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Upgrade to RISC OS 4 for twenty quid

Published: 3rd Dec 2008, 19:20:00 | Permalink | Printable

RISCOS Ltd announce new CD-based upgrade for RISC OS 3 and 4 users to allow them to install and boot into RISC OS 4.02 and 4.39. Normal price is 29 quid, or 20 at the Midland Christmas 2008 show in Birmingham.

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Well that is some good news and well done to RISCOS Ltd for making it even easier to upgrade to a newer version of RISC OS. Still I guess some will still have a go at the £20 figure or say well 4.02 or 4.39 isn't the latest but I think there isn't any excuse now for people not to upgrade.

 is a RISC OS Userbluenose on 3/12/08 7:49PM
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This is just silly. You can buy 4.39 adjust for 30 quid on ebay. Why spend £29 on 4.02 ? And furtermore why not let everybody upgrade to 4.39 for the same price ? THis would have been a good way to unify all.

 is a RISC OS Userhighlandcattle on 3/12/08 8:43PM
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Well perhaps some people don't want to add new ROMS or want to be able to go back to 3.7 for what ever reason and thats why they haven't upgraded even to 4.02 yet.

As I said above what ever happens in RISC OS land someone comes along and puts a negative slant on it.

 is a RISC OS Userbluenose on 3/12/08 9:38PM
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But that is second hand not new. Second hand things are cheaper. Adjust needs the new disk format. If the module could be added in a unipod or similar, 4.39 might be possible on an older machine. There might be a way of contriving it to be installed on a second drive too.

However since I already have 4.39 ROM in my RPC, it won't halp me personally. (But hopefully they will release 6 like this in the future, though I expect for a little more.)

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 4/12/08 6:12PM
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Well I think this is really good news. It's about time RISCOS Ltd did something like this. Although I have to agree with highlandcattle about why not simply offer everyone the 4.39 softload? I would have thought it would make sense to have everyone running a minimum 4.39 rather than the vintage 4.02.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 3/12/08 9:51PM
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Yes, this is good news. It's about time things were made cheaper and easier. But I have to agree it seems odd to only offer a 4.02 softload for 3.7 users.

ROL's thinking might be if you've got 4.02 then you've invested in more development so therefore deserve more than someone on 3.7 who might never have handed any money to ROL. If this is their thinking I would have to profoundly disagree with this approach. All of ROLs software relies on previous investment and previous development, that's an undisputed fact. What you want is for more people to get on board with supporting new development, not punishing them for using old software.

I could be very, very wrong of course. Could there be technical reasons?

Cheaper and easier is definitely the way to go, so a pat on the back to ROL for that anyway. :-)

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 3/12/08 11:38PM
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Your second suggestion is actually correct. There are 'technical reasons' why RO 4.39 can't reliably be softloaded on a machine with 3.6 or 3.7 ROMs.

It is possible with some types of hardware but not all, and ROL didn't want to leave people with unstable or unusable computers.

Of course, if anyone wants to tinker......

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 4/12/08 8:58AM
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Looks as if the Drobe software has put the my reply before the posting I was replying to :-(

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 4/12/08 9:02AM
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ROL are really scraping the bottom of the barrel now, I really don't think the tiny number of people who occasionally use a RISC OS 3.6 or 3.7 machine for whatever reason, are going to be spending any money on the platform.

Plus if you softload, you don't get one of the biggest advantages of RISC OS 4.X which is the removal of the crippling 10 character filename and 77 files per directory limits.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 4/12/08 9:13AM
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Actually there are still a lot of people using RO 3.6 / 3.7. Possibly more than the number using an Iyonix. Why shouldn't they be allowed to have a low cost OS upgrade?

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 4/12/08 9:55AM
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You are basing that claim on what evidence? The demand for hard discs of between 512MB and 8GB?

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 4/12/08 11:05AM
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There were around 25,000 Risc PCs sold by Acorn and a larger number of A7000s. We sold around 6,000 RISC OS 4.02 ROMs when we ceased producing them shortly after RISC OS 4.39 was launched 4 years ago.

Even allowing for dead computers there is therefore a very large number of potential users of RISC OS 4 who, for whatever reason, have not upgraded the ROMs in their computer. A common reason being that the users are worried about opening their computer and fitting the new ROMs and then finding that some of their software doesn't run. The goal is to give these people the opportunity to experience RISC OS 4 features and then commmit to upgrading their ROMs so that they won't be crippled by the RISC OS 3.x file limitations. If they don't get the opportunity to see whether their old software will actually work on RISC OS 4, then many people won't even try.

