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ROS Open awaiting licensing wording agreement

Published: 28th Nov 2006, 01:29:03 | Permalink | Printable

Patience is a necessity

The ROOL cog at an anglePunters wondering what the RISC OS Open lads are up to may be relieved by the following sliver of news. The project to open source Castle's RISC OS 5 is awaiting the dotting of eyes and crossing of tees on its licensing paperwork, it would appear.

A number of RISC OS software developers, who have expressed an interest in receiving the OS blueprints, have stressed that the source code licence must first be published for them to consider. On top of this, RISCOS Ltd director and VirtualAcorn chief Aaron Timbrell has been making his opinion known that "ROOL seem to, as far as I am aware, have done nothing with regard to releasing either code, licence details or financial details".

He said: "It would be nice if RISC OS Open actually got anything out."

RISC OS Open's Steve Revill said in response this evening: "Don't blame us - we're just waiting for the licence wording to be finalised. It's not our software after all."

RISC OS Open were first rumbled in June and July this year, and have since asked for help from the community. A recent and totally unscientific poll revealed that nearly a third believed the company should have revealed its plans only after it had source code to release - but one in every two readers who voted backed ROS Open's handling of their announcements.

The ROS Open website states: "The commercial licence is currently being finalised, and more details will be announced soon."


RISC OS Open website

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This sounds good, and I think it's important to give ROOL the benefit of the doubt, we can all complain about how they have not released anything yet, but we should also remember that they appear to be doing their best to solve a great many problems in the RISC OS scene, have not taken any money from us, and due to not actually owning the code, can't move at whatever pace they like.

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 28/11/06 7:29AM
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As an aside, I've heard the phrase 'dotting of eyes and crossing of tees' many times these past few weeks, is everybody listening to the Today programme these days?

Good luck to ROOL!

 is a RISC OS Usersascott on 28/11/06 9:33AM
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It's incredible that a ROL director, of all people, is making such comments about ROOL. Get ROL sorted first - please - before you start worrying about your competition.

Personally I'm very optimistic about what ROOL will hold in store for the future. Given that a formal statement about open source RISC OS from Castle and ROOL only came at the end of September, we've not really been waiting that long. I mean, how long did it take to for ROL to get the latest snapshot of RISC OS 6 out the door?

I'm sure it will be good news when we next hear from ROOL. It will be even better news when we hear from Castle and ROL about their plans to cooperate.

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 28/11/06 11:22AM
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Hopefully it will be sorted soon, I do believe the lads in ROOL and Castle are doing their best to resolve this.

In addition I would hope that the license terms would be such that they would promote further development of RISC OS on the *native* ARM platform - rather than simply opening up so the OS source can be "raided" and used to get RISC OS running on Windows/Linux/Mac OS or whether (be that either by conversion to x86 or by emulation with Windows based ARM emulators such as VARPC).

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 28/11/06 1:03PM
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AMS: putting in additional limitations such as you suggest, will put off people from working with or contributing to the code. It will be yet another way in which the license isn't 'open' (in addition to the commercial/non-commercial split).

Incidentally, Steve Revill (of ROOL), uses VARPC, and used it for the MoreDesk demonstration at ROUGOL, perhaps you should take your dislike of VARPC up with him and persuade him the it should be made illegal under the license ;)

 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 28/11/06 1:37PM
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Indeed it's in their best interests to resolve this, as they probably are unable to do any business with RISC OS 5 in the meantime: certainly most, if not all, potential licensees / clients are aware of the transitory phase RO5 is going through and eagerly await details of the 'shared source' license before acting. We must not forget that there is a lot of history tied in with that code and Castle / ROOL must check upon all possible contributions and agreements from the past, before giving the green light to move on.

With regards to ROL, they've simply screwed up in my opinion even though they finally have put something out. Above mentioned comments from a ROL director are just hilarious, seeing he probably felt secure in saying that after his company released a handicapped, unfinished and long overdue product clouded by irregular naming and compatibility conventions. By the way, how many directors does ROL have and how many actual developers?

