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The RISC OS dispute: 12 months on

By Chris Williams. Published: 17th Jun 2005, 15:44:33 | Permalink | Printable

What, if anything, came out of the hype from last summer?

Editorial This time last year, the nightmare scenario of the RISC OS platform collapsing looked inevitable. I don't particularly want to drag up the confusing whirlwind that was the 'Castle vs. RISCOS Ltd and friends' dispute again, although it's been 12 months since it all kicked off and in some ways, the record needs straightening.

The whole affair had been brewing for months behind closed doors and only went public last June when Castle were forced to show their hand after STD and VirtualAcorn responded publicly to the cease and desist letters they were sent.

RISC OS cogsAfter exhaustive negotiations, Castle and RISCOS Ltd. eventually signed a new agreement which would see RISC OS 4 and 5 merged and ROL allowed to continue developing and selling RISC OS. Sources have since alleged that agreement has been torn up and that there will be no merger of RISC OS until the two sides some how find a way to reconcile their differences. Whilst continuing to provide free updates and tweaks to RISC OS 5, Castle otherwise quietly washed its hands of its Merlin project, explaining that the list of feature requests had been passed to RISCOS Ltd to take care of.

Meanwhile, those close to RISCOS Ltd. say that few people with Iyonix computers have actually signed up to the 32bit Select scheme and ROL are allegedly unable to get the information they need from Castle to port 32bit RISC OS 4 to the Iyonix. Although ROL's small programming team managed to deliver 32bit compatibility and hardware abstraction, there's still a great deal of work left in developing drivers for the Iyonix hardware (from USB to PCI), all whilst supporting AdvantageSix's efforts in developing drivers for the A9 range.

Clearly, the only people who have won out of the past 12 dark months have been the lawyers, as several RISC OS companies have had to pour cash down the drain of the dispute that could otherwise have been spent on development. Castle's Peter Wild even admitted last year that the dispute "has wasted an incredibly large amount of everybody's time, it's wasted an incredibly large amount of money not just on solicitors fees, but on lost opportunities."

AdvantageSix's Matt Edgar commented earlier this week that the dispute had made him more "cautious and realistic" when deciding on whether or not to take a business risk or play it safe. He added that the fall out had made some companies and developers "more cooperative than before", effectively creating a "polarised market".

AdvantageSix earlier this year launched the A9home, which according to Ad6, is not in competition with the Iyonix and is aimed at users who would not otherwise buy Castle's computer for reasons of cost and usage requirements. They had planned to complete the A9home in time for Wakefield 2005, although Matt explained, "Projects do slip, but we're happy where we stand now". Ad6 also have no current plans for introducing a laptop version of the A9, despite rumours to the contrary.

If there was ever a textbook on how to run a business in a niche market, these past 14 months would probably be a prime case study. RISCOS Ltd and Castle declined to comment on the affair.

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Discussion

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Well I can't really much in the article that we don't already know. Was there really a point in returning to this dispute of last year? Or are you just trying to stir up another one?

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 17/6/05 4:37PM
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"Was there really a point in returning to this dispute of last year?"

But it *isn't* last year's dispute. It's continued up until the present day!

I think the article is a very valid piece. An article giving the current situation is totally justified - even it if is simply a summing up piece.

I personally feel I was lied to at Guildford.

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 17/6/05 4:47PM
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Whilst there is nothing here that insiders don't already know, much of what has been said in this article will be new to the general public. I'd decided it would be best not to publish details of this material and was strongly criticised for the small amount that I did make public. Certainly there has been plenty said in ignorance of what has really happened and criticism directed where it's not appropriate. Perhaps Chris' article will finally clear the air. What we can rely on is that the RISC OS market will go much further by co-operation than by arguing - and everyone can profit by co-operation.

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 17/6/05 4:59PM
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I still do not see the point in bringing back to the public forum the damaging rift between the CTL and ROL. What happened, happened and thankfully was to some extent sorted out last year. Both companies may still have issues with each other. However I do not see any reason to return to what transpired last year. Move on.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 17/6/05 5:07PM
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> However I do not see any reason to return to what transpired last year. Move on.

When RISC OS is unforked, and Castle and ROL work together for the future of RISC OS, as was stated would happen at Guilford, *then* I will move on. As what was said would happen hasn't happened, then the subject is a valid piece for a news article. More than valid - it's a very responsible piece.

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 17/6/05 5:16PM
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Whilst moss believes he was lied to last year he must appreciate that few companies would ever be entirely transparent to the public. Their answer is in the development work that has been done over the last 12 months. In my estimation a massive amount has been done by a wide range of individuals and companies. It's that that indicates a future for the RISC OS platform - not the arguments. They have moved on for us.

