Drobe :: The archives
About Drobe | Contact | RSS | Twitter | Tech docs | Downloads | BBC Micro

RISC OS found on Pocket PC PDA

By Chris Williams. Published: 28th May 2006, 15:51:57 | Permalink | Printable

So close yet so far

News of the DrobeIt's a sight that will stun many users. To run RISC OS on a PDA is something we've been crying out for. Here, RISC OS can be seen running on a PocketPC PDA, with no Microsoft software in sight. The Pocket Loox computer even uses a 520MHz ARM-compatible XScale processor.

However, the break through came about after Jan Rinze Peterzon ported the open source RiscPC emulator RPCemu to Windows CE. His work was rumoured to have started some time ago, and this development is hoped to be included in the next release of RPCemu. A Mac OS X version is also being prepared.

The screenshots show the standard RISC OS 3.7 desktop running in a 480x640 in 32,000 colour screen mode. Draw can be seen in action, drawing lines in a new document, on the Fujitsu Siemens hand-held device.

RISC OS on Windows CERISC OS on Windows CE

The full photos can be found from the link below.

• A new version of BBC Basic for Windows users is now available for download.


RPCemu and Arculator 'work in progress' webpage

Previous: Samsung laser printer drivers in beta
Next: RiscPC prototype kit in auction


Viewing threaded comments | View comments unthreaded, listed by date | Skip to the end

Any idea of the sort of speed this would run at on a PDA?

 is a RISC OS UserIanK on 28/5/06 4:20PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

While I applaud Jan's efforts (no mean feat getting the emulator ported) this really is *not* the same as having RISC OS running native on a PDA. In spite of what the article says ("no Microsoft software in sight") yes there is none obviously visible - yet you'd see nothing at all *without it* and the emulator that runs on it.

As a means of showing the practicality of running RISC OS on PDA's it's good (and from the photos the RO desktop looks quite clear and clean). Speed wise I'd imagine it would be pretty slow (are there any benchmarks available?).

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 28/5/06 4:30PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Ooo lurvely! Another reason to buy Windows :o)

Lets hope that 'New Acorn' start selling similar PDA's and then we can have 'Acorn' computers running RISC OS again (with only a small contribution to the 'Save Bill Gates from Poverty' fund ;o)

 is a RISC OS Userblahsnr on 28/5/06 4:44PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Does look pretty neat, yes.

The only version of RISC OS I can see remotely running natively on that PDA is RISC OS 5, not necessarily because there's an XScale involved, but rather from certain supposed work done by Castle and Tematic. Ofcourse, that does not mean we'll have RO5 running on PDA's by next month, more that I see Castle possibly doing work in that direction, rather than RISCOS Ltd who seem to be focussed on desktop computers. Still, that would really be something... having a specialised version of RO running natively on a PDA!

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 28/5/06 4:52PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

IanK: the speed is up to 3 Mips.. The desktop is sufficiently responsive to do simple tasks. When having artworks rendering a complex image it seems to take ages though. I am looking at the Archimedes emulator by Jan de Boer which can emulate ARM code on an ARM pretty fast. Unfortunately his code is written in BASIC and Assembler so porting that would not be easy.

hEglia: Running RISCOS natively is not quite impossible though it would involve a lot of changes on the side of RISCOS. This is because the hardware of a Pocket PC is somewhat different from an Iyonix or a RISCPC. The next thing on my list is to try to run Linux on the PocketPC which might allow running of userspace code natively (32 bit only!) That would speed-up things tremendously.

RISC OS on a Pocket PC is a really nice-to-have feature. The OS is intended for 3 button mice so I had to claim hardware buttons for 'menu' and 'adjust'. The layout 480x640 is also a bit strange but the emulator also supports 'landscape' mode 640x480.

All credits go to Tom Walker who wrote the emulator. I only converted his code to the Pocket PC.

The current state of the sourcecode is that it needs to be cleaned-up and tested on similair Pocket PC devices. The code was compiled with gcc for Windows CE which is available from [link]


Jan Rinze.

 is a RISC OS UserJanRinze on 28/5/06 5:33PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Can the emulator make use of the ARM command set directly or is it necessary that the ARM (Xscale) emulates an ARM?

 is a RISC OS Usermaikl on 28/5/06 5:33PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]


The emulator emulates an ARM7 and is written entirely in C. This makes it very portable and host-processor independant. The implementation for the Pocket PC is compiled for the XScale.

