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South East show report

By John-Mark Bell. Published: 24th Oct 2004, 00:05:03 | Permalink | Printable

VA Linux, graphics acceleration, CTL and ROL and more

John-Mark Bell recalls his day out with RISC OS in Guildford, and the various goodies, news and views he ran into.

Another year, another trek to Guildford for the South East show. This is traditionally the time of year that the fruits of the labours of the months since Wakefield are announced, or at least wheeled out to briefly tease us with. So, what was new at Guildford?

Geminus logoFirstly, there was the new Geminus product from the Aemulor team. This is a rather clever module that provides multiple monitor support for the Iyonix. The demonstration machine had two LCD monitors side by side, demonstrating the ability to have the desktop span two screens, which is extremely useful if you're always running out of space on a single monitor - I certainly do, especially when editing source code.

Additionally, Geminus has the ability to rotate the screen display such that you can work in portrait mode. There appears to be a slight issue with this in that the mouse pointer remains as if the screen was in landscape mode (although this is probably a simple thing to fix).

Geminus itself is written mainly in C, with speed-critical parts written in assembler. The resultant module is about 40KB in size, though programmer Adrian Lees seemed upset by how large it was. It makes use of DMA transfer of data to-and-from the graphics card(s), thus speeding up screen scrolling, for example. This was especially noticeable in portrait mode, as listing the machine's configuration status from the command prompt was noticeably slow without DMA transfers enabled. Adrian thinks there's probably some more speed increases to be made in this area.

Also, there didn't appear to be any form of screen caching, such as that demonstrated in Adrian's RedrawCache module. Having used the RedrawCache module on my Iyonix, it's obvious that this would be a desirable additional feature, and one which the Geminus team seemed keen to add.

Faster drawfile graphics
Secondly, and also graphics-related, was the fast drawfile rendering by "SIMON". This was supposed to be demonstrated on the RISCOS Ltd stand, although the machine that the code was running on only had 32MB of RAM and the test drawfile was about 47MB. Therefore, I didn't have the chance to see the rendering in action at first-hand.

ROL chief Paul Middleton did, however, give a demonstration of the technology in his theatre presentation, using a drawfile he created containing a number of copies of the Artworks apple. I've no idea of the resultant drawfile's size, but that's fairly irrelevant. The first render was demonstrated in Draw, and this was quite obviously slow. The second render was done in the demonstration software and this was appreciably faster, if not near-instantaneous.

One thing I did notice, however, was that the graduation on the Draw-rendered page was rather smoother - although this may well have been the result of viewing it on a projection screen rather than a monitor.

Paul was rather coy about the whole thing, although I did manage to extract a few small pieces of information out of him. Firstly, this isn't an entirely software approach: it uses some custom hardware, but what this hardware actually is and does is unknown. From what I could see (and while Paul wasn't looking, I took a look at the result of *modules and *podules on the demonstration machine), there was nothing obviously different about the demonstration RiscPC. It simply had a Viewfinder podule (though with what graphics card, I don't know) and a NIC in it.

As for the identity of "SIMON", Paul was equally evasive, suggesting that if SIMON's real employers found out, they wouldn't be best pleased. When asked if a similar solution could be made available for Iyonix machines, Paul didn't see any reason why not, although he wasn't sure how or where the hardware would fit in.

Linux Virtual Acorn
VA Linux logoThirdly, VirtualAcorn were demonstrating a Linux version of their product, although it isn't yet for sale. This is probably good news for those who have been uncertain about the merits of running a RISC OS emulator on the Windows platform.

In other areas, R-Comp were demonstrating their new Netfetch and Dialup software, Icon Technology were demonstrating and selling Easi and TechWriter 8.30, complete with page-break bug (there's apparently a downloadable upgrade on its way soon) and MW-Software was demonstrating the latest version of Artworks2. Peter Naulls (a drobe.co.uk editor) was promoting his Unix Porting Project and Iyonix Linux port, including news of a port of the Firefox browser to RISC OS (although this has a number of issues and is some way off being releasable). Martin Hansen was demonstrating his Maths software, which I confess to neglecting to look at (apologies Martin) and CJE appeared to have brought a small black hole with them, given the amount of items available on their stand.

