RISC OS on Raspberry Pi


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by spamel » Sat Jan 14, 2012 12:25 am
Ok, I have a question regarding RISCOS, which I seem to recall ran on the Archimedes at school. I also seem to remember it booted in less then ten seconds and you were ready to go, but if you wanted a program to run you had to set it off yourself as opposed to a bunch of background and startup executed programs that are a drain on system resources.

If I have the general gist right, why did we move away from that to the Windows OS that has so much junk going on that you never want to run, which leaves a five minute startup and another ten trying to stop programs from running that are eating resources and shouldn"t be running?
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by 1aws » Sat Jan 14, 2012 10:09 am
spamel said:


…..

If I have the general gist right, why did we move away from that to the Windows OS that has so much junk going on that you never want to run, which leaves a five minute startup and another ten trying to stop programs from running that are eating resources and shouldn"t be running?


Alas, it was political, spamel. In the late nineties Tony Blair invited Bill Gates to Downing Street to "discuss" what Microsoft might be able to do for computing in state education. Not much was heard about the actual meeting, but soon afterwards when the inspectors were visiting schools they were asking questions of headteachers and computing PTs such as "Why don't you use industry standard computers that run Windows (98)?" Eventually schools moved over to PCs. At the time my headteacher put a lot of pressure on me to switch over. He promised 8 new PCs – at the time we had only 12 RISC PCs for a class of 20. I refused but he persisted and persisted. Headteachers can put a lot of pressure on classroom teachers. I had no promotion ambitions so resisted as long as I could many others didn't. 8 new RISC PC replacements were ordered for the new session but close to the end of session I received information that these new machines would not be ready until at least October. 8 spanking new PCs were ordered and that was that.  I retired some 5 years later. We still had one classroom of RISC PC right into the early millenium (my room), all talking to a Linux server, but the RISC PC classroom was replaced with more W98 computers a couple of years before I retired.  After I retired the school threw a lot of money at PC systems. I returned a few years later to do some supply work. They didn't have their troubles to seek, there was always at least one computer with a problem.
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by jamesh » Sat Jan 14, 2012 12:49 pm
1aws said:


JamesH and Prometheus. Thanks for your patience with me.

Let me say that I am very keen to see this succeed, I will certainly be purchasing one as soon as possible.  I have, however, some concerns and hope that my fears can be put to rest.

Apps within RISC OS include: Draw, Edit, Paint, Maestro, SparkFS (ZIP file unpacker), UnTar, Printer driver app, Artworks viewer, PDF viewer, BBC BASIC as well as a few games. All within 20MB including the OS.

All of these  applications as well as a word processor, spreadsheet, browser loaded use some 6-12MB of memory,  That is less than 40MB; it would easily fit into a Model A. Remember on the RasPi the memory is shared between OS and video. I believe the video takes some 64MB, leaving only 64MB on Model A and 192MB on Model B.

Here is a snapshot of RISC OS running a large number of applications at once, the main window is showing the amount of memory used (total is around 12MB).  There is also a 4MB RAM disc operating.  All of this would easily fit onto a Raspberry Model A.

Loaded RISC OS

I have only used Xfce within Xubuntu and apparently it was using about 190MB. I have been told, however, that it will run in about 128MB. This doesn't leave a lot for other applications. I trust enough for Python etc.


What you are saying is RiscOS and its apps uses less memory. I understand that, and because of that it will run well on the Raspi, I also understand that. There are a number of apps available. Great.

Still never seen one in use in industry.
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by 1aws » Sat Jan 14, 2012 10:39 pm
JamesH said:



Still never seen one in use in industry.



Commerce and industries loss.

Thought you might appreciate this JamesH:

Python on RISC OS
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by Benedict White » Sat Jan 14, 2012 11:25 pm
1aws said:


JamesH said:



Still never seen one in use in industry.


Commerce and industries loss.

Thought you might appreciate this JamesH:

Python on RISC OS


It would be nice to see RiscOS open sourced as I can't see it making money...

That said, on penetration that was being talked of above, in the actual desktop market Linux's share suck. In netbooks it's better, in mobile devices it's vast and in web servers is also vast.

