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Iyonix range taken off the market

Published: 27th Sep 2008, 19:04:31 | Permalink | Printable

No more orders to be taken after end of the month

For those who haven't seen the news, see Castle's announcement here. Feel free to discuss away in the comments.

PS: Keep an eye on this. Fingers-crossed for Drobe returning at some point in the near future, although we know we've been promising that for the past five months...

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Paul Vigay seems to be suggesting that an Iyonix 2 was close, and it only needed 5K to finish from 20 people. In his slightly ambigious statement (5K each, or 5K total), I have decided to interpret it as 5K each, given 5K total is a piffling amount. 100K is more than enough to /design/ a replacement from scratch, so one assumes that the Iyonix 2 hadn't gone beyond the "would be nice" stage.

This leaves us only with Advantage Six, Virtual Acorn, and RPCemu for the future. I do not see Castle as having a future trying to license RISC OS to others (who would license it?)- I suspect they'll even have to pay their company returns out of their directors' own pockets. They're doomed.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 27/9/08 7:22PM
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The press release mentions Iyonix Ltd not Castle.

Presumably Castle still have their OEM customers?

I can't imagine that revenue from either RO licences or sales of Iyonix have been very high for quite some time now.

 is a RISC OS UserCol1 on 27/9/08 7:56PM
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Col1: OEM customers? Selling what to whom? Have you looked at their returns from Companies' House? They're almost idle, and have been for some time.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 27/9/08 7:59PM
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Are they going to have any presence at SE Show?

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 27/9/08 8:35PM
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Well they seem not to be down on the table plan of confirmed visitors though at last weeks MUG meeting John Rickman indicated that Iyonix Ltd had confirmed for the MUG Xmas show on 6th Dec at the Students Union, Birmingham Uni. Perhaps we'll have to recheck that in light of this news. I suspect that Iyonix Ltd were set up to first be a vehicle to make the most of tax laws and secondandly to ensure the main holding company Castle did not suffer any liabilities.

It is sad that it has got to this stage and nearly all the hardware companies since Acorn's demise have done a sterling job to get us this far.

Pity Iyonix2 may never see the light of day and it may go down just like Pheobe as the machine that never was and could have made a difference , we'll just never know unless someone steps in to the breach if it really is that far advanced.

Still perhaps though native ARM systems may be at an end someone could develop solution that run on standard hardware and processors with an enhanced HAL based on Linux and then use some hooks in tio Linux to give RISC OS some facilities it currently doesn't have.

Still we can dream of another white knight riding in to produce ARM hardware or other solutions as it would be great still to support the OS and it's applications.

In the meantime we still have AD6, VA and hopefully a developing RPCEmu though an IyonixEmu with USB support etc would be nice.

 is a RISC OS Userbluenose on 27/9/08 10:23PM
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bluenose: You speak as if something tangible past an idea for the Iyonix 2 exists. I seen no evidence what-so-ever for such an assumption, especially given they appear to have been asking for UKP100,000 to "finish" it - that's pretty much the amount you'd need to design and complete it in the first place.

Your Linux idea is nice. How does it differ from the VRPC or RPCemu solutions, both of which essentially provide HALs bridging RISC OS's understanding of hardware to that of a host OS?

It's important to not forget that there are people still selling native RISC OS hardware, and they've made no announcement of stopping.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 27/9/08 10:48PM
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bluenose: "Still we can dream of another white knight riding in to produce ARM hardware"

There's a ton of ARM hardware being produced right now - the only thing in the way is RISC OS and its portability, although I note that someone has tried to do something about that. Shame the RISC OS "Open" licensing doesn't really help in the matter.

Of course, all this new hardware runs Linux well enough...

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 28/9/08 12:12AM
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I hoped for drobe to return and hoped that that would happen with some happy news...

As for the announcement of Iyonix: what a pity!

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 28/9/08 7:52AM
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I'm the editor and publisher of the German RISC OS Magazine GAG-News and issue 100 is due soon - I want that one to be special!

Since in the recent past news for RISC OS was hard to come by, or simply not available (the inactivity on drobe not helping either) it is hard to know who is still working for RISC OS and what is on offer and what is planned to be made available.

For this reason I herewith ask all companies, clubs, and individuals still to tell me if they're still around and what they (intend to) offer for RISC OS.

Please send a mail to HzN.2008@HQ.gag.de with these details (please be assured that I will not publish your email address):

- Company name or your name - Website - Country & Town, or full address - Your offerings, products, plans, ... - Please include a short description and not just product names for your main offerings (what ever you think main ones).

In case you're into more than one company, then I'd love to lean about all of them - if RISC OS related.

Note: Please no *not* assume that I know about your offerings etc.



In case you want my smail address please visit www.gag.de/impressum.html

PS: That this enquiry is nearly at the same time as the press release of Iyonix ltd is mere coincidence (GAG-News 99 is just out and thus work on 100 starting)!

PS: But this posting here offered a good option for this query (plea) of mine that I couldn't miss...

