As sold by R-Comp, the ARMini comes shipped in much the same way any other computer running RISC OS has done – you connect it up, switch on, and moments later you are presented with the familiar RISC OS desktop. For many users, this is what they want – that’s why they’ve bought the ARMini, an out of the box solution, rather than the more DIY approach of a Beagleboard-xm and the necessary bits and pieces to get it up and running. That doesn’t mean users have to stick with just RISC OS, though – ARM Linux has been an alternative for some time for other RISC OS (and ARM based) computers, and R-Comp have themselves opted to put together a suitable Linux distribution (based on Lubuntu – a lightweight variant of Ubuntu) for the ARMini (and Beagleboard-xm).
User Chris Hall, however, has gone a step further. Investigating the possibilities and discussing things on the RISC OS Open forum, Chris has now successfully set his ARMini up with a multi-boot system, allowing him to boot the machine into one of three environments: RISC OS, Linux command line, and Linux Ångström GUI, depending on when (if at all) the ‘user’ button is pressed after a reset; if it is not pressed at all, for example, the system boots into RISC OS.
For full details of how Chris has achieved this, he has posted this explanation on the forum, and in his follow-up post, he mentions a very useful benefit of this system: with the ARMini booted into the Ångström GUI, he can copy a file onto the SD card from anywhere on his network. That file could be a new RISC OS ROM image.