User guide becomes a free download

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As well as its availability as a printed tome, the user guide for the latest stable release of RISC OS 5 has now been released as a PDF that can be freely downloaded from the RISC OS Open website. This step has been made possible thanks to CJE Micro’s who stepped up to address a licensing issue.

The User Guide is an important document for new users, and with the operating system itself now free to download and install – especially useful for people wishing to try it out on ridiculously cheap platforms such as the Raspberry Pi – the limited ability to distribute make an electronic copy of the Guide easy to obtain was a clear problem.

The issue was one of font licensing, which restricted the ways the User Guide could be distributed, and the matter has been under discussion recently, both at the virtual Wakefield Show earlier this year and on the RISC OS Open Ltd (ROOL) forum, and as a consequence of those discussions CJE Micro’s took the decision to pay to change the font licence to one that was more permissive and allowed for the necessary easy distribution electronic format.

Like any good user guide, the book contains a wealth of information about how to use RISC OS, and builds on the older Acorn versions. It covers everything from the very basics, describing the main components of the RISC OS desktop, explaining how the mouse is used, in particular with the three button convention of RISC OS, moving through windows, menus, and dialogue boxes, how to configure the computer, and so on, before going over the supplied applications and utilities in some detail.

The edition covers RISC OS 5.28 – as noted above, the latest stable release (where stable means it is a fixed, official ‘main’ release, rather than a development one that’s likely to change often) – and is over 600 pages long, split up into some 61 chapters and seven appendices, with a comprehensive index. For new users it presents invaluable information that can enable them to get up to speed with RISC OS and how to use it, and it should be useful for old hands with reference material and information about things they may have forgotten.