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Guilt trip? None from here.

I haven't got the time to dig up chapter & verse but they were a number of news stories, here and elsewhere, about RO5 and the terms under which Castle got it from Pace, around the time the Iyonix came out.

In summary:

ROL has been working on RO4 since Acorn died and has failed to develop a version which doesn't require Acorn's chipset. (The so-called "RON project": RISC OS on Netbook, Psion's subnotebook machine. The latest version of which now runs WinCE.) It's also failed to produce a 32-bit version for ARMs without 26-bit mode. These 2 things together were what was required for a version of RO which would run on machines that were not enhanced Acorn clones.

All ROL has done is tweak and enhance RO, adding new capabilities for existing machines but not facilitating new hardware.

Pace, apparently, had done both, and it appears this is what Castle licensed and turned back into a desktop OS.

Why didn't ROL, the company created to carry forward RO development, do this?

Now, Castle has RO5, which is both IOC/VIDC independent and 32-bit clean.

ISTR some mention of the licensing issue when RO5 was first announced, and IIRC, the head of Castle - Jack Livingstone? - was not keen on the idea of licensing it out or selling it other than with complete Iyonix systems. I think the comments were along the lines of making back their considerable investment in developing RO5 by the margin on Iyonix systems and it not being viable to sell it standalone or with bare Iyonix motherboards.

I may, of course, have this all wrong.

But if I do, how come no other manufacturer is producing RO5 machines? Presumably this would be of keen interest to RISCstation, even if MicroDigital are now plowing their own 26-but furrow with the Omega.

For example, Simtec have a StrongARM based PCI-equipped ATX board for 199:


With RO5 and appropriate drivers, that would make a killer cheap RO5 machine.

Perhaps Castle faces the same quandary Apple does with OS X. It's perfectly possible to run OS X on unsupported hardware - I run it on a heavily-upgraded PowerMac 7300/166 myself. It runs under Mac-on-Linux on almost any PowerPC machine: AmigaOne, Pegasos, even IBM RS/6000 AIX boxes, I believe.

But Apple killed the clones because it wasn't making enough margin on the software alone.

However, if there was a standard version of OS X for non-Apple PPC hardware, even at $500, some people would buy it. Whatever the price. Just as they pay $500 extra - or way more than that - for a Mac over an Intel machine with an inferior OS.

By the same token, the Iyonix is bloody expensive for what it is: a 600MHz machine in 2004. But some people would, I'm sure, pay several hundred quid for a copy of RO5 which they could run on generic StrongARM hardware, and that way, Castle might well make back its money faster than on sales of Iyonix alone, and the whole Acorn market would benefit.

Or if Castle doesn't want to do it, it makes some kind of deal with ROL so that ROL can sell it for a figure that makes them both the same money.

 is a RISC OS Userlproven on 4/2/04 7:48PM
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