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VirtualRiscPC upgrades to Adjust

By Chris Williams. Published: 6th May 2004, 18:00:44 | Permalink | Printable

VA5000 retired

VirtualAcorn have announced VirtualRiscPC-Adjust, the StrongARM RiscPC emulator for Windows PCs that runs RISC OS Adjust. VirtualAcorn described RISC OS Adjust as "the most feature rich version of RISC OS to date" and a number of third party suppliers will provide the new VirtualRPC release on their Windows PC 'hybrids'.

It seems so long ago that RISCOS Ltd., developers of Adjust, and VirtualAcorn were locked in a slagging match over the legality of RISC OS 3 and VirtualAcorn's VirtualA5000 product. The matter was either resolved, or RISCOS Ltd. realised (or perhaps was persuaded) that an emulator market would be much bigger than the shrinking RiscPC market - but anyway, it's now 2004 and, for example, emulation is currently the only way to get a modern RISC OS onto a laptop computer.

"The development work that the RISCOS Ltd team has put into RISC OS over the past five years is now being enjoyed by an ever increasing number of users," RISCOS Ltd.'s managing director Paul Middleton enthused, regarding today's news, also answering the above questioning of RISCOS Ltd's emulation u-turn.

"We are seeing a large number of new RISC OS users purchasing VirtualAcorn products and it is fitting that they are now able to enjoy the very latest version of RISC OS."

MicroDigital were the first company to distribute VirtualRiscPC, by exclusively bundling it in their range of Alpha laptops. MD's MD, Dave Atkins, today also echoed the sugar coated praises of other VirtualRiscPC suppliers: "We were delighted to a hear that VirtualAcorn had secured RISC OS Adjust, it's a great operating system and represents a huge step forward for RISC OS."

Finally, after shipping "thousands of copies" of VirtualA5000, VirtualAcorn have axed their A5000 emulator, but will continue to offer technical support to existing users for the foreseeable future.

Links

VirtualAcorn

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Discussion

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Oh no, Drobe's using the 'hybrid' term now. :o)

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 6/5/04 6:49PM
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I won't rant, I can't be bothered RISC OS is dead anyway. I'll be saving myself an unnecessary trip to Wakefield (and a packet on buying software/magazine subscriptions for what is now increasingly looking like a dead platform).

Said with much regret that - but sincerely felt....

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 6/5/04 6:57PM
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AMS:

Why is RISC OS "increasingly looking like a dead platform" simply because an emulator is going to be using the latest 26bit version of the OS?

OK, so it doesn't fit into your very narrow vision of how RISC OS should be used, but what else?

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 6/5/04 7:11PM
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In reply to AMS Chill man. Go with the flow. For once, not all of the eggs are in one basket. The Acorn / RISC OS ride always was a roller coaster trip. Keep your sense of humour and enjoy.

 is a RISC OS Usermartin on 6/5/04 7:20PM
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fylfot>

Platform is OS+Hardware (a broader vision than OS+Emulator I would have thought).

VARPC are selling Windows, RISC OS Ltd., are selling Windows (I don't think I can make it simpler than that). People will be 100% dependant on Windows when they run their "RISC OS".

Yes if one (correctly) defines Platform as OS+Hardware then RISC OS is dead.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 6/5/04 7:22PM
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Martin>

I know you're heart's in the right place - but things are looking pretty grim when people get enthused about needing the *latest* version of Windows in order to run the latest version of RISC OS., is it just me or is that plain daft ?

As to eggs in the one basket Castle and Microdigital still notionally sell hardware, they represent choice for RISC OS users too, so is emulation *really* needed ?

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 6/5/04 7:26PM
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If you want a laptop with RISC OS, then yes emulation is really needed.

 is a RISC OS UserGrek1 on 6/5/04 7:29PM
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AMS:

Er, and if you want to run RISC OS without Windows, buy an Iyonix. If you want an emulator, buy an emulator. It's choice, it's cool.

The important thing is that RISC OS survives, that's why I'm more concerned about the OS fork. I really think there should be more co-operation between Castle and ROL. Each seems to be almost denying that the other exists.

The fact that you can run RISC OS in different ways really isn't a worry.

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 6/5/04 7:29PM
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AMS: That doesn't explain the existence of my Iyonix ;-)

dgs

 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 6/5/04 7:33PM
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Grek, two points are all the "thousands" of copies being used on laptops or desktops ? And do you think having an emulated RISC OS on a PC portable makes it any easier for a RISC OS hardware manufacturer to justify building a RISC OS laptop using *actual* ARM hardware or not (the economics of it were dodgy enough anyway without PC competition I would have thought) ?

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 6/5/04 7:34PM
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AMS:

Riscstation had ages to put a laptop together, well before Virtual RPC. I think we just have to conclude that building an ARM-based laptop running RISC OS for our tiny market is just not practical.

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 6/5/04 7:41PM
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dgs>

I got mine October last (nice machine too), which is *all* the more point why it is *important* to keep the hardware side of things going. Emulation I would have thought threatens that *big time*.

fylfot>

I have *absolutely* no problem with people having choice (nothing I say here would affect that anyway !!!!). But I just don't see why people are so optimistic that putting RISC OS on Windows is somehow going to underpin it's longterm survival (pop quiz - what happened to DR DOS ?). Major changes are coming with MS Windows Longhorn (a slew of WinAPI's are being dropped, yet more .NET stuff and so on). How will this all impact on an emulated RISC OS - I don't know - and neither does anyone else - and that is worrying.

Each emulator sale represents a lost sale of an Iyonix or Omega, that must surely effect CTL and MD ? So does emulation help or hinder - does it encourage people to return (really ?), does it encourage PC users to switch (not really) it just eases the eventual switch to WinXP or its successor....

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 6/5/04 7:42PM
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AMS> Why come here to read RISC OS news if it's so "dead" ? You're just a stupid troll.

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 6/5/04 7:47PM
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AMS: No and no.