Jan Rinze.

 is a RISC OS UserJanRinze on 28/5/06 5:36PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Is it possilbe to run the OS in emmulation and send the application code direct. I remember easiwriter running on an iPAQ 1360 years ago?

Cheers Bob

 is a RISC OS Usernijinsky on 28/5/06 8:09PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]


Under Windows CE the memory map is a bit more restrictive but under Linux this could be very 'do-able'. There is a simple mmap instruction under Linux which allows memory to be mapped to the 0x8000 and up memory area. This memory can be made executable so running the ARM code there would be done 'natively'. All software interrupts (SWI) can be passed on to the emulated RISC OS environment. I am not sure how could be detected when RISCOS claims memory for the app and when it will start the usermode app. I am sure that either Tom or someone else is sufficiently knowledgable about such things to help out.

Jan Rinze.

P.S. this would be a pretty general statement for all linux based ARM platforms...

 is a RISC OS UserJanRinze on 28/5/06 8:47PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Looking forward to the MacOSX version :)

We have some Pocket PC lying around the house (my dad got them as business gifts) but I bet they are pretty outdated by know. I use a Psion Series 7 for schoolwork

 is a RISC OS Userhighlandcattle on 28/5/06 10:01PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Drobe: come off it chaps, this is more than a little misleading. All due credit to Jan Rinze and the others he credits, but 3 Mips iwould make an A3000 look quick. JR himself admits that RO is scarcely usable for real-world purposes ATM on a PDA. No doubt progress will be made, but I question the genuine usefulness (as opposed to a demonstration of programming skill) of emulation on an inherently limitied platform like a PDA.

 is a RISC OS Userbucksboy on 28/5/06 10:32PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

bucksboy: OK, 3 mips is terrible performance. But I think the article is more demonstrating what *could* be done to get usable RO onto a PDA. After all, isn't RPCEmu a relatively simple emulator (in comparison to something like VRPCSA)? If an improved, hardware-specific solution was written, what sort of performance improvement there would be?

VirtualPocketBook - VA's next product?

 is a RISC OS Usertimephoenix on 29/5/06 8:06AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

This is a great effort and shows that the RISC OS GUI is usable on this device format.

HP are using the Samsung S3C2400 series ARM processors in the new iPAQ's. This is the same integrated ARM9 processor used in the A9home. Perhaps RISC OS Adjust has the advantage over RISC OS 5 as a possible PDA OS. The highly integrated nature of this processor means that it may be possible to port RISC OS without having to write new video drivers, quite a big job if you were to port RISC OS 5.

The performance of a native OS rather than an emulated one on a PDA would make your eyes water.

Also of interest to some readers is that some of these devices will run at 500MHz :-)

 is a RISC OS Userknutson on 29/5/06 9:29AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

I tried compiling RPCemu on the Maemo SDK (for the Nokia 770 Linux-based Internet Tablet) but it just seems to hang before outputting "Acorn RISC OS".

However, ArcEm does run: [link] Obviously this is a first attempt, and without a numeric keypad to press "+" on, I can't capture mouse events. But BASIC works well :-)

 is a RISC OS UserJaffa on 29/5/06 12:05PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

And Psion netbooks run wince as do jornada 720's ad 820's. This would be a good tool to run an emu on. In addition, wince pda's have instant o and long battery life. cheers bob

 is a RISC OS Usernijinsky on 29/5/06 9:33PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Ohh.... and it must be 5-6 years ago I mentioned this wwas the way to go All IMHO.

 is a RISC OS Usernijinsky on 29/5/06 9:34PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

I'd like to see someone porting something to Palm OS. The Palm TX, for instance, has a 300MHz XScale and a nice 480x320 screen. (Tiny for RISC OS, but...) And the Palm LifeDrive (the current top-end Palm PDA) has a 416MHz XScale and a 4GB hard drive.

 is a RISC OS UserRichardHallas on 30/5/06 10:53AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Just like RichardHallas, I am a Palm PDA owner, and would like to see a Palm version.

This is potentially marvellous news for our platform, but how would we go about copying files/software from and to our desktop computers? ATM I have to backup to my Apple iMac as the Palm will not connect to the Iyonix. And how about software? Would I be stuck with using Edit and converting to Techwriter format once I had copied the file to the Iyo?

 is a RISC OS Usercables on 30/5/06 12:22PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

I have a iPAQ HX4700 (Intel PXA270); if (and when) Jan releases his port I'd certainly give it a try on my palmtop. It's the same CPU, or possibly one of the same "family".

