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Castle buys RISC OS from Pace

By Chris Williams. Published: 4th Jul 2003, 11:23:12 | Permalink | Printable

All your OS are belong to us

Castle Technology have this morning etched another mark in the history of RISC OS by buying RISC OS from the previous corporate owner Pace. The purchase went for an undisclosed sum. As part of the deal, Pace get an intellectual property rights licence to the RISC OS technology.

Also, an embedded version of RISC OS will be produced from a joint venture with Castle and Tematic Ltd. for "smart multimedia products". This is presumably another attempt to throw RISC OS in to the set top box and consumer electronics market.

Castle say this acquisition of RISC OS will "ensure that RISC OS products continue into the future". After the Acorn breakup in 1998, RISC OS was bought by Pace and the rights to develop and distribute a desktop version of RISC OS was granted to RISCOS Ltd. in the form of a licence. Now RISC OS is firmly in the grasp of Castle, who of course now own the OS. This means RISC OS is firmly back inside the platform community rather than hanging from a licence with a corporation.

"The purchase of this technology combines perfectly with our expertise in manufacturing and marketing RISC OS computers (illustrated by our recent success with the launch of the IYONIX pc). This deal will allow us to be at the heart of exciting new products", explained Jack Lillingston, Castle's Managing Director. "RISC OS provides a proven, small-footprint solution, for cutting edge products such as handheld media devices; we are all very excited with this new development and relish the future for RISC OS".

Anthony Dixon, Company Secretary of Pace added, "We wish Castle every success for the future". Pace is looking forward to maintaining support for their existing RISC OS based products.

The impact of today's move by Castle and Pace on other RISC OS licencees and sub-licencees is unknown at the moment. The 4th of July is American Independence day, and perhaps now RISC OS independence day.

More details to follow.


Castle press release
Castle website Pace website

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Wew!,.... er,... so I can only see Microdigital as being (if at all) an existing licencee(spelt)... What happens when that expires?

 is a RISC OS Userpiemmm on 4/7/03 11:52AM
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 is a RISC OS Userjonix on 4/7/03 11:52AM
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Cool - read this first on riscos.org though! ;)

-- Andrew Harmsworth, Cambridge. www.gcse.com owner and author

 is a RISC OS Userharmsy on 4/7/03 12:06PM
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Fantastic, Castle certainly know how to surprise people.

 is a RISC OS UserAnimal on 4/7/03 12:31PM
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I'd been hoping that something like this would happen for some time now.

Now, the interesting question is how the relationship between CTL and ROL will develop. Hopefully they will work more closely. Sharing resources where it is in their interests to do so. What would be ideal is ROL developing Select upgrades and selling them independently. Select improvements would also go right back to CTL and be shipped with the new Iyonixes.

..or something like that.

-- Spriteman.

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 4/7/03 12:33PM
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This is amazing news. Having produced the Iyonix pc and now buying RISC OS itself, Castle deserve MUCH respect.

Place your orders now, methinks!

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 4/7/03 12:33PM
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Just Brill!! A Risc os hardware needed to take this on .ROL has a new partner What price a new laptop from Tematic?

 is a RISC OS Userjlavallin on 4/7/03 12:48PM
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 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 4/7/03 12:54PM
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I'd thought in the past that it would be interesting if Castle bought RISCOS Ltd.

This, though, is a whole new ball-game!


 is a RISC OS UserMartyn Fox on 4/7/03 1:03PM
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It's great that after so much bad news from MD, RS, and the overall state of the market that this happened. Probably the best news in the RISC OS market for years. With full control over RISC OS and it's source, they could do an enormous amount for the platform. I think there will be a great deal of news and ructions which will come from this, the future of ROL, MD, RS to name but a few.

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 4/7/03 1:07PM
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Some bridge building is in order How about a large joint stand at Bett 2004 holding Castle ,Microdigital,Riscstation and ROL. Lets shout this platforms positive features.

 is a RISC OS Userjlavallin on 4/7/03 1:16PM
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Surprise is not the word for it !

