Acorn | Risc PC | The what, how and why of RISC OS

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INTRO
his may be the
first time you
hear of RISC
OS computers.
You may think that
RISC OS is new
on the PC market.
And you may wonder whether it is a
reliable and viable
system; whether it
may be interesting
to you and whether it is compatible
with other systems. There is only
one answer to
these questions:
read, try, ask, test,
and compare.
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series and the RiscPC. In collaboration
with several other companies, RISCOS
Ltd have taken over the development
and production from the original Acorn
company. New energy is being put into
the further development and renewal of
this concept. Others have joined in as
well. The British firm RiscStation is developing the R7500, MicroDigital are
developing the Mico and Millipede are
developing the Imago motherboard. In
this leaflet you will find images of the
RiscPC produced by Castle
Technology.
he proof of the pudding is still in the
eating. So, don’t be afraid, have a
go. You’ll be surprised...
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he British firm
Acorn has produced computers since the
nineteen-seventies
that are very
pleasant to work
with indeed: the
Acorn Atom, the legendary BBC, the
Electron, the
Master, the
Archimedes, the A-
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HARDWARE
Processor
he RiscPC offers the use of several
processors.
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T
he primary processor is always an
ARM processor (Advanced Risc
Machine). ARM processors have
been specially designed as RISC processors (Reduced Instruction Set
Computers), enabling exceptionally fast
processing. Standard ARM clock
speed is 75 MHz, while StrongARM
clock speed is 200 or 233 MHz. This
may seem a little sluggish today, but it
amounts to as many as 140 Mips or
more. 600 MHz and 750 Mips ARM
processors are currently under development. In case you are wondering if
the fan isn’t working, ARM processors
require no cooling, and very little energy indeed. Which is why you may
find these chips in Psion palmtops and
many mobile phones. ARM operating
systems are of course RISC OS, but
also UNIX (Risc BSD) and Linux
this way all options
like telebanking,
trying out alternative operating systems, operating
programmes that
you use at your
workplace or running PC-oriented
CDs and CDROMs
are open.
The RiscPC
secondary ARM processor may be
used, or a PC-card if you want to
use PC applications. So DOS,
Microsoft Windows, BeOS, Unix, Linux,
anything goes. The processor makes
full use of the internal memory, devices
that function with RISC OS as well. In
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The casing
he RiscPC
motherboard is
situated at the
bottom of the casing, which has
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room for the power
supply unit, cards
and several drives.
If you need more
Controllers
isk drives, hard disks or CD drives
can be connected to the built-in
IDE controller. If you wish, a
second IDE controller can be installed.
Several SCSI cards can be fitted as
well. There’s room to move for scanners, zip, jaz or DVD drives, CD writers
or rewriters, which, incidentally can be
connected to parallel ports as well.
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Video/memory/sound
or 2 Mb VRAM is provided for the
screen image. That is enough for a
range of up to 16 million colours.
Resolutions go as far as 1280 x 1024.
Specially designed technology enables
lightning-speed generation or refreshing of the image.
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The modular slices
room, extra slices
may be mounted
on top. In this way
you can stack up
to seven storeys,
enlarging the system at your will.
AM memory can be expanded to
256 Mb. Usually 4 or 8 Mb is more
than enough, since operating system and programmes are very small in
size.
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A
16 bit Soundblaster compatible
soundcard is included in the
system.
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RISC OS
The advantages of OS in ROM
he operating system is contained in
ROM. It is located in two 4Mb ROM
chips. It is very small but at the
same time very powerful, because it
was written especially for the ARM processors. This gives it a headstart from
the moment you switch on the computer. In addition, hardly any disk
space is needed for the operating system to work, and all the infamous viruses that many people are worried
about cannot affect it. Consequently,
re-installing your operating system to
get rid of any bugs or malfunctioning is
never necessary. All programme designers have kept to the original
concept through the years, which
means a pleasant consistency in
design. Routines that apply in one programme apply similarly in another.
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The art of multitasking
he multitasking capabilities are
among the strong points of the RISC
operating system. No matter whether one, ten, or fifty programmes are
active at any given moment, whether
there are just three or three hundred
windows open on your screen, operating speed is hardly affected. On top of
that, the whole system has been so
consistently designed that active programmes can work together because
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they were meant to
do so from the outset. This makes for
easy and speedy
action.