We are also going to be taking other steps shortly to encourage new users to the RISC OS scene as, contrary to your continued demoralising comments, we are getting new users coming to the RISC OS scene, not just from the UK, but also from overseas. So how about taking the lead and making Drobe a positive platform for promoting RISC OS! New users will undoubtedly come to Drobe for discussion and support, and they won't stay long if all they see is people moaning about every initiative that is taken.

I'm sure that you can explain to other readers the differences between the memory mapping in RISC OS 4.02 and RISC OS Select that means that softloading a 4MB ROM is OK, but softloading the Select ROMs that are greater than 4MB is more problematic if you have network cards or podules installed. Hence the reason why this Upgrade CD provides 2 different versions of RISC OS to try out dependent on the base ROM installed in the computer.

 is a RISC OS Userriscosboss on 4/12/08 11:20AM
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Paul: Perhaps you could do another year report highlighting all these new users? You've not done a public one in quite some time. I strongly suspect that the number of people leaving massively outweighs any new users.

And I don't think Drobe should be some "positive platform" - I'd rather it was realisitic and neutral. Fooling yourselves does nothing for anybody.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 4/12/08 11:36AM
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He didn't say Drobe itself should be anything less than neutral - he was suggesting that posters are positive. Whether you think that is "fooling" themselves is up to you. Many people will go on and on being positive and are entitled. Personally it seems very credible that people have detected changes afoot in RISC OS which could involve potentially anybody and have realised that this is the time to get involved. I'm not sure how this relates to ROL specifically though.

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 4/12/08 8:30PM
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Sure, people are entitled to be positive and fool themselves. Calling for others to be delusial is, well, deluded.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 4/12/08 11:21PM
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The problem is that loads of us remember the efforts of the "everything's fine!" brigade during the demise of the RISC OS and the Amiga platforms. People like me wonder if things might have been better if more people had been realistic rather than perpetually optimistic.

Some of us feel that the powers-that-be should be - and always should have been - focusing on making it as easy as possible for people run RISC OS. Something like this just isn't going to make much difference. Whereas getting it running for free on a free emulator might.

Maybe, I'm wrong - maybe if it hadn't been so difficult and expensive to run RISC OS in the past, the demise would have been quicker, but I don't think so. I suppose we can never know for sure without a time machine.

 is a RISC OS Userkillermike on 5/12/08 2:38AM
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Thanks for explaining the 3.6/3.7 loading issue

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 4/12/08 5:26PM
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I'd be game for this, but most of my RISC OS usage is emulated. Would this upgrade work with Red Squirrel or ArcEM (Linux)?

 is a RISC OS UserBecky on 4/12/08 10:52AM
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The version of RISC OS they are offering here requires a RiscPC-class (including things like A7000s etc) hardware, where Red Squirrel and ArcEm only emulate A5000/A540 class hardware. They should work under RPCEmu under Linux though, I suspect.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 4/12/08 10:55AM
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I'm surprised that no-one has mentioned that it is easier to produce a CD-ROM than it is to create a set of physical ROMs.

This is a very effective way of getting people with older machines to see RISC OS 4.

The only issue I can see with it is that it costs the same to upgrade from RO3.x as it is for people who upgraded to RO4.0.

Still, at 20 quid, this may be a shot in the arm (no pun intended) for that old Acorn machine that's sitting in the corner of the room.

 is a RISC OS UserBlowfishie on 4/12/08 11:56AM
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A great move. Well done ROL.

But here's a silly question. Can I upgrade using Virtual RiscPC? I'm still stuck with OS4.02. Or would I have to upgrade via VA's website (they current list an upgrade from SE to VRPC-Adjust for 30 quid)?

 is a RISC OS Usersascott on 4/12/08 12:02PM
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Yes, as the press release says, you can use it on VirtualAcorn. However, you will lose the 8MB VRAM feature and be limited to the standard 2MB.

If you want RO 4.39 and 8 MB of VRAM I'm afraid you'll have to get the VA upgrade.

