Raspberry Pi To Embrace RISC OS

Sometimes, on a rather boring and run-of-the-mill Monday, I get news in the submission queue which just puts a gigantic smile on my face. We’ve talked about the Raspberry Pi before on OSNews, and other than reporting that everything’s on track for a Christmas launch, it has also been announced that the Raspberry Pi will be able to run… RISC OS. A British educational ARM board running RISC OS? We have come full circle. And I couldn’t be happier. Update: Theo Markettos emailed me with two corrections – Markettos isn’t actually a representative of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, and the quoted bits are transcribed, they’re not Markettos’ literal words. Thanks for clearing that up!

Almost ten years ago, I created a mental list of operating systems I wanted to use and test. Most of the systems on the list were easy to acquire and ran on standard hardware – save for three: AmigaOS, MorphOS, and RISC OS. I’ve used the first two extensively – but RISC OS always remained elusive. It runs on expensive hardware, often completely sold-out, and only available with price tags noted in pounds.

Until today: it has been revealed that RISC OS will be available for the Raspberry Pi ARM board, which will cost $25 or $35 (depending on the version). RISC OS recently became available for the BeagleBoard, which was already a step in the right direction – but the BeagleBoard is still over รขโ€šยฌ100, and for a hobby project, that’s just a little too much for my taste. In the Raspberry Pi, RISC OS has found its perfect partner.

At the moment, RISC OS boots and runs on the Raspberry Pi, but lack of drivers for the Raspberry Pi’s USB interface necessitates the use of a netbook hooked up to the Pi’s serial port to actually use a mouse and keyboard. USB drivers will of course be added eventually.

At the RISC OS London show, Theo Markettos, postdoctoral researcher in the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory and representative of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, [correction: he’s not actually a representative at all] talked about RISC OS on the Pi. “Adrian Lees has RISC OS booting on the Raspberry Pi into the full RISC OS desktop. Lack of USB drivers then prevents user interaction,” RISCOScode transcribed Markettos’ words, “Work in progress on cannibalising Linux USB drivers to get RISC OS running fully on the Raspberry Pi.”

“RISC OS is desirable on the Raspberry Pi as it’s just about the only OS left that can still be grasped by one person,” RISCOScode transcribed Markettos’ words, “Also smaller memory requirements, and a smoother desktop feel.”

Markettos further explained that the purpose of the Raspberry Pi is to get developers rethinking the whole approach to how children and young adults can be enticed and excited by a computing device. The best software for the Raspberry Pis is yet to be written, he added. The Pi will boot to a simple > prompt, just like the old BBCmicro. Users can then enter something along the lines of run linux or run riscos. “This will force users to interface with the machine in a programming manner and think of it as something to be commanded at a fundamental level rather than just used.”

You have no idea just how excited I am about the Raspberry Pi. The price point, educational focus, and software support are exceptional. The Raspberry Pi is currently being manufactured (in batches, so they can spot possible errors and make revisions), and is on track for a Christmas launch.

Jot me down for at least two.


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