But even without emulator competition a RISCOS/ARM laptop never appeared (post-Acorn).

 is a RISC OS UserGrek1 on 6/5/04 7:47PM
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AMS:

Personally I'd rather run RISC OS natively and this is what I choose to do. But most people are only bothered about the RISC OS GUI. The Windows GUI is very different to the RISC OS one; for most people Windows in this respect is no match, and it doesn't seem to be getting any better. So I don't agree that emulation "eases the eventual switch to WinXP" - instead, it simply allows people to use the GUI they prefer on cheap hardware. Emulation really is a very economical way of doing things - though, of course, not the preferred way.

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 6/5/04 7:51PM
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imj>

Coming from you that passes almost as funny (you've continually slagged off RISC OS 5).

I also said "increasingly looking like a dead platform".

Now RISC OS (the 26bit one) is 100% dependant on Windows to work if that makes you happy, fine who am I, to argue with your obvious wisdom....

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 6/5/04 7:54PM
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In reply to AMS: "Each emulator sale represents a lost sale of an Iyonix or Omega"

No way! How can you possibly equate a £150 purchase to a £1300 purchase?

For some, VA is an addition to their old hardware, for others a replacement for their old hardware and, for still others, an addition to their *new* hardware (e.g. Iyonix plus VA laptop).

In the portable market, there is simply no competition in RO world for VA - and buying it actually keeps people *on* RO rather than Windows. In the desktop market, it's arguable - some people are using it for a transition, others as a curiosity and still others as their main environment. The exact ratio is impossibly to know without research that no one has done.

 is a RISC OS Userjohnpettigrew on 6/5/04 7:56PM
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In reply to AMS: "Now RISC OS (the 26bit one) is 100% dependant on Windows"

Again, nope. You can run VA on linux using wine. Not terribly efficient, but it *does* work. On some far-off day, we might even get a linux-native version.

 is a RISC OS Userjohnpettigrew on 6/5/04 7:57PM
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AMS>

26bit RISC OS is not 100% dependant on Windows, the Omega uses 26bit RISC OS as well as the A7000+, also the new machine from STD.

 is a RISC OS UserRevin Kevin on 6/5/04 8:02PM
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john>

And VA runs on what ????? Windows !

I would concede that as there *is* no portable RISC OS machine that VA has a niche there, but it also makes it *very* difficult for anyone to justify *ever* producing a RISC OS portable. Oddly as the small form factor/portable market is the obvious one for RISC OS this is really rather a pity - as to (some extent) the PC has the desktop market sown up.

Looking at it another way, you can get a (good) second hand RISC PC for less than £150 ! So why promote emulation on a cost basis, I'd also point out that PC's aren't free (you need something to run that £150 emulator after all and it needs to be a recent machine - as VA requires WinXP (or 2000)), it also needs Antivirus packages (annual subscription), frequent windows updates and so on. On the surface it may appear cheaper but over the machines life it'll cost as much - and can't be absolutely guaranteed to be 100% RISC OS compatible either as a real ARM based computer would.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 6/5/04 8:07PM
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Revin Kevin >

Trouble is (as John pojnted out) who can justify the 1,300 cost of an Omega when you can have an emulator for £150 (I've shown the "faultiness" of that logic above but if enough people believe the "economic" argument how long do you suppose Omega will last).

As to STD's new machine full marks to them, but isn't it A7500 based - so on a performance basis some would (and no doubt will) argue the emulation route is better (and again some will buy the emulator on that basis).

Trouble is if *enough* people opt for emulation it gets critical mass and the *hardware* part of the RISC OS equation will simply become uneconomic. If the (claimed) thousands of sales of VA outstrip sales of the Omega I am obliged to correct my previous estimate. RISC OS 26 bit users are only 97.5% dependant on Windows - does that help ????

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 6/5/04 8:12PM
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John>

Ok you can run VARPC under Wine on Linux (but as you say it's inefficient).

As to VARPC ever running on Linux natively I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 6/5/04 8:14PM
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AMD:

In response your coments on the ecomomy of PC + VRPC vs. real hardware.

My brother recently bought a lovely new computer from Dell which came with everything he needed for £600. He bought VRPC to run RISC OS. For him this is the perfect choice because he need Excel for his work, but can use RISC OS for most other stuff. Now if he'd bought separate machines to do the above, lordy he'd have to be rich.

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 6/5/04 8:20PM
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Sorry, AMS, not AMD, obiously. ;)

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 6/5/04 8:22PM
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AMS: That's true. PCs aren't free. But they're a damn sight cheaper than real RISC OS boxes, even including the price of the emulator. And it'd certainly outperform a £150 RiscPC.

Why does a Windows PC *need* an Anti-virus package? If you're not actively downloading and installing Windows software, and you've got a firewall (which everybody should have) you don't need it. And anyway, there are several good free Anti-virus packages out there for Windows.

I'm sure that if the VA guys do a Linux or other free-OS version, then machines without Windows will come along that look as if the boot almost straight into RISC OS. Perhaps that'll put your mind at rest? You certainly seem to be able to come up with irrational reasons rather easily, though.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 6/5/04 8:27PM
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If only I were AMD ;) Thanks for the thought though man !

Of course I know there is a short term economic advantage like what you say (and Dell PC's as PC's go are pretty good) and I am not judging anyone for making ends meet as best they can - but I am cautioning that all those emulator sales can't be happening without *some* negative effect on the hardware side of RISC OS.

Here's another thought if Excel used fully open data formats your brother could use an "Excel" like package and not need to fork out extra for Microsoft's one. But I guess that's another issue.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 6/5/04 8:30PM
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"I am cautioning that all those emulator sales can't be happening without some negative effect on the hardware side of RISC OS."

As I said before, and as you seemed to ignore, most people are only interested in the RISC OS GUI, and its software of course. If people can use RISC OS to do all they want to on a Windows peecee, what's the problem? And don't forget, every sale of RISC OS, no matter which hardware platform, generates money for OS development. And it's OS and software development that our little market needs right now, not newer hardware.

