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The Icon Bar: News and features: RISC OS 5.30 arrives

RISC OS 5.30 arrives

Posted by Mark Stephens on 17:15, 27/4/2024 |

It has been four years since 5.28 stable release, so it is really exciting to have the next official release now available.

While you can always use the nightly builds, many people prefer a solid release for their main system. 5.30 brings together all these changes (6 bounties of work), 347 improvements to the 'hard Disc4' image and 329 improvements to the ROM to RISC OS. 76 bug tickets have been resolved.

There is a lot of exciting new things in this release. The highlights for me are:-

  • Mot of the Applications get tweaks and fixes for issues
  • Addition of Ovation Pro and full SparkFS thanks to David Pilling
  • Better PNG support
  • Out of the box wifi support for many Raspberry Pi models.
  • Updated User Guide

What are your top features?

Time to  backup your systems and plan your upgrade...

ROOL announcement

  RISC OS 5.30 arrives
  nytrex (16:38 28/4/2024)
  arenaman (23:30 5/5/2024)
    arober11 (15:13 19/5/2024)
      helpful (03:46 21/5/2024)
        arober11 (08:03 22/5/2024)
          richw (13:18 22/5/2024)
            arober11 (22:39 23/5/2024)
              richw (10:58 24/5/2024)
                arober11 (13:46 26/5/2024)
      richw (10:08 21/5/2024)
      grannyg (18:11 23/5/2024)
        richw (19:31 23/5/2024)
Alan Robertson Message #125621, posted by nytrex at 16:38, 28/4/2024
Posts: 111
A huge thank you to everyone involved with the latest release.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Michael Stubbs Message #125626, posted by arenaman at 23:30, 5/5/2024, in reply to message #125621
Posts: 114
I love how the RISC OS scene is still alive and kicking over 25 years after Black Thursday. Sure, there's some major work to do, like 64bit, but what's been achieved so far is brilliant. The fact that RISC OS itself is still actively developed, as is software to run on it, is no mean feat. Well done, guys, and thank you!
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Andy R Message #125631, posted by arober11 at 15:13, 19/5/2024, in reply to message #125626
Posts: 4
Appear to have missed a trick, or several, at least with the Pi image.

Burnt a copy of 5.3, using the Pi imager, onto an ancient 16GB microSD (haven't seen anything smaller than 32GB in a decade), the image is ~2GB, the rest is wasted. No FAT32 second partition, however small the RISCOS filesystem image on the SDcard, to permit the easy transfer of downloaded zips, or to add a few ADF floppy images on a PC or Mac, before plugging the card into a Pi, to make the image usable.

The vanilla image lacks SMB, SFTP, SCP, SSH, support, as it lacks an ADF floppy image mounter, to obviously prevent you from accessing any shares you have on your network, or floppy images you manage to get onto the card.

There's NO Partition Manager bundled on the image, to allow you to create a FAT32 partition in the remaining space on the SDCard, though the FAT32FS module is present.

There's no copy of !SoftSCSI to permit you to add filler icons to access any additional FAT partitions you manage to create on the unused space on the SDcard, or on a USB stick, USB CDRom, ...

The included package-managers fail to offer the ability to install SMB, USB, or ADF floppy support, let alone a partition manager, or even the latest version of the 26-bit support mod. The original machines, even if they didn't have an HDD, came with a System disk that included an HDD formatter.

The bundled NetSurf browser doesn't have the JavaScript engine to even be able to access the RaspberryPi support forums, or directly download the necessary missing modules and Apps, from the Javascript heavy sites the Devs have chosen to stash the necessary bits to make RISOC usable on.

Essentially the vanilla image requires a day of dicking around to make a vaguely usable system, to even have a brief play on. The utter lack of end user utility makes this no way near a Public Release.