Yet I am pleased to see that a company with a vested interest in maintaining ROS as a desktop environment now has control of the OS source and licensing.

This puts things on a more secure footing.

Good news overall.

-- Annraoi McShane,

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 4/7/03 1:46PM
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Yes I full aggree that this must help to give the futture of RISC OS some stability. I just hope that Castle do not use their position as owner of the OS to sidline other hardware develpopers. -- Victor Shears, Maidstone

 is a RISC OS Uservshears on 4/7/03 2:44PM
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Castle will do whatever is in their best commercial interest to do. While you as a user may feel you are part of a RISC OS community the buisnesses involved (if they have any sense) would rather like to become dominant and in a position to sell more things and make money ... at the expense of their competitors.

Nice world init :)

 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 4/7/03 2:58PM
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This is absolutely stunning and absolutely fantastic! Next we need a platform identity - bring back the Acorn nut!

Well done Castle, this takes away most of my concerns about buying an Iyonix! -- Gavin Smith

 is a RISC OS UserSparkY on 4/7/03 3:01PM
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"Next we need a platform identity - bring back the Acorn nut!"

Castle are the new Acorn.

How about a Castellated nut?


 is a RISC OS UserMartyn Fox on 4/7/03 3:17PM
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Having Acorn-branded stuff again would be fantastic. RiscStation have not really got anything to offer, but MD may do soon. I would not blame Castle for a second if they did decide to give MicroDigital the finger. All I want to see is active development of good, value for money RISC OS software and hardware, if this is acheived by one company or many, not really that bothered.

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 4/7/03 3:20PM
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"I just hope that Castle do not use their position as owner of the OS to sidline other hardware develpopers."

Let's hope that they don't employ Bill Gates as a marketing consultant, then.


 is a RISC OS UserMartyn Fox on 4/7/03 3:20PM
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"Now, the interesting question is how the relationship between CTL and ROL will develop."

Presumably, when the Select 3 CD appears, the startup banner, instead of saying "Copyright Pace" will have to say "Copyright Castle Technology Ltd."


 is a RISC OS UserMartyn Fox on 4/7/03 3:23PM
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"Having Acorn-branded stuff again would be fantastic."

Does anybody know who currently owns the brand name "Acorn Computers"?

Perhaps Castle could buy that as well.


 is a RISC OS UserMartyn Fox on 4/7/03 3:26PM
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I seem to remember someone laughing and poking fun at me a while ago when I suggested something like this would be a good idea. Now I'm not one to say I....Oh to hell with it - I told you so, nah nah na na nah!!!

I'm now going to sit, looking smug for a while until someone pokes fun at me again.

Best of luck Castle, I (and I'm sure many others) wish you every success :-)

-- Ryan Hitch, Cottingham

PS. Martyn > Castle already the rights to the Acorn brand.

 is a RISC OS Userdrjones69 on 4/7/03 3:32PM
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Absolutley, Castle is kicking arse, taking names, RISC OS may well have turned a corner here.

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 4/7/03 3:37PM
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Martyn: I believe Castle already own/have the rights to the Acorn brand name.

 is a RISC OS User_Jez_ on 4/7/03 4:01PM
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What we really need now is for ROL and CTL to bring RO4 and 5 together. Perhaps RO 6? Then there could be two versions with identical features and capabilited - therefore all software will work with both. The only diferene is one is 32-bit, the other 26-nit for the respective platforms (Ionyx and RiscPC/Omega). The there wont be any jealousy! Smiler - :D Alex Melhuish

 is a RISC OS UserSmiler on 4/7/03 4:03PM
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"I believe Castle already own/have the rights to the Acorn brand name."

Do they actually own it, or do they just have the right to use it on their Risc PCs and A7000s?

They haven't used it on the Iyonix.


 is a RISC OS UserMartyn Fox on 4/7/03 4:22PM
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Doesn't (or at least didn't) Pace own everything Acorn, including the nut and the trademark? Maybe that came with the deal.

