[Oberon] Android

jwr at robrts.net jwr at robrts.net
Wed Mar 7 05:51:24 CET 2018

Peter Matthias wrote on 28 Jan:
Android uses Linux Kernel. OLR/ARM Linux runs, but is not compatible
with Android runtime system. E.g. Android updates the framebuffer
frequently so that OLR output on the framebuffer is overwritten.

I don't know how Android works with a framebuffer, but this reminds me  
of requirements I once learned for writing software for the Macintosh.  
After the MacOS overwrote portions of an application's window with a  
dialog box or menu, it sent an event to the app with the window handle  
and coordinates of the rectangle the app needed to redraw.  It was the  
app's responsibility to redraw what used to be there.
Does Android send a message to the running application(s) notifying  
that a portion of the screen needs to be redrawn?  Does OLR on Android  
need to write to a (persistent) off-screen bitmap, and then (re)copy  
it to the framebuffer when notified?  It seems odd to me that use of  
the framebuffer on Android should differ from use of the framebuffer  
on "normal" Linux; why was this not a problem before?

Lyall Easthope wrote on 26 Jan:
Oberon or A2 on Android should be possible.  Appealing, but is it  
worth the trouble?  Pessimism not intended.

On the one hand, I don't see Oberon being particularly functional on a  
touchscreen smartphone or tablet, unless you also use an external  
mouse and keyboard.  And in that case, why not just use a netbook or  
small laptop instead?  I don't see a particular useful purpose (use  
case/application) for Oberon on a phone or tablet, that is materially  
different than on a small laptop.  But just because my imagination is  
limited doesn't mean Oberon on a phone or tablet isn't particularly  
useful to some people for some purpose.
On the other hand, it's easy enough to carry along a mouse and tiny  
keyboard, and many people carry their phone and/or tablet everywhere.   
So I think it IS useful to figure out how to run OLR on Android  
effectively, as an enabler for anyone who does have something useful  
to do with Oberon on such a device. I specifically say OLR, because  
especially for smartphones, I don't think it makes sense to run Oberon  
or A2 as the host OS: you would want to preserve phone and email and  
other native capabilities of the smartphone, and run Oberon  
essentially as a guest application which you can switch to (and then  
off of to other apps) as desired.

-- John Roberts

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