Help for RISC OS on the Pi


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by svrsig » Sat Jun 23, 2012 5:55 pm
Step by step instructions for getting this working are here:
https://www.riscosopen.org/wiki/documentation/show/Software%20information:%20Development%20%28ROM%20image%29
There are also links to the ROOL forum but this is a forum for programmers aimed at RISC OS development rather than new users.
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by JollyRoger » Fri Aug 17, 2012 10:39 am
Hi

I'm completely new to RISCOS, but I am drawn to it as I was once a very proud owner of a BBC Micro. I've finally managed to get RISCOS working on my Pi (the SD card image appeared not to run at all, but eventually I tracked the problem down to the hdmi_mode=16 command in config.txt; I changed this to hdmi_mode=4, added some framebuffer commands and all was well).

It didn't take long to figure out the absolute basics - how to resize windows, run applications, use the three buttons on the mouse (fortunately the scroll wheel on my mouse works well as a third button), and I must say this distro seems to work pretty well. However, I'm now baffled to know how to proceed further. I can't find any instructions for complete novices.

For example, I've seen in another thread that to get to the Fat32 partition on the SD card, you have to open !Boot.Loader. By clicking the SD card icon I can bring up a window with the !Boot icon in it, and by clicking that icon a configuration window appears, but I can't fathom out where I might locate !Boot.Loader and how to open it. Nor can I find BBC Basic or discover how to run it. And much else besides.

I'm obviously missing something (quite a lot in fact). Can anyone point me in the direction of help for absolute beginners to RISCOS?

Thanks in advance for any guidance.
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by Burngate » Fri Aug 17, 2012 11:04 am
JollyRoger wrote:... I'm obviously missing something ...

What you're missing is what nobody thought to tell you ...

Double-clicking a folder with a ! at the start of its name, such as !Boot, runs the !Run file inside it.
To get into the folder, hold down shift while you double-click it.

Also, if you hold down shift while double-clicking a file it'll attempt to open it as a text file, probably in !StrongEd (try that on the !Run or !Boot file inside !Boot folder)

Another usefull thing to know ... if you double-right-click a folder, it'll close the outer folder window as it opens the inner folder. Saves having thousands of windows open.
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by dave j » Fri Aug 17, 2012 11:19 am
Directories starting with ! contain applications and the application is run when they are double clicked rather than the directory opened. You can open them by holding shift while double clicking.

Once you've opened the !boot directory, there is a another called Loader which is the FAT32 partition.

There are user guides and other documentation online but you might try http://www.blastzone.demon.co.uk/content1/rot/index1.html for a brief introduction.
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by JollyRoger » Fri Aug 17, 2012 4:51 pm
Many thanks for your prompt replies, Burngate and Dave J. Holding down Shift while double-clicking has indeed solved my first problem - I can now edit config.txt without removing the sd card and putting it in my PC. Regarding running BASIC, I have found out how to enter star commands (by pressing F12 or using the Task icon), then entering *basic - just as in the old days. But the font is tiny, appearing below the desktop, so it's virtually impossible to use. Also, although I can quit BASIC (with *quit), I can't get back to the desktop (*desktop simply informs me that the desktop is already in use). My novice solution is to switch off and start again - pathetic!

Anyway, I'll soldier on with the help you've provided, and the information at www.iconbar.com (including the list of star commands). Any other suggestions (including how to increase the font size of BASIC and get back to the desktop) would be much appreciated.
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by Burngate » Fri Aug 17, 2012 5:04 pm
If you started by F12, then just hit return at the "*" prompt and you'll get back to the desktop (just one more thing they forgot to tell you)

You could instead try opening a task window. Then you can see the desktop behind it, and close the window with the mouse. I can't remember whether you can alter the font size on that (I've not got my Pi here so I can't try it now).
To get that task window, middle-click the icon at the far right of the icon-bar and choose what you want.

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by JollyRoger » Fri Aug 17, 2012 6:02 pm
Thanks again, Burngate. You're a hero!

