Alternative Shared C Library in developmentBy Chris Williams. Published: 18th Mar 2006, 01:05:49 | Permalink | Printable
The hare and tortoise face new competitionAn alternative Shared C Library module suitable for both A9 and Iyonix users is currently in development by an independent programmer. Graham Shaw, also known for his work on RiscPkg, has confirmed that he is preparing a 26/32bit neutral C99 supported SCL. The project is separate to Castle and RISCOS Ltd's efforts to maintain their own streams of the module.
He said: "I'm able to run quite a few command-line programs [built with it] now - for example, ping and decaof."
Much of the library's functionality requires testing, according to Graham, who also recently drafted updates for the RISC OS port of the GCC compiler package to aid in the creation of a SCL module.
He added: "Initially I'll be testing against the Iyonix and A9. Older systems, and Aemulor, will be supported eventually, but probably only back as far as the ARM6.
"Note that while the A9 was obviously a consideration in writing this module, it is not really my primary motivation: I could solve that problem much more easily by buying the latest compiler, or probably just by waiting. I'm much more interested in what can be done with the SCL once it is ours to play with, although some care will certainly be needed."
The SCL is a core operating system component that provides applications with a fundamental level of functionality, and both Castle and RISCOS Ltd each provide a flavour of the module to end users. Castle's publicly available SCL is compatible with computers running a non-32 bit RISC OS, such as RiscPCs; Iyonix machines ship with a suitable module included in RISC OS 5. This means software built for the Castle SCL will not appear to work on 32bit RISC OS 4, as found on the A9home. RISCOS Ltd and AdvantageSix, the latter of whom manufacture the selectively available A9home, have yet to announce their plans to release a new so-called C99 capable Shared C Library module that may well be compatible with future streams RISC OS 4 and 5; likewise for Castle, who say they will release "an appropriate Shared C Library when the A9 is a formal product".
RISCOS Ltd are believed to be gaining ground in terms of developers using their StubsG library, which allows software to use either the Castle or RISCOS Ltd SCL. However unlike the current ROL SCL, the Castle SCL also provides C99 functions, which some applications require, and it's understood that ROL have added C99 support to their SCL in preparation for the release of Select 4 later this year.
Although some developers have questioned whether or not creating an alternative Shared C Library is worth the time and effort required, a lot of the source code involved can be pulled in from other projects: for example, from the GCCSDK's UnixLib component. In the midst of the debate over whether or not RISC OS should be made open source, it was suggested late last year that components such as the SCL are ideal to be made open source for all developers to get involved in, even if this means producing a new one mostly from scratch.
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