Where Linux falls down is mindshare. That is what people think they want installed. As they tap away on their Free BSD based (I am assuming that the Iphone is like Mac OS, Free BSD based) or Linux based (Android) smart phone they think they could not handle a Linux desktop, yet installing something like Ubuntu is very very very easy and a lot less mouse clicks that with Windows. Using it is also easy peasey. It's only if you want to get under the bonnet like a Linux admin would want to that you have to look a few tricks up.
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by GavinNY » Sun Jan 15, 2012 12:34 am
Benedict White said:


1aws said:


JamesH said:


Still never seen one in use in industry.


Commerce and industries loss.

Thought you might appreciate this JamesH:

Python on RISC OS


It would be nice to see RiscOS open sourced as I can't see it making money...


It doesn't quite meet the proper definition of Open Source (it's more like shared source) but the sources are nonetheless available and the whole thing is freely available - source and binary - see http://www.riscosopen.org
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by Burngate » Sun Jan 15, 2012 4:28 pm
JamesH said:

Still never seen one in use in industry.

Years ago, before they made me redundant, I worked for a broadcaster that shall be nameless, but whose name rhymes with this site. For their News-active feed (add-on rolling news headlines, weather, sport, etc.) they used multiple RiscPCs as front ends, with custom-built RiscOS boxes controlling hard-drive video servers, switchers & other gubbinses.

It worked, and could have been so good. But the company that installed it didn't seem to have quite the right attitude.If we had a problem, I would have expected them to be on the motorway straight away, instead of which, I got the impression they didn't really care. Maybe they had bigger fish to fry, but having your stuff in the biggest broadcast TV system would have been good PR, I'd have thought.

Anyway it's all gone now. Running on Quantel stuff last time I looked. (those contained Strongarms under the bonnet, though the main procs were *nix I believe)
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by DavidS » Mon Jan 16, 2012 9:57 pm
If you are so worried about not providing anything new (you seem to be saying: "the student should only know about the already popular systems, because nothing must ever change") then give them WinCE.   The positive of using a non linux system is that the student will see that there are other systems that are as capable as the popular ones.  Also this will help them to realize that the basic concepts are the same on most Operating Systems once they do learn some unixon or win etc.
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by DavidS » Mon Jan 16, 2012 10:15 pm
Or let me put it a different way:

What makes OSes such as AROS, Risc OS, Haiku OS, and MultiTOS any less capable than Linux, Windows, Solaris, and Minix?

NOTHING, just because there are fewer current developers for these systems does not make them any less.  If we show the new generation that there are alternatives we are bound to end up with better Programmers, Graphics designers, Game Developers, and Electronics Engineers.  Remember in the 1980s a huge driving force was the variety of HW and OSes, I think that bringing back this variety will help ALOT.

If the various existing 'Educational Linux' systems have only made there target less interested why go with Linux.  These range from various HW projects (that while commercial claim to target education of CS) to many Linux distros for x86-IA32 systems.  It seems that the great new generation programmers that do exist all started on the 'old' operating systems.

There are a few truly great new young programmers, some began on the IIGS (thanks to the open sourcing of Complete Pascal) some on various MultiTOS systems and a couple on Risc OS.  For the new programmers on Windows and Linux based systems they all seem not to get a start until they are all in there teens.
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by trevj » Thu Jan 19, 2012 10:38 am
1aws said:

Alas, it was political, spamel. In the late nineties Tony Blair invited Bill Gates to Downing Street to "discuss" what Microsoft might be able to do for computing in state education. [...]

There was some coverage of this "courting" in the press - although probably mostly kept out of the British media.

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by firtle » Sun Jan 22, 2012 3:16 am
GavinNY said:


JamesH said:


I"m not convinced about RiscOS as a teaching platform – better to use a platform that is actually used in the field – less to learn once you go out in to the big wide world.


Using that theory, there'd be even less to learn if we just continue to stick kids in front of Microsoft Word and Excel :) I'll definitely be using Linux on my RPi but I would love to be able to use RISC OS on it too, they're such a natural fit.