"Here's another thought if Excel used fully open data formats your brother could use an "Excel" like package and not need to fork out extra for Microsoft's one. But I guess that's another issue."

Unfortunately my brother has to live in the real world, not just the iccle RISC OS bubble.

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 6/5/04 8:36PM
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It's hardly as if the hardware is unique, anyway. It's only the OS that is. Why care about what hardware it runs on?

Also, on the Excel front, OpenOffice has because very good of recent. I know of several heavily pro-Microsoft people who are now using it as standard within their business.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 6/5/04 8:52PM
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Out of interest, will there come a point when VARPC might outstrip an Iyonix if installed on a future WinPC with sufficient processing speeds?

 is a RISC OS UserTTX9 on 6/5/04 9:39PM
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Yes. VRPC runs at an effective 455Mhz on my cheapy 3.4Ghz PC. There's already folk selling 3.8Ghz machines - it'll probably be about the end of the year when we see an emulated 600Mhz at my guess. I heard Graeme's still improving the JIT, too!

Of course, things like disk I/O speed with VRPC is as fast if not faster than Iyonix already - it's blistering. :-)

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 6/5/04 10:16PM
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1) It's amusing that the best place to have an ARM chip would be in a laptop.

2) ROL changed their minds about emulation after a) VA agreed to pay them money for ROS, and b) Castle left them looking insignificant in the long term.

3) Emulation on Windows means why bother writing software that copes with documents in Windows formats.

4) Everyone knows that MS are evil and will screw you over if you ever become a threat

5) VRPC Adjust is the same price as VRPC was, VRPC is 117, and VA5000 is dead.

6) ROL probably make more money per VRPC sold than per ROM set sold.

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 6/5/04 10:30PM
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Sounds to me like RISCOS Ltd are doing quite well out of emulation. It's helping keep STD, Microdigital, RComp and CJE's cash registers full too.

I wonder if they will be offering an Adjust Upgrade for exisiting VirtualRiscPC-SE users?

 is a RISC OS Userknutson on 07/05/04 03:46AM
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one thing to remember is the software vendors.

If there are lots of VARPC users then there are more people to buy software. Therefore more software is kept alive and at the end of the day, it doewsnt matter if there is a good mahine eg iyonix, if there is no up to date sioftware for it.

I am thinking of buying it for fun and I also need a PC eg one with a 512Mb graphics card and 2Gb RAM to run VOXX2. There is no way I could afford this machine and a iyonix. Also I need a machine that can run catalyser www.axiope.com and ImageJ and since there is not a JRE on riscos it has to be a pc/mac/solaris machine.

Cheers Bob

 is a RISC OS Usernijinsky on 07/05/04 09:47AM
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Well,

Lets face it, RISC OS (the OS) only has a future if it's eventually ported to x86. The "native" hardware is *clearly* not suited to the desktop market.

Maybe VARPC will help us get there? Maybe not.

Anyway, I'm not that bothered about the "future" - at the moment I use a RPC because I find it nicer than my PC. If the situation changes in future, then I'll change my practices too.

Adam

 is a RISC OS Useradamr on 07/05/04 11:06AM
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The sales of Virtual RPC make it clear that RISC OS users want a portable solution. Whose fault is it that there isn't a native hardware solution? If there was one I do imagine that many of the emulator users would actually buy it - I certainly would. RISC OS in a thin and light (Centrino type) notebook would be perfect - so why hasn't it been done? Not because of VRPC.

If Castle are working on a successor to Iyonix, I presume that they will need a new processor at some point in the not too distant future, then the sensible thing would be to develop a motherboard small enough to fit into a notebook right from the start. Then basically the same hardware would provide both form factors.

 is a RISC OS Useranon/213.122.195.115 on 07/05/04 11:54AM
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The RiscStation portable demonstrated that it's not as simple as that. It seems that portables need mass sales to be practical, so unless something dramatic and unexpected happens it's probably not worth anyone's effort to design one, especially when the VRPC solution is simpler, cheaper, and almost as powerful.

IMO sticking with Virtual Acorn on laptops makes far more sense, and leave the hardware manufacturers to the desktop machines, which they WILL have to try to keep ahead of what can be emulated, otherwise there will be no point in buying a native hardware machine for many reasons other than emotional ones.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 07/05/04 1:26PM
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SimonC>

I can think of a few:

(1). Guaranteed compatibility with real Acorn style hardware (Virtual Acorn is a sophisticated emulation (in fact probably one of the best emulators around)) but *cannot* be guaranteed in all circumstances to behave identically to Acorn style hardware.

(2). You're running RISC OS (which has some bugs), on an emulator (which has bugs) on top of Windows (which has lots of bugs) is this a good thing or am I missing something ?

(3). No one can tell what directions Windows will be taken (and *if* VA will be able to keep up) Microsoft are committed to ".NET" and dropping a whole raft of WinAPI's. If *any* of this impacts on VA I can't imagine Bill Gates and his chums dropping everything to sort to problem out *just* so that VA can run.

That having been said at the moment (and sadly probably forever) Acorn users are going to be face to going to Windows for portables - which when you consider the power efficency of the ARM is a real pity...

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 07/05/04 1:54PM
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AMS: The emulator isn't perfect, but it's an extremely good job, and it's getting better all the time.

The hardware vs. emulated hardware differences: Well, there are different RO machines, too, and would you refuse to use an Iyonix and Aemulor for the same reason? The differences are fewer there, but not non-existant.

The bugs issue: How much of one is it? RISC OS bugs aside (because they'll affect you whichever you use), the question is whether or not they'll crop up often enough to make a noticeable difference. At the moment they don't seem to, especially if Windows isn't doing anything else.

APIs on Windows: It could be an issue, I suppose, but one that the VirtualAcorn team will no doubt adapt to. I doubt it's in Microsoft's interests to prevent anyone from being able to continue writing applications (just to make them not work quite as well as MS ones, of course...)