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 28/9/08 8:49AM
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A sad day and am very sorry to hear this news. I guess the only thing left to say is a big thank you to Castle for producing the Iyonix and all their hard work over the years. Cheers.

 is a RISC OS Userbroon on 28/9/08 10:38AM
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I'm not sad about the news, at end of the day we've been lucky enough to have had access to well designed and efficient technology which isn't based on the design of the Cadillac - big and inefficient!

My old RISC PC, et al. in some respects is still way ahead in terms of technology than my current KILOWATT eating PC. It's just a pity that the creative people who designed and built it, couldn't find enough niche markets to sell into.

The saddest thing about today's world is that GREEN wash is being applied to everything, even PCs.

Anyway, well done to those who designed and built the IYONIX! You get a standing ovation from me!

 is a RISC OS UserMac9 on 28/9/08 1:36PM
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Mac9: Depending on what you're doing (say, what the majority of computer users use computers for), the "big Cadillac" is vastly more efficient than the Iyonix. The Iyonix just doesn't have the grunt to get the things lots of people want to do done in any timely manner. So you end up waiting and tapping your foot, while it spends longer and longer doing it, eating more and more power.

What technology does your RiscPC have that's way ahead of your PC? And wtf have you done to your PC that makes it eat a kilowatt? (My desktop, incidentally, is approximately 5 times the speed of an Iyonix, so quite modest in PC terms, and eats 140W when loaded.)

Jingoism has no place at funerals.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 28/9/08 2:26PM
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Well I have enjoyed (and continue to), my Iyonix (one of the first batch sold to the public) so I hope that Castle and its subsidiary companies managed to make money from the exercise. When it was released, it was the machine we all said we wanted (remember the miracle that 32-bit RISC OS represented at that time, for instance) but I fear less people bought it than had said they wanted it; the inevitable price premium of low-volume manufacture versus Far-Eastern PCs didn't help either.

Sadly rjek's comment about lack of grunt becomes more true with every year that passes (hard to believe that my machine is coming up to its 6th birthday) but it still does some things perfectly well. The demands of modern web sites/browsers is an especial issue for me. As I said, it's been a fun ride so far.

And welcome back Drobe!

 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 28/9/08 7:00PM
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Ouch! That's all we need. The single OS dedicated desktop manufacturer to drop out. I understand that forked OS argument etc. but as Castle is still trading, the legacy issues between Castle and RiscOS still prevail. I really fail to see how this situation helps any of us who are keen to see RO continue, and development to prosper. The ONLY real decision that would affect us all positively is when the forked OS merges, and all RO industry starts to sing from the same hymn sheet. Then, and then only, will inward funding allow software development relevant to 2008-9 arrive.

I wonder if this situation has been exacerbated by the banking industry's reluctance to lend to anything other than sound, low-risk ventures. How many bridging loans have Iyonix Ltd had to take in the past years?

So what now? Has the A9 had anything done to it to make it a reliable, fully functioning unit that will comfortably plug this gap in the market?

...and yes, welcome back Drobe. Good to see ya!



 is a RISC OS Userpjjmcc on 28/9/08 8:20PM
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pjjmcc: What does "The single OS dedicated desktop manufacturer to drop out." mean?

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 28/9/08 10:36PM
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Rjek, Think what I meant to say was that the Iyonix was the last vestige of what could be identified as a stand-alone pc type box that runs on pure RiscOS (not emulated); a product that most people recognise as a desktop computer.

The A9Home (which is what I'll probably buy now at the SE Show), isn't readily identifiable as a desktop unit. It falls between a portable HD and a RiscOS computer. You still need to buy other external media to let it function more fully; disc readers etc. And from what I remember, you can't print from it without spending cash on 3rd party software, or by being networked to a nearby M$ PC. Whereas the Iyonix is/was the all-singing, all-dancing big rectangular box that you plug and play on.

Does this help clarify?


 is a RISC OS Userpjjmcc on 28/9/08 11:31PM
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Nice to see Drobe back, but sorry to see the circumstances of it.

I suppose all good things have to come to an end - and so it is with Iyonix. I can't imagine that this will do a whole lot of good for the platform (even if some will endeavour to find that this dark cloud has some unexpected silver lining). The Iyonix, let's not forget, was the last fully expandible desktop RISC OS computer - with Iyonix (and it's makers) exit from that market this will deminish the chance of a successor.

If Paul Vigay is right and there was an Iyonix II in the wings then the loss would be doubly tragic.

Unfortunately I feel this will further damage enthusiast engagement with the platform (this goes somewhat beyond the loss of the machine itself) and that will likely cause more serious long term damage.

All and all its not been a good day.

All I can do is end by thanking the Tematic Guys, John Ballance, Jack Lillington and all the others at Castle for having launched the Iyonix and supported it's users as ably as they did for so long.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 28/9/08 11:32PM
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pjjmcc: Firstly, it's "RISC OS" :) Secondly, there are many small formfactor computers out there. The Mac mini isn't significantly larger than an A9 Home, and yet people still identify it as a desktop machine. And printing, I'm told, does work fine assuming your printer's supported or you network print.

