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By Peter Naulls. Published: 13th Sep 2003, 19:09:40 | Permalink | Printable

Still going strong

On Friday, RISCOS Ltd. held their second AGM in which members of the public were invited to attend. In lieu of other portals making an effort, drobe was there and able to report on it.

Compared to last year's AGM, the attendence was much lower, although MicroDigital again made an appearance; with several Omegas in tow demonstrating Select. As a novelty, Paul Beverley did not leave part way through - although he had threatened to with his wife waiting in a campervan in the carpark for a weekend break.

The AGM was never touted as a show like event, and we weren't expecting any major announcements, with it mostly being a review of the year's events and plans for the future. Nevertheless, there were a number of interesting points that are worth covering:
  • Paul Middleton pointed out that because more than 4 years had passed (the milestone being reached earlier in the year) since their agreement with E-14, all Select developments belonged entirely to ROL.

  • ROL are still considering pursuing their own 32-bit RISC OS. The quoted timeframe of 2-3 years at the last AGM (which of course pre-dated public knowledge of the Iyonix and RISC OS 5) is now seen to be considerably less - partly due to much better understanding by ROL of the OS, and presumably also by the considerable work done on Select in the last year. Such developments would of course require investment.

  • In January 2004, a further 50,000 shares will be made available. These represent unclaimed shares from the last issue. No price is set, and it will depend upon various factors, but at the last issue, shares were priced at 1.25 UKP each. ROL is allowed 50 new investors per year.

  • The forthcoming Select on ROM will be priced around 140 UKP for non-Select subscribers, with a suitable sliding scale for existing subscribers. It will have such features as booting directly from CDROM.

  • ROL are also looking at bundling a 52x CDROM drive with RISC OS after concerns by some users and CDFS issues with old drives that some people have.

Paul Middleton also expressed confidence over levels of Select and RISC OS 4 sales as a consequence of availability of Omega, Alpha and VirtualRPC, and also made mention of some other products which we'll report upon when they roll round.

Finally, Paul explained that he would not be doing a detailed finanical report as he did last year because of the substantial effort involved, instead opting for an abbreviated version which will be available on the ROL website shortly. We'll report on that too, when it appears.



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This dual lines of development of RISC OS is just such a nonsense. -- Spriteman.

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 13/9/03 7:34PM
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So what has happened to PM's suggestion that Iyonix owners should join select so that Select can be developed for the RO5?

Doesn't sount too promising now.

The Mac G5 looks better every day...

-- Eddie

 is a RISC OS UserEddie on 13/9/03 8:06PM
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Personally I feel that ROL really have got to get it together with Castle. If ROL do make thier own 32bit OS, who is going to build a machine to use it? Cheers!

 is a RISC OS UserThe Doctor on 13/9/03 8:27PM
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Doc: Well, the answer to that is easy. Acorn made the machines that most of these copies of RISC OS will run on. The Omega, Alpha and other VA computers will make up the rest. -- Spriteman.

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 13/9/03 8:50PM
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From this I take it that a 32 bit OS is Omega only, when it manages to get its Xscale working. The future is not all sweetness and light then...

 is a RISC OS Userjlavallin on 13/9/03 8:53PM
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jlav: ...based upon what? A 32-bit OS will work find on any ARM6+ machine, given suitable hardware support. This has been explained many times.

-- Peter, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 13/9/03 9:10PM
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Perhaps a merger would be a good idea? Castle RISC OS Technologies Ltd? At least then they own RISC OS and can develop as a single unit and all the money from RISC OS sales will go towards RISC OS development. It wouldn't be split as it is now. -- Smiler - :D Alex Melhuish

 is a RISC OS UserSmiler on 13/9/03 9:31PM
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How about Castle buy 50,000 ROS Ltd shares. What sort of stakeholding would that give them?

 is a RISC OS Userrussebay on 13/9/03 10:00PM
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I can almost imagine the "Monty Python" character marching into the AGM at the mention of ROL developing a 32bit RISC OS, and demanding that the sketch be stopped right there, because it is too silly.

