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The Icon Bar: News and features: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Leave RISC OS
 

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Leave RISC OS

Posted by John Hoare on 18:33, 30/11/2006 | ,
 
Last month, I thought I left RISC OS. After 19 years of using Acorn or Acorn-derived computers, my love affair is no longer. I sit here writing this on my Mac Mini, and very happy I am with it too. My Iyonix lies abandoned - still sitting under the desk here, but not connected. And not actually used for some time. And it's weird - because, in some strange way, I thought I would be using RISC OS forever. In January 2005, I said: "There's people who annoy me on the RISC OS scene, and I still wouldn't think of leaving. The nice people more than cancel it out, and besides - I just couldn't really do without using RISC OS."
 
So what changed?

I first used an Acorn machine in 1987 (I was six!), when my Dad brought home a brand spanking new BBC Master 128. Cassette-only when we first got it, I spent many happy hours failing to win Seventh Star, learning BBC BASIC, and getting yelled at because the loading music of Ghouls was loud and annoying. Like many of today's RISC OS and ex-RISC OS users, playing around with Acorn's 8-bit machines were what got me interested in computing.
 
My next computer was in 1995, when I bought a Risc PC 700. I'd been aching for a 32-bit machine since I first read about the Archimedes in Acorn User. Believe it or not, I managed to pay for that machine using my paper round - after school and weekends every day, for two years, for £12 a week. We weren't a rich family - literally paying for it myself was the only way. I fell in love with that machine more than any other computer I've owned, and speak to most RISC OS users, and it's the same - their eyes glint when you mention the Risc PC. Such a beautiful machine.
 
Why have I given you this reasonably boring potted history? Well, quite apart from me being a self-obsessed arse - to try and paint the kind of person who I was; probably best described as an "interested user". I certainly wasn't a programmer (bar some dodgy RISC OS multitasking stuff that is long-lost on an old hard drive - oooh, a CD player, that's original), but I enjoyed mucking about with various things on the side. And I loved the machines partly for what they were - as well as for what I could do with them.
 
My homeless IyonixFinally, I finally got an Iyonix in the autumn of 2004. A machine I spent a considerable amount of money on. And yet, last month I finally lost my patience with RISC OS. Why?
 
At the South-East show in Guildford in 2004, Paul Middleton and Jack Lillingston stood in front of the crowd. They said that ROL and Castle had sorted out their differences, and that RISC OS 4 and RISC OS 5 were going to be merged. That ROL were going to concentrate on developing the desktop aspects of RISC OS, and Castle were going to concentrate on the hardware, and RISC OS for the STB market. Everyone was friends again.
 
This has not panned out.
 
Now, I don't know what happened. I have no idea. All I know is that the deal was gone back on. And here's the rub - we've heard nothing official about it at all. Rumours have flown around, but there's been no official statement from either company about what happened. Nothing. Now, as a user, I find it that simply insulting. In fact, I feel I was lied to.
 
Meanwhile, the forked OS goes on. We still have two competing USB stacks; we still have two HALs, and still we have two completely different 32-bit versions of RISC OS. All that dual effort, wasted. Who knows where we could be now, if all that effort had been put into different things? We'd still be in trouble, no doubt about it, but perhaps not quite so much. I simply don't buy the fact that competition in these circumstances is good. Competition is good when a market is at a certain level. The RISC OS market just isn't at the size where this kind of competition is helpful. If everyone had been working towards one goal, then I think we'd all be a lot better off. As it is, we've had over the past few years a huge duplication of effort. And the result is two versions of the operating system, that are going further and further apart. I can't see how this is helpful to anybody - it's completely pointless.
 
And the thing that really pushed me over the edge? This piece, in the RISC OS 6 FAQ:
Is there going to be a RISC OS 6 version for the Iyonix?
 
We have always been committed to providing RISC OS 4 (and now RISC OS 6) on all desktop RISC OS capable machines... The facts are however that our resources are limited, and priority has been given to working with partners who actively want RISC OS Select features on their products.
The thing is, I don't care whose fault all this is. It could be Castle's. It could be ROL's. It could be both. But we have a situation here where the two main companies promoting RISC OS can't work together, when this is desperately what is needed. I find it beyond pathetic. When what's needed is solutions to get RISC OS out of the mess that it's in, all we get is companies leap-frogging version numbers. Playground politics at its finest. It makes me not care whether RISC OS lives or dies - because I don't think the platform deserves to survive if the people in charge can't work together. You can afford that kind of indulgence when a platform is in great shape - or even when it's ticking over - but when you're in dire situation, you need everyone cooperating. There's just no evidence of this at all. And no, "OK, I won't sue you" does not constitute cooperation.
 
These were my thoughts, as I went through my temper tantrum. I do realise that a lot of people don't feel the forked nature of the OS is a problem. People who know a lot more technically than me think it's fine. What can I say - I disagree with you, for the reasons I give above. And I would point out to people who don't think that it's damaging RISC OS that Paul Middleton and Jack Lillingston think it's a problem - otherwise they wouldn't have attempted what they did in 2004 at Guildford. And yet, whilst I think it's a major problem, it's not actually why I left - at least, not directly.
 
