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RISC OS 6 Select 4 preview released

Published: 25th Nov 2006, 08:30:45 | Permalink | Printable

Download until end of the year

RISCOS Ltd has released a preview build of RISC OS 6 Select 4 for Select subscribers to download. The release came just in time for the Midlands 2006 show this weekend after the company pulled out all the stops to finish the preview package. Copies of the operating system were available on CD from the event in Wolverhampton. The preview version is expected to be the forerunner to a full bug fixed Select 4 release, which will only be available to users who have continued to renew their Select subscriptions.

An announcement sent out on Friday evening read: "RISCOS Ltd are pleased to announce the immediate availability of RISC OS 6 Preview for Select subscribers. The RISC OS 6 Preview release gives RiscPC, A7000 and VirtualRPC-Adjust users an opportunity to experience recent developments within RISC OS through the Select scheme."

RISC OS 6 info box
The new 'About this operating system' window


Users who re-subscribed to the Select scheme after May 31, 2004 are allowed to download the new operating system beta version - until now subscribers to the annual Select scheme had not seen a release for over two years. ROL has said it spent a lot of the time on making the OS source code compatible with 26bit- and 32bit-mode ARM-compatible processors. Powered by RISC OS 6.02 which was finally built on November 21, Select 4's key features include a highly modularised design to aid portability, stability and maintenance of the OS; legacy support components; and updated graphics, toolbox, programming library, networking, and desktop components.

This Select 4 release has been tested on RiscPCs fitted with StrongARM, APDL Turbo StrongARM and Castle Kinetic cards, and VirtualAcorn's VirtualRiscPC-SA and VirtualRiscPC-AdjustSA emulators. The OS has also been tested on A7000 and A7000+ hardware, although ROL said RISC OS 6 is "designed to be run on StrongARM class RiscPC-type computers." It cannot be installed on Microdigital Omega, VirtualRiscPC-SE, VirtualRiscPC-Adjust, Castle Iyonix and AdvantageSix A9home computers.

However, the Viewfinder driver software is incompatible with Select 4 because the video driver attempts to manipulate the kernel directly, according to RISCOS Ltd. The RISC OS 6 kernel has video abstracted from it, which will cause the Viewfinder driver to fail, and users must switch to using the on-board Acorn VIDC chipset. A small number of APDL Arcin IDE cards fitted with Flash memory cannot boot on RISC OS 6, and the RISC OS printing system has been disabled.

According to the release's documentation: "RISC OS 6 Select 4 Preview is a 'preview' release of RISC OS 6. 'Preview' releases are designed to allow users and programmers to evaluate the new and enhanced features and interfaces which are available in a future full release operating system. 'Preview' releases are not subject to the same rigorous testing regime as that which is required for a full release, and a number of limitations or bugs may be expected.

"Some features of the full RISC OS 6 (Select 4) release are currently undergoing an overhaul. As such some facilities have been disabled in the Preview release. Currently the disabled items are ViewFinder support and Printing support."

One Iyonix-using punter told us: "Well done to RISCOS Ltd for keeping this promise of making the preview available by the Midlands show." Another said: "If I understand the rules correctly, I will not get a version of Select that is at all usable unless I pay for a further subscription."

RISCOS Ltd is said to be holding its AGM in December, and earlier this month called for programmers to contribute to the Select scheme.

Links

RISC OS 6 website - with new riscos6.com domain name, preview available for download until end of the year

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Discussion

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Congratulations to RISCOS Ltd.

After years, a new release has been made to (ex-)subscribers! I presume the 'Select4i1' download is a universal binary, meaning it contains both a 26- and 32bit build of the OS? I'm quite eager to learn more about the new technology and features in this preview release, let's hope a Drobe preview / review is not far off...

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 25/11/06 1:24PM
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In reply to hEgelia:

If you look at the RISC OS Six Home Page, it says that "it is now based on a completely 26 bit / 32 bit neutral source". This is does not necessarily mean that all future builds will be 32 bit.

