Could open source RISC OS bring back users?Published: 10th Dec 2006, 12:17:19 | Permalink | Printable
The jury deliberatesRISC OS should become open source to lure back ex-users put off by the cost of Iyonix and A9home hardware, according to an opinion piece published last week. Ex-RISC OS user Mike Reed said in an article titled 'What would it take for me to consider RISC OS again' that the platform's workstation hardware was "very expensive." He backed efforts by RISC OS Open to reveal the RISC OS 5 source code, which he argued will encourage people to port the operating system to more widely available and therefore cheaper ARM-powered hardware.
The article, published on the mainstream IT news site OSNews, adds to the growing belief that RISC OS can only move forward by opening up its source code, so that more people can work on the operating system.
Mike wrote: "My hope would be that at some point in the near future, in becomes possible to build a complete version of RISC OS from the sources.
"If this were to happen, it would open up the possibility of either community-based or commercial groups moving the OS to other hardware platforms. ARM powered motherboards, PDAs, set top boxes and even phones are ubiquitous and many of these could, in theory, serve as a platform for running RISC OS.
"Other groups having access to the source code of RISC OS means that further development of the platform can be focused around software development - in this case, porting the OS - rather than, usually more expensive, hardware development."
The article also charts the OS development split between RISCOS Ltd and Castle, the state of third party software development and other issues. Some of the more technical points are arguable - for example, RISC OS does have pre-emptive multitasking thanks to the Taskwindow and Wimp2, although the operating system layer and kernel are strictly single-threaded. Also, RISC OS does have memory protection for applications, and one application cannot trash the workspace of another directly. It is possible for an app to elevate its privileges using
SWI OS_EnterOS and find other mapped-out programs, or abuse
SWI Wimp_TransferBlock to ruin another application.
Mike told us: "The article itself is bound to be a bit controversial as I am not going to pull any punches, and I intend to be quite critical about the current state of the platform."
What would it take for me to consider RISC OS again from OSNews
Mike's website - with posts about how he wrote his OSNews articles
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Chris Why's Acorn/RISC OS collection •
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