Because the truth was - I'd already left. Two years ago. I just hadn't quite realised it. The situation I describe above made me angry enough to sever the emotional connection, but in practical terms, I was long gone anyway.
 
As I said, I bought my Iyonix at the end of 2004, intending to use it as my main machine. Not because I thought it was the most appropriate machine for me to buy, but simply because I wanted to support RISC OS. This was a big mistake - because it's been virtually unused. Oh, I've fired it up a bit to do the odd bit of graphics work, but to all intents and purposes, it was a waste of money. And the reason is simple - computing using RISC OS just got too difficult for me, for what I need to do. Browsing? Slow and frustrating. Getting screengrabs from DVDs? Impossible. Encoding MP3s? You're having a laugh. And much as I dislike Flash sites or Realplayer, would never use them for my own site, and appreciate the licensing and programming issues involved - it doesn't alter the fact that I have to be able to view them in my day-to-day life. My job is writing and developing websites - and whilst graphics are lovely to do on RISC OS, developing the kind of sites I have to do becomes a nightmare. The list goes on and on.
 
Of course, I do other things - write the odd letter, listen to MP3s, play Angband - all of which could be done on my Iyonix. But what's the point in swapping computers to do these tasks, when my Mac Mini can do them equally as well? Much as I love RISC OS, there has to be a reason for me to use it. I'm a sentimental bastard at the best of times, but I have my limits.
 
(Incidentally, I certainly don't mean to pour scorn on Peter Naulls' Firefox port, or the Netsurf guys. Both are impressive pieces of work, and both are good solutions for some RISC OS users. But not me, I'm afraid, considering the amount of web browsing I do, and the sites I visit, and the development work I need to do.)
 
I'm sitting here writing this on my Mac Mini. OS X is fine, but the GUI just isn't as nice as RISC OS. But it can do everything I need it to do, and pretty quickly and easily. And there's just a sense of fun around OS X that I haven't felt for RISC OS in a long time - in both development, and the general community feeling. And using it has become pretty much second nature to me, in a way that Windows never did.
 
I love RISC OS. I don't think I'll ever fall in love with a computing platform in quite the same way again. But love counts for nothing if you realise that, through no conscious choice, you've hardly used a computer you spent over a thousand pounds on. The only thing I still do on my Iyonix is vector graphics work - and that's only because I don't have the software on my Mac Mini. I may as well just sell my Iyonix and use the money to buy a decent package for OS X. It's almost certainly going on eBay in the next few weeks.
 
There was a time when I felt proud of my RISC OS machine. I'd show it off at the first opportunity. And there was a time when RISC OS and Acorn's machines were superior to anything else on the market - at least, for what I used them for. Now... I'm afraid my Iyonix just makes me feel vaguely embarrassed. How quickly a computer shuts down starts meaning less when you can't use it for your basic, day-to-day tasks.
 
How relevant the forked OS issue actually is to the apps situation is up for debate. I think there's a link; I'm sure others will disagree. But in the end, however that debate goes, the inarguable truth is - I've left RISC OS because it no longer does what I need it to do. And the same is true for many, many others.
 
I don't write this article because I want to cause a flamewar. (I'm sure I will be accused of this, but honestly - I'm not.) I don't write this article so everyone goes "Yeah, he's right. I'm leaving RISC OS immediately." Hell, I don't write this article because I have some vision that it will change things in any way. It clearly won't. I suppose part of the reason I've written it is as a kind of therapy. RISC OS has been part of my life for so long; to let it go is a wrench.
 
But... I don't know. I just thought, if I've left RISC OS, maybe I should say why. Just slipping away just means the userbase has one less user. In an odd way, I almost feel like I owe it to people to explain. To tell you why I left. Even though I'm of no importance whatsoever - I'm still one less user of RISC OS, and that's a bad thing for everyone left in the RISC OS market, because it's one less person spending money. I'm well aware that some people will simply see me as a whinging bastard who hasn't done much for RISC OS anyway; that's certainly their perogative. I wish I'd contributed more. But a platform can't survive on developers alone - you need the users too.
 
Of course, I'll still keep an eye on RISC OS land. I'm now a writer for The Icon Bar again, so it'd be a bit difficult for me to avoid it. But it'll be a bit like an old girlfriend, who you hang around on street corners watching, and stalk occasionally, before getting arrested, charged, and given a restraining order. You all know what I mean, yeah?
 
So, that's my story. Rather predictable, perhaps - but the truth, with no spin attached, and no interests to protect. If you're an ex-RISC OS user, what is it that made you stop using the platform? And if you're still a RISC OS user - what is it that makes you stay?
 
  How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Leave RISC OS
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fwibbler Message #94860, posted by fwibbler at 19:37, 30/11/2006
fwibbler

Posts: 318
Ex-RISC OS user, now happily using WindowsXP.
My reasons and thoughts are so similar to yours I'll just say:
'What he said!'
Cheers!
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Rob Kendrick Message #94861, posted by nunfetishist at 20:50, 30/11/2006, in reply to message #94860
nunfetishist
Exposing morons since 1981

Posts: 444
(Not in reply to fwibbler's comment - there's no way to start a new thread. Bah.)

