[Rpcemu] Information for users and developers

Jim Lesurf jcgl at audiomisc.co.uk
Wed May 26 08:38:05 PDT 2010

In article <20100526141250.GB5315 at spod.org>, Peter Howkins
<rpcemu.howkins at marutan.net> wrote:
> On Wed, May 26, 2010 at 01:32:18PM +0100, Jim Lesurf wrote:
> > 
> > That's Ok. I wasn't asking specifically for a solution as I've found
> > an arrangement that works. The puzzle is that what works on another
> > Crunchbang setup doesn't on the Xubuntu one. Even when I copy across
> > the entire rpcemu directory. Yet all the other RO apps work fine on
> > both. So a puzzle rather than a problem.

> Out of curriosity, when you copied the files from one distro to another,
> did you recompile the binary, or use the binary from the first system?

Probably simplest if I give a brief summary of what I did in chronological

First I installed the (non spoon) version onto my ancient laptop (running
Crunchbang). I tend to use this when I want to ensure I can get though a
process without running into trouble as the old setup is 'expendable'.  :-)

This was the fairly long step-by-step process for that version.

The result worked fine. I was able to add copies of apps I use a lot
(TechWriter, Vector, etc) by making zips of them on my Iyonix then
unzipping them with sparkfs on rpcemu. The apps all worked. Including
ArtWorks - although there was an initial problem with one file name being
changed as a result of an earlier mistake on my part.

I then made a tgz of the entire rpcemu directory on the crunchbang machine
and put this onto the new (Xubuntu) laptop. Used that to put the directory
and its contents onto the new laptop. When I tried this everything worked
as before *except* ArtWorks which went wrong during startup.

I tried new/alternative versions of AW. I then did a complete install from
scratch of rpcemu on the Xubuntu laptop and tried again with various
versions of AW. Still didn't work, but all other apps I tried did.

However I then found that putting the a new version of AW in the 'idefs'
(adfs) disc *did* let it work on the Xubuntu rpcemu. Could not get it
working on the host 'drive'. So in the Xubuntu laptop AW needs to be inside
the 'image' filing system. But on Crunchbang it works OK as a set of files
without this.

No idea why the difference. But having done a clean install and put AW into
the image filing system, it works OK. None of the other apps seem to need
this or have this difference.

> > > Unfortuanately there are just too many versions of Linux (CPU
> > > architecture (x86/x64/Sparc/ARM/Mips/etc), distribution
> > > (Ubuntu/redhat/debian/puppy/gentoo/etc x 100), releases) to create a
> > > universal binary that would run on all of them.
> > 
> > I would suspect that at present a debian/unbuntu package would be
> > useful for the largest portion of Linux users. Must confess that when
> > I tried puppy I quickly decided it was a PITA compared with the Ubuntu
> > versions, and ended up choosing Crunchbang for my ancient laptop.
> > (Again IIUC a Ubuntu/debian type of distro.)

> You're right in that an Ubuntu/Debian x86 binary would probably be the
> most common platform, but there's a lot of variation in ABI and
> potential really obscure compatability bugs that could be run into with
> a binary.

Is that not handled by package dependency controls? Afraid I don't know
much about this.

> > > However if people are willing to contibute compiled binaries for
> > > their favourite system (as Paul Stewart has done for Puppy Linux) we
> > > can host them. For example would you be willing to help by compiling
> > > up a Ubuntu binary for others to use?
> > 
> > In principle, yes I'd be pleased to do that, or ar least give it a try!

> I discuss this a little further down this post.

> > That prompts me to ask: At present the above webpage gives a link to
> > the non-spoon page on rpcemu. Is that OK as the best place to direct
> > people to who have not previously known about RO and rpcemu?

> Well, the riscos.info pages recently got tweaked to point at the spoon
> ones, so I don't think it's much of an issue. But feel free to update if
> you want.

I'll leave it as it is unless you/others say I should make a an alteration.

> > In terms of support I'd suspect I may be most useful in terms of
> > trying out things and then writing articles and documents to
> > attract/encourage/enable users. Afraid my programming skills are minor
> > - particularly on Linux! However I am currently in the process of
> > writing some ROX and perhaps more rpcemu items for 'Archive' which
> > should also eventually appear on the web.

