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The Icon Bar: News and features: What is the point of RISCOS Ltd?
 

What is the point of RISCOS Ltd?

Posted by Jeffrey Lee on 19:00, 7/11/2009 | , , , , , , , ,
 
What is the point of RISCOS Ltd?After hearing the news that videos from the recent RISC OS London Show are now available online, I decided to take a look at what RISCOS Ltd had to say in their presentation. The results I found to be quite shocking...
 
Disclaimer: Although I've obviously been doing a lot of work for RISC OS Open recently, I am not a member of ROOL, nor am I speaking on behalf of ROOL (or The Icon Bar). The opinions expressed below are mine and mine alone, and any likeness or resemblence to any other person's opinions is entirely coincidental.
 

 
Firstly, despite the concerns of a couple of the more "distant" members of the TIB staff, it looks like ROL are still alive and are still running the Select scheme. Rather unsurprisingly, they say (at 16:25) that their cashflow isn't stable enough for them to commit to any timetable/roadmap for what's going into future releases. They also cite (at around 23:40) commercial confidentiality reasons for not being able to announce the Vpod-related graphics improvements ahead of time. All fair enough so far.
 
But then, at 38:50, when he talks about the lack of RISC OS 6 on the A9home, ROL big-wig Paul Middleton gives a rather shocking answer:
"The A9home, one of the problems there is simply, it's hit the point where things have got to be done, we just don't have the people who have got the skills to actually solve the problem."
And at 40:10:
"All we can practically do is the areas that we've got people that have got interest in. And I think you can probably guess, the areas that people have got an interest in are [...] graphics"
I.e. even though subscribing to the RISC OS Select scheme means that you'll be funding the development of RISC OS, there's no system in place to ensure that the money is being spent on areas that actually need development. If they come across a problem that's too complex for their skill set, or involves working on an area that doesn't hold any interest to the programmer in question, they'll just ignore it. Basically ROL have no direction and no commitments. They say that in the past they've always been sub-contracted to work on things (Omega, A9home, Vpod), but without an external company to give them a goal and a source of funding they're content with just sitting there free-wheeling and soaking up the cash of the Select scheme subscribers.
 
At least Castle were smart enough to realise that they didn't have enough money left to fund the development of the OS, and as a result they open(ish)-sourced it to allow the remaining desktop users to look after it themselves.
 
In fact, what is the point of ROL if they don't have any developers who are working on the code full-time?
 
They can't claim that the money from the Select scheme is putting food on the table of any of their employees (43:25 - "We don't have any programmers whose full time job is doing RISC OS"). And they can't claim that they're using the money to fix any of the real issues with the OS. They can't even claim that they're using it to improve the desktop experience, because they don't produce any roadmaps detailing what they're working on for the next version. Even after a release has been made there's no guarantee that they'll disclose any useful information as to what's changed (see the Select 5i2 changelist, for example). They're just using their subscribers money to provide an extra bit of income to fund the whims of the developers.
 
One thing is now clear to me - with Castle effectively dead and ROL lacking direction, the long-term future of the OS has been left entirely in the hands of its users. We've therefore got to ask ourselves how we want to proceed:

Continue as things are now

The ROOL supporters will continue to support ROOL, and the ROL supporters will continue to support ROL, even though neither can presently guarantee the long-term future of the OS. In the end one side will come out on top, but there's no telling how long that will take or how much the market will shrink in the meantime.

Convince ROL to work on the ROOL codebase

This would be a hard sell for ROL, as it would effectively involve them abandoning the last 10 years of their work. Their pride may also be a problem - could they bring themselves to work on "the enemy"'s code?
 
And also, if the ROL developers were to suddenly start getting paid to work on the ROOL codebase, how would the people currently doing work for free react? Would ROOL possibly lose momentum rather than gain it?

