Getting a Desktop


The desktop - on the IBX-100!
Click image for full size image - 768x576, 96K GIF

The picture is in 2:4 resolution because it can afford the standard 50Hz refresh rate. It is possible to have a much-nicer 2:2 resolution, but it needs to be interlaced in order to appear properly (25Hz, erk!).
The display is set up with the mode definition files as expected, so it should be simple to load a new mode file in your startup - I'm just not too sure how the daughterboard video hardware would cope with SVGA in 16 million colours at the fastest refresh rate the ARM7500FE can spit out. :-)

The display is only 256 colours because, well, that is all I had space for on the Zip disc!
It is a screenshot rather than a video grab so you can see it better. Actually, the real excuse is I couldn't be bothered to faff around with the video cables and getting the digitiser going, 'cos it was enough swapping the Zip drive leads around all the time...

Okay, the picture, clockwise...


Wanna do this?

You'll need an Iomega Zip drive (the 100Mb parallel port type) and the Argo drivers. If you cannot lay your hands on these, give up now.

Next, you'll need a machine running RISC OS 3.6 or later. If you are advanced, you can download a copy of the RISC OS 3.7 ROMs (no, I'm not saying where from!) and pull the modules out by hand.

Next, some patience. What we are going to do is to softload the bits and pieces that RISC OS is missing to boot the desktop proper.

You'll need some sort of utility to 'fake' the mouse pointer. I knocked up something appalling, but later discovered 'keyrat' on Chris Sawer's site; I think the URL is The KeyRat module is much nicer.

What we need to do is rip the stuff we want from out donor machine (preferably RISC OS 3.7), and set it onto the zip disc to be softloaded prior to invoking the Desktop. Confused yet? :-)

  1. If you've not already done it, do the zipdebugging thing in the main options screen.
  2. On your Zip disc, create a directory "Resources", and one called "Modules".
  3. At a command line, enter *Filer_OpenDir Resources:$.Resources and then return to the Desktop (if you left it).
  4. You'll see a whole bunch of directories. Copy... into the 'Resources' directory on your Zip disc.
  5. Copy the Wimp directory across too - Sprites, Sprites22, and Tools at the very least.
  6. Save the modules... from memory to the 'Modules' directory of your Zip disc.
    I used a utility called 'RMsave', but you can do it just as easily with Zap.
  7. Pop 'KeyRat' into the 'Modules' directory.


You now want to create an Obey file called "Auto" which contains the following:

| Set the resource paths
Set Filer$Path          IZipFS:$.Resources.Filer.
Set ResFiler$Path       IZipFS:$.Resources.ResFiler.
Set DisplayManager$Path IZipFS:$.Resources.Display.
Set Pinboard$Path       IZipFS:$.Resources.Pinboard.
Set Switcher$Path       IZipFS:$.Resources.Switcher.
Set TaskWinRes$Path     IZipFS:$.Resources.TaskWindow.

| Load the modules
RMLoad IZipFS:$.Modules.FilerSWIs
RMLoad IZipFS:$.Modules.Filer
RMLoad IZipFS:$.Modules.ResourceFi
RMLoad IZipFS:$.Modules.DragASpr
RMLoad IZipFS:$.Modules.DisplayMan
RMLoad IZipFS:$.Modules.TaskMan
RMLoad IZipFS:$.Modules.Pinboard
RMLoad IZipFS:$.Modules.TaskWindow

| If you don't have KeyRat, comment out the next line
RMLoad IZipFS:$.Modules.KeyRat

| Load the usual WIMPy icons
IconSprites IZipFS:$.Resources.Wimp.Sprites
ToolSprites IZipFS:$.Resources.Wimp.Tools

| Drop into the desktop
Desktop -file IZipFS:$._DeskStart


Now create a Desktop (type &FEA) file called "_DeskStart" which contains something like:

WimpMode 15

%Set Edit$Options f9 b8 l2 m2 h12 w12

Filer_Boot IZipFS:$.Apps.!Paint
Filer_Boot IZipFS:$.Apps.!Draw

Filer_Run  IZipFS:$.Apps.!Edit
Filer_Run  IZipFS:$.Apps.!CloseUp
Filer_Run  IZipFS:$.Resources.!FreeMem

Backdrop -tile IZipFS:$.willow21

Filer_OpenDir IZipFS:$


That is pretty much it. Try it out on your IBX-100.

There is a hell of a lot of room for experimentation. For a start, you'll be wanting some applications to use. Create yourself an Apps directory and put some stuff in it. I would suggest Edit, Paint, and Draw.
Can't find them in ROM? Don't worry, just find yourself the RISC OS 3.5 versions. You might already have them - try looking in !Boot.RO350Hook.Apps.

Want a nicer set of templates for DisplayManager?
Try looking in !Boot.RO370Hook.Res.


There is, by standard, no sound in the IBX-100 so you can't load up the ARM7500 MP3 player and play MP3s off of the Zip disc. Sorry about that!

Once you've done this, you might be left with the distinct idea that using the thing as a serious desktop machine simply ain't gonna happen. Well, for a start you ain't a hacker if that's how you look at it. And secondly, any which way you cut it, you got yourself a box that runs RISC OS and you paid what for it? Twenty quid? Fifteen?


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Copyright © 2002 Richard Murray