The desktop
he desktop is
the entire working area visible
on your screen. It
shows the windows of your programmes. The
large area occupying most of the
screen is called
the pinboard. It
can be specially
set up at the click
of a button for any
kind of work environment that a particular job requires.
To do this, you
drag and drop all
icons representing
the programmes
that you want to
use to the pinboard, and save
this constellation
under a suitable
name. In this way,
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for any wizard-like constructions to find
what you want.
The mouse
he mouse has three buttons: the
one on the left is used for selecting,
the one in the middle for contextdefined pop-up menus, and the one on
the right for various tricks and treats.
You will find some of them mentioned
under ‘windows and tricks ‘ but there
are many more. Because this system is
so simple and effective, your mouse
has an easy time and chances of RSI
are small.
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With anti-aliasing
Without anti-aliasing
a small file is
saved that brings
back your tailormade set-up at the
click of a mouse.
The status bar is
situated along the
bottom of the
screen and contains icons of installed devices on
the left, and active
programmes on
the right. Very
neat, and no need
Drag and drop
frequent action is exporting and importing files or objects. With RISC
OS this is simply a matter of dragging and dropping text or icons. Simply
drag a picture you just made with programme A into the active window of
programme B and it’s there! No cutting
and pasting! Quick and easy.
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Anti aliasing or ‘fuzzy font technique’
n order to produce on your screen
crisp, easily readable letters, even
small eight-point ones, RISC OS uses
Anti-Aliasing: a hardly visible edge of
grey pixels is generated around each
letter which eliminates the jagged effect
along the outline. This produces beauti-
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fully smooth letters which are easy to
read, however small they are. The pictures shown here illustrate the effect.
Less strain on the eyes!
The fonts
onts are managed by the operating
system as well. The bare system includes six standard fonts. But there
are thousands that can all be installed.
They can all be scaled smoothly from
two-point size to whatever size fits onto
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The three buttons of the mouse
your paper. There is no distinction
between screen fonts and printerfonts.
Windows and tricks
ne handy trick to know is that the
buttons for scrolling up and down
have a reverse effect if they are
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clicked on with the
right-hand mouse
button. The same
effect applies to
the left-right buttons. Moreover,
both vertical and
horizontal scrollbars can be moved
simultaneously by
dragging either of
them with the righthand mouse button. If you have a
window lying
‘behind’ another
window, you can
move it around by
‘grabbing’ it by its
title bar with the
right-hand mouse
button without it
popping to the
front.
Modular
construction
he operating
system contains
dozens of modules working together, which in
their turn are used
by active applica-
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tions. Many indispensible items are
therefore present
from the start and
need not be
defined separately
for each individual
programme. In this
way, programmes
remain small and
need little memory
space, thus speeding up the computing process.
allows for childishly simple installation
of programmes (drag-drop-instant action) and enables the user to set up his
work area at will, depending on the
nature of the job to be done. Moving
and removing of programmes and files
is as simple as can be. Saving and
copying of programmes and files is a
matter of one click and one drag.
Simplicity itself!
Computing achievements are
impressive
ISC OS manages several
filing systems,
devices and tasks,
co-ordinates the
active programmes, allows
for sheer limitless
multitasking,
provides clear
messages for the
user through a
beautiful and comfortable user interface, can be configured with ease,
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PROGRAMMES
Programmes in ROM
OM contains a range of ready-touse programmes and applications
for sound (Maestro), bitmap
editing(Paint), vector editing (Draw)
and text editing (Edit), a compression
utility (Squash) and interactive help
(Help). Although they are small, they do
excellent work. For those who have
high demands there are fine additions
in the form of the following
programmes:
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DTP
Impression, Ovation Pro, Publisher,
EasyWriter, TechWriter, Formulix,
HTML-Edit
Editors
Edit, StrongEd, Zap
Database
Datapower2, Masterfile, Squirrel, S-base
Spreadsheet
Eureka, FireWorkz, Pipedream, Schema
Kit, Vantage,
Vector, Topmodel2
Graphical bitmap
Aim, Compo,
Photodesk3,
Studio24 Pro
Presentation
CableNews
Professional, OHP
CAD/3D-CAD
WorraCad, ProCad,
Architech, Da
Vinci90
Sound/music/midi
Sibelius, Rhapsody
Multimedia/video/ani
mation
VideoDesk, Optima,
24i16, Cineworks,
Animator
Bookkeeping/administration
DiagramIt, Prophet3, Planning/Projecting,
Shares, Tablemate Pro, Vera,
1Statistics, Organizer
Internet,
communication
Hearsay, ArcTerm7,
ANT Internet Suite
II, Webster
Graphical vector editors
ArtWorks, Draw, DrawWorks, Font Design
Games
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Doom, Quake,
Destiny
Conversion (file import en export)
ImageFS, Translator,
ChangeFSI,
Creator, TypeOne
To Font, InterGif all
free of charge.