Convince ROOL to work on the ROL codebase

Of course convincing ROOL themselves to work on the ROL code is probably impossible, but if all the ROOL supporters were to throw their time and money at ROL, what would happen? Would ROL gain the funding and skill they need to rescue the OS, or would they still lack the determination and direction that's preventing them from getting RISC OS 6 working on the A9home? Or is there simply not enough money left in the market to guarantee the success of a commercial branch of the OS? (The last time ROL tried asking for money, for the Select on Iyonix scheme, they fell far short of the target they believed they needed to reach for the venture to be commercially viable, and thus the project was scrapped).
 
And there's also the question of how many ROOL supporters could be convinced to support ROL in the first place, considering ROL's current lack of direction, and the fact that ROOL are so close to having the full OS source released under the shared source license.
 
To mis-quote Paul Middleton (at 33:05, when he's talking about the open/shared source threat): "If you're doing a job, and you've got the skill to do it, you should get paid for it" - which is exactly why I'm not paying ROL, because they're not doing the job!

Links


 
  What is the point of RISCOS Ltd?
  This is a long thread. Click here to view the threaded list.
 
Eric Rucker Message #112355, posted by bhtooefr at 20:01, 14/12/2009, in reply to message #112354
Member
Posts: 336
Ship it in a box (ala HP,) with a cell phone that initiates a video call when the box is opened. tongue

Also, the files have been added to my server, and the torrent has been updated: http://thepiratebay.org/torrent/5218152
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Martin Bazley Message #118925, posted by swirlythingy at 20:34, 2/10/2011, in reply to message #112324

Posts: 460
When I have a little more spare time - perhaps one day over Christmas - I might look at all the sets of accounts in some detail, form some opinions and write up a few notes. To be fair, with the small amount of information presented in the accounts, there's very little that really can be done along these lines - so in all likelihood there won't be a great deal to say, but I'm sure something interesting could be gleaned from a good read/analysis of them.

If I do, I'll probably post the results on http://www.riscository.com, and put a link to it on the relevant page on riscos.info (if I can remember my login for that!)
*ahem*
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
VinceH Message #118940, posted by VincceH at 16:23, 3/10/2011, in reply to message #118925
VincceH
Lowering the tone since the dawn of time

Posts: 1583
When I have a little more spare time
*ahem*
Whenever I say something to that effect, there's an implicit "Don't hold your breath" that goes with it. Clearly, I never found the time.

And time is even more short supply at the moment - if I could even find the relevant files again, which I might not even have been carried across in a laptop change.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Jason Togneri Message #118944, posted by filecore at 17:11, 3/10/2011, in reply to message #118940

Posts: 3867
if I could even find the relevant files again, which I might not even have been carried across in a laptop change.
You mean these files?
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
VinceH Message #118952, posted by VincceH at 22:40, 3/10/2011, in reply to message #118944
VincceH
Lowering the tone since the dawn of time

Posts: 1583
if I could even find the relevant files again, which I might not even have been carried across in a laptop change.
You mean these files?
That'll be the ones.

That's those found, then.

Now, what was that other thing I needed to find that's in short supply? unhappy
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Peter Howkins Message #118955, posted by flibble at 23:20, 3/10/2011, in reply to message #118952
flibble

Posts: 864
Now, what was that other thing I needed to find that's in short supply? unhappy
Cake? Too much is never enough.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
qUE Message #118956, posted by qUE at 23:33, 3/10/2011, in reply to message #118952
qUE

Posts: 168
if I could even find the relevant files again, which I might not even have been carried across in a laptop change.
You mean these files?
That'll be the ones.

That's those found, then.

Now, what was that other thing I needed to find that's in short supply? :(
Lobotomy before you look at the documents?
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Jason Togneri Message #118958, posted by filecore at 08:33, 4/10/2011, in reply to message #118952

Posts: 3867
That's those found, then.

Now, what was that other thing I needed to find that's in short supply? unhappy
Enthusiasm? Interest in RISC OS? Hot chicks who think you're funny?
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
VinceH Message #118961, posted by VincceH at 10:46, 4/10/2011, in reply to message #118958
VincceH
Lowering the tone since the dawn of time

Posts: 1583
That's those found, then.