Personally, I rather like its medialess style: the only thing I use an optical drive for these days in my PC is ripping CDs and playing games, neither of which I'd want to do on a RISC OS box anyway.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 28/9/08 11:34PM
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I hope the way drobe has sprung to life as soon as an item appeared will encourage Chris that it is worth getting it up and running again....

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 29/9/08 7:49AM
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I was wondering recently whether the credit crunch was going to affect our market. I have to interpret this news as a sign that the market is going to either tighten up, or lose players of all sizes.

Very disappointing news.

 is a RISC OS Usersascott on 29/9/08 2:21PM
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sascott: To be honest, I would have been surprised if any bank would have loaned any company money to spend on RISC OS, once it was known how large the market was, even before the crunch!

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 29/9/08 2:55PM
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If you definitely want an Iyonix 2 then perhaps now would be the time to let Castle know.

The newsgroups have come up with some interesting possibilities for future RISC OS projects and development. Ceasing production of Iyonix wasn't very surprising personally nor the big tragedy it might be painted as. It's been in production a long time now and it now appears to instigates the next era. The Iyonix mk.1 has given its share and will no doubt continue to for some considerable time yet. Meanwhile lets move onwards.

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 29/9/08 7:14PM
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Andrew Weston: Of course, it's much more likely that the "next era" is the complete death of native hardware, and possibly RISC OS with it, rather than anything else. Pretending somehow that bad news is actually good is only useful if you're a politician, not a consumer or businessman. Thinking otherwise is just like putting your fingers in your ears and saying "lalalala".

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 29/9/08 8:14PM
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Having read the comments on the Iyonix mail list - it appears as if a "kite" was being floated alright and that the putative Iyonix II would have a dual core processor. Seems like the issue was would there be a sufficient number of people willing to commit to taking the machine.

So Andrew may well have a point. Hey trying can't harm can it?

Besides RISC OS having being around so long it would be a pity to see it go now wouldn't it - especially if there were some option (no matter how remote) of saving it.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 30/9/08 2:06AM
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I've not been involved with RISC OS for some time now, but maybe now is the time to very seriously look at using the wealth of existing ARM hardware out there. I don't see a lot of point in an Iyonix II, which would almost certainly sell worse than the first one, and look even more out of date compared with Macs and PCs available. Sure a better alternative would be to tap into the area of computing which is growing massively, the tiny little laptops like EeePC, or one of the alternatives which has an ARM processor (of which there are a few).

In this market, buyers have shown that they're not necessarily all that bothered about getting an OS they have heard of, and of course, the multimedia failings of RISC OS are less relevant as I don't think these machines are getting used for watching HD movies and the like anyway.

The of a good web browser and actually getting RISC OS to work on such hardware are major roadblocks, but I think it's a better option than creating a desktop computer that almost nobody will buy.

I'd never buy another desktop RISC OS computer again, it's just not useful, but a little laptop for taking on train journeys etc. that's a real possibility.

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 30/9/08 9:18AM
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thegman: Why would you buy one over an Eee, given the Eee would likely be significantly cheaper and still faster?

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 30/9/08 10:10AM
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Generally because I'd rather use RISC OS than Linux on a machine like that, where power is not that important and my technical demands would be much less. I'd compare it to my preference to use a BlackBerry over a PocketPC, the PocketPC is technically more powerful in every way, but the BB's usability trumps it every time.

On my desktop, power matters because I'm doing stuff like compiling code which would take the rest of my life on an ARM processor, but on a portable sub-notebook, I'm doing different tasks and have other priorities like battery life, usability, running cool on my lap etc.

If I paid a £100 premium to run RISC OS instead of Windows CE (which is what the ARM notebooks tend to run), then that would be fine with me. On a desktop, you'd have to pay me to trade in my Mac for RISC OS, and it would need to be a lot more than £100.

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 30/9/08 11:13AM
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thegman: Ah, I routinely build stuff on my laptop - and it doesn't run hot, or even warm. I can't imagine why somebody would select RISC OS for one device, but not another.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 30/9/08 11:17AM
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Well, my MacBook runs very hot, it's quite unpleasant.

I simply like to select the best device for the job in hand, I think for portable devices, where processing power is less important than battery life, then an ARM processor is pretty good. Also on a portable device, boot time is important, if I'm on the tube, I don't want to wait 3-4 minutes before I can start working if my journey is only 20 minutes.

On a desktop however, I need it to be fast, boot time does not matter as I never turn it off, and good multitasking is important as I'll often have things running in the background while I do something else.

Another example, I'm a big fan of the IBM i/OS, this is an awesome server OS, but an utterly awful desktop experience (it's green screen/terminal only). So I'll happily use it as a server, but nothing else.

Quite simply some Operating Systems excel at some things but not others and RISC OS is an example of this, it's not powerful or good for anything requiring a lot of horsepower, multitasking is very bad. However it excels at usability, snappiness, and running on low-power hardware, we should play to it's strengths and not always focus on it's weaknesses, which I believe the Iyonix and any successor does.

