RISC OS on Raspberry Pi


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by jubber » Sat Jun 02, 2012 12:14 am
Hi there - interesting topic about RiscOS. Just got my Raspberry PI so interested in seeing where the RiscOS port goes. Long rambling post follows. Apologies in advance.

I've written some games and apps for the Acorn platform back in the day (Still have my A3010 in the loft) and I'd be happy to see RiscOS running on the Raspberry PI for more than just nostalgic reasons. For one BBC Basic is a truly excellent programming language to learn with (not to mention how fast it is for an interpreted language due to fitting into a small cache and general good design) - but there are advantages to the GUI as well. It made learning Windows very easy for me when the companies I was working for became a little larger than 4th Dimension and the Acorn went into the cupboard. These days I use Visual Studio on Win 7 along with other big meaty dev tools - and for Playstation and phone development I wouldn't consider anything else. Macs are insufficient for console development and linux simply wouldn't cut it at all. Not to say those systems don't have their place and for certain types of users. (architects and hobbyists respectively ;-p )But again - it doesn't matter what you end up using - RiscOS is a good universal example for both understanding GUIs and for learning how to program.

RiscOS, along with the BBC Micro, is what gave me the impetus and tools I needed to get into games coding. And of course, it really is a joy to use on a low powered machine. Debian is not a joy. Some people have mentioned memory protection and preemptive multitasking as problems - these are complete misdirect arguments. Did you ever boot up an Arc and think to yourself whilst running !Edit, !Paint, !Artworks and everything else you could cram into 2 Meg - "oh no, I wish this multitasking was pre-emptive!". Utter tosh. The raspberry pi can be rebooted in moments should things go wrong but my A3010 was very stable for coding, art and all the rest thanks - I think this is a non-argument. If the pi was 10 times more powerful, with lots of threads and a gigantic app catalogue of multitasking software then fine, you might be on to something in terms of those missing features. But for school kids? Nah.

Moreover Linux is a truly, utterly awful operating system to use as an educational tool, the purpose of Raspberry Pi. Perhaps the X Windows front ends are suitable, (though Debian seems dog slow on my Pi) but it's incredibly hard to communicate to Linux fans just how poor the command line syntax is for beginners. Or anyone. Yes - it's very powerful, but it's very opaque. I reckon that power would be handy 0.01 percent of the time for most people in most of their normal usage scenarios - and this includes what I do for a living. I use 3D and 2D tools for making art for games, I write commercial console engines, create and edit sound effects, make game design tools and download por, er, surf the internet for information - I never find myself missing powerful command line capabilities. It's 2012 - real apps have front-ends these days gentlemen. And run on Windows 7. I think it's laughable to suggest Linux shell stuff is suitable for education - if a bash shell was the only thing available on raspberry pi it would act as a solid brick wall, preventing the majority getting any further. This project would be dead on its first day.

Now for a contentious argument. Nobody uses Linux for anything. Yes, it underlies all sorts of things, from the 800,000 android phones unlocked each day to massive server farms - but nobody actually *uses* it. I use Ice Cream Sandwich on my phone - which I program using Visual Studio and C - or Java if I want it to run slowly - I never have to touch the linux substructure at all. Nor would I want to - I want to make spaceships explode on screen, not grapple with the command line. Now of course your mileage may vary - but I'm pretty sure these days computers come with graphical user interfaces. You know, sprites and whatnot. Children will want to write games for those graphical systems such as their smartphones. RiscOS is therefore a good choice as a windows like environment which will still allow the curious to grapple with coding and experimentation without hitting the sudo wall, and which will run in a tiny footprint in a way that Debian et al do not.

But the best thing about the Pi? None of the above opinions matter. It doesn't matter how wrong I am. You can just swap out your SD card and boot up Debian, or perhaps Ubuntu at some point or whatever flavour of OS you prefer, when more become available.