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 17/6/05 5:56PM
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There was new (to me) information in this article, especially the fate of the Merlin project.

sa110: In my opinion, it clearly hasn't been sorted out to a satisfactory degree. There is still a fork in the OS, which is making me hesitant about which fork to support. I can't say for sure if anyone else is in the same position, but if they are then this is damaging the market for new machines. While there's no point dragging names through the dirt, there is value in not sweeping the issue under the carpet completely. It still needs fixing.

 is a RISC OS Userninja on 17/6/05 6:15PM
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I'm certainly not denying lots of lovely and useful stuff has been developed in the last year. But "all companies do it" isn't a valid excuse for people having been mislead. Although frankly, it was obvious at the time in the Q+A session that nobody was entirely convinced, so I shouldn't be surprised. The forked nature of RISC OS is a big worry, despite the huge advances that have been made.

Of course, concentrating entirely on the negative is very bad and wrong as well, of course. There's lots of stuff to be excited about :)

Anyway, my main point is (that you agree with) that this Drobe article is a valid one to write and publish.

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 17/6/05 6:16PM
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"While there's no point dragging names through the dirt, there is value in not sweeping the issue under the carpet completely. It still needs fixing."

What I tried to say but far better, there.

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 17/6/05 6:18PM
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ninja:

agreed

*fork* rage

 is a RISC OS UserROHC on 17/6/05 6:18PM
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sa110> Yes you're right.

So a rehash we have, fine. In the piece Chris says that sources close to ROL said " that few people with Iyonix computers have actually signed up to the 32bit Select scheme". Dead right, RISC OS 5 works fine, it is regularly updated (usually for free) and it was designed *specifically* for the hardware I bought. Additionally those who paid for Select Subscriptions on the strength of suggestions that ROL would eventually port Select to Iyonix have obviously decided (reasonably) to see the thing finished *first* (again quite reasonable).

The antics that have gone on (and that are still apparent from this article and some of the comments) shows that one fundemental truth has *not* been appreciated - and that is that *irrespective* of how much *cooperation* ROL get off Castle that ultimately its the *customers* who will determine how many copies of Select will sell (and after this particular rehash you can take me out of the *wait and see* column and put me in the *never buy* column) - and if this keeps up I might not find myself alone.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 17/6/05 8:20PM
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"RISC OS 5 works fine" So does RISC OS 3.7

 is a RISC OS Useradamr on 17/6/05 9:03PM
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A debate on whether anything should be said? What happened to Freedom of Speech? Or is that something found only in the US? Surely Castle and ROL would respect that freedom. Let us now hear what they have to say.

 is a RISC OS Userhexa0503 on 17/6/05 10:13PM
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In reply to hexa0503:

As both CTL and ROL did not want to make any comments, what have we to hear?

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 17/6/05 11:14PM
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Actions speak louder than words is all I can think to say on this subject.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 18/6/05 1:13AM
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"As both CTL and ROL did not want to make any comments, what have we to hear?"

A nice summing up of the current situation that some people didn't know about, and clarifies a few points for many others?

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 18/6/05 7:08AM
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AMS: "it was designed specifically for the hardware I bought"

Not really. It was just made to work on the hardware you bought. I imagine it was actually specically designed for one of the M4, A680 or A500. I can't remember which was the earliest to run RISC OS. :) (Excluding the BBC tube ARM, etc.)

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 18/6/05 10:56AM
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nunfetishist: Going back to origins is one thing - but that is reasonably well documented and the move from 3.7 to 4.00 is well known. Has anyone described the OS development from 3.7 to 5.0? And I haven't seen a public description of the other OS development work done by Pace & elsewhere of the OS from 3.7 or earlier on machines outside our normal area of interest. I think the Acorn history is reasonably covered but someone should really bring together the details of the more recent history.

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 18/6/05 11:24AM
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nunfetishist: AMS was talking about RISC OS 5!

 is a RISC OS UserJaco on 18/6/05 12:06PM
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Seems to me there is inadequate strategic thinking going and a lack of direction within the RISC OS community. That comes down to a lack of forward vision. I have never seen an article on Drobe that poses this, where is the RISC OS community going, what does it want to be, what does it want to achieve? The direction as I see it is always to play catch up with the big developers. Ok, I appreciate that from a small platform this is to be expected. However, it does seems a real waste that the potential of RISC OS has not been recognised by the wider community. The potential decline of virus-ridden Windows and with Apple sales slowly increasing - surely the opportunity is there. If there is a desire for diversity of OS within the market place maybe in the future investment banks will offer RISC OS Ltd enough venture capital. Alternatively, make RISC OS open source.

 is a RISC OS UserTTX9 on 18/6/05 12:20PM
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Jaco: Yes. Are you suggesting that RISC OS 5 was completely rewritten for the Iyonix, or adapted from the OS for another machine? It's a silly point, yes. Almost as silly as saying that RISC OS 5 was designed for the Iyonix.

 is a RISC OS Usernunfetishist on 18/6/05 12:50PM
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hexa0503> "freedom of speech"

Look anyone can quite freely talk about and disagree with whoever they want. The point is is there *a purpose* for this article at this time. Ask what purpose does it serve? what agenda is at the back of all this? To simply assume people have the 17th of June marked off in their diary as the "Let's remind people about the RISC OS dispute day" is probably a tad nieve.

