Recommended software


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This is a preliminary list of 'must have' software and utilities for RISC OS.


Essential modules

  • SharedUnixLibrary – Needed for a growing number of programs being developed: NetSurf and Cretin, to name just two.
  • Universal Boot (RISC OS 3.x only) – This enables users of RISC OS versions prior to RISC OS 4 to have a compatible Boot structure. Essential for all users, regardless of vintage of hardware. The skeleton official download is available from the legacy Acorn website or you can try the more comprehensive (and recommended) "FancyBoot" version.

Text Editors

  • StrongED (free) – Comprehensive text editor
  • Vim (free) – Comprehensive text editor, also well-known on non-RISC OS platforms.
  • Zap (free) – Another comprehensive text editor

Desktop Utilities

  • CDVDBurn (£65.00) – CD and DVD burning software. (This is a full version of CDBurnLite, which is bundled with the IYONIX pc)
  • Director (free) / MiniDisc (free) – These utilities provide a quick way to launch applications, browse directory structures and much much more.
  • Gimp-Print (£10–20) – High quality photo-real printer drivers. Martin Wuerthner is asking for donations in support of the necessary RISC OS porting work.
  • HID (£10) – Drivers for interactive USB keyboards and mice (IYONIX pc USB and Castle Technology USB podule only).
  • Infozip (free) – Compress and decompress ZIP files and other archive formats.
  • Memphis (free) – Automatically resizing RAM disc
  • MoreDesk (£15.00) – Allows multiple RISC OS desktops.
  • Organizer (£11.00) – Fully functional address book and diary, capable of running tasks, remembering anniversary dates, and setting alarms
  • Remane (£10.00) – Bulk file renamer: rename entire directories of files using simple criteria and wildcards.
  • RiscPkg (free) – Package manager for RISC OS, still in early stages of development. Can be used to obtain automatic updates of Cretin, NetSurf, Perl, Subversion, WebJames, and a number of other programs.
  • SparkPlug (free) – Decompress (only) SparkFS and other compressed formats
  • SparkFS (£25.00) – Compress and decompress ZIP files and other archive formats. SparkFS is a compression filing system, allowing compressed archives to be treated as directories
  • StrongHelp (free) – Provides help for a number of programs
  • Thump (free) – Filer-like image viewer

Background Enhancements

There are numerous ways to tweak and improve the desktop interface and usability of the system. Some such tweaks and resources can be found on the Tweaks and Improvements page.


  • Messenger and Messenger Lite (free) – Free versions of Messenger Pro. Messenger Lite is bundled with the IYONIX pc.
  • Messenger Pro (£39.00) – Email and news agent, allows sorting and searching of messages and news
  • Newsbase (free) – Freestanding news database for use with the free version of Messenger
  • Newshound (free) – News client for fetching and sending news
  • Pluto (free) – Email and news agent, allows sorting and searching of messages and news (open-source)
  • POPStar (free) – POP3 mail client for fetching and sending email

Note: The free versions of Messenger and Newsbase are not 32-bit compatible, however the IYONIX pc is provided with Messenger Lite as standard

Instant Messaging

Other Internet and Networking

  • Avalanche (free) – VNC client
  • Cocognut (free) – File share client for the Gnutella network
  • Ctorrent (free) – BitTorrent client
  • Mozilla Firefox (free) – Port of the popular Firefox browser to RISC OS
  • FTPc (free) – FTP access, fully featured
  • NetSurf (free) – Free web browser, under constant development
  • Nettle (free) – Excellent ANSI terminal/telnet client
  • WebJames (free) – Web server, with SSIs (server side includes) and optional PHP interpreter


  • AMPlay (free) – Sophisticated MP3 player with filterable playlists
  • DigitalCD (free) – Multi-format audio player (Audio CD, MP3, OGG, WAV, and many tracker formats such as IT, S3M, XM etc.)
  • KinoAMP (free) – MPEG 1/2 video player
  • PlaySound (free) – Sound sample player, handles many well-known formats
  • FFmpeg (free) – Audio and video converter, also includes a player application
  • Murnong (free) – YouTube video fetcher

