The RISC OS Select Scheme FAQ
Paul Middleton answers some of the questions that are likely to be uppermost in readers' minds about the new RISC OS Select scheme
This article addresses the following broad topics about the RISC OS Select scheme and related matters. Click on the links below to jump to the associated heading, and on the headings themselves to scroll back to the top of the article:
A: A continuing series of updates to RISC OS in a staggered fashion over a period of approximately two years. The alternative would be to wait until everything is ready for a once-off release. The trouble is that the speed of change, and the timescale for producing ROMs, would mean that any product that was released on ROM would be at least six months out of date when it was shipped. In some ways you could liken it to RISC OS insurance, or a subscription to a virus protection scheme.
Q: I've got two machines and want to upgrade them both. Do I have to pay for Select twice?
Q: Why have you opted for a personal approach to the scheme rather than locking each upgrade to a single machine?
Q: I represent a school and want to install Select on fifty machines. How much is that going to cost?
Q: Won't this multiple-machine approach lead to piracy? Some Select members might give or sell copies of the latest CDs to their friends, or install a single subscription CD on more machines than one scheme covers. And how can you stop piracy via the Web site, if users give their passwords to their friends?
We believe that RISC OS users will want to pay for their upgrades. Or, more precisely, they will be prepared to pay for one upgrade even if they own more than one machine.
The cost has been set at a price that we think is reasonable to cover the development costs involved.
Q: When's the first CD due out?
Q: What will be on the Select Web site?
Q: Will users who don't join Select be able to buy occasional one-off upgrade CDs to update their OS?
A: Well, we could have made it £200 for each major upgrade and brought it out in two years' time. But we felt that people would prefer to start having upgrades now and effectively pay for it in instalments.
Q: The Select scheme is advertised as providing "up to three CDs per year": does that mean that in some years there may only be one CD? £100 is a lot for just one or maybe two CDs!
Q: I've put off buying RISC OS 4 so far because I'm happy with RISC OS 3.7, but I think I'd like to join Select to get up to date. But why should I have to get RISC OS 4 and Select? That's like buying two upgrades! Why can't Select work with RISC OS 3.5 onwards?
Q: Maybe getting the first Select CD is a good idea, but what happens after that? Won't you just be offering small bug-fixes after the initial major update?
Q: How long is the Select scheme going to last? If RISC OS 5 appears in a year or two, will it be covered by Select or will it be a whole new upgrade?
A: New machines will inevitably need slightly different versions of RISC OS, but the basis of those versions will be the current RISC OS 4.02. Major new features will only be available to Select members.
Q: I like the idea of regular updates, but I'd still like new versions in ROM sometimes. Why can't you have, say, an annual ROM-based issue with 'top-up' modules on CD?
Also, the ROM sockets are not really designed for constant replacing of ROMs and to make ROM sets available would cost at least £25 per set.
Q: Many users have RISC OS 4 upgrades on Flash ROMs which can be rewritten. Can you offer a service to allow those users to have their existing ROMs upgraded with the new versions of RISC OS?
Q: Will the new multiple-user boot system transform RISC OS into a true multi-user operating system like Unix, with full control over access privileges and the ability to give individuals their own, private parts of a machine? Or will it just allow several users to set up their own individual sets of application choices?
For example, Dad at home will enable a particular set of Internet settings and printers, whilst Child A at school would have a different set of Internet settings and printers.
Q: How will it be possible to boot RISC OS from various different devices, such as hard disc, CD or network, which may all be available on a single machine? And will it be possible to use Select versions of RISC OS on machines without a hard disc, like the new Slym from Cumana?
The Slym machine will have Flash ROM instead of hard disc, so it will be possible for the dealer to reprogram the machine. The end-user will not be allowed to do the job, simply to prevent unauthorised reprogramming.
Q: I don't like the idea of soft-loading the whole operating system. It's going to eat up between 4Mb and 8Mb of RAM, and I've only got a 16Mb Risc PC. Aren't you going the way of Windows and Mac OS by demanding vast amounts of memory? One of the advantages of RISC OS being in ROM in the past is that it hasn't wasted any of the RAM in the machine.
Q: Won't soft-loading the OS take a long time and add significantly to the boot-up time of the machine?
Q: I don't like disc-based operating systems because they're slow and prone to being corrupted. What happens if my hard drive fails or I get a virus?
The original ROM is still in the machine, so if all else fails you will still be left with a workable RISC OS 4.0x machine. As for the question of speed, executing code from RAM is actually faster than from ROM.
Q: Then why have you given the next RISC OS upgrade the project name of RISC OS 4.5?
RISC OS 5 is the project code for 32-bit versions of RISC OS.
There is no specific fixed goal for RISC OS development. We want to bring out as many upgrades and new features as possible, rather than limiting ourselves to a fixed set of upgrades.
Q: What will RISC OS be known as once Select has started? Will there be a regular version point increase (4.1 for the first CD, 4.2 for the next and so on) or will the OS as a whole be updated less frequently?
Q: If the OS is being updated in piecemeal fashion, won't this lead to a lot of fragmentation in the market, with people running lots of different and perhaps incompatible versions of RISC OS 4?
Q: What happens when a new piece of software needs to use a new module which has been improved as part of the Select scheme? If users aren't on Select, they won't have the necessary module, and that will reduce the number of people who can run the new software. Will programmers be able to distribute individual modules for use with their applications as has sometimes happened in the past?
Q: Why have you stopped development of the 32-bit RISC OS 5? Doesn't Pace need a 32-bit version of RISC OS for its products? What will happen when 26-bit-compatible chips like the StrongARM stop being available?
We have simply stated that we are not producing a 32-bit RISC OS at present because you don't need it for use on current machines, and none of the current hardware manufacturers has made a commitment to justify the development at present.
We can't speak for Pace.
The timetable for extinction of 26-bit-capable processors is still some way off.
A: Write in or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, saying you want to register, and we will send out the necessary forms. These will be on the Web site in due course.
Q: Exactly what benefits do I get as an associated developer?
Q: What form will the support material on the Web site take?
Q: I'd like more support than this, but the price of becoming a full Registered Developer is prohibitively expensive at £1000 per year. I'm running a small business with small margins, and your full scheme is much too expensive. How can you justify such a price, and is there no middle ground?
The middle ground is simply to charge on a per-call basis for support, which is likely to be in the region of £50 per hour.