compression
ARCFS, PackDir,
SparkFS,
SparkPlug (Zip,
Arc, Tar), Split
Networks
Acorn Access+, NFS,
Omniclient,
LanManager,
AppleTalk (optional
via OmniClient),
TCP/IP Protocol
Suite, !X, XWindow Terminal,
IPX-protocol
(Novell)
Public domain
Too many to mention.
High quality.
lot of specific software has been
developed for education and institutional care, but also for special
needs groups like people with mental
and physical handicaps (image and
motion recognition).
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Other platforms under or parallel to
RISC OS
Linux
ARMLinux under RISC OS or Linux on
the PC-processor
UNIX BSD
UNIX under RISC OS or on the PCprocessor
Dos and Windows 3.x, 95, 98 and NT
on the PC-processor
Programming languages
programmability
rogrammes are written with the operating system’s task as point of departure, to ensure import and export and processing of events. All
aspects are subsequently forwarded to
the programme which in turn processes
the events. This is what the programmer is required to define. Apart from
this, there are four aspects that should
be taken into account: one file defining
the programmes operating environment, templates defining the appear-
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ance of the windows, icons to be used
for the programme symbol and any tailormade buttons, and a set of help and
message files. Since the operating system knows all these facilities (remember the modules mentioned earlier) any
defining can be compact and efficient.
The programmer is expected to adhere
to certain rules to ensure consistency
of all programming. This will reduce
learning time for the end user.
Programmability of RISC OS is outstanding, thanks partly to an excellent
Programmer’s Reference Manual and
the Style Guide.
ARM-assembler
Basic IV
C++
Java
RISC OS networking
n Maastricht, Holland, the Regionaal
Pedagogisch Centrum has 36 RISC
OS machines operating in a network. It
has three printer servers, one network
server and one database server. This
network never fails or crashes. The
manager is credited 40 work hours on
a yearly basis.
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Citrix ICA client
ISC OS computers can be
incorporated in
a Citrix ICA client
network. Even tenyear-old machines
can be still be
used in a network.
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Manageability and
costs.
n the RISC OS
world ‘only’ two
hundred viruses
are known, which
are quite controllable. RISC operating systems cannot be affected by
viruses of other
operating systems.
There are all kinds
of backup facilities,
learning time is
very short on account of the consistency of programmes, and
programmes can
be installed, relocated or removed
very simply indeed, making it
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possible for the
system to be set
up according to
your individual
needs. Prices are
admittedly higher
than those of other
systems, but the
hardware, the operating system, the
programmes and
expertise last
much longer thus
reducing economic
depreciation.
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LINKS
Dealers
f the nearest dealer is not close to your
home, you can order through the post
or by telephone, fax or e-mail. Your order will be delivered at home within two
working days and you will be the proud
owner of a RISC OS computer. Of
course they are ready to help you with
any queries you may have.
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Desk
esk has been a support centre for
RISC OS users since 1991 and
has most software and hardware in
stock.
http://www.deskvof.nl
telephone: +31 (0)10 2860541
fax: +31 (0)10 2860542
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ECD bv
Patrijsweg 16
2289 EX Rijswijk
http://www.ecd.nl
telephone: +31 (0)70 3194343
Uffenkamp Computer Systeme (UCS)
CS is a german dealer for Acorn,
RISC OS, Psion hard- and software with an extensive web-shop
http://www.ucs.de
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RISCOS Ltd
www.riscos.com
Castle Technology
www.castle.org.uk
RiscStation
www.riscstation.co.uk
MicroDigital
www.microdigital.co.uk
Millipede
www.millipede.co.uk
XAT
Scheldestraat 6
5347 JD Oss
http://www.xat.nl
telephone: +31 (0)412 634433
fax: +31 (0)412 643884
RISC OS based businesses
any of the companies mentioned
below have been using RISC OS
computers for years to their great
satisfaction. The motto is: RISC OS
works, also professionally.
M
!
!