Great news for RISC OS BTW, I think Castle have been the only ones of the top players with a real sight of the future. Now all that's left is Castle buying up Riscos Ltd. and integrating Select into RO 5. If Castle does own the Acorn brand, maybe it's time for to rename the OS, Acorn OS for example.

-- Gunnlaugur Jonsson, Copenhagen, Denmark

 is a RISC OS UserGulli on 4/7/03 4:31PM
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I don't really know much about castle and the ownership of the Acorn brand, but when I emailed them last year they denied that they owned the "Acorn Nut Device" logo. They pointed me towards HH

 is a RISC OS UserAndrewDuffell on 4/7/03 4:38PM
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Gary Numan on Top of the Pops tonight, Castle buy RISC OS, now if I could just get a girlfriend, life would be perfect :) -- Jess

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 4/7/03 4:45PM
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 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 4/7/03 4:59PM
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So that's it. We're buggered. RISC OS is in the questionable hands of Castle-"We like crufty old versions and ugly icons"-Technology now, rather screwing-over ROL with a large pole.

I for one think this is pretty terrible news and I'm greatly saddened. John Ballance has always said he doesn't see the point of Select (Must be bloody stupid) and now he presumably has inherited the rights from Pace to shut it down (although the fee from ROL would possibly come in handy still)

It also presumably marks the death of Omega. TTBOMK MD had no licence from Pace/ROL for RO4 for Omega, and do you think CTL will sell their OS to their competitors? Ha! Wonder what (if anything) MD have to say on this.

Time to find another OS, lads - this one's gone all rotten and smelly now.

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 4/7/03 5:28PM
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Ah, Ian is still around to spread his usual FUD. Nice to see - not.

In the meantime, I am happily using the RISC OS version of Iyonix and generally find it to be a lot better than Select on my Risc PC (and surely plain old RO4). The icon set is a lot nicer, too.

RISC OS 5 is the way forward, not adding senseless optical gimmicks like Select did while buggering up essential features at the same time (see Select 2 ShareFS bug festival). The only essential Select feature, DHCP, is included in RISC OS 5 anyway. Together with the large WimpSlot feature, large Filecore, Unicode font manager and proper ATAPI abstraction as well as well-working USB support for a lot of devices, there is a lot more useful stuff in RISC OS 5 than in any version of Select.


 is a RISC OS Userhubersn on 04/07/03 5:39PM
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Now for goodness sake let's not start fighting - ignore the moaners, don't feed them. This is great news, do not contribute to any negativity.

 is a RISC OS UserSparkY on 04/07/03 5:49PM
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imj> what is it you have against CTL? You seem to spend a lot of time being critical of them and give no reasons why. You are, of course, entitled to your opinions but they may get taken somewhat more seriously if you back them up with reasoned argument as opposed to statements aimed at causing an argument. TBH, from where I'm sitting, it looks like you're trolling

 is a RISC OS Userjmb on 04/07/03 5:50PM
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Steffen: So it's not ok for Ian to express whatever feelings he has on the matter but it's ok for you to gleefully deride Select. Select, ime, has allowed us RiscPC users to treat our computers to updates through out the year.

I could easily take ROS 5 apart one feature at a time and complain about each part but then I wouldn't be appreciating the OS as a whole.

At the end of the day, it's still RISC OS.


 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 04/07/03 5:52PM
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Well said Chris - now enough fighting, to arms gentlemen! The operating system war is back on! ;)

 is a RISC OS UserSparkY on 04/07/03 5:54PM
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Well yes, let's look for the positives in this.. You've got a previously decentralised market now developing a singular central body - Castle have the OS, hardware and other things like a browser. The initial article abstract was going to be "Owning all the aces" ;)

Next, the OS is back in the fold. With Pace, it wasn't known if they were using it or dropping it - now someone with active interest in it has it.

I was going to phone Castle with a whole bunch of questions but Jack.L wasn't in, so I hope to do an FAQ or something after the weekend.


 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 04/07/03 5:57PM
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IMJ - what Rot

All JWB said about Select was he couldn't see the point shipping it with the machine initially, as it wouldn't sell any more than the Iyonix on its own. He fully supports the Select development model of an after purchase subscription scheme.

