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Select chief coder leaves RISCOS Ltd

Published: 16th Dec 2006, 13:42:55 | Permalink | Printable

ROL loses RISC OS 6 architect

ROL logoThe RISC OS Select lead developer has left RISCOS Ltd after five years as the operating system's architect. Justin Fletcher, who made RISC OS 4 compatible with 32bit-only ARM processors and added hardware abstraction, left soon before the release of Select 4 RISC OS 6 Preview was built and released.

Justin, who was part of the original team that released RISC OS 4 in 1999, returned in 2001 as a founder of the Select scheme. As the lead developer, he was responsible for designing and creating the core features new to RISC OS Select, while overseeing application development and other contributions from a collection of freelance developers and beta testers. He also put together the final end-user ROM image and ROM chip builds with Paul Middleton at ROL's Cardiff office.

During his later years at ROL, Justin was responsible for developing Select's DHCP client, SVG support, and the various networking upgrades including multicast DNS support and the IP filters-based firewall. He also designed and authored the ImageFileRender system, the updated Window Manager, produced new mouse and touchscreen drivers, added hardware abstraction to RISC OS 4, converted the operating system to 32bit mode for modern ARM processors, made the OS more portable, stable and modularised, and added extra backtrace support to the kernel for debugging purposes. He also added RockRidge long filename and Joilet long filename CD support, USB mass storage drivers, updated LanMan, added the strict executable checks to RISC OS 4, among many other Select features.

He also ported the Mozilla Classic engine and some of computer game Homeworld to RISC OS in his spare time, as well as wake-on-LAN and PPP-over-Ethernet clients.

It's understood development of Select 4 RISC OS 6 is progressing as various freelancing and contracted programmers continue to contribute to the source code. The release of Select 4 RISC OS 6 Preview was overseen by AdvantageSix's Matt Edgar, and the operating system installer was written by Aaron Timbrell.

Justin confimed the news, but declined to comment further. ROL's directors, Paul Middleton, Aaron Timbrell and Dave Holden, did not reply to drobe.co.uk's requests for comment. It's understood the company held its AGM this month.


RISCOS Ltd website

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I'm sorry to here that Justin is no longer with ROL as his undoubted talents have help to contribute so much to RISCOS over the years. I wish him well in what ever endeavour he has now embarked upon but i do hope that he will still be around on the RISCOS scene.

However this is not the sort of news that I wanted to here. Just as things started to get going with Select again this comes out of the blue. I hope this does not further delay any move from Preview to full Select4 and any potential bits like the full release of the A9 Flash ROM and Select for Iyonix as that would in my view be disastrous for the recently new found grounds for optimism in ROL and the Select scheme.

 is a RISC OS Userbluenose on 16/12/06 2:35PM
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This is quite a shocker. I knew Justin was involved a lot with the RISC OS source code; however until now I never knew just how much he really had worked on. That is an extensive list and quite a credit to him.

I do hope Justin isn't leaving under bitter circumstances; I know a lot of 'crap' has gone his way in the past, through no fault of his own, and I do wish him the best for the future.

On the flip side this announcement does put RISCOS Ltd in a much weakened state; and with the ROOL project seeming to be 'full steam ahead' it will be interesting to see what the New Year brings.

 is a RISC OS Userphilipnet on 16/12/06 3:19PM
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bluenose: Indeed, Justin's efforts have been phenomenal and to me it seems quite reasonable to look at one's options and check out new things, after 5 years of RO development and considering future possibilities at ROL may not be particularly promising.

According to ROL, things have never stopped moving, but as far as the end-user is concerned it's a mess. Furthermore, ROSix Preview seems to break more than it adds, so I guess at the moment most users are better off with Adjust / Select 3i4 / RO4.39. I'm afraid Justin's departure could very well mean delay for Select 4 - having been Chief RO coder for over 5 years, Justin has obviously accumulated a wealth of knowledge on RISC OS and its internal workings. Needless to say, any newcomer will have to start from scratch or at least will have to build up a substantial base before resuming development at a satisfactory pace. I can imagine ROL not being particularly happy with this news. They're in debt over their heads now, both A9home users and Select subscribers expecting stable and improved releases sooner rather than later.

