Linked by Michael Hill on Thu 7th Oct 2010 14:59 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes This is a painful article to write. I've been a longtime fan and user of what is affectionately known as PC/GEOS over the years. However, I'm fearing we're nearing the end of GEOS.
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Loved this on the Commodore 128
by cmost on Thu 7th Oct 2010 15:37 UTC
cmost
Member since:
2006-07-16

I used GEOS on my trusty Commodore 128 back in the day. At the time, I thought it was a fantastic OS shell and one of the best competitors of the then new Apple MacOS. R.I.P. GEOS.

Reply Score: 3

Maybe it's time to let go.
by runjorel on Thu 7th Oct 2010 15:41 UTC
runjorel
Member since:
2009-02-09

GEOS was the second OS I was ever exposed to as my first OS was DOS and Windows. While I cannot call myself a fan of GEOS or even have any fond memory of GEOS to be honest, I think it's time to let it go and throw your enthusiasm and support behind something else.

It is somewhat of a cliche now-a-days to say, "Why not throw your enthusiasm behind a popular Linux distribution?", but I honestly think that's one way to go. There really is no way to contribute to Windows or OS X in the same way you can contribute to the Linux community and I feel the benefits of contributions into the Linux community are directly exposed and felt by developers and users alike (which is a rarity to find in any software or OS project). Furthermore the Linux community is an active, alive, and breathing community that is always in need of contributors.

If Linux is of no interest to you, then I would recommend some other open source project where contributions from the community are welcome and much needed.

Regardless, I hope you understand my objectivity and not let it overshadow the empathy I have for your situation.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Maybe it's time to let go.
by WereCatf on Thu 7th Oct 2010 15:52 UTC in reply to "Maybe it's time to let go."
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

It is somewhat of a cliche now-a-days to say, "Why not throw your enthusiasm behind a popular Linux distribution?", but I honestly think that's one way to go.

I'd rather point towards Haiku. I still retain my previous opinion that it seems to have a really solid foundation on which to start building, and while it looks ugly as duck it has huge potential.

Reply Score: 10

RE[2]: Maybe it's time to let go.
by n.l.o on Thu 7th Oct 2010 16:06 UTC in reply to "RE: Maybe it's time to let go."
n.l.o Member since:
2009-09-14

It is somewhat of a cliche now-a-days to say, "Why not throw your enthusiasm behind a popular Linux distribution?", but I honestly think that's one way to go.

I'd rather point towards Haiku. I still retain my previous opinion that it seems to have a really solid foundation on which to start building, and while it looks ugly as duck it has huge potential.


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and to this eye Haiku is gorgeous.

Reply Score: 9

flanque Member since:
2005-12-15

People couldn't get why I thought my pug dog was gorgeous, but to me it was. So true what you say.

I particularly like this statement about from their FAQ:

Why not Linux?

Linux-based distributions stack up software -- the Linux kernel, the X Window System, and various DEs with disparate toolkits such as GTK+ and Qt -- that do not necessarily share the same guidelines and/or goals. This lack of consistency and overall vision manifests itself in increased complexity, insufficient integration, and inefficient solutions, making the use of your computer more complicated than it should actually be. [top]

Instead, Haiku has a single focus on personal computing and is driven by a unified vision for the whole OS. That, we believe, enables Haiku to provide a leaner, cleaner and more efficient system capable of providing a better user experience that is simple and uniform throughout.


I run Linux on my desktop and laptop but I think this is very true.

Reply Score: 3

Drumhellar Member since:
2005-07-12

Haiku isn't ugly, but it does have some terrible UI design choices.

Variable-width title bars? Really? What a horrible, horrible idea.

At least an old KDE (2, I think) skin got that idea right. When a titlebar was mostly covered, it slid over to the other side far enough to be completely uncovered.

Still an awful idea, though.

Reply Score: 2

tylerdurden Member since:
2009-03-17

I actually like the tabbed window titles idea, both when I used BeOS. And even before when I had the tabbed mode for TWM in ancient unix times.

Although It is more of a aesthetic curiosity now, the full potential for that would be if there was a way to couple multiple windows together and select them via overlapping tabs. I believe someone did a research project on that. At least for cramped screens it could be useful.

Reply Score: 3

bbjimmy Member since:
2006-03-25

SATdecorator is included in recent builds ... it does just this. I love it, especially when working on web pages, I have the source in one tab and WebPositive in another with Bezilla in another to insure the page is rendered properly.

Reply Score: 1

Drumhellar Member since:
2005-07-12

That would be interesting, though It could be accomplished without having tiny titlebars.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Maybe it's time to let go.
by Sabon on Thu 7th Oct 2010 16:17 UTC in reply to "Maybe it's time to let go."
Sabon Member since:
2005-07-06

Sorry but this is an incredibly lame comment. I doesn't matter if you've lost faith and you are found faith in another OS.

If you aren't still interested ... so what. Big deal. We don't care if you aren't interested anymore and you have something else you feel people should put their effort in. If we felt the same way we wouldn't be here reading this article.

My suggestion for you, the next time something no longer interests you is to go ahead and read it but when it comes time to post a comment, keep moving on to something else instead.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Maybe it's time to let go.
by runjorel on Thu 7th Oct 2010 17:03 UTC in reply to "RE: Maybe it's time to let go."
runjorel Member since:
2009-02-09

Sabon, I agree with you in that if the gentleman wants to keep GEOS alive, then he should. After re-reading my comment, I can understand why it seems like I am saying "just give up GEOS and move on". Truthfully that's not the spirit I had in mind when I wrote that comment.

I guess what I was really trying to say is, *IF* he comes to the conclusion that GEOS is no longer sustainable, then there are other open source projects where the contribution-to-user ratio is very skewed and could use his skills and passion. I merely used Linux as an example, but insert your favorite open source project in place of Linux. I am all about freedom and choice, and if he wants to keep GEOS alive, I say go for it!!!

I did not mean to assume that GEOS is already dead nor did I mean to imply that if GEOS (and its community) is still sustainable, to kill it off. I was merely trying to provide a light at the end of the tunnel if GEOS dies out.

Regardless of that, the comment section is a place where people can express their opinions whether they agree or disagree with the content posted. 'Lame' as it may be, that's what the comment section is for.

Reply Score: 3

mjhi11 Member since:
2009-08-15

No offense was taken and I completely understand your point. Do know I've dabbled in several Linux projects over the years and am currently experimenting with creating my own super simple, small yet full featured (internet, samba, wireless support, etc.) derivative Linux distribution to serve as a host for DOSEMU or DOSBox so I can continue to play my favorite DOS games, and if I can accomplish that it would probably be a good host for PC/GEOS as an added benefit!

Reply Score: 1

runjorel Member since:
2009-02-09

Thank you very much for your understanding and not vilifying me. Osnews is one of the first websites I read in the morning and I only wish I had a bit more clarity when I wrote my original comment.

As I mentioned in my comment, I can empathize with you because I have been in a similar situation. I was trying to be objective, positive, and forward-thinking (albeit with an unknowingly bias towards open source projects that are out now). I definitely did not mean to discount GEOS. I did not at all consider the potential negative aspect and interpretation of my comment and I will definitely be more considerate in the future.

I appreciate your point of view on GEOS and I hope for nothing but the best in whichever way you continue the project. Furthermore, I look forward to reading about your progress on osnews ;) .

Thanks again.

Reply Score: 2

:(
by poundsmack on Thu 7th Oct 2010 15:52 UTC
poundsmack
Member since:
2005-07-13

I have fond memories of GEOS. haven't used it in years, but I it was very nice and ahead of it's time as far as I am concerned.

Reply Score: 2

Haiku Model
by MattPie on Thu 7th Oct 2010 16:10 UTC
MattPie
Member since:
2006-04-18

No knowing much about GEOS (I think I saw it run once on a C64), what about the Haiku model? As I understand it, Haiku is basically a reimplemntation of BeOS from the ground up with full binary support (or aiming at it). Perhaps it's naive of me, but you have a small system that's a non-moving target. If the community exists, "How hard can it be"? I'd say to start with FreeDOS or Linux as your base though, counting on DOS support from Microsoft may be dark road to travel.

I know your pain, though, I have an A500 down in the basement. Every once in awhile I fire up UAE to play Super Cars 2...

