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Chris Gransdon tells ROUGOL about Otter browser and other ports

Posted by Mark Stephens on 21:22, 17/4/2017 | , ,
 
A good crowd braved the Bank Holiday public transport to attend the April ROUGOL meeting with Chris Gransden talking about porting !Otter and other software to RISC OS.
 
Before the main event, there were brief 'teasers' for 2 other events.
 
The ROUGOL organizer (Bryan Hogan), is also helping to organise the Acorn User Show in Cambridge and more details will be appearing in the next few weeks.
 
Richard Brown (Orpheus) was also there to announce his new venture RISC OS Developments. This has raised significant funds to do some development and he will be announcing more details at Wakefield on saturday...
 
Chris Gransden started investigating porting !Otter and other browsers onto RISC OS when he spotted that the QT5 library (which !Otter needs) had been been ported onto RISC OS by another developer. Rather than trying to develop a new browser from scratch, Chris is getting an existing Open Source browser written for the Linux platform to run on RISC OS. The attraction of !Otter is that it uses a version of the Webkit browser engine, which has been JavaScript support than any native RISC OS browser. Chris logged into GMail on !Otter which is impossible in any other RISC OS browser. It also includes https and ssl support in the browser.
 
As !Otter and !QupZilla use QT5, this enabled him to get these browsers to run on RISC OS - he has not had to extensively rewrite and hack the code as the QT5 and UnixLib libraries allow them to run on RISC OS. This also means it is really easy to update as these applications are altered by their developers.
 
Chris had his overclocked Pi running the software and was able to explain how the !Otter/!QupZilla browsers work on RISC OS. The software is effectively providing a sprite display inside a RISC OS window. RISC OS does not have compositing support (redrawing just the bits it needs) which would speed things up. This is also using shared memory, and memory is high.
 
Because the software was written for another OS, it is designed to make use of fatures like threads which are not available on RISC OS. This is why performance can be sluggish as RISC OS does not have the capability to offload work onto multiple threads - it is all done by the single, main RISC OS task. RISC OS is also not able to make use of additional hardware acceleration which also speeds things up considerably on Linux.
 
Switching off JavaScript at the start and putting the fonts into memory can speed up the browser. Chris has turned off by default file caching (which is actually slower in RISC OS) and customisations to Otter which can slow the software still further. Still, you really need a fast, modern machine to run Otter on).
 
One of Chris's future hopes it to make use of something like Kronsos on the Pi and have a much faster cusotmised versions for machines which can support it.
 
The !Otter browser itself is still being debugged and once 1.0 becomes available, Chris will make available a proper RISC OS release. At the moment, it can be a bit complex to setup.
 
Asked the difference between !QupZilla and !Otter, Chris explained that !QupZilla was currently more stable (less bugs and shared libraries) but Otter would be a better long-term bet.
 
The !Otter port has come a long way since Chris first started it 2 years ago. It is much faster and more stable although still crashes. It probably is not yet an alternative to browsers on Windows/Linux/Mac but there is not lots of scope to improve further and it opens up a lot of sites to access from RISC OS. We look forward to seeing how it develops, especially once Otter 1.0 officially comes out. Chris has done an amazing job so far!
 
Otter browser main page and builds for non-RISC OS platforms.
 
ROUGOL website
 
 
Comment in the forums

CES 2010: ARM hardware roundup

Posted by Jeffrey Lee on 02:40, 17/1/2010 | , , , , , , ,
 
Last week saw this year's annual Consumer Electronics Show go down in Las Vegas. The world's largest consumer technology tradeshow, it's traditionally a source for many product announcements from the major manufacturers. This year there was a lot of focus on 3D TVs, e-readers, and, most importantly for us, next-generation ARM-powered goodies.


 
 
Continue reading "CES 2010: ARM hardware roundup" | 30 comments in the forums

A gaggle of gadgets

Posted by Jeffrey Lee on 20:00, 13/6/2009 | , , , , , , ,
 
Last week saw this year's annual Computex Taipei computer trade show go down in Taiwan. The second largest computer trade show in the world, it's traditionally a source for many product announcements from the major manufacturers. Most of the time these announcements are of x86-based products, but this year it was ARM's turn to take center stage, delivering on last year's announcement that ARM were to make a big push into the netbook market. Although none of the products listed here are in stores at the moment, all announcements point towards a good number of them being made available before the year is out.


 
 
Continue reading "A gaggle of gadgets" | 38 comments in the forums

RISC OS on OMAP - the future?