1aws said:


JamesH said:


Not the point I was making. RiscOS - not used in the wide world. Linux (and Windows) Much used in the wide world.  Nothing to do with Excel or Word, they are not *platforms*


Linux only has about 4% penetration in the real world , even Apple have about twice as much popularity, MS Windows prevails here with well over 80% penetration; possibly even more if we are discussing only desktop enviroments. We also now know that certain Linux distributions won't run, and it looks as if any version that runs on the Raspi will be severely limited in terms of an operational desktop. By your argument we should only consider Windows solutions, in which case the Raspi is not appropriate hardware. RISC OS is a very light OS that would easily run in the available memory. Several programming languages (including the WIMP environment) are available on the platform. RISC OS was a great Cambridge invention that has many of the features of the modern desktop OS, don't knock it. In my view computing teachers should be teaching concepts an not training pupils in skills as is done at present under the ICT / Business Studies departments. Long live variety.


JamesH said:


GavinNY said:


JamesH said:


I"m not convinced about RiscOS as a teaching platform – better to use a platform that is actually used in the field – less to learn once you go out in to the big wide world.


Using that theory, there'd be even less to learn if we just continue to stick kids in front of Microsoft Word and Excel :) I'll definitely be using Linux on my RPi but I would love to be able to use RISC OS on it too, they're such a natural fit.


Not the point I was making. RiscOS - not used in the wide world. Linux (and Windows) Much used in the wide world.  Nothing to do with Excel or Word, they are not *platforms*


Okay, this is my first post and I apologise if I've missed something below. I think fundamentally the idea of a it being a prerequisite to have a "used in the wide world" platform is false.

The idea of good Comp Sci is the teaching of principles rather than training and being tied to a particular technology or platform. This to me is at the heart of our issue in current teaching - we are training rather than educating. This was the approach taken when I studied Comp Sci - and the choice of a leftfield OS could actually be seen as a postive - here is why.

When teaching a class, say Computer Studies, unlike something like Maths or Physics where students/pupils are following a curriculum and are unlikely to have 'read ahead', you will have a much more varied experience with a bunch of kids , some whom may be experienced with computer languages, some with experience of Windows / iOS / Linux / Apple etc. some who may be just dipping their toes in the water. What you want to do is have an educational experience that brings the students together (whilst not holding individuals back). RiscOS, I would suggest would be ideal leveler. It is proven educational environment - would be familiar, but not something kids have seen before. I hope this is making sense....

The first thing my University did was to say: "You are here to learn and understand the principles behind programming. Some of you will have used BASIC, some C etc. So we are started with Standard ML, something none of you had seen before, but something that could be used to help you understand the principles of functional programming" (which could be taught in C - and later we applied those very techniques to C ).

RISCOS, to me,  presents an opportunity to do the same in terms of presenting pupils with an understanding of the principles of not only using but also putting an OS together. Those principles can then be applied to the myriad other OS's they will encounter, have experience of or may one day help develop. Indeed other OSs which will be available via the R-Pi.

It also presents a uniquely British view of Computer Science - allows a history of British Computing to be taught and have real meaning - from Acorn to the chip inside your RPi- and gives us a neat continuity between that epoch and this.

I think it's compelling. I'm not saying you don't use Linux or whatever - but for a starter OS - I think its perfect.
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by DavidS » Sun Jan 22, 2012 6:49 pm
firtle said:


The idea of good Comp Sci is the teaching of principles rather than training and being tied to a particular technology or platform. This to me is at the heart of our issue in current teaching - we are training rather than educating. This was the approach taken when I studied Comp Sci - and the choice of a leftfield OS could actually be seen as a postive - here is why.

When teaching a class, say Computer Studies, unlike something like Maths or Physics where students/pupils are following a curriculum and are unlikely to have 'read ahead', you will have a much more varied experience with a bunch of kids , some whom may be experienced with computer languages, some with experience of Windows / iOS / Linux / Apple etc. some who may be just dipping their toes in the water. What you want to do is have an educational experience that brings the students together (whilst not holding individuals back). RiscOS, I would suggest would be ideal leveler. It is proven educational environment - would be familiar, but not something kids have seen before. I hope this is making sense....

The first thing my University did was to say: "You are here to learn and understand the principles behind programming. Some of you will have used BASIC, some C etc. So we are started with Standard ML, something none of you had seen before, but something that could be used to help you understand the principles of functional programming" (which could be taught in C - and later we applied those very techniques to C ).

RISCOS, to me,  presents an opportunity to do the same in terms of presenting pupils with an understanding of the principles of not only using but also putting an OS together. Those principles can then be applied to the myriad other OS's they will encounter, have experience of or may one day help develop. Indeed other OSs which will be available via the R-Pi.