Reply Score: 1

RE: Haiku Model
by kaiwai on Fri 8th Oct 2010 05:12 UTC in reply to "Haiku Model"
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

No knowing much about GEOS (I think I saw it run once on a C64), what about the Haiku model? As I understand it, Haiku is basically a reimplemntation of BeOS from the ground up with full binary support (or aiming at it). Perhaps it's naive of me, but you have a small system that's a non-moving target. If the community exists, "How hard can it be"? I'd say to start with FreeDOS or Linux as your base though, counting on DOS support from Microsoft may be dark road to travel.

I know your pain, though, I have an A500 down in the basement. Every once in awhile I fire up UAE to play Super Cars 2...


From what I understand in the case of Haiku the first release will re-impelement BeOS but future releases will start making enhancements/changes. It is about getting that strong foundation laid first before going in a direction to further enhance it.

Reply Score: 4

Yeah... by why should i care?
by nemith on Thu 7th Oct 2010 16:29 UTC
nemith
Member since:
2005-07-28

So outside of nostalgia what use does the OS have? Why does it need to continue to live or have an App store?

I don't get it.

Reply Score: 0

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

So outside of nostalgia what use does the OS have? Why does it need to continue to live or have an App store?


Because people want it to. In our free world, that's reason enough for me (as long as it doesn't harm others).

Reply Score: 2

Wow. 25 years.
by Sabon on Thu 7th Oct 2010 16:29 UTC
Sabon
Member since:
2005-07-06

I got interested in PC/GeOS 25 years ago. I can't remember where I learned about it but within a week I bought version 1.0.

At the time I must have been using DOS or maybe Windows 3.0 or 3.1. I don't remember.

What I do remember is that I had both laptop and desktop computers and PC/GeOS promised that both your laptop and desktop would look exactly the same. Considering how weak laptops were at the time, power wise compared to desktop computers, this was a BIG THING.

While it was amazing what it did, (cringing) it was pretty ugly. I know it had to be considering what was promised.

Don't get me wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed using it up through 2.x on both laptop and desktop computers. It was definitely better as a "platform" than anything else out there at the time on PCs (not Amigas or anything else but on PC).

I installed it on my laptop and desktop computers at work, just mine, no one else's, and was more productive over all than I had been. The word processor was no WordPerfect, the spreadsheet no Lotus 1-2-3 power wise, but the whole environment overall was better.

Then OS/2 came out and ... well I didn't see anything really happening to make GeOS look better and OS/2 was a couple generations at least past DOS and Windows 3.1 (and I still feel past Windows '95/98/ME).

I looked at the OS/2 version but the graphic quality was still in the dark ages compared to everything else that had improved a lot, maybe due to GeOS.

I wouldn't mind seeing someone revamp the graphics into something a lot nicer than what I remember and I would actually think about using it again. Even OS/2 looks too industrial for me now, plus I got tired of the constant lack of support from IBM on OS/2. In 1998 I started moving to Macs (OS 9.2) and then when Mac OS X came out everything else was left behind (I've never had Windows at home for many reasons, mainly MS's business practices which they learned from IBM but were even worse, amazing as that is).

Anyway, again, I'd love to someone pick GeOS up, dust it off, and do something with it. It appears that the current owners aren't interested in any ideas that fans for it have. Maybe it's time for them to let go of it or share productive ideas about it other than uses for computers for third world countries.

Reply Score: 5

One last comment ...
by Sabon on Thu 7th Oct 2010 16:32 UTC
Sabon
Member since:
2005-07-06

One last comment.

I'm literally all for 1,000 or 50,000 OSs or environments out there. If even one person is interested in developing it and nobody else is interested, it is NONE OF OUR BUSINESS if we aren't interested.

If you aren't interested, stop dumping ice water over the person or many persons that are. It is pathetic to think that anyone or everyone should support something else just because you aren't interested.

There, I've said it. Support something if you like and let the person or person's know you are there to support it.

If you don't support something, shut up!!!

Reply Score: 4

Why GEOS?
by Almafeta on Thu 7th Oct 2010 16:49 UTC
Almafeta
Member since:
2007-02-22

That might sound like being negative for its own sake, but it's an important question. And it's not just directed at you, Mr. Hill, but everyone who still likes the OS: Why GEOS?

Is it the architecture - or specifically, is it having a GUI to run on a machine that normally runs DOS? There's Dosbox, FreeDOS, and other projects like it; some of them have the advantage of already having been done. It just takes a bit of organizing among GEOS fans to get things together into something that many people can use, instead of every fan having to recreate work by themselves.

Is it the user interface? Then grab some foonixen and make a GEOS-y window manager. Probably the most complicated option, but it has the advantage of having the least legal issues of all.

Is it that GEOS is a "sufficiently complete" OS that requires little memory (like I love it for)? That's the hardest angle to take on; however, remember that the original GEOS (which handled in/out natively) took twenty people six months to bang out, and another 18 to polish into its most successful commercial form. That's the sort of investment in labor that even a modest open-source project can grab - and most reimplementation projects have the goal of reimplementing an OS that's much larger with much poorer documentation.

Waiting on Breadbox to get their act together is an option. But it's not the only option.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Why GEOS?
by mjhi11 on Thu 7th Oct 2010 17:46 UTC in reply to "Why GEOS?"
mjhi11 Member since:
2009-08-15

To answer your question(s)...

1) Certainly there's an element of "fond memories" for some PC/GEOS fans. I used to teach high school and I blew my fellow teachers away with the ability to create long "tractor fed dot matrix" banners so quickly and easily. My flyers were always much better than the work of others and my resume' also impressed as a result of GeoWrite. I was well organized using the very robust (for the time) spreadsheet and the database was quite powerful as well.

2) I still have an need (OK, more of a want) for DOS as I enjoy playing those old Apogee programs such as Commander Keen, Crystal Caves, Duke Nukem, etc.) and PC/GEOS serves as an excellent launcher, file manager, etc.

3) But re-creating PC/GEOS would be a probably impossible task as it was so much deeper than it appears on the surface. For example, it took years for Microsoft and other operating systems to catch up to PC/GEOS' true display/printer WYSIWYG capabilities.

In addition PC/GEOS had not a single user interface but multiple user interfaces, "PM" based on IBMs Presentation Manager, the "Industry Standard" interface similar to Microsoft's Windows 95 interface. And the original Motif interface is still available. Duplicating all of these options would be quite difficult as well.

And another unique user interface quality of PC/GEOS was the ability to present a "scalable" user interface hiding more complex commands, functionality until a user became comfortable with the basics. This too would be a lot of effort to duplicate.

And yes, PC/GEOS' main benefit was its memory and disk footprint. It required a lot of low-level, assembler knowledge, experience and programming and at least some in the PC/GEOS community fear that those skills may be lost forever as a result of the new programming tools available. So this too would be difficult to duplicate.

On the other hand, in today's connected world PC/GEOS is incomplete. It's web browsing capabilities due to the 16 bit, memory limitations is a huge Achilles heel. And of course lack of built in file I/O, modern video card drivers, wireless network drivers, network stacks, TCP/IP, etc. are also areas that would require a huge amount of labor.

It just seems to me that there is some "compromise" that could advance the PC/GEOS cause and maybe open up in some way development for the platform so that it can be modernized, while still allowing the PC/GEOS copyright holders an ability to profit from their investment. But who would be willing to devote their labor for free and not have either have an "open" operating system in the end, or at least profit from applications they've written for the platform!

It's the worst of all-worlds and thus why the community is losing confidence that PC/GEOS will survive long term. As a result I understand the desperate calls to open source the software, but on the other hand, we all have families to feed so I hope that the folks at Breadbox could find some way to profit as well.

It seems everyone (both the community and Breadbox) are pinning all their hopes on the "educational device" initiative but based on replies by Breadbox personnel at GEOS-Talk none of the hardware manufacturers seem interested at least to date, not even those who used to use PC/GEOS on their own small form factor computers, communicator devices, etc.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Why GEOS?
by Drumhellar on Thu 7th Oct 2010 18:09 UTC in reply to "RE: Why GEOS?"
Drumhellar Member since:
2005-07-12

As compilers are quite good, and even 10-year old computers aren't nearly as limited relative to the software capabilities as they were 15 or 20 years ago, there isn't the need to write it in assembler. C should adequate for writing a system that feels lean and clean, even with a mere 32MB of ram.