Theatre presentations
Of the theatre presentations going on, I attended the Castle and RISCOS Ltd. ones, along with the Lillingston and Middleton show at the end. My apologies to Peter Naulls and John Cartmell for not attending their presentations, but the lure of the show hall was too much.

Castle's presentation was mainly based around their new DIY Iyonix product. Jack Lillingston and Will Ling spent much of the presentation demonstrating the process needed to build your own Iyonix, based upon the kit available from Castle. There was a short question and answer session at the end, but there was little new information to come out of this.

More interesting was the presentation by Paul Middleton of RISCOS Ltd. He spent some time demonstrating the drawfile acceleration technology, as I described earlier. After that, he detailed some of the possible future enhancements to Select. The first of these was the intention to make the Artworks file format the default vector graphics format on RISC OS.

It appears that they wish to extend the fast drawfile rendering idea to other parts of the desktop experience, such as enabling transparent windows and optimised redraws. I asked him beforehand whether the idea behind these improvements was to be able to have a compositing system similar to that in Mac OS X. He seemed to suggest in reply that such a thing would be desirable.

In response to a question about future uses for RISC OS, Paul mentioned the BBC and high-definition TV. I'm not entirely sure how RISC OS fits into this, but he seemed to think it was a possible area for consideration. A question was also asked about the new filing system that RISCOS Ltd. had proposed to develop before. Paul stated that searching for files and information contained within them was something that they wanted to do. He seemed to indicate that approximately half the required work had been done on the new filing system.

In the light of the recent agreement of cooperation between Castle and RISCOS Ltd. over the development of RISC OS, the RISCOS Ltd. presentation was reduced in length, in order to allow a question and answer session with both Jack Lillingston and Paul Middleton.

A variety of questions were asked, but the main focus of the session was on the future plans of both companies, along with "who does what". Essentially, it seems that Castle will focus on the embedded market, along with the low-level OS components, whilst RISCOS Ltd. will be charged with developing RISC OS for the desktop market. As an indication of this, Castle's Merlin project research and list of things suggested by users has been passed on to RISCOS Ltd. for them to consider and implement things as and when they see fit.

As for the merging of the two source trees, this is likely to happen over a period of time, with things being merged in as and when appropriate. The general idea is to cherry pick the best bits from each tree, though the actual feasibility of doing this for everything is unknown.

Paul Middleton envisages a series of step releases during the convergence, beginning with Select32 in around about May next year. Paul also seems to think there is now little point in continuing to actively develop for 26bit systems, including the Risc PC. He believes that within 18 months to 2 years, sufficient new hardware will become available (and at the right prices) to persuade users to upgrade to more modern systems from their now aging RiscPCs.

It transpires that the 32bit OS developed for Advantage Six's A9 product range is not based upon a HAL (ie it is tied to that hardware). Both Paul and Jack seem to be committed to the prospect of any future OS versions being based upon a HAL similar to that used in RISC OS 5. Jack seemed very happy with the 32bit OS developed for the A9 range, even though Castle had nothing to do with it.

I enquired about the likelihood of some updated documentation for programmers once the convergence was reasonably complete. Paul corrected my interpretation of the RISCOS Ltd. policy with regards to documentation, saying that the rationale behind API documentation only being available to Select subscribers is due to the constantly moving target that is the Select API. Jack stressed the importance of programmer's reference material and suggested that up-to-date documentation was something that he wants to see made available.

Stefaan Claes asked a question about Unicode support within the OS, which seemed to have both Paul and Jack stumped. Paul seeming to suggest that Unicode support is something that should be in applications and not the OS.

Finally, and unrelated to the presentations, I asked Jack about the prospect of updates to the C/C++ development tools and he suggested that they'd been working on improving instruction scheduling and that a major update is timetabled for around about December.