It is time that RISC OS Ltd admitted that it had served its useful purpose of keeping the OS alive, and gracefully merged with Castle.

-- Keep Flying

 is a RISC OS UserJWCR on 13/9/03 10:19PM
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Since most of the kernel is written in C it should only be a simple recompile to get it working for 32 bit? They should open source it really.

On a serious note(!), it is good news that they're seriously considering 32 bit RO, it would make an iyonix a whole lot more appealing. Merging Castle and ROL isn't really going to magically merge their version of RISC OS. They still have 26 bit select and 32bit RO5. I think when ROL get their 32 bit select/whatever finished things will become more unified.

However, all IMHO, and best of luck to them. -- [link]

 is a RISC OS Userjohn on 13/9/03 11:23PM
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Last I heard, was that around 50% of RISCOS is assembler.

 is a RISC OS UserGrek1 on 13/9/03 11:34PM
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Grek1 - and I bet the same person told you that 56.7% of all statistics are made up ;o).

Smiler - that merger company you mention would be a CaRTeL?

OK - general point. Select and RISC OS 5 are very different, particularly in terms of base-level stuff like the kernel and Wimp, so the development of Select on an Iyonix /does/ involve an almost complete replacement of RISC OS 5 in any case; I see this as non-news from what has been said previously and I'm surprised that everyone else does. -- Andrew Hill,

 is a RISC OS Usermd0u80c9 on 14/9/03 12:51AM
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Perhaps Castle might decide to sell RISC OS 5+ for their own machines exclusively, and let ROL sell their own 32-bit versions for the rest of us (MD and RS users). It's not the perfect scenario but some competition between the companies might benefit the OS eventually.

 is a RISC OS Usertimephoenix on 14/9/03 1:03AM
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Andrew: The 'person' is the annual report from RISCOS Ltd. 2002.

It says: 46% of the source code is written in C 44% in assembler 10% in BASIC.

 is a RISC OS UserGrek1 on 14/9/03 1:10AM
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If RISCOS Ltd pursue their own version of 32 bit RISC OS, then I can only hope we don't have the situation where some software requires two different versions or hacks to run on both OSs. I would like to hear ROL's reasoning.

Perhaps they would like a 32 bit OS for the RiscPC, but so many people have stated that it would be pointless. Is there any truth behind this? -- Simon Wilson, Boulder, Colorado

 is a RISC OS Userksattic on 14/9/03 3:50AM
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Is it possible that Castle developed/bought 32-Bit RO5 just to have an OS for the Iyonix, whilst they wait for a "proper" version from ROL?

I do think that Castle should buy the 50k shares and work with ROL to merge RISC OS 5/4+, even if we don't really need a 32-Bit RISC OS, we do need a centralised OS again.

-- C'mon, mod me down, PUNK!

 is a RISC OS Usersimo on 14/9/03 7:06AM
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Grek1: Still curious how that figure would be calculated. And I suspect it's now well out of date, too, given the amount of work that's gone into Select 3 (and 2?) since those figures were published. Also doesn't allow for how much of that is 26/32 neutral assembler, and how much is 26 only.

I wasn't saying /you/ made the figure up - but statistics are incredibly misleading :o(. -- Andrew Hill,

 is a RISC OS Usermd0u80c9 on 14/9/03 10:11AM
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Surely the most interesting announcement was confirmation of "Select on ROM". Many people have wanted this for some time, and it is good to hear it announced. From a developer perspective, it should make it much easier to support a baseline Select OS :)

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 14/9/03 10:43AM
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It is clear that ROL has expressed the wish of staying independent. I even read some form of challenging Castle in it.

I find it suprisingly that some people are actually speculating on Castle buying the 50.000 shares, since ROL can decide to sell it only to the companies or individuals which it wants to.

One burning question pops up reading this story : What *did* Castle actually acquire when it bought risc os?

Another question : Since it is unclear what Castle bought how about that story that Ro 5 didnt had the proper licence/ contracts ? Is that settled with the acquisition of Risc os ?

