First released in 1987 by Acorn Computer Ltd, RISC OS was the first operating system designed to run on ARM processors, and specifically on the company’s Archimedes personal computer.
I don’t think I had ever heard about the operating systems until it was ported to the Raspberry Pi SBC by RISC OS Open Ltd (aka ROOL) who manage the publication of RISC OS source code. But there’s also a separate project called RISC OS Cloverleaf which aims to further develop the open-source operating systems, and just launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund software development, and they also offer two mini PCs running RISC OS Cloverleaf with namely Cloverleaf Puma powered by a Rock Pi 4B SBC, and Cloverleaf Kitten featuring a Raspberry Pi 4 board.
- Cloverleaf Kitten – Raspberry Pi 4 with Broadcom BCM2711 SoC, 4GB DDR4 RAM
- Cloverleaf Puma – Rock Pi 4B with Rockchip RK3399 SoC, 4GB DDR4 RAM
- DVD drive (shown on photos, but not specs…)
- Kitten – 128GB MicroSD card
- 256GB MicroSD card
- 16GB eMMC flash + M.2 SSD socket or 64GB eMMC flash + 256GB NVMe SSD
- Connectivity – WiFi & Bluetooth (and Gigabit Ethernet?)
- Expansion – 40-pin GPIO header with I2S, 2x I2C, SPI, UART, 8x GPIOs and Audio in/out
- Cloverleaf Kitten specific I/Os and features
- Video Output – 2x mini HDMI 2.0 ports
- USB – 2x USB 2.0, 2x USB 3.0, 1x USB 3.0 Type-C port?
- Cloverleaf Puma-specific I/Os and features
- Video Output – HDMI 2.0 output, DisplayPort 1.2 output
- USB – 2x USB 2.0 ports, 1x USB 3.0 port, 1x USB 3.0 Type-C port
There also offer a Rockchip RK3399 laptop with 4GB RAM and 128GB eMMC, plus 128GB MVMe SSD, as well as an All-in-one PC with a 24-inch display, but the focus is really on the software side, and hardware is used to raise funds for software development.
RISC OS has a rather retro look and comes with typical programs you’d expect from a desktop OS including Impression desktop publishing software, Pipedream or Fireworkz word processor and spreadsheet, ChatCube messenger with Telegram, some retro games, the GNU GCC toolchain, support for various programming languages including BBC BASIC, Python 2/3, Lua, and more.
Since I had seen RISC OS before, I asked about the difference between RISC OS Cloverleaf and the version maintained by ROOL in the Facebook Group, and Stefan Froehling, the person behind the project, replied the following:
ROOL and the Cloverleaf RISC OS project are different organisation. ROOL organised in the past the development of RISC OS and for that reason also offers the forum so that RISC OS users and programmers can discuss RISC OS issues. The RISC OS Cloverleaf project has been initiated by me to make RISC OS known worldwide and to speed up the development of RISC OS. The Cloverleaf RISC OS project will work with ROOL together to coordinate development and also finance ROOL bounties.
The project is looking to raise 50,000 Euros with donations (29 Euros) to download the software, RISC OS T-shirts (19 Euros), and the hardware platforms mentioned above that all ship with a free T-shirt. Cloverleaf Kitten 128 is offered for 299 Euros, Cloverleaf Puma goes for 399 or 499 Euros depending on storage configuration, the laptop for 499 Euros, and the AIO PC for 899 Euros. Shipping adds 15 Euros to Germany, and 20 Euros to the rest of the world. Rewards are expected to ship in April 2021, but the software updates schedule goes into 2022 thanks to the funds to be raised by crowdfunding. More details may also be found on the official website.