Ex-RISC OS user, now happily using Linux. I play with RISC OS. It's fun. But only in the same way as Lego. It's very toy, and that's why it's fun. Alas, the ROL vs CTL cockup just stinks of boys arguing over this toy. It ended in tears long ago - now it's just resentment.
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Chris Message #94864, posted by Chris at 21:41, 30/11/2006, in reply to message #94860
Member
Posts: 279
*Excellent* article. Very much agree with all the sentiments expressed in it.

I'm not quite as far down the road as that yet: I still use RISC OS every day, and generally find it quite useable. But my needs are pretty limited, and there will come a day when I'll make the jump unless things pick up, if that's still possible. I reckon (despite being a Select user) that the open source initiative might be the last throw of the dice. As for ROL, I'm close to giving up: PM seems to resemble Andy Robinson more and more... :(
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hEgelia Message #94900, posted by illuminatius at 00:41, 1/12/2006, in reply to message #94860
Member
Posts: 44
I've got pretty much the same story to tell as John. Started with a BBC somewhere in the mid-eighties, continued with RISC OS 2, then 3, then 4. Always been a proud RO user and indeed gladly showed it off when the opportunity presented itself. To generally astonished reactions I might add, but those were your average Windows-using folk back in the good-ol' days... And certainly many things have changed since then. I think it's actually been around the same time as John that I became 'disillusioned' with RO.

It'd be easy to start ranting until these lovely white Apple keys are black, but it would probably add nothing to what most hardened RO users already know. OK, just one - RISCOS Ltd are a bunch of @#$%&*§ gits. There. So anyway, since about a week or 2, I'm a very happy Mac mini user... just like John, but I got it with 1GB ;-) I guess a lot, or most, RO users already have a PC or Mac to compensate for the lack of capable RO tools. After only, ever, using RO machines at home, the transition to OS X was quite amazing - I suppose it really showed me how far RO and its software has fallen behind. However, I must say that overall I still prefer the GUI of RO. But what good is a brilliant GUI, without modern applications to put it to productive use? Anyway, here on OS X there's a great deal of drag&drop as I'm accustomed to, font rendering is at least as good as on RO, general responsiveness is from just as good to way better and it boots up in about 10 seconds. Most stuff just works and works beautifully, which is quite something coming from RO.

So in the end, there are enough reasons why even hardened RO users are leaving. Not just because of the lack of cooperation between the OS developers, but also because of continuously dropping standards, very little application development and general progress at an astronomical pace. These are some of my reasons, but I'm sure others can come up with equally off-putting ones.

Just logged in again (after about 20 years) to say that :-) So, time for someone to write a "How I learned to stop worrying and (still) keep using RISC OS" article?
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Jeffrey Lee Message #94901, posted by Phlamethrower at 00:44, 1/12/2006, in reply to message #94900
PhlamethrowerHot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot Hot stuff

Posts: 15023
Just logged in again (after about 20 years) to say that :-) So, time for someone to write a "How I learned to stop worrying and (still) keep using RISC OS" article?
That may be on the cards, yes...
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Peter Naulls Message #94905, posted by pnaulls at 03:13, 1/12/2006, in reply to message #94901
Member
Posts: 317
I still use RISC OS for my main machine and as you know, continue to support it, but ultimately, lying arseholes like John Cartmell, and the sheer apathy of many users about the state of the platform has probably ruined it forever for me.

The worst part of it, is that for at least the past 2 years, we've been sitting on the technology to bring precisely all those apps to RISC OS that would indeed make a difference, but the extensive wheel-reinvention, and insistence by various people argue incessantly with developers over topics the developers have many years of experience with, have all but killed any motivation for that to come true.

For example, had there been any kind of coordination, RISC OS could have had a complete Firefox port at least 18 months ago. The technology was certainly there to do it.

It's a sad story, but everyone has to take a role in the blame, even though some parties are much more guilty than others.
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Marco Frissen Message #94913, posted by mfrissen at 09:07, 1/12/2006, in reply to message #94860
mfrissen

Posts: 173
Ex-RISC OS user as well, although I left around 2002 already :) and my reasonings were a little different (although "RISC OS doesn't cut it" summarizes well)

Happy Mac OS X user, still reading RISC OS related news, but I'm not tempted at all by any offerings in the ROS environment. Be it h/w or s/w wise.
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Chris Message #94918, posted by Chris at 09:39, 1/12/2006, in reply to message #94901
Member
Posts: 279
Just logged in again (after about 20 years) to say that :-) So, time for someone to write a "How I learned to stop worrying and (still) keep using RISC OS" article?
That may be on the cards, yes...
Well, in advance of that, and to stop me slitting my wrists reading the the above ;), here are the main causes of optimism for me, in rough order of likelihood/timescale:

1. Firefox and NetSurf continue to be developed, solving the browser problem between them (thanks Peter and NetSurf team).
2. ArtWorks, EasiWriter and Messenger all continued to get updated, keeping their position as credible alternatives to Windows/Mac.
3. RISC OS Open is released, leading to a flurry of renewed development on the OS.
4. Castle release a faster Iyonix in early 2007, prompting new purchases and cheap Iyonixes on eBay.
5. I work out how to use the Colour Picker, and the Islands level editor is released! :)


[Edited by Chris at 09:40, 1/12/2006]
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Peter Howkins Message #94921, posted by flibble at 11:00, 1/12/2006, in reply to message #94905
flibble

Posts: 833
It's a sad story, but everyone has to take a role in the blame, even though some parties are much more guilty than others.
No user of RISC OS is in any way responsible for its current predicament.