As for other hardware manufacturers - what other hardware manufactures? There is only one company getting WORKING machines to customers, and I dont see that changing anytime soon regardless of this news.

Anyhow, the crown jewels are back in safe hands, and that gets the thumbs up from me.


 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 04/07/03 6:10PM
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Well, that's another thing to boggle, then.

 is a RISC OS Usertakkaria on 04/07/03 6:24PM
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I have to agree with Chris on this one as well. I was having trouble believing how negative both imj and Steffen's posts were.

As far as I'm concerned Select and RISC OS 5 both have important features, and the sooner we can get back to an unfragmented OS the better.

 is a RISC OS Userilludium on 04/07/03 6:27PM
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I am surprised at Imj's call to (basically) abandon RISC OS just because Castle has the license for it.... this sounds more like a vendetta rather than something based on technical considerations.

The reality is that Select does appear to have some neat features, but then so does RO5, not least of which being it can run on much faster hardware. Features wise it is no worse than RO4.02 (which I am fully happy with by the way), and in some places it adds a few nice bells and whistles.

And to those people who thought the Iyonix was *too expensive* perhaps part of the price was to pay for the RISC OS license - now that that is fully back in the hands of people committed to this market things may well start looking up.



 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 04/07/03 7:14PM
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Ugly icons, that's your case? Go buy a Mac.

ROL and Castle seem to be getting on OK, witness Castle's new !Printers on ROL's site.

Why would MD need permission from Pace/Castle to sell ROS4?, that's up to ROL.

Since not enough people bought ROS4 for ROL to be able to fund a 32bit update from the sales they've always been slightly doomed, especially since they couldn't get the hardware partners to pay for updates in advance.

It's easier to hide the cost of the OS if it's bundled with your hardware.

Good news: 1 We know ROS won't die due to Pace not wanting it. 2 Castle can continue to update ROS, and have more incentive to now, as the cost has been paid up front.

Bad news: IF Castle don't play nicely with the other children. But they could either a) let them continue to work with ROL, or b) hire them, make one big(ger) company. Some of the problems with MD and RS were due to their size.

Question: Would you buy a 32bit ROS with the features from Select for your RPC considering the 26bit software/emulation issue?

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 4/7/03 7:37PM
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SparkY wrote: "Well said Chris - now enough fighting, to arms gentlemen! The operating system war is back on!"

That would be RISC OS 4 vs. RISC OS 5, then?

 is a RISC OS Useranon/ on 04/07/03 8:21PM
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Nope, the big one - Windows Versus RISC OS

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 04/07/03 8:24PM
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With AMS' sentiment, it suddenly feels like 1994 again.

Bring it on!


 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 04/07/03 8:26PM
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I really urge people to ignore the naysayers as best as you can - this is all fantastic news, the Acorn/RISC OS scene hasn't been in such a safe shape since Acorn died - perhaps even before that :)

We do have a chance now to slowly build our little community, let's do it, let's be positive.

The future's bright, the future's er green.

 is a RISC OS UserSparkY on 04/07/03 8:46PM
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Yes, surely (and I don't think I'm being naive here) we're back in a position similar to that before Acorn went belly-up. imj's problem with the OS and the hardware being owned and made by the same company isn't really valid. The only time it's a problem is if the company is incompetent.

Technological or financial incompetence would be disastrous. However, Castle have proved that financially they're sound. They've managed to keep producing hardware and through licencing agreements brought us a new browser. Technologically they're also sound, despite the embarrasing near infringement of the open source licence.

Actually, I thought they handled that very well. There was a genuine accusation, they took it seriously, resolved the issue, made some concessions and came out of it in good shape.

As long as the relevant companies can work together for mutual benefit we all stand to see improvements. There have been a lot of positive developments recently, both commercial and open source. I think the freedom for the OS to be developed in tandem with the latest hardware without expensive and time-consuming licencing deals getting in the way will ensure that this pace (no pun intended) picks up.