I would think any differences and problems with VRPC are going to get smaller, not bigger. The points you raise are genuine concerns, but in my experience of VRPC on a laptop they don't really cause me much trouble.

Trying to deny VirtualAcorn is viable seems to be a bit like burying your head in the sand when it comes to looking at how far ahead the competition is in hardware and price (whatever the reasons).

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 07/05/04 3:37PM
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AMS:

In reponse to your reason for sticking to "RISC OS hardware".

"(1). Guaranteed compatibility with real Acorn style hardware (Virtual Acorn is a sophisticated emulation (in fact probably one of the best emulators around)) but cannot be guaranteed in all circumstances to behave identically to Acorn style hardware."

What on earth do you mean? What is "Acorn style hardware"? The Iyonix seems quite far removed from anything Acorn produced, which is one of the reasons for the development that resulted in RISC OS 5 - the OS had to change to run on different hardware. The OS adapted in the same way that it is under the co-operation between the VRPC developers and RISCOS Ltd. ROL want it to run well on VRPC so will go out of there way to make sure it does, hence VRPC-Adjust.

"(2). You're running RISC OS (which has some bugs), on an emulator (which has bugs) on top of Windows (which has lots of bugs) is this a good thing or am I missing something?"

Yes, all software has bugs. The important thing is that on the whole it is stable. If you have installed all the updates and your hardware is good quality, Windows 2000 and XP are very stable operating systems and recover from crashes much better than RISC OS does.

Having used VRPC, I'm quite happy with the stability.

(3). No one can tell what directions Windows will be taken (and if VA will be able to keep up) Microsoft are committed to ".NET" and dropping a whole raft of WinAPI's. If any of this impacts on VA I can't imagine Bill Gates and his chums dropping everything to sort to problem out just so that VA can run.

It will be in the interest of the VRPC to keep up with changes to the Windows OS so that they can continue to sell updates for VRPC.

Of course, there are reasons for wanting a real machine. At the moment the Iyonix is probably the fastest way of running RISC OS. But Castle will have to work hard to keep ahead of the game in terms of speed. As many keep saying, with the super fast PCs being produced, emulation will soon catching up with their current offering.

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 07/05/04 4:02PM
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Item (3.) should also have been in quotes.

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 07/05/04 4:03PM
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AMS: The question of which direction Windows will go is faced by all Windows developers, not just VA so they won't be alone. MS aren't going to spitefully change their OS so VARPC won't work. VA are doing a great job at the moment, and will doubtless find ways of getting VARPC to work within the .NET framework if the existing APIs are removed. If Windows cannot be used, then that does raise the issue of Linux, and putting a lot of effort into a Linux version will suddenly look very attractive.

 is a RISC OS Userj5m1th on 07/05/04 4:17PM
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Cynic:

The worst thing Castle can do is develop a new motherboard. If they still want to make hardware they must find a way to adapt an already available motherboard for their use. That adaptation must (mostly) be in firm- and software to make it cheap and portable enough.

I think Risc OS only has a future when it's made to work on widely available hardware like X86, PPC or maybe Crusoe/Efficeon.

ARM plc and Intel are not interested in desktop-uses of ARM / XScale so why try hacking it for that use? The only way Riscos can survive on ARM is, when there is an desktop-capable ARM processor, but there is none or not in the future. The Riscos-market is not big enough to let processor-makers develop a special processor and chipsets for that market. ARM plc is not good for us so why stick with ARM?

You can see Windows+VirtualRiscPC as a very thick and wide HAL. You can thin that layer by using a smaller, better designed underlying OS (Linux, *BSD) or you can narrow it by making drivers (modules) that closer interact with the hardware.

Or just dump RiscOS as OS and just keep the windowmanager, the windowsystem and other good parts and use it on Darwin instead of Aqua (MacOS X) or instead of the MS windows windowmanager. Merge VirtualRiscPC and Aemulor for the “old” programs.

 is a RISC OS Useregel on 07/05/04 4:37PM
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In reply to egel:

I agree that it would be best if RISC OS ran on ubiquitous hardware - but that's even further down the line. In terms of cost we have an increasingly less likely range of options for the future of RISC OS from the cheapest (and most likely) to the most expensive (and less likely):

1. Emulation on cheap hardware 2. Improved OS on 'desktop' ARM hardware 3. Improved OS on 'embedded' ARM hardware 4. Improved OS on 'notebook' ARM hardware 5. Improved OS running natively on non-ARM processors

At the moment we only have 1 & 2 and possibly 3. The others are highly unlikely given the size of the userbase - and only 1 and 3 have any chance of expending this.

Currently the only way we can have a portable RISC OS machine is emulated. Native portable hadware might be possible if 3 or 4 is used to provide the next generation of desktop machine - and Castle will need one because the present processor won't go on for ever. As a minimum they will have to adapt the present mb to take a newer Xscale - and this is not a matter of just pluging it into the existing holes!

Mind you we are forgetting the Psion Netbook Pro which might provide a solution. Port RISC OS onto the hardware soneone else has developed - I doubt it is a trivial task either but probably possible. Would we sell enough to make such a development profitable? It is a nice machine - but its not a desktop replacement like the Centrino. On balance I probably would buy one if it ran RISC OS - but 800 x 600 would only be a portable solution.

 is a RISC OS Useranon/213.122.111.125 on 07/05/04 4:59PM
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AMS: 1: As fylfot pointed out, things like the RiscStation, Omega and Iyonix are pretty damned different from anything Acorn ever made, with different CPUs, north bridges, IDE controllers, ethernets, memory clocking, etc. Frankly, I'd imagine that VA-RPC is more similar to a real RiscPC than the Omega or the Iyonix is any day. So not an issue.

2: All software has bugs, and anyway, it's extremely unlikely that these bugs would overlap. VA-RPC is actually quite a "simple" Windows application, in terms of what services of the OS it uses. Also, many real RISC OS boxes have bugs in the hardware, so it's not really any different. So not an issue.