> From a personal point of view, something that appears in Archive isn't a
> replacement for proper documentation. If you can give me an idea of
> which areas of the documents (on the website) arn't up to scratch I'll
> have a go at rewriting them, or feel free to to investigate this
> yourself?

I'll have another look and think about it. Initially I'm concerned with the
simple minded user like myself. There were two points that were 'gotchas'
when I started which were discussed a while ago.

One was that one of the lines in the instructions is so long that one
person missed the end off the command and it then didn't work. The command
went off screen and this wasn't obvious in their browser. That also seems
to me like uncomfortable ergonomics as a long single command makes it
harder to get every character right.  :-)

The other was that I fell into the trap of trying to use RO4.xx from a RPC
that 'patched' the code as it booted. The result grabbed as rom images
didn't work with rpcemu. However at the time people didn't know this was a
problem so the webpage documentation didn't warn that you needed to 'clean
boot' the RPC to get a usable rom image. I've not checked, but if the
documents on installing don't say this I think they should warn.

That said, I also bought another copy of RO4 and that fixed the problem
anyway.  :-)

> > Would it help clarify if we collected a list of 'what works and what
> > crashes' in terms of RO apps, etc? I am still myself confused about
> > this, and about which versions of RO work OK or not.

> Perhaps, but such a list would get very long, and take a lot of effort
> to maintain (after each release you'd really want to check the software
> againt to see if anything new worked, or something broke). If someone
> is willing to put the time in, I'd do everything I could to encourage
> them 
> :) (and send in my list of known working apps).

> > If someone can outline what would be involved in producing something
> > like a binary pakage for Ubuntu (and hence I assume debian) I can then
> > decide if I am up to trying that. At present I have no idea if I would
> > be capable. In the meantime, when I get the necessary 'round tuit'
> > I'll try installing the latest sourced spoon version and see how I get
> > on.

> Doing a full system wide install on a multi-user system like Linux and
> then preparing a suitable Ubuntu 'package' is very very hard work, and
> would require quite a lot source code changes [1].

> However doing a 'binary' user-space archive that people could install in
> their own home directories would not be too complex (it's basically a
> .tar.gz of a rpcemu directory after the compile has finished).

That is what I had in mind, but I don't know about any dependency handling.

IIRC there was a detailed article a few months ago in 'Linux Format' on how
to make packages so if I get a chance I'll read it and see if it makes
sense to me.

> Statically linking the compile would avoid the need for people to
> install the allegro libraries (and other dependancies). This could
> probably be done straight away, but I'm not sure it's that useful to
> people? 

IIRC In effect what you describe is what I initially did when trying to
copy from my old laptop to the new one. I dealt with any 'dependencies' by
going though the intial bits of what the webpage explained. But then just
copied the tgz across. If I assume the ArtWorks problem is just weird and
nothing to do with this, the 'copy across a tgz' worked fine so far as I
can see. This was from Crunchbang to Xubuntu so I suspect it would work for
most Ubuntu/debian setups... but I'm hardly an expert.  :-)

> As a Linux user myself I normally expect things to be in my
> distros packaging system, or something I compile myself. Anyone else
> think such a user-space install would be useful? My worry about binary
> release such as this is that people would try to use it on lots of
> different systems that might be slightly incompatible, increasing the
> support load considerably.

FWIW my view of that is to have one (or perhaps a few) targetted 'user'
binary versions alongside the source version would be good. Thus perhaps
making life easier for many, but providing the source version for others.
Gives people a choice.

If it is of interest I could make a tgz of the rpcemu I transferred and
people could try it themselves if I put it up somewhere. The only snag is
the question of the apps I added which I guess I'd have to mostly remove to
avoid giving out 'free' copies of TechWriter, etc.  :-)  Would this be of
any interest to others? Of course at present it is the non-spoon 'old'
version of rpcemu.



Electronics  http://www.st-and.ac.uk/~www_pa/Scots_Guide/intro/electron.htm
Armstrong Audio  http://www.audiomisc.co.uk/Armstrong/armstrong.html
Audio Misc  http://www.audiomisc.co.uk/index.html

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