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RISC OS


Last Update: 2024-04-27 12:28 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: 177 (47), 6 months: 142 (59), 3 months: 113 (86), 4 weeks: 195 (31), 1 week: 202 (29)

Average visitor rating: 9.75/10 from 4 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 --
Screencasts
Download Mirrors https://www.riscosopen.org/content/downloadsDistroWatch Torrent Archive
Bug Tracker https://www.riscosopen.org/tracker/
Related Websites RISC OS BlogRISC OS PackagingRISCOScodeWikipedia
Reviews  
Where To Donate, Buy, or Try

Recent Related News and Releases
  Releases announcements with download links and checksums:
 • 2024-04-28: OS Release: RISC OS 5.30
 • 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 5.30 5.28 5.24
Release Date 2024-04-27 2022-02-10 2018-04-23
End Of Life      
Price (US$) Free Free Free
Image Size (MB) 100-200 100-200 100-200
Free Download IMG IMG IMG
Installation -- -- --
Default Desktop Pinboard Pinboard Pinboard
Package Management      
Release Model Fixed Fixed Fixed
Office Suite -- -- --
Processor Architecture armv6hl, armv7 armv6hl, armv7 armv6hl, armv7
Init Software other other other
Journaled File Systems      
Multilingual      
Asian Language Support      
Full Package List      

Reader Ratings
Reader supplied reviews for RISC OS

Average rating
9.8
from 4 review(s)



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Past reviews - sort by:

Version: 5.30
Rating: 10
Date: 2024-05-15
Votes: 16


So many changes in 5.30, it's great to see.
I've installed RISC-OS on a variety of systems going way back to RISC-OS 2 on an Acorn A310 to RISC-OS 3 on an A3000, through a RISC-PC and 3.71 and then plenty od versions on Raspberry Pi's.

The simplest way to install RISC-OS on a Raspberry Pi is to install it onto an SD card via the Pi Foundation's own Pi Imager software. It's then go to the "Other General Purpose Operating Systems" in the 'Operating System' menu drop-down.
Burn it to the SD card and then voila! Your very own installation of RISC-OS, a 35 year old Operating System that was built for this exact processor by the very same people who designed the ARM processor.



Was this review helpful? Yes No
Version: 5.28
Rating: 10
Date: 2023-09-18
Votes: 59


RISC OS 5.28 stands out as a lightweight and efficient operating system, offering a unique computing experience rooted in its rich history dating back to the 1980s. In an era where many operating systems have become resource-intensive and bulky, RISC OS 5.28 shines by providing exceptional efficiency, even on modest hardware, such as the Raspberry Pi, resulting in impressive speed and responsiveness.

A notable aspect of RISC OS 5.28 is its robust software ecosystem, which, while not as extensive as mainstream alternatives, features high-quality applications. Among these, two proprietary applications, Artworks 2 and TextEase, deserve special mention. Artworks 2 is a powerful vector graphics editor suitable for graphic designers and illustrators, offering advanced features for creating stunning visuals with precision and versatility. TextEase serves as a versatile word processing and desktop publishing suite, simplifying document creation and editing across various applications, from crafting documents to designing newsletters and marketing materials. It offers an intuitive interface and comprehensive tools for document preparation.

Additionally, RISC OS 5.28 offers several other valuable software applications, including OpenVector, an excellent free vector graphics editor, and the now open source Ovation Pro, a versatile desktop publishing suite ideal for creating professional-quality publications. Furthermore, Fireworks and Pipedreams 4 encompass open source word processors and spreadsheet applications, streamlining productivity and data management tasks.

As for networking capabilities, RISC OS 5.28 supports various protocols, including VNC (Virtual Network Computing), which allows remote desktop access and control, enhancing collaboration and remote work capabilities. Avalanche which establishes a connection to a remote computer by replicating its display within a window. FTPc, an FTP client/server, facilitates file transfers to and from remote servers with ease. NetSurf, An open-source web browser for RISC OS is continually updated to provide modern web browsing capabilities while remaining lightweight, albeit, not to modern web standards. In this regard, other browsers such as Qupzilla and Otter Browser are available with varying degrees of success, however, a Webkit browser called Iris is currently under development.

RISC OS 5 provides a rich programming environment by supporting several programming languages, including BBC BASIC, ARM assembler, C, Python, and Lua. BBC BASIC, with its heritage dating back to the BBC Microcomputer, remains an integral part of the RISC OS ecosystem. It offers a simple and efficient platform, making it an ideal choice for both novice and experienced programmers. Python, a versatile high-level language, has been successfully ported to RISC OS, empowering developers to create a wide range of applications, from web development to scientific computing. Furthermore, Lua, known for its lightweight and extensible nature, enhances RISC OS's scripting capabilities.

The transition to open source has breathed new life into RISC OS, inspiring hope for its continued development. The open-source model encourages collaboration and innovation, particularly in areas like the aforementioned modern browser development. This shift not only ensures the OS's growth but also fosters a community-driven approach that holds the promise of exciting improvements and expansions in the future. RISC OS 5.28 is a remarkable operating system, offering unique efficiency and a unique and diverse software ecosystem to cater to a wide range of user needs, making it a compelling choice for those seeking a responsive and versatile computing experience that is very different to other platforms.




Was this review helpful? Yes No
Version: 5.28
Rating: 10
Date: 2022-11-19
Votes: 82


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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