The 2013 RISC OS Survey

This was the first survey run by RISCOSitory on the new RISC OS Awards website, alongside the 2012/2013 awards poll. Apart from the initial receipt of the entries being on a Windows computer, the original processing was carried out on a Raspberry Pi running RISC OS, using Fireworkz, Draw, Artworks2, and ConvImgs. The pie charts have since been updated on an ARMX6, using PipeDream, Draw, Artworks2, and ConvImgs, and the way the numbers have been presented has also been changed.

The idea of combining a survey with an annual awards poll should, in theory, provide a picture of how the RISC OS community looks, and allow developers and companies involved in the RISC OS platform to keep what they offer relevant - especially considering that it is an undeniable fact that the number of RISC OS users is low in the extreme.

With that in mind, as mentioned in the Awards results, the number of people who voted in the awards and took part in the survey was notably low, at just under 150. Given the size of the RISC OS community, and that this is the first attempt by RISCOSitory to do such a thing, this isn't an especially discouraging result, and it is certainly a reasonable starting point to build upon in future years.

However, when reading these results, do consider that the number of survey results completed is low enough that it may not be statistically representative. This is particularly true if you consider that there are some distinct groups of people who may not have been aware of the survey, and so didn't take part as a result.

The common attribute amongst those groups of people - the reason they may not have been aware of the awards poll and survey - is that they may not read, or even be aware of, the various forums and newsgroups many of us use on a regular basis, and even take for granted; the comp.sys.acorn newsgroups, mailing lists such as Archive-on-Line, the RISC OS Open Ltd forums, and so on. They may not read the forums and newsgroups for any one or more of a number of reasons:

  • Perhaps their system 'just works' and they just get on with things, for example, which might be true for any number of people who have been using RISC OS for many years.
  • Maybe it's because they only read those forums and newsgroups that they consider relevant to their particular systems and how they use them, which might be true of VirtualRiscPC owners, for example, perhaps reading only the VirtualAcorn forums.
  • Or there may be new users, who have come to the platform through simply trying out RISC OS thanks to its easy availability on platforms such as the Raspberry Pi, but who have yet to discover the regularly used RISC OS discussion forums.

Having spoken to a small number of people at shows in the past who fall into these groups, it seems unlikely that they are the only ones; it is reasonable to believe that there may be many more like them - as well as other groups of people who, for whatever reason, may not have known about the survey.

Update (August 2020): As noted above, the way the results are presented has been changed. Firstly, the various charts, following a change of procedure in subsequent years; these are now produced from PipeDream, rather than Fireworkz, because it seems to generate smaller images but with slightly larger text. Secondly, the percentages have now been rounded, rather than shown to two decimal places. And thirdly, the various options and percentages are now presented in tables, which makes them easier to read. Finally, the accompanying text has been removed from each option.

The 2013 RISC OS Survey Results

Question 1: How many RISC OS systems do you own?

Pie chart showing typical numbers of RISC OS computers owned.
Typical numbers of RISC OS computers owned.
Number Percentage
None 1%
One 8%
Two 18%
Three 20%
Four 17%
Five+ 36%

Question 2: And of those, how many are in regular or semi-regular use?

Pie chart showing typical numbers of RISC OS computers in use.
Typical numbers of RISC OS computers in use.
Number Percentage
None 7%
One 27%
Two 29%
Three 23%
Four 9%
Five+ 5%

Question 3: Which version of RISC OS do you use most?

Pie chart showing a breakdown of which versions of RISC OS are most used.
The most used versions of RISC OS.
Version Percentage
RISC OS 2.0 0%
RISC OS 3.0 1%
RISC OS 3.5 3%
RISC OS 4.0 7%
RISC OS 4.2 14%
RISC OS 5.0 65%
RISC OS 6.0 10%
Note: The options given for this question represent 'base' versions of RISC OS, and people were asked to specify the closest version below the one they use most - so people using Select and Adjust, for example, would have selected RISC OS 4.2.

Question 4: What is your main platform for using RISC OS?

Pie chart showing a breakdown of which platforms are used to run RISC OS.
The platforms used most for RISC OS.
Platform Percentage
Raspberry Pi-based 22%
BeagleBoard-based 15%
Pandaboard-based 10%
IyonixPC 19%
RiscPC 20%
A7000 1%
VirtualAcorn/VirtualRPC 9%
RPCEmu 1%
Other 3%

Question 5: How long have you been a RISC OS user?

Pie chart showing how long people have been using RISC OS
How long people have been RISC OS users.
How long Percentage
Since Acorn were around 84%
Two to fifteen years 14%
Less than two years 2%

Question 6: By choice, do you use any platforms other than RISC OS?

Pie chart showing whether people use another platform (by choice)
Whether people choose to use
another OS as well as RISC OS
Yes or no Percentage
Yes 90%
No 10%

Question 7: If so, which operating system?

Pie chart showing which other platforms are used by RISC OS users
The other OS most used by choice.
Most used other OS Percentage
Windows 53%
MacOS 17%
Linux-based 26%
Other 4%

Question 8: On what processor do you use that operating system?

Pie chart showing the processor on which people use their other OS
The processors used for the other
operating system.
Processor used Percentage
ARM 7%
Intel/AMD 91%
Other 2%

Question 9: And do you use it more than RISC OS?

Pie chart showing whether people use their other platforms more or less than RISC OS.
Is that other OS used more or less than RISC OS?
Amount used Percentage
More than RISC OS 41%
About the same 29%
Less than RISC OS 30%

Question 10: In which age range do you fall?

Pie chart showing the age range of typical RISC OS users.
The age of RISC OS users.
Age range Percentage
Below 20 0%
20-29 6%
30-39 17%
40-49 22%
50-59 16%
60 or over 39%

Question 11: Are you male or female?

Pie chart showing the genders of RISC OS users.
Are RISC OS users male or female?
Gender Percentage
Male 99%
Female 1%