Draw up a few User stories, for what you expect the average Pi user, say who out of curiosity might want to try out RISCOS, likely for the first time, and play an odd port of a retro Amiga game, desire from the image. Ditto for the old farts, who have physical RISCOS hardware, and previous versions of the Pi images, and will want to transfer stuff from previous installs. If this can't happen on inserting a copy of the burnt image, without a decade or four of RISC OS usage (as there's no tutorial saved to the pinboard), and they can't get or ask for help the browser supplied on the RISC OS image, then the image is no good.

If it takes longer, and an order of magnitude more advanced knowledge, than unboxing a real A3000, A3010, ..., plugging it into a TV and wall socket, removing a Lemmings floppy from its box, or one of the other floppies in the early 1990s Learning Curve / Action pack bundles, to get the software running, and you blowing things up, or writing a letter, the release is nothing but an Alpha / Developer preview, not even fit for a Public Beta, let alone to be called a Public release.

[Edited by arober11 at 21:23, 19/5/2024]

[Edited by arober11 at 01:55, 20/5/2024]
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Bryan Hogan Message #125632, posted by helpful at 03:46, 21/5/2024, in reply to message #125631
Posts: 252
Yeah, the standard ROOL image has been criticised before for being rather, err... bland :-( It's basically still the RiscPC disc image from 30 years ago!

The RISC OS Developments Direct image has a better selection of bundled software, and it's a 16GB image IIRC, although it hasn't been updated to RO 5.30 yet. Give it a try and report back, feedback is useful for those producing the next version - https://www.riscosdev.com/direct/
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Richard Walker Message #125633, posted by richw at 10:08, 21/5/2024, in reply to message #125631
Posts: 73
I agree with this sentiment: the entire platform is a minefield for 'getting started'. I set up a Pi back in 2017-ish, and it wasn't simple. Yet I'd been using RISC OS from 1988 to 2002!

There was lots of assumed knowledge, and farting about like getting version X of this module/utility from this random web page. And ignore that one, because it's obsolete, and you want the newer one on this other home page etc.

I don't mind the official RISC OS images being basic. It's understandable - they are the build output of code rom ROOL's GitLab.

With initiatives like 'RISC OS Pi' or 'RISC OS Direct', there are opportunities to make it beginner friendly. It should be a good experience out-of-the-box, even more so than where Acorn were with a new Risc PC. But both of these feel a bit murky: perhaps I've missed them, but are there any sort of project repositories for either? Maybe some explanation of the aims, the code (build process etc.), a plan for the next release, a place to report issues etc.

I feel like these two images could potentially land on the answer, but they are shrouded in mystery. For example, is there going to be a 5.30 for RISC OS Direct? What extras will be included? How can we ensure they are up-to-date?

I also can't help but think that a big part of the answer is for the community to embrace utilities like GitLab/GitHub and packaging. Even the vanilla HardDisc4 could be pretty good if I could open PackMan and select all the 'essentials', rather than have to discover a dozen magic web sites.

Of course, the other problem is that any existing users (myself included!) are less likely to appreciate or feel the need to work on the 'new user journey', since they don't need it!
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Andy R Message #125634, posted by arober11 at 08:03, 22/5/2024, in reply to message #125632
Posts: 4
At least the RiscPC had a floppy drive you could directly get software onto the platform with (equivalent of inserting a USB stick). The current distribution could do with a modal popup:

"Warning: This system image does not recognise USB media, and the included package managers only offer packages to permit the transfer of files from YOUR thirty something AUN / Econet file server. If you have any desire to use software not included on the image, or hosted on YOUR AUN server, before booting for the first time download and place any 3rd party software you want to use on YOUR vintage Acorn / SJ Research fileserver (once you remember the password you set in 1993). Else if you insist on violating the RISC OS Open teams vision as to how this image is to be used, you'll need a separate FAT32 formatted microSD card, and then on a PC or Mac download and place the deviant files onto the micro SDcard, next define a RAM disc within the RISCOS task manager (left click the Raspberry on the bottom right of the task bar and scroll to bottom in the resulting window, and allocate some space), then play the dismount SDcard, swap SDcard, copy a few bits to the RAM disc from the unauthorised SDcard (or even semi-authorised NuPI SDcard), dismount the deviant SDcard, reinsert the RISCOS SDcard, copy from RAM disc to the RISCOS SDcard, shuffle, till you have defiled the system image"
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Richard Walker Message #125635, posted by richw at 13:18, 22/5/2024, in reply to message #125634
Posts: 73
It was pretty tricky in 1996-ish. You may have had that floppy, but where were you to obtain Acorn-format/content floppies? Getting your new Risc PC on the Internet was bothersome.