Why don't you try writing some notes for Riscos novices like me? Just some pointers like you've done for me to get folks started. Aim it at Pi users, and you could maybe get them published in The MagPi. If you're not used to writing articles, I would be happy to tart up your notes (I've some experience at this, as I've had stuff published). Just a thought.
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by Burngate » Sat Aug 18, 2012 8:22 am
Trouble is, I've no idea what a novice doesn't know until someone asks.

The other side of the coin is that I don't know what I don't know, so I don't know what I should research to find out.

And again, maybe what I think I know is often wrong.
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by JollyRoger » Sat Aug 18, 2012 11:37 am
Fair enough.

I'll maybe jot down some notes myself as I continue exploring the nooks and crannies of this unusual OS. At least with your help I've managed to get started. I've created a directory to store my own stuff, written a (very brief) BASIC program which I've saved into it, and done some other simple things besides. Trouble is, one of the things I tried (an option to save desktop settings in !Boot) seems to have corrupted the SD card (at least that's the message I get on start-up), so the desktop doesn't load properly (missing icons on the taskbar) and I don't know enough to put it right, so I'm now putting the original .img file back on the card to start again. I'll avoid that option in future - at least until RISCOS goes beta!
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by Burngate » Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:35 pm
I've spent the afternoon writing a book. It started as a brief note, but looks a bit like War & Peace.
https://sites.google.com/site/burngatehouse/home/page-2/RiscOs-on-Pi.odt
Hopefully someone might find it vaguely useful!
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by Raeddie » Sat Aug 18, 2012 6:32 pm
I like the text. After the first brief reading I would like to suggest two or three things. Firstly, the "proper" names for the mouse buttons should be introduced: Select for left, Menu for middle and Adjust for right button. It will makes things easier for new users if they happen to find other RISC OS documents. Secondly, it's not "RiscOs", but "RISC OS". This may sound like nitpicking, but will reduce noise in the RISC OS forums and newsgroups caused by endless streams of corrections. The final text will need some illustrations, of course.

Nevertheless, great work!
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by Burngate » Sun Aug 19, 2012 9:01 am
So you think I should continue?
Ok, watch this space! Thanks!
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by JollyRoger » Sun Aug 19, 2012 4:57 pm
Great work, Burngate, you're well on the way to a gold medal! I've printed out your masterpiece (from my PC) and later on I'll move over to my Pi to try out your instructions. I'll give you some feedback later (probably tomorrow). One point I can make straight away: you address it to MagPi readers - if you are intending to submit it to The MagPi for publication, you will need to shorten it, especially the intro.

Please carry on with the good work. I for one certainly appreciate it.
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by Burngate » Sun Aug 19, 2012 6:33 pm
Done a bit more, including change to caps of RISCOS

This is fun!
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by Raeddie » Sun Aug 19, 2012 10:02 pm
Burngate wrote:Done a bit more, including change to caps of RISCOS


Great, you are nearly there. Now put a space between RISC and OS and everyone is happy. :)

I read the text more closely, here are some more suggestions: You could put a bit of emphasise on the nature of the right mouse button as a "left-click with a twist". For example a right-click on the close icon of opens the parent directory just like the menu entry. Another nice thing is dragging a window around without popping it to front with the right (Adjust) button.

Maybe it should also mentioned that clicking on the resize button brings the window to front just like a click on the title bar. I think, the text should clearly state that the close icon is the second one on the top left, as it is a quite unusal place outside the RISC OS world.

Of course, it is good practise on RISC OS to open the right folder before trying to save anything. But for a while now it is also possible to drag the save icon to a drive icon. The file gets saved in the root of that drive and a filer window pops up.

Another "Aw, this sucks"-moment a new user might encounter is when he tries to clear a writeable icon (e.g. the adress line in Netsurf with a really long URL). Instead of keep pressing backspace for half an eternity, just press CTRL+U. Works with any writeable icon and is surprisingly unknown to even seasoned RISC OS users.

Having suggested to add some things, I have to admit that I agree with JollyRoger that the article shouldn't get too long. Better to have a series of shorter articles over a number of issues of MagPi.

