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Select for Iyonix needs cooperation

By Chris Williams. Published: 5th Mar 2004, 06:20:00 | Permalink | Printable

Support from manufacturers, ie: Castle

RISCOS Ltd. logoRISCOS 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."


RISCOS Ltd.'s wesbite
Castle's website The 26/32bit issue explained

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Ir would be nice to see something like RISC OS and Castle costing it out and then saying it needs x subscribers at y pounds each and will take so many months. Then we could choose. If the numbers don't materialise, they could then justifyably blaim lack of interest, instead of this 'smoke and mirrors' game. Its is costing both your companies sales...

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 5/3/04 8:06AM
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They've got to get this sorted. It's farcical having such a small market fragmented even further. I would love to buy an Iyonix (I'm saving!) but the lack of Select niceties is certainly very disappointing. Bury the pride and the egos and get it sorted.

 is a RISC OS UserMendosa on 5/3/04 9:55AM
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What cooperation does RISCOS Ltd. actually need? Wouldn't it be better if they would specify what low level changes to the kernel they need instead of asking for general cooperation? I can imagine Castle can not make commitments but still might implement specific changes.

 is a RISC OS UserJaco on 5/3/04 12:17PM
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We're still talking about Select on Iyonix. I'm starting to get bored of the squabbling. Is it a question of cost or is it a question of personalities?

 is a RISC OS Userjonix on 5/3/04 12:18PM
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It's simply a huge amount of work to get Select to be 32-bit compliant. And the Iyonix market is tiny compared to the Risc PC market. You do the math.

 is a RISC OS Userjerryf on 5/3/04 3:12PM
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Why don't they just say so then? You think they're lying about needing support and such?

 is a RISC OS UserJaco on 5/3/04 3:40PM
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Of course they're not lying about needing support. That's exactly what would shorten their development time.

 is a RISC OS Userjerryf on 5/3/04 3:58PM
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But is the size of the active RISC PC market that big compared to the Iyonix users. And the 'power' users who are most likely to be spending money on Select are also likely to be most likely to be Iyonix buyers... If RISC OS limited have 1,000 subscribers and Castle have sold 500-1,000 Iyonixes, that makes the Maths very favourable...

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 5/3/04 4:12PM
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I don't really see why they can't to a stop-gap solution of putting the "user facing" features of Select into applications that can be run on the Iyonix, instead of coding them into the OS (OK, you wouldn't get the benefits of the kernel clean up, but you also wouldn't lose the new RO5 code).

How hard is it to write a program that puts a graduated background onto PinBoard anyway? ;)

 is a RISC OS Usersimo on 5/3/04 5:31PM
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At the SW Show last weekend, in his theatre presentation, Paul Middleton said something along the lines of, if around 300 Iyonix users really wanted select on Iyonix, then that was the sort of numbers that he considered would make the work worthwhile. He did not specify how he proposed to obtain a committment from the 300 (a deposit held for a year against the final product ?) or the likely cost. And, of course, without CTLs endorsement, it's an absolute non starter. We don't know what Castle are working on OS wise, themselves, and if they chose not to endorse such a proposition from RISCOS Ltd we have to assume that they have good reasons for doing so. It's essentially up to CTL and RISCOS Ltd to sort something out between themselves, if they can, and then present it to us, the Iyonix users. I can see why some folks find all of this frustrating, but I can't see that there is much that we can do about it. It'd be nice if it happens but even saying why it's not may be more than either company's position allows.

 is a RISC OS Usermartin on 5/3/04 5:36PM
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Markee174 is surely right. In fact, anyone who has bought an Iyonix has also made a conscious and recent decision not to buy a moderately powerful PC instead for the same cost. Therefore, they are likely a (current) RISC OS advocate...and they definately don't have Select on their computer so they're a virgin market.

I would also guess that druck is right about the demands made on the kernel (druck *does* understand that sort of stuff). Personally, I don't really want bits that demand kernel changes anyway, and I don't fancy raher tacky round-ended buttons in the WIMP (just my opinion). I feel secure with the Acorn/PACE/Tematic/Castle 32-bit port of RO 3.8 and would rather those guys carried on doing the good stuff that they've got in mind.

 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 5/3/04 6:11PM
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For me it is exactly the other way round. I want Select because aof all the bug fixes and restructured kernel and modules. Most of the rest is just the iceing on the top for me. The point is, that ROL gives me the feeling that some really important work is being done on their version of RISC OS to turn it into a better product. Castle on the other hand gives me the feeling that they are continuing Acorn's old "quick 'n dirty hacking" approach to get RISC OS working with new hardware.

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 5/3/04 6:55PM
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Surely ROL are the people to know what needs changing and what doesn't. They released RO4 in the first place, and they made many changes to it. No doubt they did change the kernal and it's these changes which Select needs - RO5 is very unlikely to have these changes because it was developed from RO3.8.

Ideally deveopment of RO would be managed and mantained by one company; I would of thought this should be ROL. That way Castle can concentrate on developing the Iyonix hardware, and ROL can concentrate on OS development.

As for this smoke screen, aren't you all being a little cynical? The market is far too small for bickering and company rivally, especially when the companies aren't in direct competition (ROL don't make or sell machines, and Castle still sell machines with RO4).

 is a RISC OS UserSmiler on 5/3/04 7:24PM
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Strange that you get these feelings. Castle strikes me as a company that's good at hardware and software engineering and has a no nonsens aproach. They probably did a lot of restructuring without even mentioning it seperately and would most likely never call moving some functions from the kernel to some other place "restructuring".

 is a RISC OS UserJaco on 5/3/04 7:52PM
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Bug fixes is an interesting issue.

