28 years after the original release, Prince of Persia continues to be the obsession of a community made up by enthusiasts that never forgot their first, stunning encounter with Jordan Mechner’s platform game. And they are not just freaks like yours truly, who considers PoP his first computer love and that is still trying to beat his own personal record by playing the game every now and then under DOSBox. Nope: here we are talking about developers that are capable, determined and willing to dig the secrets hidden in the code of an ancient software to keep alive a myth that doesn’t fear the effects of obsolescence.
Four months have passed, maybe it’s time to update the blog once more. And maybe it’s fine to resume some series neglected for too long like the one about the market of computer Web browsers. The last post on the topic dates back to 2009, and in just six years the situation changed so radically to seem like belonging to another age. And as a matter of fact we are in a completely different age, with many unknowns and a factual observation which is worth being highlighted above anything else: Firefox is a browser unavoidably doomed to oblivion, and it’s all Mozilla’s fault.
The month of March 2014 marks the (possibly) definitive stop for LLOOGG, a service for real-time Web traffic analysis that was appreciated quite a lot by Sir Arthur for its simplicity and for giving an extremely clear picture of the site’s visitors activity. The service has been closed, the developers say, the lloogg.com domain name is on sale and the source code for the server-side application has been released on GitHub for everyone to download and review.
On the long, long road that leads to its final target, ReactOS continues to grow and evolve thanks to the hard work made by developers contributing to the project. The latest, important changes help the system to actually advance toward the aforementioned final target, ie to reach full compatibility with software and drivers made for Windows operating systems based on the NT architecture.
Born from the ashes of the deceased FreeDO project, 4DO is an emulator of the historical 3DO console released under an open source license. 4DO aim is to improve on the already remarkable accuracy level of the FreeDO main core by adding new features, bringing bugfixes and making the software compatible with more games from the actually-not-so-large library of titles published for the 3DO.
Followers of the VOGONS board and DOSBox official forum are already aware of this: one of the forthcoming versions of the best PC-with-DOS emulator out there should include a very important architectural novelty, ie the software implementation of the historical Voodoo Graphics chipset created by 3dfx Interactive in the Nineties. “Kekko”, the programmer working on the project with the aid of the DOSBox crew and the coding-capable VOGONS users, says that his aim is the complete and faithful emulation of SST-1, the first Voodoo chipset marketed in 1996 inside the first 3D graphics accelerated cards on the PC.
July has been a noteworthy month for fans of the not so trivial arts of multiboot and hard disk data encryption, which have been able to profit by the release of updated versions for two of the best utility software out there: NeoSmart Technologies released version 2.0(.1) of the EasyBCD advanced bootloader, while the so called TrueCrypt Developers Association brought to 7 the version number of its powerful, open source encryption software.
During the past few days two important facts happened in the emulation world: DOSBox, the virtual machine that accurately replicates the PC world obsolete hardware has been updated with a new version release, while the Dreamcast emulator nullDC has found itself at a crossroad in its erratic history. Both cases concern software that are almost unique in their kind, and both the news are worth being told for the practical effects they have on the many fans using them.
VLC media player, one of the most appreciated multimedia software has reached a fundamental point of its history with version 1.0.0, the first main release after more than eight years since the initial version released in the far away February of 2001. The supervened maturity of the player created within the VidenLAN project overlaps with so many novelties for the interface, playback and supported formats, and the amount of users that in the past days has downloaded the release well demonstrates the success and popularity the software has been able to achieve.
On the occasion of SourceForge.net’s project of the month award granted to DOSBox, I asked the crew behind the best PC/DOS emulator out there to reply to some questions about the project. The developers were busy with the last works on the new version of the emulator, thus the interview was changed to include some DOSBox 0.73 related features and finally in the past days the crew was kind enough to send me back the replies I was seeking for. There is no Big Scoop (tm) here nor I was asking for one, but I hope the conversation is an interesting reading anyway.
DOSBox, the emulator designed to run DOS games on modern operating systems (and not necessarily on a PC), has been chosen as project of the month for May 2009 on the open source platform SourceForge.net. It’s the latest award granted to a software that “simply does what it is supposed to do“, as the authors state, and that after having summed up more than 10 millions downloads is ready for an update awaited since almost two years.
Maybe the bolt from the blue of the Chrome launch didn’t brought an awful market share figure to the newcomer, but the convulsions and the undoubted evolutive acceleration set off by the release of the made-in-Google browser are reverberating with increasing strength on the new war to control the access port to the worldwide network. Currently numbers are still on Mozilla’s and its red panda side, but in future things will become more complicated when Google will have played one of its best cards to turn Chrome from an oddity for few into a conquering force for the mainstream market.
Alerted by the inexorable advancing of the next digital dark age, the European academy started a preservation plan for digital contents and artefacts with great ambitions. The KEEP (Keeping Emulation Environments Portable) project considers with particular care videogames and intends to create what has been defined the first “general purpose” emulator, capable of providing access to obsolete media and formats for nowadays and future generations.
It was mentioned earlier and now, one of the best WYSIWYG editors for off-line blogging has finally landed the FOSS and community-driven development world. In the past days Zoundry Raven has officially become an open source software, ready to accept contributions from coders willing to improve a product that already offers remarkable qualities as to code stability, ease of use and compatibility with various publishing platforms and CMS.
If there’s something that the new digital store Good Old Games has clearly emphasized is the fact that retrogaming can become a business, but at its heart there must necessarily be the passion and the commitment of hobbyists able to feed that business with their coding and software engineering efforts. Without projects amateurish in shape but extremely sophisticated in essence like DOSBox and ScummVM, to say it frankly, probably GOG.com would have never opened.
Parallel computing and GPGPU, the super-PC genesis between universal libraries and proprietary platforms
Far from slowing down because of the worldwide economic crisis, PC technology evolution (and particularly the videogaming peripherals one) continues to break records and Gigaflops, opening usage scenarios that was solely related to super-computers just a few years ago. Such scenarios are currently colliding with the opposite development of standards and API competing with each other, resulted from the desire of market supremacy or from the need to reach an agreement on a common computing platform.
After more than two months since the Chrome launch, the made-by-Google browser that should have revolutionized the whole market and the Internet perception itself among the users, the nowadays scenario is very much different from what the events anticipated then. Not only Chrome hasn’t been able to take a significant amount of netizens, but even its undoubted performance leadership will soon be called into question by the new releases from the competitors.
One of undoubted benefits of open source software is its incredible adaptability to usage modes pretty different from the ones originally expected by the developers. If, in that regard, it’s ok to the majority of the users to permanently install the Mozilla Firefox browser on the system, the “transportable” version developed for the PortableApps.com suite can be exploited by whom have the need to use a testing environment at no cost for the Windows Registry or to compare the last build of the Mozilla code with the one currently installed on the PC.
Good things need time, and the folks at the VideoLAN project have taken all the time that was needed to finish the works on Grishenko, codename for the just released newer version of VLC media player software. After two years of development, one of the most appreciated and used open source multimedia players appears in a totally renewed shape, provides a good amount of new features and naturally the same usual convenience of having at one’s disposal all the codecs needed to enjoy contents integrated straight into the software.
With the characteristic effect of a bolt from the blue, at the beginning of this week Mountain View has released the beta version of its browser, Google Chrome, joining the super-competitive market of software interfaces toward the possibilities of net economy and information society. Everybody talk about it, everybody express their own thoughts on the matter, but still no one has had the heart to define the event with its due name: Chrome, there’s no much to do about that, marks the beginning of a new browser war in a time in which the said browsers are the main framework of business and access to digital heritage of interconnected mankind.