Just because they won't fund your schemes doesn't mean you get to guilt-trip them.
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Olly Hodgson Message #94928, posted by gnarly at 12:30, 1/12/2006, in reply to message #94860
Member
Posts: 1
Although you've written about RiscOS, your article sums up the problems that AmigaOS faces too - and why I no longer use the platform.

It's a lovely system, even now, but it just doesn't have the kind of application support that someone in my line of work (front end web-development) needs. The web browsers are still stuck in the late 90s - CSS? Never heard of it.

Not only that, but it's splintered into three camps (AmigaOS4, MorphOS, AROS), there's pointless flamewars between them, the official version of the OS has no hardware to run on and Amiga Inc is arguing with the developers (Hyperion) over who owns the OS these days.

I still watch the forums and news sites, but the whole thing is really quite depressing these days.

I have a Macbook these days. It's a nice little thing.
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Jason Togneri Message #94932, posted by filecore at 13:17, 1/12/2006, in reply to message #94928

Posts: 3864
I agree. I don't like to admit it, and it's hard to admit, and I'll never ever get rid of my two RISC PCs for nostalgia's sake, but I've also left the scene. Not much of interest happens anymore and I'm not interested in the petty squabbles and infighting.

I'll keep them to play old games on and because I'm too lazy to convert my hundreds of Impression documents, and maybe they'll find some sort of role as FTP or web servers. But I spend more time, money, and effort on learning about, upgrading, and maintaining my Windows or Linux-based machines.

I hate to say it, and it breaks my heart, but I don't think I can call myself a RISC OS user anymore, in any meaningful sense. I'm merely a hobbyist, an enthusiast who tinkers a few times a year in his spare time.

It was an important part of my childhood and something I'll forever miss, even when I still have machines at home. But it's pretty much out of my life. Here's one to RISC OS as I remember it |beer|
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Peter Naulls Message #94954, posted by pnaulls at 15:01, 1/12/2006, in reply to message #94921
Member
Posts: 317
It's a sad story, but everyone has to take a role in the blame, even though some parties are much more guilty than others.
No user of RISC OS is in any way responsible for its current predicament.
On the contrary, for precisely the reasons I already stated. Apathy is widespread, as is unwillingness to coordinated efforts.


Just because they won't fund your schemes doesn't mean you get to guilt-trip them.
This clearly isn't what I meant. I would have thought you above such childish responses - didn't you abandon csa.* due to such nonsense?
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Peter Scheele Message #94956, posted by Peter Scheele at 15:03, 1/12/2006, in reply to message #94913
Member
Posts: 1
John, your article is quite touching. I'm an Acorn/RISC OS user since the early eighties and I appreciate the operating system as a good friend. Always available, trustworthy, smart and helpful. But the excitement is gone. The thrilling and astonishing pleasure of exploring new aspects. I blame it on the lack of real improvements and developments, whatever the cause is.

I'm a member of ACorner, a small user group in the south of The Netherlands. Almost halve of the fourteen members doesn't use RISC OS anymore. Most of them took the Mac step. It shows only a little of the immense drain that's going on.

The death of HAL was as touching as well, but much more graciously.

Hee Marco, hoe is het?
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VV Message #94959, posted by VincentVega at 15:50, 1/12/2006, in reply to message #94956
Member
Posts: 7
Interesting article. I feel sorry for the Iyonix, outside in the cold.

My story (excuse the length):

I grew up with Acorns. First computer, back in 1983, was an Electron. When that one went wrong, my parents bought another one. I then graduated on to a Beeb. When the Archimedes came out in 1987, I wanted one. But it was prohibitively expensive for an 11 year old.

After a three year foray into Atari ST ownership, I got my first ARM-powered computer, A3010 (in 1992), which was followed by a RISC PC (in 1996). The RPC saw me through university and provided years of (mostly) reliable service, apart from the dodgy IDE CD ROM drive I bought from Pineapple and the time that the PS2 mouse adapter thing I bought from Stuart Tyrrell blew the mouse/keyboard fuse on my motherboard (which had to be replaced, fortunately under warranty). I even got into UNIX, via NetBSD, which provided hours of fun waiting for KDE to compile on a 202MHz CPU.

I never thought I would ever leave Acorn. Ever. I got into huge shouting matches with those who mocked my choice in computers. Even Acorn's demise in 1998 didn't really change things. I hated PCs, absolutely despised them. Macs didn't enter the equation.

One day, though, shortly after getting my first job, and after years and years of Acorn ownership, I suddenly decided I would buy a PC. It was a Celeron 400. Woo. It ran Windows 98SE. Which was awful, but I could play games. I bought a further three PCs over the next three years, the last being a potent dual Xeon thingy in spring 2002, which lasted until early this year.