Anyway - when is RiscOS coming to the Pi? :-)

Cheers,

Robin Jubber
CTO, Futurlab
http://www.velocitygame.co.uk/

P.S. This isn't a hate-on for Linux. Debian seems a good way to get Java (for learning), OpenGL (for pretty graphics) and C (for actually doing stuff) up and running in a GUI environment. On a 20 quid computer? Can't grumble.
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by ren41 » Sat Jun 02, 2012 9:22 am
I agree with Robin on the RiscOS front, at least. Back then I wrote games and other utilities on first the BBC Micro & then the Archimedes. RiscOS was streets ahead of anything Windows could offer - as were many of the applications that ran on it. BBC Basic was an excellent structured language, fun to use and perfect for children to learn on - and I actually quite enjoyed programming in 6502 assembler!

Our information system at work ran on a network of Archimedes for some years - it was developed in the excellent SBase, written by Simon Glass. Nowadays that system is a client/server system on a Windows server and clients - I ported it over purely because of the need for total commercial compatibility. Back in the 80s though, Such a pity that RiscOS didn't become more popular commercially.

Nowadays I am mostly involved in web development and mainly program in Java, Javascript/jQuery and VB.

ren
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by DexOS » Sat Jun 02, 2012 5:43 pm
I think RiscOS is a nice OS, that i would love to see on the R-PI.
But i disagree with some of the above comments.
There seems a miss conception, that the only way to make kid interested in programming a device, is it needs to have the latest graphics and be on par with the xbox or ps3 etc.
This is wrong, kids like to compete and show off.
When you should them top demos like Quake 3, it puts kids off.

It would of been much better to have a low starting point, so kids could show off and push the graphic to the limit.
Just like Elite did.
Thats why the arduino works so well.
I have done a lot of programming compo and they are all restricted in some way, like size etc.
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by Zwack » Sun Jun 03, 2012 6:31 am
Moreover Linux is a truly, utterly awful operating system... I think it's laughable to suggest Linux shell stuff is suitable for education - if a bash shell was the only thing available on raspberry pi it would act as a solid brick wall, preventing the majority getting any further. This project would be dead on its first day.


Well, as you seem a bit confused about what is Linux (or Unix) and what is the Shell, I'm not sure that I could ever enlighten you.

Linux is a Unix-like operating system. As such it consists of a Kernel (the core operating system piece) and a bunch of applications, including user shells such as the Bourne Again Shell (bash), the Korn Shell (ksh) and the C Shell (csh). Unix is such an awful operating system that it's still in use even though it was originally created in 1970. The shell can be obscure, but it uses short command names because it was originally intended to be used on multi-user servers through terminals possibly even connected by (slow) modems.

Now for a contentious argument. Nobody uses Linux for anything.


Not so much a contentious argument as a meaningless statement. Nobody uses "Linux" for anything because Linux is just the kernel. As far as using a variety of applications on Unix like platforms, the place I work has several different applications, used by a variety of non-technical staff, running on various Unix and Linux systems.

If they're not using it, then what are they doing?
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by tufty » Sun Jun 03, 2012 7:26 am
Our trollworthy friend appears to have you on the hook.
Zwack wrote:Linux is a Unix-like operating system.

Zwack wrote:... Linux is just the kernel.

Woops. That's cutting a stick to beat your own back with.

Now, as for "nobody is using linux for anything" - absolute tosh. The phone manufacturers are using it to make an awful lot of money, Redhat et al are using it to make an awful lot of money, IBM are using it to make an awful lot of money. Chances are if you have a modern television, you're using it to watch CSI. Set top boxes? Printers? pretty much everything embedded out there is using Linux these days, because in most cases it's cheaper to use a processor that's overpowered for the task in hand, running linux, than to use a more "reasonable" processor and spend man-years writing and supporting bespoke code. Th elinux kernel is pretty much everywhere, and you're using it daily without even realising.

As for $(DISTRO), I have a certain amount of sympathy with the OP. Dependent on window manager and "theming" (how I hate that word), you'll get something that looks a bit like some version of some other operating system (mostly OSX or Windows), but generally doesn't work in anything like the way the aped system does[1]. It's still X, it just looks a bit like $(OS). X is a windowing system that was designed in the 1970s and hasn't changed considerably since then. It is *very* good at what it does, but what it does is not 100% what a modern UI layer wants.