AMS: Don't worry too much about that - if someone is crazy enough, that'd be ROL, but it would take them about 20 years of Select subscriptions to get it ported. There isn't so much in RO that would be a 'must-have' for the other desktop OS's, practically everything useful has been improved upon or done in a better way. As many have mentioned, the only real benefits RO still offers is its fairly intuitive GUI, overall snappyness and perhaps its obscurity. And, ofcourse, several very nice applications making good use of RO's style. The Linux world has copied a bit with their ROX filer, Mac OS X (mind the 'X', since it makes all the difference from previous incarnations!) already has a good deal of RO-like functionality and Windows is going its usual way with the odd bit of copying from OS X and Linux perhaps. No real need to worry in my opinion, I think the farthest RO will come in that respect is to PDA's and some other ARM platforms.

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 28/11/06 1:47PM
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In reply to flibble:

Yep, I use an Iyonix and VARPC and I think both are great (although it'd be nice of some of the more obvious VARPC issues got fixed, see Peter Naulls' blog for more info) - I much prefer taking a VARPC laptop to a show or talk than an Iyonix for obvious ergonomic reasons!

Back on topic, I personally wouldn't want to see any terms in the license which stopped people from using the shared source software on either of those platforms.

 is a RISC OS User7thsoftware on 28/11/06 3:18PM
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7thsoftware: "either of those platforms", so you're fine with varpc and iyonix (and presumably other current RO kit). But does that mean you wouldn't have a problem with a license that stops people from using the software or code on say x86 or Sparc or PowerPC, or other OSes?

Whilst it would be highly technically difficult to port parts to other OSes or CPU architectures, do you (Castle, not really you) really want to limit the opportunities so that a motivated, gifted program couldn't even try? If the tech is good enough there's money for Castle to make on all platforms.

Of course it's very difficult to talk about a license without a copy in front of you, but by the time one is there it may be too late to influence its contents.

 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 28/11/06 3:40PM
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Although licences are holding things up, the full RISC OS Open web site is in final testing with the people who volunteered to help out. It should be going live fairly soon, assuming no showstopper faults crop up.

We'd all like to see the site released along with a first batch of source code, but failing that, at least the full site will provide a central place to discuss ROOL and the shared source project. It will also give everyone a feel for the public facing part of the framework for managing the shared source project and indicate in part the scope and nature of the way in which we expect things to develop.

The site includes a bug tracker which includes the ability to report bugs or request features on the site itself. Once it goes live, the site will develop over time along with everything else, based on input from its users.

 is a RISC OS Useradh1003 on 28/11/06 4:54PM
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Glad it's still progressing, and I wish you luck with it. Of course, in a market that's had so much vapourware and broken promises, people are bound to be a bit jumpy when there's a period of silence, even if it's a moderate one. Snippets of information, even small ones just to reassure punters that stuff is still moving along, really make a big difference - I often wonder why RO companies don't realise this more often.

Anyway, looking forward to the website :)

 is a RISC OS Userlym on 29/11/06 12:19PM
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Much vapourware? You got to be kidding me. Only the laptop from from riscstation and their evolution never really existed. In the amiga market the A1 is as dodgy as the Omega and in the Atari market it's just one guy making upgrade carts for the Falcon by hand, so the waiting list is extremly long. We can kiss our hands that we had castle and know A6 to make us new and readly available hardware. But I guess you can't now how good you have it until you have experienced otherwise.

 is a RISC OS Userhighlandcattle on 29/11/06 3:56PM
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highlandcattle: And Phoebe, the Stork laptop and the Artisan laptop from Acorn themselves. Cineroma, Chockicino, the Iyonix DVD player. I'm sure I could think of some more if I put my mind to it ;)

 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 29/11/06 4:26PM
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There is a working Phoebe, it just didn't make it because some people were money grabbing c***s, before it was market ready. CINEMAROMA is still in devellopment and it's there is a known working version. The Iyonix dvd player has been put on hold. wiki says : Vaporware is software or hardware which is announced by a developer well in advance of release, but which then fails to emerge, either with or without a protracted development cycle. The term implies unwarranted optimism, or sometimes even deception; that is, it may imply that the announcer knows that product development is in too early a stage to support responsible statements about its completion date, feature set, or even feasibility. I don't think phoebe falls into that category. The peanut laptop might however :)

 is a RISC OS Userhighlandcattle on 29/11/06 4:37PM
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highlandcattle: thankyou for your definition vapourware, I think you'll find all my examples fit that.