That would allow different the different UI designs to be copied over, and with that the scalable interface you described.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Why GEOS?
by BlueofRainbow on Thu 7th Oct 2010 19:32 UTC in reply to "Why GEOS?"
BlueofRainbow Member since:
2009-01-06

This is the question Breadbox should be asking it-self and take actions necessary to support the answer(s) obtained.

i) If it is a resource efficient GUI on top of DOS, then having links to FreeDOS plus a how-to page on getting the two smoothly working together would show a desire on their part to continue GEOS's existence.

A how-to page on getting GEOS to smoothly work on DOSBox, eComStation and other means along with a forum/wiki for hosting additional tips from users would also be beneficial.

If the underlying "DOS" is only required for I/O, then recoding the I/O functions for another OS might be all that is required to re-initiate interest? MenuetOS (or other minimalist OSes), if offering all the necessary I/O functions, might be a good to remain in the spirit of efficient resource utilization.

ii) If it is the user interface, then actions along the suggestion of a migration plan for user files - from the current DOS-based to the future OS-base - would indicate the will to continue in the future.

iii) If it is as a minimalist GUI-OS, then targetting a re-creation for a portable bootable USB Drive environment could be envisioned. In this case, community involvment under open-source or shared-source software development model would likely speed things-up.

Reply Score: 1

Look at RISC OS 5 ...
by M.Onty on Thu 7th Oct 2010 16:55 UTC
M.Onty
Member since:
2009-10-23

... Because it is in a not dissimilar position. However, it appears to have given itself a shot in the arm (or ARM, if you will) by releasing it as 'shared source', therefore retaining the owners' rights over it should interest pick again.

There's no telling whether it will work, but its dong something rather than nothing and I suspect that's probably about all the energy that could be mustered either for RISC OS or GEOS

Reply Score: 2

Keep the comments coming...
by mjhi11 on Thu 7th Oct 2010 16:58 UTC
mjhi11
Member since:
2009-08-15

The primary reason for my post was to get a good cross-section of opinions. I respect those who think that maybe it's time to "let go" or put support behind another software project or Linux distribution.

One of the reasons I don't necessarily want to "move on" is I still enjoy legacy DOS gaming (love those old Apogee titles like Crystal Caves, Duke Nukem and Commander Keen) and PC/GEOS serves as an excellent launcher, file manager and text and PDF file viewer. So since I'm in DOS already...

Anyway, all comments are welcome and maybe a creative idea, suggestion or thought might keep the PC/GEOS legacy alive for a few more years at least.

Reply Score: 1

A shout out to whomever served as editor...
by mjhi11 on Thu 7th Oct 2010 17:03 UTC
mjhi11
Member since:
2009-08-15

Props for serving as "editor" on my article and including links to relevant sites and doing any cleaning up that may have been necessary, and most important, recognizing that the article might have value here at OSNews.com. It's much appreciated.

Reply Score: 3

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Props for serving as "editor" on my article and including links to relevant sites and doing any cleaning up that may have been necessary, and most important, recognizing that the article might have value here at OSNews.com. It's much appreciated.


Yo. *fistbump*

Reply Score: 2

Reminds me
by fran on Thu 7th Oct 2010 18:02 UTC
fran
Member since:
2010-08-06

While reading this article I could’nt help but think about this one.

http://www.thinkdigit.com/forum/discussions/81361-why-i-quit-kernel...

It’s a duuhh statement, but the demands of modern life makes it really hard for most people with the best and sincerest intention to deliver but just don’t have the time to spent on their "hobbies" (hate to call it that)

Add to that, ever increasing complexity, hardware and user expectations.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Reminds me
by mjhi11 on Thu 7th Oct 2010 20:54 UTC in reply to "Reminds me"
mjhi11 Member since:
2009-08-15

Good article...I too am struggling with the the debate whether I should continue to advance the PC/GEOS cause or not. I built a website http://geoscentral.com a couple years ago to do my part.

The site was hacked and it's taken me some time to transition that data to a new website platform which would give us more interactivity and functionality but I wonder whether it's even worth the effort anymore.

I offered to post free banners at GEOS/central Breadbox they'd just get me art-work. They said they didn't have any and showed no interest in creating it.

I offered to sell PC/GEOS on the site but they said they weren't interested in third party sales.

I suggested they consider a "cut down" version of PC/GEOS as a DOS shell for legacy DOS gamers and they said they weren't interested but said they'd give me a cut-rate price on the software if I wanted to do all the work, marketing, sales, promotion and provide technical support to the customers.

It's rather frustrating and like some have suggested here, maybe it may be time to put my efforts towards another project.

Reply Score: 1

Get over it
by jibadeeha on Thu 7th Oct 2010 18:20 UTC
jibadeeha
Member since:
2009-08-10

Seriously man you need to get over it... PC/GEOS what a laugh ;)

Makes me wonder if anybody out there is still using a ZX spectrum, and Tasword to compose their documents, and printing using an alphacom32 printer if only they could get hold of the thermal paper?

Remember... If you mod me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine ;)

Edited 2010-10-07 18:22 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE: Get over it
by truckweb on Thu 7th Oct 2010 21:54 UTC in reply to "Get over it"
truckweb Member since:
2005-07-06

I'm thinking the same way. Some OS (and it's not even an OS, just a GUI) just need to die.

It's old, outdated and even current "old computer" are probably too "new" to even run this thing.

We don't have boatloads of 286 or 386 anymore, those days are over.

RIP GEOS.

Reply Score: 3

RavinRay Member since:
2005-11-26

It's old, outdated and even current "old computer" are probably too "new" to even run this thing.

We don't have boatloads of 286 or 386 anymore, those days are over.

That may be the case where you live, but what about in other parts of the world like the Philippines where oldies still work (like my XT compatible!) and where even today's base level PC is still far above the purchase price of many people?

I remember doing my thesis partly in Windows and partly in Geos back in 1997, as I didn't have access to a good Windows art program at the time and GeoDraw fulfilled my needs. It was quick, painless to run, and most importantly got the job done. While schools in developed countries can can equipped with Win PCs and Macs with relative ease, it's a struggle elsewhere. Where I live re-using old but functional PCs would go a long way towards helping schools give students even just the basics of computing. There have been suggestions to use the classic Geos-based SchoolView software (Geos client software with the OS/2's Presenation Manager and WorkPlace Shell look-and-feel licensed to IBM's Eduquest division, linked on a NetWare network) and update it to form a simple classroom network. Although it won't run Windows or Mac software (unless someone uses a Windows/Citrix server and writes client software for Geos to enable the PC to function as a remote/thin client), and others may pooh-pooh the inability to do so, if it can get schoolkids interested in computers in the right way, and they learn, then it doesn't matter that it's not Windows.

Bottom line? As long as someone is being productive with Geos, it deserves to live.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Get over it
by Dr.Mabuse on Sat 9th Oct 2010 12:45 UTC in reply to "Get over it"
Dr.Mabuse Member since:
2009-05-19

Indeed, an article on the "death" of PC/GEOS ... My first thoughts are "is he for real?"

I'm all for preserving good memories (hence my collection of emulators) but it really is time to look forward man!

Reply Score: 1

The OS may matter for GEOS
by BlueofRainbow on Thu 7th Oct 2010 19:46 UTC
BlueofRainbow
Member since:
2009-01-06

A fondly loved application may disappear partially due to the obsolescence of the underlying OS given the recent articles about http://www.osnews.com/story/23876/Why_the_OS_Matters and http://www.osnews.com/story/23867/Jean-Louis_Gassee_The_OS_Doesn_t_...

So, does the OS really matter in this case? Ensemble, the most recent incarnation, has remained an OS-interface at the same time as being an office suite with internet access. Another twist to the question.

Reply Score: 1

Big fan of Geoworks
by rogerufo on Thu 7th Oct 2010 19:59 UTC
rogerufo
Member since:
2007-04-28

I would still be using Geoworks ( or Ensemble ) today if it weren't so hard to get it running on a newer computer. I never was able to get it working properly under XP and haven't even tried Windows 7. As for the newsgroups, I haven't posted in a long time since my ISP ( Verizon FIOS ) dropped access to news groups.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Big fan of Geoworks
by mjhi11 on Thu 7th Oct 2010 20:45 UTC in reply to "Big fan of Geoworks"
mjhi11 Member since:
2009-08-15

If you're interested the most active news group regarding PC/GEOS is over at Yahoo Groups. There's quite a debate going on there even as we speak. Yahoo Groups doesn't require IRC or login but if you want to post you must have a Yahoo! identity.

http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/geos-talk/

And you are right, it was/is a bear to get running under XP. Some of it had/has to do with a bug in the code that caused it to crash on faster computers but there's now a fix. DOSBox is my preferred method as I can run it from a portable drive under OS X, Windows or Linux, but that install is a little involved too.

