Linked by Michael Reed on Thu 7th Dec 2006 12:07 UTC
RISC OS In common with a lot of people who used to use RISCOS, I don't use it now and that is the focus of this article: Why don't I use it any more and what would it take to make me use it again? Of course, an article of this sort still has worth as there is bound to be some degree of correlation between my feelings, experiences and hopes in relation to the platform and those other people.
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RE
by Kroc on Thu 7th Dec 2006 12:29 UTC
Kroc
Member since:
2005-11-10

I have said before that RISC OS has found itself colliding with modern requirements, causing a lot of comparison with Windows and other operating systems. I believe that this kind of comparision is a detriment to the platform. RISC OS isn't Windows or Linux or OS X, it shouldn't try to be those things. Once you start trying to be Windows, you will fall short and feel that things are indaequate.

I don't think that RISC OS is inadequate. It's a very nice Operating System, good for emebedded spaces and very low power consumption / cooling. It runs on ARM chips, available in many PDAs. I feel that if RISC OS tries to be Windows, it will die or stay in a perpetual state of inadequancy (Amiga). RISC OS should instead be focusing on doing what it does best, Castle and ROS could be making mintage off of expensive embedded computer contracts in the industrial manufacturing industry.

edit:
PS. Good article, the author is honest but humble in his opinion. Windows/Mac/Linux users could learn something here. The author should have linked to the specific RISC OS browsers though, instead of bypassing them for Firefox. For example, this article on Drobe, compares and contrasts the main browsers for RISC OS: http://www.drobe.co.uk/riscos/artifact1297.html

Edited 2006-12-07 12:48

Reply Score: 4

ARX and other thoughts
by steve_s on Thu 7th Dec 2006 12:59 UTC
steve_s
Member since:
2006-01-16

To me the biggest problem with RISC OS as a modern platform is its fragility. The lack of pre-emptive multi-tasking and decent memory protection are big problems. These problems IMHO limit its usefulness as an embedded or PDA OS.

Indeed IMHO RISC OS is probably a worse starting point for a PDA OS than Linux. The GUI is not at all suited to pen-based working, so it would need to be replaced. (PDA pens don't have buttons, so what do you do for menus?) What that leaves you with that is of use is the kernel, Filer, Font Manager, and Draw Module. Whilst the Font Manager used to kick arse, it's now looking quite dated, and the Draw Module was always lacking.

What's sad is that Acorn were developing another OS for the Archimedes. It was called ARX, and was being developed at the Acorn Palo Alto Research Centre. It was to be a modern OS, with memory protection and pre-emptive multi-tasking like Unix, with a GUI similar to Mac OS - the guys working on it were experts in OS design. Unfortunately the project was poorly managed (as most Acorn projects were). Management decided to kill the project because the predicted finish date was long after the launch date for the Archimedes - Arthur was thrown together in a hurry, and the rest is history.

For those that don't know, Arthur was essentially developed by a bunch of BBC Micro games developers who had little experience in OS design. I believe that none of the folks that had been working on ARX worked on Arthur. It was designed to be compatible (to an extent) with the earlier BBC Micro OS - much of the early software on Archimedes machines was ports of BBC Micro apps. It was never really designed to be a serious OS.

IMHO what Acorn should have done was get in some decent management for the ARX project. Had they done that they'd have ended up with a serious computer system and things may have turned out differently. They could potentially have competed in the spaces that Unix and Mac OS were dominating. Unfortunately Arthur meant they were only suited to the education and hobbyist market.

Reply Score: 4

RE: ARX and other thoughts
by Kroc on Thu 7th Dec 2006 13:24 UTC in reply to "ARX and other thoughts"
Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

Many technologies are destined to be a footnote. Even PC/GEOS released in 1989 had full pre emptive multi tasking and beat the pants off of Windows, yet still failed. If Acorn hadn't had such good education deals (in part thanks to Auntie and the previous BBC Micro), it might not have even got anywhere to begin with.

edit:
I dislike the fact I'm automatically being rated at 2, it seems very haughty. I can troll with the best of them sometimes and feel that I should earn a high rank each and every time.

