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Nostalgic for the Acorn Archimedes? Help is at hand

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David Lane of SASAUG showed a Beagleboard running RISC OS at this month's meeting of ROUGOL in London. Although a keen Acorn fan, Lane is self-confessed non-techie. As he puts it: "There's one failsafe way to spot a geek: do they have a hub? Until I bought the Beagleboard, I didn't!" The first time he showed the board, he only got RISC OS running in the last 10 minutes of a two-hour demo. This time, not only did it work perfectly, but by the end he was able to get the machine on the Web via a USB Ethernet adaptor for the first time.

The ROOL port is incomplete and there are still a few gotchas. The display needs to be powered-on before the board, or it won't be detected, and the OS displays an error about a missing keyboard every boot. (It's fair enough – there's no Acorn keyboard port anywhere near the thing and never will be.) A FAT-formatted SD card holds the ROM image, but the card slot can't be accessed by RISC OS just yet, so it also needs an Acorn ADFS-formatted USB key as a boot drive. Which pretty much mandates that you have to have a working Acorn box (with USB) to hand – or a free emulator – to bootstrap the system.

But hardware-wise, you don't need much: a power supply, a couple of flash drives, a small SD card – the OS only takes 10MB – and USB keyboard, mouse and hub, plus an HDMI display or a convertor cable to hook the HDMI output into a D-SUB or DVI monitor.

The ambitious might want to fit it into a case, or wait for UK availability of the slightly faster and better-specced Beagleboard-xM.

And new RISC OS hardware has never been so cheap: the official price of the board in its home state of Texas is $149, which with trans-Atlantic markup converts to about £120 in the UK. You'll need some basic RISC OS-fu to get it up and running, but compared to the £1500 that the new Amiga will cost you, it's a bargain. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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