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The Icon Bar: News and features: RISC OS Interview with Stefan Fröhling

RISC OS Interview with Stefan Fröhling

Posted by Mark Stephens on 14:16, 18/10/2020 |
This time round we would like to introduce you to Stefan Fröhling who is behind the CloverLeaf project. Many thanks to Stefan for taking part.

Would you like to introduce yourself?
I am Stefan Fröhling and the initiator of the crowdfunding project Cloverleaf RISC OS. I am German and 52 years old.
How long have you been using RISC OS?
I am an Acorn RISC OS fan from the beginning. I was always interested in the best technology and the ARM RISC chip and RISC OS was for sure the best one at the time for the home computer market. My first Acorn was an A3000 and later a Risc PC. My former company Evolution Computer Gmbh created the first IDE interface for the Acorn A3000 and A3xx / A4xx series. At that time hard discs had a size of 40 MB(!) for 300 pounds. I also sold the Merlin raytracing program. Sadly I had to abandon the RISC OS world when Acorn Computers shut down because of the lack of internet support. So I had to switch reluctantly to Windows.
I myself wrote once a vocabulary trainer for RISC OS in pure ARM assembler. I can tell that programming in ARM assembler is much easier than most of the people would imagine. If you have the right mind set to break down the function what you need in simple task and not think in C objects dimensions with hundreds or even thousands of subfunctions. Sadly I lost the code of "VokTra" when switching to Windows.
What other systems do you use?
I use only Windows for my laptop and Android for my phone. I have experimented with Linux. Apple Mac hardware appeared always too expensive for me when I see that I have to pay nearly 4 times more than for a similar Windows PC.
What is your current RISC OS setup?
I use a Raspberry 2 with 1 GB RAM. I also have a 14“ RK3399 laptop and 24“ All-in-one RK3399 PC waiting for the hardware adoptation of RISC OS. But most of the time I use the RPCEmu on my Windows laptop as easiest for me to do a quick test.
What do you think of the retro scene?
I am happy to see that there are still so many RISC OS users around and that so many Acorn hardware is still running.
They assured that RISC OS is still alive and also the motivation for my project as without them I would not see a chance for my project to have support and their low-level knowledge of RISC OS.
Do you attend any of the shows and what do you think of them?
I was last year at the 2019 London show and early this year at the Southwest show in Bristol to meet my new RISC OS partner Andrew Rawnsley and reconnect to the RISC OS scene. It was good fun to talk to people with the same hobby (RISC OS) again.
What do you use RISC OS for in 2020 and what do you like most about it?
At the moment I use it mainly for testing our new instant messenger for RISC OS !ChatCube. And also to work myself back into RISC OS as I didnt use it for roughly 20 years. Even if you have known RISC OS before you have to refresh your knowledge about RISC OS again.
What is your favourite feature/killer program in RISC OS?
Well the main reason why I come back to RISC OS is !Artworks for me. It is effective and easy to use like most RISC OS applications. I used on Windows the big brother of Artworks "Xara" so in that way I kept connected to RISC OS in the last 20 years. So I purchased already a licence of Artworks but I didn‘t start to use it yet. Because of the lack of a full blown browser that supports also Javascript and HTML5 I cannot use RISC OS yet on daily basis. But thanks to RISC OS Development and their Iris browser that problem should be solved soon.
I like to missuse Artworks / Xara for text editing and draw schematics and design weblayouts to instruct my programmers.
What would you most like to see in RISC OS in the future?
My dream is to make RISC OS an alternative for everyone on this planet when they choose a new computer system and also in the future for their mobile phones.
Can you tell us about what you are working on in the RISC OS market at the moment?
Well I started the Cloverleaf RISC OS project as I think the time is right to make RISC OS more known to the public again. It is a good timing as RISC OS was released by RISC OS Development Ltd. as open source and also their new browser Iris is a milestone in the RISC OS development. So my crowdfunding project is not only aimed at getting money but also can be a good means to promote RISC OS by using the crowdfunding plattforms. Another boost will be the press releases related to my campaign about RISC OS.
My aim is also to initiate many improvements in RISC OS. That is regarding to the handling of windows (click actions) , the filer, clipboard, font manager (UTF-8 support). Drivers (WIFI, Bluetooth, USB 3, NVMe, GPU). I also want to increase the number of programs of RISC OS and increase the quality of existing program. I might be not aware of all problems of RISC OS (specially low level and networking). Don‘t get me wrong: I will not be able to achieve all this alone. Everyone in the RISC OS community needs to get involved and support the development of RISC OS as it was dormant for nearly 20 years.
I hope to motivate Jeffrey Lee to finish his Multicore module that will hopefully give RISC OS a speed boost where it is needed, for example video payback, raytracing, image or sound processing. But we go here a special way, like RISC OS‘s cooperative multitasking, Jeffrey‘s approach is not like other OS where applications use automaticaly all cores. The RISC OS multicore module will be used only by applications who demand to use the multicore feature.
I am also excited at Jason Tribbeck's ideas to rewrite the RISC OS sound system to upgrade it‘s sound capabilities and to improve I/O for hardware support.
Any surprises or dates to tease us with?
Well we hope to complete the hardware adoptation for the PC board in January 2021 and then also for the laptop and the All-in-one PC. We just have started work on a new photo editing program to use the multicore option. I also want to release as freeware or open source my former program Merlin which consist of a simple 3D editor and a raytracer. The 3D editor was programmed by Frank Föhl (now Frank Fischer) who is also the programmer of the 3D games demo "Iron Dignity". But we are still struggeling to recompile the C code of the editor. If anyone is interested to work on the 3D editor / raytracer for the benefit of the RISC OS community in the future please contact me.
Apart from iconbar (obviously) what are your favourite websites?
Well most of all I use the forum on ROOL‘s website to communicate and get advice with other RISC OS programmers.
What are your interests beyond RISC OS?
I like all new technologies that protects the environment like solar, wind or water power. My hobbies are electric cars / motorcycles, science fiction and wind & solar power. I like to play badminton to stay fit and have fun. I have three cats.
If someone hired you for a month to develop RISC OS software, what would you create?
One month? I think that is not enough time to do anything serious. My dream would be to have hardware 3D support for RISC OS and create/ port the game engine godotengine.org to RISC OS.
Any future plans or ideas you can share with us?
Make RISC OS great again! :-D
Any questions we forgot to ask you?
If there are any old RISC OS programmers or RISC OS companies that have written valuable programs for RISC OS. Please consider to make the code of your programs open source so that it is not lost for the RISC OS community.
You can join my Facebook group
You can read lots of other interviews on Iconbar here
If you would like to suggest someone to interview or be interviewed yourself, just let us know.
  RISC OS Interview with Stefan Fröhling
  nytrex (13:41 19/10/2020)
  Elesar (11:53 20/10/2020)
    nytrex (15:47 20/10/2020)
      Bucksboy (22:50 20/10/2020)
    richw (22:42 21/10/2020)
Alan Robertson Message #124965, posted by nytrex at 13:41, 19/10/2020
Posts: 109
Goodluck with the Cloverleaf project. Assuming a successful kickstarter (like the ZX Spectrum Next/Next2) it would be amazing to see what could be done with a big cash injection into RISC OS development.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Robert Sprowson Message #124966, posted by Elesar at 11:53, 20/10/2020, in reply to message #124965
Posts: 42
...support the development of RISC OS as it was dormant for nearly 20 years
I'm trying to pin down which window of 20 years is being referred to? I can manage 2 years (1997-1999) maximum, but to say 20 seems derogatory to all the advances made & work done since by RISCOS Limited, RISC OS Open, RComp, and other companies beginning with letters other than R!