I rarely touched my RISC PC after buying that first PC. It got confined to the wardrobe. I would occasionally get it out for a burst of nostalgia and play games on it or look through the template editor I wrote but never released.

2002 saw a brief sojourn into Mac ownership. I blew £3000 on a Power Mac plus 17" CRT, hated it and sold it at a 60% loss three months later. Whoops.

I always kept up-to-date with Acorn/RISC OS developments, so when the Iyonix was released (2003?) I went to the Midlands Show to have a look. And for some reason, I ended up buying one. I wanted the thrill that computers used to give me back. I wanted to have fun again, after years of being stressed out by Windows and my crappy IT-related job.

Ultimately though, the Iyonix didn't bring back those old feelings. RISC OS 5 was lovely but there were so many issues (startup, no 32-bit compatible software, dodgy USB, ugly case etc) that it just didn't do it for me. I sold the Iyonix shortly afterwards, for a loss of a couple of hundred pounds and went back to PC land and all its associated baggage.

The latest chapter in my odyssey finds me on a Mac. Apple's switch to Intel persuaded me to look at Macs again. I bought a Mac Mini. It was cheap, so if I still didn't like Macs, I wouldn't lose too much. It was PPC-based, so I wouldn't have to faff around with universal binaries and Rosetta. I could use my existing mouse, keyboard and LCD.

And, you know what? It was great. Logical, pretty (yes, that matters to me), well-designed and it did exactly what I wanted it to do. My PC got relegated to also-ran, only bought out for programming .NET and some architecture stuff.

Back in August, Apple announced the Mac Pro. Intel. Dual, dual-core Xeons. Nice case. Huge memory expansion. Surprisingly cheap at the bottom end. So I bought one, though it did cost £3000. It is the finest computer I have ever owned. It has been virtually flawless (especially since the last firmware update). It runs Windows and OS X. It's fast, quiet, easy to use and doesn't take up much room. It weighs an absolute ton and is a beautiful beast, a real work of art.

I went to the recent Midlands show near Wolverhampton. Just to look and see what was going on. The Acorn/RISC OS faithful, loyal to the end. Many of the same, somewhat aging, faces as I saw at the Midlands Show when I bought my Iyonix. The whole experience was totally underwhelming (perhaps helped by the £12 cost for a new battery for my RISC PC) and I felt it to be rather sad. Acorn, whose computers gave me so much pleasure: reduced to being a minor sideshow, even more so than it was during its last few years. People selling computers that, compared to a modern PC or an Intel-based Mac, frankly don't seem all that inspiring.

It would be nice to see RISC OS rise from the ashes and to own an Acorn/RISCOS machine again. But I don't see it happening. There is still a divide between RISC OS Ltd and Castle, that sees no sign of ending. Aside from the excellent Artworks and other stalwarts from the olden days, there is very little compelling software. I don't see a reason for rejoining the RISC OS community. Ten years ago, had you told me that I would be using a Mac, I would have laughed in your face. But here I am, in front of a Mac, and Acorn/RISC OS is nothing more than a fond memory. The world has moved on, and so have I.
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Mike Message #94996, posted by MikeCarter at 20:15, 1/12/2006, in reply to message #94959
MikeCarter

Posts: 401
In reply to Vincent:

Wow so you've been right round the block.

I Started out on RISC OS at school, then eventually switched to Windows, I then started looking for an alternative when I was fed up with Windows. I thought about MAC's, but they donít do it for me, I like Gnome on Mandriva Linux with its 3d desktop but it doest interest me as much as RISC OS used to. So I decided to switch back to RISC OS. So at the moment Iím a transitioning phase of moving from a Windows PC to a DIY Iyonix.

How can I survive on RISC OS alone?
Well I donít game on PC's, I donít watch videos (though might if the Prism project is continued).


What do I do?
I wordprocess (mainly for College), listen to MP3's, Chat on MSN, Browse the web, program.

If there are any windows programs I absolutely need to use, I will just use RO5's built in ICA client to connect to the university's Desktop Anywhere utility (Next year.(well its best to plan ahead)).
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Simon Wilson Message #95005, posted by ksattic at 23:13, 1/12/2006, in reply to message #94996
ksattic
Finally, an avatar!

Posts: 1287
To bring a bit of cheer to this article, I still use my Iyonix every day, and it has really helped me out of some sticky situations over the years. Without Ovation Pro to write my Masters thesis, I surely would have killed many PCs running Word. I keep it current with HW/SW updates, and am actively working on drivers for new hardware (albeit slowly, since my day job is fairly demanding).

I'll be putting money down for an Iyonix 2 when/if it's released.
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Simon Willcocks Message #95075, posted by Stoppers at 16:24, 2/12/2006, in reply to message #94900
Member
Posts: 269
RISCOS Ltd are a bunch of @#$%&*§ gits.
I think that's unfair to RISCOS Ltd. The concept was sound but incredibly badly managed (at least partly due to bad advice from trusted outside influences). They wasted money early on, and then (arguably, had to) put too high a price on essential work that's only now being completed, several years too late.