Edited 2006-12-07 13:26

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: ARX and other thoughts
by sbenitezb on Thu 7th Dec 2006 14:15 UTC in reply to "RE: ARX and other thoughts"
sbenitezb Member since:
2005-07-22

"I dislike the fact I'm automatically being rated at 2, it seems very haughty. I can troll with the best of them sometimes and feel that I should earn a high rank each and every time"

But you aren't trolling ;)

Edited 2006-12-07 14:15

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: ARX and other thoughts
by Kroc on Thu 7th Dec 2006 14:29 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: ARX and other thoughts"
Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

Linux is losing market share! Apple Users are homos! Windows XP crashes all the time! MSWord is a standard! Amiga users are in denial! OSnews is biased towards Apple/Ubunutu/Microsoft! Vista is just XP-SP3/a new skin! Ubuntu runs fine on 128MB! Firefox leaks memory! Novell are the new Microsoft! It's not open source, I'm not interested! EVERYTHING must be GPL!

Will that do? :3

Reply Score: 5

RE[4]: ARX and other thoughts
by DeadFishMan on Thu 7th Dec 2006 14:46 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: ARX and other thoughts"
DeadFishMan Member since:
2006-01-09

LOL. Now let´s see how long you´re going to get such high rankings from now on.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: ARX and other thoughts
by twenex on Thu 7th Dec 2006 14:55 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: ARX and other thoughts"
twenex Member since:
2006-04-21

You forgot the part! where Linux has less than 0.000001% of server sales! And is declining! because it is written by malodorous commie twentysomethings! in their parents' basements!

YEAR AFTER YEAR AFTER YEAR!

Reply Score: 0

RE[5]: ARX and other thoughts
by Kroc on Thu 7th Dec 2006 15:01 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: ARX and other thoughts"
Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

The only thing year after year after year around here is the year of the linux desktop! :3

Reply Score: 5

RE[6]: ARX and other thoughts
by twenex on Thu 7th Dec 2006 15:04 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: ARX and other thoughts"
twenex Member since:
2006-04-21

Buddy, we're fast approaching the tenth anniversary of the Year of My Linux Desktop.

As for that other OS, or any other, it won't be the Year of My Other OS Desktop until I can get decent hardware support, stability, decent software support, and DRM-, bloat- and FUD-less operation, all in the same package. Open source would be nice, too.

Reply Score: 2

RE[7]: ARX and other thoughts
by tomcat on Thu 7th Dec 2006 17:15 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: ARX and other thoughts"
tomcat Member since:
2006-01-06

Yeah, open source would be great. My grandmother can't wait to compile the latest kernel...

Reply Score: 0

RE[4]: ARX and other thoughts
by sbenitezb on Thu 7th Dec 2006 18:52 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: ARX and other thoughts"
sbenitezb Member since:
2005-07-22

Mmm... I agree, all Apple users are homos ;)

Reply Score: 3

kamil_chatrnuch Member since:
2005-07-07

we say "gays", thesedays... ;o)

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: ARX and other thoughts
by raver31 on Thu 7th Dec 2006 23:17 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: ARX and other thoughts"
raver31 Member since:
2005-07-06

gay ? as in "happy" that they do not use Windows (tm) ?

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: ARX and other thoughts
by macisaac on Thu 7th Dec 2006 22:27 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: ARX and other thoughts"
macisaac Member since:
2005-08-28

you neglected to accuse all Linux users of being raving fanatical members of the "cult".

notparker, you can keep quiet now, I said it for you.

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: ARX and other thoughts
by twenex on Fri 8th Dec 2006 11:19 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: ARX and other thoughts"
twenex Member since:
2006-04-21

The meme is spreading! (Like an oil-slick)

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: ARX and other thoughts
by sbergman27 on Fri 8th Dec 2006 00:11 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: ARX and other thoughts"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

>>> Will that do?

How could you leave out "BSD Is Dying"?

I mean, come on. You don't have to be a Kreskin; The handwriting is on the wall. ;-)

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: ARX and other thoughts
by sbergman27 on Fri 8th Dec 2006 00:18 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: ARX and other thoughts"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

>>> Will that do?

