"RISC OS is said to be used in set top boxes scattered across the world, and a mobile phone developer reportedly bought up a load of RISC OS 5 kit. But some applications of ROS are much closer to home. Martin Hansen reports on the growing use of RISC OS in the timber frame housing industry."
RISC OS Archive
"In this article we look at some of the programs and projects - some obvious, others less so - that influenced the history of the RISC OS platform and its users. These are our suggestions, not a top ten and certainly not in any particular order. What other applications would you add to the list?"
Those wondering what's happened to VirtualAcorn's port of VirtualRiscPC to Mac OS X should look no further than this statement from VA's Aaron Timbrell: "It has been delayed for a number of reasons. The main one being time. Both Graeme and I have been busy on other projects. Further delays have been caused because I haven't been very well." There is also an article on how to build RISC OS.
RISC OS Open is to manage the RISC OS allocations service after Alan Glover was said to have stepped down from the role. The list was maintained by Alan for several years on a voluntary basis. Now seemingly with the blessing of both Castle, the owners of RISC OS and developers of ROS 5, and RISCOS Ltd, developers of RISC OS 4 and 6, RISC OS Open have offered to fill Alan's shoes. The database is used by developers to officially reserve resources for new products and software, such as filetypes and system variable names. Castle boss Jack Lillingston said ROOL were this week "officially authorised" to take over the allocations system from Alan.
Castle released RISC OS 5.13 this weekend, its first free update since the paid-for release of 5.12. The ROM image can be fetched from Castle's iyonix.com website. The new version of their 32bit stream of the operating system is the result of a bug fixing exercise: its 'key features' are two updates for the Filer, two updates for the Pinboard, a fix for the Display Manager, an update for the Repeat command, a fix within the Shared C Library module, an update for the BASIC assembler, and a fix for the EtherK network driver.
An ancient build of Linux for Acorn PC cards has been uploaded to riscos.info as part of a new drive to revive the PC Card Linux project. The zipfile dates back to 1994, and contains Linux 1.1.29 and suitable drivers for pre-RiscPC machines fitted with PC cards. During the 1990s, Acorn and Aleph1 produced a range of PC cards for RiscPC and pre-RiscPC machines, which featured Intel 486-compatible processors. This allowed RISC OS users to run Windows and PC applications from their otherwise ARM-powered desktop machines.
Firefox port developer Peter Naulls has offered an alpha-quality build of open source email client Thunderbird for RISC OS. The software is currently suitable for Iyonix, A9, and Omega computers only. You can get the build here.
"There still seems to be plenty of interest in building shared-source RISC OS for the Risc PC, but there is much confusion about what would be involved in doing so. First, understand that this is not top priority for ROOL - ROOL's policy is that it's more important to focus on releasing all the components needed to do an Iyonix ROM and disc build first. Only after this will the remaining components be vetted for release, although those components that relate to Risc PC hardware support are probably good candidates to be the next on the list."
Castle and RISC OS Open discuss there plans for the gradual unveiling of an open source RISC OS over the next twelve months. They explain their reasoning behind some of the source code restrictions in their licence. "Castle's Jack Lillingston opened the presentation with a brief run through of his company's products before outlining the shared source initiative - which is designed to get the source code to RISC OS 5 out into the open for free, and encourage third party developers to improve it. Steve then took over to explain more about how the project will be organised, and how they need donations to keep going."
The shared source licence being drawn up as part of the RISC OS Open project is in the hands of lawyers, it was revealed this week. In a report to be published by Archive magazine, Castle are said to have spent a 'lot of money' on legal bills to make the licence watertight. The company fears loopholes may be found in their complex shared source agreement which could allow royalty free use of the source code for commercial purposes or let people avoid disclosing updates to the RISC OS blueprints.
"In my opinion, the Draw module is one of the most significant and useful components of RISC OS. For the uninitiated, it provides a set of routines for calculating, transforming and rendering lines, polygons, bezier curves, sprites, and text. The Draw application has been bundled with every version of RISC OS and the draw file format is a defacto standard for almost every RISC OS application that incorporates graphics, and then some. In this article I hope to demonstrate some of the flexibility that Draw and the RISC OS desktop can provide."
"Gosh! I didn't realize how much discussion my original article would create. A lot of people seemed to accuse me of living in cloud cuckoo land, whereas a lot more agreed with me. I think those who disagreed have either never used RISC OS or just liked a good rant! In either case, I feel compelled to write a short follow up article clarifying some of the points I made in the original article - all of which were perfectly valid." Read the follow up article.
"I'm a confirmed RISC OS user, enthusiast, promoter and what some may even say, evangelist. Why did I feel inspired to write this short article and share my views with people? Partly in response to an article and partly because there are a number of rather ignorant, yet arrogant, PC users inhabiting some of the comp.sys.acorn.* newsgroups who love to complain about RISC OS and prosthetalize about how good PC applications are to their RISC OS counterparts - usually without the skill set or experience to make a valid judgement. I'm all for argument, but when people argue through ignorance or though blinkers, I feel like shouting 'Oi! No!' in their faces, but instead I'll settle for writing this article."
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.
A cheeky programmer has produced an unofficial patch to allow the previously Iyonix-only Firefox 2 port to run on A9home computers. The hack intercepts low level ARMv5 instructions that the Iyonix's IOP321 XScale can execute, and converts them into instructions suitable for the ARMv4 Samsung ARM920T processor in the A9home. On a related note, RPCEmu has been updated to work with RISC OS 6.
The Iyonix-only version 2 of the RISC OS Firefox port was released this weekend. Developer Peter Naulls made the open source web browser available for free download after generous punters donated a grand in cash to the project in little over a fortnight. A second release could be posted online in time for Christmas day if Peter secures more funding. Version 2 has no RISC OS-style menus, the iconbar icon has been removed, and the while browser does support secure 'https' websites, users will have to manually verify the identity of certain sites. Peter also hopes to use the NetSurf Unicode engine in a future release to display non-Latin characters.
"Last month, I thought I left RISC OS. After 19 years of using Acorn or Acorn-derived computers, my love affair is no longer. I sit here writing this on my Mac Mini, and very happy I am with it too. My Iyonix lies abandoned - still sitting under the desk here, but not connected. And not actually used for some time. And it's weird - because, in some strange way, I thought I would be using RISC OS forever. In January 2005, I said: 'There's people who annoy me on the RISC OS scene, and I still wouldn't think of leaving. The nice people more than cancel it out, and besides - I just couldn't really do without using RISC OS.' So what changed?"
Punters wondering what the RISC OS Open lads are up to may be relieved by the following sliver of news. The project to open source Castle's RISC OS 5 is awaiting the dotting of eyes and crossing of tees on its licensing paperwork, it would appear.
"For a computer that's been around for over a year now (to beta testers), the A9 has had relatively little detailed coverage in the RISC OS world. This makes it hard to judge whether or not to spend hard-earned cash on the little blighter. Having owned one for a few months, I've recorded my impressions of the A9home. It's not complete by any means (I've not got round to hooking it up to a printer, for example), but I hope it's helpful for anyone thinking of taking the plunge."