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Status update

Author:Simone Bernacchia & Neil Cafferkey

Latest updates

Since the last update before Christmas, AROS has gained a lot of improvements, both in system components and applications: AROS is getting really close to being suitable for daily usage.

Oliver Brunner recently released version 0.3 of Janus-UAE, the AROS-specific version of UAE required by phase 1 of the UAE Integration Bounty. Now AROS can open AmigaOS applications in their own AROS screen or window. Oliver is currently working on integrating menus.

But the most important news is that AROS has finally got its own modern web browser! Thanks to the hard work of Stanislaw Sszymczyk, OWB is available for AROS, delivering full CSS and Javascript compatibility, tabbed browsing and a download manager. OWB is at version 0.9.3 Beta, and in order to run correctly requires recent versions of muimaster.library, arosc.library and codesets.library. OWB can be downloaded at its own page at sand-labs. Stanislaw has also finished work on allowing the compilation of multiple versions of AROS using a single copy of the source tree.

Pavel "Sonic" Fedin is still working on the Windows Hosted version of AROS and, in the course of this work, is also trying to solve several problems in the way AROS talks to the hardware, in order to abstract it; this led to his modifying components that require an abstraction layer in order to work in hosted AROS versions, such as file systems and hardware; this includes a packet handling method for SFS. Also, Pavel, together with Jens Langner, is trying to cross-compile the most up-to-date versions of the mcc.BetterString and mcc.TextEditor MUI classes so that they will be taken straight from the mainstream source instead of being included in the AROS source tree.

Matthias "Mazze" Rustler has released an alpha version of the Ignition spreadsheet application. At the moment data cannot be saved but it is still a good occasion to have a look at this application, underestimated on AmigaOS but quite powerful and well realised. There are just a couple of major glitches: the applicaiton is only partially translated from German; in order to be used in English the file ignition_english.prefs has to be renamed to ignition.prefs.

Nik "Kalamatee" Andrews is improving Wanderer: in recent months his work delivered better stability, he added a status bar to windows, and he experimented with a directory tree in the left-hand side of windows. In the future, besides the introduction of the much awaited list view, he plans to make Wanderer more modular, so that various components can be added or subtracted at will and implemented also with third-party modules.

The well known VmwAROS distribution has changed name to Icaros Desktop; version 1.1 (updated recently to 1.1.1) delivers updated system files and better stability. Almost all applications were recompiled in order to use the most recent muimaster.library build - finally getting rid of the old switchmuimaster application. As usual, Icaros is available as both a Live DVD and a virtual environment (VE). The VE version has been installed on top of Windows XP on a netbook, running at a reasonable speed with full audio and wireless networking support. More info here.

Michal Schulz still continues to work on his Efika port and, in parallel, on the USB mass storage bounty. In December AROS was able to mount USB sticks and boot from an external CD-ROM drive. Progress on the Efika port brought a more robust kernel, a detailed debug report and a feature quite similar to Grim Reaper on AmigaOS 4 that prevents the machine from freezing in case of a crash.

Neil Cafferkey has been working on improving the compatibility of the ATA driver, so that it works with a greater variety of PCs and drives. These changes were not ready in time for Icaros 1.1.1, but they will probably be included in the next release.

Some changes also occured in the way AROS boots: it is now possible to install 32-bit and 64-bit versions of AROS side-by-side on the same computer. As a result of this, all bootable AROS partitions are required to have a file called AROS.boot containing the architecture type of the AROS system files on that partition. If you want to upgrade the kernel on a system installed prior to March 20, you need to manually copy this file to the root of your system partition, or create it yourself (e.g. run the command "Echo pc-i386 TO DH0:AROS.boot" for a 32-bit system).

And, last but not least, the coming of Steve "ClusterUK" Jones: a Siamese System developer in the past, he now comes back to Amigaland proposing his AROS box for sale. The iMica is an Intel Atom-based small desktop system with Icaros Desktop pre-installed. iMica currently offers one of the best AROS experiences on real hardware, due to the inclusion of a Creative Labs SoundBlaster card with EMU10k chipset that is supported by AROS, and an RTL8168 Network card, supported by Kalamatee's new driver.

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