How could you leave out "BSD Is Dying"?

I mean, come on. You don't have to be a Kreskin; The handwriting is on the wall. ;-)

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: ARX and other thoughts
by twenex on Thu 7th Dec 2006 18:54 UTC in reply to "RE: ARX and other thoughts"
twenex Member since:
2006-04-21

I dislike the fact I'm automatically being rated at 2, it seems very haughty. I can troll with the best of them sometimes and feel that I should earn a high rank each and every time.

I agree. A think a far better method of giving preference to some users would be to automatically hide the comments of users whose comment scores are below a certain threshold, say 0.90. Then those who want to be showered in drivel can do so without bothering the rest of us! ;-)

Reply Score: 0

RE[3]: ARX and other thoughts
by twenex on Thu 7th Dec 2006 19:18 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: ARX and other thoughts"
twenex Member since:
2006-04-21

Modded down, eh?

Sounds like the Ballmy army (pun intended) are out in force again.

Reply Score: 2

RE: ARX and other thoughts
by rhyder on Fri 8th Dec 2006 00:25 UTC in reply to "ARX and other thoughts"
rhyder Member since:
2005-09-28

Perhaps Acorn could have kept developing RISCOS at a pace equivalent to their initial efforts. I'm not expert enough to make any authoritive determination on the matter but I wonder if pre-emptive multi-tasking could be /added/ to a co-op system. Surely the existing apps would still be fed their expected message sequence?

I sometimes wonder if there is some clever business rule that I don't understand that states: Develop an absolutely massive lead and then stop improving your tech. Amiga, OS/2, 3DFX, Altavista spring to mind.

Mike

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: ARX and other thoughts
by steve_s on Fri 8th Dec 2006 10:00 UTC in reply to "RE: ARX and other thoughts"
steve_s Member since:
2006-01-16

Acorn were busy working on their Galileo OS when they folded. The plan for RISC OS was to replace the kernel with the new Galileo kernel, which would have supported pre-emptive multi-tasking and memory protection.

I can see no reason why this wouldn't have worked and maintained application compatibility. The way that RISC OS apps work is by running in a loop continuously asking the windowing system what's happening, and it's at this point that the windowing system gives control to other applications before responding. A pre-emptive aware version of the RISC OS windowing system potentially wouldn't need to give control over to other applications.

Unfortunately a project like Galileo is a major undertaking - almost certainly beyond the abilities of Castle or RISC OS Ltd, even if they put their differences aside and worked on it together.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: ARX and other thoughts
by twenex on Fri 8th Dec 2006 11:20 UTC in reply to "RE: ARX and other thoughts"
twenex Member since:
2006-04-21

I sometimes wonder if there is some clever business rule that I don't understand that states: Develop an absolutely massive lead and then stop improving your tech. Amiga, OS/2, 3DFX, Altavista spring to mind.

Yes, it's called the "Proprietary *Ware Method"

Reply Score: 1

Is it just me...
by twenex on Thu 7th Dec 2006 15:01 UTC
twenex
Member since:
2006-04-21

I would welcome an article that DID provide an opinion on some ways in which RiscOS could be improved to "drag ex-users back", but is it just me, or is the part where the author claims to write about that, just about shared-sourcing (which could be otherwise described as "look-but-don't-touch") the OS?

Never mind the fact I don't think shared source is going to get anyone anywhere (the power of open-source comes from the fact that anyone competent to modify it can do so) - even if I thought shared sourcing were viable, not even open-sourcing is a magical formula. Torvalds, Cox et al can program till the cows come home, but if Linux had no momentum then people like HP wouldn't be moving to support Debian.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Is it just me...
by steve_s on Thu 7th Dec 2006 15:34 UTC in reply to "Is it just me..."
steve_s Member since:
2006-01-16

No, it's not just you, there's very little in the article that seems to relate to its title.

Shared source for RISC OS seems to me to be too little, too late. It's also currently fiction, since there's no source published.

I'm not really convinced that anything can be done for RISC OS to bring back users. There's several reasons for this...