In the case of Phoebe, it was announced over a year before they had working examples, 6 months before they worked, mock-ups were shown to the public at the 2nd largest show of the year, then they started taking deposits for machines. Then they got 2 to work, Then it got canceled. I can't think of a more textbook example of vapourware.

Just how long you decide to wait before accusing a product of being vapourware is left as an exercise to the reader ;) You're only certain in hindsight.

Why these sort of things are bad, and the point lym was making. If you've been told nice-things in the past and they turned out not to happen, you're less likely to trust people making saying nice-things in future. For the last 10 years people have been told many spirit-rousing things by Acorn and its successors, so few have come to pass.

Hence Castle's normal policy of "We'll let you know when we have something", that would probably have been a good idea in this case as well.

 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 29/11/06 5:13PM
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Acorn were masters of vapourware, especially in their final years. Take Galileo, for instance: something which merited a Byte article (high vapourware rating already) and never amounted to anything, despite readily available operating systems like Nemesis which seemed to do most of what supposedly made Galileo interesting. One can argue till the cattle come home (pun intended) about whether the existence of some hardware or software in a lab makes it vapourware, but if the failure of some corporate love-in makes the product unobtainable for legal reasons, isn't it vapourware as far as most practical purposes are concerned? The tree may fall over in the woods, but that doesn't suddenly make everyone a lumberjack.

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 29/11/06 5:24PM
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Yes, I tend to agree, but this isn't my understanding of the term "vapourware". I always took it to mean ANY announcement of a future product that is available to be ordered, but has not yet been developed. There is always a certain amount od risk involved in ordering a vapourware product, and we know of many examples of vapourware customers coming unstuck, both in the RISC OS market and elsewhere. If you pay money up front, you need to be very careful, and need to have a good deal of trust in the honesty of the people involved. Thus, by definition all generations of Select for instance were vapourware, since they didn't exist when ROL started taking subscriptions (but did get deleivered - eventually). Once the real product is available of course, it is no longer vapourware. Castle are one of the few RISC of companies have managed to avoid offering vapourware. Then there cases like the Omega, which was launched as vapourware and something was delivered, but not what was promised (what happened to ArmTwister?).

 is a RISC OS Usermrtd on 30/11/06 9:22AM
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To show that vapourware in the Acorn market isn't new, I give you Mach Technology. They advertised all sorts of exciting hardware and software products (286 card for Archimedes, A300 RAM, hard disc upgrades, BASIC compiler) and then vanished with everyone's money. The Fraud Squad were involved - turned out they'd only developed one database program and the rest didn't exist. Pity, as most of the things they advertised did appear from other people eventually (I think they were the first to advertise an A300 4MB upgrade, for example).

 is a RISC OS Usercaliston2 on 1/12/06 12:06PM
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Don't forget that Mach Technology also promised a Modulo 2 compiler and a hypertext browser. The latter would have been way ahead of its time had it actually existed.

 is a RISC OS Userdms on 1/12/06 3:50PM
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It seems that there are some 'businesses' out there who paid not attention to the Microdigital and RiscStation sagas. Easy rule: don't announce anything until it is ready to sell, download or whatever.

 is a RISC OS Userarenaman on 9/12/06 4:53PM
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I remember Mach I don't think they ever? talked about a 4MB upgrade for the A300. Watford were the first to talk about it, but it kept getting delayed so we at CJE developed one and were the first to market! It was I think the most profitable product we have ever done! I think Mach did start to develop most if not all the products they announced, I recall they tried picking various peoples brains when they ran into difficulties, the particular one I remember was their IDE interface. It was run be a number of recently graduated youngsters. I don't think they realised what was needed to take what would be acceptable as a Degree project out into the commercial market.

 is a RISC OS Userchrisevans on 9/12/06 5:31PM
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chrisevans: "I remember Mach I don't think they ever? talked about a 4MB upgrade for the A300."

It's time to scan those old magazines, if someone hasn't done so already.

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 10/12/06 3:06PM
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