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 4/12/08 7:15PM
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Or apply the same hacky ROM patching voodoo. RPCemu has some of this, from what I recall. Might be worth porting it over to VA.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 4/12/08 11:20PM
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Thanks for the clarification. Would have helped if I had RTFPR. My main point remains - a good move to encourage users still dragging their feet. Not much you can do with customers who are happy with RISC OS 2 though, just as much as those customers who are happy using Windows 3.1 :-p

 is a RISC OS Usersascott on 5/12/08 11:05AM
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There's no need for drobe to become a strictly positive forum, but some of the criticisms here are daft.

ROL have done something which harms none and probably benefits some. Therefore, whatever minor points could be made, its a good thing.

Would it be possible to buy the 4.39 cd and combine it with rpcemu as a cheap alternative to virtual acorn? Not wishing to undermine them, but for what I have in mind £80 and no site licences is too much.

 is a RISC OS UserMonty on 4/12/08 12:09PM
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One big advantage of cheap RO4 is that it means better software compatibility for users of old machines. In the last week alone I've had three (maybe 4 or 5, thinking about it) separate instances of users having trouble because they are using such old versions of RISC OS. Usually it is because they get in a muddle due to old boot sequences, or lack of toolbox modules, or whatever.

One guy upgraded to RO4 and found it allowed him to run Netsurf which would lock up previously. Another would have had all his problems with his startup/networking cured.

More than anything, having users on a stable / supported baseline OS (RISC OS 4) is very important because it allows them to use modern software.

As for running adjust on 3.xx machines, it always needed OS4 as a base OS for softloads, so I would imagine that hasn't changed.

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 4/12/08 1:23PM
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If you actually talk to RISC OS users instead of assuming everyone fits in with your own experience, you'll find most of them in addition to having another type of computer to be able to fully use the internet and vast swathes of software not available for RISC OS, will have a main RISC OS machine, and several secondary ones.

They keep the secondary ones either for occasional use to play old games, or to use as spares in case their main machine fails. In the first case they want to use an older OS in the machine for compatibility, and in the second case they aren't bothered because they will swap their current OS ROMs in to it when necessary. Of those people with just a single machine and a 3.X OS, the machines are invariably sitting in a cupboard or attic unused, as if they still have any contact with RISC OS at all, it's via Emulation.

ROL making an upgrade path for these users isn't a bad thing, but is unlikely to generate much in the way of sales. However, what it does tell us is that the bottom of the barrel has been well and truly reached as far as OS sales are concerned.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 5/12/08 9:13AM
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You said "They keep the secondary ones either for occasional use to play old games, or to use as spares in case their main machine fails. In the first case they want to use an older OS in the machine for compatibility,".

Thats' why we've designed this upgrade so you can switch back to your original OS with a couple of mouse clicks. It takes about 5 seconds plus the time needed for a reboot.

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 5/12/08 11:20AM
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Being able to revert to a previous OS quickly doesn't create a reason for using it on a backup machine.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 5/12/08 1:27PM
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I think the comment was meant for the bit you didn't quote.

Having the same OS on a backup machine is good, especially if it is can be moved to a different machine if the first one fails.

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 5/12/08 2:09PM
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There are many positive things about this upgrade. The availability as a softload with an easy way back to your original version is good - after all, people still using 3.5/3.6/3.7 probably do so because of compatibility issues, and forcing a ROM change won't make them happy.

I am also happy with the pricing. 20/30 GBP is a sensible price, and might motivate people to upgrade. Developers can now start assuming RO4 as the base level if necessary.

But I wonder what happened to the "only allowed to distribute as ROM" restriction in their licence which RO Ltd. always talked about.

 is a RISC OS Userhubersn on 5/12/08 12:58PM
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"But I wonder what happened to the 'only allowed to distribute as ROM' restriction in their licence which RO Ltd. always talked about."

It no longer applies. After a certain period ownership of RISC OS 4 and all its derivatives passed to RISC OS Ltd.

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 5/12/08 1:30PM
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10 Years?

 is a RISC OS UserIvanDobski on 5/12/08 2:01PM
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No. A few years ago now.

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 5/12/08 2:13PM
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Once RISCOS Ltd had fulfilled certain obligations it acquired all "right and title" to versions of RISC OS developed over the last decade. There have been some behind the scenes discussions with regard to this going on for some time.

RISCOS Ltd is now a fully independant organisation that can do what it likes with its IPR (which includes all versions of RISC OS 4 onwards) without any reference to any third party.

 is a RISC OS UserVirtualAcorn on 5/12/08 2:37PM
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I look forward to the open-sourcing of it, then >:)

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 5/12/08 4:32PM
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RISC OS Ltd don't have rights to the version of RISC OS known as RISC OS 5 AFAIK. It'd be nice to have some accuracy here.