The (UI) applications themselves are, generally speaking, a hodgepodge of half-designed, half-finished, poor imitations of what Apple (and, to a lesser extent, MS) come out with. There's damned good reasons Gimp hasn't taken significant marketshare away from Adobe's multi-thousand-dollar monster, Photoshop, after all.

Strip away the shiny and look under the hood, though, and it's an entirely different beast. And this is where a *n*x is significantly different from (and arguably better than) anything that Redmond have come out with. The command line interface is massively powerful. It's not for nothing MS decided to implement PowerShell - the 1980s DOS simulation isn't anywhere near powerful enough. In terms of interface to the command line, you get a significant choice under a *n*x. Bash isn't the only shell, although it is the most commonly used - if you want something a bit more "off the wall", you could try scsh (scheme shell, an interpreted scheme commandline), there's Ruby shells, Python shells, and probably, if you're masochistic enough, BASIC shells.

Once you're into the shell, you're into a world of little programs that "do one thing, and do it well". `grep` is a regular expression parser. `find` finds files. Combine the two together, you can find any file containing a certain string, or variants on a string. `sed` is a stream editor. Combine that with the above and you can do global search and replace (although `perl -pie` is generally easier). It's massively, massively powerful.

The only downside to the Linux commandline interface is consistency, and that's only a minor gripe for sysadmins when comparing to (for example) the *BSDs.

And I don't even *like* Linux.

Simon

[1] The one exception I'm aware of here is GNUStep, which not only apes NeXTStep / OpenStep, but behaves very much like it as well, down to the programming APIs.
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by DavidS » Sun Jun 03, 2012 5:11 pm
While the n*x based systems definitely have there advantages, Linus has even said that Linux has become bloated (and that is just the kernel).

There was a time long ago that the many proprietary Operating Systems available had become so bloated that no one person could understand the entire system. This lead to bugs that were never tracked down, and the programmers just added layer upon layer to get around the deficiencies of these systems. Multix was a paramount example of this. Then in the 1970's the software engineers decided it was time to get rid of this extreme bloat and provide Operating Systems that were simple, easy to understand in full, and complete. One of the Systems born out of the need to have a simple easy to maintain OS was Unix, and now the current systems have become even more bloated than the systems that were found to be useless in the 1970's due to there bloat.

There are many that agree that it is once again time to repeat the 1970's and create a new breed of Operating Systems that are simple to understand in full by a single person, as such easy to maintain and debug, and still provide all the needed services. RISC OS is a prime example of this simplicity in action. It is possible for a single person to fully understand RISC OS, RISC OS does provide all the needed services for modern applications, and RISC OS already exists.

Now we need only to create an Operating System that is simpler than RISC OS, and yet provides all of the services of RISC OS and is preemptive Multitasking from the ground up. I believe that it is possible to do this and still maintain full compatibility with 99% of existing RISC OS Software. And I am working on just this. Until then we have the original, RISC OS is a good Operating System that does not have the bloat that kills the usability of computers.
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by Dave_G_2 » Sun Jun 03, 2012 6:32 pm
DavidS wrote:While the n*x based systems definitely have there advantages, Linus has even said that Linux has become bloated (and that is just the kernel).

Couldn't agree more.
As an example, just look at the Debian distro for the R-PI.
(Haven't even looked at Arch).
It's 480MB when zipped and explodes to over 1.9GB when unzipped.
C'mon 1.9GB ? for the R-PI ? surely there's a whole lot of unnecessary stuff in there.
In contrast look at Puppy Linux, it's around 120MB for the basic distro plus another 100MB or so
for the development packages.
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by nick.mccloud » Sun Jun 03, 2012 7:31 pm
Most of that 1.9Gb is thin air - a side effect of the way that dd works
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by DavidS » Sun Jun 03, 2012 7:57 pm
Dave_G_2 wrote:
DavidS wrote:While the n*x based systems definitely have there advantages, Linus has even said that Linux has become bloated (and that is just the kernel).

Couldn't agree more.
As an example, just look at the Debian distro for the R-PI.
(Haven't even looked at Arch).
It's 480MB when zipped and explodes to over 1.9GB when unzipped.
C'mon 1.9GB ? for the R-PI ? surely there's a whole lot of unnecessary stuff in there.
In contrast look at Puppy Linux, it's around 120MB for the basic distro plus another 100MB or so
for the development packages.