I'm hopeful. I just hope I'll have the cash to invest in a brand new RISC OS (Acorn?) system sometime soon!

 is a RISC OS Userquatermain on 04/07/03 10:46PM
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I think many people are keen to see the features of Select integrated into RISC OS 5. As has already been stressed many times before, we can only hope that the companies involved talk to each other and all share the common goal of promoting and enhancing the reason we're all here; RISC OS.

 is a RISC OS Userjonix on 05/07/03 00:15AM
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:):):) *boing* :):):)

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 05/07/03 01:02AM
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My post wasn't intended to be negative towards the news - in fact, I consider the new situation with the OS freed from a company that lost interest in it (Pace) to be very good news, and seeing it in the hands of the only serious player in the market is *very* good news. Well done, Castle.

However, Ian has repeatedly posted things like "questionable hands", "outdated version of the OS", "sell their own dubious crappy cut of the OS", "it offers nothing over Select", "back to RISC OS 3.7 status just for a bit of extra speed", "stupid 32bit issues" etc. about Castle, RISC OS 5 and the Iyonix. He never even bothered to qualify his (clearly dubious) statements - things like *that* are negative.

 is a RISC OS Userhubersn on 05/07/03 01:27AM
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I have to say I agree with Steffen. I've asked Ian myself to explain his comments, and not in a negative way - I'm genuinely interested in his reasons. But he's never answered my questions so far, and I don't understand any of the reasons he's put forward in this thread.

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 05/07/03 01:37AM
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Great news! :) Perhaps Castle will buy out ROL now?

 is a RISC OS Usertimephoenix on 05/07/03 03:17AM
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Ian's position is unfortunate, and I do sympathise. Given that the situation with Castle has led to more unfortunate personal circumstances between myself and Ian doesn't really help at all.

Perhaps I can explain. And I hope Ian doesn't take this the wrong way. Ian was one of the very first people to get an Iyonix as a developer - he, like everyone else was very excited about the new machine.

Part of the problem was that when we saw the new machines, they looked very much like RO3.7. It was a bit dissapointing (to me anyway), but it was something that quickly changed. There we also some early incidents with software that didn't quite work (LanManFS is still pretty poor), which didn't help the situation. All this perhaps served to colour expectations.

Of course, around the same time, Select was very much a topic of interest. And no one's done more outside of ROL to technically improve Select than Ian has. That combined with Castle's reluctance to make a firm stance on Select wrt RO5 hasn't helped.

Castle's recent rise in prominence as a RISC OS company has revealed, not least, their need to follow pragmatic business practices - this has been a bit of a shock to some RISC OS loyalists (please forgive the political connotations of this word) - who are used to seeing Acorn perhaps do what they wanted. (I'm not suggesting Ian falls into this group). In any case, as has been pointed out, John Ballance's commentary on Iyonix and Select sales was a misquote. The question is what will create sensible amounts of money for Iyonix - Select will certainly create some, but compare it to, for example, USB support.

Now throw into the mix the GPL HAL issue, and the claims about Castle's RISC OS licence (now largely moot), and the result isn't too surprising. The difference in Ian's case is that he actually possesses most of the facts regarding these issues, in stark contrast to most Castle naysayers.

And whilst we claim that RISC OS 5 is really a 32-bit RISC OS 4 (with USB, PCI, etc), this bears some justification. The RISC OS 4 in quesition is Pace's, not ROL's - yes, there was some "cross pollination", but ROL did some very substantial work on RO4 to remove bugs and improve the OS in general. It's a bit frustrating for them not seeing all these go into Castle's OS (even though perhaps most of them don't day to day functionality). Nor is the very substantial extension of this work seen in Select to be underrated - under the hood, (apart from RISC OS 5's HAL), Select is a far better organised OS, which is probably much easier to work with and improve.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 05/07/03 09:31AM
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"... it suddenly feels like 1994 again ..."

You mean because Apple have just launched a new generation of computer?