That's just one of the points that the community has complained about, Breadbox's heart just doesn't seem to be in the desktop version of PC/GEOS anymore.

First based on price ($99.00 is way too expensive these days)

And second, they refuse to explore different ways they could package/sell it.

- Pre-built VMware, Parallels and VirtualBox virtual drives.

- Pre-built thumb drives using Linux And/or DOSBox as a host.

- Pre-built downloads that would run on OS X, Linux and Windows using DOSBox.

- As an $50 to $100 "appliance" like a PogoPlug for example.

Gee, a "virtual" drive would take virtually no effort at all and a DOSBox thumb drive just little more effort. Yes a Linux/DOSBox booting version and appliance are more difficult but do-able. But there just isn't much interest by Breadbox in advertising, selling or promoting the PC/GEOS desktop anymore.

Reply Score: 1

GeoWorks Ensemble Rocked
by johjeff on Thu 7th Oct 2010 21:58 UTC
johjeff
Member since:
2007-11-06

And I would still use it today IF it had better networking support, a decent browser, multi-im client, and decent email client. I think the idea of running it on a razor-thin linux environment would be the best idea if they were to continue with it.

I tried to use it not long ago on FreeDOS and it didn't work well. That might be another option - if it's too hard to get it to run on linux, then for Pete's sake, work with the FreeDOS community to get it working great there, and help them develop some easier to use network drivers.

If it does fall to the wayside, I will be very sad. I have very fond memories of it - from the C128 to Breadbox Ensemble 4.3(?).

Reply Score: 1

Comments from a former GEOS Developer
by edwdig on Fri 8th Oct 2010 05:26 UTC
edwdig
Member since:
2005-08-22

I was heavily involved in GEOS development around '96-'02. When I stopped working on it, I was one of the last people hanging on to it. The story told in this article is no different than the story told back in '02, and is why I stopped working on it.

On the GUI vs OS issue - GEOS uses DOS calls to read and write the filesystem. This is done for compatibility - it made it much easier for the software to coexist with DOS and Windows installs. There is a proper filesystem driver interface in place and it shouldn't be hard for someone to write a driver that replaces the DOS system calls with direct disk access. It's never been done because there's no benefit to doing it. Most distributions of GEOS were actually used in embedded systems and shipped with an embedded DOS distribution tailored for it, so you're really grasping at straws to say it's not an operating system.

When looking at the overall picture, there's one key point to remember in all of this. The entire operating system and all of the original applications are written in 16 bit assembly. The vast majority is 8086 compatible. Some of the newer code requires a 286 processor. The only 32 bit code in the entire system is a few memory copy loops in kernel's memory management system - and that's only a build option, not a requirement. So to do any serious work on modernizing the system, you'd have to rewrite the code in a higher level language and completely rework the kernel.

The "we'll build it when they come" attitude is a practical issue. You're talking about an investment of millions of dollars to modernize the core system, and probably tens of millions to modernize the applications. Those are likely low estimates. Those kind of projects don't happen on the chance that someone will want it when you're done.

When it comes to open sourcing the code, there are significant legal issues preventing that. Some are simple - removing some licensed data compression code from the help viewer or removing the spell check engine. Some are hard, like stripping out the font system. Others are a complete nightmare, such as the user interface situation. All the different UIs GEOS supported were built from one shared codebase with build flags to handle the differences. The problem is there's a lot of companies with rights in the process, and it's all intertwined. The core of the UI is the most complicated part of the GEOS code, and you'd need someone intimately familiar with it to sort through the mess. There's not many people that can do it, and of those people, you'd probably have to pay them very well to convince them to sort through a giant 20 year old assembly codebase.

Regarding 3rd party development - the big issue was always memory management. The OS did preemptive multitasking, and every application was multithreaded by default. To make that work with a 640 KB heap meant very complicated memory management, which scared away most people. You'd need a full 32 bit - or really 64 bit at this point - rewrite of the core system to get anyone to consider development.

Reply Score: 5

mjhi11 Member since:
2009-08-15

It's good to hear from an insider. I mean no disrespect in my comments regarding it not being a true operating system, more that I want to make it very clear to the readers that as it exists now it isn't an independent operating system and thus it still requires some compatible flavor of DOS.

So to one of your points, Breadbox claims they're making progress on a "32 bit" version of the software but we've heard that for several years now.

I suspect that funding the development is the major challenge which goes to the paradox I present...some say build it and they will come while Breadbox says we'll build it when they come.

All seem agreed, Breadbox personnel included that to serve up an acceptable, modern web browser experience PC/GEOS must be 32 bit (at least).

So in your opinion since you have real-world, working knowledge of the underpinnings, is this realistic? Is it achievable? And is it worth even doing recognizing that it may go faster to simply try and "recreate" the PC/GEOS experience (GUI look and feel, productivity apps, etc.) using modern tools on a more modern operating system base as Linux (though it's ironic to call Unix/Linux a more modern operating base since the technologies are now decades old!).

So to your point, isn't it somewhat of a "fools game" to even continue to invest in the platform as the most vocal Breadbox critics suggest?

For example, Apple took BSD, wrapped it in the Aqua interface, created GUI based utilities, tools and applications over a several year period and it now serves as the base for their operating system for many years to come into the future.

I guess to cut to the chase, wouldn't it make more sense for Breadbox to do something similar as Apple versus expending the effort to rewrite PC/GEOS into 32 bits?

My personal opinion is a "hybrid" type of strategy is the most practical (and ironically a return to the original GeoWorks model, a shell/productivity suite running on top of another operating system) whether that's in a DOSBox type of environment or DOSEmu/Linux type of environment.

I welcome your thoughts, opinions, etc.

Reply Score: 1

edwdig Member since:
2005-08-22

It's good to hear from an insider. I mean no disrespect in my comments regarding it not being a true operating system, more that I want to make it very clear to the readers that as it exists now it isn't an independent operating system and thus it still requires some compatible flavor of DOS.


Right, I understand. I just wanted to make it clear though that there's no technical reason it has to be like that. If a market opportunity popped up that required the DOS requirement to dissappear, it could happen very quickly.


So to one of your points, Breadbox claims they're making progress on a "32 bit" version of the software but we've heard that for several years now.


I'd guess its mostly planning out what they'd do if various opportunities arose.

There was some work done about 10 years ago to replace the kernel's memory manager with something that hooked into DOS4GW. It would have expanded the heap a lot, had very few compatibility issues, and maintained compatibility with the existing WinNT development environment. It would've been a stopgap solution though that probably would've bought a few years before it became limiting. I think it got to a point where the system was usable for about 10 minutes or so before it would crash.

I suspect that funding the development is the major challenge which goes to the paradox I present...some say build it and they will come while Breadbox says we'll build it when they come.


Remember, Breadbox is a tiny company. They traditionally made their money doing contract work for companies releasing GEOS based products. Rewriting an OS is a massive project. They won't be able to do anything significant without a massive outside investment.

All seem agreed, Breadbox personnel included that to serve up an acceptable, modern web browser experience PC/GEOS must be 32 bit (at least).


Without JavaScript, the browser was kinda pushing the limits of the system. When they tried adding it, things got unusably slow.

So in your opinion since you have real-world, working knowledge of the underpinnings, is this realistic?


Nothing's happening without a 7 or 8 digit amount of funding.

Is it achievable?


Depends on what the goal is. Breadbox had a small but *extremely* talented team. It's not a question of ability, it's about setting realistic goals and funding them.

And is it worth even doing recognizing that it may go faster to simply try and "recreate" the PC/GEOS experience (GUI look and feel, productivity apps, etc.) using modern tools on a more modern operating system base as Linux (though it's ironic to call Unix/Linux a more modern operating base since the technologies are now decades old!).


Those ideas have been tossed around. I've had conversations like that with the people who were most qualified to do the job. Every one of us had a different take on which parts were the important ones.

