2013, An Excellent Year for the Pandora

2013

Pandoralive was born in March 2013, and since we have been following the news on the Pandora scene every single week, I thought I would do a quick summary of what occurred in 2013… at least, what was significant enough to mention. 2013 was an excellent year, software-wise, and we can only hope that 2014 will bring just as many surprises to the Pandora scene, before we move to the next machine now known as the DragonBox Pyra.

Here’s a quick review of what happened, month by month, after Pandoralive opened its doors. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, so if you feel that I missed anything significant, feel free to let me know in the comments.

January-February

apkenv

  • Skeezix releases Compo4All, which makes it possible for people to compete on arcade games by sharing high scores online. A Pandora exclusive.
  • Crow_riot ports apkenv for the Dragonbox coding competition, a compatibility layer enabling the direct support of a couple of Android games directly under Linux.
  • First release of Drastic, the Nintendo DS emulator, by Exophase, winning the Dragonbox coding competition. Only few games run full speed at this stage, but it’s still the fastest DS emulator around, making everything else look obsolete. The list of games playable on Pandora suddenly increased by a couple of thousands.
  • PtitSeb releases codeblocks, a development environment which changed how most people port games and software from then on.
  • PtitSeb also wins the first prize in the Application category of the Dragonbox competition with his first port of LibreOffice, something several people tried to port before without success. That damn port took 3 full days to compile on his Pandora!

March

libreoffice

  • Pandoralive.info is launched.
  • PtitSeb converted all of the Emu EX Plus Alpha emulators from Android to the Pandora. It brought even better compatibility and consistency to several machines that were not properly emulated before.
  • PtitSeb perfected his LibreOffice port to display graphs and graphics properly in documents. That made LibreOffice the perfect solution to view and edit office documents on the go.
  • Super Zaxxon 1.54 was released, providing a nice new feature: linking file extensions to PNDs.
  • Lunixbochs released his first experiments with his LibGL (a.k.a. Glshim) by porting Jumpman and Aquaria, paving the way for numerous ports of OpenGL games for Pandora.
  • PPSSPP, ported to Pandora, gets an alpha hack and a few PSP games start to get close to full speed, such as Lumines. It’s a promising start.

April

dunetitle

  • The latest Java PND is released. It has more libraries and feels faster as well.
  • PtitSeb ports Allegro 5.1 for Pandora, which leads to…
  • Dune Dynasty, the best Dune 2 reboot so far, released on Pandora.
  • Bitcoin and Litecoin clients make their way on the Pandora with their respective clients. Now you can do Bitcoin operations on the go. Or mining (while the Pandora is far from being powerful enough to do that nowadays)
  • BittorrentSync becomes available on Pandora, and acts as a viable Dropbox replacement.

May

130528-010110

  • Owncloud sync is ported for Pandora. The second alternative to Dropbox.
  • MarkW starts porting serious stuff on the Pandora with CASPack, followed by R. Fantastic work.
  • Super Hexagon works through apkenv on Pandora, and is later released as a commercial game on the repo with the author’s agreement.
  • Pmporg releases his first version of his very nice launcher for Compo4All games.
  • Sepulep ports TexLive on Pandora and MarkW releases Lyx just after. LaTeX support is on the rise.
  • Qupzilla is recompiled and becomes the fastest browser on Pandora, beating Arora which does not get any more updates.
  • Firefox 21 appears on Pandora (thanks to hdonk). It’s still slow, but feature-rich.

June

drastic

  • apkenv now supports Plants Vs Zombies – great news to play this excellent game on Pandora directly without booting Android.
  • PtitSeb releases his port of Freespace 1, followed by Freespace 2. This is the first time we get such spectacular 3D games on Pandora.
  • VVVVVV gets a commercial release on the repo, and many other commercial releases follow, such as Duke Nukem II, Mystic Towers, etc…
  • DraStic’s new version from Exophase makes most DS games run full speed. A huge achievement, both for older and newer models. See our review with some interesting comments from Exophase.
  • Firefox 22 is released. Hdonk, again, thanks a bunch. Let’s have a little thought for his newborn baby.
  • Later in the month PtitSeb releases his port of Jedi Knight II. A very impressive piece of software for a handheld device, a Pandora exclusive at the time of its release.
  • The Pandora is now officially distributed in Japan.

July

promoproto

  • PtitSeb wastes no time and releases Jedi Knight III and Open Arena. Gamers are struggling for free time.
  • Lunixbochs releases Stepmania, Octaspire Crates and Armagettron using his libGL recently developed to port GL games on Pandora. They all run very well and serve to show how his libGL can bring more games on Pandora.
  • Lunixbochs makes his libGL open source, paving the way for more ports by other people. A great initiative. PtitSeb does not wait too long and releases Critical Mass and Prototype in a matter of days. Prototype looks awesome. Stepmania became a reality as well. And there’s more…
  • The 1000 applications milestones in the repo is reached. It’s not really about the numbers, but overall the number of great applications is huge.
  • The Tor Router is ported for Pandora. Thanks Snowden?
  • The firmware Super Zaxxon 1.55 is released, and brings many fixes as well as additional TV-out settings.