The preview is advertised as being for "RiscPC, A7000 and VirtualRPC" users. None of these platforms would benefit from a 32 bit build of the OS (it would just prevent you from running old applications). Therefore I assume that the preview is a 26 bit build.

 is a RISC OS Userthesnark on 25/11/06 1:35PM
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It's 26bit only, as it should be, and as ROL have previously stated. There is no reason to have a 32bit OS on a RiscPC and indeed the largest reason NOT to be 32bit is that much hardware [podules] would not work.

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 25/11/06 2:12PM
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thesnark: OK. I was just wondering how ROL would deliver ROSix for respectively 26bit and 32bit machines. It slipped my mind that the build made available is only for 26bit compatible machines and it just isn't made clear on the download page. In fact, it's not really made clear at all... I'd say some parts of the new site (which is an improvement by itself) could be better worded. I'm sure most A9home users know what the deal is, but for someone looking in from the outside things still look rather confusing and unclear. So 'Adjust32' is RISC OS 6, though named RISC OS 4.42 and since the FAQ mentions ROSix is not just another name for Select 4, what would Select 4 offer over and beyond ROSix, since the ROSix download is named 'Select4i1.arc' ? There's still no 'end-user feature list' on the Key Features page, though there has been for programmers for over a month now.

imj: As I understood it, there are some benefits for having the OS running in 32bit on RPC class machines, but they're insignificant compared to the problems caused to existing solutions creating massive compatibility problems from a software to hardware level.

Anyway... I guess A9home using subscribers would get a special 32bit version of Select 4 specifically tailored to their machines later on, which would re-flash the A9home's ROM.

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 25/11/06 4:37PM
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Select for A9? Since when has that been available? Select is a subscription scheme for RiscPC/A7000, not A9.

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 25/11/06 6:06PM
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In reply to imj and hEgelia:

RO has been overhauled to make it eaisier to build both 26 and 32 bit releases from one source tree. The version of RO in the A9home has improvements that are not present in 4.39. As I do not have a suitable version of VRPC to test RO6 on, I am unable to check if the improvements are part of the RO6 preview buld. However I would expect that a later build of S4 will support the A9home. However, first ROL/AD6 have to release the final OS build for the A9. I'm guessing this will be RO6 minus the extra Select 4 features.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 25/11/06 6:39PM
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bloody hell what a mess!

 is a RISC OS UserROHC on 26/11/06 12:10AM
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ROHC: What do you mean? What is a mess?

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 26/11/06 1:16AM
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Wow, I did look at riscos6.com and one of the first statements is: "Since the launch of Select 3 / OS 4.39 (Adjust ROM) all the development work has gone into the 32 bit conversion of the remainder of the RISC OS Sources that had not previously been converted as part of the RISC OS Select scheme."

Well this is a surprise (or should be but is not really to me): 1. ROL claimed the odd time that Ad6 paid for the work needed to get RO run on A9home - well this obviously includes 32bitting it since A9home needs it for the first time. 2. The next select release to the subscribers took well over two years thus making it a pretty expensive one and now them poor subscribers can read on the official web site that all ROL has done since the previous Select release was the 32 bit conversion and that thus they paid for that.

But perhaps the statement I quoted from riscos6.com needs some corrections...

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 26/11/06 8:22AM
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Is this an official statement of ROL or summarised by drobe: "It cannot be installed on Microdigital Omega, VirtualRiscPC-SE, VirtualRiscPC-Adjust, Castle Iyonix and AdvantageSix A9home computers." ?

I mean if this is true then it only runs on RiscPCs and A7000 but only if you are not using ViewFinder. Somebody know if ROS6 supports the StrongARM or do we need to go back to ARM610?

Hm, I planned to upgrade to RISC OS 6 but as an Omega and VRPC user it seems they don't let me.