Some other topics to be covered could be how to use a task windows, a brief list of common command line commands, maybe a small guide how to write the "Hello world!" with BASIC using !StrongED. Feel free to also point new users to the excellent !Zap editor.

(Yes, I admit it, I am a Zap man.) ;)

I hope, you find my remarks helpful and not too annoying.
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by Burngate » Mon Aug 20, 2012 9:56 am
Raeddie wrote:[
I hope, you find my remarks helpful and not too annoying.

No, no, no not at all - happy to have all the help on offer!

As I implied before, this was meant to be short but grew too fast for me to keep up. Now I'm vaguely wondering if I should devide it up into episodes.

It wasn't meant to be a how-to as in a reference manual - I just wanted it to jump around, with the reader absorbing things almost by accident, the way I learnt things back then. But I'm wondering if I'm heading in the wrong direction!

Taken on board the space in RISC OS. Even though I HATE computers shouting in all-caps. And I like CamelCase. And Comic Sans.

I was intending to introduce the Task window, but haven't quite reached it yet. I was going to introduce it by discussing *show Alias$@RunType_*, or maybe *modules. We'll have to see what happens.

And I had in mind to introduce the concept of cooperative multitasking, but for that, I need to have something up and running. I learned everything I know on that subject from a book by Martyn Fox. I understand he's somewhere on here? If so, he should make it available again now!

I'm going to have to re-flash my SD card to get back to an out-of-the-box install, because I've changed things and don't get quite what the newbie would, so it'll be a little while before I can carry on too far. But I'm enjoying myself too much to stop now!
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by Raeddie » Mon Aug 20, 2012 11:07 am
Burngate wrote:[
Taken on board the space in RISC OS. Even though I HATE computers shouting in all-caps. And I like CamelCase. And Comic Sans.

I was intending to introduce the Task window, but haven't quite reached it yet. I was going to introduce it by discussing *show Alias$@RunType_*, or maybe *modules. We'll have to see what happens.

And I had in mind to introduce the concept of cooperative multitasking, but for that, I need to have something up and running. I learned everything I know on that subject from a book by Martyn Fox. I understand he's somewhere on here? If so, he should make it available again now!

The name "Risc PC" is even worse, as it meant to have an half-space. :)

Sadly, Martyn Fox died of cancer in 2003. His books can already be found online, though. For example, the second edition of "A Beginner's Guide to WIMP Programming" is part of volume 9, issue 5 of the "Foundation Risc World" CD-ROM magazine: http://www.apdl.co.uk/riscworld/volume9 ... /index.htm

His son Christopher used to offer Martyn's books in various formats, including PDF, on his website, but now you only get an "403 Error" trying to access it. The wayback machine is the rescue in this case, they have conserved the website completely with all files (I have only tried the PDFs, though): http://web.archive.org/web/200701060511 ... mfoxbooks/

The accompanying ReadMe files expressively allow the redistribution of the documents, maybe it would be a good idea to put them somewhere else online, just in case the guys at web.archive.org feel a sudden urge to clean their database.
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by Raeddie » Mon Aug 20, 2012 11:19 am
Burngate wrote:[It wasn't meant to be a how-to as in a reference manual - I just wanted it to jump around, with the reader absorbing things almost by accident, the way I learnt things back then. But I'm wondering if I'm heading in the wrong direction!

Personally, I like the "guided tour" approach of the text. Much more entertaining than the dry manual I had probably came up with. (More likely: Me milling around some ideas for one or two weeks, then producing not a single line of text. It is better if I just drop one or another clue for your article.)
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by JollyRoger » Mon Aug 20, 2012 1:07 pm
Hello Burngate

Sorry for the delay with the promised feedback, but I have been rather tied up with other things. First let me say that I've worked through your notes, and found them very useful - thank you. I had no problem following your instructions, though there are a few minor changes you need to make. For example, you say that the ReadMe file (top of page 2) should appear in !StrongEd. You've obviously customized your image - I'm working with a pristine image, and ReadMe comes up in !Zap.