They had a good chance to make things work, but screwed it up. However, I'd characterise their behaviour as stubborn and occasionally foolish, but not malicious (which is what it would take for me to call someone a Git).

Simon
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Matthew Somerville Message #95110, posted by Matthew at 22:44, 2/12/2006, in reply to message #94860
Matthew

Posts: 519
Nice article. :) Similar story here: BBC B, A5000, RiscStation, then in 2002 I needed a laptop, and haven't looked back, sadly. Still have some old email and files on the old computers, but if I haven't needed them yet, I probably won't ever. :|
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Stephen Robinson Message #95140, posted by steviebaby at 11:46, 3/12/2006, in reply to message #95110
Member
Posts: 24
Well written article, as others have said, I can see the same thing in the Amiga OS4/MorphOS/AROS world, and it so depressing!
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Andrew Ellis Message #95177, posted by Andrew Ellis at 17:41, 3/12/2006, in reply to message #95140
Member
Posts: 43
Great artical, it hits the nail right on the head. I grew up with Acorns, I still have an SA RPC with select. I love techwiter, I'm an electronics engineer, and when I was studying techwriter was great for writing reports and assignments. It mathmatical features are far superiour to MS words. However I need PCB desgin software and development tools for embedded micro controllers and its just not avaliable in any decent for for ROS. The other thing is despite Paul Vigay's excellent website showing how to connect ROS to broadband, I've never been able to get it to work.

I switched to mac, with virtual PC. I was happy with mac, but virtual pc didn't fulfil my needs so I bought a Dell PC. A year later Apple started using Intel processors - doh!

It was painful to leave ROS but what use is the best computer and operating system if there's no software for it?
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Simon Challands Message #95223, posted by SimonC at 11:01, 4/12/2006, in reply to message #95177
Elite
Right on, Commander!

Posts: 398
Still use it for what it can do, because when something can be done with RISC OS it still usually causes me far less annoyance than other OSs. I find myself using it less these days, but still enough to call myself a RISC OS user (I've never used anything else for email / Usenet at home, and I have no desire to change there).
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richard cheng Message #95231, posted by richcheng at 12:30, 4/12/2006, in reply to message #95223

Posts: 647
The reasons I still use RISC OS as my primary OS are twofold:

1. Even taking into account its (myriad) inadequacies, I still prefer it to the alternatives.

2. I have a Windows PC at work, and the use of my girlfriend's iBook and Mac mini at home, which can stand in when RISC OS is not up to the job.

If I were forced to use only one computer, sadly, it would probably be a Mac.
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Peter Howkins Message #95250, posted by flibble at 15:32, 4/12/2006, in reply to message #94954
flibble

Posts: 833
It's a sad story, but everyone has to take a role in the blame, even though some parties are much more guilty than others.
No user of RISC OS is in any way responsible for its current predicament.
On the contrary, for precisely the reasons I already stated. Apathy is widespread, as is unwillingness to coordinated efforts.
When a user is not apathetic, and is willing to coordinate efforts that's a bonus, there's never been any requirement, legally, financially or morally on them to agree with or assist with any plan in any way.

If a project looks good to them they'll contribute, but there are many reasons beyond apathy why they won't contribute or assist. Here's a few more suggestions ...

1) They don't agree with the idea or plan
2) They have no need of its final results.
3) They are incapable of offering any meaningful assistance, due to a lack of money, skills, motivation or free time.
4) They've started to look elsewhere for solutions to their problems, and the ones offered in RISC OS land don't compare well (see the article and many of the comments) due to features, performance, cost or any of the other factors that make people choose one solution over another.
5) They consider it self destructive, there's is little point contributing to a free alternative if you want to continue selling a commercial alternative.
6) They are unable to cooperate with the other people involved due to personality issues, leading too ...
7) They just don't like you.



Just because they won't fund your schemes doesn't mean you get to guilt-trip them.
This clearly isn't what I meant. I would have thought you above such childish responses - didn't you abandon csa.* due to such nonsense?
No, I abandoned csa.* due to realising that I would waste all my time trying to contradict highly debatable statements that had been posted by people that would never understand the opposite side of an argument ... but then you posted one here.

[Edited by flibble at 15:45, 4/12/2006]
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I don't have tourettes you're just a cun Message #95272, posted by [mentat] at 19:26, 4/12/2006, in reply to message #95250
[mentat]Fear is the mind-killer
Posts: 6266
I'm reading this on XP and I hardly ever turn my RiscPC on any more.

I feel like I should post that to grouphug.us
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Paolo Fabio Zaino Message #95298, posted by Paolo Zaino at 11:01, 5/12/2006, in reply to message #94905
Member
Posts: 59
Man... please try always to remember that technology must follow the USERS needs and not the developers dreams.

You know better than me that RISC OS is a perfect OS for developers laboratories.... we can still make assembler-code over it, to develop many basic level code but nothing more than this because others OS offers much more APIs to support developers work and much "performant" compilers.

It is hard to admit, but, managed code (like .NET or Java byte code) is preferred by many software companies because it makes them able to develop stable software with not such experienced developers that have a lower production cost.

