VOGONS


First post, by marcus-magister

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I am new to the community, but you have been a valuable source of information in the past.

So now I want to share something that I hope will be useful for all those who want to organize their programs and games even on real hardware.

RLoader is a native MS-DOS launcher designed to be compatible also with 8086 CPUs released as opensource under the MIT license. You can find all the features, release packages, installation and configuration instructions on https://github.com/marco-sacchi/RLoader.

I thank those who want to give this utility a chance.

Advice and improvements will always be welcome.

Interested in music, graphics, programming and electronics.
Nostalgic MS-DOS developer using 16 and 32-bit compilers like Borland, Watcom and Djgpp.

Reply 1 of 20, by keropi

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wow this looks very nice! and with text mode + low system reqs 😀
thanks for sharing this!

🎵 🎧 PCMIDI MPU , Orpheus , Action Rewind , Megacard and MK8330 soundcard website

Reply 2 of 20, by Caluser2000

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Good on you.

There's a glitch in the matrix.
A founding member of the 286 appreciation society.
Apparently 32-bit is dead and nobody likes P4s.
Of course, as always, I'm open to correction...😉

Reply 3 of 20, by Jo22

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@marcus-magister Thank you very much! It looks very nice and clean, I think.
Better than what some of the shareware CD-ROMs of the 90s used.
I also like the optional preview (screen-shots) on the right side. 👍

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

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Reply 4 of 20, by marcus-magister

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Thank you all guys!

I'm working on detecting the adjustment of cycles (when in DOSBox) to update the list entry accordingly, and I'm extending the text-mode UI to allow editing of the list entries from within RLoader to simplify maintenance.

Interested in music, graphics, programming and electronics.
Nostalgic MS-DOS developer using 16 and 32-bit compilers like Borland, Watcom and Djgpp.

Reply 5 of 20, by ntalaec

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Great program! Thanks for sharing.
Could I ask for a few suggestions?

It's possible to load and show both the info and the screenshot from the game when selected? The screenshot could be on top and the information on bottom, for example.

If I press F2 to change to in-game screenshot and I select another game, it returns to title screenshot by default. It's possible to change this? Or by default select in-game screenshot instead of title?

Reply 7 of 20, by marcus-magister

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ntalaec wrote on 2021-06-13, 19:35:

Great program! Thanks for sharing.
Could I ask for a few suggestions?

Thank you @ntalaec !
Yes, anyone can suggest features that are not present or that can improve the usability of RLoader.

ntalaec wrote on 2021-06-13, 19:35:

It's possible to load and show both the info and the screenshot from the game when selected? The screenshot could be on top and the information on bottom, for example.

You can view the info of the selected item by typing F3.

The proposal is certainly valid, but I have to think about how to implement it so that it is usable in both UI that RLoader has. The goal is to keep the same functionality for both the graphical and text-mode UI as much as possible.

Maybe I can move the screenshot display to the top right corner and show the info in a scrolled frame to the bottom right for the graphical UI, while for the text-mode interface I could replace the logo on the right with a full-height frame with scrolling.

ntalaec wrote on 2021-06-13, 19:35:

If I press F2 to change to in-game screenshot and I select another game, it returns to title screenshot by default. It's possible to change this? Or by default select in-game screenshot instead of title?

This is a doubt that I have had since the beginning of the implementation, I believe that the best behavior is to preserve the display preference made by the user (between title and in-game screenshots) while scrolling the list.

Hezus wrote on 2021-06-14, 07:03:

Looks very cool! What does the R stand for in Rloader?

It is simply an abbreviation for Re-Loader, because, after running the game / application, RLoader is automatically launched again, and another game will be loaded.

Interested in music, graphics, programming and electronics.
Nostalgic MS-DOS developer using 16 and 32-bit compilers like Borland, Watcom and Djgpp.

Reply 8 of 20, by cyberluke

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Perfect! Just what I am looking for! Screenshots, even search! And works on 386, 486. Plus I can extend it and help on Github! Bravo!! EDIT: buggy and not working, opened github issue.

Reply 9 of 20, by marcus-magister

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cyberluke wrote on 2021-07-05, 09:55:

Perfect! Just what I am looking for! Screenshots, even search! And works on 386, 486. Plus I can extend it and help on Github! Bravo!! EDIT: buggy and not working, opened github issue.