[Edited by Elesar at 11:54, 20/10/2020]

[Edited by Elesar at 11:54, 20/10/2020]
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Alan Robertson Message #124967, posted by nytrex at 15:47, 20/10/2020, in reply to message #124966
Posts: 109
I think he's referring to the parts of RISC OS that have been left relatively untouched for 20 years, such as networking.

All RISC OS users are very grateful for the time and effort the core RISC OS developers have put into the Operating System. I certainly am. If only we had a few more developers. I wonder how much it would cost to contract out RISC OS development to developers in poorer countries such as India and Thailand?
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
George Greenfield Message #124968, posted by Bucksboy at 22:50, 20/10/2020, in reply to message #124967
Posts: 91
All RISC OS users are very grateful for the time and effort the core RISC OS developers have put into the Operating System. I certainly am.
Seconded with enthusiasm! It’s also good to see the Cloverleaf project and hear from one of its main participants. All efforts to carry forward the development of the OS are to be welcomed IMO.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Richard Walker Message #124969, posted by richw at 22:42, 21/10/2020, in reply to message #124966
Posts: 72
Unfortunately Rob, I think people like yourself are the unsung heros. Things like the Iyonix, open sourcing the codebase, establishing ROOL, presenting at shows, keeping up with bits and pieces in HardDisc4 or whatever... I think they are all huge achievements, and without them there is no foundation for the next leap (if that is WiFi or a browser or whatever).

I certainly find all of the RISC OS action interesting, and take my hat off to anyone advancing the OS in any way at all. Talk is cheap, and there are plenty who would do well to think about testing, documentation or coding, rather than forum posting. I want to make it clear that I am not in any way addressing g that to Stefan!
  ^[ Log in to reply ]

The Icon Bar: News and features: RISC OS Interview with Stefan Fröhling