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Last Update: 2022-11-23 02:36 UTC

RISC OS is a computer operating system originally designed by Acorn Computers Ltd in Cambridge, England in 1987. RISC OS was specifically designed to run on the ARM chipset, which Acorn had designed concurrently for use in its new line of Archimedes personal computers. It takes its name from the RISC (reduced instruction set computing) architecture supported. Fast, compact and efficient, RISC OS is developed and tested by a loyal community of developers and users. RISC OS is not a version of Linux, nor is it in any way related to Windows, and it has a number of unique features and aspects to its design.

Popularity (hits per day): 12 months: 226 (35), 6 months: 213 (37), 3 months: 209 (35), 4 weeks: 214 (31), 1 week: 209 (30)

Average visitor rating: 9.5/10 from 2 review(s).

RISC OS Summary
Distribution RISC OS (formerly RISC OS Open)
Home Page https://www.riscosopen.org/
Mailing Lists --
User Forums https://www.riscosopen.org/forum/
Alternative User Forums
Documentation https://www.riscosopen.org/wiki/
Screenshots --
Download Mirrors https://www.riscosopen.org/content/downloadsDistroWatch Torrent Archive
Bug Tracker https://www.riscosopen.org/tracker/
Related Websites RISC OS BlogRISC OS PackagingRISCOScodeWikipedia
Where To Buy or Try

Recent Related News and Releases
  Releases announcements with download links and checksums:
 • 2020-10-24: OS Release: RISC OS 5.28
 • 2017-04-21: Development Release: RISC OS Open RC15
 • 2015-02-24: Development Release: RISC OS Open RC14
 • More RISC releases...

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Feature 5.28 5.24
Release Date 2022-02-10 2018-04-23
End Of Life    
Price (US$) Free Free
Image Size (MB) 100-200 100-200
Free Download IMG IMG
Installation -- --
Default Desktop Pinboard Pinboard
Package Management    
Release Model Fixed Fixed
Office Suite -- --
Processor Architecture armv6hl, armv7 armv6hl, armv7
Init Software other other
Journaled File Systems    
Asian Language Support    
Full Package List    

Reader Ratings
Reader supplied reviews for RISC OS

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Version: 5.28
Rating: 10
Date: 2022-11-19
Votes: 7

Having used RISC OS for about 34 years, and the Open Source version since 2018, RISC OS seems to be a very good OS. RISC OS is the very first widely distributed OS for computers using the ARM CPU.

RISC OS is mostly written in ARM Assembly Language and runs very fast on any ARM HW that it supports. It stays out of the way when needed, while providing for very good services and just the correct amount of memory protection (in my view). The native API/ABI of the OS is very intuitive and easy for a single person to understand completely. This simplicity makes programming for the OS much more capable than it could be. RISC OS truly obeys the rule of KISS to provide more ability.

Most of the features of RISC OS are provided by Modules, a method of extending or patching the OS in a logical way. Modules are the RISC OS native form of OS and User Libraries, having many advantages over other forms from the view of some at least. Even the kernel shows itself as a module.

RISC OS has a unique Windowing System (simply called WIMP) that provides for a very usable environment to produce Applications that are very easy to use once one is accustomed to the UI. Being different from others there is a bit of a learning curve for those new to the OS.

The Desktop Environment built into RISC OS (known as Desktop) consists of a few simple modules working together, and provides for a very complete experience. The Desktop Environment aids in keeping a simple UI (once one is accustomed to it), that allows for a level of Drag and Drop unheard of on any other OS or OS distro that I am aware of. Even saving files is done with drag and drop, by dragging to a file window in the desktop to specify where to save (without any standard file dialogs at all). Dragging data from one application to another makes for easy cross application work, allowing more to be done with simple applications, more easily than for modern systems, even to the point of being more capable than modern mega applications.

Do the the long history of RISC OS, there are a huge number of applications of all kinds available for just about any possible need. It helps that the OS maintains binary compatibility from the first version to the current version, even where the ARM has changed in what would seem to be incompatible ways (though only AARCH32 as it is now known).

RISC OS is a good somewhat lite weight OS, with the current version taking as little as 8MB of RAM at startup (assuming a softload ROM image, less if using an actual in ROM version). This may seem a little bit heavy, though there are versions that take even less and it is possible to build a custom ROM that can take a good amount less.

From a programmers point of view RISC OS is great. With ARM Assembly being among the nicest Assembly Languages of any CPU, and the API / ABI being very much ARM native, this is a greatly eloquent OS to program for. Though ti should be noted that C is not an ideal language for the structure of RISC OS (assembly language being Ideal, with some good options for HLL's).

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Version: 5.28
Rating: 9
Date: 2022-09-13
Votes: 4

This OS has seen its hey day, but, if it was bought back to life I would be using it! I used RISC OS since version 3.1 4.x and now 5.28 on RPi and RiscOs Select 6.20 on RPCEmu. I still own a RiscStation R7500. It takes a bit of getting used to for the uninitiated, this operating system was doing things in the 80s and 90s that other systems implemented decades later.

I have installed a complete suite of apps from word processors, graphics, desktop publishing, databases, networking etc. The best part is that I can just drag and drop anything into anything else and it just works. So, I can create something in Vecotor graphics and drag it into Writer+ and there it is. Techwriter Pro, which is still being sold, allows files to be saved in word, RTF and Tex formats, otherwise you're stuck with proprietary formats . However, files can be exported to PDF.

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