It should be very straightforward these days - and in some ways, things are close. It's maybe just that last little step which is missing.

I've not used RISC OS Pi/Direct for a while, but I would hope that, once booted, you can open PackMan or Store and discover some additional apps. And actually, lots of useful things would be there by default, such as a functional web browser.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Chris Gransden Message #125636, posted by grannyg at 18:11, 23/5/2024, in reply to message #125631
Posts: 52
As an example I used RPI Imager to install RISC OS 5.30.

Booted up a RPI 3B+ using the SD card created.

Pressed escape as it defaulted to wired. Configured the WIFI adapter as required.

Rebooted. Fired up Packman. Installed !Otter-Browser, Nettle and Putty Tools.

Was then able to log into the Raspberry Pi forum with Otter-Browser.

Connected to an ssh server using nettle. Was able to transfer files using Putty Tools psftp.

Also opened an SMB1 and NFS share using !Omni.

After adding http://www.jaspp.org.uk/packages/releases as a source to PackMan. Installed PartMgr and ADDFS and PacMania. Had to download ADFFS 3.84 beta to get PacMania to run. The current version 3.83 needs a change to config.txt.Then cleared the first 3 levels of PacMania.

Apart from ADFFS. All this without hunting for files on the Internet and having to use another SD card or USB stick to copy files from another machine.

Although plugging in an existing FAT32 formatted USB stick opened just fine.

[Edited by grannyg at 18:12, 23/5/2024]

[Edited by grannyg at 18:12, 23/5/2024]
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Richard Walker Message #125637, posted by richw at 19:31, 23/5/2024, in reply to message #125636
Posts: 73
Better than I expected! I didn't realise that PackMan is in the vanilla HardDisc4 image. So developers just need to embrace PackMan! Oh, hang on, I guess 'RPI Imager' means 'RISC OS Pi', so not quite the vanilla HardDisc4, but still, great.

It would be nice if there was some more development on the networking side, such as:

An improved management interface for configuring interfaces without rebooting etc.

A modern SMB client. Maybe NFS too.

Pretty impressed that ADFFS was so straightforward - I would have expected the nature of the beast to have made that one tricky.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Andy R Message #125638, posted by arober11 at 22:39, 23/5/2024, in reply to message #125635
Posts: 4
It was pretty tricky in 1996-ish. You may have had that floppy, but where were you to obtain Acorn-format/content floppies?
From RISCOS 2 appearing in 1988, there's been FAT support, both the Microsoft and Atari takes on it, along with Acorn ADFS, DFS, not forgetting Watford and Solidisk's take on DFS. Accessing internal or external media in any of these formats was offered through App icons pined to an intuitive Taskbar. There was even an Acorn PCEmulator, to run the odd x86 program. If you didn't have a railway station, or airport, with a WHSmiths, or a dedicated computer store flogging commercial software, or a local newsagent selling Acorn User, Archimedes World, RISC User, ... with their utility packed cover discs / CDs, and many a small add for software, lived nowhere near the series of annual arena computer shows, had no local Saturday market flogging notionally original software at 10% of RRP, were not attending an educational institution where 10% of the pupils spent their lunchtimes swapping floppies, not forgetting an infant Amazon, i'd blame your parent for electing to live off grid, on that remote island. Floppies and CD's with Acorn content were ubiquitous, in the civilised World, and the OS provided a near idiot proof interface to access the media, once inserted.