My thanks, as ever (and I sincerely hope I speak for everyone) to the show organisers and the army of volunteers who helped out to make the show run so smoothly.


Show photos from Peter Howkins

Previous: Vector graphics boost preview
Next: October news in brief


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The suggestion that Artworks rendering capabilties might be included in RISC OS as a core feature so it can display Artworks in the same way it can handle Draw and Paint (although obviously you still need Artworks to create and edit) sounded exciting.

Paul said he had been asked about adding PDF support but a PDF renderer was unlikely as it would be too large (potentially doubling the size of the RISC OS code).

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 24/10/04 11:35AM
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A very interesting report, and without going, this has to be the best way to find out all the details!

 is a RISC OS Userjohn on 24/10/04 11:54AM
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Best news in the text above ist that the Unix Porting Project is looking into the *Firefox* *Browser* ! On other platforms, that is Windows and Linux I use Firefox since quite some time (already when it was named Phoenix and then Firebird) and it is in quite a few extents definitively better than Internet Explorer.

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 24/10/04 11:58AM
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Seems like a good show, thanks to a good report. A lot of exciting things in the pipeline. Well cleared up on SIMON is that it does require a bit of hardware - I was hoping there was some secret wizard capable of taking ARM performance on RO to new heights... ;) But still the bigger picture remains hidden. Very cool is VA running on Linux!


It would be a great idea to adopt Artworks vector format as standard in RISC OS. Draw could then become something like an ArtWorks Light...


I agree. It can see certain obstacles in getting it fully ported, but I firmly believe it can be done. Perhaps others can join the converting process? Having Firefix on RO would bring us bang up to date.

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 24/10/04 12:58PM
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I'd agree with the firefox thing, but "looking into" is surely a long way from anything useful. Anything better than oregano (at javascript as well as CSS), that isn't as abominable as oregano 2 is fine by me.

 is a RISC OS Userjohn on 24/10/04 1:19PM
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Not being a programmer I might have misunderstood the Artworks renderer thing; but I got the feeling it would be part of a move to allow application sprites to be replace by / supplemented with vector graphics images (which could scale to any screen resolution) and allow things like transparent windows & translucent (+rounded!) buttons.

 is a RISC OS Userjms on 24/10/04 2:05PM
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PM and the BBC thing - he was saying that when it comes to choosing a format for HDTV in the UK, the BBC is not excited by MPEG and are searching for (or creating?) some entirely open system that doesn't require any licensing fees. In such an event, RO would be in a good position, he seemed to feel, to benefit from that. Presumably, by implementing any such freely-available codec in RO.

He re-iterated his "server under the stairs" vision but clarified it to suggest the RO would be available as a client to it (not the server!). It would show images / emails / films / sounds / documents / etc. I like to think of this as a sort-of "Star Trek" scenario where there's a central server dishing out the same information but presented differently depending how it's accessed through a visual display or audio "communicator". In the "real world" this could be a computer / PDA / STB on a TV / telephone / etc.

He also stressed, separately, that RO must become more "interconnectable" to Windows and Macs - not only at a networking level but the ability to understand foreign file formats. Whether this is aspirational or a specific plans wasn't clear.

A couple of other things if I remember correctly - hopefully a new Select release early in the new year. SIMON (whatever is actually is) should eventually be publically available. As well as thinking about including the Artworks renderer as a core OS component, he also suggested that RO were looking at some sort of improved filing system and possibly a providing an indexing service too. This would allow much easier searches for files, apparently.

 is a RISC OS Userjms on 24/10/04 2:22PM
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I don't understand this Home-Clint thing. If there is one area RISC OS is really way behind than it is multimedia. Is there any modern video format that can be displayed on RISC OS except MPEG? We can not watch DVDs, no Video CDs, no DivX, we can't burn DVDs. RISC OS is not able to show PowerPoint-Prsentations, there is no support for RealAudio/Video and there is no Java. Have a look at the Siemens M740 AV that is a clint that can show Pictures/Videos/Audio and record movies if connected to a server. It costs around 200 Pounds. Sorry, I do not see any chance for RISC OS on this area.

 is a RISC OS Usermaikl on 24/10/04 2:57PM
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I think maikl makes a very good point. If you want to play DVDs go buy the 29.99 offering in Comet.

