RISC OS 6 to power Select 4Published: 18th Oct 2006, 17:11:37 | Permalink | Printable
Free preview promised to hearten Select subs [Updated]Select 4 will be powered by a 26/32bit neutral RISC OS 6, RISCOS Ltd announced today. The next heavily awaited installment of Select will come in two builds - a 26bit mode build for RiscPCs and A7000-class machines, and a 32bit build for A9home computers. Drobe understands a free preview version running RISC OS 4.4x will be offered for Select subscribers to download, with a suitably bug fixed RISC OS 6 later rolled out to fully paid-up subscribers. The news was announced this afternoon in Glasgow during the first day of the RISCOS Ltd northern roadshow.
RISCOS Ltd have privately fumed that punters could see RISC OS 5 as being superior to RISC OS 4 purely from comparing the version numbers, and have stuck to using the Select and Adjust brand names to describe their operating system releases. However, as the internal kernel version number has rolled past 10.00 after hundreds of changes and bug fixes were committed to the source code, ROL have seen fit to nudge the OS version to six.
The key features of RISC OS 6 include a highly modularised operating system to aid portability, stability and maintenance of the OS; legacy support components; and updated graphics, toolbox, programming library, networking, and desktop components. Teletext support, the VIDC driver, device interrupt handler, software-based graphics operations, the real-time clock, the mouse pointer, CMOS RAM support, and hardware timer support have been abstracted out of the kernel and into their own separate modules. Support for obsolete BBC Micro-related functionality has also been abstracted out. AIF and transient utility executable checking is included to help block badly written software from running on systems.
|Glasgow roadshow notes|
An X300 and an Aria cube were on display on the Castle stand, with a very flash widescreen display. The RISC OS 5.12 ROMs have apparently have proved to be a very popular download since their release. On the subject of a future Iyonix employing a 1.2GHz XScale processor, Castle wouldn't comment and stated the usual policy that they won't discuss such potential products. There's a feeling they're pretty interested in it though, but said that the chips weren't actually available yet - the 800MHz part is, though. Incidentally, RISC OS Open are reportedly working flat out to get the whole operating system out within the next 12 months. When a RISC OS 6 leaflet was thrust into a ROS Open staffer's hands, he said he was surprised, but added it was good to get RISC OS out onto people's computers, and it didn't matter if it was Castle or ROL doing it - it would all aid the market.
Liquid Silicon were at the show and said there had been a steady flow of people in during the day, having opened at around 3pm. Alan reported he was having trouble tracking down ESP with regards to the 32bit MIDI drivers, and the USB MIDI driver development is said to have gone cold.
Next up was RISCOS Ltd, which had a plethora of computers on display, including a real surprise - RISC OS 6. Paul Middleton admitted that it doesn't work on an Iyonix, but it does have a flashy blue loading screen and a 'six' in the cog switcher icon on the iconbar. It was running on a RiscPC, and an A9home. The desktop had a cool blue backdrop, and VirtualRiscPC was running on a Mac.
Chris Evans of CJE Micros was selling fast on his stand, and had some A9homes in stock plus an A9home hooked up to a network.
There was a steady trickle of people coming in the doors with around 12 or so the most at any one time.
Overall, the bullet point features for Select 4 are the hardware abstraction; increased stability thanks to additional memory protection and the new debugging tools developed in-house by ROL; the ZeroConf networking system to make managing a network easy; the restructuring and tidy up of the operating system; and the 32 bit conversion making it suitable for ARM 9 powered systems. The abstraction includes some graphics acceleration in a Viewfinder driver module, which opens up extra large screen modes and is independent of John Kortink's VF driver code. A similar module also exists for the A9home SM501 graphics chip.
The acceleration enhances line and rectangle drawing, and block operations, reportedly pushing Draw far faster than ArtWorks. The Viewfinder driver also caches sprites on the card video RAM, accelerating rendering further. The memory management system has been updated so that dynamic areas can be used in DMA operations and mapped to physical memory directly, which is useful for driver development, and can be adapted to power a virtual memory system. The video drivers use physical dynamic areas to access their VRAM. A Video Guard module ensures users are not left without a display if a fault occurs with a graphics driver.
With its 32bit compatibility and hardware abstraction, the OS has been described as a distant cousin to earlier releases of RISC OS 4, and unrecognisable compared to the design of RISC OS 5.
The last release in the yearly Select subscription scheme was pressed in mid-2004. RISCOS Ltd recently apologised to customers for the delays, adding that a lot of development time has been spent on making RISC OS 4 compatible with 32bit ARM-compatible processors and introducing the hardware abstraction. Since the release of Select 3, AdvantageSix have bank rolled further development of RISC OS 4, which saw the release of 32bit ROS 4.42 for Ad6's A9 product line. The new version number, namely six, and AdvantageSix's name are a coincidence, Drobe understands.
ROL's Paul Middleton told subscribers this month that the company is aiming for an October release; this is unlikely to happen, although development and bug fixing continues, Drobe understands. An Iyonix port of Select is also unlikely to happen unless greater cooperation between ROL and Castle emerges. ROL intend to charge £210 for a 2006-2007 subscription to Select, which will include RISC OS 6.
The RISC OS 6 announcement comes following the publishing of the RISC OS Select technical documentation online. ROL have denied that the flurry of Select related news is due to the appearance of RISC OS Open.
Glasgow show photos from RISCOS Ltd stand
Leaflet page 1, page 2 (copy of the RISC OS 6 website)
|Copyright RISC OS Ltd, acknowledges old Acorn|
|Select 4 sources directory? An alternative form of open RISC OS, we think. Note the new Paint toolbar on the left hand side|
|Note VIDC driver DA mapping in video RAM|
|This info box is a mock up, before you get carried away|
|Sixth volume for sixth version|
|A preview black and white copy|
Rewritten at 23:20 after new information and photos came to light.
A pre-release hard disc archive is also expected to be released soon.
Update at 20:20 19/10/2006
The full changelogs for Select 4 are here.
RISC OS 6 website
News moles: Glasgow show reporting by Andrew Brown and Michael Drake. Photography by Michael Drake.
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