Posted by Jeffrey Lee on 11:00, 19/5/2009 | , , , , , , , ,
 
BeagleBoard.org logoAs most of you probably know by now, a few months ago I started work on porting RISC OS Open's RISC OS kernel to TI's OMAP3 platform - a group of SoC's (Systems on a Chip) which use ARM Cortex-A8 cores. To date, OMAP3 SoC's have been confirmed as being used in various products, including the Pandora handheld gaming console, the Touch Book convertible netbook/tablet, and the BeagleBoard development board. For years RISC OS users have been asking for a new portable RISC OS machine, and soon they may find that they have several available.
 
 
Continue reading "RISC OS on OMAP - the future?" | 26 comments in the forums

Review: Nokia N770 Internet Tablet

Posted by Richard Goodwin on 17:00, 16/10/2007 | , , ,
 
A guilty secret: limited though they were, I used to love working with early Palm and Psion PDAs. Neal Stephonson wrote in his novel Cryptonomicon:
Eb is doodling on one of those little computers that uses a stylus so that you can write on the screen. In general, hackers don't use them, but Eb [...] wrote the software for this model and so he has a lot of them lying around.
...which stuck in my head as it described my situation at the time. Apart from the bit where Eb is an über-hacker and I was a junior Perl mangler, obviously. Screen-wise the Palm V was just low-res black on a sort of olive green, and getting data on to them usually required a precariously-balanced IR-capable mobile phone and a lot of patience (or the foresight to sync everything before leaving home), but a small, omni-present device that responded to the touch always seemed so much more satisfying than the mouse or the glidepoint.
 
Fast forward a few years, and along comes the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet: a small device with a touchscreen, but updated for the 21st century with wifi Internet access, a widescreen, full colour display, a proper Web browser and bluetooth connectivity. I'd looked at the proliferation of Windows-based PDAs over the years and they'd never appealed. Where the Palm and Psion devices felt like they'd been designed from the start with mobile computing in mind, WinCE always seemed like a big OS shoehorned into a little device, and wifi an afterthought if available at all. And don't get me started on small keyboards after the disaster that was the Psion Revo. Maybe this Linux-based device could put the fun back in to computing?
 
Continue reading "Review: Nokia N770 Internet Tablet" | 13 comments in the forums

SDL port of Asylum released

Posted by Jeffrey Lee on 20:30, 9/7/2007 | , , , ,
 
Hugh Robinson has contacted us to let us know that he's converted classic Acorn platformer Asylum to C, using the SDL library. With full support of original author Andy Southgate, Hugh's source code has now been released under the GPL, and is available to download from the SVN repository on the SourceForge project page.
 
Although a quick look at the source suggests to me that it's fully converted, there are still some bugs and compatability issues to sort out, so feel free to send any fixes Hugh's way if you manage to get the game running. Although the source to Asylum has been available on asylum.acornarcade.com for a few years now, this is the first known port of it to any other platform (and could potentially form the basis of a back-port to RISC OS, to produce a fully 32bit compatible version).
 
3 comments in the forums

NetSurf Update

Posted by Michael Drake on 12:00, 4/12/2006 | , , , ,
 

In this article we'll take a look at NetSurf's latest developments and the project's future plans. NetSurf is a collaborative open source project which aims, over time, to bring up-to-date web technologies to the RISC OS platform for free!

In response to users' complaints of failed downloads, NetSurf's web site has moved away from SourceForge to independent hosting donated to the project by Pepperfish. The web site will benefit from increased reliability and faster downloads. The new domain – netsurf-browser.org – provides NetSurf with a more unified presence on the web.


 
Continue reading "NetSurf Update" | 6 comments in the forums

Review - Sharp Zaurus SL-C1000 Palmtop

Posted by Jeffrey Lee on 19:01, 27/11/2006 | , , , ,
 
Sharp Zaurus SL-C1000The Zaurus range from Sharp are fairly unique in the world of PDAs. Not only do they have keyboards - a rare feature for a PDA since Psion left the market - but they also run Linux. Combine this with the high-res screens, fast processors, and copious amounts of memory sported by the latest models and you have a go-anywhere, do-anything personal computer that fits in your pocket.
 
This review will concern itself with the SL-C1000 model - a clamshell design PDA (Or as Sharp call it PMT - Personal Mobile Tool) with 64MB internal flash memory for storage and 64MB RAM (Half of both of these are taken up by the OS however). With practically the same dimensions as a DS Lite, the Zaurus features a full colour 640x480 touchscreen, full QWERTY keyboard, CF and SD slots, IRDA, builtin rechargrable battery, and a combined USB host/client port. This means you can either connect it to a PC as a client, or connect it to standard USB devices such as keyboards or mice as a host. The wealth of USB drivers available for Linux allow you to connect it to pretty much anything. Out of the SL-C series, the SL-C1000 is the lower-end model. The current high-end model, the SL-C3200, is essentially identical in design except it sports more memory and a 6GB internal hard disc.
 
 
Continue reading "Review - Sharp Zaurus SL-C1000 Palmtop" | 9 comments in the forums
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