I think it's compelling. I'm not saying you don't use Linux or whatever - but for a starter OS - I think its perfect.



Thank you.  This is the point I have been trying to make.

On an unrelated point:

I will only be able to contribute one RPi donation for every 4 that I buy for my products.  This is because of the licensing fees for Risc OS plus the cost of a SD-Card plus the 10-minutes of someones time to set up the system.  I will be requiring that every RPi that I donate be delivered configured with Risc OS and only Risc OS.  I do have a couple of secondary products that will also be using the RPi that are still not yet announced, and if my projections are correct I will be making a significant number of donations in the next couple of years.

Unfortunately it is to late in the game to correct the educational situation here in the United States, though I am very happy to help out the education of the next generation over there.
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by 1aws » Sun Jan 22, 2012 9:20 pm
firtle said:


I think it's compelling. I'm not saying you don't use Linux or whatever - but for a starter OS - I think its perfect.


Thoroughly agree with your argument firtle. However, many who teach are really more comfortable "training"; it is easier. Concepts that are taught stay with you for life or at least working life. Training lasts only for the length of the product, provided the student uses the product on a regular basis.  RISC OS is a truly wonderful product considering it appeared some years before Windows 95.  Anyone still use W95?  Alas the depth of software available for RISC OS is very limited.  As well as the excellent BBC BASIC there is a version of Python (2.3) and Charm. The only free WP and SS product is Fireworkz as far as I am aware.  The desktop starts up in under 10 seconds under emulation (would expect faster on an actual Pi.  StrongED is an excellent editor.
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by Davespice » Mon Jan 23, 2012 11:48 am
Hi guys;

I just want to give firtle another +1.  I thoroughly agree.

One thing that really excites me about this is the prospect of being able to natively run old binaries from the Archimedes.  Is this possible?  IIRC the Archimedes had an ARM2 was it? So I’m just hazarding a guess that the ARM11 is backwardly compatible.  Or would an emulator be required?

Thanks in advance
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by trevj » Mon Jan 23, 2012 12:17 pm
Davespice said:


One thing that really excites me about this is the prospect of being able to natively run old binaries from the Archimedes.  Is this possible?  IIRC the Archimedes had an ARM2 was it? So I’m just hazarding a guess that the ARM11 is backwardly compatible.  Or would an emulator be required?


I suggest having a look back in this thread.
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by jamesh » Mon Jan 23, 2012 12:24 pm
DavidS said:


Thank you.  This is the point I have been trying to make.

On an unrelated point:

I will only be able to contribute one RPi donation for every 4 that I buy for my products.  This is because of the licensing fees for Risc OS plus the cost of a SD-Card plus the 10-minutes of someones time to set up the system.  I will be requiring that every RPi that I donate be delivered configured with Risc OS and only Risc OS.  I do have a couple of secondary products that will also be using the RPi that are still not yet announced, and if my projections are correct I will be making a significant number of donations in the next couple of years.


So will you be buying and donating the Raspi's yourself with RiscOS on board? Because demanding that of the Foundation does sounds like it won't be acceptable. They don't react well to 'demands'.
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by Davespice » Mon Jan 23, 2012 12:26 pm
trevj said:


Davespice said:


One thing that really excites me about this is the prospect of being able to natively run old binaries from the Archimedes.  Is this possible?  IIRC the Archimedes had an ARM2 was it? So I’m just hazarding a guess that the ARM11 is backwardly compatible.  Or would an emulator be required?


I suggest having a look back in this thread.



I did see this but I didn't fully understand it.  So I take it the answer is no, it won't run natively because of the 26/32 bit mode difference and an emulator would be required.
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by jamesh » Mon Jan 23, 2012 12:32 pm
firtle said:


GavinNY said:


When teaching a class, say Computer Studies, unlike something like Maths or Physics where students/pupils are following a curriculum and are unlikely to have 'read ahead', you will have a much more varied experience with a bunch of kids , some whom may be experienced with computer languages, some with experience of Windows / iOS / Linux / Apple etc. some who may be just dipping their toes in the water. What you want to do is have an educational experience that brings the students together (whilst not holding individuals back). RiscOS, I would suggest would be ideal leveler. It is proven educational environment – would be familiar, but not something kids have seen before. I hope this is making sense….