Personally, I loved the office apps 10-15 years ago, but at this point I feel they're so outdated that any attempt to modernize them would bear little similarity to the original products. I wouldn't prioritize them, but there are definitely key people that see the apps as the valuable part.

To me, the most value is in the UI code. The UI design was easily a decade ahead of its time, offering flexible layouts long before anything else did. I was able to design GEOS interfaces far faster than I can design something today in Java or .NET. So I'd care much more about keeping those layers of the system.

So to your point, isn't it somewhat of a "fools game" to even continue to invest in the platform as the most vocal Breadbox critics suggest?


Yup, that's pretty much the conclusion I came to right around the Breadbox got the rights to GEOS and released their own version. I don't think anything has happened since to change that.

I guess to cut to the chase, wouldn't it make more sense for Breadbox to do something similar as Apple versus expending the effort to rewrite PC/GEOS into 32 bits?


If anything happens, yeah, it'll become a UI layer over Linux or something similar. That's the only realistic option. But you're still talking a total rewrite, as you've got a giant codebase of 16 bit assembly code written for a segmented memory model.

It's a ton of work, and you can probably count on your fingers the number of developers that are familiar enough with the core system to recreate it. And then keep in mind that they haven't worked on it significantly in almost a decade.

Reply Score: 2

edwdig Member since:
2005-08-22

"So to your point, isn't it somewhat of a "fools game" to even continue to invest in the platform as the most vocal Breadbox critics suggest?


Yup, that's pretty much the conclusion I came to right around the Breadbox got the rights to GEOS and released their own version. I don't think anything has happened since to change that.
"

Looking back, that came out harsher than I meant it.

Taking an "if you build it, they will come" approach is a really bad idea. That's a guaranteed failure, and is why things have stagnated.

I feel quite confident that Breadbox has plans in place to make things profitable if the right business partners were to come along.

Reply Score: 1

breadbox Member since:
2010-10-09

hi Ed....good to see you. btw...Ed was one of our *extremely* talented programmers.

hi Michael....good to see you too.

hi folks....my name is Frank Fischer and I'm the President & CEO of Breadbox Computer Company, LLC. I'm not a programmer, I'm a businessman. I barely passed the one programming class I was forced to take in college and that was when we were still using punch cards. I couldn't program my way out of a paper bag, then or now. However, I love programmers. I also hate them. It's a love-hate relationship :-) I know how to price out a software development project to make it profitable and I think I'm pretty good at it. I know that when I ask our guys for a time estimate to get a project done, and they, with all good intentions, tell me it'll take 100 hours. I know it'll take 300 hours. Breadbox is still alive and has been around since 1992. We're the only Geos-related company left standing. We're the keepers of the Geos flame. Having said that, let me address some of Michael's concerns.

First, I'd like to say that I share in Michael's frustration with regards to our inability to currently move Geos forward. But, is Geos dead? No, far from it. Some may disagree and everyone is entitled to their opinion.

Second, I believe Ed has articulated accurately what it takes to get things done and make things happen. Money, lots of it. A resource we currently don't enjoy. Michael, I think you know that's the case as I've honestly explained this time and time again to our dedicated users on the Yahoo email list Geos-talk, both publicly and privately.

Michael's done a great job with his Geos-Central web site and we support him 100%. Regarding not having a banner to provide you, that's true, we don't. But I believe I offered you our logo to do with what you want. It's been a while so I could be wrong, but it's available. Regarding the DOS shell you wanted create and offer for sale, we were/are behind you 100%, at no cost to you for whatever efforts we needed to put into it. Regretfully, as you know, we were/are missing some splash-screen code we needed to make it happen. One of our other talented programmers that created it has since lost it. That shouldn't be the case as we have procedures and safeguards and backups of all of our code, but somehow this slipped through the cracks. Shame on us. It takes time, effort and knowledge to re-create and so far we haven't been able to find the time to make it happen. My apologies. This is not a project we would have developed ourselves, nor do I believe we will be reaping any windfall profits from it, if any at all. We were doing it to support your efforts as a thank you for your continued support of Breadbox and Geos. We appreciate it.

As far as a 32 bit Geos, as I've mentioned dozens of times before, we've made some progress and continue to do so, time and money permitting. Please re-read Ed's post to see what it takes. I've tried to articulate this for a long time, but for some reason I'm not getting through. Like I said, we're as frustrated, if not more, than you. We had resources at one time, but we didn't own Geos at that time. We've blown our wad on legal fees with the GlobalPC fiasco and purchasing Geos from the now defunct Geoworks. However, we've kept Geos alive as a result. It very well may have died if we hadn't stepped up to the pump and taken an enormous risk. If you read my recent post on Geos-talk, you know we haven't legally and officially owned Geos until 2008. We purchased it in 2003. We haven't been working on Geos32 for 10 years as many seem to be claiming these days. Either way, we're doing the best we can with the resources we have. We too have to eat and pay the bills. Sales of our Breadbox Ensemble desktop suite doesn't do it for us.

Regarding the suggestions and ideas we get from various users, you're right, for the most part. We've been at this game for nearly 20 years. We have experience with a lot of the suggestions we receive. If we've done it before and it doesn't work, why would we do it again? Knowing our lack of resource situation as I've explained it dozens of time, we still get suggestions and ideas that cost money we don't have. Yet when I respond accordingly, folks get pissed off. Your idea about the little black box may be a good one. I don't know, we've never tried it. But how can we? You know we can't afford it. Unless someone wants to risk perhaps a few hundred thousand $$ to invest or joint-venture with us to build, test, re-test, debug, re-test, debug, re-test, manufacture, inventory, market, advertise, sell and provide customer support for the idea or suggestion, we can't do it. We're not blowing off anyone as many suggest we are.

The same thing applies to the continued suggestion of making Geos open source. It's a suggestion, one I don't agree with, but I've yet to receive or see anyone provide a valid business model where open source works for Breadbox. Like I said, we've been at this for nearly 20 years and have a ton of money and thousands of man hours invested in it. We finally own Geos now and saved it from total obscurity (IMO). Yet I'm continually "pounded and hammered" by several users, some of which have never purchased anything from us, demanding that we make it open source! This has been going on for years! When I disagree, for the 5000th time, somehow I'm labeled an insulting jerk working against our user base. Incredible.

Regarding upgrading the software, we've made many improvements to the Geos OS and desktop since we purchased Geos. You pointed out one major improvement we made which enables it to run on fast CPUs. We've made that fix freely available from our web site. There are many other improvements we've made and we're up to version 4.13. We've provided a couple of white papers on our web site to explain, in detail, how to get Geos running under XP, Vista, Win7. We still don't support USB, but we've provided a good, relatively simple and free work-around so folks are able to print from Geos to a USB printer.

Contrary to popular belief, the Yahoo group are not our only customers. Far from it. We continue to sell our products to many customers from all over the world. Even with our limited resources, we support our products, at no cost to the user. You have no idea how many support emails, phone calls, letters, faxes, etc., we receive from existing and potential customers. Each one takes time, sometimes a lot of time, and is handled accordingly to the satisfaction of the customer. And if we can't solve the problem, we provide a 100% refund. I'm mentioning this because it directly relates to product and marketing ideas and suggestions we receive. Support costs time and money and we provide the best as far as I'm concerned. I'm not going to jeopardize our reputation or our ability to properly support a product, or even an idea, if we can't afford it.

Lastly, we believe we're headed in the right direction regarding the educational market. It's a niche that fits and works for us. We've developed a lot of good, solid educational software and combined with our desktop productivity apps, PIMs, many of our internet clients, etc., we've got a package that has no competition. Contrary to your comment about not being able to attract any hardware companies, that's just not true and I've elaborated about it on Geos-talk. We just haven't made a breakthrough yet, although we've been very close. We're still currently working with one company. I think you know that.

Anyway, I apologize for my long-winded response, but I wanted to clarify a few things and assure you that Geos is not dead.

If anyone is interested in investing about $2 million in Breadbox to help us achieve our goals, I'd be more than happy to discuss it with you.

best,

Frank

Reply Score: 1

mjhi11 Member since:
2009-08-15

Frank, I appreciate your reply here and I'm sure that the OSNews.com readers do too, and brevity isn't necessarily an advantage!

I regret advancing the claim that 32 Bit PC/GEOS was promised 10 years ago and after your most recent posts wish I could have gone back and corrected the original article but at best the revision might read "several years" without concrete personal knowledge of when that effort was started.

