Photoshop (6.0) runs complex filters about twice as fast on a machine costing (under) a third as much. Loading and saving is far faster. Screen redraw is faster. Almost every operation on every piece of Adobe software (Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator) gives the PC operator the edge on efficiency - and saving just a week of someones time in a two year stretch would pay for the replacement PC. I will probably pay for a single upgrade to Jaguar (or Panther is it comes out soon enough), but the machine really does suck up too much money for it to be healthy. And networking is apparently far better in 10.2, which will be nice as I've currenly got a Mac network and a PC network transfering files between themselves via 'public' FTP areas. Yuck. I guess I just can't see any justification for Macs any more. A long time ago we would receive HFS format CDs containing Quark documents for adverts. This alone would represent enough for me to keep the Macs, but it doesn't happen any more. We now use InDesign for the journal creation, and adverts come in a TIFFs or PDFs (or film - argh!). So, where is the Mac advantage? Anyway, we're way way off topic now, and the only thing I can think or similar in the RISC OS world is where Sibelius became available for the PC and many peoples reason for buying a RISC OS machine vanished. -- R.

 is a RISC OS Usernot_ginger_matt on 5/6/03 9:25AM
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epistaxsis: The kind of filing system operations that you describe work exactly the same way on Mac OS X. XP can do the .zip file trick too but isn't as hot for the removable media. -- Spriteman.

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 5/6/03 9:36AM
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RISC OS and MacOS X are much easier on the eyes. Anti-aliased text is actually easier to read than Windoze's pixel-thickness jagged text, which can strain the eyes. For many, the superior interface and display quality of RISC OS and MacOS X machines is enough for many people to stick with them. -- Michael Stubbs, Leeds

 is a RISC OS Userarenaman on 5/6/03 10:55AM
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arenaman: You obviously haven't seen Windows XP with ClearType font smoothing turned on. Now, I know you could argue forever over which font system is best but my point is only that it makes XP a lot easier on the eyes. -- Spriteman.

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 5/6/03 11:31AM
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Advocacy debates: it burns my eyes.

-- Peter, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 5/6/03 11:50AM
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I feel ill.

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 5/6/03 12:26PM
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XP can't do transparent zip files, it's a horrible hack.

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 5/6/03 2:03PM
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XP's built in "Compressed Folders" are awful - one example of where they don't work is unzipping RedSquirrel (funnily enough!) as I don't think it uses standard pkzip deflate.

Also, RISC OS has the only decent font antialiasing - it's awful on XP and Linux/OSX aren't much better, its more like font blurring than antialiasing!

-- #include "sig.h"

 is a RISC OS Usersimo on 5/6/03 5:06PM
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I think that XP's compressed folders ignores some filenames - ones starting with "!", ISTRC.

Eitherway, it sucks when copying RISC OS stuff around. I ended up installing WinZip so I could do that...

 is a RISC OS Usertribbles2 on 06/06/03 09:32AM
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OK, I'm going to try images here to show a crude comparison of MS Cleartype and RISC OS Font Manager.

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 06/06/03 10:47AM
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And, by the way, that's Acorn 1992 technology versus Microsoft's finest. I couldn't get my hands on a machine with anything higher than RISC OS 3.11 here. Maybe someone wants to do a RISC OS 4 v XP v Mac OS X :-)

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 06/06/03 10:57AM
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I can give an OSX shot to anyone that wants one, i think the font rendering is very similar to RISC OS. However I found the XP example easier to read than the RISC OS, particularly the lower case 'e's, in which on RISC OS the hanging bit appears to join up with the rest of the letter, but the XP one does not. RISC OS text appears smoother, but I prefer the XP one in terms of readability.

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 06/06/03 4:21PM
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"ClearType font smoothing"

Mac OS X 10.2 also has sub-pixel anti-aliasing like Microsoft's ClearType. Just select 'General' in your System Preferences and choose 'Medium - best for flatpanel' font smoothing style.

 is a RISC OS Userzakalwe on 07/06/03 12:39AM
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Let's not forget that RISC OS also has sub-pixel anti-aliasing too.....

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 07/06/03 1:16PM
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