Now there is a lot of bloat in there.
Now take the kernel by itself, compile with a minimal of modules to support the minimal needed hardware for an interactive system, I seriously doubt that you could get it under 256KB (I have got it as small as 283KB for a 2.6.x kernel) and this is without Init or any shell. To make a usable system you will likely end up with at least 1MB if you omit any graphics support, and this is with just a simple shell and the needed shell commands (Absolutely no extras).
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by Dave_G_2 » Sun Jun 03, 2012 8:00 pm
nick.mccloud wrote:Most of that 1.9Gb is thin air - a side effect of the way that dd works

Fair enough, any idea how much is actually real data (bloat or other wise)?
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by Dave_G_2 » Sun Jun 03, 2012 8:04 pm
DavidS wrote:To make a usable system you will likely end up with at least 1MB if you omit any graphics support, and this is with just a simple shell and the needed shell commands (Absolutely no extras).

More then acceptable.
Add a shell, gcc, python and a couple of extras and probably land up with 50 or even 80MB.
Still much more streamlined then any of the current options.
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by DavidS » Sun Jun 03, 2012 8:15 pm
Dave_G_2 wrote:
DavidS wrote:To make a usable system you will likely end up with at least 1MB if you omit any graphics support, and this is with just a simple shell and the needed shell commands (Absolutely no extras).

More then acceptable.
Add a shell, gcc, python and a couple of extras and probably land up with 50 or even 80MB.
Still much more streamlined then any of the current options.


I do not know about that. With RISC OS you have a 4MB ROM that has much more support, including a full GUI, a complete shell a good number of shell utilities, a few GUI Apps, a complete assembler. You add to this a 4MB boot sequence, about 2MB of extra modules, 2MB strong help system, 6MB web browser, and a 4MB C/C++ toolchain and you have a very complete and usable system with all the extras that a 120MB Linux comes with for about 22MB.
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by DexOS » Sun Jun 03, 2012 8:20 pm
I was shocked by the size of the unzipped file, theres no need.
My OS has both CLI and GUI, many drivers, full tcp/ip and much more and its only 54k unoptimized for size.

I also remember many moons ago, i coded a high res gui in the forum of a i-pod, with built in cd player in less than 512 bytes, for a boot sector compo.
Remember there no ATAPI driver, it all needed to be included in the 512 bytes.
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by jubber » Sun Jun 03, 2012 10:59 pm
tufty wrote:Now, as for "nobody is using linux for anything" - absolute tosh. The phone manufacturers are using it to make an awful lot of money...


Hi - if you re-read my original post you'll see that I both acknowledge the fantastic number of linux based devices and questioned how many people actually *use* linux on those devices. My phrasing was poor, hence your confusion over my point. The fault is mine. I've just recently converted a game from PSP to Android. On the PSP a lot of the code in my engine calls on specific features of the underlying Sony OS - every other command or library from graphics through to the very Sony specific memory card code is peculiar and particular to the PSP hardware. Everything else in the game is just yer basic C code. On Android however I might either write in C/C++ using a cross platform system like Marmalade, or write in Google's preferred ultra slow Java machine. I could do this with absolutely no awareness that linux is sitting under the code I write - or to put it another way, if I had learnt at school to be awesome at linux, this is not knowledge I would end up applying on these linux platforms.

Mod: Please use the Quote feature in the future.
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by jubber » Sun Jun 03, 2012 11:07 pm
Dear Zwack - you wrote "Moreover Linux is a truly, utterly awful operating system... "
"Unix is such an awful operating system that it's still in use even <snip>"

for educational use I said dear fellow! For education! Your selective quote may have come from speed reading my post. Linux is a remarkable technical achievement - and the fact it has created an open alternative to the big boys MS and Apple is beneficial to a great many companies. I just don't think it's a very nice thing to give to school children.
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by helpful » Mon Jun 04, 2012 12:51 am
Please would you keep the Linux arguments out of the RISC OS section of the forum and have them somewhere more appropriate.