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 5/12/08 4:48PM
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AW: If you want accuracy, try starting with getting RISCOS Ltd.'s name right. :)

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 6/12/08 12:26AM
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RISC OS Ltd's agreement with E14 states that, once certain obligations had been fulfilled, RISC OS 4 (and any deriviative produced from the source) would be then owned exclusively by RISCOS Ltd.

Since RISC OS 5 is a derivative from the same tree and was based on the RISC OS 4 code that was licenced back to Pace for their STB projects, it follows that RISCOS Ltd also owns this. If you check you will find comments from several of the ROOL guys that confirm this history of RISC OS 5.

Neither E14, Pace or Castle have ever owned any version of RISC OS from RISC OS 4 onwards.They have only ever been able to use them under licence from RISC OS Ltd.

I make the above statement based on reading through roughly 4 inches of paperwork (yes it's a thick ring binder). This includes, but is not limited to:

1. RISCOS Ltd's head licence. 2. Letters from Pace to RISCOS Ltd. 3. The details of the "purchase of the RISC OS technology" agreement between Castle Technology Ltd and Pace. 4. Detailed comments from the RISC OS 4 and RISC OS 5 source code.

You may recall the Castle Technology Ltd were only able to keep selling the Iyonix after RISCOS Ltd shareholders had voted to allow it. You might also note that Pace maintained all their IPR (i.e. their licence back from RISCOS Ltd) after Castle Technology Ltd's "purchase".

 is a RISC OS UserVirtualAcorn on 6/12/08 1:04PM
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"Neither E14, Pace or Castle have ever owned any version of RISC OS from RISC OS 4 onwards.They have only ever been able to use them under licence from RISC OS Ltd."

And what do Castle say about that?

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 6/12/08 2:08PM
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An excellent question. The short answer is that I don't know what "Castle say about" it. But I know what the paperwork says about it.

I volunteered to go through this pile on behalf of RISCOS Ltd to get some answers. The answers I got were not what I was expecting. But the result can already been seen from the recent annoucements.

 is a RISC OS UserVirtualAcorn on 6/12/08 4:32PM
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Sources close to Castle have said this evening that the status quo has not changed.

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 6/12/08 5:13PM
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I don't think anyone has said that it had.

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 6/12/08 5:53PM
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Nothing's changed in that the same arguments over licences persist.

ROL director Aaron, today: "Neither E14, Pace or Castle have ever owned any version of RISC OS from RISC OS 4 onwards."


CTL director Jack Lillingston, 2004: "Over the last year Castle has invested very significant amounts of money both in the purchase of RISC OS and in its ongoing development."

I can't believe this issue is still going! And I don't used exclamation marks lightly.

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 6/12/08 6:08PM
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"I can't believe this issue is still going!"

How do you suggest it should be resolved?

Neither side is likely to admit that they are wrong, nor are they willing (or able) to spend thousands of pounds on the court case that would be needed to bring this to a conclusion.

Usually, they just ignore each other and carry on regardless (great film).

 is a RISC OS UserStoppers on 6/12/08 9:45PM
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Until we finally get down to 1 user and then one side can declare they have 100% of the market :-(

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 6/12/08 9:50PM
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Victory, at last!

Seriously, as long as they both ignore each other, they're probably doing the least damage to the market.

As users, if we just assume both parties are allowed to do whatever they are doing (because, "of course", the other party would take legal action if they weren't), the subject doesn't need to come up again (I don't recall seeing it for months, if not years, until this article).

 is a RISC OS UserStoppers on 7/12/08 10:33AM
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RISCOS Ltd do not own the RISC OS head licence, but it really doesn't matter if Aaron decides to make it up as he goes along, or genuine believes his own claims.

RISC OS as an commercially licensable operating system has no further value, one branch is being given away for next to nothing, and the other branch has been open sourced and given away for nothing.

No matter how they are interpreted, either ROLs or Castles licences are effectively unenforceable and worthless, apart from to certain individuals claiming access to the secret source to massage their overinflated egos.

