Rougol has moved online and tonight we had Tom Williamson as the speaker.
One of the advantages of the online format is that people can turn up from anywhere, and we had over 40 attendees, including familiar faces from all over the UK.
Before the talk started at 7.45pm, there was some lively banter which included discussion on copyright, Internet providers and Andrew Rawnsley providing some free tech support.
At 7.45, Tom started. His starting point was that there are 30 million PI users and 0.10% have tried RISC OS more than once.
Tom gave us his bio - a Mac user and has work extensively in broadcasting. He used BBC kit extensively at school. More recently, he has done radio work, including a soap opera. This led to wi-fi sheep radio show, named after the large amount of sheep in his local area - rural Shropshire.
In 2016, he started doing talks on youtube and using the wi-fi sheep brand on youtube. RISC OS Developments is one of his sponsors. This has taken over from Ident as his main activity. For Ident projects, Tom used a version of RISC OS he was licensing and customising. Having tried the generic Pi build, he was not impressed with it. But he stuck with it, and realised the potential of RISC OS. But he felt it needed work and polish. RISC OS Developments purchase of the source code and Open Sourcing meant he could release his polished version for free and push it on his youtube channel.
He could also see that there were lots of questions from new potential users and proposed some videos. He approached RISC OS Direct with some ideas to promote RISC OS and make it easier to use with a polished version and tutorials. People do not want to learn from manuals in 2020. So Tom has focussed on video content for tutorials. A big strength of RISC OS is its speed on the Pi compared to other OS on the Pi.
At Stafford Raspberry Pi Jam, Tom got lots of feedback from non-traditional RISC OS users on the version. This has all gone into the RISC OS Direct build, choice of apps, presentation, etc.
The original plan was to launch RISC OS Direct at the Jam as a statement that it was targeted at new users. Did not happen so delayed until released at London Show.
RISC OS Direct is aimed at new users on Raspberry Pi. Focus on low barriers to entry and cost. It needs lots of tools and software out of the box and have a 'modern' look and feel. It need standard features, users expect - Python, web browser, etc.
RISC OS Direct has attracted some controversy from existing users. It is not a fork or a ROOL replacement or competitor. Target is Raspbian and it need to compete against that.
To compete, it needs Python, updated graphics and interface, better browser, onscreen shortcuts and software on desktop, games, emulators, productivity tools.
There is also a version setup for rpcemu which makes it really easy to run on Windows and Linux. It was not part of the original plan but really exciting.
In the future, Tom would like to see an integrated Linux/Unix/Kernel, Ports of native apps like LbreOffcie, MIT scratch and VLC, wi-fi support, 64bit and multi-core support and AllWinner chipsets.
What makes things different this time is that RISC OS is open source, free and runs on super-cheap hardware.
RISC OS has been far more popular than expected in the existing RISC OS world.
Tom sees the real threats to RISC OS Direct as Haiku (a BEOS clone) being ported to Pi and RISC-V chips replacing ARM on the Pi.
If we do not get new users, RISC OS will die off with its users.
After his talk, Tom took questions.
The talk was recorded if you missed.it.