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 30/9/08 11:56AM
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thegman: Well, it's well-understood that Apple are shoddy at hardware engineering :) The CPU is not the major, or even the second most major consumer of power in a laptop. And my laptop will quite happily return out of suspend or hibernation within a couple of tens of seconds.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 30/9/08 12:01PM
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The new state of the native ARM, RISC OS market with the demise of the Iyonix has been on the cards since the days when Acorn split from ARM. Due to Acorn barely making any profit. A big nail in the coffin went in when Acorn went. The real surprise in all this is how long a native RISC OS desktop machine has managed to hang on for. Now RISC OS fans can finally stop deluding themselves about the future, it will be interesting to see how many other hardware & software related companies go to the wall and how fast, especially with the current economic environment.

 is a RISC OS UserJwoody on 30/09/08 10:07PM
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It's very sad that the Iyonix is out of production but not unexpected. Castle deserve a huge pat on the back for the continuation of Acorns desktop line in '98 (the RISC PC and the A7000+). And for the further development of the "Acorn" range (Iyonix).

I'm sure Castle and Termatic worked hard to bring us a 32-bit OS running on faster X-Scale processors accessing RAM at DDR speeds, all of the things we'd wanted for years and I'd like to thank them for that.

It's a testament to RISC OS and the user base that the platform survived this long after the breakup of Acorn, but sadly, I feel, this is the end of RISC OS.

It's a shame that things didn't work out better. I believed that when castle purchased RISC OS lock stock and barrel from Pace that a new Acorn had been born, and once again the platform would be re-united and re-focused. Instead the platform continued to be split apart by OS forks and vaporware and the user-base dwindled.

 is a RISC OS Userleeshep on 30/09/08 10:43PM
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I think a number of people here have hit on the point about the viability/profitability of producing RISC OS hardware. With low volumes and high development and production costs and lets not forget about the months/years of time that is needed to customise RISC OS to run new ARM based hardware perhaps we need to think outside the square. Some examples of what I mean.

India for example is awash with highly educated software and hardware engineers and low cost production facilities that could potential produce the hardware far more cost effectively than someone in the UK (or New Zealand in my case).

Look back to our roots, education - RISC OS already has the software, it is just a matter of bundling the stuff with affordable hardware and people might be interested. Remember it has to look cool and appeal to kids.

What we shouldn't do is try to compete against Windows, OSX and Linux on the desktop, but look at where the advantages are. Lower power, compact size, existing software base etc

Look forward to seeing Drobe spring back into life, sad that it took the end of the Iyonix to make it happen!

Cheers Steve

 is a RISC OS Userstevek on 30/09/08 10:46PM
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I'd say people in general Jwoody are in RISC OS for the enjoyment and to make things happen on their favourite platform. There's very little interest in voyeuristic thrills as things "go to the wall" or, more accurately as history demonstrates, change and adapt. New ideas are emerging, new players have emerged since the Iyonix, even new blood has entered the RISC OS community. This is I would say nothing more than an evolution and no great tragedy. This has set wheels in motion, people have become energised and I firmly hope will bring along fresh perspectives and movers to the RISC OS scene who can shake things up once again whether the old players are on board or not (preferably the former).

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 30/09/08 11:29PM
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I'm afraid I see no future for bespoke ARM based hardware. Back when a decent PC cost £1000 and a RISC OS machine cost £1500, you might be able to justify it. Now a new limited production run RISC OS machine is still likely to cost at least £1500, but a reasonable x86 system can be bought for £300 including monitor, which has a vast performance advantage over any ARM system. Put an emulator on it and it will run RISC OS at an equivalent or better speed.

Wishing to retain the native hardware is a purely emotional attachment, ARM aren't in the business of making desktop class processors, so there aren't any economic or technical reasons to build a machine around them. Even the newer dual core processors won't give that much of a performance boost, as its one thing to have two cores, quite another to modify the arcane internals of RISC OS so it makes any significant use of them. Indeed a few tweaks to VRPC would give a far greater boost in performance on multiple cores.

Then there is the question of what a RISC OS machine is used for, which is to run legacy RISC OS software, with the many gaps in the portfolio, such as a full web browsing experience, having to be performed on another platform. There is little chance of new hardware spurning a significant increase software development, which now consists of the sterling efforts by few remaining developers producing upgrades to existing applications, and a few new utilities produced by hobbyists. Justifying a new machine on this basis when you already have other machines is impossible.

I hope that when ROOL have release all the sources to RISC OS 5, people will port it to some interesting ARM based CE (consumer electronics) devices. But it isn't likely to be a commercial operation, by the time its done the item would be passing out of production, so it may be of benefit to a handful of people. I'd also like to see Virtual Machine standard of emulation available for all platforms, including Linux with Aaron is so reluctant to support. There is much scope for improvement over Virtual RiscPC which has remained largely unchanged in 5 years due to lack of competition. RPCemu with a good JIT running on Linux, would be a much better prospect to allow users to retain access to the classic RISC OS applications they are familiar with, but also enjoy all the benefits of a vibrant rapidly developing platform, free from Microsoft hegemony.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 01/10/08 09:41AM
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I also believe that the idea of native hardware running RISC OS is dead. The reason is simple: there is no ARM processor on the market to give RISC OS the speed it needs (the IYO2-planned IOP342 is surely much much faster than the IOP321, but compared to x86 world, it would not really catch up) to compete with x86 world.

