Friday, February 23, 2018

Step-by-step guide to hosted Icaros on 64bit Ubuntu

by on Friday, February 23, 2018
Are you still trying to host Icaros Desktop on your 64-bit Ubuntu-based computer, without success? Well, that's a pity: it seems that some new Linux distros can give unexpected problems with our beloved AROS environment. But don't worry! Jess Suau has written a GREAT post about it on his blog. What are you doing still here? Follow this link a read it immediately!

> Jess Suau's guide to hosted Icaros on 64-bit Ubuntu


Fixed issue with Ghostscript

by on Friday, February 23, 2018
Some days ago, I wrote that Icaros' new PDF to PNG option would have worked only if paths and file names had no spaces, and this was due to a precise Ghostscript 8.50 limitation (no spacing allowed; and it does not accept paths surrounded by commas, neither for the input file name, nor for the output one). My initial approach was setting up a Dopus5 action with a command like this:

gs -sDEVICE=png16m -sOutputFile={ou}-p%03d.png {f}

(and some other more or less important switches I don't mention here). If you have ever read Dopus 5 user manual, you should know that once this action was applied to a file name, it would have meant something like:

gs -sDEVICE=png16m -sOutputFile=FILENAME.PDF-p%03d.png THE:PATH/TO/FILENAME.PDF

So, nothing wrong when your input file is something like sys:Pippo/Pluto.pdf

gs -sDEVICE=png16m -sOutputFile=Pluto.pdf-p%03d.png sys:Pippo/Pluto.pdf

but what if your file name included spaces? Let's imagine your pdf is sys:Pippo/Report about 2017.pdf. The resulting command line would have been:

gs -sDEVICE=png16m -sOutputFile=Report about 2017.pdf-p%03d.png sys:Pippo/Report about 2017.pdf

and ghostscript would have interpreted it like this:

gs | -sDEVICE=png16m | -sOutputFile=Report | about | 2017.pdf-p%03d.png | sys:Pippo/Report | about | 2017.pdf

This line would have de facto included 4 unexpected/wrong arguments: about; 2017.pdf-p%03d.png; about and 2017.pdf-p%03d.png. And this explains why the action on some files wouldn't have worked. And no, as I said, using "sys:Pippo/Report about 2017.pdf" wouldn't have worked as well.

So, the solution I found to this problem deals with two potential issues: a space in the sub-directory path, and a space in resulting PNG names. The former issue has been worked around by temporarily copying the pdf file to the RAM Drive, giving it a fixed short name like T:PDFFILE. The latter has been resolved processing the source file name with gsar, removing all spaces. In the future I will improve this search & replace job by adding also other characters Ghostscript does not like. I implemented all this with my old PoorPDF trick (do you remember?): I just respawn the procedure but, instead of showing all images on the screen like I did in the past, I rewrote the script to act like a simple converter, asking the user where to put all PNG images. So, here's what's new on Icaros today:

1. I implemented a poorpdpng command in C: which accepts a file name to open (your PDF file), stores it into a temporary variable and executes a script

2. I wrote the sys:Tools/PoorPDF/PoorPDF2PNG script which a) gets the file name from the variable; b) copies the source PDF file to t:tmppdf; c) cleans the original filename from spaces; d) asks the user where to put output images; e) converts the PDF pages into 150dpi PNG images using the right names.

PoorPDF2PNG asking user where PNG images should be placed

Et voilà. Now spaces are not a problem anymore. By the way, since I was at converting things, I decided to implement also a MOD to WAV/IFF converter. I found on Aminet a program for 68K called "mod2wav" which included sources, and I decided to try building it for AROS too. Thanks to its author Martin Cameron, it worked like a charm with a single 'make' hit. I uploaded it to the Archives too, and it should appear in the next hours. Now Dopus5 has also a "MOD > WAV" option for module songs, and new dafault action for them will be playing with mikmod player, which will be added to sys:Utilities drawer.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Converting PDF files - the quick way

by on Monday, February 19, 2018
Some days ago I was at office and I needed to convert some PDF files into PNG images. Nothing really difficult, there are so many applications doing that, but the quickest I know was and still is Ghostscript. I really love the command line approach, moreover when I have to deal with multiple files, however every time I need to look for the right switches in the on-line help. Since I hadn't ghostscript for Windows at hand, I just fired up my Icaros Desktop virtual machine, imported all PDF files I needed to convert, and exported the resulting PNG files a few minutes later. Quick. Functional. Easy. But since it's not the first time I run Icaros Desktop just for this specific task, I decided to add a PDF -> PNGs option to PDF file type in Dopus 5. That way, just selecting the file and this option would do the trick. I also decided to include this in mainstream Icaros, even though at the moment there is a little shortcoming: PDF file name and path must not include spaces. Maybe I will find a way to fix this as well, but starting from Icaros 2.2.2 you should be able to convert your files with a couple of mouse clicks. Default resolution will be 150 dpi, which should be enough to render readable texts and detailed images. 