Of course, what we do need is an efficient DVD filing system which is going to be the benefit of CinoDVD and why I'd buy that. Also, more frivilously, I'd love a pop-video juke box, which I've half got with KinoAMP, and am waiting for Cineroma to be able to cope with AVI file packaging.

However, it could be dangerous to take on the mass market multimedia expenience because there play the big boys who have vast resources and will indulge in vicious cost cutting as they slug it out to dominate that emerging market over the next couple of years. Of course, if we were out ahead at the start of this battle then, fair enough, go for it. But unless a RISC OS player has quietly crept ahead of the pack I'd advise to avoid getting too involved.

It'd be great if RISC OS can offer it as a bonus, but we must not let multimedia become too big a part of what we are about.

 is a RISC OS Usermartin on 24/10/04 3:40PM
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Sadly I missed the presentations but the report above, whilst mostly very good news, sounds a couple of alarm bells for me:

* Make Artworks file format the default for RISC OS - this is fine *except* that the Artworks file format is proprietary and known only to CC/MW. One of the strengths of RO in the past has been the open documentation of its standard vector format (which just happens to be a good one, BTW) - allowing all programmers to process it, or create it, as needed. If this change is to go ahead, the format needs to be made public. [Or maybe I've misunderstood this and the intention is just to use it more, in which case the OS will come to rely on a piece of proprietary rendering software instead].

* The "constantly moving target that is the Select API" - exactly what an API should not be. If applications are to make use of the API, it needs to be well defined, fixed and supported long-term. Acorn's legacy has served us well (respect to the guys that sustained it on the very different machine that is Iyonix) and we should continue to work in this way.

Just my two pennyworth. And no disrespect to or distrust of Martin Wuerthner or CC implied.

 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 24/10/04 5:06PM
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Oh, and I asked Adrian about the pointer on Geminus when the screens are in portrait mode. He said that he just hasn't implemented that bit yet.

 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 24/10/04 5:09PM
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In reply to TonyStill

Paul was talking Artworks as an additional option, so Paint and Draw are still there. It would be an additional feature - effectively the renderer would be built into the OS to offer additional functionality.

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 24/10/04 7:02PM
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maik1: you've hit the nail squarely on the head! The RO desktop market (ROL's main area of responsibility) will dwindle away without a truly capable browser and at least some of the AV functionality you describe. The former in particular is crucial: I can afford an Iyonix, but I can't regard it as a rational purchase given the performance of the current crop of RO browsers (I've got O1, O2 and Netsurf).


 is a RISC OS Userbucksboy on 24/10/04 7:08PM
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Wo-hooo! nice developments!

I hope the firefox thing comes about, thats one thing ill be very interested in! (This is writtern in firefox)

 is a RISC OS Userem2ac on 24/10/04 8:26PM
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Wow, one can really see the impact Firefox had on the quality of your posting.

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 25/10/04 12:44AM
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As for the "Select API" / in reply to ToniStill:

I sincerely hope that the RISC OS APIs, SWIs, ... will be documented and the documentation will be open to the public and not hidden away like ROL did and does. Hiding the APIs makes sure that the API is not used by those not having subscribed to Select - well that means that that API shouldn't be used at all. Furthermore putting such an API in the open might even persuade the odd user to subscribe to Select - be it due to more apps making use of its features, or due to the fact that the user discovers features.

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 25/10/04 6:02AM
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em2ac: why are you ill?

john: Well, "looking into" is someone else's phrase, not mine. However, I've been "looking into" Mozilla/Firefox for some considerable time. The important thing now is that I'm at a stage where the technology has reached a point where it's sensible to talk about building (which is complex itself) and running it on RISC OS.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 25/10/04 8:58AM
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Mozilla/Firefox If Firefox is ported to RISC OS, what features does it bring that current RISC OS Browsers don't have? I don't know about Firefox, but if someone could clarify why it is worth porting a whole new RISC OS Browser than to update one we have (like Oregano or NetSurf etc.)? The benefit of getting Firefox as I understand is more choices, feature options, competition etc.