However, if you do intend to submit this article for publication in e.g. The MagPi, you will need to sharpen it up. I reckon you could cut it down by at least 50% without reducing its coverage. The intro can obviously be edited down, but so also can the meat of it. I think I would start your article something like this:

RISC OS is British, quirky, and very different. Run it, and it dawns on you how alike Windows and Linux actually are: their desktops share the same look and feel, their commands are similar, and many popular software packages will run on both.

Load RISC OS onto your Pi, and you enter a strange new world. Now your mouse needs a third (middle) button (press the scroll wheel – this should work). Desktop windows behave differently, with buttons in unexpected places. A pathname that on Linux might be ~/documents/family/birthdays.txt becomes $.documents.family.birthdays/txt. Drive letters become numbers. Applications have unfamiliar names that begin with “!”. And much else besides.

So why might you want to run this unusual operating system on your Raspberry Pi? Fans of RISC OS might give you three reasons:
1 Nostalgia: it turns your Pi into a souped-up BBC Microcomputer, with an extended version of BBC BASIC (and even a bouncing Acorn Logo as a screensaver!).
2 Speed: unlike Linux, it was designed to run on ARM processors.
3 Efficiency: once you get used to RISC OS, it can be slicker than Linux.


I'm not sure about the validity of these last two points, but you get my drift. Anyway, please persevere with your magnificent work, as I am gaining a lot from it, and if you want any assistance editing it you only have to ask!
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by Burngate » Tue Aug 21, 2012 5:31 pm
Next version https://sites.google.com/site/burngatehouse/home/drawings/RISCOS-on-Pi.odt

Not quite sure why Google says what it says, but it's sort of taking you there!
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by Raeddie » Tue Aug 21, 2012 8:02 pm
Very good at first glance. Won't have time to read it carefully until tommorrow. One thing: It becomes really essential to think about how to break up the text for publication in MagPi. Either that, or to convince the MagPi guys to publish a special RISC OS issue. (I am joking, of course.)
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by Burngate » Wed Aug 22, 2012 9:14 am
Raeddie wrote:Very good at first glance. Won't have time to read it carefully until tommorrow. One thing: It becomes really essential to think about how to break up the text for publication in MagPi. Either that, or to convince the MagPi guys to publish a special RISC OS issue. (I am joking, of course.)

I'm thinking I'm going to have to make it stand-alone, and offering it to MagPi as a multi-part serial. I'd want them to have a pointer to let their readers have the whole thing in one go, because I used to get fed up waiting for the next issue!

But there's a long way to go before that ...
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by Martin an gof » Thu Aug 23, 2012 11:28 am
Raeddie wrote:I read the text more closely, here are some more suggestions: You could put a bit of emphasise on the nature of the right mouse button as a "left-click with a twist". For example a right-click on the close icon of opens the parent directory just like the menu entry. Another nice thing is dragging a window around without popping it to front with the right (Adjust) button.

I know I'm coming late to this, and I haven't had a chance to read the text yet, but it's things like this that keep me using RISC OS at home for many tasks - Adjust-clicking scroll bars and bump icons and so on is something that is so useful and intuitive and really does make the OS much more pleasant to use that I can't understand why they haven't been universally adopted in OSX and Linux and Windows.

And don't get me started on endless "save" dialogues and default save locations...

My RISC PC is getting very long-in-the-tooth now, and a proper, native, working RISC OS on Pi could be the next step. I might even re-start using RO for image editing; something that I've moved to OSX for purely on speed and size grounds.

Interesting days.

M.
Hwyl!

M.
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by Burngate » Thu Aug 23, 2012 3:08 pm
Adjust-clicking scroll bars
I'd forgotten that! And I've been doing just that while I've been checking what I've written!
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by Smelter » Thu Aug 23, 2012 7:30 pm
Burngate wrote:
Adjust-clicking scroll bars
I'd forgotten that! And I've been doing just that while I've been checking what I've written!


Xara (who used to be called Computer Concepts) still use right click trick in their PC only "Graphics Designer" program (that used to be called "ArtWorks").
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