The affect this has on users and developers is to make them run away from the platform even faster than they have been, as its a embarrassment to be associated with this nonsense.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 7/12/08 11:44AM
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In reply to druck

Try telling SCO that.... :-)

Ooops one week too late

Cheers Bob

 is a RISC OS Usernijinsky on 8/12/08 3:11PM
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If ROL was half as creative with their products than they are in interpreting their licence, we would be a lot better off now.

Especially the "RISC OS 5 is based on RISC OS 4 and therefore also owned by ROL" is so far from the truth that I wonder what credibility is left for Aaron, Dave and Paul. The history is well known, has repeatedly been published on Usenet by various ex-Acorn, ex-e14 and ex-Pace staff, and you can actually see it from the public CVS ROOL has provided to us.

It is however true that for a certain amount of time, ROL was obliged to give improvements back to the head licence owner, which was e-14, then Pace and now Castle. That this clause should now be responsible for a claim that *everything* in RISC OS is now owned by ROL is very amusing. I would love to read a licence agreement that tries to achieve this.

At least it never gets boring wrt RO licencing.

 is a RISC OS Userhubersn on 7/12/08 1:14PM
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> Especially the "RISC OS 5 is based on RISC OS 4 and therefore also owned by ROL"

Could this not mean not exclusively owned? ie They can use and license it, but so can Castle.

If so then then it doesn't seem at odds with the history I remember from usenet.

As I understand it the version the ROL started with was called 3.8 but was almost the same as the version they released called 4. So no-one else would have owned RISC OS 4 onwards. (RISC OS 5 wouldn't be onwards, because it was a different branch, had it been named RISC OS 3.9, then would the arguments have been the same?)

I hope that ROL keep using even numbers for closed operating systems and ROOL keep odd numbers for open ones. (I wonder if they could do the same for module versions)

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 7/12/08 5:53PM
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Jess, Aaron explicitly said "exclusively owned". I don't think this is to be misunderstood.

It is amusing to imagine that for every e14/Pace/Tematic/Castle-financed commit to RO source repository, the copyright (i.e. ownership) has been automatically assigned to ROL. As I said, I would love to read a licence that tries to achieve this.

Not to forget the portions of RISC OS that were never owned by Acorn, but are now - according to Aaron - owned by ROL.

 is a RISC OS Userhubersn on 7/12/08 7:34PM
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"It is amusing to imagine that for every e14/Pace/Tematic/Castle-financed commit to RO source repository, the copyright (i.e. ownership) has been automatically assigned to ROL. As I said, I would love to read a licence that tries to achieve this."

This sounds a lot like SCO saying that IBM put their copyrighted code into Linux. What actually happened, it seems, is that IBM put JFS (their file system from AIX) into Linux. SCO tried to pretend that because AIX was based off their stuff, everything IBM did to it was theres. Laughable. Much like this claim, unfortunately.

 is a RISC OS Userrjek on 7/12/08 10:37PM
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He said exclusively owned in the previous paragraph. But if you read it carefully, the comment about RO 5 doesn't exactly match the conditions for exclusivity. (From "the same tree" vs. "from the source").

However if this interpretation is what was intended, it was poorly worded to cause the confusion.

If not then either the stament must have been wrong, or ROL decided RISC OS Open would be of benefit and a mutually acceptable (or even beneficial) agreement must have been reached.

(Much as one was reached with the VA5000 arguement.)

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 8/12/08 2:30PM
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It really is funny that this debate still goes on for so many years.

 is a RISC OS Userhighlandcattle on 8/12/08 8:59AM
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Am I the only one who finds it almost impossible to follow these conversations now that Drobe has decided to have "threaded" topics? Spotting new comments is, shall we say, tedious.

 is a RISC OS Userriscosopen on 8/12/08 6:58PM
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Work started on a way of flagging up new comments (with a red 'new!' note next to new comments) but it was buggy and it's been turned off for now. It should track which comments have been seen by each logged-in reader.

In the meantime, you can hit the 'View comments listed by date' link at the start of the comments section, which will list everything flat in date order (as the old site did). Hope this helps.

 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 8/12/08 7:32PM
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What might be useful is a slight reorganisation of the way each post is displayed - if scrolling down the threaded list, you have to glance at the foot of each post to see if it's new.

Perhaps putting the username and timestamp at the start of each post, with the [reply/report] links at the foot would be a good idea?

 is a RISC OS UserVinceH on 9/12/08 12:20PM
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Aha. Thanks for the info - sorry about the gripe ;)

 is a RISC OS Userriscosopen on 8/12/08 9:40PM
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