 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 25/10/04 9:16AM
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It's a very, very capable browser that walks all over current RISC OS offerings. Most importantly, it's open source and so won't suffer the problem that Browse, Fresco and Oregano1 have (company ending development!) Cheers!

 is a RISC OS Userfwibbler on 25/10/04 9:44AM
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The primary advantage to Firefox is the Gecko rendering engine - full W3C standards compliance, a 'quirks' mode for rendering poorly written pages, and full JavaScript support. It's likea combination of Netsurf and Oregano. Also, unlike Oregano, it's designed for the desktop, so it's more intuitive in that sense. Other feautres are tabbed browsing, which you really have to use to understand how good it is. There's also industry standard plugin suuport (so you can get Flash, Shockwave, etc. assuming these will work on RISC OS of course) and it's exntentions and themes. The extensions make it highly customisable. It's difficult to not find an extension you're looking for, to fulfill a certain task. Also, most of these are platform independant, as they're coded in xhtml/html/javascript. Or, you could always look here for more info: [link]

 is a RISC OS UserSmiler on 25/10/04 10:10AM
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Sorry, that should be [link] Also, I apologise for the typos in the above comment - I do know how to spell support really!

 is a RISC OS UserSmiler on 25/10/04 10:13AM
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"Industry standard plugin support, so you get ...". What nonsense; please make a token effort to research this before making such comments.

Any RISC OS browser ought to support the RISC OS plugin format. Supporting any other format is a bit pointless (the O2 issues aside) since existing plugins support guess what format. And guess what format future RISC OS plugins will generally use.

"Most of them are platform independant (sic)". No, many of them are x86 coded and have no source available (e.g. Macromedia flash). I have no idea why you'd have a Javascript based plugin, since you could just run the code directly in the browser.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 25/10/04 11:32AM
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Regarding APIs and documentation; Jack agreed it's very important that such things are made available. Paul stated that, because Select is a development environment, that's why the APIs were only released to Select subscribers. I think the idea being that until things are formally released, they're liable to change.

One of the two then said that it's a difficult thing to keep the documentation up to date - Acorn had a team of 13 people! A luxury neither Castle nor ROL have.

Paul said Select will always be a soft-load of some sort even on an Iyonix (beacuse that would ensure what's in ROM is stable) I would guess that core ROM version public documentation should always be pretty much up to date, but public Select documentation may lag somewhat.

This is all from memory and liable to errors in remembering or interpretation!

 is a RISC OS Userjms on 25/10/04 11:46AM
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mrchocky: "'Most of them are platform independant (sic)'. No, many of them are x86 coded and have no source available (e.g. Macromedia flash). I have no idea why you'd have a Javascript based plugin, since you could just run the code directly in the browser." Okay, perhaps I didn't make myself very clearly. That was in reference to the browser *extensions* not plugins. Extensions add extra features to Firefox itself. i.e. mouse gestures, tab preferences, a CSS editor, mouse/keyboard shortcut configurations. These *are* coded in JavaScript or similar, as they interact with Firefox directly, for which the UI is decribed in XML and CSS.

As for the plugins, with the addition of 'netscape' plugin support, it should make future ports of freeware linux plugins a lot easier, as these all interface using the NS plugin interface anyway. Perhaps from there, there could be further devlopment for the plugins to work with existing browsers, such as a translation layer to convert between RISC OS and Netscape and vice versa.

 is a RISC OS UserSmiler on 25/10/04 12:10PM
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What I was trying to say, is looking into is good, but don't expect it next week running well at a decent speed :) Although you are a magician (and the grammar police ;) so feel free to prove me wrong!