Once you start asking the right questions then things begin to make sense, obvious patterns emerge, the DVD that ROL produced that plays on Select but specifically not on Iyonix (as mentioned in Drobe here by Chris). The "sniping" from the sidelines at CTL/Iyonix and (now apparently) Iyonix users who are (wait for it) the cause of the OS "fork" (what in the name of God is Select but a fork in the OS and how come no one appears to be at fault for that ?).

And then we have Jc (Hi) asking us about the origins of RO5. Yet another tact eh? Here's the rub John, it [RO5] *works* it works on the fastest RISC OS platform (A9 not widthstanding), on a more expandible machine, it is *regularly updated* and because it works and because it works on native hardware and because it works on the fastest RISC OS Machine guess what I DON'T CARE WHERE IT CAME FROM. And I bet you most of the people who spent 1200+ quid on one don't care either.

Then there's Select, a scheme where Iyonix users *have* paid money in under the understanding (apparently mistaken) that ROL would port Select to Iyonix. ROL have valiantly put Select on the PC, on the A9, the A6, Riscube and so forth - but not a peep (until recently) on the Iyonix. And, guess what, the by now well and truly pi**ed off Iyonix users haven't signed up. That's a sign of intelligence that is.

The sort of public villification of Castle, Iyonix users and their hardware is playing badly guess you guys should stop slagging people off and "spinning" things as this does *not* win arguments or win minds - logic, reason and integrity does - it's not too late to start.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 18/6/05 1:37PM
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AMS seems to have got everything wrong: There can't really be one single purpose. As individuals and companies we're all likely to have our own purpose & agenda. Mine was made publicly clear a year ago when I said, "But unless the market has a range of products at a range of prices to suit people, you won't have the software writers receiving any income at all and we'll all be gone. You do need a range." and Peter Wild of Castle responded, "True, I don't disagree with that. But, I think we need... what we need in the market is more lower cost hardware products" Earlier I had said, "Castle will be judged on the way they managed to deal with the situation as it is at the moment." The co-operation between ROL and Ad6 produced what Peter Wild and I were asking for last year and that result has produced congratulations from everyone - Jack Lillingstone in particular went out of his way to ensure that his own "well done" was properly publicised. Now you seem to want ROL to have also ported Select to the Iyonix though you don't seem to appreciate the work required or the fact that a version of Select was seen working on an Iyonix at Wakefield. I don't see where you get the idea that anyone has vilified Iyonix users. What I do see is that where you say you don't care some people docare: about co-operation, about a future for RISC OS - and even about properly documenting its history. If Iyonix users want Select then presumably they will make their feelings known and Castle will co-operate with ROL to ensure that it's available as quickly as possible. The big difference between last June and now is that we now appear to have a viable future. Like Jack Lillingstone I'd congratulate those at ROL and Ad6 (and the SIMON team &c) for their work. They've done much to ensure that future. Do you echo that applause opr do you have a different agenda from the rest of us?

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 18/6/05 5:20PM
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nunfetishist:

Saying that RISC OS 5 was designed for the Iyonix is silly and saying it was actually specically designed for one of the M4, A680 or A500 isn't?

Nobody is suggesting that RISC OS 5 was completely rewritten, but it was developed for the Iyonix wasn't it? Although also hardware abstraction is build in.

 is a RISC OS UserJaco on 18/6/05 7:15PM
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By the way why is ROL trying to port RISC OS 4 to the Iyonix instead of merging Select with RISC OS 5?

Merging was last years agreement right? It also seems a lot easyer to port the features then writing and support your own drivers.

 is a RISC OS UserJaco on 18/6/05 7:36PM
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I have an Iyonix. I am a Select subscriber. I do not recall ever having been asked whether I wanted to subscribe to Select for the Iyonix. I am sure I am not the only one.

No wonder the 'response' of Iyonix users has been so low ...

 is a RISC OS Userbengershon on 18/6/05 7:51PM
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You've hit the nail on the head there, bengershon.

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 18/6/05 9:11PM
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bengershon:

Indeed you are right. ROL is simply pathetic at communicating with its customers. The only reason I heard about the 'Select 32 Development query' was because I happened to be subscribed to the support mailing-list. (They emailed the group on 15th November 2004). I am certain that not all of ROL's Select subscribers are also subscribers of the mailing-list.

ROL are no more serious about Select on the Iyonix than Castle are.