August

rtcw

  • DraStic is updated with many compatibility fixes. Several games which crashes before now work flawlessly. Exophase is the new King of Emulation.
  • PtitSeb releases IOQuake3, Return to Castle Wolfenstein, Enemy Territory: Legacy and World of Padman ! All Quake3 engines games, all of them running very well on Pandora (at least on 1Ghz model).
  • Two applications to transform the Pandora into a HID device come out at the same time: Master Control (from Crionic) and PURE (from Liboicl). With those you can plug your Pandora with a USB cable (or wirelessly via Bluetooth) on your PC and use it a controller for PC games. It’s still work in progress, but the concept is exciting. As Liboicl returns to school and lacks time to work on it at this stage, he releases PURE as open-source to the community. Another great gesture.
  • After more than one year of silence, PNDManager gets a major update (Thanks to B-Zar and many others who contributed) and is better, faster than ever.
  • While it’s still under heavy development, Lunixbochs released his first port of Wine/Qemu in order to run Windows x86 or Linux x86 games on Pandora, and tried to make them work with LibGL as well. The first videos show great results on a couple of games, and we starve for more.
  • PtitSeb ports the LOVE engine from StabYourself.com, and releases at once Not Pacman during the Gamescom event in Germany. Check out his piece about the Gamescom trip if you missed it!

September

wearemozilla

  • PtitSeb celebrates his first year working on the Pandora and releases a new version of CodeBlocks (more than 1Gb in size!), the compilation environment which has enabled much of his ports in the past year.
  • Hdonk wastes no time and shares his new port of Firefox 23.
  • Picodrive gets a welcome update to support CD games for 32X hardware.

October

promo

  • PtitSeb releases more LOVE engine games with Not Tetris and the excellent Mari0.
  • Hdonk finds time to update Firefox to version 24.
  • Bsp shares with everyone how to use the Pandora DSP, unveiling some interesting hardware capabilities that may be used for future applications. It’s been a couple of months so far and we are yet to see how it will be used.
  • Wb prepared a nice Pandora Image Viewer application specifically made for the Pandora which is faster than all other viewers out there, and uses Pandora physical controls.
  • Sepulep releases The Tube, an application to browse and play Youtube videos outside of the browser. Finally, an excellent way to view Youtube videos on Pandora.
  • PPSSPP‘s latest release makes a good number of PSP games playable.

November

greypandora

  • PtitSeb releases his port of Arx Libertatis, a remake of the Arx Fatalis engine. Very impressive while it sometimes slows down a little in certain areas.
  • The excellent UAE4All gets a fresh update from TomB, with many fixes and new emulation features.
  • Evil Dragon announces that the 1Ghz model will be phasing out after another 500 units (because of missing parts) and talks about the upcoming successor. Many details of its upcoming design are revealed, while the SOC remains a question mark at this stage, while there are strong suspicions that it may be an OMAP5 from TI.

December

dream

  • The Alive and Kicking Coding Competition is kicked off and runs until February 15th, 2014. 4 categories are proposed: New Pandora Use, Significant Improvement of Existing Application, New Original Game, New Ported Game. Many entries have already been announced by the end of December. There’s still time to participate if you have not registered yet!
  • It seems like the name of the Pandora’s successor is going to be the DragonBox Pyra. No formal date set for release, but you shouldn’t expect anything before 2015. Get a Pandora in the meantime if you don’t have one!
  • No Firefox 25 on Pandora as hdonk directly releases Firefox 26. This is the first time that Firefox runs so well on Pandora, thanks to the memory improvements made by Mozilla in this 26th edition.
  • A couple of days before Christmas, Reicast, a new Dreamcast emulator, is released for Pandora (and other platforms). The Pandora hardware is a little too slow to run lots of games full speed, but the potential is huge, and as the source code is released, improvements are on the way. We’ll see what comes out of it in 2014.
  • Right after the release of Reicast, notaz releases a new installer for newer GPU drivers which Reicast may benefit from.
  • Streak is back with a very impressive PIM solution for Pandora (To-do list, calendar, etc…), something that was clearly missing so far.
  • The firmware Super Zaxxon 1.60 is released, with great features such as recent Python 2.7 support, bsp’s DSP tools, TV-out fixes, more timezones, and much more… a great release to finish the year.

Overall, there has been a lot of progress to make porting games easier (codeblocks, glshim), huge advances on the emulation front (Drastic with many games running full speed, PPSSPP making a bunch of PSP games playable, Reicast’s first release), excellent software made specifically for the Pandora (PIV, Nub Nub, Ultimate PIM, Aquaventure, and many more…) , many newcomers to the Pandora scene, better drivers (especially for the 1Ghz model), some discoveries (bsp’s DSP tools), several OS ported (Slackware updated, Pandian, Bodhi Linux, and more…), and a bright future announced (the DragonBox Pyra).

I’m still using my Pandora on a daily basis and now I can’t picture my life without it.

And apparently, I’m not the only one.

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