Bitmap graphics

  • ChangeFSI (free) – Multi-format image convertor, outputting JPEG or sprite files. Bundled with all versions of RISC OS.
  • Composition (£80.00) – Commercial image combining tool, with many processing capabilities. Compo can also be driven by scripts. (Also known as 'Compo'.)
  • FSIbatch (free) – Batch image processor which uses ChangeFSI to do the conversion work. Can be used for tasks such as converting a directory of large 16 million colour JPEG files into smaller 256-colour sprites for desktop backgrounds.
  • InterGif (free) – The definitive GIF toolkit for RISC OS.
  • Jcut, Jclean, Jess etc. (free) – Set of JPEG utilities giving lossless cropping, rotation, colour processing, and other features, for JPEG files.
  • Photodesk (£84.00) from CJE Micro's – The main commercial bitmap editor for RISC OS.
  • PoVRay (free) – Jérôme Mathevet's port of the Persistence of Vision raytracer. PoVRay uses a scripting language to create 3D scenes, the best of which can be photo-realistic.
  • PrivateEye (free) – An image viewer capable of handling many common formats, and performing basic image manipulation.
  • Spr2Png (free) – The definitive PNG toolkit for RISC OS.
  • Variations (free) – A graphics effects package, previewer and thumbnailer. Compare previews of many effects side by side; apply effects to multiple files automatically. Also has the best 'for-the-web' JPEG generation tool.

Vector graphics

In addition to the venerable Draw, supplied with every RISC OS machine, there are a number of very capable vector graphic editors and utilities.

  • ArtWorks (£169.00) – Originally from Computer Concepts, and now available from MW Software, this highly capable vector graphics package is now being very actively developed by Martin Wuerthner.
  • DrawLots (free) – Draw-format shape generator that can create polygons, curved polygons, stars, spirals, cogs, various crosses and so on. These shapes can then be used elsewhere, including within ArtWorks.
  • RiscCAD Professional (£30.00) – A highly capable commercial CAD package at an exceptionally good price.
  • Vector (free) – Vector and GridPro were originally developed from DrawPlus as commercial applications for 4Mation by Jonathan Marten. After Jonathan released the sources, Spellings Computer Services released the initial 32-bit conversion. The latest versions are available from the current maintainer, Christopher Martin. The sources are hosted in the SVN repository here. Vector is an enhanced alternative to Draw that offers libraries, layers and other improvements. GridPro is customised for drawing grids and other regular object layouts.
  • Writeflash – Written by Henrik Bjerregaard Pedersen, this tool creates Flash 3 files from scripts. Also includes utilities to convert Draw files and RISC OS fonts to Flash format.

DTP and Spreadsheet

Games and Emulation

See the games page for more information on games for RISC OS.

While emulators such as DosBox or PicoDrive are mostly used to play games, in principle they could be used for serious applications as well. This is particularly true of DosBox; there are enormous numbers of DOS utilities, often old DOS command-line programs ported from Unix, that may occasionally be useful.


Compatibility with mainstream software, particularly certain Microsoft products, is a key issue for users of minority systems:

MS Word compatible software:

MS Excel compatible software:

  • Schema 2 – has MS Excel (XLS) converters.
  • ViewXLS (free) – Reads MS Excel (XLS) spreadsheets. Converts to CSV, TSV or Draw. CSV files exported can then be loaded into e.g. Fireworkz for editing.


  • PDF (free) – Free PDF reader, based on xpdf and maintained by Colin Granville. Can export as Draw and text.
  • RiScript – Commercial PDF reader and creator
  • PrintPDF (free) – A PDF printer driver, using GhostScript as a back-end
  • GhostScript (free) – PostScript/PDF interpreter, and GView, a viewer
  • EasiWriter and TechWriter – Both programs can export PDFs, including bookmarks
  • ArtWorks – Has direct high quality PDF export, including transparency and clipping

Older Acorn/RISC OS machines:

  • Aemulor and Aemulor Pro allow the newer IYONIX pc and A9home hardware to access a wide range of older '26-bit' software. Aemulor was written on the assumption that some useful pieces of older software would never be made 32-bit safe and thus would become inaccessible on these 32-bit only machines. Aemulor Pro provides sound support as well, which increases compatibility to cover many games.
  • Historical note: In a similar manner, utilities such as GameOn, AutoCache, StrongGuard and other like programs helped ease the compatibility problems caused by changing over to the StrongArm processor, and before that for the changeover from Arm2/Arm3 to RISC PC. Nevertheless, some programs from the days of Arthur and RISC OS 2 will still work on every RISC OS PC and every version of the OS up to RISC OS 5 and 6.


If you're looking for some software that's not listed above, try the Wishlist to see if anyone else has the same idea

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