Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Enhancing hosted configuration

by on Wednesday, June 12, 2019
Today I decided it was time to rework Icaros installation and launch scripts for hosted modes. In fact, there were at least three areas I could improve. First of all, the network behaviour under Linux was quite awful: according to the Icaros manual, once you set up the AROS network, you end up having a script called in your Icaros directory, which is meant to be run once per Linux session. This will bring up the aros0 network interface, which is mandatory for AROS to enter the Internet through the Linux host. Every time hosted Icaros was started, it checked for the aros0 interface and for the script: if it found the latter, but not the former, it asked the user if it had to start the aros0 interface as well. It was a good feature (I always forget to run the script), but it could be better. In my opinion, if you decided to set up the network when you installed Icaros, it means that you also want it to run every time as well. So, asking the user wether to run or not every time was quite pointless; Icaros will now behave differently: if it finds the script, but not the aros0 interface, it starts it automatically (still asking for your user password, since this operation requires root priviledges), unless you disable AROSTCP from the AROS side. It makes much more sense.

The second change regards memory reserved to Icaros Desktop. Previously, you could decide the amount of RAM during installation only. The value was then 'hardcoded' in the Icaros launch script and the only way to change this value was editing it with a text editor. Not a great hassle to be honest, however it was ugly and definitely needed a change. The memory value is now written into a new variable which is read by the Icaros startup script. This will work for both Windows and Linux. The memory can now be managed using the (improved) Hosted preference program:


If you modify the memory amount, however, you will also be required to shut down the current Icaros session and start it again, since the Icaros startup script must be executed again to reflect changes. AROS hosted memory can't change dynamically. As you may notice, the Hosted program also features a new option: "Attempt full screen". What does this mean? Basically, that Icaros will also try to run in fullscreen mode, but success will depend on your Linux distribution and window manager of choice. I can assure you that Icaros will go full screen on Linux Mint 19 with Xfce, but maybe it will not work the same way on other distributions:

Icaros Desktop hosted full screen on Linux Mint 19, 32 bit, with Xfce
There is a limitation, though: once AROS takes enters full screen mode, it practically steals the output to other Linux applications, which will still run on the background, but will also be impossible to see (not good for HostBridge). I still have to find a way to minimize AROS in this case, so maybe you can help me on this! :-) the way...

while we are at it, I have another screenshot to show you about Deadwood's secret project. Someone thought I showed Wanderer running 'somehow hosted' on Linux, but that's not the case (please look the shell commands and output). I will raise the bar a little with ZuneFIG running on 64-bit Ubuntu Linux. Isn't it lovable?

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Early development version of Icaros 2.2.8 for supporters

by on Wednesday, May 29, 2019
A new version of Icaros Desktop Live! (so, the whole environment with all development and extra stuff) is now available to our supporters, which basically means patrons (on our Patreon page) pledging $15 or more every month. Let me be sincere: although some months already lasted since release of version 2.2.7, not so much has been added to v2.2.8, at least at its current stage. But the project is alive and well, and I wish to thank all supporters, beta testers and 3rd party developers with this build. Since v2.2.7, I added the following items:

- added new hi-res CC-licensed images in Extras/Wallpapers
- fixed "browse for images" appearing not only for LH archives
- fixed traceroute in C
- updated x86 and M68K MCC_TextEditor to latest release
- added Atari800 to Extras/Emu
- updated InstallerLG to latest build
- updated ViewLHA to version 0.7
- added run_Lodepaint script by Salvatore Abbate to Extras/OpenGL/Utilities

> Get it here!

Not very much, you say? Yes, not so much, unluckily. But this situation reflects actual releases on the Archives and on Aminet: if you check both sites, you won't find much more (some games, though, might be added later, after proper testing). It's been a calm spring for AROS programs: not many new releases, some updates and few ports, and AROS ABIv0 (which is the branch Icaros is based on) didn't get any new backport, however there are some interesting side-projects that deserve mention. For instance: what is our old friend Krzysztof 'Deadwood' Smiechowicz doing? He left the AROS scene long ago and we all miss him, but the good news is that he didn't forget AROS at all: on the contrary, he's now working on a secret project that should finally help finding new developers (and, by the way, help current Amiga developers a lot!). I won't tell you what it exactly is, but I wish to tease you with a single, amazing, half-explanatory image. Enjoy!

OMG! What the hell is Wanderer doing on 64-bit Ubuntu Linux?

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Interview by Komoda & Amiga Plus

by on Sunday, May 19, 2019

I really would like to thank our friend Don Rafito from polish magazine Komoda & Amiga Plus, who kindly decided to interview me, Paolo Besser (Icaros mantainer), and publish a four-page article with my views, thought and rants about Aros, Amigas, Icaros and so on. :-)

He's also been so kind to send me a printed copy of the magazine (issue #12, if you'd like to order it), which I've read with great interest. Komoda & Amiga Plus is a great mag, available in polish and english languages, with interesting articles, good reviews, amazing interviews printed on thick, premium quality paper. For Icaros Desktop, it's been a pleasure to be featured there, and I am very proud of it! So... what are you waiting for? Grab your credit card and order your copy!

