Running RISC OS on Linux without emulation

posted in: Software | 3
RISC OS Desktop on a Samsung Chromebook – Image: Jan Rinze

Back in February 2017, Timothy Baldwin announced on the RISC OS Open forums that he was working on an experimental port of RISC OS to Linux. Fast forward a year and a half later and the project’s progress has been impressive.

This port allows you to run RISC OS directly from within Linux, without the need for an emulator such as RPCEmu or Qemu.

The main advantage of running RISC OS directly means that, unlike virtual machines such as RPCEmu, there is no restriction on what RISC OS programs can do to the Linux environment, beyond that provided by Linux itself.

So the interaction between RISC OS and the host system will be similar to that of the Linux Subsystem that is implemented in modern versions of Windows. This allows for RISC OS to be able to interact with the host directly, rather than having to treat is as a separate machine on a LAN like you would with an emulator.

RISC OS Open Limited’s Desktop Development Enviroment (DDE) is required to build RISC OS. So this is required if you want to build this Linux port yourself. The DDE is proprietary software that can be bought from RISC OS Open directly.

This port can be built in a similar fashion to the traditional method as documented on ROOL’s website, it is not necessary to run InstallTools as the relevant files will be accessed from the DDE without copying. However this will not build the SDL front-end which connects RISC OS to the Linux graphics system, without it RISC OS is limited to a text only interface.

The port is by no means complete at the moment, but it does allow for a usable RISC OS desktop with working networking and domain resolution.

What this symbolises to me is – in a similar vein to how the emergence of the Raspberry Pi and similar boards a few years ago completely changed the way people use RISC OS for the better – this could open up much more opportunities for RISC OS later on down the line as the project progresses.

The Linux port of RISC OS can be downloaded from its GitHub page, which also has instructions for compiling it. For more information on the project check out this thread on the ROOL forums.

3 Responses

  1. Mike

    Hi, just wanted to let you know about a typo in the text of this article: – in para 5, you’ve got “…can be brought from RISC OS Open…” (with an R in bought). This needs to say “… bought from …”, without the R.

    Thanks, Mike

  2. DMT

    Amazing development. I really hope this progresses further. A way of accessing storage via the RISC OS desktop on on a host Linux computer would be brilliant.

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