3: Microsoft have changed APIs many times. But they don't have a habbit of removing the old ones all together. You can see this by the fact that Windows XP still runs software from 1985 faultlessly (in most cases). And anyway, they're not going to remove APIs from the machine you've already got, unless you install something that'd make it do so (like installing a new version of Windows). And that's much like replacing the CPU in a machine with one that executes a different instruction set. So not an issue.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 07/05/04 6:53PM
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Rob>

"As fylfot pointed out, things like the RiscStation, Omega and Iyonix are pretty damned different from anything Acorn ever made"

And even *at that* they're still closer to the original design and are more likely to be compatible than something that "simulates" a PC on varying Windows/PC combinations. That is unless you consider an AthlonXP or P-IV only trivially different from an ARM or something ;)

Iyonix has a HAL and a RISC OS designed specifically to run on that hardware, its compatibility with 32bit code is good. On the 26bit code department, yes as you know it needs a form of emulation - this is a weakness - but overtime 32bit code will predominate that problem will not be so pronounced.

Isn't the RiscStation largely an ARM7500 based box (effectively an A7000), I like hyperbole as much as the next guy but pleaaaassseee ;)

2. "All software has bugs, and anyway, it's extremely unlikely that these bugs would overlap."

They don't have to, the overall stability and performance is based on the sum of all the bugs surely.

If Windows crashes it takes VA and your RISC OS down. If VA crashes it takes your RISCOS Down. If RISC OS crashes well it crashes.....

3. Agreed. If you don't upgrade your windows your safe enough.

I never said this was a current problem but one that *might* occur in the future.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 07/05/04 7:42PM
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AMS:

"And even at that they're still closer to the original design and are more likely to be compatible than something that "simulates" a PC on varying Windows/PC combinations."

What a load of balls. Why should they be? The Iyonix is almost completely different in every way. The only vague similarities are that the CPU executes something that /looks/ like ARM code, and it runs a version of RISC OS. What VA-RPC emulates is much closer to a real "Acorn-made" box. The fact it's running on a different CPU doesn't matter at all. Next you'll be saying that Microdigital's IOMD/VIDC replacements aren't similar at all, because they're written in VHDL or whatever. What matters is the pin-out.

"Iyonix has a HAL and a RISC OS designed specifically to run on that hardware"

RISC OS was certainly *not* designed to run on that hardware. It was ported to it.

"On the 26bit code department, yes as you know it needs a form of emulation - this is a weakness - but overtime 32bit code will predominate that problem will not be so pronounced."

If you're in favour of that, why not promote doing what Apple did? (Change to a decent CPU, put emulation in the OS until all the worthwhile software was ported). Do you have something against Transmeta's offerings for the some deluded reasons? (ie, they emulate an x86 via a JIT.)

"Isn't the RiscStation largely an ARM7500 based box (effectively an A7000), I like hyperbole as much as the next guy but pleaaaassseee"

Yes, it's ARM7500 based. But then you can buy a RAID card from LSI with an IOP321 on it. Doesn't make it even slightly similar to an Iyonix. Or my car stereo, an Empeg, which has a StrongARM110 in it. Not in the slightest bit like a StrongARM RiscPC. Talk sense, man.

"All software has bugs, and anyway, it's extremely unlikely that these bugs would overlap." "They don't have to, the overall stability and performance is based on the sum of all the bugs surely."

As fylfot pointed out, Windows these days is *far* more stable than RISC OS. It'll be RISC OS that's the weak link, not Windows. No matter how much you'd like it to be. Windows has progressed in the past 10 years, where RISC OS has not.

"If Windows crashes it takes VA and your RISC OS down. If VA crashes it takes your RISC OS Down. If RISC OS crashes well it crashes..."

And hardware failure or degradation in your 10 year old RiscPC won't cause crashes, oh no... Either way, Windows crashes these days are so rare (esp. if you're just running one well-behaved application, like VA-RPC) it's at worst going to cause a tiny number of crashes compared to what RISC OS can do of its own device.

"I never said this was a current problem but one that might occur in the future."

Microsoft's licencing scheme means that you can run older versions of Windows using a current licence. (For example, if you own a WinXP Pro licence, you're allowed to run Win2000, WinNT 4, WinNT3.5 or Windows 9x instead.) And anyway, it's not likely to become a problem in the next 10 years, given that you can still run software nearly 20 years old on current versions.

Out of interest, do you have another agenda here? You seem to be the only one on Drobe who has these feelings. And very odd and ill-founded feelings they are. Do you avoid voting Tory just incase they feel like a bit of ethnic clensing here and there, because they're within a 1000 miles of the Nazis? :)

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 07/05/04 9:25PM
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And in any case, any disadvantages that *do* exist (without you exegaerating them out of all proportion) are easily offset by the price and performance differences offered.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 07/05/04 9:37PM
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Disadvantages: 1. Its emulation is incomplete. 2. It's dependent on another OS which means you now have to know about 2 OSes, firewalls, windowsupdate, virus checkers. And with HostFS the Windows programs/viruses can access your RISC OS files. 3. It makes the transition to Windows easier. 4. It discourages native applications that do the equiv to Windows apps. No reason to write a video player, excel file reader, obscure scientific app if they can just run the windows version. 5. Hardware is limited in 2 places instead of 1. Eg keyboard detection, RISC OS can't detect keys that Windows won't pass to it.

That'll do for now.

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 07/05/04 11:02PM
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1. It's complete enough for most people. What's major that's actually missing that you can't work around? 2. You don't need to use the other OS if you don't want to. And if you don't, you don't need to bother with the virus checkers and such. (Although it's wise to use a firewall between your computer and the internet, nomatter what OS it is running.) 3. There's nothing wrong with people moving across to Windows. If the RISC OS business world is scared about this, they better get their finger out and adapt, and produce products which make people want to stay. 4. Why duplicate effort? 5. I don't think there are any keypresses you can't intercept, other than Ctrl-Alt-Delete, are there? (although you can intercept even that if you try hard enough.)