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 18/6/05 9:25PM
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Jaco: If Chris is right there is no new agreement. In any case merging would require that it is technically possible and a great deal of co-operation between the parties. I know of no evidence for the former (though I'd be interested to hear of possibilities) and no agreement suggests no co-operation. On the other hand ROL now have a 32-bit friendly OS that appears to work on a range of machines.

bengershon: You say you haven't been contacted by ROL - but do they have your contact details? I've been critical of ROL's marketing but it wouldn't be right to criticise them for not doing something they couldn't do. In any case have you been in touch with them? And NB Chris hasn't got the information direct from ROL.

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 18/6/05 9:35PM
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jc:

"critical of ROL's marketing"?

What marketing exactly? They sent a lousy email to a support mailing-list which only some of their Select customers subcribe to. That's not marketing.

Besides, if they had been serious about Select on Iyonix they would have marketed the idea to the whole of the RISC OS community.

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 18/6/05 9:41PM
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@JC

Of course merging is technically possible and since select is a subsribtion thing it's also the most logical to do. Port feature by feature to RISC OS 5 and release regular updates.

Also marketing wise this would be better as Iyonix users do like RISC OS 5 and don't want to install another RISC OS version with other features, if they want the Select features they want it on top of RISC OS 5. (I asume this, Iyonix users who think different please correct me)

 is a RISC OS UserJaco on 19/06/05 09:12AM
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As for the question of why post this topic on drobe ... well, perhaps since it is of interest to many readers since the thread here reached the comment level so fast :-)

Anyhow, I agree with Jacco Van Iterson: "Iyonix users do like RISC OS 5 and don't want to install another RISC OS version with other features, if they want the Select features they want it on top of RISC OS 5". This is exactly what I want - or to be precise: I would like the odd Select feature on top of RISC OS 5. I don't want all of them - some are of no interest to me (rounded buttons e.g.) and some are present in RISC OS 5 already (DHCP e.g.) . And I know the odd IYONIX user wanting the same: *Select features on top of RISC OS 5*.

But as far as I can tell ROL does *not* have the intention to offer just that despite users wanting that and I did tell Paul Middleton just that the odd time.

And since ROL never asked me if I want Select for the IYONIX pc (well I'm an ex-Select subscriber and perhaps they deleted me from their database) and I never saw a public poll or questionnaire from ROL addressing all users I have the impression that ROL doesn't want to gain new clients. As a drobe reader I do remember that they seem to have asked their current subscribers and if I were a Select subscriber having a Risc PC I'd probably tell them that I have no interest in an IYONIX Select so that they don't spend my Select subscription to develop something of no use to me ...

Overall I think it is a pity that all the good programming expertise has been used to make a 32bit Select based on the 26bit version instead of starting off with the 32bit RISC OS 5.

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 19/06/05 09:55AM
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In reply to Jaco,

But surely it would be easier for ROL to maintain, if they produced a version of RO Adjust for the Iyonix.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 19/06/05 09:57AM
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Herbert: "Overall I think it is a pity that all the good programming expertise has been used to make a 32bit Select based on the 26bit version instead of starting off with the 32bit RISC OS 5."

Actually, if what I understood is correct, when developing the Select features since several years ROLtd has developed the sources in 26/32 bit neutral code and rewriting/improving the original RO4 code neutral as well. Besides, they have their own version of RO to work with and having to license the sources of Castle's version to build upon would've cost them more money. Still, I agree it would have been nicer and more practical if RO5 was used as a base for building a Adjust32 in full cooperation with Castle.

Remember what Castle told the audience at the Expo: If ROLtd (or indeed anyone) wants to produce a version of Select (or whatever) for the Iyonix they can have Castle's cooperation. Certainly Jack did not mention the specifics behind his theoretical reasonings. Also, for the record, Jack stated last year's goal of merging both streams of RO still stands... Although I did miss ROLtd's talk, it seems to me the ball is very much in ROLtd's court, however I am not aware of any finer details so I did not attain anymore knowledge on the matter :(

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 19/06/05 10:49AM
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AMS: "Once you start asking the right questions then things begin to make sense, obvious patterns emerge, the DVD that ROL produced that plays on Select but specifically not on Iyonix (as mentioned in Drobe here by Chris)."

<Groan>

I've tried to make the whole business of the Foundation RISC User DVD (which is clearly what you must be referring to) as abundently clear and transparent as possible, to try to avoid this kind of apparently wilful misunderstanding, or the reading into the situation of politics that simply aren't there. However, it seems that people will insist on jumping to conclusions even in the face of all evidence to the contrary. Nevertheless, anyone who takes the trouble to read my original announcement about the DVD - which is available via a link from the Drobe article - will see that there can really be no misunderstanding about the ability to use the FRU DVD on an Iyonix.

