Merry X-mas

Merry Christmas to You all out there! 🙂

And sorry for disappointing many of You during this year. Some of you hoped this year I will do something nice for them. And I failed many times. I would really like to tell you that I’m really sorry about that. I feel really bad about it.

Stephen, I feel really sorry that I failed and didn’t gave you the promised enchantments to AROS. I do know you were really disappointed with (lacking) results of my work even if you never said that. Thanks for everything you did to AROS.

ACube, I feel really sorry that I cannot give you any good news about progress I made. There is no progress. I’m sorry but work and real life are eating all the spare time I could have for you.

Nikos, I feel awfully that I cannot give you the X-mas gift – overlay for intel GMA. I really wanted to but, once again, I failed. I failed. Forgive me. Keep good work on supporting AROS.

sorry guys…

EfikaMX meets AROS again

After me and Pavel made the linux-hosted ARM version of AROS, I was wondering who will try to make a great use of it and when. I haven’t had to wait long, at least not long in terms of Amiga way 😉 I found out that the very interesting Linux hosted distribution, namely Broadway X, not only is actively developed, but also targets the EfikaMX machines! This is just great!

AROS on ARM cpu’s gives the user really good experience of small, fast and lightweight operating system. It’s so much different from regular linux distributions! All programs start within a second or less, the graphical user interface is very responsive. If only we had more apps…

This is exactly the place, where BroadwayX (I would prefer it to be Broadway MX ;)) helps. Here, with help of tiny lx command, it is possible to launch linux-side applications directly from AROS environment. Because of that, you can use AROS on EfikaMX all the time. If you lack any application, just launch linux one. I must admit I haven’t tested that distribution personally yet, but I will do that as soon as possible 🙂

Another exciting news related to AROS on EfikaMX, is the OpenGL for AROS hosted bounty. Once finished, AROS hosted distribution will get hardware accelerated 3D support. Another milestone towards better AROS!

Cube 2 on AROS hosted

Free (as freedom) disappointment

The freedom sucks sometimes… Well, not the real freedom. I mean rather the approach of open source community. The community which, in some circumstances, is able to sacrifice quite a lot in the name of the freedom.

There was a great piece of software developed many many years ago. I remember using it with Debian linux somewhere around 10 years ago. The software was available for free, but the source code was closed and maintained only by the company itself. Of course it changes. Some day the sources were freed and we all welcomed a great piece of office software for everyone. Free, of course, both as a beer and as a freedom. Years later the software got better and better and, some day, it forked. The new product was born, named LibreOffice. It was supposed to be better, well developed and ah oh, all the bells and whistles onboard. Many news portals, including one in Polish language which I read frequently, did spread some disinformation. The one I disliked mostly was naming a great improvement of LibreOffice Impress – the Presenter Console. Sure, it comes with LibreOffice for free. Of course, it’s great and using it makes really fun. The only problem is, it’s not an improvement of LibreOffice itself, rather a “PresenterConsole” extension from Oracle.

I don’t care forking that much, really. What I hate though is lack of freedom. Freedom of a choice. Most distribution maintainers were so excited by the new office suite fork, that they decided to obsolete original openoffice and removed it from repositories. Now, that’s bad.

I had to make an A0 sized poster for the next conference I’m attending in 10 days. LibreOffice Draw was my choice of suitable software, since I did posters with OpenOffice Draw previously. It was pretty unstable as I was working on the document. I mean it crashed every 10-15 minutes. Sometimes I was triggering the crash just by trying to change the bullet symbol, sometimes by trying to change the font size. I’m absolutely sure the problem is not hardware related, since that one was intensively tested already. What really shocked me though, was it’s inability to print into postscript file. All it happened was memory usage growing up drastically. LibreOffice never printed the document, since kenel’s OOM killer was in action. Every time. A day at work, a nightmare with free software…

Sure, I investigated the issue a bit. It turned out, LibreOffice attempted to convert the A0 page at 1200dpi resolution to bitmap first, before converting it to postscript and sending to the printer. Why? I dunno. Really. I had to redo the entire work on my poster in new document, which (oh, miracle!) was printed as a postscript without any issue. That reminded me old IT jokes about one huge company, saying

“Maybe if we turned the car off and on again, it would fix itself.”

I’ve never thought it would fit so perfectly to free software…

I want to have the freedom of choice. I want my OpenOffice back on openSUSE 11.4…

Status of AROS for EfikaMX


Two weeks ago Raquel and Bill announced price drop for EfikaMX nettop and smartbook. The prices in the store have been updated already, and the Genesi store for EU citizens is open. A nice gift for all of us living on this side of The Pond. These nice machines attract interest of many people of our small community and so, some of You asked me about the status of AROS for ARM machines, especially AROS for EfikaMX. So, here it is:

AROS hosted on linux

Here, the nightly build of core package is available on AROS website for download. This linux-arm-system build is done automatically every night. Therefore, there is no guarantee that it will work out of the box, nor that it will give you all the bells and whistles you know from the very great Icaros distribution. If the binary doesn’t work, try to download it again in one or few days. Nevertheless, most of the builds are working. Even better — this build benefits from the improvements of other AROS ports, like the AROS m68k one, so it “improves” each day. In some near future I will add to this build some of our contrib packaged. OWB, maybe?

AROS native for EfikaMX

The native port of AROS for EfikaMX is still on the schedule. I will take care of it as soon as I find the time. Right now I’m involved in few other projects and, therefore, native AROS for this ARM has to wait. Don’t worry — it will be available.

Future of AROS for ARM

What the future of AROS for ARM will be? Well, it’s not only in my hands — it depends on all of you. AROS never was a one-man project, and was always dependent on the community. Many years ago the community was very weak and AROS was hardly noticeable outside our development mailing list. Nowadays, the community grew and so grows AROS. We had x86 nightly builds only, now we have two great distributions and some commercial software. The same applies for ARM target — whether it will grow or not, is up to You.

Big kernel BLOB? Not anymore!

Hope springs eternal – everyone knows…

Once upon a time I have promised to some of AROS enthusiasts improvements on the x86 kernel, among others support for modularized kernel. It seemed, we have got rid of the nice feature of Amiga-like operating systems — the strong separation of all essential components of the system in libraries, devices and resources. That’s how original kickstart was made, it was a bunch of different modules put together on one read only memory. Which components were there, that was unknown for AmigaOS unless it scanned entire ROM for resident modules. We did the same in AROS kernel, at least for native targets, but we also linked all modules together, into one single executable. How silly!

Sure, such approach has it’s own advantages. Some static libraries (like librom.a) could be reused by all modules and thus saved some space. However, we do link all of it into one big file — think about any potential licensing issues. Not only that, big statically linked kernel means, there was no way to replace one module with a new version, no way to add module of your own. Do you all need ability to boot from USB media? No? Pity you, all the necessary classes are there anyway. Does any of you ever thought about GUI-less core components of operating system, used for some imagined device? Well, compile and link all of it yourself, have trouble and solve it all alone. The modular kernel opens many opportunities, limited only by our imagination.

So, the promise was given, years passed and nothing happened. Until now. In some spare time between my real life, activities at the university and work on Aura, I’ve added the support for loadable modules to native x86 AROS target. There’s still the large kernel to see, but it’s a matter of writting new GRUB config file (which I didn’t had time). Feel free to test the nightly build, look at GRUB config file (to find a way how to add more modules) and be happy. And, of course, don’t forget visiting this site for some more news about Linux, Aura, AROS and others 🙂