MrChocky - agreed that this is strictly true; the definition between what constitutes 'embedded RISC OS' and what constitutes 'desktop RISC OS' is blurry; I'd maintain the issue is more one of hardware compatibility than missing components. I think we would have to wait until a review or larger description of the A9 came out before we could comment on how much of 'desktop RISC OS' is present in the A9 series.
bucksboy: Where is your hat . The issue of processor support is one, but probably not the biggest issue by any means. I would suspect running on an XScale is the least of the problems.
A HAL is exactly what you describe: a 'Hardware Abstraction Layer'. It allows you to carefully define with as little code as possible, differences in machine architecture. All OSes have hardware dependency - 'ROD's apparent strategy will simply replace hardware dependency with software ditto' therefore makes no sense. Linux, to quote the 'daddy' of interoperability has fantastic hardware support, but still requires work to function on a new system. It is, to all intents and purposes, hardware dependent.
What a 'HAL' /isn't/ is a magic wand allowing RISC OS to work on any ARM machine thrown at it. RISC OS 5 stands as much chance of working on my phone as 4.37 does in that respect. The lack of suitable hardware support is the reason why unmodified 5.0X won't work on a RISC PC.
I'm not in a position to comment on whether or how complete Select 32's hardware independence is, BUT a HAL doesn't mean it's easy to port to any machine you like; it just means you provide entry points for a potential hardware manufacturer to insert their code. You still need to write code for every processor or controller chip in the system, and that takes time and money.
Normally the person doing that coding is the machine supplier; Castle are in the position that they don't need to do this as they're shipping 5.08. Therefore, ROL needs to pay for that development.
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