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RISC OS

I use computers that run the RISC OS operating system – currently an Iyonix. Unlike many people who have only ever used one operating system I have extensive experience of using three different operating systems, over many years, and have seen them all evolve. On almost every count, my order of preference is RISC OS, then Mac and finally Windows. That puts me in a minority, among many people who have only used Windows and simply assume that everyone else does too. There are more users of Windows than of other operating systems, but in most cases they do so not by making an informed choice, or of a knowledge of the alternatives, but simply going with the herd and buying what the PC industry wants them to buy.

RISC OS has many advantages. It is very easy and productive to use. It is easier for a non specialist to maintain a home system. And if you do have problems, there is a very supportive community of users who help each other. The RISC OS community is small, which has both advantages and disadvantages. As well as there being a genuine sense of community among RISC OS users, we are not a target for cybercrime, so I don't need to be paranoid about opening e-mails (viruses are operating system specific). The main disadvantage is that there is less money to drive the development of new software. There is a lot of very good software, both commercial and freeware, but in some areas, notably browsers, it is difficult to keep up with what seems like a technology arms race between browsers running on other platforms. Having said that, Netsurf , which began life on RISC OS before becoming multi-platform, is an extremely fast and useful (free) browser. It doesn't yet support all features, but is being continually developed.

RISC OS runs on machines that tend to last far longer than most people expect in the mass computer market. Partly that is due to the machines being well built and reliable, but also it is because the software is not continually being bloated, forcing you to buy ever more powerful hardware just to stand still. As a result, the cost of ownership is relatively low. The software also tends to be very reasonably priced, and there is a lot of extremely good, free software available.

I used RISC OS to develop !Strike , a training tool for bellringers. Without RISC OS, it is much less likely that it would have happened. At the time (1993) Windows was extremely primitive. and the only sound that most PCs could generate was a beep, while RISC OS had built-in sound and powerful graphics.

RISC OS computers have the operating system in ROM (Read Only Memory). That means it doesn't get corrupted even if a program tries to do something drastic - you can always get back to a basic working machine to start to sort the problem out.

RISC-OS is British, and so are most of the machines designed to run it. RISC OS software comes from talented people in many countries where RISC OS is used, including UK, Europe, the Far East and the Antipodes.

You can even experience the benefits of RISC OS by running it on a Mac, Linux or Windows computer using an emulator (eg from RISC OS Open or from Virtual Acorn ). Many people run RISC OS in that way, and they use the Windows or Mac OS or Linux for things that don't run on RISC OS.

You don't have to follow the herd. There is a better way.

Look at these RISC OS links:

Type RISC OS into Google  and you get a third of a million entries.


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