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RISC OS-on-Linux first Live CD available

Published: 2nd Oct 2007, 20:34:26 | Permalink | Printable

A unique blend of RISC OS and Linux on a demo disc

Live CD screenshot

A CD that will boot a PC into a RISC OS-on-Linux environment is now available. Punters can download a free .iso image of the operating system and various software packages to burn to a Live CD. The alpha-quality disc was prepared as part of the on-going RISC OS Look and Feel project, which aims to bring a RISC OS-style desktop and other Acorn mannerisms to the GNU/Linux platform.

The CD includes a terminal emulator, a simple image viewer, text editor Vim, web browser NetSurf and graphics package Inkscape. The screenshot, above, shows the latter being compiled with NetSurf running in the background.

Developer Simon Willcocks said: "A first attempt at a Live CD has been uploaded, the space has been kindly donated by Ned Abell. This CD should boot into a desktop with Tux on the right and disc icons for /home/rolf and /tmp, on the left of the Iconbar.

"In /home/rolf are three apps that should work immediately, !Terminal, !Viewer and !Vim. !NetSurf needs a little help to run, as does Inkscape, which has no application directory yet.

"This is a one-person project, so far, a work in progress which will probably mostly interest current or lapsed RISC OS users."

ROLF uses its own custom-written window manager to provide a RISC OS-style desktop, although GTK+ applications can be used thanks to an interface layer. Programs can be developed natively for ROLF using a provided library, and software that uses OSLib could soon be easily ported across to ROLF. An image-support library is also included.


The ROLF website Comments on OSNews

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I don't really want to criticise something at such an early stage, but I was a bit disappointed to find it seemed to be just a filer with vaguely RISC OS like window furniture and directory icons, and a couple of middle button menus, not even any drag selections, never mind drag and drop. I didn't work out what help NetSurf needed to run, and the window operations were very slow with no acceleration. The main puzzle was why it was an entire CDs worth, most Live CDs have far more than that on them.

But anyway I wish Simon luck, and I'll steal another CDR from work in 6 months time and have another look.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 4/10/07 8:59AM
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druck: I've had reports of problems with very old PCs, Macs and VMWare not booting at all. Actually, I'm quite cheered to know that anyone got it to boot!

There's no compression involved, hence the excessive iso size, I'll look into that for the next version.

NetSurf needs fonts to be cached:

cd /home/rolf ln -s fonts .fonts fc-cache

in a Terminal window should do it.

That still needs the network to be set up; Alt-f2 too get a root prompt and try /sbin/ip link show to see if your network card is supported (eth0 will appear in the output); I didn't compile in support for enough of them. If it is, you might be able to get it to work.

Local harddrives can be mounted using mknod and mount -n, but it's up to the user to unmount them before shutting down.

I wouldn't have chosen this week to advertise it; I won't be able to put any serious time into support or development until at least next week.

Please, get a CD-RW (they only cost a pound) and check back in a couple of months.

 is a RISC OS UserStoppers on 4/10/07 6:01PM
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FWIW, I gave it a whirl too and it looked promising getting past the GRUB loader, displaying Tux and loading a long list of drivers, it located the hard drives, said "Probably found CD-ROM drive" (or similar msg), then stopped with an Unknown CD format which struck me as ironic because it had been successfully booting from the CD up to that point. This is from a CD-RW and I tried it in 2 machines (a '06 cheapo Acer laptop and an old '99 PIII-450) with the same result. Could this be my CD burner software, or do they always burn verbatim?

I'm not very familiar with Linux so haven't looked into it further at the moment, but if there's some way to nudge it past this hurdle having got this far, that'd be great. I'd like to have a play with it, and - no promises just yet - I know about emulation of existing apps, and graphics acceleration, so may have something to contribute?

 is a RISC OS Useradrianl on 4/10/07 7:33PM
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adrianl: If the boot sequence gets as far as loading the kernel, the cd is almost certainly correctly written.

The "Probably found..." message is from an application (written by me, which is why it failed!) running under the loaded kernel (up until then it's been using the bios to run grub and load the kernel from the cdrom). The program uses sysfs to identify the first attached cdrom drive and tries to mount it. Presumably, that is what is failing.

Do the machines have more than one cdrom drive?

 is a RISC OS UserStoppers on 4/10/07 9:43PM
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Each machine has just one CD-ROM drive (they're actually fairly recent DVD drives). Now that I'm in front of the machine and have tried it again, this is what I get:

... Drive name from proc filesystem: hdb Subdirectory /proc/ide/. Subdirectory /proc/ide/.. Subdirectory /proc/ide/hdb Subdirectory /proc/ide/hda Subdirectory /proc/ide/ide0 Searching for hdb: . .. hdb Matches! Found line for device ide0 Major version number for device ide0 is 3 Probably found CD-ROM Made /dev/cdrom Unable to identify CD-ROM format. Startup failed: Invalid argument

 is a RISC OS Useradrianl on 4/10/07 11:23PM
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adrianl: OK, it worked out that the cdrom is drive hdb, found the associated ide device to get the major version number for mknod and used it. Then the mount failed.

Can you mount and read the cdrom from another OS?

 is a RISC OS UserStoppers on 5/10/07 9:43AM
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Hi All,

I have ROLF running under VMware. a little slow I must admit but nice to se the desktop running. Unfortunately to change the focus from VMWare to windows i need to use ctrl-alt and this (obviously) kills ROLF.. So.. no screen shots :-(

i will try to get networking up..

Jan Rinze.

 is a RISC OS UserJanRinze on 5/10/07 7:42PM
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Stoppers> the drive & disc both work fine from Windows, and the disc can be read on my IYONIX pc. I actually tried deleting the 2nd hard disc partition in this laptop (well, it was empty anyway), but it's still reporting hda /and hdb/ presentation and choosing hdb as before, with the same result, which I don't understand :-s

 is a RISC OS Useradrianl on 6/10/07 12:16AM
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If anyone is interested, I've revived my ROLF blog to post progress reports and elicit comments. It's at [link]

 is a RISC OS UserStoppers on 17/10/07 8:06AM
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