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?
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.
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