IMHO both Castle and ROL need to inform the public better. This looks like a grand scale split up in the risc os market in two different 32 bit Oses. Not something where anyone of us is waiting or hoping for....i hope.

Still there is too much left in the dark.....



 is a RISC OS Userrick11 on 14/9/03 10:45AM
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Just a thought... with the acquisition of RISC OS, Castle Technology own 19.9% of RISC OS Limited anyway. Why would they wish to buy another 50,000 shares when the money (from their business perspective) could perhaps be better invested elsewhere?

50,000 lots of 1.25 is 62,500 - Castle Technology Limited do not need to own RISC OS Limited, they own the source product of RISC OS Limited (RISC OS itself).

It'll be interesting to see what developments occur anyway.

 is a RISC OS Userskeeter on 14/9/03 11:04AM
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How come the MD can get away without providing detailed accounts? I thought this was a legal requirement at an AGM. Up till just recently I can't imagine ROL were making any money at all - and I thought that trading at a loss was illegal also.

 is a RISC OS Usercynic on 14/9/03 12:40PM
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It is perfectly legal to trade at a loss (many companys make a loss in the short run). As long as they make money in the long run it is OK.

 is a RISC OS UserAndrewDuffell on 14/9/03 12:44PM
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Trading at a loss illegal? Hardly any companies would start up if that was the case...

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 14/9/03 12:54PM
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Rick said "This looks like a grand scale split up in the RISC OS market in two different 32 bit OSes".

I would say that's putting it rather strongly, given that (as far as we know) the fully 32-bit RISC OS 4/Select from ROL doesn't actually exist yet. The words Peter used in his article were "still considering pursuing" - much like ROL are "still considering pursuing" the RON project, if the funding and interest is forthcoming from elsewhere.

Most of the comments here seem to be re-writing "still considering pursuing" as "preparing to release".


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 14/9/03 1:39PM
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cynic: "detailed" was probably the wrong word. "extensive" would have been better. I expect the report will detail precisely as much as it needs to, but unlike last year's, leave out lots of background detail.

-- Peter, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 14/9/03 2:27PM
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Rick11> I quote from the Pace press announcement (issued it June 2003) it says "Castle Technology Ltd today announced the purchase of the RISC OS technology from Pace Micro Technology plc. The transaction involves the payment of an undisclosed cash sum, ongoing technical support for Pace`s existing products and the grant of a licence back to Pace for intellectual property rights"

So in effect CTL bought RISC OS off Pace and then they [CASTLE] granted Pace back an IP license to use RISC OS in their products.

It's pretty unambiguous, Castle own RISC OS. Where Pace *were* the owner Castle now are, Pace have a license from Castle. RISC OS Ltd have a four year license (which if I am correct should expire in October 2003). Presumably Castle will simply renegotiate the license with ROL for them (ROL) to continue to use it.

As to E-14 didn't they sell the rights to Pace first under the condition that ROL were granted rights to develope RISC OS for the desktop (by Pace) while Pace would do likewise for settop boxes (and the like).

As to the Select stuff any new stuff RISC OS Ltd has done would be theirs, but as that is a small part of the OS, and as the OS will work *without it* it is small beer and nothing to worry about. I also remember that under the old license weren't Pace (now Castle) allowed to use anything ROL produced, would that still be the case - I think so.

If ROL had sense they'd make (at least some) parts of Select work with RO5. This would be more beneficial than simply supporting emulators whose major effect is to boost the sales of Windows XP I would have thought.

Regards -- Annraoi

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 14/9/03 2:35PM
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Reply to moss & mrchocky

Trading at a loss may be acceptable if the company can show that it reasonably expects to turn the situation around - otherwise the company is heading to insolvency. It is illegal, so far as I understand it, to run up company debt with no prospect of heading back into profitability. Just what has been paying the MD's salary for so long?

ROL goes through something like 70k a year with a large operational loss (nearly 20k). Can the sale of VA products and Select ROMS make this up?

 is a RISC OS Usercynic on 14/9/03 2:57PM
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Reply to cynic

The trading at a loss is not the problem with regards to the law, what is the prblem is when about to go into bankrupcy is to order things which you know you cannot pay back.

