A look at SSH on RISC OS

posted in: Reviews, Software | 0

NettleMost tenured RISC OS users will undoubtedly have used telnet in the past in order to obtain command line access to systems. Access machines via telnet however is somewhat of a big no-no these days due to the protocol’s vulnerability to attack from a number of different angles.

SSH however, is a far more capable protocol, that allows for a secure, encrypted connection between the client and server.

OpenSSH and PuTTY are the most widely used SSH clients across all major platforms. Both have been ported to RISC OS, although they’re not the only options available for anyone looking to administer servers or other remote machines from their RISC OS desktop.

HotlistNettle (GUI)

Nettle has been the dominant terminal emulator and telnet client for RISC OS for decades – with its speedy display as well as fast native implementation it’s ease of use has surpassed other alternatives.

More recently, Nettle has supported SSH2 natively – allowing for easy SSH access in a full colour GUI enviroment.

A nice feature with Nettle is its Hotlist feature, which gives you the ability to save connections that you connect to regularly to save typing in host details every time you want to connect.

Without a doubt this is the most complete SSH client available on RISC OS today. The only features it lacks compared to say PuTTY on Windows is the ability use authentication keys and utilise the use of proxies to access the remote server.

opensshOpenSSH (CLI)

Natively supported in their terminal offerings by most Linux distributions, OS X and more recently Windows (Powershell), Open SSH is a set of network-level utilities – namely ssh, scp and sftp amongst other utilities.

A command line port of OpenSSH is available for RISC OS, it can be run from the TaskWindow (F12) and uses the same commands as you would on Linux or OS X implementation of OpenSSH.

Operationally, the RISC OS port works well. I have used it in length and it hasn’t thrown up any issues – although graphically it is not great to look at and it doesn’t offer any bells and whistles that you might get with graphical clients.

OpenSSH comes in very useful if you’re wanting to transfer files to remote machines through rsync – which depends on the suite.

One problem however is the RISC OS version is not up-to-date, which could be a big red flag for a security conscious user. The RISC OS port is currently at version 6.0p1-1 where as the main version is currently at 7.2p2.

images.duckduckgo.comPuTTY (CLI)

The popular client for Windows was ported to RISC OS in 2005 – but it is no longer available officially, presumably because it lacked a frontend and was a port of an old version – which would make it vulnerable to a whole host of known vulnerabilities with older versions of the program.

Theo Markettos, who ported PuTTY to RISC OS, has however released ports of other PuTTY tools that are still available for download (pscp, psftp etc).

RISC OS Open is ten years old!

posted in: News | 0

rool_text_reflectA lot of you will remember the sorry state of RISC OS prior to the founding of RISC OS Open back in 2006.

RISCOS Ltd and Castle Technology were fighting with their own branches of the operating system, 26-bit RISC OS 4 & 6 and 32-bit RISC OS 5. Both closed source, and both running on limited hardware. Your choice was to run RISC OS 5 on an Iyonix, a sort-of 32-bit version of RISC OS Adjust on the A9Home or you’d have to opt for a legacy machine, a such as the RiscPC. All of which were not the cheapest to get your hands on, especially if you opted for a MicroDigital Omega and never saw your machine or your money again.

Thankfully, things have moved on massively since – and not only is RISC OS now open-source, it is developing at an ever-growing pace. The range of hardware to run it on is now mind-blowing, be it a DIY option such as a Beagle/Pandaboard or the Raspberry Pi, or a commercial solution such as the ARMX6 or the Rapido IG.

None of this could have been possible without the tireless work from the guys over at RISC OS Open – who since their inception have worked has been an enterprise powered by the efforts of people working in their spare-time and not for a profit.

RISC OS has never been in better shape – the userbase is growing, software development is active, heck there’s even a commercial games scene now – a sight I never thought I’d see again after the Artex Software’s departure from the RISC OS market following the release of TEK 1608 in 2002.

Thanks for the hard work ROOL – and here’s to the next ten years!

The Pi Zero – a board for less than a fiver

posted in: Hardware, News, Technology | 2


You don’t get much change from a fiver for a lot of things these days, but the fine chaps over at the Raspberry Pi Foundation are all for giving as much bang for your buck as possible.

Released in November 2015, the Raspberry Pi Zero immediately drew people’s attention with its ridiculous price tag of just £4. The board is essentially a cheap and very small version of the Pi Model A+, making it very capable for a good number of uses.

The intention behind the Zero was not to provide a useable desktop experience(driving a GUI output while multi-tasking etc.) but instead to be a device that can be left running standalone to perform its tasks day-in-day out.

I initially attempted to get my hands on the Zero when the machine was announced at the same time as the first 10,000 units were being given away free with issue 40 of MagPi magazine. All newsagents I could find that stocked the magazine had sold out pretty quickly unsurprisingly.

The most ideal use-case for the board would be for it to be installed inside other machines as a control board or perhaps for running basic low-intensity tasks. Here are the board’s specs:

  • A Broadcom BCM2835 application processor
    • 1GHz ARM11 core (40% faster than Raspberry Pi 1)
  • 512MB of LPDDR2 SDRAM
  • A micro-SD card slot
  • A mini-HDMI socket for 1080p60 video output
  • Micro-USB sockets for data and power
  • An unpopulated 40-pin GPIO header
    • Identical pinout to Model A+/B+/2B
  • An unpopulated composite video header
  • Size: 65mm x 30mm x 5mm

The main question is however, can it run RISC OS?

Well in theory yes, but as it stands it’s not straightforward. The Zero needs the latest firmware, which causes the processor to default to slow speed in order to allow the kernel to ask for the higher speed when it deems it necessary. RISC OS was initially unable to do this, but in the last few months it has since been updated to support switching – meaning forcing ‘turbo’ mode is no longer required to get RISC OS running on the board.

Although it’s got the same single-core, ARM-based processor as the first gen Model B, it’s slightly faster, with the clock speed bumped up to 1GHz. The system memory remains the same, with 512MB of DDR2 SDRAM.

Then there’s the board’s lack of an ethernet port – which means only RISC OS 5 ROMs dated 20-Dec-2015 and older will support a USB-to-Ethernet adapter in order to provide networking. This is due to complications risen from the implementation of ZeroPain.

It is however do-able if you have patience and spare of time on your side. Chris Hall has documented the process on his website.

The Pi Zero is still flying in and out of stock pretty fast despite having been on the market now for several months. The Pi Hut however do appear to get Zero’s in stock relatively regularly should you be wanting to take the extremely walltet-friendly plunge and have a play around with one.

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