Happy New Year, I wonder what this year will bring to the wonderful world of RISC OS computing? Who knows, but let us hope that it's something positive and keeps the platform alive. I also hope that we see more developments which move RISC OS forward. Let's us also hope that it is an end to all the pointless and petty squabbling that has plagued the RISC OS market for so long.
Only time will tell if any of this happens, but let us start 2009 with a rather exciting forthcoming release.
RISC OS 5.14
It was recently announced that a new version of RISC OS 5 is on the way from RISCOS Open Ltd. There haven't been no updates to RISC OS 5 since 2007 (23rd February 2007 to be exact) so this is a very welcome announcement. ROOL are currently testing this new version and it's hoped that it will become available sometime in the near future. Presumably from their website or maybe even via the !IyoUpWtch update system which has had nothing to report correctly for almost 2 years. Lets hope it comes via !IyoUpWtch as this is how previous updates have been distributed.
So if you have disabled !IyoUpWtch to get rid of that annoying false update message, which wasn't an update at all, you might have to re-enable it to get RISC OS 5.14. Incidentally on my machine the false update message is still appearing, despite assurances from Castle that it would disappear quickly.
If !IyoUpWtch is indeed needed for the RISC OS 5.14 release this could get a bit messy, we could all be told of a new and old release at the same time.
RISC OS 5.14 was shown to the public at the RISC OS show in the Midlands at the end of last year. It includes all the latest updates and submissions to the shared source project. I'm not actually sure what will be different in this release, I couldn't see a list of changes or new features anywhere, have I missed it?
I would imagine RISC OS 5.14 will include general bug fixes and backend improvements. I'm not expecting to see any major new features added, unlike when a new Select release for 26bit machines. But you never know what lies ahead and I hope that I am pleasantly surprised.
A copy of the ROM image has now been passed to Iyonix Ltd for quality testing and to ensure that it all works properly. Once this has been done the ROM should be made available. A "beta" version is already available to download from the ROOL website (and is included on this CD - ED), but it's mainly intended for testing purposes and isn't guaranteed to operate reliably. So you can try it at your own peril.
As for which machines this will work on, well here is a bit of a mystery. Previously Iyonix owners had to pay to upgrade to RISC OS 5.12 as it was quite clearly stated that this would be the base for all future ROM images. Any Iyonix machines running on any version less than 5.12 would not be able to run these new versions.
So if this new 5.14 ROM image does work on any Iyonix, even those with versions of RISC OS less than 5.12, then what the hell did we pay Castle for exactly? As it's possible that those who did not upgrade will now get the whole lot for free. I;m not sure how you feel about this but it might not really be very fair on those of us who paid the upgrade fee.
Finally on this subject a quick update. A recent article on Drobe, showed that Adrian Lees has managed to get RISC OS 5.14 up and running with a softload tool, the screenshot below shows it running on Adrian's Iyonix, check the version number.
I really do look forward to this being released, probably at the next RISC OS show would be a likely guess for a release , hopefully this will be the start of enhancing and improving RISC OS 5, well done to everyone involved in this project and I look forward to seeing how this unfolds.
The new year started with a fresh update to the open source web browser Firefox. This is the seventh release of the browser for RISC OS, which uses V 22.214.171.124 of the browsers source code. It will not work on Risc PC's but should be OK with the Iyonix, A9 and VirtualRPC.
This release is mainly designed to fix a number of bugs. The help file lists the following changes:
Whilst it is good to see that this isn't a dead project, there is still a lot of work needed on it to make it usable as an everyday web browser. This new version can be downloaded from http://www.riscos.info/index.php/Firefox or from this Foundation RISCWorld CD. Make sure you also have the latest versions of the Tinct module and SharedUnixLibrary otherwise problems may arise, both these can be downloaded from the same place as Firefox.
USB Festive Stuff
I thought I would try and make my Iyonix look a bit festive for the Christmas just gone, so I bought myself a few USB Gadgets and added my traditional Yuletide desktop backdrop.
I bought some USB fairy lights, which are basically a small line of LEDs which you plug straight in any USB port and they work perfectly. You can then decide how to arrange them, either round the screen, or around the computer itself.
I also ordered a USB Christmas Tree, unfortunately the one I wanted was sold out due to a high demand (Allegedly) so I was given a refund which was good. What was even better was that I was also given a complimentary USB Christmas Tree as an apology for the inconvenience. The complimentary tree certainly isn't not the best one on the market (you mean there is a range of USB Christmas Trees? - ED), but as it was a freebie, you can't complain. As with the lights it was a case of just plugging it in. The tree has a number of different coloured lights and it goes round in a sequence of different colours.
The Fairy lights came from www.play.com and the Christmas Tree from www.amazon.co.uk. They didn't come from the companies themselves but via a 3rd party supplier. Both of these gadgets can be found at many different places, both on the high street and online, so as always it's best to shop around. I would imagine most of these decorative devices will work fine on an Iyonix without any problems.
A Festive Iyonix
Fat32Fs Version 1.01
A new version of Fat32Fs has been released. This program is a module which provides a filing system for the Iyonix, which allows it to read/write to FAT formatted media which is greater than 2GB in size.
Version 1.01 has now been released, and it features a number of speed improvements, and because of these it now runs a little bit quicker than before. If you downloaded a copy of version 1.00 then you need to update it as it has a bug that occurs when a file takes longer than 60 seconds to read.
Fat32Fs is freeware and can be downloaded from http://jeffd.drobe.co.uk (or you can grab it from the Iyonix section of the software directory on this issue. Fast32FS is a useful little utility if you need to have access to media devices which are 2GB or more. Incidentally Jeff's website also has a number of Iyonix related programs available for download, including the Iyonix patch for the excellent Twinworld.
(Just as this issue was being finalised Fat32Fs vesion 1.06 was released, this is included in the Software.Iyonix directory - ED).
So we reach the end of a shorter than normal column. To be honest the column can only be as big as there are things to write about. However the proposed forthcoming RISC OS 5.14 ROM release sounds promising and I look forward to seeing it become available in the not too distant future. Perhaps even by the time of the next issue?
As usual if anyone has anything to say about the Iyonix column, hints + tips or anything relevant to the Iyonix feel free to contact the Iyonix column at firstname.lastname@example.org.