Select takes aim at ROMsBy Chris Williams. Published: 20th May 2003, 21:29:45 | Permalink | Printable
That's the plan for Select 4As the developers of RISC OS Select, RISCOS Ltd. earlier today revealed their aim to make RISC OS Select 4 available in ROM chip format. Yesterday, the public beta edition of Select 3 was published on RISCOS Ltd.'s website for subscribers to download and install.
Subject to end user demand, Select 4 will be available as a phyiscal ROM version for a "premium payment", RISCOS Ltd.'s Paul Middleton informed us. The ROM chips will be specifically be for Risc PC and A7000(+) users although machines fitted with RISC OS 4 in FlashROM may be allowed to repogram the FlashROM with the new OS.
New computers shipped with RISC OS 4 (which includes the Microdigital Alpha incidentally), will have each have a RISC OS 4 Serial Number Sticker slapped on them indicating that they're "running a properly licensed version of RISC OS 4".
RISC OS has historically been supplied in ROM chip format which is fitted to the motherboard of the computer and executed first thing when the machine is turned on. The great advantage about ROM chips is that they're read only and can't be altered once manufactured. Since the days of Arthur, RISC OS users have therefore confidently enjoyed the reassurance that whatever happens to their machine, they'll always have a stable OS physically installed that'll boot up to a working desktop.
The obvious downside to this is that upgrading your OS requires you to strip down your computer and refit new ROM chips, a process I don't personally enjoy going through as the chips can sustain fatal static and physical damage during the upgrade. FlashROM chips overcome this drawback by allowing new data to be written to them, overwriting the previous image. However only recent computers have FlashROM memory fitted.
RISC OS Select is different to previous editions of the OS and the act of burning it into ROM will perhaps interest a number of RISCOS Ltd.'s subscribers. As new versions of RISC OS Select are intended to be released every four to six months, RISCOS Ltd. opted to release disc based ROM images of RISC OS which are softloaded into memory and executed during boot up. Having Select Gold in ROM removes the need to have RISC OS 4.0x fitted to softload later versions of RISC OS, which (we assume) slashes the amount of time it takes to boot your machine. Which is a good thing.
For me and you
The burning question at the moment is when will there be a Select for Iyonix users?
Castle Technology have told users that RISCOS Ltd. are welcome to produce a 32 bit RISC OS Select for the Iyonix by themselves, so what's the comment from RISCOS Ltd.? The answer is that the work being poured into Select is intended for all computers.
"The main point I was trying to get over to visitors is that Select development is intended for all computers", Paul added, refering to the RISCOS Ltd. presentation at the recent Wakefield show. "However if people cancel subscriptions because they have bought an Iyonix, then it will never become available for that machine. However if subscriptions are renewed then there is every chance that Select 4 will be able to provide most of the RISC OS 4 features on RISC OS 5 machines."
Certainly, users have been torn between buying Iyonix machines as well as upgrading their older machines to RISC OS Select.
Finally, Select 4 is apparently provisionally titled Select Gold which sounds too much like a Grande Finale for us. Just when we'd finished our nice green Select 3 cog logo, they're considering moving over to the shiny yellow metal.
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