Thursday, March 23, 2017

New ZunePaint in action

by on Thursday, March 23, 2017
ZunePaint is a fresh new image editing and 2D painting application from Yannick Erb. Due to its flexibility and size, we've decided to place it into both Icaros Desktop Live! and Light editions. Release after release, Yannick added many functions to his program, from gradient filling to text tool. The most recent one is the chance to copy a piece of an image, resize it on the fly with the mouse wheel or with a slider, and paste it wherever you like. I've made a little video starting Icaros Desktop hosted on a Linux virtual machine, showing some example operations on ZunePaint. Speed is considerable, but please remember it was running on a hosted environment, which was again running into a virtual machine (a para-emulated computer). Running it natively on real hardware would make it even faster. The video also shows MPlayer in action, still running on the same hosted+virtual environment, for reference. Not too bad, isn't it?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Support us on!

by on Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Icaros Desktop is now on Patreon! This means that if you really really like this distribution, and you would really really help us some way, but you haven't a clue about how to do that, you may at least help Icaros donating some money. You know that Icaros Desktop is, will be, and has always been free, but mantaining it is getting more and more difficult and time consuming. I am using my spare time (and this means "the time I am not spending at work") to do that, but I have to pay mortgage, bills and expenses which are raising every month, and the only way I know to get more money is... by working more (that is, sadly, why I almost stopped partecipating to bounties as well). But working more means less spare time, and less spare time means slower development for Icaros Desktop, and all related projects. Sad but true, I need to find a balance between working and development time, so helping me with my expenses will let me take more time for Icaros Desktop. The only community I know who may help is YOU. I've been considering to use some crowfunding platform for a while, but I didn't really like their classic "make a promise, get the money, disappoint people" routine. I'd prefer something which would allow you to just help generic Icaros development, and then let me manage my time and my efforts to get some real results. is exactly the kind of crowfunding platform I was looking for. It's the best way to make monthly payments and, the more the income, the faster/better I will be able to work on the distribution. I could also set some goals. Nothing prevents me to start working on the same subjects before reaching the sums I declared, but reaching those sums would be a great "I have to deliver" motivator to me.

Our page at,

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Let's use that third button!

by on Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Just a little update to the new default settings for Magellan which, incidentally, will also be the default GUI for Icaros Desktop 2.2. I've decided to listen to some very helpful hints from Neil Cafferkey and the AROS community, and applied these little changes:

- removed the help button, it won't be useful anymore
- relableded all buttons using minuscule (and not capital) lecters
- added the middle mouse button for some operations

In particular, the greatest change impacted the "toggle select" button. Pressing it with the left key will toggle selection, which means that files that were selected become unselected and vice-versa (it selects ALL files if none is selected, btw); the right key will drop selection (select none) and the middle button will let you select files using a pattern (this was, before, the function of the right button). But something changes also for the COPY button, which will work as usual when clicked with the left mouse button, but will "copy as" with the right button (copy and rename), and rename only with the middle button.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Details make the difference

by on Thursday, February 23, 2017
There's a little thing which made me angry every time I tested a new build of Icaros Desktop: for obvious reasons, the default layout setting for keyboard is US (which is the most common one, and makes sense, since the default language for the system is English). I generally open shells and enter some commands and, every time, I make mistakes with paths due to different position of characters like /, : and so on in the italian layout. So I thought to add also Input prefs program to the desktop, when booting from DVD:

just choose a keyboard layout before installation...

That was good: I could finally set the keyboard with ease when quick testing ISOs. But once I put that, I immediately needed to make another step. Why not using the selected layout by default, when installing Icaros? Detto, fatto!, as we say in Italy: Icaros Desktop will also keep your favourite keyboard layout after installation. After all, why should you choose a national keyboard layout just before installation, and then revert to the US/international one?
...and Icaros will keep it afterwards!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

How to edit images for Magellan buttons

by on Wednesday, February 15, 2017
When I started modifying Magellan's toolbar for Icaros Desktop 2.2, I stumbled upon a very puzzling issue: what program should have I used for that? I've never been into artistry making or picture editing back in my Amiga days, so I've never been accustomed to all those mythic applications like Deluxe Paint, Personal Paint or TV Paint (I am still including the latter in Icaros, though), because I started photo editing some years later on my office's Mac, with Photoshop. I've been using this, along with GIMP and other programs, on PC as well, for many many years now, and with very little surprise I found that most of them are totally unable to open Magellan's 256-colors IFF-ILBM icons. So I made the big mistake: doing on my own. Had I asked on Aros-Exec, I would have spared much, much time. Later I will explain why.

I needed some tool to convert IFF images into PNG ones, which are easier to accept in nowadays PC world. So I went for IrfanView's batch conversion and placed all Amikit's icons (which I still use under kind permission) into a cosy Windows 10 folder, and started editing them. They originally were 40x32 rectangles which I needed to make wider and lower, exactly 80x24. No problems for icon contents, since their images were placed in the exact middle of the original canvas, and they are 24 pixel tall, with 4 pixel of upper and lower border. For what I had in mind, I simply didn't need those horizontal borders, so I could easily cut them with Phostoshop's canvas resize option. With the text tool I added captions to the right and exported them back to PNG format.

Now, a new question arose: what should I have done, to bring 'em back to their original IFF nature? No PC program I knew was able to do that. IrfanView could read IFF but not save it. Photoshop and other less expensive editors neither. So I went for the Amiga route, loading PNG images in TV Paint and saving them in IFF. For some reason, however, images that were supposed to be indexed colors were treated as 24 bit ones, so the resulting buttons had very ugly and pointless dithering here and there, forcing me to pixel-edit every button a second time. In the end I got my button almost as like as I wanted them, but the results didn't catch me.

And I fixed the big mistake. I asked on Aros-Exec, where wawa pointed me to the right solution: use GrafX2. Directly under Icaros Desktop.

I opened back again my original PNG images with GrafX2, checked for their palette, saved them into IFF-ILBM files and used them straight into Magellan. So, in the end, if you ever need to edit old IFF images on Icaros, just use GrafX2 to do that. It's the best solution. Really.

Nothing is better than GrafX2 for jobs like this!

Some love for Zune

by on Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Works on Icaros Desktop 2.2 are still going on. Today I would like to thank Mathias Rustler and Neil Cafferkey. The former for accepting the little icons I drew for the Zune preference program and integrating them in AROS sources, the latter for backporting the app to ABIv0 and sending me the resulting binary. I have included it in Icaros Desktop and this is the result:

I agree they might not be the best example of pixel art, but they are still a considerable step beyond the ugly, red X icons which were placed instead of the missing ones. The new Zune app has still some little issue when starting, but we are investigating on them.