As for MD they do not just make computers. -- British by birth English by the Grace of God. [link]

 is a RISC OS UserRevin Kevin on 14/9/03 3:26PM
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cynic: actually, I made no mention of the state of ROL's finanical affairs. It's worth pointing that MD is a different type of company, and it does not have the same obligations wrt to its reporting.

AMS: I don't belive you've read my article fully. ROL's Select developments belong to ROL.

-- Peter, drobe.co.uk

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 14/9/03 3:38PM
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Paul that's not the only thing AMS hasn't read properly.

Just about every point he made is wrong - but then he isn't privvy to RISCOS Ltd's licence, nor does he know anything about the deal between Pace and CTL, so how could it be anything but speculation based upon rumours and other people's speculation?

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 14/9/03 3:53PM
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Annraoi : If the license expires next october it is up to Castle to renew it or not. So if this is true what you are writing then the "move" made by ROL seems to be a pretty dangerous one. It doesnt add anything to keeping a good relation with Castle.

It all seems to me something like a political statement to get Castle back to the table. A sort of: " We can do it without you".

Lets hope its all politics...



 is a RISC OS Userrick11 on 14/9/03 4:09PM
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Who said the licence expires next October?

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 14/09/03 4:25PM
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ADPL: Who's this Paul chap? :-)

Yes, quite. It's because of our lack of knowledge (or indeed the lack shared by just about everyone) regarding the details of licensing that Chris and I have refrained from commenting on the details except where we've been advised of specifics by ROL or CTL.

Assertions that "X should do Y" or "Z should buy W" are invariably far more complex than they appear at the outset.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 14/09/03 4:26PM
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Sorry, I obviously meant Peter. But it's Sunday and it's been a long day.....

I'm grateful that you and Chris have avoided commenting. Some things are best kept out of the public forums. It's a pity that some others who know much less don't show the same restraint.

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 14/09/03 4:54PM
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Peter > Thanks for that I stand corrected, Select as you say is fully ROL's.

Still irrespective of how well written or clear your article is there is a lot of "ambiguous" (or contradictory) noises coming from the key players.

Even the copyright on Select lists Pace as the copyright holder with some elements (c) RISC OS Ltd., yet Pace sold the IP to Castle and was granted an IP license back from Castle. What did Castle buy ? What did Pace sell ? What rights to the OS do ROL have other than the select parts. Agatha Christie has nothing on this stuff.....


Annraoi (BTW: It was the Butler in the kitchen with the candlestick holder).

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 14/09/03 6:11PM
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What the hell is a candlestick holder?

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 14/09/03 6:15PM
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imj> A thing traditionally used to kill people in Cluedo, and no I don't play it in case you're wondering ! Agatha Christie usually goes for that sort of stuff too....

Candles are formed usually as sticks (a candle is composed usually of beeswax with a wick made of wound string). You light the exposed wick and as the wick burns the wax melts, revealing more wick allowing it to burn (the wax slows down the burning prolonging the burning). The Candlestick holder is a metal implement used to hold a candlestick (so described).

And yes I do have electricity so I don't use 'em any more either ;)



 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 14/09/03 6:31PM
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Surreal isn't it ;)



 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 14/09/03 6:32PM
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Sorry, it was *extreme* sarcasm about most of RO in C, it isn't especially clear. The point I was trying to make is that who on earth do people like myself think we are saying what businesses should and shouldn't do? That's up to them, we either buy their product or we don't.

Oh, and AFAIK Castle didn't buy Pace, so they don't own the share in ROL, some of the stuff people write here is just funny (or scary)

 is a RISC OS Userjohn on 14/09/03 6:38PM
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John: You are quite right, CTL didn't buy Pace. However, I wan't aware that it would have been necessary for them to do so to get Pace's shares in ROL.

Since you seem to be so certain of your conclusion I wonder how you arrived at it?