So what are the reasons for limiting it to these old machines? Will it really not work on the Omega or is it just not supported but may run?

 is a RISC OS Usermaikl on 26/11/06 8:55AM
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in reply to maikl: "So what are the reasons for limiting it to these old machines? Will it really not work on the Omega or is it just not supported but may run?"

I believe it is to do with that they do not have access to an Omega for development on.

 is a RISC OS UserMikeCarter on 26/11/06 9:50AM
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In reply to MikeCarter: Perhaps they could pursuade someone to sell them one.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 26/11/06 10:27AM
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In Reply to sa110

It might not be as simply as not having one to test to. It could also be that there are components within the current ROM builds of the Omega and RiscStation that ROL do not have a the licence to use and thus can not do a full rom build for these machines.

 is a RISC OS Userbluenose on 26/11/06 10:50AM
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On my Omega I use a standard Select 3 version, not a special one for the Omega so I would think that the new one should also start. There does not need to be a hardware specific part in the softload version. AFAIK the Omega appears to RISC OS very much like a Risc PC.

Anyway I don't understand why VRPC is out.

 is a RISC OS Usermaikl on 26/11/06 11:42AM
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In reply to maikl:

Yes, I was dissapointed I could not run the preview version on my VRPC-SE. Perhaps the next preview release will work on it.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 26/11/06 12:20PM
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Also to consider: Will the next Select release finally support VRPC's 8MB VRAM? If not, we are not going to continue with Select but move to Linux and MacOS entirely. The Adjust/RO5 are looking very dated now and it is a pain in the a** to support additional ROS hardware in our network anyway. Especially the usually simple things like monitor and printer settings/software and keeping installed software up-to-date are especially hard on RISC OS. On the PCs and Macs most software keeps itself up to date over the internet. On RISC OS you have to manually download and install updates and check if they still work afterwards. This is not a big problem with single computers at home or small offices, but when you are managing a middle-sized or large network, it is a lot of work. And then there are the copy-protection issues with commercial software like Photodesk, where it stops working each time you change the computer wich loads it from the fileserver. Of course it does not really stop you from installing it on many RISC OS machines seperately, but then you have even more work with keeping each individual copy up to date. Okay, with Photodesk it is not such a big problem anymore, since AFAIK development has stopped, but this is by no means a good thing, either.

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 26/11/06 3:23PM
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One of the reasons that package manament software like RiscPKG is so desparately needed, for RISC OS especially. Cheers!

 is a RISC OS Userfwibbler on 26/11/06 8:00PM
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Unfortunately due to the internal reorganisation of RISC OS 6, ViewFinder is no longer supported, and wont be unless John Kortink comes out of retirement and re-writes his code, or ROL write a driver for ATi cards from scratch, neither of which I would hold my breath for. This means its not even worth trying for me, as going back to small flickery VIDC modes from 2048x1536x32bpp that both my machines run at, is unconscionable.

Another unfortunate feature is continuing nonsense over the Shared C Library. The version ROL supply in ROM is not fully compatible with applications that are built with up to date versions of the C/C++ development environment, and attempts to load the required Castle SCL result in a warning dialog of instability (although apparently does then load). I don't care who's fault this it is that a proper SCL is not provided, either ROL or Castle, but it needs sorting out as it is intolerable it does not work correctly with the official platform development suite. Until this is sorted out, I'm afraid an incompatibility issues regarding software I've written, ported or maintain will have to be addressed by ROL.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 27/11/06 9:24AM
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Tricky. It would be tempting for ROL to forget Viewfinder support and just get S4 onto the A9 and Iyonix, but then this seems to be a major reason *not* to want S4 for your RPC - so less subscriptions and less money to fund the next two ports.

 is a RISC OS Usertimephoenix on 27/11/06 9:55AM
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Will not be installing it, without viewfinder support not much point really.

 is a RISC OS UserPete on 27/11/06 11:53AM
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To druck: Before you carry too much away with your ROL bashing, have a look at [link]

 is a RISC OS Userjoty on 27/11/06 12:03PM
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joty:

What point were you making - the link you supplied gives an error message:- "The requested URL was not found on this server"

 is a RISC OS UserJohnR on 27/11/06 12:56PM
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In reply to Pete:

I'm sure I read/heard somewhere that RO6 would contain it's own viewfinder/A9home enhanced graphics drivers

I'm just trying to think were I heard that. Probably at the Guildford show.