#
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#
Busser & Busser facility management
&B offers professional help in setting up, reorganising and maintaining supportive processes in organisations.
http://www.feniks.demon.nl/start.htm
telephone: +31 (0)478 512123
fax: +31 (0)478 511633
Stichting Creatief
Beeldwerk
omputer illustrations and
DTP entirely
with RISC OS.
http://www.beeld
werk.demon.nl
telephone: 0161
433226
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Ottens’ Dutch Designs
’dd is a company for graphic
design that makes 2D, 3D and 4D
designs with RISC OS computers.
http://www.ottensdutchdesigns.com
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Topix
Software/demogroup
topix@dse.nl
http://www.dse.nl/~topix/
Arnhems Radiotherapeutisch Instituut; ArTech,
(technisch illustreren), Pijnacker; Smits
Reclame, Delft; BIC Benelux, Roosendaal; Bin
Mahjid, Oman; Bouwman Vioolbouw; British
School In The Netherlands; Café Vlaanderen,
Delft; Cinekid festival; Convergo Breda
(zorgsector); Cor de Jong Video; Delinkwentie &
Samenleving, Rotterdam; Donksbergen
Stichting, Duizel (zorgsector); Duits
Nederlandse Windtunnel, Lelystad; DSM
Geleen; ECN Petten; Erasmus Univ. Lab. v. Inw.
Geneeskunde, Rotterdam; ESA, Noordwijk;
Fachhochschule Bochum; Geodelta
Ingenieursbureau, Delft; Haags Centrum v.
Onderwijsbegeleiding; Hogeschool Enschede;
Hogeschool Nijmegen (Creatieve Therapie);
Inspecteur de Vriesschool (zorgsector); ITC,
Enschede; Kath. Univ. Nijmegen,
Tandheelkunde; Kitt, Enschede; Memo
Bedrijfsinrichting, Hoorn; Milieutech, Rosmalen;
Multifoon Hifi, Delft; Ned Instituut. v
Hersenonderzoek, Amsterdam; Nedstaal NV,
Alblasserdam; Nationaal Instituut v. Nieuwe
Technologie (NINT), A’dam; Nationaal
Laboratorium v. Lucht- en Ruimtevaart, A’dam;
NOB Facilitair bedrijf, Hilversum; Noordelijke
Hogeschool, Leeuwarden; Onze Lieve Vrouwe
Gasthuis Amsterdam; Philips Drachten;
Pohlkamp & van Riel, advokaten, Delft; Prince
Promotions, Utrecht; RK Onderwijs Den Haag;
ROTEB, Rotterdam; RPC, Maastricht;
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Rijkswaterstaat
Rotterdam;
Severinusstichting,
Veldhoven (zorgsector); Stuut & Bruin HiFi,
Den Haag; TPD TNO,
Delft; TU Twente;
TUDelft, Bouwkunde;
TU Delft, Industrieel
Ontwerpen; TUDelft
Technische
Natuurkunde; TU
Eindhoven; Univ.
Leiden, Biologie; Univ.
Leiden, Sociale
Wetenschappen;
Universiteit Antwerpen;
Univ. v. Amsterdam
Chem. Technologie;
Vuurvogel, Den Haag;
Waterloopkundig
Laboratorium,
Emmeloord.
User clubs
ISC OS users
meet. User
clubs organise
meetings for ex-
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those who want to ask questions by email, although it is not really meant to
be an official helpdesk.
ACorner, the user club of RISC OS in the
province of Limburg.
http://www.cuci.nl/~pscheele/ACorner/
telefoon: 043 361 63 01
perienced RISC
OS users and
those who intend
to be so. If you join
(yearly subscrip-
Acornisten
end an e-mail containing in its body
(not in the ‘subject’) the words subscribe acornisten to:
intacorobot@riscysite.demon.nl
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Big Ben Club
he national user club for Acorn and
RISC OS users.
http://www.nedernet.nl/~bigben
bigben@nedernet.nl
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tion rate dfl. 55.-)
there will be twelve
interesting meetings each year, but
you are just as
welcome if all you
want is to take a
peek. Ask for a
RISC OS demonstration. The
AcornistenList is a
mailing list for
Colofon:
ontributors to this leaflet: André van
den Berg, Ike Busser, Wim Luinge
(translations) Maarten en Steven
Ottens (graphic design), Nico ter Haar,
Peter Hillebrink, Frank Kraaij, Rien
Mertens, Paul Reuvers, Léon Ruwette,
Peter Scheele (editor), Paul Sprangers
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