Monday, 27 August 2012

Hello, is it me you're looking for?

Elegant simplicity. Those were the days *sniff*.
(Atari 800XL emulated with Atari 800 Win PLus)
It never ceases to amaze me how satisfying "Hello world!" can be.

It seems so trivial now, but way back in the proverbial day the shortest BASIC program felt like a triumph.

Nearly 30 years on, the language may have changed but it's still satisfying proof that you can get something to work. In this instance it took seconds to write some C++, a couple of hours spread over half a week to work out how to cross-compile from Ubuntu to Rasbian. The relief at finally seeing those immortal words was immeasurable. Could be worse I suppose - it took researchers two years to write the first non-trivial program in Malbolge.

Virtual machine, Makefile, C++, compile, SFTP, SSH session,
and it's done. This is progress, people! Or horses for
courses, you decide.
To cut a long story short, the ARM cross-compile toolchain in the Ubuntu repos is set up for ARMv7 onwards whereas the Raspberry Pi has an ARMv6. With just a few parameters in the makefile you can tell it to compile for ARMv6 with hard float, but you also need to get hold of some ARMv6 static libraries - I just copied them over from the RPi. There's a toolchain on the Raspberry Pi repository on github which already has the correct parameters and libaries, but it's 32-bit so I had to install some 32-bit libraries to get it to run on my 64-bit Ubuntu virtual machine (libc6-i386 and lib32z1 if you're asking). It worked on 32-bit Ubuntu with no fiddling at all, but it took me a week's worth of evenings to figure that out.

This is all well and good when I'm only using the most basic libraries which come with the toolchain, but to do more interesting stuff I'll be needing more libraries. I still don't think I've found the ideal solution to this: at the moment I'm rsyncing the Raspbian libraries over from the Raspberry Pi. Compiling libraries from source seems a bit of a wasted effort. I wonder if I can set up APT to get the Raspbian libraries directly from the repo?

I've managed to get the core part of my OpenGL screensaver working on the Raspberry Pi now. It's incredibly slow, and I think that's because I'm using the OpenGL libraries which aren't supported by the GPU, so it's using the Mesa software drivers instead. To use the GPU I'm going to need to switch to Open GL ES and EGL, and that's a whole new can of worms but it's ultimately what I wanted to do anyway.

So it's been a bit of a frustrating fortnight, I've broken my update-a-week guideline, and spent too much time floundering around trying to understand the infrastructure with too little tangible progress. Having said that, floundering around for a while is fine so long as something is learnt in the process, and I think I've learnt a lot more about the GNU C++ toolchain, in particular the linker. Hopefully I'll start getting my head round OpenGL ES soon, I think it's mostly the same as regular OpenGL and it's just a matter of appreciating the differences.