I always have read all your articles, included the one over protected memory... and I appreciate very much your work, but we must always be OBJECTIVES if the goal is to make RISC OS competitive on the market.

I use linux since RED HAT version 4.1 ( and as others I used Acorn products since I was a kid) and we all have seen (you better then many people here) how Linux is grown and the last guide about how to make Linux fedora 5 and Windows 2003 mixed Lan its amazing (with LDAP authentication between Linux clients or Windows clients and Linux servers or Windows servers).

The ARM dual core is amazing and the new scenarios about new video cards and all the great updates to the hardware platform made by ARM Ltd are amazing... yes technologies as HyperThreading or HyperTransport would be nice (but as you know this technologies does not makes the difference and also require special code compilation). We fortunately jumped by the SMP boards that requires special systems to the dual core that does not and RISC OS would benefit a lot from this.

Castle and ROS Ltd demostrate a very bad management structure... and nobody can contrast this ridiculous "fight", yeah they said they wants to go in the same road now... but we will see what it will happen for real and the time is passing by and the users are lefting the OS...

Did Castle Ltd and ROS Ltd understand that the only resource they really DON'T have is time?

Most of the worst part of it, is that who manage the RISC OS copyright was not such interested into the OS but only into to sell some hardware... (and let me tell you that who thought something like this, in the 2000 years, is not a manager... he is somebody who needs to study IT management from the scratch)

by the way, I ask my apologizes if this answer would sound a bit polemic and also if I am more in linux/windows servers world now I still use my RiscPC with ARM Linux and NetBSD and I still use, sometimes, RISC OS. :D
________
www.zfpsystems.com
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John Hoare Message #95393, posted by moss at 23:30, 5/12/2006, in reply to message #95298

Posts: 9344
BTW, thanks to everyone who enjoyed the article. I was worried that it would be taken the wrong way, so I'm glad people understand where I'm coming from.
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Paul Emerton Message #95439, posted by Paulemerton at 16:39, 6/12/2006, in reply to message #95393
Member
Posts: 1
I understand all to well. As many, I grew up with those Acorn machines. I was once very passionate about them, proud to chat about what they could do and more importantly, how well it could do it.
Those days are long since past. in 1999 I left the Acorn scene, having purchased my first P233. It was a windows 98se machine that served very well! Once I got used to the regular crashes, display driver problems (that left me thinking it was all blown up) and the lacking os navigation, I was well away. I still had my RPC on the desk, but it got used less and less and less. I think even before the demise of acorn i was using PC's (only from about 97 onwards, before that I was a proud owner of a BBC Micro with solidisk and 3.5" floppy drive, an A310 and A420 etc etc etc). When I was starting a video production course that led me to my current business, I had no choice but consider an x86 based system, even though the capability was there for a much better risc based editing system.
Now my world is PC. I tried building a simple plasma screen box based on an A7000 unit, then custom stuff, but it simply was a total waste of time! The technology cost too much, the results were too poor, and the alternative option was a tried and tested free os (linux) with a cheap x86 based architecture. No contest really.
Although I was happy that me and my brother had developed a crash resistant (try seeing a system without a blue screen that isnt 100% mpeg based) system - but it wasnt enough.

I feel its a wonderful nostalgic trip to use these systems at the moment. I will say now that the future looks better and they might come up to standard with masses of work, but only for a basic desktop user. Efforts towards browsers can only do to enhance the lifespan of this system. And I do wish Castle would scrap use of Fresco in their stbs and use this firefox, perhaps then my NTL box would speed up?

I felt cheated when acorn was pulled apart. Im suprised its gone on as far as it has, but theres not really a strong future there unless they can make it 1. cheaper (nobody wants to pay three times more than it costs for a cheap DELL system that does more now than a risc os system will do in three years) 2. do something.
I know ive said some silly things in my time but Im fairly certain now that this platform is a classic one, in terms of public general use. Professionally it is strong- It makes me chuckle to think my mobile uses some of the technology. But desktop pcs, they arn't.

In my opinion, if risc os was open sourced entirely (assuming there were no legal minefields - which there are, people always wanna make a fiver, even if it means they won't - try and understand that after a beer) it might do more useful things. But to be fair, who wants to put the time into it?

I wont sell my rpc. I miss my BBC B too much to do that, but anything more than an amusing toy for a nostalgia trip, it is not.

I think the biggest point that has been missed in the big change- Schools no longer use Risc machines - not in any quantity, so the future programmers are going to be far and inbetween unless a heafty training course is undertaken - at an expense the market cannot support?

Before any of the above is flamed, I am aware of plenty of very interesting commercial uses of the technology - and there I would not argue its use - but the desktop market needs a lot going for it to survive another 10 years.
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Andrew Rawnsley Message #95450, posted by arawnsley at 18:23, 6/12/2006, in reply to message #95439
Member
Posts: 426
As a RISC OS developer, one of my frustrations reading a thread like this is how many of the "problems" could have been solved if people had either bought products or rung for help. For example, the chap who couldn't get on broadband (we regularly get 90+ year olds on broadband!), or in the article, the comment about not being able to make MP3s. (People seem generally happy with our MusicMan program). I don't mean this "specifically" but rather how difficult it is to get the message out to people about what is possible on RISC OS - people just assume stuff isn't possible, rather than asking companies that know!

