IT-Consultant: Charles Pegge > Other PC OS Distributions

Add and Support Your Own Distribution

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Donald Darden:
According to several authorities, there are ten significant or major Linux Distributions currently available.  Then there is BeOS, the Mac OS, Minix 3, Unix,
and I don't know what all.  In addition, we are in an age where you can also use VM (Virtual Machine) software to run a host OS, partnered with one or more guest OSes.  That's a big mix, and I hope to support some of that here with a forum that will allow members to add and expand on the basic categories that I've set up.  The two most obvious to me are Ubuntu, which is getting a lot of interest, and Knoppix, a very slick adaptation that first appeared back in 2004.

But you may have your own preference, and experience that could help others to decide to follow your lead or to strike out in another direction.  You might also want to pose questions here in hopes of finding someone that can assist you with whatever problems and issues you encounter.  And if you want to post polls or see if you have enough interest to form a SIG (Special Interest Group), that's okay too.

As you know, most posters on these forums are interested in PowerBasic, which at this time is only available for DOS and Windows.  PB/DOS 3.x has been used successfully within Linux with a DOS Emulator.  To date nobody has reported being able to do the same thing for PB/CC or PB/Win using a Windows Emulator (most think of WINE in this respect).  That does not mean it can't be done, but even if possible, there may be unresolved issues involved.

This is not nec3essarily a dead end for the BASIC programmer.  The possibility of using VM means that you can possibly run some version of Windows either as
host or guest operating system, and that can mean that you can still develop Windows apps that run in windows, regardless of what the host OS actually is.

VM may also be a lifesaver to anyone currently using Windows that dreads the
prospect of eventually being forced to move to Vista.  Less than 11 percent of the PC world is currently using Vista, and resistance to eventually being forced to move to it is growing.  Ultimately Microsoft may not care, as it makes money on the sale of any version of Windows, but there are so many PCs out there that are already licensed to run Windows XP, that a smart thinking person would be hard pressed to see any reason ever to buy a new copy of that old software.  And if you run Windows XP as a guest system, it is virtually immune to being hacked externally because the environment around it does not really exist.

It's something to think about.

Donald Darden:
If you want another distribution to be set up in its own child board, just ask.

If you have some other bright ideas or suggestions, then comment or suggest.

Charles Pegge:
After the initial culture shock, which may last a few months, Linux really is a very nice environment both for using applications and developing them. On the whole you are unlikely to find big differences between distributions, as most of them use X11 windows and the KDE desktop (or Gnome), and the Bash terminal. A distribution is perhaps more defined by what is missing than what is included.

Since we are all Powerbasic users here, it might be useful to look at some of the issues involved in porting between MS/PB and Linux/Freebasic. If I had to choose between Microsoft and Linux I would definitely go for Linux. MS is ahead on multimedia, but Linux is catching up fast.

Even after excluding MSWindows specifics, Powerbasic still has a richer function set than Freebasic and that could be used to advantage, should PB choose to offer a Linux version.

Donald Darden:
PB/Linux is no longer mentioned as an objective of PowerBasic, and I believe that they will likely stick with the larger market that Windows commands.  But it is a big world out there, and even a small segment can be a substantial one.  So maybe they will change their minds in time.

Meanwhile, the beat must go on.  And while there are core elements common to all versions of Linux, there are distinctions as well.  How you measure and mark those distinctions could be of some interest to others.

FreeBasic is attractive because it can be used with several platforms.  The same can be said of other tools as well.  It's not even the only BASIC dialect available.  But FreeBASIC and PowerBASIC both are derivitives and supersets of the old QuickBASIC syntax and language, so share some commonality and are that much more attractive to some people.

What I am pointing out is that Windows is merely one option, though at this point the most prevalent, and also a given for most people contemplating the use of PowerBasic.  It may not always be that way.  In fact, it may be that you can work things around so that you can have the best of all worlds, and not continue to worry and wait for the day that PowerBasic decides to venture in the same direction.

If you plan to wait until PowerBasic releases a PB/Linux version, then make the move to Linux yourself, you are going to be frustrated because you will not be ready for new environment that will present itself.  Does that make sense?  If
you consider PureBasic as a premise for argument, which is one of the BASICS
that can be used with multiple platforms, then you should realize that many
features accessable from that BASIC are platform dependent, and that the
largest number are only available in the Windows world.  There is a reason for that, which is that the Windows world provides the most extensive and well documented set of APIs currently available.

Which means, dear friends, that it is unlikely that PB/Linux will have the native power of PB/CC or PB/Win, unless somebody writes a whole lot of new functionality for Linux that either it currently lacks, or which is not well documented or understood.  So wishing for it is not going to make it happen, and waiting for it could be a major disappointment down the road.

But we can do something about the environment, and again that is the point I am trying to stress at this time.  We have options, so let us consider them.  And what we learn now will be there at a later time when we might need that information.  Better to venture than to merely sit and wait.

Charles Pegge:
For console programming, moving to Linux is very straightforward, and shuttling between the two systems, as I do on a daily basis, compiling Freebasic in Linux then in Windows is almost a seamless process. I can do this without changing a single line of code.

For multimedia programming I am locked into Windows for the time being, one of the problems is the ITX hardware in my low-powered Linux box. A fully fledged PC box with a mainstreeam graphic card should resolve that. Then most of the GUI can be handled using Opengl, which I hope will radically reduce OS dependencies.

Translating code between Powerbasic and Freebasic is a significant hurdle, but can, I believe be automated efficiently, if the programmes structures are kept as simple as possible. I am using a form of 'Pidgin Basic' in my own programs to make this easier.

Most of the changes required are trivial like using '!' before assembler instructions, but there are more subtle ones like GET and PUT with binary files, and not forgetting about the decoration of function names in DLLs.
A board on this subject would be helpful to anyone who needs to move between these two BASICs as well as  between MS and Linux.


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