The idea of using a ready-made ARM machine and port RISC OS to it is interesting, but in practice of little value - RISC OS lacks most of the software interesting for portable use, and the ARM-powered machines are mostly small PDA types. In the future, I see x86 processors everywhere where RISC OS would make sense - Intel's Atom is IMHO destined to take a large segment of ARMs previous market because it is a lot faster and nearly as power-saving.

So we should (IMHO of course) concentrate on emulation and using x86 hardware/software to provide a stable, fast and cheap "hardware" platform. To make this happen in a sensible way, we really need a fully open-sourced RO5. Go, ROOL!

 is a RISC OS Userhubersn on 01/10/08 2:25PM
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One thing I've not yet seen mentioned here, but which has certainly been often mentioned in the past, is to refashion RISC OS.

Linux is moving rapidly and capturing new ground as we speak. Why not implement the most cherished part of RISC OS, its GUI, on top of Linux? Many familiar things would have to change of course, but in light of a new born RISC IX (or whatever). The important thing is that the overall user experience will stay, not the dated technical background that makes it work.

It's a foregone conclusion that the era of ARM based RISC OS machines has ended. Actually, it's not so hard to imagine why the Iyonix was the world's first XScale based desktop computer! Probably it'll also be the world's last ARM based desktop computer.

I don't see the future of our favourite platform inside an ARM emulator, or rather, an Über-RiscPC emulator. In my opinion, there's not enough incentive or room left to allow it to grow and evolve in that state (or rather prison). I think we need to rely on open source based development, which is typically linked to Unix-like platforms, to be able to have a strong future. When the RISC OS GUI is rebuilt to run on top of Linux, we can enjoy the comfort of our favourite GUI, while also being able to reap the full benefits of Linux and Unix development efforts. Current ARM-based applications could run inside an emulator like RPCemu or even a layer that neatly blends into the new RISC IX desktop. Think the Classic environment in older versions of Mac OS X - [link](Mac_OS_X)

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 02/10/08 4:07PM
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hEgelia wrote "Why not implement the most cherished part of RISC OS, its GUI"

I think you are well behind the times various projects have been in existance for some time. i.e. ROLF [link] Also ROX [link]

 is a RISC OS UserJwoody on 02/10/08 6:07PM
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This is most sad. :( I've been trying to justify the purchase of an Iyonix for some time - Though I'd very much like one I guess that's the problem for Castle, now I won't have the chance to buy one (fleaBay aside).

I wonder... [link] An ARM-based hand-held+ for geeks that's already selling v. well by the looks of it. Wouldn't a mature, low-overhead, ARM-based (Risc)OS fit this device rather well..? With it's HAL I assume RO5 could be feasibly ported. A fresh supply of geeks to develop for RiscOS...

Ok, so the above suggestion may be chock-full of difficulties but where else will RiscOS go for hardware, new developers, & new users..?

 is a RISC OS UserCharlie on 05/10/08 5:45PM
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If you want to avoid the eBay hassle, I'm looking to sell my Iyonix (complete with motherboard stability mods, new PSU, lots of software including Aemulor Pro, and a stack of magazines if you want them) at a knock-down price before I move house. If you're interested, contact me at <mark at tamias co uk>.

 is a RISC OS Usertamias on 06/10/08 3:25PM
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This was inevitable, I suppose. Castle have done everything to save the market, but they needed software development to go with the hardware. Lack of software development has made the platform unviable for productive use for quite some time. I have to say I wish I hadn't sold my Kinetic RiscPC, though :(

What I'd lke to see is the actual RISC OS GUI, not an imitation, taken from RISC OS Open and professionally integrated on top of a UNIX-like OS. Exactly the same idea as MacOS X. The new system would act like RISC OS, but be able to run UNIX programs. The UNIX bit remains Open Source, as with Apple, but the GUI is proprietry (or indeed open source, too).

Is this possible, legally and technically?

 is a RISC OS Userarenaman on 09/10/08 09:25AM
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James Woodland:

I've checked out those projects. They are poor imitations. What is required is the actual RISC OS GUI integrated onto a Linux-like system. Like Apple did.

 is a RISC OS Userarenaman on 09/10/08 09:33AM
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arenaman: [link]

Incidentally, Apple didn't. They cloned the GUI on top of a UNIX-like environment: it wasn't the old one that they'd ported. And there are significant differences between them.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 09/10/08 09:44AM
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Michael Stubbs: "I've checked out those projects. They are poor imitations."


The two projects have come at things from different directions; ROX has made lots of use of existing software and looks good with a lot of polish and applications, ROLF is trying to build up from a fairly minimal set of facilities (frame buffer, freetype2 and a fairly basic Linux kernel) to a system not unlike a RISC OS machine with just the ROMs, in the hope of adding applications later.