At the moment I use oregano mainly (with JS off) and netsurf for stuff that really needs CSS. For javascript I'm a bit stuck unless it's simple stuff oregano handles. I don't think anyone can easily sum up how great it would be to have firefox, the difficulty in making it work well is equally difficult to sum up.

So I'll sum it up with "good luck" :)

(Can we have a preview option for aticle comments please?)

 is a RISC OS Userjohn on 25/10/04 12:35PM
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John (Can we have a preview option for aticle comments please?)

Err.. Like the button marked 'preview' directly below the current last comment ?

(snigger, snigger)

 is a RISC OS Usermartin on 25/10/04 1:21PM
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Nice article John !

I unfortunately didn't get a chance to listen into the Jack Lillington/Paul Middleton Q&A, but some of the comments quoted in the article are a tad alarming:

PM for example about Unicode being the responsibility of the Application rather than the OS ?? Is that insane or is it just me ? You'll have (potentially) *every* application having their own way of implementing it. The very *minimum* RISC OS Ltd should be doing is defining a *standard* approach for UCS implementation/API usage (so that at least it won't wind up a massive pigs breakfast of conflicting and incompatible approaches). Ideally Unicode support should be in the OS - full stop end of story. The reality probably will be that if the OS doesn't implement it - it simply won't happen.

As to documentation (sigh). Well if I go to Castle's Iyonix website I can get documentation on all sorts of API related stuff. I don't even have to own an Iyonix (although as it happens I do). Select, however, is different, you can't get the documentation unless you're part of the scheme and the reason (going from the article above) is because the API keeps changing ???? Surely if it changes that much it's as much a pain for *actual* Select users too ? Surely if the excuse applies to people generally it would *also* apply to Select customers (that is unless they like an unpredictable and changing set of APIs that never match their existing documentation).

Nope, it just doesn't ring true, sorry..... and if convergence means that that approach is adopted more generally (rather than the more open one you find on the Iyonix site) then I for one will be very dissapointed.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 25/10/04 1:46PM
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Oh not on my screen all I have is Submit your comment. However I'm using the no frills layout (since moderation on that doesn't require javascript, also it's faster) Which brings up back to the original point :) With firefox I suppose it would all work nicely :)

 is a RISC OS Userjohn on 25/10/04 2:54PM
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And having looked, the normal layout makes odd decisions like anything in brackets should be italic and anything in quotes should be green and italic! However it does allow clickable links.

Maybe if the italic/green was made to be CSS we could decide for ourselves, given an appropriate browser :)

 is a RISC OS Userjohn on 25/10/04 2:59PM
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AMS: A particular developer commented to me that he though the implementation of cut-n-paste in writable icons broke Unicodce support in the WIMP :-( .

john: With firefox, it does all work nicely ;-) -- "Self-esteem is for everybody. Self-esteem is for everyone. You can dream and be anybody. But self-esteem is how you get it done."

 is a RISC OS Userphilipnet on 25/10/04 2:59PM
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Obviously SIMON has used the hardware internal drawing routines from some Linux port and applied them to the Iyonix Nvida and the Viewfinder Rage cards?

I was interested to hear PM talk openingly about the new machines which are due out at much lower prices...

There are a number of hardware RISC OS companies which are selling their hardware to other markets. You'll get to hear about these publically within a few months I hope. With these will come higher volume production of motherboards and so much lower prices. Imagine a nice new fast RISC OS motherboard for under 200?

 is a RISC OS Userquatermass on 25/10/04 3:00PM
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quater: it's not obvious at all, partly because there is no Iyonix version (as you'd see if you read the article) and there's no requirement to look at "some Linux port" because developer information is available from ATI for their cards if what you suggest is correct.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 25/10/04 3:30PM
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With all the great news regarding a port of Firefox from the UPP I'm a little concerned that, similar to what happened to Acorn with the early announcement of Phoebe, people will get caught up in the hype and wait for a Firefox port (no matter how long that may take) rather than supporting other projects such as Netsurf and Oregano2 in the meantime.

