Newsbuzz: July round-up

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RISC-OS-LogoNow that the bulk of RISC OS shows for the year have past, the RISC OS world has entered the lull it always undergoes this time of year. Despite the lack of activity, there’s still a few news pieces of note, so here goes.

Christopher Martin has made available a new version of OpenVector, OpenGridPro and DrawPlus – which act as enhancements to !Draw. Version 3.46 is now available for download.

This release includes several bugfixes and changes to capability. The VectUtil module’s service handler avoids calling non-re-entrant SWIs, leading to greater system stability. Sprite scaling will always use a slower but more reliable method. An object’s position can be set to #1 without producing a fatal crash. Dragging out a selection box with ADJUST will invert the selection list, not simply add to it. The order of the current selection list can be reversed (CTRL-V), making it easier to do things like access objects buried deep in the stack, or select unwanted interpolations to delete.

A new version of FX80Emul is now available from Sine Nomine Software. The app emulates Epson-compatible 9-pin dot matrix printers. You can take a file of output intended for the typical 1980s dot matrix printer, drop it on the application, and it will be rendered to the screen.  You can then print the material via the normal RISC OS printer drivers or output as Draw files. The update includes a bug-fix which affected the ESC ! control sequence, and also improves the speed of rendering. You can download FX80Emul free of charge from here.

Richard Darby has released a minor update to !PlutoDat, a simple method of moving Pluto’s Articles files to a location which is routinely backed up. This new release sees some minor bug fixes as well as some changes to the !Run files of the primary and remote installations of !Pluto. You can grab !PutoDat from here.

Harriet Bazley has updated Textseek to version 1.47. Textseek is a WIMP front-end to a fast machine-code file search routine. It uses throwback to display the search results, showing a whole line of text as context for each match. This release contains bug-fixes to prevent the application crashing if it attempts to detokenise corrupt BASIC files, and to ignore errors caused by illegal characters in filenames on foreign filing systems. You can grab it here.

Software compatibility and ‘zero page relocation’

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RevillRISC OS Open have introduced the use of ‘zero page relocation’ into the development ROM images of OMAP3, OMAP4 and Raspberry Pi with a view towards the changes being rolled into future stable versions.

Zero page relocation is a change to the RISC OS memory map that effectively moves the kernal’s ‘zero page’ workspace up to the high end of the memory map rather than address zero, which had been used up until now. This improvement increases the system’s resilience to common software bug the ‘null pointer dereference’.

There is one problem however, RISC OS has always memory mapped to address zero, which will result in a very large amount of exisiting RISC OS software, especially older/legacy programs being rendered unusable by RISC OS goingforward as their code contain cases of null pointless dereferences – from what I gather, the code will read from page zero where as the OS is expecting to execute from the high end, giving a data abort error and dying completely in the process.

RISC OS Open’s Steve Revill commented on the benefits of this move towards zero page relocation on ROOL’s online press statement: “Since relocating zero page is very beneficial to the stability and security of the OS, the goal is to have the feature enabled for all future stable releases, starting with RISC OS 5.24.

“But due to the large amount of buggy software out there we can’t simply turn it on and be done with it – we need to have a transition period in which developers can fix their code without worrying about the fact their compilers, text editors, etc. are buggy too. We also need a way for regular users to get involved with the testing process.

For a full rundown, check out Steve’s statement on the RISC OS Open website – very important for any coders reading.