Mark Stephens reports on the Wakefield show theatre presentations given by the RISC OS’ leading developers. Four companies demonstrated what they’ve been up to and suggest what’s to come, providing an insight into perhaps where RISC OS is now heading.
RISC OS Here and Now: Wakefield Show Presentation Report
2003-05-14 RISC OS 10 Comments
The only place I ever hear about RISC OS is the occasional story and more rarely at places like Newsforge. What exactly is RISC OS and why don’t you hear about it too much?
Wasn’t there something a while back about RISC OS infringing on the GPL? Whatever happened to all of that?
Read the comments of a previous Risc OS story about this. It doesn’t seem to be a problem anymore.
an insight into perhaps where RISC OS is now heading.
That’d be total obscurity
Basically, RISC OS is a firmware-based operating system that runs on PCs based on the Acorn ARM architecture (Obviously, they’re RISC :-). It’s beautiful and boots within a couple of seconds. It also manages to squeeze a mind-boggling amount of stuff into a couple firmware megabytes (yes, the PCs do have hard drives). A modern (and rather well-equipped) RISC PC with the latest (I think) official version can be had for 1500 pound sterling or so at http://www.iyonix.com.
Wish I could afford one…
Anyone know if there are any plans to get RISC OS ported (i.e. running on) to a slightly more up to date (and obviously modified) PowerPC architecture like IBM’s?
No, no plans to port RISC OS to another platform. RISC OS is very tightly bound to the ARM architecture, and using XScale processer can hardly be described as outdated.
There is however, the possibility to run RISC OS (Select) emulated on a x86 processor.. check the Wakefield story (dedicated Celeron spec laptop, running adapted version of Virtual Acorn 5000)
If you fancy a go of RISC OS you could get a StrongARM Risc PC off eBay for <$300, it’s an odd little OS not quite like anything else, but it does run very fast on even a 200MHz StrongARM and there is some good software out for it, particularly DTP and vector drawing.
It’s tied to ARM, that will probably never change except under emulation (which will always be a compromise), but although Xscale is no speed demon compared to other Intel chips, RISC OS does run brilliantly on them.
Like all platforms it’s got it’s problems, but I seriously recommend anyone who’s interested in trying an alternative platform take a look.
There are a couple of decent Acorn emulators for Windows if you want to have a play with an old version of RISC OS.
The best Acorn emulator can be found here:
It’s commercial, but there was a time limited demo available the last time I looked. It’s quite fast on a high end PC and comes with RISC OS 3 + lots of software, so it’s very easy to get running.
There’s also a free emulator:
You’ll need to track down RISC OS ROMs to get it working and it’s less feature rich than Virtual Acorn, but with a bit of work it’s a very good emulator.
Since very few RISC OS computers were sold outside Britain, I think emulation will be the only way most people can try out this wonderful OS. It’s got plenty of flaws, but it’s still got a lot of unique and well designed features, including the most powerful drag and drop I’ve ever seen.
You forgot ArcEm, which is open source and runs on several platforms:
Linux also runs on the newest RISC OS XScale computer: