Since getting my second RasPi I’ve been eager to give the old Acorn operating system RISC OS a bash on it. Acorn’s processors (ARM) are of course now the most used chips in the world, all Apple iPads and iPhones as well as most other smart phones use ARM chips as they are low power requirements and don’t kick off a load of heat. The low-priced Raspberry Pi also has an ARM chip on and so some bright person has managed to port RISC OS onto an SD card image.

I’ve not used RISC OS for years, and it has been developed in a fairly modest way. When Acorn’s desktop computers were cancelled in 1997, RISC OS was a really good competitor for Windows (not sure about Mac OS) and with the same development still could be (though really it is easy behind the latest versions of OSX, Windows and Linux now). It is really very fast, much faster than Linux alternatives for the RasPi, and looks good. There are a few issues I ran across, some because the image is still in a Alpha state, but others because of RISC OS itself:

  • I have been using a portable bluetooth mouse on the RaspPi – RISC OS didn’t like this and on getting to the desktop it just hung. A £2.95 Asda smart price mouse sorted this issue out!
  • I took the attached screenshot, and then wondered how to get it off the RaspPi to do this blog post on the Mac. This brought my next issue:
  • A decent web browser for RISC OS??? I thought I’d just email the screenshot or put it in my Dropbox or Skydrive to transfer between computers, easy you may think? Well no, because all these online systems need Javascript and no RISC OS browsers support it! Well one browser, the old Webster XL apparently does but the download link doesn’t work. Somebody seems to have ported Firefox 2 but I couldn’t get it to work. The only ‘modern’ web browser is Netsurf, but they say Javascript is a long way off.

So, I’ll continue to mess with the images as they are released, but to be a competitor for the RaspPi, they need to get a browser sorted, and make sure the common programming languages are installed and easy to use – a port of Scratch would be nice as well!!