Please at least update your posts or include the link to the github issue so that other users can understand what the problem is, as the malfunction was due to incorrect encoding of your thumbnail bitmaps.

RLoader works perfectly in the three environments that I use as a test: the development VM, DOSBox ECE r4444 and vanilla DOSBox 0.74-3.

Thank you.

Interested in music, graphics, programming and electronics.
Nostalgic MS-DOS developer using 16 and 32-bit compilers like Borland, Watcom and Djgpp.

Reply 10 of 20, by marcus-magister

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A new release (1.0.1) of RLoader is available here https://github.com/marco-sacchi/RLoader/releases/tag/v1.0.1.
Please see the changelog.md for details about implemented features.

ntalaec wrote on 2021-06-13, 19:35:

Great program! Thanks for sharing.
If I press F2 to change to in-game screenshot and I select another game, it returns to title screenshot by default. It's possible to change this? Or by default select in-game screenshot instead of title?

Hi @ntalec, now RLoader preserve the user preference on what thumbnail is displayed (title or in_progs), both when scrolling the list and when you launch a program and back to RLoader. Now also remember the launched item so when you return to RLoader you will be in the same place of the list.

The simultaneous display of information and thumbnail is tracked on github and will be implemented after I have solved the problem for which the resident part of RLoader uses too much memory. This is not blocking for DOSBox in most cases, but it can become a problem if RLoader is running in a VM or on a real system.

You can visit the first post link to see what I'm working on.

Interested in music, graphics, programming and electronics.
Nostalgic MS-DOS developer using 16 and 32-bit compilers like Borland, Watcom and Djgpp.

Reply 11 of 20, by marcus-magister

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Hi guys, I have released a new version of RLoader (https://github.com/marco-sacchi/RLoader/releases/tag/v1.0.2).

There are no major changes, but I have completely rewritten the source that generates rloader.exe in assembly, in order to significantly reduce its size (from 11Kb to 1Kb) and to release all the unused memory, leaving as much as possible for programs that are launched (before an entire segment was occupied - 64Kb).

The reduction in size also makes it easier to load rloader.exe into upper memory, gaining additional conventional memory.

Now that RLoader has become usable in real use cases and on real hardware, I will be able to go back to developing the features you requested.

Interested in music, graphics, programming and electronics.
Nostalgic MS-DOS developer using 16 and 32-bit compilers like Borland, Watcom and Djgpp.

Reply 12 of 20, by cyberluke

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Perfect, thank you! You always need someone to test it on real DOS (MS-DOS or FreeDOS) as we discovered the bug with 64kb allocation memory and it was not useable to actually run almost any games 😀

Reply 15 of 20, by marcus-magister

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@trunk70 thank you, keep me updated, I can't actually test on real hardware.

@ntalaec sorry for the delay on reply.

Yes, the project is alive and I'm developing a better UI that allow the maintenance of the game list from inside RLoader. But is a big step respect to the actual UI and takes time to debug and test for both text and graphics modes.

I've been very busy at work for the past months. I'll do the best to release at least a beta as soon as possible and I'll keep you updated.

I will post screenshots of the work in progress if you like to give me some feedback.

Interested in music, graphics, programming and electronics.
Nostalgic MS-DOS developer using 16 and 32-bit compilers like Borland, Watcom and Djgpp.

Reply 17 of 20, by marcus-magister

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Hi guys, I decided to turn on GitHub Discussions to have everything handy in the same place.

Here you will find screenshots of the new user interface and you can leave a feedback or ideas if you like (unfortunately a GitHub account seems to be required to comment).

Interested in music, graphics, programming and electronics.
Nostalgic MS-DOS developer using 16 and 32-bit compilers like Borland, Watcom and Djgpp.

Reply 19 of 20, by Asaki

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marcus-magister wrote on 2022-03-23, 20:20:

Yes, the project is alive and I'm developing a better UI that allow the maintenance of the game list from inside RLoader. But is a big step respect to the actual UI and takes time to debug and test for both text and graphics modes.

Any chance for a 320x200 graphic mode? (mode 13h?)