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 07/05/04 11:42PM
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!***! What a community...such complicated and messy arguments. What I want is an ARM based computer , either an upgrade from Mico to Omega or start again with an Iyonix. What my son wants is to run Risc Os on a Microsoft computer ( it has better games though Word is crap ) Our needs are simple its horses for courses ( upcoming GCSE etc).

 is a RISC OS Userjlavallin on 08/05/04 02:38AM
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Use OpenOffice then.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 08/05/04 12:21AM
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1. But how do you know to work around it, it's another system you need to test on, where the bugs could be in many more places. 2. You need to know about windows drivers, windows firewalls, windows harddrive problems, System Restore, auto running CDs, all those things that run in the background on windows. 3. But what if that's impossible in the short term but possible in the long term? 4. Because not everyone using ROS is running it on Windows. 5. I was thinking more of key combinations, things like DeepKeys.

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 08/05/04 3:52PM
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Rob>

The xScale runs ARM code (just like a StrongARM does). It does include *additional* instructions (like CLZ), but it (other than the obvious change in how flags are handled and how R15 has had the PSR "moved out") is very close as makes no difference. Yes the hardware has changed (I am not disputing that) but the Instruction set architecture is very nearly identical.

Other than using binary the X86 has nothing in common with the ARM instruction set. It relies completely on an x86 based ARM interpreter (VA) to do a conversion so that the behaviour of the ARM can be "mimicked" by a PC.

"Yes, it's ARM7500 based. But then you can buy a RAID card from LSI with an IOP321 on it. Doesn't make it even slightly similar to an Iyonix."

Not quite the same is it ? The ARM7500 has an IOMD and VIDC built in - from a hardware viewpoint its almost as if you got a RISC PC and scrunged it up into a single chip - that's why it was used in the set top boxes using a RISC OS derived OS. So my point stands.

"Microsoft's licencing scheme means that you can run older versions of Windows using a current licence. (For example, if you own a WinXP Pro licence, you're allowed to run Win2000, WinNT 4, WinNT3.5 or Windows 9x instead.)"

But heres the rub - how many people are going to *bother* to set up dual partitions just so they can run RISC OS under emulation (if it ever becomes necessary you'll probably find VA users saying *Words good enough and I can't be bothered to repartition the harddisk and re-install an old windows just to run RISC OS*.

"Out of interest, do you have another agenda here?"

Yes, obviously. I want RISC OS running on real ARM hardware and not reliant on Windows for (IMHO) good strategic reasons - oh well maybe I wasn't making myself clear enough .... ;)

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 08/05/04 4:09PM
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"I want RISC OS running on real ARM hardware and not reliant on Windows for (IMHO) good strategic reasons"

I can understand your viewpoint with respect to avoiding Windows, but what's so great about ARMs? They're well-suited to, um, mobile phones and maybe even laptops, sure. But why the sentimental attachment to them for running RISC OS on your desktop? I consider it a hinderance rather than a benefit.

Adam

 is a RISC OS Useradamr on 08/05/04 5:54PM
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AMS:

Considering that the StrongARM and the Xscale *aren't* real ARMs (they're ARM clones - with a very convoluted history in licencing), don't they just "mimick" an ARM too? Why is having a piece of software execute something very much closer to the real thing less acceptable than have a chip that executes something that isn't all that close in comparison?

On the subject of setting up two partitions and all that balls, if it's all that inconvienant (and it's not likely to happen anyway) why not buy two Windows PCs? One to run VA on, the other to run Windows on full time. It'll still be cheaper than buying a 'real' RISC OS box.

If you don't want to rely on Windows, why are you happy to rely on Intel, ALI, nVidia and such? All of whom are famed for the bugs in their hardware. If a Linux, or *BSD version of VA came around, would your complaints still stand? You've always put your complaints forward as anti-emulation, rather than anti-Windows. Which is true?

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 08/05/04 7:10PM
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I've read the above though I would prefer Virtual RiscPC to run on such hardware in the absence of Windows or Linux then Risc OS would be beholdent to no outside agents.

 is a RISC OS Userjlavallin on 09/05/04 12:50AM
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Rob>

They do differ from ARM2's, and they have larger caches than ARM 3. StrongARM was "re-designed" by DEC (the STM/LDM instructions being unrolled for example) - but at the Machine Code level they *are* compatible. They do not *emulate* an ARM in that they *do not* execute code in a non-native Machine Code instruction set to acchieve the functionality they do.

Yes they are not identical to the original ARM, but then Acorn changed RISC OS (3.7) to support them - no emulation just evolution I am afraid.

As to " why not buy two Windows PCs? One to run VA on, the other to run Windows on full time. It'll still be cheaper than buying a 'real' RISC OS box. "

Have you got share in Microsoft or something - how many copies of Windows do you want people to run anyway ;)

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 09/05/04 2:38PM
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You know the emulator advocates couldn't be doing a better job of boosting MS profits if they were being paid to ;o)

Turn the argument around; if no native RISC OS hardware exists in 5 years time thanks to emulation, what will actually be the point of using RISC OS?

Before such an end point is reached what is going to happen to RISC OS web browser development and what are the chances of new spreadsheet software given that Windows offers MSIE and Excel (or OOffice) ?

For those users who wish to stay native RISC OS but with faster computers, the choice will then be removed from them. What sort of choice is that ?

 is a RISC OS Userblahsnr on 09/05/04 3:23PM
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Adam>

You said "I can understand your viewpoint with respect to avoiding Windows, but what's so great about ARMs? They're well-suited to, um, mobile phones and maybe even laptops, sure. But why the sentimental attachment to them for running RISC OS on your desktop? I consider it a hinderance rather than a benefit. "

Let's look at each shall we:

ARM's instruction set is *very nice* the x86 instruction set is a pigs breakfast in comparison. This has a number of consequences (i) it was possible to code much of RISC OS in ARM code (this meant *more speed* than if it had been done purely in a high level language (ii) it meant the code was more compact than if it had been done in a High Level language (so sat in the small ARM cache *better* than larger HLL code would have done.