After all, who would pay 50 for an O2 upgrade tomorrow if a Firefox port could be released next week?

 is a RISC OS Usertamias on 25/10/04 4:11PM
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Mark: you are of course, quite right, and the hype is a genuine concern, and I've made it clear that it'll be "some time". Even if it turns out for some technical reason to not be possible or entirely practical, I've still demonstrated the potential of porting of large Unix applications, and there are are choices of browsers.

If one were playing devil's advocate, you could argue that had more people supported the UPP, then this might have happened much sooner, rather than supporting O2 or NetSurf ;-)

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 25/10/04 4:16PM
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Also, Netsurf needs no financial support and will I'm sure remain a far faster RISC OS style browser than Firefox/Mozilla for quite some time after their initial release. (Peter, correct me if I'm wrong). As far as O2 (3?) is concerned, if it is released before Firefox/Mozilla become really useable and if it is good enough, then I'm sure people will buy it. (It needs to be really good though for me to part with more cash on it). Cheers!

 is a RISC OS Userfwibbler on 25/10/04 6:06PM
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Thanks very much for the report John. Many interesting developments from the show.

Considering how many browsers I've got here at work, I've never touched FireFox, but it's been gathering much press coverage lately, along with the likes of Opera, which I use the most out of my browser suite.

Whichever browsers continue development or get ported, the platform does need them all - competition, whether commercial or open-source, is always a good thing.

 is a RISC OS Usersascott on 26/10/04 02:30AM
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Firefox would be impressive, but geting the gecko engine working on RISC OS would be enough, cobbling together a front-end for that using the toolbox instead of using XUL might be a tad faster, and probably produce something a bi more in-line with the style guide.

 is a RISC OS UserNoMercy on 26/10/04 10:51AM
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Great to see that the developers of Netsurf are seriously now thinking of adding Javascript to this neat Browser.

Reg. Firefox on RISC OS, I can imagine it will take a fair few megabytes of RAM? Are we talking 30+MB?

All we need next is OpenOffice ported.... ;-)

 is a RISC OS Userquatermass on 27/10/04 2:09PM
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Where did you hear that NetSurf's got javascript planned?


 is a RISC OS Useradamr on 27/10/04 7:27PM
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quatermass: You appear to have overlooked the fact that someone volunteered to do the JavaScript implementation. The issue has always been the very large amount of time required to do so. As with all these things, if people contributed, things would happen sooner.

adam: The NetSurf mailing list, perhaps?

 is a RISC OS Userjmb on 27/10/04 8:49PM
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Stuart: there really is no excuse for some of the nonsense you talk. The NetSurf developers have "seriously considerered" JavaScript for many months. As jmb says, someone's now offered to take the time to do it. I'm guessing it'll take at least a year to get a sensible implementation.

"All we need next is OpenOffice ported...". Regardless of the smiley, this is a really unhelpful thing to say, and the generalisation of "we" is clearly untrue. OO isn't going to be ported to RISC OS (unless of course, you're offering and are going to take on the very considerable problems in doing so), and there are dozens of much smaller applications that would be very useful and actually be practical.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 27/10/04 10:22PM
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mrchocky: Who rattled your cage? Recently you seem to be out to defy anybody who even hints at being wrong. The smilie was there for the simple reason that it was a joke - I'm sure everyone realises it's not viable to port OO - you do not have to explain it. If you don't actually have anything *valuable* to contribute the thread, then don't bother. I'm sure other users do not want to be victim to your personal vendeta against little errors. I've been on the recieving end before, and it does hurt to have your comments thrashed to pieces, despite having made a valid point.

 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 27/10/04 11:07PM
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Yawn. Stuart "rattled my cage". He's posted a lot of subtley misleading comments about well, lots of stuff.

And no, I'm quite certain that it's not the case that "everyone reaslises it's not viable to port OO". Explaining it is precisely what's needed, especially since some of the issues are quite complex. Stuart's errors might be "little", but he's done lots of them, and I'm the one who has to clean up when people misunderstand.

