RISC OS Gets An Update

There should be rejoicing among fans of the original ARM operating system this week, as the venerable RISC OS received its version 5.30 update. It contains up-to-date versions of the bundled software as well as for the first time, out-of-the-box WiFi support, and best of all, it can run on all Raspberry Pi models except the Pi 5. If you’ve not encountered RISC OS before, it’s the continuing development of the OS supplied with the first ARM product, the Acorn Archimedes. As such it’s a up-to-date OS but with an interface that feels like those of the early 1990s.

We like RISC OS here, indeed we reviewed the previous version this year, so naturally out came the Hackaday Pi 3 and an SD card to run it on. It’s as smooth and quick as it ever was, but sadly try as we might, we couldn’t get the Pi’s wireless interface to appear in the list of available network cards. This almost certainly has more to do with us than it does the OS, but it would have been nice to break free from the tether of the network cable. The included Netsurf 3.11 browser is nippy but a little limited, and just as it was during our review, sadly not capable of editing a Hackaday piece or we’d be using it to write this.

It’s great to see this operating system still under active development, and we can see that it so nearly fulfills our requirement here for a lightweight OS on the road. For those of us who used the original version, then called Arthur, it’s a glimpse of how desktop computing could, or perhaps even should, have been.

11 thoughts on “RISC OS Gets An Update

  1. Ah, RISCOS was so ahead of its time… Vector graphics, fast multitasking, a really nice GUI at a time when the competition was a 80286 or 68000 with Win 3.1 or Gem. Fond memories…
    I sadly finally put my old non functional machine to ewaste last month, sniff…

  2. “it’s a glimpse of how desktop computing could, or perhaps even should, have been.”

    Don’t forget, Windows 95 was quite influenced by RISC OS as there was a reasonable UK contingent to the team.

    1. That’s pretty interesting, I thought the Win95 team was all from the US. Do you mean in particular, the taskbar? Are there any articles and references for this?

      1. there were several Brits on the Win95 team (on the Win311 team, too, in fact), one of whom took progman and winfile and combined them into explorer (including the taskbar & start menu). there was at least one functioning Archimedes in one of their offices at that time.

      2. It was certainly a rumour at the time within Acorn, and I’ve seen someone claim they were on the ’95 dev team validating it on hacker news. Granted, you can’t trust the internet, but UX-wise we were so far ahead of Windows 3.1, I’d be surprised if MS _hadn’t _ seen it.

        OTOH, look how rubbish MS has always been at anti-aliasing…

    1. Most modules in RISC OS are written in C, and have been for at least 30 years. However, some of the more fundamental parts of the system, such as the filing system modules, BASIC and the window manager, are assembly language. This does make development more challenging!

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