My TI-Nspire, one of the earliest production model of the blue Clickpad TI-Nspire is getting old… Mid-2007 I started to work with Romain Liévin on the reverse engineering of the USB protocol that made the TI-calc linking program TiLP able to talk to the TI-Nspire.
As Jim Bauwens sends me a TI-Nspire CX CAS that will make testing on real hardware easier for me, I want to thank you, from Switzerland to Mexico for your contributions, including Benoît Garrone, Mark Mäkinen, Rodrigo Carrillo, Sebastian Wolf and Marcel Maeder.
In case you missed it, tangrs has been working hard for the past few months to get Linux ported to the TI-Nspire calculator.
The port is not yet fully stabilized nor quite ready for broad consumption and requires some user-level knowledge of Linux systems, but is definitely worth a try. It basically looks like a Ndless-based TI-Nspire specific loader configured to run a Linux kernel image with a RAM disk .
Experimental support for root filesystem installed on USB mass storage is being worked on, so that Datalight’s proprietary Flash FX/Reliance filesystem used by TI’s OS isn’t a limit anymore. This also means that the native TI-Nspire OS image is not replaced by the Linux system, and Linux can been booted on demand.
Support for USB keyboard, X server, directFB, Wi-Fi (with the help of a powered USB hub) and text-based Internet browsing is progressively being added and tested (thanks to Vogtinator for the build and demo).
Linux for the TI-Nspire also means instant compatibility with hundreds programs (although cross-compilation to ARM is necessary), including command line tools, script engines, mathematical and scientific utilities and games, as long as the constrained RAM size and CPU speed are not an issue for them.
The project is under active development, tangrs is looking for contributors to make Linux become a strong alternative to the stock OS.
Long was the time when Ndless introduced rudimentary graphics functions such as setPixel() in its Particles demo… The lack of a fully-fledged GUI API has for a long time discouraged many developers from trying their hands on native development on the TI-Nspire.
Two major contributions are about to make significant changes on our development experience with Ndless:
- totorigolo has released v0.3 of his nRGBlib library, which adds double-buffering, arbitrary image drawing and a desktop map editor [download]
- hoffa has worked hard on nSDL [topic on Omnimaga], a port of the popular multimedia SDL library. The latest version even includes smooth mouse support. Credits to atiatini for the plasma effect.
No more excuse not to try out native development on the TI-Nspire!
critor has worked on the original port of nDOOM by Mraklopaz to adapt it for TI-Nspire CX and its nice color screen (credits to Adriweb for the demo).
Ndless 3 will of course be required to run it. There are still some issues to be fixed before the (unplanned) release of Ndless.
As Lionel Debroux points out, native programs are currently mainly games and emulators, because being quite independent of the underlying OS. I hope to see soon a broader choice of programs, such as utilities and science programs, thanks to the possible bridge with the Lua features of OS 3.x. It would hopefully allow to write native Lua extensions, and embed Lua scripts in Ndless programs.
Credits: Adriweb for the picture, Goplat for the updated NESpire.