STD unveil 'support keys' for USBBy Chris Williams. Published: 25th Mar 2004, 19:56:00 | Permalink | Printable
Free support to whoever's firstStuart Tyrrell Developments is facing a mild dilemma with regards to USB device support on RISC OS. While STD would like to get as many USB devices and gadgets working with the Simtec USB1.1 podule, they're modestly worried that their driver software is too comprehensive and users will begin to buy USB kit from non-RISC OS dealers. Hence today's introduction of MassFS version 1.00 and its community based support system.
MassFS supports storage media based USB devices, such as pen drives, card readers, MP3 players, digital cameras and zip drives, and acts as a normal RISC OS filing system. It allows users to experiment with new devices and receive updates from other users, via STD. Once a user has a new and previously unsupported USB device working with MassFS, sent the relevant configuration files to STD and had them verified, STD will publish the configuration online for other users to download and use. USB devices purchased from STD will also be bundled with a copy of MassFS.
RISC OS users are encouraged by developers and the platform's elders to only buy hardware from RISC OS friendly dealers because not only do they need our cash, the dealers will have tested all their goods on RISC OS machines to ensure compatibility and also to be in a position to offer RISC OS tailored after-sales support. It used to be the case where if you dashed off to PC World to buy some new USB gadget, you'd be on your own to get it working on RISC OS, whereas buying a similar device from a RISC OS dealer would guarantee compatibility with your setup and there'd be a nice person on the phone on a Sunday evening to talk you through the installation with a mug of cocoa - such end user support comes at a price though, which is one of the reasons why RISC OS dealers tend to charge more than high street prices.
Another side to MassFS is STD's "support key" system, which is perhaps a little contrived but we see what they're aiming for. If you have a support key, you can get end-user support from STD for a particular USB device. Buy a device from STD, get a support key. If you be the first user to provide the MassFS configuration files for a previously unsupported device and you'll be awarded a free support key for that unlocked device (pun intended). With this kind of motivation fuelling hardware minded users, we're envisaging Wacky Races style campaigns with users racing to add support for newer and newer devices, which is just what the platform needs. It'll also put a new twist on the Simtec USB vs. Castle USB saga, as drivers for one USB solution are incompatible with the other solution.
"Support for RISC OS users is central to the ethos of the Simtec/STD USB implementation - we have considered it important to produce a solution which offers assistance to those who require it, without encouraging an exodus to resellers who do not support RISC OS machines which might be seen with a 'generic' implementation," explained STD's Stuart Tyrrell.
"MassFS V1.00 continues our model of enabling support to be offered within the RISC OS customer-base, yet encourage users to experiment with new devices."
MassFS website - pricings, availability, etc.
RISC OS USB website - STD and Simtec's USB support site
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