Notes about upcoming ORx and Lighthouse releases


#1

I’ve mentioned a few times now but we’re nearing a releae of a completely new software concept, and with it some changes to the way hardware behaves, as well as how files are downloaded. I would like to share a few things that are already set in stone as a heads-up for the upcoming release.

Changes to the way content is broadcast

In the previous releases, we differentiated between ‘content’ and ‘files’. Even some of our staff did not quite understand the distinction. We have decided to abandon this distinction and all files would be broadcast as files. This has a big impact on the way interface works.

Most importantly, there will no longer be an “Updates” page, and no longer any need to specifically “import” content into the ‘Library’ (either manually or automatically). Library will be generated as files come in using special metadata files.

Because of this change, most of the the current content will be rebroadcast using a completely different structure and your entire existing library will become obsolete. We believe that this move will accelerate packaging of new content and provide more compatibility with users that may not want to use the management UI (Librarian), and that the net result will be positive. (Also see next section for more consequences of this move.)

Change in external how storage is used

Previously, internal databases and configuration files were all stored on external storage. While this had some advantages (e.g., user being able to copy the database files to their own computer as a backup), we are currently working towards support for more than one external storage device. Because of this, we have decided to no longer store databases and settings on external storage, but always keep these on internal storage.

In the upcoming release, when using the external storage, which was previously used with an older release, the databases are not kept, and manual intervention may be necessary in order for the old content to be imported. We will update you on whether this would be necessary and what exactly you should do, when we finish the design of the import feature. Importing from internal storage should be completely automatic.

Unified hotplug behavior between ORx and Lighthouse

Until now, ORx and Lighthouse had different hotplug behaviors for external storage. Lighthouse had to be botted with external storage plugged in in order to recognize and use it. Furthermore, it did not copy any content from the internal storage to external one. This is now completely unified between the two platforms such that both support hotplugging and both copy existing data to external storage.

Support for more filesystems in external storage

We will introduce partial support for NTFS (does not perform disk integrity check before use), and full support for ext4 and FAT32 filesystems (including integrity check before use).

More informative display of storage status

The settings panel will be more informative when it comes to storage. It will be able to tell you whether the storage being used is removable or internal, the exact capacity of the storage device and space being used (previously it only showed space being used as files explicitly considered ‘content’).

Filemanager becomes the default interface

The old library view is still available, but the filemanager will become the default view. The filemanager has been reworked to support features necessary for better content presentation, and gained an ability to open certain types of files in a specialized interface (e.g., video player, HTML reader).

NOTE: the screenshot shows random contetn from my development machine. (And “NSFW” folder is just a prank.)

No more apps

Well, no more old apps. The old apps API was abandoned enternally in favor of Librarian’s components API. This means that more complex apps can be written. Downside, though, is that apps cannot be broadcast like before, but we do have a solution for that in the long run. Twitter app will be bundled with the images, though.

Missing features in the file manager

Because we could not port all features of the file manager in a single release, it will be missing some of the features it currently has. Namely, users will not have the ability to rename and delete files. These features will come back in the release after.

Raspberry Pi 2 support

Yeah, you read that right. After many broken promises, we finally made a breakthrough on this front. The next ORx release will have full support for RPi2.

Lost in translation

Because of a major overhaul of the user interface, many translations would be even less complete than they were, so many of them would need to be completely dropped from the interface until they reach an acceptable level of completion again.

Testdrive

If you wish to check out the new interface, feel free to poke at it here:

https://librarian-staging.outernet.is/en/files/

For security reasons, settings panel will not be accessible.


#2

Branko, are you planning on having the upcoming ORx and Lighthouse releases automatically load onto the Pis and Lighthouses, or will they be manual updates we make to the micro SD chips? Ken


#3

For Ligthhouses, update will be automatic. For Pi, it will require creation of a new card. I neglected to mention that new ORxPi will have its first partition increased to 80MB (from previous 40MB) to accomodate the larger kernel image and some buffer for future upgrades.