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RISC OS 4 and 5 to merge

By Chris Williams. Published: 16th Oct 2004, 10:40:40 | Permalink | Printable

Er, great

RISC OS cogs motifExactly four months after Castle announced that they had terminated RISCOS Ltd.'s licence to develop and sell RISC OS 4, a move that paralysed numerous third party RISC OS developers and dealers, the two companies have announced a merger of their flagship products.

Negotiations between Castle and RISCOS Ltd. concluded on Friday night, after both parties finally agreed on a new licence agreement. This licence will see the merger of RISC OS 5 (developed by Castle and derived from Pace's 32 bit RISC OS) and RISC OS 4 (RISCOS Ltd.'s stream of the OS, developed from 1999 after Acorn was broken up and its bits sold off), a move that will reassure the majority of the userbase.

There are, as yet, no details on future versions of RISC OS, details on pricing schemes, no light on what this means for existing RISC OS 5 and Select users, nor have any roadmaps been decided upon, so we're looking forward to seeing how the new release cycle looks when it's drawn up.

"The new licence ensures that both RISC OS 4 and RISC OS 5 will be merged together, as soon as practically possible and that clear areas of responsibility have been established ensuring that duplication of effort is minimised," explains the Castle press release.

Castle will also continue to produce the Iyonix, whilst Tematic, their embedded design division, will focus on other areas. We're also assured that a "standard set of APIs" will result from the merger, which means that software can be written so that it works on all versions of RISC OS. RISC OS 4 will also be available for the "forseeable future".

We've also learnt that RISCOS Ltd. will have to hand their riscos.com domain to Castle, un-open source Printers+ (Castle were against the software being GPLed in the first place) and ultimately change the name of their company. The RISCOS Ltd. AGM is also approaching, which'll be an event we'll be following with interest.

While having one, united stream of RISC OS is a great achievement after years of uncertainty and tedious in-fighting within our delicately small market, we do have one concern: competition.

The competing streams of RISC OS was one of the only benefits to the RISC OS 5 and 4 split as it kept the development teams focused. For example, when RISC OS 5 !Paint could sort sprites, shortly after the RISC OS 4 !Paint could sort sprites, allow manual re-ordering and did a boat load of new things. This was no coincidence.

This merger should hopefully bring RISC OS technology together under one uniform roof, but importantly, it should also ensure that RISC OS continues to improve and moves forward - time will tell where desktop users fit into Castle's and RISCOS Ltd's future plans.


Castle website RISCOS Ltd. website

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Wow! :-) It's not April 1st is it?

 is a RISC OS Useradamr on 16/10/04 1:23PM
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This sounds like very good news. :)

In terms of competition, I think Castle and RISCOS Ltd should be focussing more on competition from outside the RISC OS market. The example given on the article (Sprite sorting) is a clear case of duplication of effort, and doesn't strike me as something that benefits the market.

On the other hand, the pressure for faster processers, 32-bitting and flash came from elsewhere.

 is a RISC OS Userflypig on 16/10/04 3:37PM
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I agree with the pig. Competition within RISC OS is of no benefit to the platform. Programming teams have enough incentive from external OS competition without having to play feature catchup within these walls.

I wonder where this leaves MicroDigital.

 is a RISC OS Usermikeg on 16/10/04 5:31PM
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Does the merged OS's get a new name or number with a redefined logo. It would create extra interest if the logo design was a competion with a suitable prize. A little lite relief on this platform would be welcome.

 is a RISC OS Userjlavallin on 16/10/04 5:55PM
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Exactly, it doesn't really matter if a user buy an Iyonix or, err, something else RISC OSy, as long as they don't buy another OS/System instead.

The new codename should be viv.

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 16/10/04 6:08PM
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Does this merger include Select/Adjust or is it just 4.0x?

How many people just went and downloaded the !Printers+ 1.91a source and binaries from SF? ;)

 is a RISC OS Usersimo on 16/10/04 6:08PM
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Seems like a sensible and good thinking.

Lets hope it works out ok for all parties.

 is a RISC OS UserRevin Kevin on 16/10/04 6:16PM
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Overall the announcement is good news I would have thought. I can't see any immediate downsides to this, it means it's easier for people to write code and know it'll work on any of the *new* RISC OS that appears in due course.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 16/10/04 6:20PM
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It will be interesting to see the effect this merger has on the new A9 machines, which use a 32bit verion of ROS4. Are they going to ditch this and go for the new merged version?

 is a RISC OS UserJWCR on 16/10/04 7:09PM
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Personally I wouldn't imagine a the new merged version of RO to be available until later on next year. CTL and RO need identify which bits can simply be merged which bits need to be rewritten and what extra new bits they want to add into the new merged OS. Plus all the QA they have to do on it. Perhaps the new merged version will appear as RO6.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 16/10/04 7:15PM
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Thankfully we've got through - at last the OS will become united again!


I think in a way the new 32 bit version of OS4 *is* the new merged OS. I think it is based on Select/Adjust for the most part and (like RO4/5) on Acorn's RISC OS 3.8

With this new understanding I think it should be ROLtd's who should be developing the OS further and Castle/Tematic implementing it in all suitable directions.

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 16/10/04 8:28PM
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hEgelia> As to whether Castle or ROL should develope the OS that will no doubt have been resolved in the revised license (judging from the press release), so it's best to accept whatever sensible/sane gentleman's agreement that has been arrived at.

Both companies *have* added significantly to the OS (and should be applauded for that). Thing is though the significant new *hardware* support is what has been added in RO5 (in short Castle/Tematic's work), things like UDMA, Gigabit networking, extra USB support and (in future) support for non-blocking ATAPI (from within ADFS) in order to support Cino. Select has added some nice interface features (if you ignore the round buttons that is ;) and some extra functionality to some long loved apps (like Paint). A merger is just that - a bit of both - done in a sensible way so we gain the advantages of both.

Interestingly Castle in the press release do refer to the fact that they "will continue with the IYONIX pc and other desktop products", I'd draw your attention to the comment "other desktop products"; that committment (IMHO) is *as* important as the OS merger announcement.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 16/10/04 9:02PM
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I agree. It had somewhat slipped my mind exactly what enhancements and hardware support Castle/Tematic have made with RO5. But still, may I say ROLtd also did some very beneficial under-the-hood work on RO4. And indeed, as we are moving further into the future, it is unavoidable RO will have to run on new combinations of hardware (as within the embedded market) to sustain new developments. The commitment Castle/Tematic have on "other desktop products" is at least partly dependent on the development of RO, as it holds a core business role to them.

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 16/10/04 9:37PM
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It seems to me that Castle/Tematic should become the engine of development of the Hardware side of the platform, whilst ROL (or whatever they rename themsleves) the engine of OS development. This clear division of labour would prevent the apparent re-invention of the wheel on either side.

 is a RISC OS UserJWCR on 16/10/04 11:05PM
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A much nicer feel of security for RISC OS now? I hope it keeps getting better.

 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 17/10/04 6:57AM
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I might be being dense but what, if any, will ROL's role be in the future? It's not clear to me from the press relase / article above.

 is a RISC OS Userjms on 17/10/04 12:48PM
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I really, really, really like the ROM Adjust version of !Paint and !Draw, having now used them intensely for three weeks in the run up to the Guildford show. I'll pay to have them on my IYONIX as soon as that merged OS emerge.

 is a RISC OS Usermartin on 21/10/04 8:58PM
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