I think the simplest way to copy RISC OS files to and from; is to use SD or CF cards via a card reader.


 is a RISC OS Useralex on 30/5/06 4:50PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]


If you like you may become a beta tester :-) I have not been able to test the emulator on a different device. Your iPAQ is even a bit faster (640MHz)

Files can be shared over HostFS. This is even possible while the Pocket PC is syncing with another PC. If you have wifi networking or bluetooth you can even upload files wirelessly into the hostfs directory. There is not yet networking support on the emulator so sharing directly with RiscOS is not available.

Jan Rinze.

 is a RISC OS UserJanRinze on 30/5/06 7:17PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

In reply to JanRinze:

If it is likely to work on Palm I would like to volunteer to be a beta tester as well.

 is a RISC OS Usercables on 31/5/06 12:44PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

cables: The current sources by Tom Walker only supports Windows, there is also a Linux version. My adaptation for Windows CE is unlikely to run on Palm since that uses a different operatingsystem. I don't have a Palm device and therefore cannot work on a version for Palm. Sorry.

Jan Rinze.

 is a RISC OS UserJanRinze on 31/5/06 3:31PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

With ARM chips in PDA's why emulate at all? It would be so nice to have a RiscOS driven PDA and a RiscOS driven desktop....that talk to each other. Of course a spin off of such an excercise would be the necessity of having multimedia applications that we don't currently have (sorry I had to get my dig in about a huge hole in the RiscOS environment ;-) ).

I copy files between PDA and RiscOS using my PDA in USB drive mode. Unfortunately I have to use a PC as an intermediate (spit). The SD card in my PDA also plugs into my digital SLR....wonderful. So I suppose I need an SD card reader to bypass the PC. The problem is my reticence to keep investing in RiscOS hardware at the moment for a subject of computer use (RiscOS multimedia) that just has not progressed for several years! The duo core iMac is looking more attractive as the days go by.

 is a RISC OS Usermripley on 1/6/06 8:42AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

ARM on ARM emulation is never going to be a viable proposition, remember 3 MIPS is half the speed of an Archimedes A310, or if you want to experiance that today with a modern version of RISC OS, turn the cache off on a StrongARM machine, and image less than half of that. You can't get anything useful done with that level of performance.

The ideal solution of course is to have it run natively on the hardware, and of course if people can port Linux, its possible to get enough details about the hard ware to port RISC OS too - which just about could be done without official support using the available information on the HAL requirements of RISC OS 5.

However, a halfway house would be to run as much code directly on the ARM processor as possible, setting up page tables so that memory accesses outside the current active object (application, module area, or ROM) are trapped and redirected (also picking up I/O). Plus trapping SWI and other exception handlers. Unfortunately getting this level of control from the native OS is becoming more difficult as even Microsoft wise up to the dangers of poor security on Windows Mobile - under pressure from the phone companies that dont want a virus ridden mobile network. You'd probably have to put Linux on in order to do it, and by then you are going to be a bit pushed for resources on these devices.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 1/6/06 9:31AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

3 mips is 3/4 the speed of an A310, you can get a good performance boost out of slow emulators by changing the wimp font to System and turning out the background texture in the windows. Add to that considerably faster filesystem access and you have a platform that will be of use for at least some limited tasks.

 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 1/6/06 12:50PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Please login before posting a comment. Use the form on the right to do so or create a free account.

Search the archives

Today's featured article

  • Wakefield 2006 show report
    All the thrills and spills from the weekend [Updated]
     90 comments, latest by bucksboy on 23/05/06 5:57PM. Published: 15 May 2006

  • Random article

  • ROOL take over allocations from Alan Glover
    Give the team something to do during the licensing wait
     Discuss this. Published: 1 Mar 2007

  • Useful links

    News and media:

    Top developers:
    RISCOS LtdRISC OS OpenMW SoftwareR-CompAdvantage SixVirtualAcorn

    CJE MicrosAPDLCastlea4X-AmpleLiquid SiliconWebmonster


    RISCOS.org.ukRISCOS.orgRISCOS.infoFilebaseChris Why's Acorn/RISC OS collectionNetSurf

    Non-RISC OS:
    The RegisterThe InquirerApple InsiderBBC NewsSky NewsGoogle Newsxkcddiodesign

    © 1999-2009 The Drobe Team. Some rights reserved, click here for more information
    Powered by MiniDrobeCMS, based on J4U | Statistics
    "Well, if you will use these complicated words, how can you expect us lowly RISC OS users to follow?"
    Page generated in 0.2497 seconds.