Whilst I want to keep well out of this whole RISCOS Ltd vs Castle debate, the FRU DVD is *my* product and I do /not/ want to see it tarnished with a political brush. (Nor do I wish to be so tarnished personally, by association.) So, for the record - and I said this at the time of the DVD's launch - the *only* reason why it was announced that the FRU DVD would run on Select machines and not on Iyonix machines was that it was true, given the Iyonix hardware at the time. The situation was a product of *fact*, not of *design*. No Iyonix PCs (other than perhaps occasional user-upgraded ones) had DVD drives at the time, and even if you fitted one, RISC OS 5 did not permit you to read DVDs with it. Ergo, my DVD didn't work on the Iyonix. If I could have done anything to make it work, I would have done. However, I also made if very clear that, in software terms, the contents of the DVD were fully compatible, and indeed that the DVD itself *was* *created* *on* *an* *Iyonix!*

I believed it to be true that the FRU DVD would work on an Iyonix if (a) the machine was fitted with a DVD drive and (b) the user was running CDROMFS, and I said as much on Drobe. However, I couldn't say this as part of the official announcement because I hadn't been able to test it myself, and therefore couldn't say for certain that it would work. (Alternatively, you could use the DVD on an Iyonix via a network, which I also said in the announcement.)

Now that Iyonix machines are being fitted with DVD drives as standard, have DVD drives available as an upgrade and have a version of RISC OS 5 that's capable of reading DVDs, the FRU DVD will work. No change; no reissue; no U-turn in policy or position from RISCOS Ltd. The product that you could have bought last February now works on the Iyonix, as I always intended that it should.

If AMS or anyone else cares to actually look at a copy of the DVD, rather than just assuming it's a politically-driven mouthpiece preaching a pro-RISCOS Ltd and anti-Castle gospel, they will find that:

1. There is a prominent badge on the Welcome page saying that "this magazine was produced entirely on an IYONIX pc".

2. The articles within go out of their way to be as fair and impartial as possible at all times, and there is a very deliberate absence of any kind of politics.

3. Issue 11 of the magazine (which, of course, forms part of the DVD) was an Iyonix Special Edition, and contains the best and most comprehensive coverage of the Iyonix (from very shortly after its launch) that was published by *any* RISC OS publication. There's lots of detailed, exclusive info here. This in itself doesn't imply pro-Iyonix bias either, by the way; the Iyonix was far and away the most important development on the RISC OS scene when it was launched, and hence I felt that it was FRU's duty to give it the best coverage that I could arrange. (But FRU certainly isn't anti-Iyonix either, and the magazine was made to work with the Iyonix at the earliest possible opportunity.)

FRU may officially be published by RISCOS Ltd, but it's 100% produced by me, and I have complete control over the contents of its articles. And bear in mind that I'm an independent freelancer who has managed the unusual feat of working for both Castle and RISCOS Ltd simultaneously. FRU is not a political organ; nor is it the mouthpiece of one company. Because of the very fact that it is published by RISCOS Ltd, I have done my utmost, throughout its life, to make it as fair and impartial as possible. (That's why it doesn't publish reviews of RISC OS software; it mustn't be accused of representing endorsement by RISCOS Ltd.)

So please don't assume that the FRU DVD was specifically designed not to be compatible with the Iyonix. It's not true, not matter how much anyone may want it to be in order to back up a political point, and the very idea is utterly against the principles under which I operate. Besides, now that Iyonix machines support DVD drives, the FRU DVD is fully compatible with them. That pleases me no end, as I'm an Iyonix user myself.

 is a RISC OS UserRichardHallas on 19/06/05 12:33AM
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I accept Richard that *you* did not intend the FRU to be used as a means of RISC OS 5 bashing, but that is what it *was* used for.

Chris (in article [link]) helpfully starts with a headline "Foundation DVD leaves ROS 5 behind". The very first sentence reads "Foundation RISC User magazine's new DVD-ROM release has highlighted the gap in features between RISC OS 4 and 5". Many people would read just that article and best take from it that *either* you can't read FRU on an Iyonix or can't do so without needing some 3rd party software - whereas with Select it's easy.

Clearly the FRU DVD edition *was* used to bash RO5, I believe you have unwittingly being dragged into this - but that's how it was used will you at least concede that ?

I accept completely your impartiality and my original comments did not accuse you of anything improper and clearly you *can't* be held responsible for the "propaganda" use others may have made of the product at the time.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 19/06/05 2:03PM
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jc> You wrote "you [AMS] don't seem to appreciate the work required or the fact that a version of Select was seen working on an Iyonix at Wakefield."

Perhaps you didn't read paragraph 4 of my second last contribution which contained the following:"ROL have valiantly put Select on the PC, on the A9, the A6, Riscube and so forth - but not a peep (*until recently*) on the Iyonix.".