Both RO5 and RO4 came from RO3.8, salvaged from the debris of Phoebe (RIP). Both companies (RO Ltd and PACE/Tematic/Castle) continued bug-fixing; RO Ltd still are and there is anecdotal evidence that Castle are too. I don't think there is evidence that Castle are 'hacking' it - after the formation of RO Ltd there was much rivalry from the two teams on the NG but little evidence of things not being done properly.

So the argument is about who has fixed most bugs, not whether one has and one hasn't. The tragedy is that the bugs are getting fixed twice, no doubt in incompatible ways :-(

 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 5/3/04 10:15PM
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Better stay with Risc OS 4 !!! Better get rid of that stupid Iyonix computer. Put the Risc OS Select only on RPC and A7000 ones. Do NOT give Risc OS Select to Iyonix Machines !!!

 is a RISC OS Userdatawave on 7/3/04 8:21PM
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Keep your best technology purely proprietary. Worked for Apple, they almost went bust. Worked for Acorn, they effectively did go bust. Those that don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it ...

 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 7/3/04 10:39PM
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......... get rid of stupid Iyonix computer....... back to the Stone Age Eh!

 is a RISC OS Userjlavallin on 8/3/04 5:37AM
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yup bang those rocks together guys....


 is a RISC OS Userepistaxsis@work on 8/3/04 11:07AM
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BTW... with 26 bit only, 26/32 bit and 32 bit only machines you have to split into two OSes anyway, right?

and also BTW... does anybody know for how long Castle will keep updating Risc-OS 5 for free?

 is a RISC OS UserJaco on 8/3/04 12:04PM
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"BTW... with 26 bit only, 26/32 bit and 32 bit only machines you have to split into two OSes anyway, right?"

No. 26bit only machines run RO3.1x or below, so can safely be ignored

 is a RISC OS Userjmb on 8/3/04 12:26PM
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This is getting tiresome. Last time my select subscription was up for renewal I had a dilemma - I no longer use RO4 - but I wanted select on the Iyonix. The message from riscos ltd was clear - to renew it as without support select on the iyonix wouldn't happen. Well I renewed it on that basis. So far I have received nothing to justify my renewal (I have a copy of select 3 which I use a mug mat and some press releases with whining in them). Unless there is movement on this I will not be renewing this year.

 is a RISC OS Userbenc on 8/3/04 12:33PM
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Interesting discussion. Well, I would indeed appreciate the Select features to be made available as applications/modules for RISC OS 5.

As for all the bug fixes RISCOS Ltd made, I'm sure that quite a few of them are in RISC OS 5 as well, or do not matter there anymore since the affected parts are gone in RISC OS 5. Basically claiming the need for Select due to the bug fixes does suggest that Pace and Castle did a bad job on RISC OS 5! Furthermore as far as I understood a major issue for bug fixing is in the set of Toolbox modules (it was stated as part of the reason for the delay for RISC OS 4.39 ROMs) which are easily soft loadeable.

And until RISCOS Ltd doesn't put forward details about what they claim they need changed in the kernel for which features of Select I agree completely with David Ruck and Steffen Huber that 90+% of the Select features which have user impact (that is useable features) that are not already part of RISC OS 5 (like DHCP or a new set of icons) can be made available for RISC OS 5 with *no* kernel changes. Just consider what apps like ImageFS (image conversion) and Interface Module (modify icon's look) managed with no kernel changes!

Since until now as far as I can tell (it's hard to really tell since RISCOS Ltd runs the Select mailinglist for Select subscribers only and thus offers the IYONIX pc users interested in Select no platform for discussion) RISCOS Ltd doesn't seem to want to offer the Select features to RISC OS 5 via applications/modules but seems to want to offer the IYONIX pc users a *full* RISC OS ROM image, thus re-inventing the wheel (HAL, graphics card driver, SCSI Switcher, USB to name a few).

Yes, I'd be happy to (be able to) buy the odd Select feature but I do *not* - repeat *not* - want a full Select ROM image replacing Castles RISC OS 5. Pity, since it seems that I want something RISCOS Ltd doesn't want to offer or sell.

To benc: I quit Select since RISCOS Ltd expects me to pay (probably the odd year) as my committment but all I get in return is their committment with no dates, no guarantees, no feature list - but just "we plan to ...". Well for that all I gave them is an email with my committment that I'd return to Select when they offer something worth it for the IYONIX pc.

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 11/3/04 9:55PM
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hzn I am entirely in agreement with you, I couldn't have put it better. In my Select subs cancellation letter to ROL I wrote: "After the RiscStation and MD debacles I see no point in deposit or subscription schemes for products that do not as yet exist. If RISC OS Ltd bring to market a worthwhile upgrades in the form of indivdual components (such as the thumbnail filer or improved CDFS) for RISC OS 5 then I would consider buying the products when available. Upgrades to 9 year old machines are not of great interest and neither is a duplicate OS for my Iyonix, I am happy with the work of Castle and Tematic."

 is a RISC OS Userblahsnr on 12/3/04 8:40AM
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Reluctantly, I have to agree with benc and hzn. In fact, RO Ltd announced *ages* ago that all their new developments were 32/26-bit neutral. It does look like a marketing, not technical decision not to offer a (slightly reduced) Select for RO 5.


 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 12/3/04 11:03PM
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