Now, what was that other thing I needed to find that's in short supply? unhappy
Enthusiasm? Interest in RISC OS?
Yeah, those as well.

Hot chicks who think you're funny?
They aren't just in short supply. They became extinct in the late 90s.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Bryan Hogan Message #118962, posted by helpful at 12:04, 4/10/2011, in reply to message #118961
Member
Posts: 188
Hot chicks who think you're funny?
They aren't just in short supply. They became extinct in the late 90s.
I don't believe they ever existed laugh

Or should that be Crybaby
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Trevor Johnson Message #118967, posted by trevj at 12:55, 4/10/2011, in reply to message #118961
Member
Posts: 660
Hot chicks who think you're funny?
They aren't just in short supply. They became extinct in the late 90s.
Well, it's kind of funny to be into RISC OS. Doesn't that count for anything?
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
VinceH Message #118974, posted by VincceH at 17:34, 4/10/2011, in reply to message #118967
VincceH
Lowering the tone since the dawn of time

Posts: 1583
Hot chicks who think you're funny?
They aren't just in short supply. They became extinct in the late 90s.
Well, it's kind of funny to be into RISC OS. Doesn't that count for anything?
I'm assuming he meant funny-haha.

There are no shortages of hot chicks who think I'm funny-weird. In fact, if anything numbers of these are on the increase.

This is not actually as good a thing as it might at first seem.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Trevor Johnson Message #119135, posted by trevj at 09:28, 17/10/2011, in reply to message #118952
Member
Posts: 660
Now, what was that other thing I needed to find that's in short supply? unhappy
(getting back on topic)
  • ROL at a show
They've done useful work on their fork of the OS, and presumably retain a number of Select subscribers.

This year's SW show seems to have been their highlight, although they were also present at Wakefield. But they didn't make the 2011 Midlands MUG Show and now "Unfortuanately [sic] due to a clashing commitment, RISCOS Ltd are now unable to attend" the RISC OS London Show 2011 (NEWS 2011-10-14).

Will any Select subscribers in the London area be present to discuss this at tonight's ROUGOL "Informal meeting"?

[Edited by trevj at 12:06, 17/10/2011]
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Bryan Hogan Message #119140, posted by helpful at 12:34, 17/10/2011, in reply to message #119135
Member
Posts: 188
They've done useful work on their fork of the OS
I wish they would bundle up (for sale!) some of their changes into a form that could be loaded onto RO5, e.g the ImageFileRender stuff, Draw and Paint that use IFR, Pinboard, Filer, etc.

Will any Select subscribers in the London area be present to discuss this at tonight's ROUGOL "Informal meeting"?
All welcome to join the discussion, and hear the latest exciting news about the show - we've added 4 more exhibitors since ROL pulled out on Friday smile

Unfortuanately [sic]
Plus you can watch our webmaster get a good thrashing annoying me
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Trevor Johnson Message #119142, posted by trevj at 13:06, 17/10/2011, in reply to message #119140
Member
Posts: 660
I wish they would bundle up (for sale!) some of their changes into a form that could be loaded onto RO5, e.g the ImageFileRender stuff, Draw and Paint that use IFR, Pinboard, Filer, etc.
That'd be a good move by them. But we'd still all be wondering how the income would be spent... Further work on 32-bit (+ ARMv7) compatibility? Finalise the A9 OS? Innovations in emulation?
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Peter Howkins Message #119146, posted by flibble at 14:34, 17/10/2011, in reply to message #119140
flibble

Posts: 864
Plus you can watch our webmaster get a good thrashing annoying me
shock

At ROUGOL's former home in Soho, you used to have to pay good money for that.
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
Trevor Johnson Message #119302, posted by trevj at 09:51, 11/11/2011, in reply to message #118952
Member
Posts: 660
That'll be the ones.

That's those found, then.

Now, what was that other thing I needed to find that's in short supply? unhappy
Here's a recent filing for you. And how about CTL too?
  ^[ Log in to reply ]
 
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The Icon Bar: News and features: What is the point of RISCOS Ltd?