ZuneView showing results of a conversion

Example of converted page

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

AmiBridge now optional (well, almost)

by on Wednesday, January 31, 2018
One of the most debated aspects of Icaros Desktop is its system volume size. Although all current mainstream operating systems require many gigabytes of your hard drive to get installed with all their features, some Amigans complained about the fact that Icaros Desktop's SYS: partition weights almost 1 GB and includes many "third party applications" which are not part of the AROS bare system. Well, let me explain this for the last time ever: when you're installing Icaros Desktop, you're not installing the operating system only, you are installing a complete Icaros environment which includes both the operating system and some mandatory-to-have-today applications like the media player, the web browser and, of course, the Janus-UAE emulator with the whole AROS M68K "replica", which allows running Amiga applications and games inside the Icaros environment. In a nutshell: you're not installing AROS, you're installing Icaros, otherwise choosing this distribution wouldn't make any sense.

Let's save some space
When users ask for specific new features, however, I can't always say 'no', it wouldn't be polite. So when AROS-EXEC's user Yanosh asked me at least to make AmiBridge an optional component to save some space on the system partition, I realized that something could be done. AmiBridge is a mandatory feature of Icaros Desktop, but since it does not work in Live mode from read-only a read-only installation media (like CDs and DVDs), there is no real need to keep it expanded on it. The compressed version of AmiBridge weights only 40 MB, which is half the size of its uncompressed counterpart (93 MB). This not only allows to keep Icaros' system partition smaller (and this can help users of the light edition), but even saves me some space (and bandwidth) on server and reduces the Light edition's ISO file to about 625 MB, enabling the use of old 650 MB CD-RWs many users still have at home. This is not something I am going to advertise, since in the future I might need this space to add something more to the Light ISO, but keep this as a nice side effect for the time being.

So, no AmiBridge anymore if I like?
Well... no. Not really.  I said this solution will save some space, but AmiBridge will still be copied, in its compressed shape, onto your hard drive, so you will be able to enable it later if you change mind. As I said, AmiBridge is and still will be a mandatory component of Icaros Desktop. There are applications and script which might fail to work correctly if this feature is missing. Just think about Icaros Settings in Prefs. It will simply not work and behave randomly if AmiBridge is not there. So, once the system will be installed without AmiBridge, you'll be always able to extract all files later with a script I already placed in S:, just open a shell and  
execute S:extract-amibridge
this will extract AmiBridge directories from zipped files and delete the archives.

It seems a trivial change. Well, it's not. It required to modify Icaros' post-installation script, Linux and Windows hosted installation scripts, LiveUpdater and even the "Make a installation pendrive" script in the root directory. I had also to change the Linux scripts I use to build Icaros' ISO files. Don't tell I don't listen to people anymore... ;-)

Monday, January 29, 2018

Checking size (and time) made easy

by on Monday, January 29, 2018
Today I wish to show you a simple, yet useful addition I'm releasing with version 2.2.2: showing directory size "made easy". Just enter listers name view, select one or more directory, and click on the second button ("New directory") with middle mouse key  - yes, you can actually push the roller... have you never noticed? ;-). 

The new "Show Size" button lets you peek into directories weight
Another pleasant come back is the digital clock on your workbench. If you remember well, we already had one tied to AmiStart in the right corner, but we left it somewhere else when we released Icaros Desktop 2.1 or so. Well, Icaros Desktop 2.2.2 will bring it back in the place where it should have always been: on the top right corner of the screen.

DigiClock is a perfect fit for Icaros Desktop's top right corner...

Friday, December 1, 2017

A book for Magellan

by on Friday, December 01, 2017
Books about Amiga software are quite rare, so when I saw this news on Amigaworld I could not stop myself to quote it here. I have not read this book so I can not evaluate it, nor I can sincerely tell you if it will meet your expectations, however, if you simply don't like reading the PDF manuals included in the distribution, or you wish to have something printed at your hands, this might fit your needs. Adam Zalepa's Directory Opus 5 User's Manual "discusses one of the best file managers for Amiga. Provides a detailed description of the operation and configuration of Directory Opus 5, along with versions of Magellan, Magellan II, and latest version 5.9. The author also writes about using the capabilities of the program in the Amiga operating system, the AmigaDOS environment and using the ARexx scripting language". It costs eur 19, plus shipping costs.

> Find Directory Opus 5 User's Manual