Select for Iyonix needs cooperationBy Chris Williams. Published: 5th Mar 2004, 06:20:00 | Permalink | Printable
Support from manufacturers, ie: CastleRISCOS Ltd. has repeated its call for there to be greater cooperation between itself and Castle, in order to produce a release of Select that is compatible with the Castle Iyonix. Currently, RISC OS development is split between the two companies: RISCOS Ltd. develops RISC OS 4, which runs in 26bit mode on RiscPCs, A7000s and Omegas, whereas Castle develops RISC OS 5, which runs in 32bit mode on the XScale powered Iyonix. Just to spice things up further, Castle now own the entire OS, with RISCOS Ltd. working as a sub-licensee.
Since 2001, RISCOS Ltd. have been working on RISC OS Select, the banner under which they continually improve RISC OS 4, despite being limited to a shrinking market of sub-310MHz machines and later turning to the rising tide of VirtualRiscPC-SE users. Although Castle's RISC OS 5 is compatible with the 600MHz 80321 XScale and includes various features plus support for PCI and USB devices, it's recognised that Select has more user facing enhancements and updates than OS 5. A growing number of users, speaking out publically and also on the Select users' mailing list, have expressed their interest in an Iyonix compatible Select and at the same time, their dismay in RISCOS Ltd.'s and Castle's inability to commit to an Iyonix compatible Select.
To get all of Select onto the Iyonix, the OS would need to be made completely 32bit compatible and updated to support the new architecture of the Iyonix: a huge task, in other words. In the announcement of the RISC OS 4.39 ROM set, RISCOS Ltd. insisted that they needed the "cooperation and support of the hardware manufacturers", commenting: "RISC OS 4.39 has been developed to be capable of building 32 bit compatible versions, but many of the higher level features of Select (upon which 4.39 is based) rely on low level changes to the kernel that are not currently present in the RISC OS 5 kernel and supporting modules."
However, ARMalyser and DiscKnight author Dave Ruck earlier this week disagreed and suggested that "99% of user visible features of Select do not rely on kernel changes" and that RISCOS Ltd. should be able to engineer a version of Select so that 32bit compatible components can be softloaded over RISC OS 5 - thus in theory providing the majority of Select's features to Iyonix users. Steffen Huber, the author of CDBurn, reiterated Dave's claim, commenting: "A RISC OS Select for Iyonix with [an initial] feature set could have been released without the slightest cooperation from Castle. Therefore, RISCOS Ltd. have obviously decided that they do not want to release Select components to RO 5 owners."
In response, Dave Marston, maintainer of Printers+ that RISCOS Ltd. open sourced last year, argued that the administrative burden of version numbers and support would be too great, adding, "even with the non-kernel bits, I don't think it's as simple as RISCOS Ltd just releasing bits, there still needs to be some coordination with Castle."
RISCOS Ltd.'s managing director Paul Middleton this week played down Dave's estimation, explaining: "That is David Ruck's guess entirely. It is not at all accurate in the context of how long it would take to make Select run on an Iyonix.
"Changes to the kernel are essential to support user level features. These require cooperation from Castle as I stated in the Press Release."
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