/dev/null maybe :-)

Thanks.
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by helpful » Mon Jun 04, 2012 1:01 am
Back on topic, it looks like RISC OS now has working USB on the R-Pi :D

https://www.riscosopen.org/viewer/revis ... 29138.html

Hopefully not too long until there's a ROM image for anyone to download and have a play.
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by jabela » Mon Jun 04, 2012 12:32 pm
I would so, so love to have RISC OS on the Raspberry PI. It used to fly on StrongARM and the processor on the Pi is much faster than that. I know I am pushing my luck, but do you think there's any chance of a demonstrator for 14th July when the Raspberry Jam in Cambridge is happening? (See announcements in the forum)

Event details at: http://raspberrycambridge.eventbrite.com/

James :-)
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by DavidS » Mon Jun 04, 2012 2:35 pm
I am looking forward to the release of the Raspberry Pi port of RISC OS. I prefer RISC OS for any ARM based platform as RISC OS is a simple OS and there is nothing available that can live up to RISC OS for the ARM platform at this time.
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by DexOS » Mon Jun 04, 2012 6:40 pm
I am a big fan of the RISC OS and i know i will be shot for saying it, but here goes.
RISC OS GUI is ugly, it needs a up date.
I am sorry, but it needed to be said.
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by AlArenal » Mon Jun 04, 2012 7:14 pm
It all comes down to priorities and before making something nice, better make it work.

BTW, a command line is also not a thing of beauty.
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by DavidS » Tue Jun 05, 2012 4:19 am
DexOS wrote:I am a big fan of the RISC OS and i know i will be shot for saying it, but here goes.
RISC OS GUI is ugly, it needs a up date.
I am sorry, but it needed to be said.

I will agree with that :) .
Thankfully once it is ported modifying the appearance is a simple task.

OT
By your pseudonym (DexOS) are you in any way involved in the 64-bit assembly language Operating System for IA64 systems called DexOS?
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by DexOS » Tue Jun 05, 2012 5:04 pm
DavidS wrote:
DexOS wrote:I am a big fan of the RISC OS and i know i will be shot for saying it, but here goes.
RISC OS GUI is ugly, it needs a up date.
I am sorry, but it needed to be said.

I will agree with that :) .
Thankfully once it is ported modifying the appearance is a simple task.

OT
By your pseudonym (DexOS) are you in any way involved in the 64-bit assembly language Operating System for IA64 systems called DexOS?

[offtopic] You maybe mixing two OS's up, i did code the 32bit x86 OS called DexOS, theres is 64bit OS, called baremetalOS.
So if your talking about the 32bit one, then the answer is yes i am involved, i work on porting it to R-PI [/offtopic]
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by BrokenFrog » Wed Jun 06, 2012 10:51 pm
RISC OS is kind of working, but it's "officially" still in pre-alpha stage, according to Raspberry Pi ROM section at https://www.riscosopen.org/content/downloads/other-zipfiles. I've downloaded the ROM and dropped it onto an SD Card and booted it. So far, there are some obvious issues (most of the icon bar is obscured, cursor leaves fragments, etc), but I've managed to get networking and the Internet up, browsed with Netsurf, and used the Theme Manager and Steel Theme from http://www.lym.iconbar.com/themes to make the desktop look less retro!

And it does it in a similar style to debian - it boots to a command prompt and you have to punch in a few commands to get to the desktop. For the networking, etc, you need an ADFS formatted usb drive too, for the Hard Disc image from further up the downloads page.

Given that I have zero coding skills or understanding, just a keenness to play with RISC OS on my Raspberry Pi, I think that's all very promising!

And it's very fast! Makes debian look like a slug after a quick swim in a bucket of beer!

A
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by mahjongg » Wed Jun 06, 2012 11:18 pm
very interesting! From your comments I gather that it now has a working USB stack?!
I thought the big problem with Risc OS was that it could not handle any USB peripherals, so the only way to get Risc OS running on the PI was to use a serial mouse on the GPIO UART, and to hack in an PS/2 keyboard interface.

It was never quite clear to me if Risc OS in general didn't support USB, or that it only couldn't handle the USB hardware of the PI.

Anyway, If USB is working on the PI on Risc OS, then that would be an enormous step forward!
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