Diary: Technologies: AROS: There is still something i did not bothered to talk of?

(picture from ok-cancel.com)

I am not in my best condition recently.

I am a bit late in my work schedule, have an acid reflux that make me feel like having a frying pan inside my stomach, and that makes it difficult to focus on my stuff.

I just read the continuation of the goodbye therad of Dammy, ex moderator of Team Aros, in this link on Moobunny and i feel a bit discouraged.

Dammy decided to take out the frogs in the throat in a quite harsh way: will cite its words specifically:

1. Worshiping PPC as the second coming is retarded. It’s a faileddesktop CPU arch, get over it already. Yes, it’s viable as embedded CPUSOC, but that isn’t an Amiga by any stretch of the imagination. Dare Isay, SOC is the anti-Amiga if I ever heard of one. Unless PPC can leadus to a $150 laptop, it’s a dead end. Amiga community made a huge errorand it’s paying the price for failing to see where PPC was heading offto. If they can make sub $150 laptops, PPC folks should be easily beable to make $50-$75 desktop/server box. Let me further define this,I’m not completely against AROS being ported to PPC. I had finallyagreed for TeamAROS to accept a bounty for an EFIKA port (and thenSAM440 port) because it would open the door for more developers andpossible funding by OEM It is just one of many steps that AROS needs togrow into a viable modern OS to support many archs as possible. ARMshould be next to be ported.

2. Lets talk another retarded decision about worshiping 3.1 API. Whatreally drove me away was the brain dead decisions in sticking with aelderly API. The only arch that AROS can reasonably stick with 3.1 isAROS68K because apart of that API has to do with Amiga gfx. Amiga wasthe fore front of OS development in it’s time. C= would have changedthe API by now had they survived. Deep down even you know that, I knowthat, everyone knows that except for the 3.1 blockheads. Yeah, AROSwould have been harder for some to port 15 year old software but it’s15 year old software, get over it already. AROS needs to be here andnow and ready for the future not living in the past before it was evenborn! Cargo cultism at it’s finest. If I absolutely had to run a oldAmiga program, I would run it in UAE. Bill Gates has won, AROS iscrippled.

By the way, Dammy is scrupolous in point the NON-developers as guilty on the fully featured 3.1. API compatibility: probably lots of them are notalgic people that strive for a “full immersive” AROS experience at the level of the old Amiga os to revive the “magic” and wake up from a 15 year long nightmare.

In my own, i really hope that AROS will accomplish the full 3.1 API compatibility soon and also hope that the goal will be a new start, not simply the end of line: honestly i don’t care if we will reach the point where API needs to be broken in order to add new functionalities as protected memory and old applications might need to be sandboxed [run in a sealed memory area in order not to bring the system down with them in case of crash: the name comes from the sand box in the kids playplace] to run.

Well, not too much things to comment about: the AROS world, so as the actual Amiga/MorphOS world is a bit sleepy, like a country town: a lot of stuff are homebrew and made under the hood: to see how the engine is actually built and things are progressing helps a lot to be subscribed in some developers mailing list.

Sometimes we have nice bursts: the debuto of the Sam440 version, the new nightly builds that now are supporting GRUB 2, guaranteeing a better compatibility and let the system boot even from SFS partitions not only FFS; the EFIKA port where Yakumo9275 and Michael Schultz are working on parallel; the interesst for AROS from the Natami project developers, which should bring finally at a 68k platform port for AROS, and i already see the bounty assigned to bheron, but have no idea who this guy is: info anyone?.

So, in this small town the atmosphere brings to clash egos and well estabilished habits, in  the form we already know such as allthe usual arguments, missed implementations and integral convinctions on fighting between the different Amiga OS-like incarnations.

I don’t think to be immune from it, would be superbous sayng so, buit at least i try to have a better real world oriented mindset toward the topic.

Might be that both me and Paolo Besser (just become a father so my congratulations) are ,in different ways working and struggling to make AROS grow beside the simple hobbyist operating system, as some of its own developers think still about: we are convinced that the Amiga architecture still has a very noticeable potential, especially in some hobbyist sectors, as support tool: since not all uses of an OS require protected memory and other advanced features, there is a way to increase the userbase beside the ex-amiga user and occasional developer/lurker: think in example at HAM-radio, at music sequencing software with MIDI enabled trackers and other open source software as audacity.