Yes I am aware there was a version of Select present in Wakefield. I am *very* aware that a lot of work is required, but probably less than that required to get the A9 up and running (remember the Iyonix has an OS you can *poke* and get answers from the A9 was initially a board with nada/zip/zilch (more likely a very minimal monitor/BIOS) on it so ROL would have needed to do *a lot more work*). I'd also point out that some Iyonix owners *did* put subscriptions in over the last two years under the understanding that they'd get Select on Iyonix - so how come their needs are ignored in favour of the A9 - doesn't their money count too ?

You reject the notion that there is a *campaign* on, but there obviously is. Your dismissal is based on the notion of lack of common purpose (or as you put it: "There can't really be one single purpose. As individuals and companies we're all likely to have our own purpose & agenda."). You also clearly identified your purpose which you said that "unless the market has a range of products at a range of prices to suit people, you won't have the software writers receiving any income at all and we'll all be gone. You do need a range.".

So let's consider this then. Each sale of an Iyonix is one potential fewer sale of Select/A9/VARPC. So (using your self-identified purpose) you might feel obliged to talk up A9 or VARPC and talk down Iyonix (in order to ensure that *all* the business get some support).

It may just involve over-enthusing about one product while ignoring another that is as good or better. For example your support for Headturner, I don't recall your being so enthused about Geminus on the Iyonix a year ago, if you look at [link] you'll find John you made *no* comment at all yet you made seven comments on Headturner on Drobe less than a year later. The fact is that all Headturner is give you is one screen rotated through an angle while Geminous gives you *two* screens at different resolutions and orientations if required - yet that didn't merit a comment by you on Drobe). And no I don't read Quercus so if you covered both - nice - but how come only headturner warrants a mention from you here then ?

All I can say is your behaviour is quite consistent with your stated objectives.

The only way to show there is *no* campaign is to treat *all* vendors of RISC OS products equally. Hopefully this can happen, it would *really be nice*.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 19/06/05 3:21PM
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AMS: I still think you don't appreciate the work that has gone on amd has been done by ROL and Ad6 in co-operation. Clearly Castle made it very difficult for ROL to work with them and their hardware whilst Ad6 have done the opposite. No matter how 'easy' it might have been to somehow link Select to the Iyonix hardware it could only be done through long-term co-operation; and Chris has now told us that not only was the co-operation lacking up to last Autumn - but since then as well. It is fairly clear that the route that ROL took - to complete the 32-bitting of Select by co-operating with Ad6 - was the fastest way to producing an Iyonix version of Select (except by direct co-operation with Castle).

You're also positing the Iyonix and the A9 as direct competitors - but the feedback that I get is that there are two markets for an A9 that Castle cannot access with the Iyonix: both markets cannot justify the cost of an Iyonix. Now Castle may have tapped into part of that market with recent short-term price reductions but there are still plenty - those wanting to upgrade pre-RiscPC machines and those wanting to buy a second ROSC OS machine - with potential purcahsers who want something substantially cheaper.

I do apologise for my silence on Geminus but - apart from family problems that meant I wasn't entirely 'with it' during Oct/Nov/Dec - I cannot be the only one who thought that the rotation was simply part of an expensive product that required one to add additional cards and monitors to an already expensive computer. With all my feedback asking for a cheaper computer, Geminus seemed to be a very expensive sideline. If it's correct that just 10GBP buys the equivalent of HeadTurner for the Iyonix without any extra hardware then I'd advise Neil to give that option a name of its own and advertise it separately. I had HeadTurner thrust at me by the publishers "We're demonstrating HeadTurner along with the A9 at RONWUG" so couldn't ignore it!

Some RISC OS vendors make life easy for us - some make it impossible. Those that announce short-term offers at no notice aren't likely to get a mention with a 3-5 week lead time (STD and Castle have fallen foul of this). One of the very best was Cerilica who always ensured that we had early access to software for evaluation and gave us details of what was new/worth reporting about their products. They also had some good products. ;-(

I'm always likely to push more with what is new and what improves the viability of RISC OS as a market - but given the information (OK I usually have to go and get it ;-( I'll try to be fair.

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 19/06/05 6:40PM
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Paul Stewart: "But surely it would be easier for ROL to maintain, if they produced a version of RO Adjust for the Iyonix"

Don't think so. If ROL produces a complete OS for the Iyonix they have to maintain the complete OS including the hardware specific stuff, it would only make it easyer for Castle as they would have to support less computers.

 is a RISC OS UserJaco on 19/06/05 7:29PM
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jc: "Clearly Castle made it very difficult for ROL to work with them and their hardware" I don't know from what I read here it was "here you have our OS and whislist, take it further", how did they make it difficult?

 is a RISC OS UserJaco on 19/06/05 7:40PM
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Jaco: Last year. Dumping solicitor's letters on someone isn't a good way to encourage co-operation! No I'm not going over that again but we are now reaping the results of last year's sowing - hence the reason why Select stuff for the Iyonix is likely to be later than Select stuff for the A9. Nothing to do with ROL directly but the relationship between ROL and Castle. And before anyone else comments I was very surprised that ROL seems to have got so far with Select for the Iyonix. I don't know how they did it but the fact is very good news - and not just because it means there can be Select for Iyonix users.

