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Comp.Sys.Acorn.* FAQ

Welcome to the comp.sys.acorn.* FAQ. This database comprises answers to the most Frequently Asked Questions on the popular Acorn Usenet newsgroup hierarchy, and is maintained by Paul Vigay.

A text based version of this web site is posted to comp.sys.acorn.announce and on a monthly basis.

The text version consists of three parts of up to 50K each, broken down into the following segments;

Part 1 - Index, sections 1 & 2 (45K)

Part 2 - sections 3, 4 & 5 40K)

Part 3 - sections 6, 7, 8 & 9 (30K)

If you have any queries, or would like to suggest a new question, please contact me.

Last alterations: 31st May 2008

Contained below is a list of the most commonly asked questions about Acorn machines in the comp.sys.acorn hierarchy. Before posting to comp.sys.acorn.*, if you are new to the groups, check to see if your question(s) are already answered below. Corrections and/or additions to the list should be sent to csa-faq-09 [at] and I'll try to update the main FAQ as soon as possible....

This FAQ is posted monthly to comp.sys.acorn.misc, comp.sys.acorn.announce, comp.answers and news.answers.

For Web browsers out there, the FAQ home page is This will always contain the latest version of the FAQ.

Lastly this FAQ is maintained by Paul Vigay. Credit is given to Philip R. Banks who created it and maintained it until I took over from him on 1st Dec 1998. The aim of this FAQ is to share information and help newcomers to the RISC OS scene, therefore permission is granted for free distribution of the entire list or quoted segments of it.

If you wish to include segments of the list into other documents then proper attribution must be performed and if you wish to include a part of the list, or the list in full, in any commercial product then express permission must be obtained from myself.

Index of Questions

The questions have been categorised loosely into related sections, in an effort to make finding the desired information simpler and quicker.

Section 1 - Hardware and Operating Systems

 Q1.1) What is an Acorn machine?
 Q1.2) What kind of Acorn/RISC OS machines are there?
 Q1.3) What versions of the ARM processors are there?
 Q1.4) What are the differences between different RISC OS versions?
 Q1.5) What is RISC OS 3.8/Ursula?
 Q1.6) What are the graphics capabilities of RISC OS machines?
 Q1.7) Is Virtual Memory possible under RISC OS?
 Q1.8) What 'Easter Eggs' are present in RISC OS?
 Q1.9) What is the current status of Linux for Acorn machines?
 Q1.10) What is the current status of NetBSD for Acorn machines?
 Q1.11) What is 'Lazy Task Swapping'?

Section 2 - Upgrades and Expansion

 Q2.1) What's the memory limit on current machines?
 Q2.2) What was a second processor and what second processors were there?
 Q2.3) Can PC VGA & Multisync Monitors be added to an Acorn machine?
 Q2.4) Can I connect a SCART monitor to my Acorn machine?
 Q2.5) What was a VIDC enhancer?
 Q2.6) Are there any Acorn cards for IBM PC or compatible machines?
 Q2.7) What configuration of serial cable should I use for modem work?
 Q2.8) How do I make a Null modem cable?
 Q2.9) How can I get unfiltered sound from an Acorn machine?
 Q2.10) What are StrongARM dipswitch settings?
 Q2.11) Are there any PIC programmers available for RISC OS?
 Q2.12) Can you add a TV card to a RISC OS machine?

Section 3 - Hardware Issues & Compatibility

 Q3.1) What do the hard drive error numbers mean?
 Q3.2) What can I do with a 'Broken Directory' or a corrupt Free Space Map?
 Q3.3) What does the power on self-test check?
 Q3.4) My Real Time Clock has paused, how do I restart it?
 Q3.5) Why doesn't *Speaker work on my machine?
 Q3.6) What can I do about my fan making excessive noise starting up?
 Q3.7) After fitting the RISC OS 4 upgrade my CD Rom reports 'Drive Empty'.
 Q3.8) Occasionally a fairly early model Risc PC will completely hang for no apparent reason, usually when filer windows are redrawn.
 Q3.9) What IDE drives work on Acorn machines?
 Q3.10) What are the master / slave link settings for my IDE Drive?
 Q3.11) Why won't my Western Digital IDE drive won't work after a cold boot?
 Q3.12) What peripherals work with RISC OS?
 Q3.13) What specification memory can I use with my RISC OS machine?
 Q3.14) What's the biggest hard drive I can fit?
 Q3.15) To what size should I partition my Hard Drive?
 Q3.16) What is the maximum size for a file under RISC OS?

Section 4 - RISC OS Configuration

 Q4.1) What is ADFSBuffers and what is the best setting for it?
 Q4.2) How do I enable solid drags in RISC OS 3?

Section 5 - Software Issues

 Q5.1) Why does DOSFS corrupt my files occasionally?
 Q5.2) Where can I obtain the latest version of module X?
 Q5.3) What are the current File-type allocation ranges?
 Q5.4) Is there a Modula 2 compiler for the Arc?
 Q5.5) What Programming Languages are available for RISC OS machines?
 Q5.6) Why does the RO3.5 desktop sometimes revert to the system font?
 Q5.7) Why does ChangeFSI display a blank white window, not an image?
 Q5.8) What causes the 'nager:Sprites22' error?
 Q5.9) Is there a Real Audio or Real Video player for Acorns?
 Q5.10) Is there any 'streaming audio' player software available for RISC OS machines?
 Q5.11) How do I get a faster interrupt timer than the centisecond ones?
 Q5.12) How can I create Interlaced GIFs on Acorn machines?
 Q5.13) Is the PC Card software still available?
 Q5.14) How do I obtain an allocated filetype or SWI chunk for my software?

Section 6 - Viruses & Security

 Q6.1) What RISC OS virus killers are available?
 Q6.2) I have received some information about a virus from a reputable source, it apparently affects Windows, Mac and/or Linux systems, is it perhaps dangerous for RISC OS users too?

Section 7 - Online Resources & Support

 Q7.1) What archives/FTP sites are available?
 Q7.2) What Acorn related companies are available on the net via email?
 Q7.3) What are the submission addresses for comp.{binaries.sources}.acorn groups?
 Q7.4) What WWW pages are out there for Acorn topics?
 Q7.5) What Acorn BBS's are there?
 Q7.6) Where can I advertise second hand Acorn kit?
 Q7.7) Where can I find a user group local to me?
 Q7.8) How do I kill-file people using NewsHound?

Section 8 - Compatibility with other Machines

 Q8.1) How compatible with other systems is an Acorn machine?
 Q8.2) Is there a BBC BASIC for other machines?
 Q8.3) Can I run 65Host on the Risc PC?
 Q8.4) Can I read Acorn format discs on a PC?
 Q8.5) What software handles files with this extension?
 Q8.6) Is there a version of Draw for Windows?
 Q8.7) Can I run Windows software on a RISC OS machine?

Section 9 - Common Questions about the FAQ

 Q9.1) Why do I get the FAQ twice?
 Q9.2) Why does the full FAQ have to be posted?
 Q9.3) Isn't the FAQ overly long?
 Q9.4) If I find something wrong or am unhappy with the FAQ, what do I do?
 Q9.5) How to retrieve the FAQ from the source...
 Q9.6) Is there a more detailed Network FAQ available?

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 Last edit: 10th Apr 2016 at 4:55pm (3028 days ago)

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