I hope Justin chooses not to let his profound knowledge on RO go to waste and considers the options of contributing to the NetSurf or Firefox project or perhaps even looking at the forthcoming ROOL RO5 sources...

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 16/12/06 3:29PM
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Justin is to be congratulated for his many years of sterling work at ROL first bringing RISC OS 4 to market at a crucial time for the platform, and then driving forward the fantastic pace of development during the early years of the Select scheme. His tireless dedication to the the future of RISC OS, working long hours for absolute peanuts verged on madness when you consider what someone with his considerable skills in operating system development could command in the commercial market.

Unfortunately this is fairly old news as its been obvious Justin's drive and enthusiasm has been absent from ROL for sometime now, as they struggle to provide any new functionality to users. I fear someone of Justin's calibre is going to be impossible to replace in a full time position, particularly with the limited financial means of the RISC OS market. We can only hope that talented developers are willing to donate their own time to keep OS development moving forward.

It was always a pleasure to work with Justin during various beta programs, and I wish him well in his new position, where I hope the experience gained during his long apprenticeship at ROL now earning him the rewards he deserves.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 16/12/06 3:31PM
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I suppose it's when you see all that Justin has contributed in *black and white* that the depth and range of it strikes you. I recall Justin helpfully replying to a programming query I had sometime ago on newsgroups and it's nice to know that someone with that depth of expertise is prepaired to help any old "Joe Public" out as it he did for me on that occasion - and as he also did for others on frequent occasions in the past.

I wish him well with his future plans, with his knowledge and expertise he should go far - and the RISC OS community are all the poorer for his departure.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 16/12/06 4:01PM
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Sad news. I've been reading his online diary for a while, and the last few entries indicated he'd gone (in addition to the notice on the About Me page). I hope he feels able to carry on doing something or other for the platform, but of course he's already done more than could have reasonably been expected of anybody. Given the way things fell apart during the last couple of years I guess it's unlikely he'll want to contribute to RISC OS Open, but I'd be delighted to be proved wrong: just think how great it would be to have the image facilities and stability fixes of Select on a new open-source OS for all to use. In any event: Thanks Justin - despite how it must appear from all the carping that goes on, the work you've done is appreciated.

 is a RISC OS Userlym on 17/12/06 1:56PM
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It's interesting to take a look at his diary after so long and find that he's listed (on the 12th December) some projects he's worked on. I hope he manages to take the experience he's gained from these and move on to new projects. (Of course, it would be nice if many of the things he mentioned could be released to the community, but that's up to him.)

 is a RISC OS Userdavidb on 17/12/06 2:56PM
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A link to to his diary or is it a private one?

 is a RISC OS Userhighlandcattle on 17/12/06 7:01PM
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A 15 second search on google brings up [link]

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 17/12/06 7:50PM
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I liked the comment at [link]

"I used to do a bit of work for RISCOS Ltd. Actually I did a lot, but it was all a complete waste of my life so it's better if we just don't think about it, I feel."

 is a RISC OS UserIvanDobski on 19/12/06 10:53AM
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I actually found that rather a sad statement. Whatever else, he achieved a lot and learnt a lot (both technically and from a business point of view).

I think the more interesting dedate at the moment is about the unhappy programmers on Ubuntu ([link])

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 19/12/06 1:10PM
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markee174: that story's nothing to do with Ubuntu.

 is a RISC OS UserJaffa on 19/12/06 2:07PM
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Sorry, Debian (Ubuntu is a based on Debian hence my mistake)

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 19/12/06 2:17PM
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Well at least people working on Debian who don't like the state of affairs can go and make their own distro using the exact same code, just like the gNewSense people did (albeit with Ubuntu, but it's close enough to be considered the same thing). That said, the OSNews story is very much what I'd expect from that news source: find some random person's opinion, blow it up to the level of international diplomacy, try and stir up an argument. Still, a bit of a change from Apple fanboyism and hanging on Steve Jobs' every word.

Meanwhile much of Mr Fletcher's work may well be locked up in RISC OS Ltd's possession where not even the inadequate exposure of a shared source initiative will uncover some of the finer stuff. I'd regard that kind of engagement with regret if I were ever in a similar position.

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 19/12/06 2:37PM
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