1) RISC OS is closely tied to a single processor ARM architecture, which inherently restricts its speed, since there are no 3GHz ARM chips. Performance will therefore never be competitive without major re-writes of most of the OS.
2) The hardware cost, as a minority platform, also makes things prohibitive. Hardware price will therefore never be even remotely competitive.
3) Porting to a different platform is impractical (at best) owing to a reliance on ARM code. You'd either need ARM emulation integrated into the kernel, or you'd loose compatibility.
4) Running under emulation also isn't practical as a means of survival - you'll inevitably gradually lose users to the host OS.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Is it just me...
by rhyder on Fri 8th Dec 2006 00:18 UTC in reply to "RE: Is it just me..."
rhyder Member since:
2005-09-28

1) Depends what you mean by 'speed'. The current machines are 'responsive' in ways that more modern machines are not. For example, as nothing ever gets swapped out to disk, there are typically no pauses when the user makes a menu selection. There is no disk thrashing under normal application use as everything always in RAM.

In terms of raw multi-media crunching bandwidth, I agree, the ARMs just aren't comparable with a top of the line desktop Intel chip. Having said that, for something like 'movie playback' hardware MPEG could perhaps do a better job anyway.

2) That neededn't be the case, if the OS were more open. As I said in the article, consumer grade ARM powered hardware is everywhere.

3) RISCOS itself is fast. Perhaps JIT emulated ARM code could be viewed as a sort of 'byte code' in which the OS is written. Speed critical parts always be written in native code. With the commercial JIT powered RO emulator (that I admit that I have never even seen running), I bet some UI operations are faster than the same operations on the underlying Windows PC.

4) Probably.

Mike

Reply Score: 2

RE: Is it just me...
by Earl Colby pottinger on Thu 7th Dec 2006 15:46 UTC in reply to "Is it just me..."
Earl Colby pottinger Member since:
2005-07-06

Adding features to the OS will not "drag ex-users back".

The real underlining problem is in the groups of people trying to create/support the OS.

I dumped my Amiga because not only was it not improving, but they were going in the direction of expensive hardware that was not flexible in what it supported, plus the old 'add features till it breaks' approach that told me they were lost without a firm goal. Worse there was not even a working base of code, rather two different code bases being developed at the same time that were not compatible with each other.

Presently I am a BeOS fan looking forward to Haiku. Progress has been slow, but it has been steady too. It is important to note that all the other BeOS clone projects that planned to out-BeOS BeOS collapsed under the weight of their ambitions, while the ports to Linux stalled on the amount of interfacing code needed.

Haiku planned for a single, reachable goal and is still going strong.

Amiga, RiscOS and others main problems do not seem to be in the nature of the OSes but rather the in the nature of the people controlling the development.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Is it just me...
by twenex on Thu 7th Dec 2006 17:51 UTC in reply to "RE: Is it just me..."
twenex Member since:
2006-04-21

I agree with all of that.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Is it just me...
by rhyder on Fri 8th Dec 2006 00:29 UTC in reply to "RE: Is it just me..."
rhyder Member since:
2005-09-28

I don't know if I understand your point. What do you would drag users back, if not the development of new features? Or were you referring to the OS split issue?

As for Haiku, I'd want to see more of the OS actually running before making any judgment on it.


Mike

Reply Score: 1

haha
by miro on Thu 7th Dec 2006 17:17 UTC
miro
Member since:
2005-07-13

Sorry, but if you think that a 600MHz XScale CPU isn't fast enough for multitasking and memory protection then goan with that rebooting:)

Reply Score: 1

hmm
by dmck on Thu 7th Dec 2006 17:29 UTC
dmck
Member since:
2006-11-02

The last for sale Acorn operating system was 3.7.

It's funny with this PC in front of me I get programs getting into difficulty (crashing) and it means the PC is practically useless until I get into the task manager and kill them or reboot. My old RiscPC hardly every had a program that crashed (unless it was in development).

Reply Score: 2

RE: hmm
by rhyder on Fri 8th Dec 2006 00:32 UTC in reply to "hmm"
rhyder Member since:
2005-09-28

If I have understood correctly, RO4 was developed by Acorn even if they never got around to selling it directly to customers. Perhaps 'released' was a misleading term.