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 14/09/03 6:46PM
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David> So (just to fully muddy up the water here) are you saying that CTL did get Pace's shares in ROL ?

Do CTL receive royalty payments from ROL in any event for their continued sales of RISC OS to AMS ?



 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 14/09/03 6:49PM
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1. I don't say anything. I'm just getting very P****d off with people adding one and one and getting eleven. If you want to know this I suggest you ask Paul Middleton. I don't think ROL's shareholders or Articles of Incorporation are in the public domain so it's not my place to publish the information.

2. Why do you want to know, and, more to the point, why do you think you ought to be told. Again, I suggest you ask Paul Middleton.

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 14/09/03 6:55PM
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David > You said (quote) "..CTL didn't buy Pace. However, I wasn't aware that it would have been necessary for them to do so to get Pace's shares in ROL."

You raised a point where CTL might have gotten Pace's shares in ROL in a means other than by purchasing Pace. I only asked you if *you* were saying that that took place, if you hadn't written it I wouldn't have asked (and it was a question not a statement - no case of 1 and 1 and getting 11).

To my best recollection ROL did list shareholders in at least one previous annual report. Presumably if CTL have gained some shares in ROL since it will show up in the next Annual Report (unless that's one of the bits that will be abbeviated out).

Thanks for your help.



 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 14/09/03 7:33PM
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I'd just like to point out that MD in my comments above does not stand for MicroDigital but Managing Director (of ROL).

 is a RISC OS Usercynic on 14/09/03 9:24PM
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Dave H: Well after so much sarcasm I thought I should join in :) It was just as much assumption as that by getting RO they'd get the shares. Admittedly, I did intend the "AFAIK" to apply to the whole sentence, not the "didn't buy" bit. Anyway, who cares what anyone writes here, it takes 30 seconds to rattle off a badly thought out reply and post it to the world without any proofreading. Then, next week, no-one will even remember that I wrote this. Why should I bother to say anything sensible. At the risk of appearing sarcastic and annoying I'll leave it there ;)

 is a RISC OS Userjohn on 14/09/03 11:24PM
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Annraoi and John

I was commenting on John's assertion that "Castle didn't buy Pace, so they don't own the shares in ROL".

I thought that was a pretty amazing conclusion. (Though perhaps no more amazing than some of the others expressed in this thread.)

Anyway John, I'm rather surprised in your last posting where you say "why should I bother to say anything sensible". If that's your attitude towards this forum isn't that rather offensive (and time wasting) to those of use who /do/ try our best to spread a little light on the usual FUD. Not the least Drobe who make it available, presumably in the hope that it will be used properly.

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 15/09/03 07:41AM
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Totally off-topic, alas.

Back at the top of the comments, AMS's candle descritption isn't entirely accurate (well, arguably it IS, but is a little misleading).

The heat from the burning melts the wax, which then gets taken up the wick and burned. The wax is the primary fuel source for a candle, and the wick's burning is incidental. Most of the flame comes from burning pararffin (or bee's wax in expensive old candles, or tallow in cheap old candles). It's like a solid fuel oil lamp.

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 15/09/03 10:00AM
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It burns my eyes.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 15/09/03 10:10AM
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Peter > Funnily enough it WOULD do that !

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 15/09/03 10:21AM
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David H: notice the smiley! I'm just trying to point out in an original way that people are posting anything and not checking what factual there is in it. Where there are five times as many people saying "castle should buy ROL" then saying "what do you know?" history has proven that people don't pay any attention because this silly saying what companies should do still happens. Fortunately drobe's article is quite helpful, just so long as you don't decide to read the comments ;)

 is a RISC OS Userjohn on 15/09/03 10:55AM
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And NB that isn't my attitude to this forum, it was akin to the "how to write code" guides that say call your variables silly names so that no-one else can maintain your program! Makes peple think how ludicrous it is but people do do it.

 is a RISC OS Userjohn on 15/09/03 10:59AM
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flibble slaps chocky ... that's my line.

