Article: RISC OS 4 Myths

This review was originally published in RISCWorld Volume 1 Issue 3.

Aaron Timbrell dispells a few myths and rumours about RISC OS 4.

Over the last few months I have heard some amazing things about RISC OS 4. At the Acorn South East Show I had many potential users say that they would like RISC OS 4 (RO4) but some of the things they had heard had put them off. So here are some of the more common myths about RO4, and the real truth.

  • You need to have it installed by an approved installer

No. RO4 can be installed by anyone. If you can fit a StrongARM card then you are more than qualified to fit RO4 yourself. The only reason for going to an approved installer is that if your machine is less than 12 months old you will void the warranty by opening the lid and fitting the new OS.

  • RISC OS 4 is difficult to install

Again not true. Installation involves simply running the !Install program on the supplied CD. This backs up your original !Boot sequence and then installs the new OS4 !Boot, applications and resources. Once this has been completed you just have to shut down the machine, open the top, change the two ROM chips on the motherboard and turn the computer back on with the delete key held down.

  • But I dont feel confident to install it, so I am going to have to pay an approved installer lots of money to do it for me!

Well if you want to get an approved installer to fit the upgrade then you can. RISCOS Ltd even include a rebate voucher with RO4 that can be redeemed by the dealer who is fitting the upgrade for you.

  • You need a Strong ARM processor to use RISC OS 4.

No, any of the processors that were fitted to RiscPC computers can be used with RO4. This includes ARM610, ARM 710 and of course StrongARM processors. People are amazed at the speed increase when running RO4 on their 610/710 processor cards. Users may remember that when the ARM 710 was released it cost more than RO4 does now, and offered less of a speed increase.

  • But I have to re-format my hard disc dont I?

RO4 will work perfectly well using an old format hard disc. You do not have to re-format your hard disc unless you want to use long file names. Indeed my personal machine runs RO4 on a hard disc that was originally formatted on RISC OS 3.7 over 3 years ago. In fact I often recommend to people that they do not re-format the hard drive until they have a need for long file names or more than 77 files in a directory.

  • Ah, but I will need a much bigger new hard disc costing lots of money!

No, any RISC PC computer, even those built right back in 1994, have a hard disc big enough to fit RO4 without any problems. If your hard disc is full then you could buy a newer, faster and bigger one for well under £100. Of course then you could format the new hard drive for use with long file names. By connecting both drives to the IDE interface in the computer you could copy your files from one drive to another. However dont forget that the new RO4 disc format is much more efficient than the older E format. You may find that after you have installed RO4 you actually have more free hard disc space then you did before!

  • All my old software wont work any more.

Rubbish! With very very few exceptions if a piece of software runs on a Strong ARM machine with RISC OS 3.7 then it will work on RO4. Even many older applications work fine. This even includes Acorn Advance. Indeed many programs that were originally written for RISC OS 2 will run perfectly, only a lot lot faster, on RO4.

  • All very well, but its expensive, isnt it?

The all inclusive price with VAT and carriage is just £120. This not only includes RO4 but also a host of bundled applications including !Writer from Icon technology, !ImageFS2 from Alternative Publishing, !Organizer from Chris Morrison and !Vector from 4Mation. If you were to buy this software at the full rrp it would come to more than the cost of RO4! Of course users of machines on other platforms would easily pay more than £120 just for the speed increase RO4 offers.

  • What about future development?

RISCOS Ltd and PACE are committed to continually developing RISC OS as are software and hardware developers. You only have to look at recent developments from companies such as Castle, RiscStation and the planned Millipede machine to see that there is a future for RISC OS computers. Software developers are continuing to release new and updated products which in the future may well require RO4 for some features to be available.

Of course older versions of RISC OS still work very well, but RO4 is the future. Do you want to be left behind? If not contact your nearest dealer and ask about RISC OS 4 or check out the RISCOS Ltd website at www.riscos.com

Aaron Timbrell


© 3QD Developments Ltd 2015