The first thing my University did was to say: "You are here to learn and understand the principles behind programming. Some of you will have used BASIC, some C etc. So we are started with Standard ML, something none of you had seen before, but something that could be used to help you understand the principles of functional programming" (which could be taught in C – and later we applied those very techniques to C ).

RISCOS, to me,  presents an opportunity to do the same in terms of presenting pupils with an understanding of the principles of not only using but also putting an OS together. Those principles can then be applied to the myriad other OS's they will encounter, have experience of or may one day help develop. Indeed other OSs which will be available via the R-Pi.

It also presents a uniquely British view of Computer Science – allows a history of British Computing to be taught and have real meaning – from Acorn to the chip inside your RPi- and gives us a neat continuity between that epoch and this.

I think it's compelling. I'm not saying you don't use Linux or whatever – but for a starter OS – I think its perfect.


I do agree that you should learn principles rather than specifics (but the same argument could be put forward that says Linux has the same principles behind it as RiscOS, so why not learn an OS that is also used in industry).

Also, part of the reason behind Raspi is that Eben was finding people coming for the CompSci courses at Cambridge to be completely lacking in any pre-learnt information – ie in the same position as other courses with no pre-reading. And it was getting worse year by year from a high during the period of the BBC Micro and Spectrums etc.

I also don't think history/fond remembrance should affect OS choice. Otherwise perhaps we should all be using VMS…
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by DavidS » Mon Jan 23, 2012 3:29 pm
JamesH said:


DavidS said:


Thank you.  This is the point I have been trying to make.

On an unrelated point:

I will only be able to contribute one RPi donation for every 4 that I buy for my products.  This is because of the licensing fees for Risc OS plus the cost of a SD-Card plus the 10-minutes of someones time to set up the system.  I will be requiring that every RPi that I donate be delivered configured with Risc OS and only Risc OS.  I do have a couple of secondary products that will also be using the RPi that are still not yet announced, and if my projections are correct I will be making a significant number of donations in the next couple of years.


So will you be buying and donating the Raspi's yourself with RiscOS on board? Because demanding that of the Foundation does sounds like it won't be acceptable. They don't react well to 'demands'.


Sadly I am in the US, and as such it would be impractical to ship them twice.  I am hoping that I can find someone in the RPi organization that likes Risc OS and would be willing to do the ~10 minutes per board work to set up Risc OS on them.  I would never demand something that is not in the will of the target.   I would strongly request to find someone that would be willing to do this inside of Raspberry Pi.  Though I will acquire the licenses for Risc OS.
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by zippy » Mon Jan 23, 2012 11:43 pm

One thing that really excites me about this is the prospect of being able to natively run old binaries from the Archimedes.  Is this possible?  IIRC the Archimedes had an ARM2 was it? So I’m just hazarding a guess that the ARM11 is backwardly compatible.  Or would an emulator be required?



I'm very interested in this too as I have some old A3000 demos/intros that I'd like to get running by booting them direct, after I get them initially running from RISCOS.

I wonder if the BBC Basic supplied with the RasPi version of RISCOS will assemble to the new 32 bit address instructions and therefore just running (and therefore re-assembling) the old code would work?

I looked over my old code and it's moving in "32" bit address values to a single register 8 bits at a time over 4 separate move/shift operations, whereas I've seen more modern ARM code do this in a single instruction (with external, relative referenced data for the 32 bit value), so I'm not sure how that would work when re-assembled.

My old ARM reference book is from 1990 (it even says "Acorn RISC Machine" on the cover!), so I'm kinda out of date with the more recent changes.

Also wondering how the graphics in the "dumb frame buffer" will be configured. Will we still need to calculate and plot "sprite masks" in software like the A3000 or will there be an alpha channel so most of that can be done by the hardware?
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by brian_reiter » Tue Jan 24, 2012 3:32 pm

I also don"t think history/fond remembrance should affect OS choice. Otherwise perhaps we should all be using VMS…


:) Steady on, that my day job.  Nothing wrong with VMS, its still in use and for anyone who drives on the UK motorways affects many people on a daily basis.

Nothing wrong with RiscOS and to be honest the more variety the better.
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by sa110 » Tue Jan 24, 2012 7:29 pm
Burngate said:


My present setup has a RiscPC (4.37), VRPC on a laptop (4.39) and A9home (4.42), and I'll want an Ras-Pi also on Risc OS.