The end result of this is RISC OS was written for the ARM and this leads to performance and other gains. On the Windows front almost *all* code is written in a high level language (Visual C++ for example) this generates oddles of x86 code which is inefficient bloated and slow. The PC compensates somewhat by having processors clocked much faster than the ARM.

That having being said for GUI use the Iyonix is probably as good (or better) than a high end PC even though the PC may be clocked 5 or 6 times faster. [This is in part because much of the RISC OS core is efficient handcoded ARM machine code designed by people who designed the ARM, whereas Windows XP is almost all C++ big, bloated and highly inefficient].

As to where ARM is pitched (mobile phones, laptops) have a think for a moment - it's pitched where it is *not* because it can't perform better but because ARM seen a niche (sure one Intel Exec even said it would be possible to upclock an xScale to 3GHz or more). Where ARM is is *not* for technical but for sales/marketing reasons - NOT technical ones.

An ARM with as big a cache and as high a clock rate would perform quite close to that of a PC (other than for floating point), thing is it would not be running at 1 Watt power levels and so would not be targettable at a market where they sell 100's of million of units a year rather than a few thousand. I'd point out that ARM chips now outsell Pentiums - so perhaps ARM have a point to this strategy.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 09/05/04 3:52PM
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But of course, when all the mainstream RISC OS *applications* are coded in some HLL, you're back to square one.

 is a RISC OS Userpiemmm on 09/05/04 3:57PM
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Ian> Well yes many of the mainstream apps would be less efficient than they would be if they were ARM coded - *BUT* they call the OS that isn't all coded in a HLL as well - so if someone chooses to release an app in ARM code it's not going to find its performance zapped by the OS is it ?

The performance you get is *optimised* on RISC OS - if you choose to go for speed the OS isn't really going to stand in the way as it itself is running (for the most part) pretty optimised ARMCode.

In windows (by contrast) you have no choice - even if you did code in x86 (ugh) everytime you called the OS you'd be hit (as the OS is coded in a HLL)

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 09/05/04 4:09PM
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AMS: Thanks, that's intersting stuff :-) and I can see that /if/ we had 3GHz ARMs (or even 2!) then it's certainly a sound argument. But unfortunately, as you say, ARM etc have chosen not to go down that route - and probably never will, so we're just flogging a dead horse :-(

Adam

 is a RISC OS Useradamr on 09/05/04 4:33PM
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Adam>

Thing is the the Intel rep said they *could*, thing is Intel isn't the only player in the ARM fabrication market and *not* all ARM apps are as power sensitive. The IOP321 (80321) used in the Iyonix was *not* aimed specifically at phone or hand held devices - I could envision Intel (over time) uprating their flavour of ARM (even if not targetting it at hand held devices). Samsung have/had the Halla at 1.2GHz (what ever happened to that anyone ????)

Another thing to bear in mind is other players are starting to move into ARM's "space" as it were, for example IBM's PowerPC has versions that are being "downsized" to become power compedative. ARM may (in the longer term) have no choice but to uprate their processors performance (otherwise their compeditors may offer *better* performance in the ARM target market and ARM *will* lose out). Also later hand held devices offering realtime video will *demand* higher performance and I wouldn't rule out multiple-core ARM processors or higher clock/caches to cope.

The horse isn't quite dead ;)

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 09/05/04 4:41PM
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AMS: I'm confused as to whether you're against emulation, Windows, Microsoft, high-level languages or non-ARM processors, or some combination of those.

Why do you use RISC OS? Is it for the GUI and relatively pleasant APIs for programming (as it is with me), or is it because you like having an OS where you can write ARM code to do things, or some other reason?

 is a RISC OS Userajps on 09/05/04 4:45PM
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AMS: I'm not sure that your pro-ARM arguments hold. I'm not sure that ARM processors are faster than others any more (even if there was some meaningful way of removing the clock rate contribution from the equation).

Compact code and low power consumption aren't really that important in a desktop machine, which is why ARMs are in the mobile device market, where it does matter. It's not because they just decided they'd go for that niche. That's what they seemed to be best suited for, and desktop computers was what they were not.

How much difference does ARM assembler being nicer than x86 assembler make these days? In the early days of RISC OS, when you needed to write in assembler to get the performance required, then quite a bit, but I would be surprised if most RISC OS software these days isn't written in a higher level language. I'd be surprised if much of the new stuff in Select or RO5 isn't, too.

If you can persuade someone to make a desktop computer tailed ARM then great, but I'll eat my hat if it happens in the forseable future.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 10/05/04 09:53AM
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AMS: "The end result of this is RISC OS was written for the ARM and this leads to performance and other gains."

Would those "gains" include longer development times, with software that is harder to maintain and is less reliable - remember Impression 1.x? Writing in assembly language is admittedly nice on the ARM, but that was only really necessary in the microcomputer age when people didn't really have enough memory or conveniently available disk space to use high-level language tools and environments, and where such environments probably had run-time libraries that used up too much space for many applications.

There are certainly areas where one does need to increase performance and thus use cruder languages than would otherwise be employed, where the low-level language in many cases is actually C rather than assembly language, but choosing to write a whole application in such a language is often a poor tradeoff.

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 10/05/04 10:38AM
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guestx: Ah, the realities of, well, reality.

I really have no idea what AMS's point is. He's given a number of disconnected statements about, various things - presumably, subjects he currently has various chips on his shoulders about. As has been demonstrated, some of these don't make sense.

If AMS had a specific point to make, then I wish he would have made it to start with.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 10/05/04 10:46AM
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The fact that we have to emulate (for laptop RISC OSing) sucks. The fact that the speed of emulation is catchin up with out flagship machine is even more sucky.

AMS seems to be an ARM purist. There was a time when point at out OS and say it was better than the competition and do likewise with the hardware. Unfortunately, the processor at the centre of out 'superior hardware' is now holding us back. The added sting is that this hardware is now much more expensive than the alternatives due to cost|volume equation.

