More RISC OS Fun

I’m feeling good about my progress on upgrading the RISC OS SMB file sharing client to support SMB2 and to fix the bugs I’ve found in SMB1, so I emailed RISC OS Open Limited (ROOL) tonight to tell them about my intention to claim the “More recent LanManFS protocols” bounty. I told them that I’m hoping to finish in 2-3 weeks, but I’m really hoping to finish in the next 7-10 days.

One of the test VMs I’m using is ArcaOS 5.0.7, which I bought to play around with. It’s a modern version of IBM’s OS/2, and comes with a port of Samba 3.6 for the SMB client and server. I would never have been able to figure out how to configure the server if I hadn’t found a Samba server setup guide on the OS/2 Wiki.

The LanManFS code I’m updating uses DebugLib for its debug output, which can be configured to use any of a dozen different logging backends. I had to change the debug output device from DEBUGIT_OUTPUT (the .h file says this is for “!List-Debug – Wimp based debug system (MChallis)”, an app I couldn’t find) to REPORTER_OUTPUT, which outputs to the !Reporter app, which is quite nice.

Amusingly, the RISC OS GUI is called “Wimp”, which was a generic acronym for GUIs in the 1980s, standing for “Windows, Icons, Mouse, Pull-down menus”, or perhaps “Windows, Icons, Menus and Pointers”. So “Wimp based” means a RISC OS GUI app.

In order to pick up some retroactive nostalgia for the Acorn Archimedes (original RISC OS platform) and to have a source of type-in programs that will hopefully work on today’s RISC OS 5.x, I downloaded PDFs of Acorn User magazine from issue 79 (Feb. 1989) to issue 113 (Dec. 1991) from the Internet Archive. The magazine ran from July/August 1982 to Spring 2005, which is quite impressive.

The early years of Acorn User covered the BBC Micro, and then they added Archimedes coverage after it launched in 1987. RISC OS was called “Arthur” in the early years. In the Feb. 1989 issue, I learned that Acorn actually tried to sell a version of 4.3 BSD UNIX for ARM called RISC iX (not to be confused with MIPS RISC/os, a 4.3 BSD UNIX sold by MIPS Computer Systems from 1985 to 1992, which often shows up when I’m searching for RISC OS info).

Running UNIX on an 8 MHz ARM2 CPU with 4 MB RAM sounds absolutely dreadful, and Acorn wanted £3,500 (£8,640, or $10,758 today) for it in 1989. It came with X11R2, which is hilarious to me since X11R4 was released on 22 Dec 1989, and that’s the oldest release of X that I’ve ever seen or used (on SunOS). X11R4 added XDMCP (used by dedicated X terminals), twm as the default window manager, and the Shape Extension to enable non-rectangular windows.

Thankfully, in 1990 Acorn released the R260 RISC iX model, with a 26 MHz (later 33 MHz) ARM3 processor, 8 MB RAM, and a 100 or 120 MB SCSI hard drive, priced at £3995 plus VAT (£9,217 or $11,475 today), which would’ve been more competitive with systems such as the 68030-based Amiga 3000UX, also released in 1990.

In late 1990, Acorn released the A540, which was basically the R260 without built-in Ethernet or UNIX. It cost £2495 plus VAT (£5,756 or $7,166 today) without a monitor. It’s amazing how much prices have fallen, especially for RAM, which was an extremely precious commodity up until the late 1990s.

I remember lusting after the Amiga 3000UX as a kid and knowing that I would never have the money to buy even a regular Amiga 3000, much less the more expensive UNIX version. Fortunately, by 1995 I’d already moved on to an 80486 PC, so I was perfectly situated to try out the new Linux and also FreeBSD, both of which were free and open-source, unlike the System V and 4.3 BSD UNIX ports.







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