I've tried to make the system work as much like RISC OS' WIMP as possible (to allow for porting or running under emulation of proper RISC OS software), while allowing native programs to use extra features provided by Linux (such as pre-emption, asynchronous I/O, etc.). At the moment, it's a bit rubbish because it doesn't do much, but at least it does something, and it's the closest you'll get to "the actual RISC OS GUI integrated onto a Linux-like system", other than the emulation solutions currently available.

 is a RISC OS UserStoppers on 09/10/08 4:06PM
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Simon Willocks ( Stoppers ) The last entry on the ROLF web site says 5th November 2007. Has the project stalled? or is there just a lack of updates to the web site.

 is a RISC OS UserJwoody on 09/10/08 6:27PM
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THIS BIRD WILL SOON FLY...................

something is going to happen something wonderful

 is a RISC OS UserROLF666 on 09/10/08 10:21PM
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Woah, I feel like I'm in a Stanley Kubrick film. ie, random stuff happens for no apparent reason, and it leaves you feeling dull and unsatisfied. :)

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 09/10/08 10:35PM
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ROLF would be better if it hadn't thrown away X

ROX would be better if it didn't require people to explore new ways of linux package management,

If these projects actually made use of the available 'well used' methods, then more people would use them due to being easier to install and run ... but it's not like anything RISC OS related actually wants users.

 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 10/10/08 10:42AM
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James Woodland: A bit of both; the blog is a tiny bit more up to date than the website.

At the moment, I'm working on porting NetSurf to run natively so that it will be a reasonably usable system, but that's in the very early stages (as in, I've done roughly three out of ninety functions). I can take the basic window behaviour from the RO specific code, but I don't have any Toolbox functionality written, or any in depth knowledge of how it works, so it will probably look pretty ugly in its first incarnation. The NetSurf developers seem to have made a nice job of abstraction, though, so it may not take too long.

The system as a whole now uses DHCP to get onto the network, detects block devices (hard discs and mass storage devices) and allows you to browse them (read only), can play movies (not scaled or anything clever, though), in about 21MB (for the user-only parts). It's generated from a set of scripts and a load of tarballs, based on the Linux From Scratch system and, with a little more work, should be able to take the form of a Live CDROM that can be used to generate copies of itself.

Nothing has happened with the GTK port for a long time, though, because it looks like it may be more trouble than it's worth.

Progress is being made, albeit slowly.

 is a RISC OS UserStoppers on 10/10/08 10:43AM
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Peter Howkins: "ROLF would be better if it hadn't thrown away X"

In what way would it be better?

It sounds like you are asking for a simple veneer over the regular way that a Unix system works, whereas ROLF is just trying to use the superior Linux kernel to bring tried and true mechanisms from RISC OS to new hardware.

 is a RISC OS UserStoppers on 10/10/08 1:32PM
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Simon: As I've described before, using X gets you excellent acceleration, better portability, network transparency, and a wealth of existing software work for free. X does not do GUIs, it's just a graphics abstraction, and thus just by using X you wouldn't always end up with a UNIX-like UI. X does not even mandate running on UNIX.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 10/10/08 1:43PM
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Stoppers: "In what way would it be better?"

1) As Rob mentioned, support for the majority of graphics cards including acceleration. 2) A few thousand or tens of thousands of applications that run.

"It sounds like you are asking for a simple veneer over the regular way that a Unix system works"

Very much so, because to solve the needs of RISC OS users, more isn't needed. At the same time they gain all the advantages of UNIX that RISC OS has been missing over the years (PMT, memory protection, multi-user, shared libraries, good development APIs and tools, package management solved)

"whereas ROLF is just trying to use the superior Linux kernel to bring tried and true mechanisms from RISC OS to new hardware."

I suspect ROLF's use of the linux kernel may bring most (all) of the UNIX advantages I listed above, but without applications, it's of less use to end users than RISC OS is.

"At the moment, I'm working on porting NetSurf to run natively"

I presume after you've finished with netsurf, you'll move onto a more capable browser? Because if you've followed any of the endless threads on csa.* you'll know that netsurf, whilst capable hasn't filled all the needs of browser requiring RISC OS users.

You may have created the technically interesting solution, that may in fact be better than the alternatives, but I doubt it's one that will see much use, even inside the former RISC OS community.

 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 10/10/08 2:29PM
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Rob Kendrick:

using X gets you excellent acceleration...

That could be useful, although the framebuffer interface in Linux is becoming more capable in that respect, I just haven't taken advantage of it yet.

... better portability

At the moment, ROLF will run on anything Linux will run on, which covers most hardware. Do I want to run it on Windows? Nah!

... network transparency

I don't see that as a big advantage - how many new users is ROLF likely to gain from being able to use that facility? I can't remember the last time I ran applications on a client that was on a different machine to the one I was sitting at, other than when I was stuck with an X server in the early nineties.

It would be a minor change to add VNC support to the server, and allow remote access.

I think the advantage of having a single directory tree for all applications outweighs this, anyway.