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 19/06/05 8:42PM
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AMS: Looking back again at what you wrote, I think I probably misinterpreted what you were saying. Apologies if so. I took your comment about the FRU DVD to be a statement of your own opinion, whereas - looking at it again, in context - I think you were intending it as an example of people slanting stories and finding 'evidence' that doesn't actually exist. If that is indeed what you meant, then my previous defensive response was inappropriate, and I was arguing where no argument was necesssary. (Actually, my slightly misdirected response was rather a good illustration of the very point you were making!)

Anyway, regarding your follow-up comment, I was, shall we say, less than overjoyed about the negative political slant that Drobe chose to put on the FRU DVD story's headline in particular. But this kind of slant - which the youngsters today call 'attitude', I believe ;-) - is a long-established part of Drobe's reporting, so I wasn't too surprised. To be fair, it may well have been more to do with trying to make the story individual and attention-grabbing than to make it overtly political. I'm giving Drobe the benefit of the doubt here, of course, but to describe the story as being a blatant example of RISC OS 5-bashing may be overstating the point somewhat. In Drobe's favour, the story is at least factually accurate, and also links to a copy of my original press release for anyone who's interested. Chris took the trouble to phone me up and ask me about the DVD, and the body of the story makes it very clear that the DVD's contents are indeed Iyonix-compatible, so really it's only the headline that's at fault. It /is/ a pretty irritating and unfair headline (and now out of date), but at least the story following it is fair and accurate.

 is a RISC OS UserRichardHallas on 19/06/05 9:00PM
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John Cartmell: I think it's very dangerous to play the blame game in any kind of public forum. All it achieves is to perpetuate unpleasantness and make you look biased (which is never a good idea for a magazine editor). Besides, unless you are absolutely, positively, beyond a shadow of a doubt, 100% certain of every last supposed fact and contributing factor, you might not be being fair. Is every last one of your sources completely unbiased and unimpeachable? Are you absolutely certain that you have equal knowledge about what has gone on, from the points of view of *all* parties involved and including appropriate background information? Unless you can answer yes to both of those questions, then I really don't think that you should be heaping opprobrium on any individual company in public, regardless of your opinions in private. I have no intention, myself, of laying blame at anyone's door in any public forum - despite the fact that I suspect that my sources may be as good as yours.

Please don't take those comments negatively; I offer them with the best and most constructive intentions, because it seems to me that you're making yourself appear more biased than I would personally consider advisable. I just want to make the point that few things in life are black and white, and it's easy to present an unfairly slanted opinion, however good one's intentions may be.

 is a RISC OS UserRichardHallas on 19/06/05 9:25PM
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Richard: Please read my stuff again. I'm playing no blame game. We've known for a year that Castle sent out solicitor's letters telling companies to cease trading - or else. What I've said here doesn't require a judgement about whether those letters were justified or not. What you appear to be asking me (and Chris?) to do is pretend it didn't happen. It did. And it soured relationships that have a long term effect. It's the sort of thing that stops co-operation; co-operation didn't happen between Castle and other RO companies (AFAWK); co-operation happened between other RO companies; we are now seeing the fruits of co-operation from last year. There is no need to blame Castle (or ROL) or anyone else to know that what happened was a terrible waste. No-one denies that. If Castle and others started to co-operate at the end of last year then we should expect to see results from that co-operation later this year or early next year; those saying that ROL are being tardy are reading it wrong by expecting results now and complaining that Ad6 products are coming to fruition earlier than Castle's. It's that false expectation that can lead to the blame game. It's a false expectation that can develop if magazine editors try to sweep it all under the carpet and pretend that none of it happened. Of course I could be up the creek and we might find ourselves next week seeing the results of co-operation between ROL and Castle that went on despite last year's dispute. But we shouldn't expect that.

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 19/06/05 11:10PM
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(j.c) Sigh... It was comments by you sinmilar to the ones you are making now that made me relinquish my Select subscription last September.

I will resubscribe to Select when ROLD have something to offer me and in the meantime I will spend the money saved on projects that are not 'Give us your money and we might give you something in return sometime'. Like the UPP and Firefox for instance.

Regards Ron.

 is a RISC OS Userron. on 20/06/05 4:11PM
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JC: "Dumping solicitor's letters on someone isn't a good way to encourage co-operation!"