My present disappointment is that the A9home won't run samba (it crashes it - probably due to my incompetence) or Lanman98 (not 32 bit - I know!)


Not sure about Samba, but LanMan98 works without any issue.  All you need to do is purchase the current 32-bit version from CJE Micros.  Then you will have no issue running it!  Sometimes it does pay to upgrade to the latest versions of software.
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by sa110 » Tue Jan 24, 2012 7:36 pm
JamesH said:


Nicely put.

I should say I have nothing against RiscOS whatsoever, I just have a feeling it might be worth teaching people on an OS they will encountered in the real world.


The thing is with RISC OS, yes it is not used as widely as Windows or Apples, but does that really matter?  I found that having learned how to use RISC OS at school, learnt the whole concept of a WIMP enivronment, I was able transfer all that knowledge for use on other computing WIMP based platforms such as Windows or Apple.  Yeah different interfaces do things slightly different, but once you've picked up RISC OS, using any other interface is simple!  Having using RISC OS I was empowered as an indiviual to use other platforms such as Windows.
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by firtle » Wed Jan 25, 2012 3:09 am
JamesH said:






It also presents a uniquely British view of Computer Science – allows a history of British Computing to be taught and have real meaning – from Acorn to the chip inside your RPi- and gives us a neat continuity between that epoch and this.

I think it"s compelling. I"m not saying you don"t use Linux or whatever – but for a starter OS – I think its perfect.


I do agree that you should learn principles rather than specifics (but the same argument could be put forward that says Linux has the same principles behind it as RiscOS, so why not learn an OS that is also used in industry).

Also, part of the reason behind Raspi is that Eben was finding people coming for the CompSci courses at Cambridge to be completely lacking in any pre-learnt information – ie in the same position as other courses with no pre-reading. And it was getting worse year by year from a high during the period of the BBC Micro and Spectrums etc.

I also don"t think history/fond remembrance should affect OS choice. Otherwise perhaps we should all be using VMS…



I take your point... and perhaps I have rose-tinted specs... but my argument for a starter OS still holds. You will still get kids with experience, but there are just far less of them now - and that is problem. Linux these days (Ubuntu etc) is not that much of a different experience to Windows. So why not begin with something that none of the kids will have come across. I'm not advocating never using LINUX, Windows or whatever. You establish the principles and then apply to them various OS's - something the R-Pi seems very suited to given the fact we'll be able to swap out an SD card / USB drive with a different OS on it.

RISC-OS and the Beeb before it were born out the need to Educate (not just kids). There is enough software out there to be reused. Computer Science hasn't changed that much - algorithms still need writing - fundamentals of abstraction need understanding etc. show once - apply many times. Understanding the principles - apply to whatever language pops up next.

I'd probably advocate the R-pi booting to BBC Basic - but heh - that might be going a little far... maybe not. The instance of bring able to get simple programs going and producing simple text and graphics, the instant feedback of an interpreted language. What more do you want as an intro ? :)
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by Rich 6502 » Fri Jan 27, 2012 1:19 pm

zippy said:


One thing that really excites me about this is the prospect of being able to natively run old binaries from the Archimedes.  Is this possible?  IIRC the Archimedes had an ARM2 was it? So I’m just hazarding a guess that the ARM11 is backwardly compatible.  Or would an emulator be required?


I must admit, I'm keeping an eye on Pi for the same reason.  I spent a lot of my youth enjoying the Archie scene – particularly the games.  I would really like to be able to get the old games/demos/apps etc. going again.

The problem is, the later RISC OS machines are just not compatible.  If you remember machines like the A3000 or A300/400-series, then after that, things changed.  The A5000 had some different hardware and a newer OS, which broke some apps/games.  Then the Risc PC and A7000 came long, which were quite radically different, and broke most games.  Later machines such as Iyonix, and the new 'ROOL' breeds are even less compatible.

In my opinion, there is only one viable option: emulation.

There are two Archimedes emulators available for RISC OS (ArcEm and A310Emu) so you can in theory make a 'modern' RISC OS machine act like a classic A310.  Then the games should work.

ArcEm can also be run on Linux.  Arculator is fantastic, but is Windows-only (anyone up for a Linux or RISC OS port?).

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