What the article does ram home to me (and this is gonna be contraversial) is that for many users, going Iyonix or A9 is a very dangerous path. If you spend your money on those systems (as the author of the article did) and find you can't do something, you're rather sunk, and end up leaving the platform.

Conversely, going for VRPC systems, especially RISCubes and A6s which include custom software and enhancements to give "best of both worlds" operation, which frowned upon by many purists, does ensure people continue to use RISC OS. I know my computing would requirements would no longer be met by an Iyonix or A9, but with a RISCube (or A6 I guess) I am able to spend 8 or 9 hours a day in RISC OS, and only drop into Windows periodically if there's some program I need. As far as I know, most of our users feel the same - they want to use RISC OS as much as possible, but have the convenience of other apps available if absolutely necessary.

Of course, I guess as a developer, it is my job to try and fill the gaps... (gulp)

As a side note, one interesting fact is that VRPC users *do* seem to buy RISC OS software to run on it, not just old programs, so I think there is still a role for developing RISC OS software, even if native hardware is not forthcoming.

[Edited by arawnsley at 18:28, 6/12/2006]
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Andrew Duffell Message #95451, posted by ad at 19:06, 6/12/2006, in reply to message #95450

Posts: 3215
As a RISC OS developer, one of my frustrations reading a thread like this is how many of the "problems" could have been solved if people had either bought products or rung for help. For example, the chap who couldn't get on broadband (we regularly get 90+ year olds on broadband!), or in the article, the comment about not being able to make MP3s. (People seem generally happy with our MusicMan program). I don't mean this "specifically" but rather how difficult it is to get the message out to people about what is possible on RISC OS - people just assume stuff isn't possible, rather than asking companies that know!
Yes, but there are free (and often better) programs to do this on Windows/Linux/Mac. And broadband is a breeze to set up on Windows XP.

I got very frustrated with the MSN situation from R-Comp. The solution you present is very basic compared to what can be achieve on other platforms, and to be frank the interface is a disgrace, and the program suffers far more connection problems than it's Windows counterparts. (The author refuses to accept this).

http://www.iconbar.com/Grapevine_Development_Not_Stagnant/news666.html

As far as I can see, with your MSN solution, nothing has been achieved since that article in 2005.


What the article does ram home to me (and this is gonna be contraversial) is that for many users, going Iyonix or A9 is a very dangerous path. If you spend your money on those systems (as the author of the article did) and find you can't do something, you're rather sunk, and end up leaving the platform.

Conversely, going for VRPC systems, especially RISCubes and A6s which include custom software and enhancements to give "best of both worlds" operation, which frowned upon by many purists, does ensure people continue to use RISC OS. I know my computing would requirements would no longer be met by an Iyonix or A9, but with a RISCube (or A6 I guess) I am able to spend 8 or 9 hours a day in RISC OS, and only drop into Windows periodically if there's some program I need. As far as I know, most of our users feel the same - they want to use RISC OS as much as possible, but have the convenience of other apps available if absolutely necessary.

Of course, I guess as a developer, it is my job to try and fill the gaps... (gulp)

As a side note, one interesting fact is that VRPC users *do* seem to buy RISC OS software to run on it, not just old programs, so I think there is still a role for developing RISC OS software, even if native hardware is not forthcoming.
My VRPC experience has been the inverse. I don't buy new RISC OS apps, but in fact use the free Windows equivalents to do the same job, often better.
These days, I only return to VRPC to use Artworks.
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VinceH Message #95462, posted by VincceH at 19:53, 6/12/2006, in reply to message #95450
VincceH
Lowering the tone since the dawn of time

Posts: 1555
Andrew Rawnsley:

or in the article, the comment about not being able to make MP3s.
The article doesn't actually say that. What it says, in reference to making them, is "you're having a laugh" - which I interpreted as a reference to how long it can take to encode an MP3 compared with doing it on other platforms.

I'm not entirely sure I agree with you about VRPCSESATLAETC either - I bought it so that I could transfer all my RISC OS work onto the laptop, but what has happened is that almost everything that can be done natively in Windows is now done in Windows. The only thing I do natively on RISC OS is RISC OS development (currently still via the RPC because I haven't bothered to transfer it all across) and some web site stuff - and the web site stuff is purely because of my own application (WebChange).

Now, I've said it before and I may as well say it again, if there was a "proper" RISC OS laptop and a suitably powerful accounts package*, then I could use RISC OS almost exclusively, rather than as it is now, almost exclusively the other way around. (A native laptop rather than VRPCSASETLAETC for the reasons stated above; I doubt I'd bother to run VRPCSASETLAETC just for that; but a native laptop means it's the only OS I can run it on unless I carry more than one laptop around - which obviously wouldn't happen.)

And, yes, before someone comes along and explains why a laptop is unlikely to happen, I know, I know, yadayada! ;)

*Which, yes (again, said before), I'm capable of writing, but the time and effort required means I'd need a lot of spare cash handy so that I can carry on actually living in the meantime and not, say, dying of starvation, which would be counter-productive.
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