 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 15/09/03 12:12AM
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I thought your line was 'it burns my eyes'? (Boom-boom!)

 is a RISC OS Userhutchies on 15/09/03 2:11PM
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Sorry if I missed anyone else commenting on this, but is it possible/likely/worth considering that ROL may make their 32 bit RO run on the Iyonix? Do Castle really want to spend effort on developing RO5 if ROL can provide a 32 bit RO in the near future? RO5 could then be seen as a stop gap until everyone else caught up with all that 32 bit goodness.

I have no knowledge really about Castle, but are they likely to be in RO development for the long haul if they can have someone else do it?

I guess the problem with that scenario is that it leaves Castle not owning the subsequent developments made by RO (similar to how they don't seem to have any rights over select).

Anyway, just though I'd throw fuel on the fire :)

 is a RISC OS UserDougal on 15/09/03 10:22PM
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Reply to Dougal.

I thought that it was Castle who now owned and licensed RISC OS - so any changes to RISC OS would be owned by them. Wouldn't this apply to the renewed license for Select as well?

If I've got this right - suppose Explan were to use a 32 bit version of RISC OS on Solo. Any changes they made to get it to run on their hardware would be owned by Castle - even though they had not shelled out for the development.

I bet that makes it harder for innovations like that to happen!

 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 16/09/03 7:23PM
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Cynic. like so much other speculation in this thread you are wrong. The latest versions of Select are owned by RISC OS Ltd and no-one else. Similarly if they produced a new 32 bit OS it would be owned exclusively by them.

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 17/09/03 08:05AM
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Dave - its not speculation, its misinformation. In fact most of what I wrote were questions and I'm grateful for your clarifications.

When ROL relicense RISC OS for newer versions of RISC OS will it be from CASTLE or PACE?

Whoever it is with will the terms of the license be the same?

 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 17/09/03 11:10AM
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David> I know you like accusing me of misreading things (yep I must be some sort of cretinous idiot), but could you please explain to me how I misunderstood the following:

I quote from the Pace press announcement (issued in June 2003 and quoted on the Pace Web site) it says "Castle Technology Ltd today announced the purchase of the RISC OS technology from Pace Micro Technology plc. The transaction involves the payment of an undisclosed cash sum, ongoing technical support for Pace's existing products and the grant of a licence back to Pace for intellectual property rights"

Ignoring what Select is or isn't and who owns or doesn't own it, could you *please* tell me what *you* think the above means ?

Now consider the following (from the RISC OS Ltd., Annual Report (2000), page 6 under the section headed - Activities) which reads:

"RISCOS Ltd is primarily involved in the development of RISC OS Operating system for ARM processor based personal computers, which it licensed from Element-14 in March 1999. That license has now been acquired by Pace Microtechnology plc to whom RISC OS Ltd pays a royalty for each copy of RISC OS sold directly to end users or licensed to Authorised Manufacturing Sub-licensees"

What reasonable conclusions could be drawn from the above statement, in your opinion ?

Does the first one (from Pace) imply that Castle acquired the RISC OS license from Pace, does the second (from RISC OS Ltd) imply that Pace acquired the license of RISC OS and that ROL paid Pace a license fee for each copy of RISC OS sold ?

Now *if* Pace has sold it's IPR to Castle, and if RISC OS Ltd originally paid Pace then surely now it [ROL] must pay Castle ? Or am I really a cretinous idiot (*)



(*) Don't feel obliged to answer that last bit if you don't want ;)

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 17/09/03 9:08PM
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Annraoi. To answer the questions in your final paragraph first.

Q1 - If it says so in the press announcement then what's the problem?. I didn't say one way or the other.

Q2 - You and others might think so, but I couldn't possiblly comment.

Now, to answer your main point, please pay attention, I shall only say this once. Just because company A owns something which they licence to company B it doesn't necessarily mean that all the changes, additions, new work and re-writes that company B do are automatically owned by company A.

Select is a major re-write of many parts of RISC OS, done entirely by RISC OS Ltd. The discussion was not about who owned RISC OS but who owned Select.

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 18/09/03 09:03AM
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