> Komoda & Amiga Plus website

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Farewell, our dear friend

by on Thursday, April 11, 2019
Yesterday, in the late evening, I've been informed that our dear friend Stefano Buonocore, artist, teacher, game designer and sincere lover of anything related to Commodore and Amiga, has passed away. This news made me incredibly sad. Stefano was my age, and one of those dreamers who never stopped hoping for the rebirth of Commodore and Amiga. He had always been in contact with many key people of our hystoric platform, from Petro Tyschtschenko to David Pleasance, from Bil Herd to David Haynie, from Trevor Dickinson to Michele Battilana, from the Frieden brothers to Massimo Canigiani and, by the way, he's been in contact with me, too (and this makes me the proud member of a elite). From time to time, I got his messages on my PC and my smartphone. He always had ideas to share about Commodore smartphones, about new systems, about improvements I could do to Icaros. He did every effort he could, to make all the people above speaking each other, because he shared the dream of a new Commodore rising from the dead, and fought for it. In the recent years, he worked on a toon-like point & click adventure called "The secred of Middle City", heavily inspired by classics of the past like Monkey Island and Simon the Sorcerer. The game, mainly written with Hollywood, is available on Steam for Windows, but also for Mac, AmigaOS 4.1 and MorphOS. An AROS version was "under consideration" but, as you may easily guess, it won't ever happen. Rest in peace, Stefano, I'd never considered missing you so soon.

PS: Update about AROS' Middle City:

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

New download page

by on Wednesday, April 10, 2019
Icaros Desktop website has now a completely new download page. The older one came from several copy/paste operations done on different versions of the site, and the more I edited it, the more it got difficult to mantain. For this reason, I decided it was time to get rid of older links, and place them on a different page (which will get some love later). From now on, the download page will keep only the recent and important stuff. It should now look much more professional and easier to read.

> Our new download page

> New page with older releases

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Icaros Desktop 2.2.7 has been released

by on Tuesday, April 09, 2019
A new version of Icaros Desktop is now available for download. This new release includes a work-in-progress version of the VMware SGVA driver, an improved version of EasyRPG Player and many updates to current applications here and there (please see the "new from" section for a full list). As already explained, the VMware SVGA driver is not activated by default on this release of Icaros Desktop. VMware users, however, will have the option to enable it after installation onto the hard drive. If you're upgrading Icaros Desktop from an older version to 2.2.7, you can enable VMware SVGA driver by copying VMware related files from Storage/Monitors to Devs/Monitors. You will then need to reboot your system and choose the default "Icaros Desktop" boot option in the initial GRUB menu. If you are not satisfied by the driver, you can revert to the usual VESA driver either removing the VMware files from Devs/Monitors, or - temporarily - by choosing one of the VESA modes in GRUB's "Advanced options for Icaros Desktop" menu. For your pleasure, we added two more resolutions that surely work with VMware: 1366x768 and 1920x1080 pixels. Current VMware SVGA driver is an usable state, but it is still slow in many operations and has some quirks that must still be addressed, like the pointer randomly vanishing and some artifacts being left by screen refresh. It allows screen dragging and changing resolution from Prefs/ScreenMode, though, and it's a mandatory choice if you wish to use Icaros Desktop at highest 2K and 4K resolutions (which are not supported by VESA driver).
Icaros Desktop 2.2.7 allows user to change volume T: position from RAM to system drive. It can be useful if you're running the system from a SSD drive and you wish to save as much RAM as possible for running tasks. Choosing to move T: from RAM: to Sys: won't completely remove T from RAM, because some poorly-addressing programs may still pretend to write something to RAM:T/. Icaros Desktop will delete SYS:T/ contents at every boot and ADD also RAM:T/ to T: assign. You can select what drive to use for T: in Prefs/Icaros Settings. Default value for this option is, obviously, the RAM drive. Icaros 2.2.7 adds Digger to games available in the Live! edition and brings ViewLHA 0.2 to AROS x86. ViewLHA is a little CLI tool written by Mats Peterson which was originally intended to handle a single image file included in a same-named LHA archive (a quite common habit on unexpanded classic Amiga systems). While compiling it to AROS, I decided to extend its functionality to be more general and more tailored to current Icaros needs. So we can now enter a command like this:

ViewLHA pictures:my_archive.lha

to immediately extract that LHA archive in T: and browse it with ZuneView. A "Browse for images" option as been added as well in Magellan for LHA archives, however, due to a silly mistake I did, it appears for other archive types too. Sorry for that, it will be fixed later: Mats is still working on it (I have currently ported v0.7 to AROS) and I am still following his improvements.

New from Icaros Desktop 2.2.6

- fix: replaced SANAutil from system/netowrk/AROSTCP/C
  with the one in Extras/Networking/Utils
- did the same also for NTPSync and SetPrism2Defaults
- removed Extras/Networking/Utils, not needed anymore
- fixed a typo in Create Installation Pendrive script (makedit->makedir)
- Updated TimeKeeper to v1.07 and moved from Prefs to Tools/Commodities
- updated TimeKeeper icon adding 1.07+ tooltypes
- added manual for LodePaint
- updated vmwaresvga.hidd
- added S:testvmware script to detect VMware SVGA and enable its driver
- added PCX datatype
- updated ZXSCR datatype to latest version
- updated MUIRoyale Hollywood Plugin to support ESC-A image embedding
- updated vim to latest release
- added HydraCastle to extras/Games
- updated fpc with a more recent build
- updated EasyRPG-Player to version 0.6.0 (1)
- updated EasyRPG-launcher to reflect new version (removed --window parameter)
- added Digger to extras/Games
- updated Exutil to latest version
- added option to change T: position to prefs/Icaros Settings
- added ViewLHA (built from sources by Mats Peterson) with modified script
+ added "Browse for images" menu option for LHA files
- updated user manual to reflect new additions

(1) Save games from former version are not compatible. You may need to restart your games after update.