Solicitor's letters might be needed to enforce co-operation. They might not have come out of the blue. I don't know the details do you?

 is a RISC OS UserJaco on 20/06/05 8:02PM
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You are right (all those who commented). ROL did send out an email last November. One email. I have actually located it (I am on their mailing list) but I must have missed out on replying for some reason. Nevertheless, most serious operations will send out a reminder email a couple of weeks later.

 is a RISC OS Userbengershon on 21/06/05 07:51AM
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jc (re: Geminus): Somehow I missed Geminus until I saw it at Wakefield, but it was pretty clear to me then that there was a 10 version that just bought you screen rotation, without the need for additional hardware. It's an upgradeable product, where you can buy additional functionality to add (extra monitors), but from using it looks like it's all very much the same application, so it wouldn't make sense to sell it as a different name.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 21/06/05 10:19AM
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Simon: Obviously I've known about Geminus for some time but the stand-alone screen rotation product was only brought out at Wakefield this year. Has anyone mentioned its release yet?

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 21/06/05 12:20AM
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jc>Wrote "Clearly Castle made it very difficult for ROL to work with them and their hardware whilst Ad6 have done the opposite."

How do you figure that John ?

Like by providing a Technical Reference manual that details all major salient features of the Iyonix, includes a CD containing PDF's of all datasheets for components, the T13 docs, a PDF version of the circuit diagram, a full bill of materials and a comprehensive hardware description ?

Updated versions of the C Developer suite supporting 32bit (who knows this might even have been used to build the A9's OS !), updated PRM's and also RO5 specific online resources on the www.iyonix.com developer pages.

Produced an updated 32bit Shared C-Library and CallASwi module for all (surely *they* count as examples of being "co-operative").

Finally (unlike the A9) the Iyonix comes with a 32bit OS that you can "poke" and see how it reacts. Even though the Iyonix is more complex than an A9 there is enough information available to allow people to do what they need to do (sure Linux was ported to the Iyonix so obviously there are sources of information about Iyonix *outside* Castle as well). Also remember ROL started with *nothing* on the A9 they had to do the *whole thing*, Iyonix in comparison should be easy (well easier than developing the A9) given the available information and an already functional OS.

Maybe John you don't fully appreciate how much of a "leg-up" the above are, an OS developer would be *very* pleased to have them.

Perhaps John you could define what "co-operation" from Castle ROL still need to complete Select for Iyonix because based on the wide range of software tools and documentation available for Iyonix I fail to see what else (of practical consequence) could be needed to complete an OS for that machine.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 21/06/05 8:23PM
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In reply to JC: It release was reported on the Iconbar on 17th May by none other than myself. [link] Cheers!

 is a RISC OS Userfwibbler on 21/06/05 9:57PM
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Feck! I typed it wrong /and/ it was the wrong link! Grrr! Try this one: [link]

 is a RISC OS Userfwibbler on 21/06/05 9:58PM
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Sigh! So Drobe has broken the link (so I didn't type the first one wrong after all)

 is a RISC OS Userfwibbler on 21/06/05 10:00PM
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Fwibbler: Tuesday before Wakefield! I missed it just like all the rest of the universe!! ;-(

But many thanks for the link.

AMS: I'm not being drawn into a re-run argument. Your comments about documentation are well noted though your appreciation of the ease of accommodating someone else's work compared with working with a clean slate seems to be lacking the experience of experience.

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 21/06/05 11:29PM
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JC> "[AMS] your appreciation of the ease of accommodating someone else's work compared with working with a clean slate seems to be lacking the experience of experience. "

Three words, object orientation, polymorphism, inheritance.

They don't exist on a clean slate.

And I'd point out ROL aren't buffoons who can't find their backside with a flashtorch - they are *well* versed in updating others code (otherwise where did RO4 come from or indeed Select itself). Please give credit where credit is due, yes a novice programmer might *not* find a working machine, with a working OS and a very deep pile of documentation helpful (they'd be even more at sea when confronted with a machine which has no OS or bootloader or anything (as A9 probably started)) - I can't imagine ROL using novice programmers can you ?

No there is certainly enough information, documentation and working hardware in an Iyonix to allow ROL to get on with it - and the proof is in the amount of Select they *already* have running on Iyonix (apparently without co-operation if what you and Chris say is true). Castle *have* provided all that is required and I still don't know what more they can do (other than perhaps hand over all the RO5 source to ROL - if your inference about "a clean slate" is true then what benefit to ROL would that RO5 source be anyway ? ;).

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 22/06/05 7:45PM
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AMS: You're madly extrapolating again. "Probably no co-operation 12 months ago" isn't the same as "no co-operation now". I'm making no comment other than what has long been well known. Your attempts to put me at odds with Castle or ROL won't wash. You're saying it all - not me. And I'm trying very hard not to simply say "you're wrong". Perhaps I'll leave it at "Your comments are misleading." ;-)

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 22/06/05 11:03PM
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The A680 doesn't RISCOS at all (except for a very cut down version - about 8 modules as a bootloader). It's a RISCiX machine with onboard SCSI and 8MB on board (and thus 2 x MEMC). And very nice it is too. The case will also withstand a direct nuclear strike. :-)

 is a RISC OS Usersborrill on 27/07/05 11:10AM
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