... and a wealth of existing software work for free

but they wouldn't play nice with ROLF, when I want a consistent interface.

 is a RISC OS UserStoppers on 10/10/08 4:48PM
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Simon: Except the framebuffer interface doesn't support anywhere near the wide range of acceleration. And no, ROLF won't run on anything that will run Linux for the same reason X won't. Not all platforms have the same framebuffer interface. X is still more portable in this respect. As for network transparency, it's a free feature. I use it routinely, and it's surprisingly useful from time to time. Why discount it? There are already a wealth of VNC servers for X - why reimplement it? And what does having a single directory tree for all applications have to do with X? And nothing *forces* you to use other X applications with a differing interface, but again; why discount this as an option?

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 10/10/08 5:18PM
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ROLF - I trust you're aware there's a show coming up on the 18th October and soon might be in time for that?

Also, I hope it hasn't gone unnoticed by Chris the intensity of posting on submitting a new news article on this in-demand site.

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 10/10/08 10:39PM
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Andrew Weston: I'm aware of it, but I can't be in Guildford next week (and I doubt ROLF will be significantly further on in a week).

Rob and Peter: What it comes down to is that I want to build a minimal system, and the only two other components that come close to the size of X, in terms of amount of source, at least, are the Linux kernel itself and gcc which are essential to the running and building of the system.

I know memory is cheap, etc., but I'm doing what I want to do.

 is a RISC OS UserStoppers on 12/10/08 10:02AM
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Stopper: That's the first and only reasonable argument you've given for using the FB rather than X :) Although saying that, X can fit in systems with only 64MB of storage. (From the sounds of it, you had fundamentally misunderstood what X was. Which isn't surprisingly - there's a lot of misinformation about it.)

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 12/10/08 11:25AM
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Is there now any barrier for the fast release of the rest of the RO5 source code, now castle appear to be closing down. I understand they wanted to clean up the code, but surely there was an element of protecting their assets too? If there was a show of support for releasing the code as it is, to be sorted out later by the Open project, then the interest generated could prove to be life support for a near dead platform. Internet-types worldwide would suddenly have a new operating system to play with, presuming its publicised enough. As for porting, the OpenPandora seems the highest flying ARM system to be associated with in the near future.

 is a RISC OS UserMonty on 12/10/08 1:47PM
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Monty "Is there now any barrier for the fast release of the rest of the RO5 source code, now castle appear to be closing down."

Will be interesting to see what happens given the past fork in the operating system RO4/RO6 and RO5. RO5 could just wither away given that there is not likely to be a replacement for Iyonix, given its demise. Will Risc OS Ltd still produce a select version for RO5? given what has happened. Will as you say RO5 go open source? Like I said it will be interesting to see what emerges. Maybe things will get clearer after next weeks show

 is a RISC OS UserJwoody on 12/10/08 3:06PM
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Monty: Well, by "assets" what do you mean? RISC OS doesn't actually have that much worth in the business sense these days. Also remember that the source isn't entirely owned by one party: many companies have been involved in the development of RISC OS, and permission must be gained from them to release their parts. Specifically, huge chunks of the internet stack, the floating point, and the SCSI stack are owned by other people.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 12/10/08 4:22PM
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Rob Kendrick: I don't think I had misunderstood what X was; the server runs on a device with a bitmap display, the clients run wherever they may be and communicate with the server using some form of networking protocol. That much, I've known since about 1985. I admit, though, I don't know if it provides a cut-and-paste mechanism, for example, or how it deals with video, but I don't believe that it doesn't affect the applications in some way.

One result of X's design is that if an application (client) writes to /tmp/fred, another application may not be able to access it, because its /tmp directory may be on another machine entirely. (That's what I meant when I was talking about a single directory tree.) That seem to me to be unecessary complication, when most people have only one personal computer.

Does ROLF need to run on anything without a framebuffer interface? I don't think so - that covers all current PCs with displays (AFAIK, but I'm sure at least 99% of them), and a lot of other devices, too, certainly every device I have in the house.

At the moment, the Xorg process is using approximately 15% of this 512MB machine's memory, what's that, about 76MB? The application itself is 1.5MB, to the Wimp's 84k. That leaves quite a lot of scope for optimising ROLF. The approach I'd like to take is to buffer the content of the slowest updated windows that are not frequently updated (e.g. vector graphics, or 3d renderers, rather than video or jpegs, maybe web browsers) in the graphics card memory, so that they only have to do the work once, when they need to, so that hopefully the application writers don't feel they need to do that themselves, which is counter-productive in smaller devices (using memory that isn't there).

At the end of the day, if what I want to work works, I'll be happy.

 is a RISC OS UserStoppers on 12/10/08 10:44PM
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JWoody: Will RISCOS Ltd still produce a select version for RO5?

After 6 years of excuses, what do you think?