As I said on this thread (in italian) on Amigapage.it:

I see interesting openings especially for those hobbyist fields in which people prefer to focus more on the computer as help than as an additional instrument to be handled and tuned apart from the rest: i remember some applications for HAM radio on amiga, some lighting software (and i remember sources were released some time ago) and for other DIY sectors where is not required to have a fully modern operating system, needs to be simple to be used and configured and, considered that viable alternatives for those people are, for now windows or linux: both quite bloated and/or difficult to be configured/maintained and both requiring quite powerful hardware and a good amount of RAM: unlike those, AROS looks perfect: is lightweight, can be used in fairly old machines and is easy to handle.

Well, beside this, what else I did not bothered to write on? About Rapid Application Development tools to help the development of applications, something which all amiga flavours but specially AROS are lacking: for AOS 4 we had the no longer supported ADV, so some developers are trying fo till the gap. One of the developers of AROS, gianfranco “Shinkuro” Gignina, asked about an opinion on this kind of tools show a partial disagreement:

I personally find automatic GUI creator tools as something discrete for beginners and professionals on deadline. In some other cases I consider the automatic GUI generation tools a sort of gambling, which I would not use for serius programming…. i might add some real life example as Visual C#, that, when you use the tools does links and instantiate all GUI elements in one method, something that, once referred to OOP programming, based on extension and inheritance looks at least obscene….

..and not to forget that on Amiga Programming, the tool code and the GUI code cannot be separated as in more modern operating systems as cited by Shinkuro in this other thread:

There is no complete OOP API set on Amiga, that has been done only the GUI so far.
The Frying Pan author, to make its own life easier and transfer code faster between Amiga OS flavours, created this:

I think the link above might be quite interesting but, since has been released under GPL 2 license, i personally have no idea whether there might be any problem in using it iside AROS, maybe can be used for applications, and not for OS components…

It is also not possible, IMHO, to divide the GUI development thread from the GUI usability thread, that are actually the pain-in-the-bottom of most open source projects; some recent and less recent studies and considerations here and here let us know how the base problem is sometimes coming from the open-source environment nature itself (this is mainly related to linux operating systems, by the way) and the fact that coders does lack the skills – a subset not easy to achieve – to build usable interfaces.
It is not completely their fault: writing an usable application requires nontrivial efforts and sometimes an application has to be designed to be usable since scratch. Plus usability is not an unniversal rule, is something that is quite subjective: what is usable for a developer is non usable from a graphic artist and vice versa plus what might be usable for those two categories might be hard to understand if not completely usuitable for an average user…

In the closed source world software usability on an OS is ruled by interface guidelines (something that GNOME and lately KDE started to adopt too) and improved by tests and feedback from users: – for what is concerning the first one, related to AROS, Shinkuro proposed an Interface Guideline reference on the developer list to improve the existing 3.1 guidelines, with not too much success so far;
-the latter one instead is undoubtely expensive, therefore hard to be put on practice from an open source project if not backed up from some capital: lately i learned about the existence of an open source usability project:  openusability.org, maybe can be useful.

Another problem for the open source application usability is the subculture hacker environment where some of the developers grew up: a very closed environment, almost a sect in which the initiation ritual is to understand and master the operating system and its application, deep to the inner workings an ddo the leap from “luser” to “l337”: that might give an hint about the still scarce desktop penetration of linux: those topics are part of the bread-and-butter of the linux haters blog, and also this older but still interesting article shows how the supposed “lack of respect for the fial user” might be reconducted sometimes in the well-known for amiga users ego clash and its consequences, not alone the “leaving the playfield bringing all the toys with him” bad attitude that killed or hamed badly old software projects, including poseidon and MUI, instead of give the community the possibility to mantain and make grow opening the source: i know tihs is personal decision  matter but sometimes the reasons to screw up projects are so trivial or inconclusive that might sound like tantrums.

I hope to give a nice help to developers willing to improve software usability in linking this usable software small handbook from joelonsoftware.com: not to be considered an all-in-one course but a good start to improve the development method.