As for your point about "anything valuable", well we could say the same about your post and Stuart's, couldn't we? ;-)

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 27/10/04 11:23PM
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ooh. Now is that smiley a real smiley suggesting a light-hearted poke at the people in question, or a sarcastic smiley aluuding to the above, whilst actually merely making the sentence more malicious?

And I'm aware that my comment has no value, but I'm sure Chocky's come to expect that of me.

Oops, nearly forgot: (o:

 is a RISC OS Userjymbob on 27/10/04 11:53PM
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Wow, it's, like, a left-handed smiley...

 is a RISC OS Useranon/ via on 29/10/04 10:12AM
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jmb: Oooh! That's *really* good news :-D. It's a shame there's no practical way for me to offer support :-( I'm much more excited by that snippet of news than the Firefox thing!

Re: OpenOffice. Meh, I'm not bothered about that anyway. I didn't like it even compared to MS Office and we've got good WP/Spreadsheets etc anyway. (Pretty much.)


 is a RISC OS Useradamr on 29/10/04 3:34PM
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We do have excellent WP/DTP apps yes, and reasonable spreadsheets, but the question is really one of supporting Word and Excel (and perhaps PowerPoint et al) formats. AbiWord and Gnumeric do an excellent job of addressing those, and might prove to be practical to port in the future.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 29/10/04 5:25PM
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One advantage of Firefox over an equivalent program (and the same would apply to open office) is that it is high enough profile that a lot of PC users have heard of it. It would certainly boost the credibility of the platform to those unfamiliar with its other benefits.

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 30/10/04 11:25AM
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Jess: Yes, I agree - I read that Mozilla's aim is to have 10% market share.[1] In that scenario, it would be nice to be able to say to AnyBank tech support that their site "doesn't work in Firefox".

[1] Sadly I doubt that's a realistic goal. MS don't seem to have bothered improving IE for years and years, so Firefox/Opera et al have been able to overtake in terms of functionality. I'm sure MS'll throw a few billions at IE when they start feeling threatened though :-(


 is a RISC OS Useradamr on 30/10/04 12:11AM
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VirtualAcorn on Linux comes as a welcome surprise :-) I know it may be early stages, but any indication on how this performs in comparison to its Windows counterpart? Is it expected to be feature-equivalent with the Windows version? Does porting to Linux make a Mac OS X version viable? Also is a potential release weeks or months away?

 is a RISC OS Usergovind on 30/10/04 7:15PM
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Theoretically you could run it under Wine (on Linux) - which allows many Windows programs to run under Linux - without requiring Windows. If that's how Messrs Barnes and Timbrell have done it then it'll have all the features of the Windows version - as it's basically *the windows version*.

I've not used Wine so can't comment on how much (if any) performance hit there is from using Wine rather than real Windows. Again I am assuming that VA is being run under Wine and that all that's happened is that it has been tweaked to install easier under Wine/Linux. Probably better wait until the lads officially announce something (I may be wrong and they may have taken the bull by the horns and done a full port to Linux - although I very much doubt this - maintaining two different versions of the code for two hugely different platforms is likely not to be the most appealing of prospects).

As to VA on Linux being a pleasant surprise - why ? The only advantage is buyers won't be lining Bill Gates pockets more - the downside is it represents another threat to the existance and viability of *real* RISC OS hardware and I for one fail to see why that would be a good thing....

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 31/10/04 2:21PM
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It performs on a par with the Windows version although it will depend on your graphics drivers how well it performs under X. It will hopefully eventually be feature equivalent to the Windows version but that will depend on time and motivation; I see no technical reason why it shouldn't be. Porting to Linux makes a Mac OS X version more viable but it is still another big step and I don't currently have the hardware available to do the port. No idea on release dates; if and when it is ready.

It is a full port to Linux and doesn't use Wine. It is currently a native X or unix app depending on how it is built. There isn't that much difference in the code bases so maintaining different versions is quite easy.

 is a RISC OS Usergraeme on 31/10/04 5:50PM
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Nicely done Graeme !

Thanks for the clarification

Regards Annraoi

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 01/11/04 1:01PM
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