Just as RO6 is increasingly aimed at VRPC (due to Aarons involvement with ROL), any future for RO5 lies in putting it on an open source emulator running on an open source OS, using the HAL to interface better to native code drivers, and writing a much better optimising JIT. VA have sat on their arse for 6 years with little improvement on the core emulation or OS crossover since Red Squirrel, and there is plenty of scope to produce the product people actually want, with Windows not required.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 13/10/08 09:25AM
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Stoppers: You seemed to be suggesting that it mandated a UNIX-like file system. It doesn't have to use a network protocol, it can use shared memory or a plethora of other IPC systems. It does offer cut-and-paste, there are dozens of different choices for video systems (from overlay, direct framebuffer manipulation, etc). Passing temporary files between processes in such a way is a sign of bad design, IMO. (Especially given you could send the data via IPC). X can quite happily sit in 16MB of RAM; there was plenty of memory left over on the PDA prototype we demonstrated at Wakefield, for example; and that only had 128MB of RAM. Most of its usage on desktops are for the plethora of modules and such it can have loaded. It still seems like you have a lot of preconceptions about X that simply aren't true, and are ignoring all of its huge advantages. Of course, it's your project - you can do what you want.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 13/10/08 1:18PM
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In reply to druck: "Will RISCOS Ltd still produce a select version for RO5? After 6 years of excuses, what do you think?"

I don't agree with "excuses" since I did get the impression that they never *really* intended to do Select for IYONIX pc and with A9home there is a certain kind of proof that adapting the ROL RISC OS to new hardware is not that easy - or how do you explain that poor A9home users are still waiting for a new RISC OS and ROM image?

What would be nice is a VitrualPRC based on RO5 (since AFAIK it is much cheapter in license) and thus at a lower price and with a more user-friendly copy protection (or even just a registration).

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 13/10/08 4:41PM
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hzn: There is no evidence that RO5 is cheaper to licence than ROL's offering. Of course, it would be difficult for it not to be. And there are hundreds, if not thousands, of explanations of why there hasn't been a recent A9 Home ROM image release.

Aaron has told be in the past that Virtual Acorn are unable to sell VRPC without a copy of RISC OS. He would not be drawn on why this was - otherwise we could just use a RiscPC ROM image from the ROOL guys when/if such a thing became available.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 13/10/08 5:18PM
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In reply to hzn: The reason a RO6 ROM image has not appeared for the A9home so far is more a matter of resources.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 13/10/08 6:30PM
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Well the problem with RISC OS is software compatability and file sharing with colleagues.

I use Mandriva on the desktop and xandros on my EEEPC. I have acrobat for both and OO and koffivce. I can share with my nokia phone. Until things like this are changed then RO is not going to be a mainstream os.

Now here is an idea. I asked VRPC if I could buy the software and run it on 3-4 machines. It would only be me that uses it. The answer was that this is not possible. You have to spend £400-500 on 3-4 licenses. Errr NO. So RISC OS has one user less.

Incidentally I also bought a copy of SKYOS (more of a payment to keep development going ) I can put that on all machiens. No problem. I am the only one that uses it. WOW what an honest bloke eh!!! See this is the problem, I would have bought VRPC and used it at work and home. Perhaps even finished my pocketPC and palm sync software. But no.....

This also means no software purchases going to ROland and things like Pixel32 being bought for Linux etc. PS Pixel32 even runs on SKYOS and LInux and Pavel has no problems allowing that.

Perhaps they dont need the money in VAcorm but from a merketting point of view it is a disaster.

Cheers Bob

 is a RISC OS Usernijinsky on 14/10/08 09:37AM
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In reply to rjek: VitrualRPC without RISC OS and then using a ROM imgage of RO5 from ROOL once that is available would indeed be nice and probably cheaper than the current package. Furthermore AFAIR the copy protection was added due to the RO licens inside (the implementation of the copy protection not being user-friendly) so perhaps this can be dropped in a RO5 version? I'll wait and look and hopefully at some time see.

In reply to sa110 You wrote "The reason a RO6 ROM image has not appeared for the A9home so far is more a matter of resources." Well, you could say that whatever does not happen is a "matter of resources" (be it money, man-power, time, or whatever) - only when users have paid for something (like a writeable CMOS to just name one) and wait and wait ... something is wrong. In any case considering the age of the A9home and it's current state adding when I saw the most recent announcement from AD6 or ROL about whatever is happening I must say that this is not encouraging.

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 14/10/08 11:14AM
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hzn: Well, Aaron's categorically stated it can't happen. And I imagine, given he's a director of both companies, the copy-protection requirement may well have been his idea anyway.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 14/10/08 12:27AM
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So while ROme burns, everyone looks to their own interests. It makes the average investment banker look public-spirited, doesn't it? I will never run RISC OS on top of Windows; I will keep my Iyonix going until either I lose interest in the platform entirely or it goes pop. I would jump at the chance to run RISC OS on top of an open-source OS on fast, cheap hardware, indeed, I would support efforts to develop such a system financially, as I have done in the past with the port of Firefox. Would it be worth canvassing the market to see if there are others who think the same?

 is a RISC OS Userbucksboy on 14/10/08 1:21PM
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In reply to rjek: Well then perhaps they decide to opt for a user-friendlier copy protection, i.e. that the emulator runs for 14-30 days before it has to be registered.

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 14/10/08 5:53PM
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Any news or tit bits from the South East show?

 is a RISC OS UserJwoody on 18/10/08 5:23PM
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New release of Techwriter, PhotoDesk, Lanman98, ROL aiming to release ROM image, new copies of Qercus and RiscosNow, new 64,000 color options in RISCOS 6....

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 18/10/08 7:21PM
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