So, since emulated machines are cheaper and probably faster soon, can anyone really argue and expensive and slow is better?

-- Spriteman

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 10/05/04 12:38AM
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Peter/Guest X > Yes assembler takes longer to develop in (I knew that). The languages people choose to develope in is largely one of personal choice anyway.

Peter> Ok, I'll try be specific. IMHO Emulation will *kill* the RISC OS platform (can't make it *any* plainer than that can I). By the way thanks for being so restrained.

David> Yes the PC is catching up, but with the next version of Windows it (and any emulated RISC PC will slow down again) - so VARPC overtaking the RISC OS platform is not an *immediate* problem - although if CTL and MD rest on their laurels it may someday be.

There are other reasons for opting for real hardware over emulated - it is better characterised, is less likely to change with emulator/Windows updates and is more likely to be more compatible. Its not the case of me arguing for expensive and slow. If I did not think the RISC OS hardware platform (such as Iyonix) is *better* than emulation I'd keep my mouth shut. One thing for certain if people *don't* buy REAL RISC OS hardware then further improved machines will *not* appear.

Now as this has carried on long enough (and I am feeling uncomfortably outnumbered) I think I'll shut up (I wouldn't want anyone accusing me of commenting on everything ;) )

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 10/05/04 1:21PM
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Emulation continues to not kill RISC OS, and you've not given a single cohesive argument to backup this statement, nor practical examples.

I'm not really convinced by any of your arguments about changing hardware either - I can think up contrary arguments for pretty much all of these.

As I suggest, I don't really think you have anything of significance to say. I feel a little uncomfortable about emulation too, but most of the arguments against it have little basis in reality.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 10/05/04 2:11PM
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An emulator running VARPC on Windows will certainly be faster than an Iyonix within the next couple of months.

But why on earth cripple a very fast x86 computer to run RISC OS under emulation?

You'll get much faster everything if you just use Windows and save another ukp 150 for the price of an emulator and RO4+.

Time to buy a fast x86 box and put Linux on it. It's been fun folks but the thought of having to run Windows to run RISC OS is the final straw.

 is a RISC OS Userblahsnr on 10/05/04 8:55PM
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"But why on earth cripple a very fast x86 computer to run RISC OS under emulation?"

Why would it cripple such a computer? If you want to use Windows you simply close the emulation.

"You'll get much faster everything if you just use Windows and save another ukp 150 for the price of an emulator and RO4+."

Yes, if you don't mind losing the RISC OS GUI and software, which is what most people hang around for.

"It's been fun folks but the thought of having to run Windows to run RISC OS is the final straw."

Either buy an Iyonix or get over your irrational dislike of Windows. If you won't don't do either, one might question why you've stuck around so long.

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 10/05/04 9:28PM
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Personally I am worried about emulation.

I have no problem with people using emulators for RISC OS and there's obviously many situations in which this is sensible (I use one at work). But if, for whatever reason, the native hardware disappears, then I'd give up writing publicly available programs for RISC OS straight away.

The fact is that the reasons I do things are bound up with desires, prejudices and motivations which aren't necessarily rational. If there's no native hardware to run RISC OS on, then I wouldn't feel like I was really programming any more. There's a "power" thing going on with programming, in that you want to know you have control over what you're doing. This isn't the case with emulation (although, maybe that's just me ;) !).

There obviously are some people who are leaving RISC OS/ARM hardware because of emulation, and as such, the fear that this could harm the "real" hardware vendors is not irrational. The problem is not the fact that people are using emulation, the problem is that it may, in the future, prevent people like me from buying real hardware.

As for dropping ARM processors, programming in ARM assembler really is great, so from my point of view it would be a shame to drop them. But for someone using the software, I realise that this is irrelevant.

 is a RISC OS Userflypig on 11/05/04 2:44PM
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flyping: That may make some people move away from the platform, but so will having a system that can be emulated faster than it's possible to run natively. As long as the whole RO running platform stays ahead of the emulator it stands a chance of having a future, but if it drops behind for good then you have to ask what the point is of the non-emulated systems. If that happens then all the emulator will do is slow down the inevitable death of RISC OS. If it wasn't for the Iyonix we would be even closer to that point of death.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 11/05/04 4:20PM
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Give me a GUi that works like RISC OS with programs that interact properly with it and I would probably use that instead.

 is a RISC OS Userjonix on 11/05/04 5:00PM
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SimonC:

Yeah, I agree. I think there are real (as in "not just emotional") reasons for using the Iyonix over emulation, but if the emulated solutions become considerably faster then those reasons are much harder to justify.

The Iyonix is a great machine and perfect for my purposes right now, but I hope Castle (and MicroDigital) can continue improving on their work and produce even better machines as time goes on :biggrin: .

 is a RISC OS Userflypig on 11/05/04 5:00PM
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fylfot

1) I am an Iyonix owner 2) My dislike of Windows is anything BUT irrational. 3) I program using Windows everyday of my working life and have sat in front of a Windows machine far longer in total that all other computer systems I have used put together. 4) MS business practices and power /domination over our computing lives is documented fact and not supposition, as is their expansion into the area of content provider etc etc etc.

A lot of folk seem to think it is fine to reward MS for all the damage they have done and the choices they have removed from us in the last 20 years? I find it somewhat more strange that people want to do this so that they can run a version of RISC OS that doesn't run on modern ARM core processors from a company that has consistently failed to sell RISC OS to a wider audience, and whos business has only been saved by sales to Windows users who wish to run emulators.

Interestingly here is a verbatim quote from the end user licence for Select (3i3). "1. Definitions

The following expressions have the meanings given here: "Authorised Product" means any ARM processor based computer which contains, and runs, RISC OS 4.00 or greater in ROM."

Doesn't seem to allow me to use Select on a Windows based emulator, and I got the impression that ROL's own licence to develop RISC OS had a similar condition in it? Or am I getting a bit confused in my old age?

 is a RISC OS Userblahsnr on 11/05/04 7:25PM
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