People have to remember, this is an early preview release and does not contain many additional components over 4.39. I think people are entirely missing the point that now ROL can now successfully build both 32bit and 26bit RO from a single source tree. Hopefully future developments on Select will now pick up.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 27/11/06 1:22PM
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In reply to JohnR:

I think thel ink Joty was refering to is this one: -

[link] [link]

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 27/11/06 1:25PM
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John: at the moment, it looks like the old Select customers who haven't received anything other than slight bugfixing since September 2003 are now only getting a "preview" which is not really usable on some previously supported platforms (Omega, VirtualRPC, Viewfinder-RPC) as well as everyone-thought-to-be-supported-platforms (A9). Three years of subscription money for nothing is a bit expensive IMHO. Plenty of reasons to bash RO Ltd. for.

The 32bitting, hardware abstracting, modularizing etc. is surely a good idea, but you can't keep your customers happy with these things, especially since the first three Select releases arrived in a timely manner and with user-visible progress.

The only fair thing for RO Ltd. to do would be to extend all subscriptions renewed after Sept. 2003 until the next Select release. Giving access to a "preview" is just not good enough. Financially, this should be possible since RO Ltd. told us that Ad6 paid for the things that brought Select 3 up to RISC OS Six.

Steffen

 is a RISC OS Userhubersn on 27/11/06 2:47PM
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In reply to JGZimmerle: "Okay, with Photodesk it is not such a big problem anymore, since AFAIK development has stopped, but this is by no means a good thing, either."

Not quite true. Niklaus Weiss is working on Photodesk and the current beta works fine on 32 bit with no restraints as for the memory used, that is no need to stick to low memory dynamic area. Fixing that was quite some work as is well-known. AFAIK his first goal is to finish and polish off a full 26/32 bit version with no restraints in it and then to look into enhancing it. No dates or the like are given so no need to rush him.

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 27/11/06 3:00PM
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To several: The limiation to old hardware like A7000 and Risc PC is perhaps no surprise since it is a preview only :-)

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 27/11/06 3:03PM
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In reply to hubersn:

I absolutely agree!

... especially since on their website for RISC OS Six they state clearly "Since the launch of Select 3 / OS 4.39 (Adjust ROM) *all* the development work has gone into the 32 bit conversion of the remainder of the RISC OS Sources that had not previously been converted as part of the RISC OS Select scheme. As might be expected this has been a mammoth undertaking and we hope that the wait will have been worthwhile." Well as ROL kept claiming over and over this was paid for by Ad6 - gee, what did ROL then do with all the subscribers money?

But if I go back to their FAQ: "Q. What new features will there be in the RISC OS Select Scheme? A. ...It is not possible to state exactly when any particular new feature or update will appear since the whole idea of the Select Scheme is to make new items available as soon as possible, rather then waiting 3-4 years before releasing everything at once. ... " ... well there they state that you're expected to subscribe and that you will get something (whatever) when it is ready for release - but he has to speed things up to not miss the 3-4 years mark!

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 27/11/06 3:16PM
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hzn:

"Well as ROL kept claiming over and over this was paid for by Ad6 - gee, what did ROL then do with all the subscribers money?"

IIRC they (ROL) said that porting their RISC OS to the A9 was paid for by Ad6. I would assume that this was the hardware abstraction work, not the 32bitting work. So presumably Select subsribers paid for the 32bitting and Ad6 funded the development of video drivers for VIDC, wich include software implementations of A9 specific hardware acceleration features.

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 27/11/06 6:05PM
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