That said it's been well known for at least 10 years or more that due to the current 16 bit memory limitations of PC/GEOS, it cannot host an even semi-modern web browsing experience.

I've tried with my article to present both sides of the debate, with at least some element of fairness.

The question mark in the title "The Death of GEOS?" was intentional, to express my own doubt whether the premise is true or not.

With that said, your reply here leaves at least a little doubt about the future of the desktop version of PC/GEOS.

Maybe that's the distinction, GEOS may in fact live on, bundled with hardware targeted to the educational market, but as an advancing, improving desktop operating system the future does indeed look bleak.

You'll recall in my posts that I've argued against the "free software movement" as I too respect the efforts of programmers and don't want to see their efforts devalued...we all have families to care for.

Again, in the spirit of fairness, I've defended quite vocally Breadbox's right to profit on the GEOS-Talk board, and any software company's right to profit, here at OSNews.com too as I personally believe that the free software movement devalues the effort of brilliant programmers who deserve to profit from their considerable knowledge, experience and efforts.

Of course, if a programmer chooses to work uncompensated I support their right to do so as well and appreciate the many hours of labor spent advancing technology.

On the other hand, open-source doesn't necessarily mean "free" and there are many successful open source projects where companies have profited from an open source development model.

In regards to Breadbox's self-admitted limited resources, funding and staff available to advance PC/GEOS, I think there's at least a little merit to the suggestion from those who "sincerely" want to see PC/GEOS not only survive but thrive.

You and Breadbox of course have the right to reject the suggestion but I believe there's some merit to the idea and sought independent feedback from the folks here at OSNews.com. As I hope was clear in the article, I have no patience for trolls on the GEOS-Talk board who simply want something for free.

Also note that I didn't include our DOS shell discussions, banner discussion in the main article on purpose as this was more an attempt to present a somewhat "fair" analysis of the situation.

With that said, I brought these issues up (which is why they didn't belong in the article) in a reply to a comment post-article to illustrate at least my personal frustration to quote a line from Jerry McGuire, "help me, help you".

Many, many of the suggestions that true fans of PC/GEOS have made require little expense and in some cases just a little effort. A common frustration shared on GEOS-Talk and in private conversations with other PC/GEOS users is one of missed opportunities, time and again.

A modern redesign of the Breadbox.com website for example is something that can be done for little or no expense and something that can be done rather easily using (ironically) open-source tools such as Joomla, Drupal or other another content management system.

This would not only indicate to existing customers that Breadbox is growing or at least advancing but more important a modern, attractive, easy to navigate website can help to attract venture capitalists and investors. It's a confidence thing, if a company takes pride in the most important connection to customers and investors, then that breeds confidence in Breadbox as a company.

In addition a well-designed website can REDUCE the amount of technical support you provide to existing customers. And an easy, intuitive purchasing process might actually increase sales.

Regular "blog postings" would give customers (and the community) confidence that things are "advancing" and more important drive new hits on the site thus increasing Breadbox's technology visibility and maybe even attract investors. If there's nothing new, reference an article from geoscentral.com or search the web as I do for anything related to GEOS. Each new article brings new visitors to the site and can be done "for free" and with little more than a few minutes effort each week.

And if you do meet with a hardware manufacturer, talk to an investor or even attend a trade show, then write about that. You don't have to disclose the potential partner, just show other investors (and the community) that PC/GEOS and Breadbox is active! Activity breeds interest, interest can turn into investment.

Continue to spend just a little effort improving the current product. There's a known bug in the DOS launching capabilities that prevents you from changing an icon after it's been saved. Fix it, announce it. If you have a work-around, at least capture a FAQ to let customers know how to work around a limitation.

Distributing the existing PC/GEOS version in a new form, whether that's a pre-built VirtualBox, VMware Fusion or Parallels virtual drive is another "virtually free" way of expanding PC/GEOS's footprint and potential market and would only require a little time.

Distributing the existing PC/GEOS version on a thumb drive using DOSBox or similar emulation technology is another "low cost" strategy. This configuration could be targeted at parents and schools as "GEOS for Kids" or "GEOS for DOS Legacy Gamers".

Time and again a common strategy by many businesses is to "re-package" the same product, just in different ways, thus attracting a different buyer, or demonstrate a "broad line" of products when in fact it's really just the same product behind the scenes. Why do companies do this? To maximize their investment in the current product and minimize the costs associated with attracting new customers.

But that leads to one of the most important criticism of Breadbox Ensemble, and that is price. It's become a self-fulfilling prophecy...the price is high because people don't buy, people don't buy because the price is too high".

Do I believe that a 50% reduction or even 80% reduction in price will result in millions of new sales, no which I assume is the argument for keeping the pricing as is.

But even the biggest supporters of PC/GEOS agree that its a rather steep price to pay for 25 year old technology that has been improved minimally over the last 25 years, particularly since the development of the shareware movement in the 80s and 90s, and the free software movement in the 90s and turn of the century and most important the incredible competition and success of Linux, OpenOffice, KDE Office and other open source projects and availability of low cost software over the last several years.

I too apologize for my long winded reply. My intentions are pure and for both the community and Breadbox I hope there is some model that succeeds as the one thing that I know we both agree upon, PC/GEOS technology was and in many ways is still today a special, revolutionary product and it would be a shame for it to in fact die.

Edited 2010-10-09 15:31 UTC

Reply Score: 1

mjhi11 Member since:
2009-08-15

One more example.

One of the biggest missed opportunities...the 25th anniversary of GEOS!

I personally would have submitted an article here at OSNews.com and I'm pretty sure they would run it and I'm very confident other technology related websites would run a similar article...

...particularly if there was something to announce whether it be a price reduction, a new "repackaging" of PC/GEOS as a virtual machine or limited edition thumb drive, new activity regarding the educational device initiative, a website re-design, something, anything.

That's the primary criticism...there's nothing, anything and there hasn't been for a very, very long time.

Reply Score: 1

Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

We continue to sell our products to many customers from all over the world.

Hello Frank, awesome to have you comment here. PC/GEOS has always been famous for being fast on low-end hardware, it ran circles around Windows 95. There must be potential demand around the world for old computers on limited hardware that Windows simply can’t serve and if GEOS could run with that it could have a future for years to come.

I wish you all the best.

Reply Score: 1

Good story!
by sydbarrett74 on Fri 8th Oct 2010 05:30 UTC
sydbarrett74
Member since:
2007-07-24

These quirky, geeky articles are the reason I read OSnews! Let the mainstream sites cover the latest Linux distro or Android app. Keep these retro/hacking articles coming. ;)

Reply Score: 2

jtfolden
Member since:
2005-08-12

Thats actually a marketing line for IBM's OS/2. I never saw PC/GEOS commonly referred to in that way.

Reply Score: 1

mjhi11 Member since:
2009-08-15

I agree that OS/2 used this slogan, but several in the press, praised GeoWorks similarly. Here's a quote from an article I, Cringely wrote in December 1997...

"In the late 1980s, the company now known as Geoworks had the audacity to ship a direct competitor to Windows. Geoworks was then the name of the product and it was better than Windows, offering several powerful integrated applications.

Geoworks ran faster on an 8086 than did Windows on an 80286. Geoworks somehow pasted real multitasking on top of single-tasking DOS..."

http://geoscentral.com/news/geos-pc-news/100-a-better-windows-than-...

And there are similar comments from others in the computing press from the day.

Edited 2010-10-08 14:26 UTC

Reply Score: 1

mjhi11 Member since:
2009-08-15

And here's additional praise from a few other reviews...

AT A GLANCE: Slick, quick, useful combination of accessories featuring a great DOS menu, easy file management and telecommunications. Good choice for those with 8088 and 286 machines or for those not willing to go to Windows.

"...it is the DOS Programs environment that gives GeoWorks Desktop its true, stand-alone value. The single function of this environment is creating clickable buttons to run DOS programs. In many cases, all you have to do is choose the Create New Button command, find the program file you want to associate with that button, and then choose an icon for the button (icons for many popular DOS programs, as well as a variety of generic icons, are already included).

If necessary, you can append command line options to the button, or create a batch file to set up and execute a program. In any case, clicking on a button you have created suspends PC/GEOS and runs the selected program. When you are finished working with the program and quit, you can either return to PC/GEOS or exit to DOS. This is one of the simplest and most attractive DOS menu utilities I have ever used, and it was so effective I could even run Windows from Desktop without a hitch."