From 1991 you could also ftp many a utility, demo, game, and later Linux distribution, from the likes of the Demon, Lancs or Stuttgart mirror sites (not to bad if you had a T2 line, though a pain over 14 / 28 / 56 kbps modem), on an already configured PC, Mac, SparcStation, NeXT box, then play the floppy shuffle till you had KAQ9, or Acorn's TCP/IP stack configured, to directly be able to FTP software onto a machine.

Sourcing software, and getting it installed was a doddle, the OS
's taskbar packed everything you needed to access media inserted into a machine, and format removable media. The bundled system utilities offered a means format HD's, no prior knowledge or media required.

[Edited by arober11 at 22:43, 23/5/2024]

[Edited by arober11 at 22:44, 23/5/2024]
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Richard Walker Message #125639, posted by richw at 10:58, 24/5/2024, in reply to message #125638
Posts: 73
Hmm, not sure about that.

The DOS and Atari format floppies became a thing with RISC OS 3 (1991 for A5000 users, or 1992 for everyone else). Up here in the north, you might find Acorn User or Archimedes World, there were one or two 'computer shops' which carried some software, and there were a small number of disks floating about at school.

Anyone getting their RISC OS machine onto the Internet before the likes of the ANT Internet Suite (1994/1995?) was a total geek! Not easy at all.

I find some of the ROOL wiki a tad hard to discover, but:


is pretty good. It shows you how to get online:


and also how to run PackMan or Store:


So, actually, I think it's a damn sight easier than it was in the olden days.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
Andy R Message #125640, posted by arober11 at 13:46, 26/5/2024, in reply to message #125639
Posts: 4
Getting on-line is but one very small part, and what you can do once online is another matter. The current release doesn't even permit a newbie / kid to insert a USB stick, as they would a floppy, in a stand alone Pi / Acorn, with a copy of Lemmings, Elite, Populus, a web Browser that can access 99% of the sites on the web, and start playing within a min of powering on the system for the first time, The quick boot, intuitive UI, and good sound and graphics being one of the USP's of the Archimedes. With the latest release you need to allocate a day to hack the supposedly public release into something that can even run any non bundled software.

FYI: Before ANT you had cover discs that included like of:
!Dailer - connect to a Demon / Pipex PoP
!KA9Q - TCP/IP stack
!ArcWeb - access 99% of the websites around at the time.
and assorted mail, ftp, nntp, gopher, ... offerings. If you had a hard drive, just a matter of dragging from floppy to a hard disc. Sticking in your ISP's credentials, which wasn't that geeky, once you had an Internet folder full of all the toys you wanted, copied across from floppy, all you had to do was click the Dialer, and listen to the handshake tune.

Failing that there were several BBS, Prestel, Telnet servers, and a few MUD's you could dial into with the terminal program that came bundled with your modem, again on a removable floppy you could just insert and either run from floppy or drag to one of your hdd.

Failing that if you had something like the Ground control teletext module, its !Teletext app could also be run from removable floppy, and have you downloading pages, or tele-software, in seconds, after inserting the module, an areal plug, the floppy, though there was a min or tuning the first time. No geekery involved, unless you wanted to write a few lines of basic to grab the time and update the local RTC, or some data from the pages, but a handy MANUAL was bundled, explaining how, and with examples.

With the current release the removable media support is poor, most of the insetted SD card is wasted, and inaccessible. The included browser CAN NOT access 99% of the sites on the web, including the Raspberry Pi support forums. The release can't run legacy 26bit apps, without some hacking. There's not even a manual included, detailing the necessary steps and modules required to create a functional system. It's at best a pre public beta, alpha release for Developers and geeks, or to put it another way an Ikea flatpack without half the fixings, tools, and obviously no instructions included.

[Edited by arober11 at 17:24, 27/5/2024]
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The Icon Bar: News and features: RISC OS 5.30 arrives