Wispy wi-fi on RISC OS

posted in: Hardware, Reviews, Software, Technology | 0

RISC OS’ lack of built-in wireless support has grown to be a noticeable issue since the rise of the Raspberry Pi and similar ARM boards.

Going back ten years ago, RISC OS was mainly used natively on an Iyonix or a RiscPC – desktop machines that you wouldn’t generally need wi-fi support on.

As times have progressed however and the number of small RISC OS compatible computers has grown, no wi-fi support has started to become a more pertitent problem – especially now that first-timers to the OS are most probably trying it out for the first time on the Raspberry Pi 3, which has built-in wireless support.

Developing built-in wireless support into RISC OS itself is a complex and very resource intensive task, but interesting third party solutions are now out there to bridge the gap. Two years ago I wrote about R-Comp’s Pi-Fi solution, and now we have Wispy from RISCOSBits.

What is Wispy?

Wispy is a software-based wireless networking solution for RISC OS, designed to be run on an Orange Pi Zero 512MB (no other boards are currently supported), the software allows for the Orange Pi board to be connected to another RISC OS computer, such as the Raspberry Pi, and in-turn give said RISC OS computer wireless networking.

It can be powered from either a standard USB port or using a molex splitter to microUSB port. A custom-built PCI bracket is also available if you’re trying to jam it into a tight case.

The Wispy software comes with a few neat features, the main one being it allows for wireless networking configurable within RISC OS and it has the ability to setup Samba and NFS shares for fire-sharing on your local network. As the Wispy is essentially an add-on board, it give you the option for additional storage via USB and it can give you access to your OwnCloud files via your RISC OS machine. This is all configurable and accessible via a web interface you can pull up in Netsurf.

Essentially what you have with the Orange Pi running Wispy is a little Linux computer, which is connecting to your wireless network and in-turn passing that to-and-from your RISC OS computer.

The web interface gives you the ability to use Linux-based applications that aren’t available for RISC OS, such as word processors, image processors etc. These can be used inside the RISC OS desktop. Obviously, graphically intensive Linux apps or tasks won’t run terrificly well in this enviroment – but it ‘s a nice tool to add to one’s overall RISC OS toolkit.

A nice addition is despite the fact that the Wi-fi connectivity the Wispy provides is not RISC OS-native, it is fully configurable from within the RISC OS front-end, no need to setup on another operating system first. One little downside is ShareFS is not supported.

Getting one

Wispy is distributed on a 16GB USB drive that can be purchased from RISCOSBits. Once in your posession, you’ll need to burn the image onto your own microSD card from the compressed 1.2GB image included – then stick that microSD into the Orange Pi and away you go. A detailed manual is also included on the USB stick.

RISCOSBits also offer a custom PCI bracket for a fiver so you can mount the Wispy inside a standard ATX or ITX MicroATX PC case.

Merry Christmas from the RISCOSBlog!

posted in: News | 0

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Sion and all RISC OS Blog contributors past-and-present!

It’s crazy to think how much activity and buzz there still is in the RISC OS community over 19 years after Acorn decided to discontinue RISC OS development.

Just like in previous years, 2017 has seen a great number of projects come to fruition, from developing RISC OS itself to many interesting hardware and software developments like the various releases to have come out of Elesar, R-Comp and RISCOSBits in recent months.

Here’s to another great year for RISC OS!

A look at R-Comp’s Doom Trilogy re-release – Wolfenstein included!

posted in: Games | 0

A while back I was thrilled to see R-Comp delving into their back catalouge of RISC OS games by re-releasing Final Doom for modern RISC OS machines, and at a reasonable price too.

Andrew and the team haven’t stopped at Final Doom, the Pling Store now features the Doom Trilogy for modern RISC OS 5 computers – including the Raspberry Pi!

Based on R-Comp’s original ports of Ultimate Doom and Doom 2 – the pack includes the main Doom trilogy (Doom 1, 2 and Ultimate) as well a number of official expansions and other additional levels.

Thrown into the mix is the RISC OS version of Wolfenstein, which is not natively supported by modern (32-bit) RISC OS but it does work well under Aemulor. A Doom-engine version of Wolfenstein is also provided, which will run natively on modern RISC OS.

What is Doom?

In case you’ve been living in a cave or under a horrificly oppressive regime over the last two decades, you’ve most likely come across Doom in some shape or form, from the various games to the poorly-received 2005 movie. Doom is a series of first-person shooter games developed by id Software. It focuses on the exploits of an unnamed space marine operating under the auspices of Union Aerospace Corporation (UAC), who fights hordes of demons and the undead in order to survive.

Along with Wolfenstein 3D, Doom is considered to be one of the pioneering first-person shooter games and was one of the first titles to bring 3D graphics, network multiplayer and third-dimension spatiality to the masses.

What’s new in this re-release?

Much in the same veign of their Final Doom re-release, a lot of work has gone into the music. Several different soundtrack options are available, including a new high quality digital soundtrack (optionally) in place of the MIDI.

The game supports a sizeable array of add-on PWADs and user-created levels. Network multiplayer is still present in this release and is compatible with newer 32-bit RISC OS systems, including the Raspberry Pi.

Doom is now fully compatible with Titanium and other systems that require RGB/BGR colour swapping, meaning that this release will run on anything from a battle-worn RiscPC to a an ARMini, TiMachine or Raspberry. It also seems to run well under RPCEmu emulation.

The games pack is priced at a reasonable £14.99 price point – which considering the original price upon release all those years ago was £32.50, it’s not a bad deal.

What’s the advantage when compared to FreeDoom?

RISC OS has had many ports of Doom over the years, most notably the excellent FreeDoom, ported to RISC OS by Jeff Doggett. So naturally you might be thinking, why should I throw £15 at a game that I can play for free?

While it’s a fair argument, for the £14.99 price you can’t really complain if you take into account that all the level files are included – as opposed to having to source them yourself (legally!) in the case of FreeDoom and other free ports of the game.

There’s no setup like you have with the free options, which require sourcing WAD files and placing them in a location the game is expecting the file to be in – plus the game does appear to be a lot smoother and far less buggy than other versions out there. The R-Comp version also has networking support, which I don’t believe is available with any other port for RISC OS.

If you look at what’s included in return for your cash – Three Doom games, a whole host of additional levels including official expansions, Wolfenstein 3D and a Doom-powered version of Wolfenstein, it’s really not to be sniffed at.

The Doom Trilogy can be purchased as a £14.99 download from R-Comp’s Pling Store. If you do pick up a copy and/or if this review’s made you crave a Doom session then I highly recommend you check out Martin Bazley’s RISC OS made (using Deth) WAD files, the ones I’ve tried have all been very well designed.