I'm not even going to touch the stability point.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: hmm
by dmck on Fri 8th Dec 2006 03:28 UTC in reply to "RE: hmm"
dmck Member since:
2006-11-02

I think (the info can be found on Drobe) Risc OS 4 was based on Risc OS 3.8 the internal Acorn version for their RiscPC replacement, which would have been numbered 4.

Risc OS Ltd completed 4, but for the RiscPC etal.

Reply Score: 1

How do I try it out?
by brewmastre on Thu 7th Dec 2006 17:50 UTC
brewmastre
Member since:
2006-08-01

I keep hearing so much about RiscOS and I am really interested in trying it. What's the best way to try out the system without having to buy anything?

Reply Score: 1

RE: How do I try it out?
by twenex on Thu 7th Dec 2006 17:53 UTC in reply to "How do I try it out?"
twenex Member since:
2006-04-21

What's the best way to try out the system without having to buy anything?

Ask for one for Xmas!

Seriously, if you want to "try out the system without having to buy anything", probably the only way is to clean-room reverse-engineer it.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: How do I try it out?
by brewmastre on Thu 7th Dec 2006 18:04 UTC in reply to "RE: How do I try it out?"
brewmastre Member since:
2006-08-01

"Seriously, if you want to "try out the system without having to buy anything", probably the only way is to clean-room reverse-engineer it."

Thanks for the help! But seriously, are there any good emulators out there?

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: How do I try it out?
by twenex on Thu 7th Dec 2006 18:30 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: How do I try it out?"
twenex Member since:
2006-04-21

I believe there is one free one, but I don't think the emulation is that complete. And IIRC it's only really functional on Windows, so if you have Linux or a Mac, tough luck!

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: How do I try it out?
by epistaxsis on Mon 11th Dec 2006 17:02 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: How do I try it out?"
epistaxsis Member since:
2006-09-10

Its called RPCEmu and you can get it from

http://b-em.bbcmicro.com/arculator/

Reply Score: 1

Xaero_Vincent
Member since:
2006-08-18

A stylish time machine that sends me back to 1985 at 88 MPH.

Reply Score: 2

raver31 Member since:
2005-07-06

nice one, you get a delorean with it too ?

Reply Score: 2

An Inestimable Amount of Money...
by tomcat on Thu 7th Dec 2006 19:06 UTC
tomcat
Member since:
2006-01-06

... that's what it would take.

Reply Score: 1

What RISCOS needs...
by quatermass on Thu 7th Dec 2006 19:29 UTC
quatermass
Member since:
2005-08-03

It needs a huge injection of cash that's what.
Anyone got £200 Million going spare?

It needs a 3GHz ARM chip to overcome the use of ports like FireFox or Open Office which run far to slow to be useable just now.

If it had a fast ARM system with a modern 3D graphics chip and hardware FPU then it could just about survive.

Once it has the right hardware for the current level of demand that users would like, then the software from Linux could be ported and still run at a decent rate.

But as this it isn't going to happen, so why don't we just let this wonderfully old OAP OS live out the rest of its life in a Home and die gracefully?

I for one will miss it.

Reply Score: 3

RE: What RISCOS needs...
by rhyder on Fri 8th Dec 2006 00:38 UTC in reply to "What RISCOS needs..."
rhyder Member since:
2005-09-28

Surely developing a 3Gig ARM chip would cost more than 200mil?

Obviously, the 3d chip is on the card. What do you need the hardware FPU for? Modern graphics chipset can do a lot of the transformation mathematics themselves now. In fact, I have even heard of some work being done to use the GPU for general multimedia work. Googling throws up a few links such as this one.

http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20060526-6932.html

Mike

Reply Score: 1

Nice...
by dmck on Thu 7th Dec 2006 19:57 UTC
dmck
Member since:
2006-11-02

Because what it does it does nice and smooth.

If it does what you want and hopefully with newer hardware/ported software do more things then why should it die?

Even a humble A5000 feels smoother than this 3GHz Athlon (with fewer colours), but a RiscPC flies along and I'm sure the A9Home and Iyonix is even better.

Reply Score: 3