A look at R-Comp’s Final Doom re-release

posted in: Games, Reviews | 0

download (1)Originally released for RISC OS in 1999, Final Doom has received a bit of TLC from the ever busy chaps over at R-Comp to make it compatible with RISC OS 5 and newer hardware, which includes the Raspberry Pi, ARMX6 and the Titanium.

The game uses the engine, items, and characters from Doom II, but instead has 70+ levels not available in the Doom 2 game, and also includes the original Doom first episode for you to test your whits on..

What’s new in this updated version?

The game is now compatible with 32-bit RISC OS computers, including modern boards such as the Raspberry Pi, Beagleboard, Titanium etc.

A cool new feature in this version is the game will now run on RGB/BGR swapped systems such as any Titanium-based RISC OS computers.

This version has had a lot of work done on the music, several different soundtrack options are available, including a new high quality digital soundtrack in place of the MIDI – this was recorded from top-of-the-line original equipment to give the best quality audio.

The price point is another change with this re-release. The game can be downloaded from R-Comp software distribution store Pling Store for the reasonable sum of £11.99 (£9.99 +VAT), which is pretty good considering the amount of life you can get out of this game, and that’s before you consider the countless amounts of downloadable levels available on the web.

A look at the game itself

Final Doom uses the same engine and much of the same graphics as Doom 2, with the difference being it has two 32-level iWADs (level packs of sorts). The two iWADs are all very well designed (mostly, there are a few sketchy ones) and are in sync with the overall Doom mood and feel. Something that hits you pretty early one when playing Final Doom is its difficulty, it is considerably harder than Doom 1 and 2.

Performance-wise, the game will run well on anything from a RiscPC upwards (a pre-StrongARM RiscPC might run slightly slower, but it should still play fine).

The Story 

As with all other Doom games, both games kick straight into the action which pits you against wave after wave of hell-born daemons, but you’d be wrong in thinking it was just mindless violence. Oh no, there’s a story behind the blood and guts. Here’s a rundown of both iWADs’ storylines.

download (2)TNT: Evilution – In TNT: Evilution, the Union Aerospace Corporation (UAC) are once again intent on developing and experimenting with dimensional gateway technology.

They set up a base on Io, one of the moons of Jupiter, with a solid detachment of space marines for protection. Their operations are ruined however when a a spaceship from Hell arrives on Io. Hordes of daemons emerge from the spaceship hell bent on whipping out life on Io.

The Plutonia Experiment – Taking place following Hell’s catastrophic invasion of Earth, the people of earth are rebuilding, and so are the UAC – who have reformed.

The scientists working for the UAC start working on a device known as the Quantum Accelerator that is intended to close invasion Gates and stop possible invasions.Their work is cut short however when a huge gate from Hell opens up and unleashes havoc.

Comparison vs free Doom ports for RISC OS

I know what some of you might be thinking. Why pay £11.99 when there are free options for RISC OS out there, Jeff Doggett’s port being one of them, although there’s quite a few (albeit older) others floating about.

All the free Doom ports for RISC OS don’t come with any level files, so if you’re wanting to stay within the law, you have to shell out for the official level files (WADs) anyway. The biggest pro’s in favour of R-Comp’s commercial version is it’s ease-of-use and stability.

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.

Final Doom can be purchased as a £11.99 download from R-Comp Pling Store. If you do pick up a copy of Final Doom, 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.

Password managers and RISC OS

posted in: Reviews, Software | 2

downloadI’m sure most people these days are familiar with how important using strong passwords are – don’t use common words, don’t have a short password and, probably the most important one – never reuse passwords between online accounts…

Now it’s all well and good to be using unique and hard-to-remember passwords for all your accounts, but with it arises the issue of remembering them. Unless you’re some form of cyborg, you can’t – especially considering the amount of online accounts individuals have these days. I have 80+ in my password manager alone, and I’m sure that’s probably not all of them.

Writing your passwords down on paper could be a way to go, but you always run the risk of either losing the paper they’re written on or even worse, some nasty person gets hold of it.

Password managers have increased in popularity in recent years, and have come along way over the last decade or so. LastPass and Dashlane are the most popular multi-platform password managers, utilising the cloud to store your passwords – which are protected by a master password and two-factor authentication. My OS X and Windows machines are running Dashlane, which is pretty nifty in that it auto-populates login fields on the Internet – but it doesn’t cover me when I’m using my RISC OS machines…

So I thought I’d take a look at what options we have available to us on RISC OS, all of which store passwords locally on your machine – which although it’s considered a security risk on other platforms, the risk of your passwords being obtained maliciously from your RISC OS machine as a result of malware or an unauthorised access attack is relatively low.

Passman by Kevin Wells – Developed natively by Kevin Wells, Passman is a desktop utility for RISC OS that is designed to serve as a single user password manager. Specifically geared towards login fields on websites, it makes it easy to enter the username/password combo for a previously stored website by allowing you to put the cursor in the username field for the site, and then clicking the relevant button in Passman.

The one downside is that although Passman is secured by a master password, the passwords it stores aren’t encrypted, so although RISC OS is relatively safe from malware attacks and vulnerability exploits, the passwords can still be obtained by malicious 3rd party if they really want to get their hands on them.

Compatibility-wise, the application runs well on my Raspberry Pi 2 running RISC OS 5.21 and has also not had any issues running on my RiscPC running RISC OS 4.

22-07-2016 13-39-32Qupzilla, ported by Chris Gransden – QupZilla is a lightweight, fast web browsed based on the QtWebEngine browser, it’s come a long way since it was first released in 2010. It now features an RSS reader, Extension Support, a spell checker and, a Password Manager. Ported to RISC OS a few months ago by Chris Gransden, Qupzilla runs on any modern version of RISC OS – I tested this on my Raspberry Pi 2 running RISC OS 5.21 without encountering any problems. It won’t be compatible with older, 26-bit systems like the RiscPC however.

The browser’s built-in password manager stores passwords locally, and just like Passman, it requires a master password to get into your password list. Unfortunately, passwords are not encrypted but as it’s an in-browser feature it makes it very easy to copy over passwords into login forms, and adds an added level of convenience when compared to using a separate passwords manager application.

Overall, password management on RISC OS has improved massively over the last few years, with two free and very usable software solutions out there. The only downside is that both solutions don’t currently encrypt the passwords, which could mean a malicious third party could nab the file(s) containing the passwords if they put their mind to it.

A look at SSH on RISC OS

posted in: Reviews, Software | 2

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).

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