Home Office Computing, Sept, 1992 by Charles Gajeway

"Do you need to use your computer for more than one thing at once? I do, and apparently there are millions more like me, as demonstrated by the sales of DesqView, OS/2, Windows, etc...

What do most graphical multitasking Operating Systems have in common? High system requirements and slow performance. OS/2 (v2.1) for example needs 8 MB of memory and 35 MB of disk space just to run a few small or medium size applications. For major applications to run well, you need even more memory and disk space...

PC/GEOS is the multitasking operating system core of the GeoWorks Ensemble 2.0 software package for the IBM PC. It runs comfortably on a 386SX-16 with 2 MB of memory. The installation takes only 9 MB of disk space."

These authors don't use the exact phrase "better Windows than Windows, a better DOS than DOS, but it's clear that they believed that GeoWorks was well respected as a competitor to OS/2, Windows and DOS back in the day and had much to offer, particularly for computer users with limited system resources.

Reply Score: 1

jtfolden Member since:
2005-08-12

Yes, but the exact phrase is what I'm talking about. He put it in quotes as if he were quoting it verbatim from something related to GeoWorks.

..and to borrow that phrase from OS/2 seems questionable considering it was more literally true of that OS at the time.

Reply Score: 1

mjhi11 Member since:
2009-08-15

The quotes were to emphasize MY interpretation of PC/GEOS as a "better DOS than DOS and a better Windows than Windows" and supported by at least a few reviewers of the day.

And for the record, at another Comdex around that time I won a free copy of OS/2 WARP. I spent some time with it too and while technically impressive, it was neither as intuitive and easy to use as PC/GEOS (though I appreciate the purity of the object oriented user interface though in my opinion it never really worked, and still doesn't work based on my time over the last couple of months with eComStation) and it definitely required considerably more horsepower.

It's a description that I've used for years to explain PC/GEOS and I think that both operating systems can make claim to the description. There's no copyright restrictions on an idea.

Reply Score: 1

jtfolden Member since:
2005-08-12

It's a simple matter of fact that specific phrase was a highly visible marketing line for OS/2 2.x upon release. It was, in fact, right on the packaging of some versions.

I don't personally care if you use it but when talking about historical operating systems it carries specific baggage to those in the know.

You'd have to talk to IBM on whether they have any rights to it. LOL

Reply Score: 1

Comment by neticspace
by neticspace on Fri 8th Oct 2010 13:49 UTC
neticspace
Member since:
2009-06-09

I kinda like DOS-based/inspired operating systems. It is a gradual evolution in parallel to the semi-old school variant of UNIX.

Reply Score: 2

Either let go or clone
by r_a_trip on Fri 8th Oct 2010 14:45 UTC
r_a_trip
Member since:
2005-07-06

So this is a call out to the smart readers at OSNews.com to offer your own suggestions, opinions and comments.

What I'm going to say won't make any friends, but after reading your piece the first thing that popped up in my head was "Obsolete zombie technology refuses to die".

Considering that the owner of GEOS hasn't got the slightest inclination to invest further in it nor setting it free. Has adopted a foolproof business plan for bankruptcy with targetting 3rd world education, an area where even the efforts of non-profit and socially oriented outfits are frought with difficulties. Having a user group that is giving up hope. With this set of conditions, I don't see a prospect of survival and further development into relevant technology.

Sounds like GEOS in the current state is in the select company of Amiga OS, OS/2 and the likes. The thing groans and staggers about, all the while eating the brains of sane people.

If this technology really is too valuable to lose, I can only suggest to assemble a group of GEOS enthusiasts with programming skills and pull a Haiku. Reimplement the system under a FOSS license (perhaps name it SOEG: Similar OS Enviroment to GEOS) and try to get it up to par and then think about futher development paths that takes the reimplementation forward. Pick a base to build upon if you want to keep it a shell technology (may I suggest FreeDOS if it needs to be true to its roots). If you want independence, develop a base OS that can support your efforts (make sure you can build upon an already existing and freely available driver base). If you can develop a usable system with productivity apps that runs on i386 processors till the latest hexacores and up, with minimal footprint, you've got a winner.

Remember, while Breadbox may own GEOS, they don't owe you anything and you don't owe anything to Breadbox (you've paid your license fees and that is all that is required). That the original BeOS was the property of Palm (now HP) didn't stop BeOS fans from developing Haiku. The only project I know of that did a pretty successful resurrection (in the sense that I don't perceive Haiku as a zombie technology).

Reply Score: 2

RE: Either let go or clone
by mjhi11 on Fri 8th Oct 2010 15:30 UTC in reply to "Either let go or clone"
mjhi11 Member since:
2009-08-15

Again, no offense taken and more important, this is exactly the commentary I was hoping for as my primary reason for writing the article was to get objective, third party comments from a fresh audience, versus the tired old critics, and defensive corporate replies shared on the GEOS-Talk boards.

In another post a few minutes ago I wondered allowed whether it didn't make more sense to take advantage of the advances in Linux, drivers, modern programming languages, etc. to re-create the PC/GEOS experience and maybe like you suggest, this may be the only practical way to extend the GEOS legacy moving forward.

Thanks for the thoughtful commentary. And when the guys from GEOS-Talk catch wind of my article here, what I've said probably isn't going to make any friends either!

Reply Score: 1

Wordperfect
by big_anemone on Fri 8th Oct 2010 15:57 UTC
big_anemone
Member since:
2010-10-08

I've never been a geoworks/breadbox user, although I have always admired the system. I am/was a longtime user of another legacy application, though - Wordperfect for Dos. I still have and occasionally use Wordperfect 6.2, simply because it is better, for all of my purposes, than MS Office, OpenOffice, etc. I do a great deal of word processing, and small advantages matter to me.

What eventually got me to mostly stop using it wasn't any of the usual reasons. File compatibility isn't a problem, and I have no trouble running WP 6.2 on either Linux or Windows.

What got me after 13 years was a better product (finally!) - Scrivener for OS/X, a word processor designed for people who write lots of long and complicated documents, but don't typically fuss around with lots of formatting.

I very much wish that I could somehow integrate WP 6.2 with Scrivener, but given the choice, I choose the latter. WP 6.2 is much better than MS Word or OpenOffice, but not as good as Scrivener. Therefore, I moved on (mostly).

The short version is this: even the most fanatical users of legacy systems (like me) are apt to eventually move on. If you can't get the code base and update it, and you're satisfied with some alternative, just move on. Use legacy programs when they're better (which sometimes they are - lots of contemporary software is terrible, and a few old systems are good), not out of emotional attachment.

Reply Score: 1

breadbox close minded
by paul14213us on Fri 8th Oct 2010 16:11 UTC
paul14213us
Member since:
2010-10-08

A few years back i would post on geos talk asking how

long until GEOS 32 might be if ever released today when

I checked i saw i had been banned Im sorry to say but

G E O S is in a state like skyos its going no where

I personally like gem an but nowadays I pretty much use

linux

Reply Score: 1

RE: breadbox close minded
by M.Onty on Fri 8th Oct 2010 19:11 UTC in reply to "breadbox close minded"
M.Onty Member since:
2009-10-23

Perhaps they took a disliking to your eccentric grammar and formatting style.

Reply Score: 2

geos dead
by paul14213us on Fri 8th Oct 2010 23:25 UTC
paul14213us
Member since:
2010-10-08

I want to say im sorry for the poor grammar.

I did send the head of breadbox a email asking if

he would like to respond. He said he would pass.

I am not sure how to improve GEOS since breadbox is unwilling.

Reply Score: 1

RE: geos dead
by M.Onty on Sat 9th Oct 2010 21:01 UTC in reply to "geos dead"
M.Onty Member since:
2009-10-23

I am not sure how to improve GEOS since breadbox is unwilling.

Its a conundrum and you've probably gone the extra mile already. I feel that in these situations the community must consider one of two options.

First is wrestling the OS away from the company or, more likely, doing a Haiku.

Second is realising that if they don't have the energy to do the above, and the company doesn't have the energy to do anything either then its goodnight under-loved OS. If there's no personal energy associated with it then features and good concepts amount to nowt.

I want to say im sorry for the poor grammar.

