Sorting Out a New-Old RiscPC


So you've just bought a RiscPC (or something) on eBay in a fit of nostalgia? Or you want to revive that old computer from your cupboard? This page will give you a brief guide to getting it all going. I will assume that you've used RISC OS before a little bit, so if the whole thing is new to you, have a look at this brief online tutorial or, better yet, keep an eye out for a second hand User or Welcome Guide on eBay - it shouldn't set you back more than a pound or two.


If your newold computer gives error messages while booting, refuses to be configured or won't display a decent screen mode then you probably need to sort out the !Boot structure. Even if everything works OK now, you might want to simply start from fresh and, at the very least, installing the UniBoot !Boot structure will help you later when you come across third party programs (like NetSurf for instance) which require it. Actually, many programs will require much more than just the vanilla UniBoot distribution, so if you'd like to save yourself a lot of hassle down the line, I strongly recommend downloading my FancyBoot distribution instead of UniBoot. (Click here for a popup list of what's included.)


This guide is written for someone with a RiscPC (or an A7000 for that matter), a hard disc and version 3.x of RISC OS. (To check your OS version, click middle button on the Acorn icon on the bottom right of your screen, then go through Info.) I'm also assuming you're using a different computer to connect to the internet. If you're not, make sure you download everything you need before you follow the instructions below.

Step by Step Guide

Troubleshooting / FAQs

Well, this page has been here a little while now, and has generated a few queries and stuff, so I thought I'd construct a FAQ-style troubleshooting section...

1) I'd like to re-format the harddrive on my newold machine, how can I do that?
Well, firstly, you probably don't need to :-) If you want to wipe the drive just delete everything on it. In fact, a better approach would probably be just to create a new directory called Old or something and then move (hold down Shift as you drag the files) all the old stuff in there until you're sure you don't want any of it. If you're certain you want to wipe the disc at a lower level, you can download HForm from the RISC OS Ltd support site. Note: you should Initialise the disc, not Format it, when you're prompted.
2) I get errors when performing disc operations, why might that be?
For some time there was a fairly significant bug in RISC OS which could lead to the computer hanging and/or file corruption. As you've probably got an old version of the OS, you might well be experiencing this :-( Happily the solution is quite straightforward:If the problem persists and you run out of other potential solutions you might need to use HForm (as discouraged in the answer to the question above!)
3) I can't make anything readable appear on my screen, so it makes following any of these instructions very hard!
Your machine might have been set up to display an image on a monitor which is dissimilar to the one you're using now. The simplest solution will probably be to follow the instructions above about resetting your CMOS. If that still doesn't help you can try the following: If that still doesn't get you anywhere, there's a couple more things to try:
4) I've set up my hard disc with a new !Boot structure, but I've not got all the standard bits and bobs which came with the computer when it was new. Is there somewhere I can download them?
Yes, you can download disc images from the legacy Acorn FTP site. Make sure you download the correct archives for your OS version.
5) OK, I've got my new boot sequence up and running, but can I find out what the whole thing actually does?
Yes, visit Paul Vigay's page to learn all about it. Though, unless you have some specific reason (like curiosity, I suppose), there's not really any need to...

The End

That's it. What now for your newold computer? I suppose you could go over to the ANS filebase to find a bit of software, or visit drobe to see if anything interesting's been going on. If you've got any questions, then please email me at and I'll see if I can help, or you could visit the Iconbar forums and ask there.

Last update: 27th August 2007