(Only kidding!)


 is a RISC OS UserMartyn Fox on 05/07/03 10:53AM
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I think perhaps it's more to do with Chris at that point (and there's a damning photo) looking like a certain popular novel character that's popular today.

I blame snig.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 05/07/03 10:56AM
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Thanks for that Peter - I can certainly understand Ian's position a lot more now. Certainly, he's done rather more for RISC OS than me, so I'll shut my face ;)

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 05/07/03 2:26PM
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It's a shame there wasn't far more cross-pollination betweem ROL and Pace's version of RISC OS; no doubt there are reasons for this that I'm not privy to, though.

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 05/07/03 2:29PM
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TIB are carrying an initial reaction/holding statement from Paul Middleton (ROL Managing Director), seems quite positive to me.



 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 05/07/03 3:16PM
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I wonder if some company (PACE ?) ever thought about this : Most home are now equipped with 1 PC running Windows (or Linux ?), but there could be room for thin clients in the other rooms, sharing storage and net access through wifi, using a web browser running on the PC and displayed with an Xwindow server (or Windows equivalent, RDP ?). An Arm7500 system could do that for less than 100 ? (plugged on a TV set, or LCD screen) RISCOS would be a very good choice for such a system : no need for a HD, fan an so on. Plus the applications available. I think that the problem is more a marketing one : all of it already exist (except the wifi adapter ?), but it would need a huge advertising scheme, that I've never seen in my life of Sinclair-Psion-Acorn user.

 is a RISC OS Usera310 on 05/07/03 3:37PM
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Oliver, I am a bit of a thin-client fanboy, so I totally agree that this is a good idea, but I think we would have difficulty convincing a manufacturer to use RISC OS as an embedded OS rather than the current favourites QNX and Linux. Using the web browser on the PC would give us a very good browser, but would still have the users using MS stuff, so in I kind of think it would be a hollow victory.

On the upside, we already have this sort of thing in the shape of the Netstation, which I always felt was criminally under-exploited and under-developed. I'd love to see Castle work on a new NC.

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 05/07/03 3:46PM
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Nice idea a310.

However I think that this has an issue:

People don't want to use their TVs etc for the internet.

Most people have a spawn_of_gates box that is there "for the internet"

This is the situation in Britain at least - elswhere, with better telco infrastructure / internet take up, may be different...

 is a RISC OS Userepistaxsis_RISC OS on 06/07/03 6:25PM
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I'd like to know how RISCOS compares to QNX on an arm7500 system. Does it run smoothly ? How much does it cost ? I think Linux+Xwindow are too heavy for it (they cost less :) ) About using MS stuff, well... If you already bought it, let's use it (you may run mozilla though). I just try to be realistic, I'd rather use Linux, but the question is about selling a product to existing users, most of them using Windows. This system would not just be a browser, but the kid's computer, that he would use for typing, running RISCOS apps. The TV I mentionned was not the big one in the living room, but the small one in the bedroom.

 is a RISC OS Usera310 on 07/07/03 00:04AM
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Or the 17" flatscreen hires one with digital inputs?

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 07/07/03 01:27AM
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a310: Gets my vote, RISC OS would be great for this sort of thing.

Never used QNX on ARM, only on Intel, it flied on the Celeron I used it on. QNX is made for this sort of thing, would probably run pretty nice, maybe not with Mozilla though, but it comes with a web browser, which is very fast indeed. I don't know how much QNX is in volume, but it's free if you just want to run it on your PC. On that note, being as the Iyonix is based on an Intel ref. board, might not be too tricky to run QNX on it, I know this would be more likely to get me buying one that Linux or other UNIX (Got more UNIX boxes than I know what to do with!).

I think most Linux embedded systems use something like Qtopia rather than X.

RISC OS would be really nice for this sort of thing, maybe Tematic will do something like that.

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 07/07/03 01:45AM
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Surely Castle does own the nut logo?

 is a RISC OS UserA.W. on 08/07/03 10:38AM
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    "If the main journalist on a RISC OS news site isn't interested [in RISC OS news] then things are pretty black"
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