No need. I assumed you were posting from a phone, Lynx (with its awkward line input) or similar. A forumite's grammar is his castle, let no man stand in the way of its particular eccentricity.

Reply Score: 1

Breadbox killed GEOS
by benali72 on Sat 9th Oct 2010 06:50 UTC
benali72
Member since:
2008-05-03

Who will pay $99.95 for a 16-bit system that rides on top of DOS? After 7 years of Breadbox ownership we all know the answer -- no one.

If anyone wants a GUI for DOS, there are several free competitors to GEOS available. Just look here -- http://www.unet.univie.ac.at/~a0503736/php/drdoswiki/index.php?n=Ma....

Even free may not sell GEOS any longer. The world has moved beyond the 16-bit OS. You pick up a P-I, P-II, or P-III for free these days from Craigslist or Freecycle, which will run free 32-bit systems like Linux, BSD, or Haiku. The window for a 16-bit OS is largely past, even if it were free.

Reply Score: 1

GEOS is dead. Long live GEOS!
by garyd on Sat 9th Oct 2010 09:55 UTC
garyd
Member since:
2008-10-22

This article & thread brings up a lot of fond memories. For being such a backwards place in all other ways, someone at our elementary school was sharp enough to convince someone to buy a Commodore PET for our small class of "gifted" children. As a result, here I am 30 years later typing on a small, handheld UNIX device that was considered nothing short of pure fiction back then.

I now read books like The Rise & Fall of Commodore and marvel at what was squandered by upper management at that company. Many of the innovative engineers behind modern milestones in computing are still alive & still contributing in some way or quietly or loudly enjoying retirement. I often imagine someone like Vinton Cerf being tracked down in his last years in much the same way Bob Dylan did when he heard that Woodie Guthrie was still alive. But what does all this nostalgia do for me now? The Con Kolivas interview was fun to read again, btw. Here's a link to the original which contains the followup articles as well:http://apcmag.com/print.aspx?id=1634&mode=print

I read an op-ed piece by in the November issue of GamePro that echoed something a 50 year old coworker & dear friend recently said to me. My friend suggested that handheld devices, OSes, and apps are going through a frantic upgrade cycle that is not too dissimilar to what happened in the 80s & 90s with personal computers and video games. John Davison's article says something similar but, naturally, with a focus on gaming. Both of them are harkening back to a time when a small group of people (or fewer!) can innovate with relatively few resources and bring to market a product that can entertain and even surprise us in a time when we thought it's all been said and done.

So I know this little meandering of mine doesn't speak much to the issue at hand but I leave you with this final, inspirational paragraph by Davison.

"Creative control is back in the hands of visionaries at this end of the market, and we're seeing more imagination, innovation, and audacity as a result. Long may it last."

Browser: Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_0_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/532.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0.5 Mobile/8A306 Safari/6531.22.7

Reply Score: 1

I use PC/GEOS
by warriorspot on Sat 9th Oct 2010 18:00 UTC
warriorspot
Member since:
2006-01-20

I just used NewWrite (NewDeal Office 3.2a) to write my resume two weeks ago. I use the Postscript Compatible printer driver and print to a file. The Mac automatically converts the postscript to PDF. I've also used NewCalc to generate invoices, and NewDraw to create architecture diagrams for software engineering work. NewFile is really cool database/form designer. I use the Scrapbook program to create "stencils" (UML, Flowchart) for NewDraw.

NewBasic is a little buggy but is useful for small projects.

I have GEOS installed on my two dedicated DOS machines, and I run it in DOSBox on my Mac. Recently I downloaded the SDK and have played around with that. It has its own OO layer that generates C that is then compiled by Borland C++ 4.5. Its a pretty interesting SDK... a little hard to get used to at first, but its a truly OO message-passing based API.

Now as for what I would like to see happen to it? Ideally, open source it. If not that, finish the 32 bit version that has modern networking support, and a modernized "Specific UI". I would also like to see Breadbox just bundle it with DOSBox.

**EDIT** I just read the CEO's post, so it looks like work on 32 bit GEOS continues slowly but surely. There must be some way for Breadbox to involve hobbiest developers in PC/GEOS. Maybe get the SDK to work with GCC or a Linux version of the SDK? A Developer portal? Maybe open-source some part of the office suite or one of the other programs? A contest of some kind?

Edited 2010-10-09 18:09 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE: I use PC/GEOS
by edwdig on Sun 10th Oct 2010 04:31 UTC in reply to "I use PC/GEOS"
edwdig Member since:
2005-08-22

I have GEOS installed on my two dedicated DOS machines, and I run it in DOSBox on my Mac. Recently I downloaded the SDK and have played around with that. It has its own OO layer that generates C that is then compiled by Borland C++ 4.5. Its a pretty interesting SDK... a little hard to get used to at first, but its a truly OO message-passing based API.


The general impression was that the SDK was hard to get used to for people who were already comfortable with Win32 programming. On the flip side, if you had never done GUI programming before, GEOS was far, far easier to work with than Win32.

Now as for what I would like to see happen to it? Ideally, open source it.


Never going to happen. It would be very expensive to sort through the legal issues. You'd then have to pay someone to spend months removing the licensed code and getting things working again.

And if you did all that, you'd have a very small number of people who understood the core system well enough to do serious work on it. I'd also guess that if any of those people had any interest in doing that work for free that it would have already happened.

If not that, finish the 32 bit version that has modern networking support, and a modernized "Specific UI".


Find the money...

I would also like to see Breadbox just bundle it with DOSBox.


That seems totally reasonable. I don't see any reason why that couldn't happen easily.

There must be some way for Breadbox to involve hobbiest developers in PC/GEOS.


There used to be a decent number of them, and Breadbox did support them. I tried to help out the hobbiest developers, and I know several of the senior GEOS developers did as well. Most of the features added to NewBasic after the original release were because of that.

Maybe get the SDK to work with GCC or a Linux version of the SDK?


GCC doesn't support segmented memory models. OpenWatcom is the only compiler that's a realistic option. When I looked into it years ago, OpenWatcom didn't run on Linux yet.

I did briefly experiment with trying to build GEOS code using OpenWatcom, but at the time I didn't know anywhere near enough about makefiles to get anywhere. It should be possible though.

A Developer portal?


Stuff like that used to exist. It all died out when active development of the OS stopped.

Maybe open-source some part of the office suite or one of the other programs?


The source code to GeoFile was included with the GEOS 2.0 SDK. No one did anything significant with it.

Several of the more prominent GEOS developers were very willing to share their own code when asked.

A contest of some kind?


One of the user groups used to run development contests every year. I won a few prizes in them myself. The contests ended due to a combination of the userbase shrinking and most of the better developers getting hired by Breadbox, NewDeal, MyTurn, and Geoworks.

Reply Score: 1

Open source the drivers
by warriorspot on Sat 9th Oct 2010 19:15 UTC
warriorspot
Member since:
2006-01-20

Now that I think about it, I would like to see Breadbox open-source some of the Import/Export filters and drivers. Why not provide support to developers who want to update/create drivers and filters? You could start with the Postscript Driver, Excel 98 and Word 98 filters. Oh, and the HTML filter.

I for one would download these and work to fix/update them just for fun.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Open source the drivers
by edwdig on Sun 10th Oct 2010 03:48 UTC in reply to "Open source the drivers"
edwdig Member since:
2005-08-22

The original set of Import/Export filters were licensed from another company. I don't know if the licensed code is contained entirely in the filters or if it extends into the ImpEx engine. If it's in the engine, that open sourcing things may not be possible.

I think the RTF filter was written entirely by Breadbox, so that's probably the best one to ask about if you want to push the issue.

Reply Score: 1

Breadbox site down
by warriorspot on Sat 9th Oct 2010 22:02 UTC
warriorspot
Member since:
2006-01-20

Dang, this article and discussion inspired me to buy Ensemble, but the Breadbox site is down. Maybe its a sign.

Edited 2010-10-09 22:03 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE: Breadbox site down
by mjhi11 on Sat 9th Oct 2010 22:53 UTC in reply to "Breadbox site down"
mjhi11 Member since:
2009-08-15

"Dang, this article and discussion inspired me to buy Ensemble, but the Breadbox site is down. Maybe its a sign."

OUCH! Rather ironic, funny in a tragic way...and true.

But I'm confident its just a temporary thing, it was up earlier today.

I'm not quite ready to view it as an omen just yet.

Reply Score: 1