VirtualAcorn FAQ

Part 1 - About VirtualAcorn

Isn't VirtualAcorn the same as Red Squirrel?
No, but they are related. Red Squirrel is the cut down freeware version of VirtualAcorn. Red Squirrel is provided without an operating system, without any files and with no technical support. VirtualAcorn has more features, for example Red Squirrel doesn't support printing. VirtualAcorn uses a different "processor core" and is between 3 and 10 times faster than Red Squirrel. If you are technically minded and are familiar with the insides of both RISC OS and Windows then it will certainly be worth trying Red Squirrel. If you want something that will run out of the box and comes with an operating system, technical support and a complete hard disc image then you would be better off with VirtualAcorn.

Part 2 - Technical Questions

Do your products work on Windows7?
Yes, all of the Windows versions of VirtualRPC work on Windows7. Older copies that were purchased some years ago will need to be updated using the free updates available in the downloads section of our website.

What spec PC do VirtualAcorn products need?
Take a look at the VirtualAcorn specifications page.

I am thinking of buying a new PC to run a VirtualRPC, what would you recommend?
Take a look at the VirtualAcorn buying a new PC page.

Do I need to partition my Windows hard disc to run VirtualAcorn?
No, you do not have to partition your drive. VirtualAcorn uses a directory to store programs. RISC OS sees this as a hard disc, but to Windows it is just a directory. As the VirtualAcorn harddisc is just a directory this means that files can be easily opened and manipulated on either RISC OS or Windows.

Will VirtualAcorn run all my RISC OS software?
VirtualAcorn runs a real version of RISC OS, not a clone. If a program runs on a real Acorn computer with the same version of RISC OS as VirtualAcorn, then the program will run on VirtualAcorn. The only exception to this is software that requires specific third party hardware, such as a Dongle, or that requires an expansion podules to be fitted. For example the software to drive a video digitiser podule will not work as the physical podule will not be present and can't be plugged into the PC.

Does VirtualAcorn come with BBC Basic?
Yes.

How fast does VirtualAcorn run?
This depends on the speed of your PC. The original RiscPC delivered around 30 mips (million instructions per second). As a general rule of thumb the newer the PC, the faster VirtualAcorn will run. For example an 800Mhz Pentium 3 will run RISC OS on VirtualAcorn faster than a real RiscPC. A modern Core 2 Duo processor can run RISC OS many times faster than any "real" RISC OS machine. Speed will also depend on other factors. A stand alone graphics card will be faster than integrated graphics. A machine with DDR2 memory will be faster than a machine with normal DDR memory.

How do I get my programs into VirtualAcorn?
Under Windows 2000, XP, Vista (32bit) VirtualAcorn can read Acorn format floppy discs, provided you have an internal floppy drive. VirtualAcorn can also read Acorn format CDs directly. Versions of VirtualAcorn with RISC OS 4.39 or later can also read data DVDs. All versions of VirtualAcorn incorporate networking, so if you have a "real" RISC OS machine and a PC networked together you can transfer files and programs over the RISC OS ShareFS networking system.

If your "real" machine has USB support you can also transfer data over on Pen Drives.

I have an Acorn formatted IDE hard disc, can I connect it to the PC and use VirtualAcorn to read the files?
No.

Can VirtualAcorn read Acorn format floppies?
VirtualAcorn products can read RISC OS format floppy discs, using a normal internal IDE floppy disc drive, directly on Windows 2000, XP and Vista (32bit). Our floppy disc driver is not currently signed so will not install on Vista 64 bit or 64 bit versions of Windows 7 unless the driver checking facility in Windows is disabled.

Can VirtualAcorn read CD-ROMs?
VirtualAcorn products can read RISC OS format CDs under Windows 2000, XP, Vista and Windows 7.

Can VirtualAcorn read data DVDs?
VirtualAcorn products with RISC OS 4.39 or later can read RISC OS format DVDs under Windows 2000, XP, Vista and Windows 7.

Can VirtualAcorn use a Windows printer?
VirtualAcorn prints out using a RISC OS printer driver. Provided a suitable PDF (Printer Definition File) exists then RISC OS can print to your printer. VirtualAcorn is supplied with a wide range of the latest printer drivers available for RISC OS.

How fast does VirtualAcorn run?
This depends greatly on the spec of your PC. In order to give users some idea we have produced a graph below showing the approximate speed of VirtualAcorn on different speed processors. The figures shown below are based on the result from the BogoMips test program supplied with VirtualAcorn. It is worth pointing put that different processors may yield slightly different results, for example a 3Ghz Pentium 4 will perform slightly better that a 3Ghz Celeron. An AMD Athlon 3200+ (which is actually clocked to around 2200Mhz) will give a figure similar to the Pentium 4.

An Intel Core 2 Duo, despite having a low clock speed, will perform far better than any Pentium class processor because of the different architecture used. A Centrino processor will give around 70% of the performance of a Core 2 Duo at the same clock speed.

As always we should point out that these figures are intended as a guide only and actual performance will vary depending on the hardware you have and on the RISC OS software you are running.

Part 3 - Licence Questions

I have lots of Acorn software, is it okay to use this on VirtualAcorn?
If the software is PD or freeware then of course you can run it on VirtualAcorn without worrying about any breach of licence. If however you have commercial software then you should check the licence you have. For example the licence may only allow the software to be installed on one machine. If so you would need to purchase further copies of the product in question in order to be able to run it on a real Acorn machine, and on VirtualAcorn as well.

I want to run VirtualAcorn on more than one machine, do I need more than 1 copy?
Yes, you will need a copy of VirtualAcorn for each machine.

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