In 1987, as the first reduced instruction set computing (RISC) ARM chips hit the scene, programmers at Acorn Computers created RISC OS, a simple, ‘co-operatively multi-tasked’ OS designed for small computing environments. While it’s no Linux, it’s still a great way to get to know RISC computing and, more important, it boots fast and has a working GUI. Now, according to a post on Rasberrypi.org, it’s available for download for all Pi users.
You can download the OS here but the Raspberry Pi creators recommend a quick stroll around the OS using this PDF as a guide. You can also try the OS using an ACORN emulator for Windows and OS X (although the Mac version seems to be missing). There is also an interesting history and tutorial on the site.
People rave about the filer and the consistent UI, but I’m just excited to see seemingly dead OSes resurrected as teaching tools. It gets us back to the bare metal of the machine and, more important, puts budding programmers into a situation where not everything is a given.