Home > OS News > Introducing the THEOS Operating SystemIntroducing the THEOS Operating System Submitted by XBe 2004-06-16 OS News 19 CommentsFor the developers and end-users using THEOS based applications the system benefits are readily apparent. But let’s take a look under the hood and see what makes THEOS operating system and development language so unique and long-lived.About The Author Eugenia LoliEx-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker.Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 19 Comments 2004-06-16 6:34 pm “But let’s take a look under the hood and see what makes THEOS operating system and development language so unique and long-lived.”Ummm… Where’s the article? 2004-06-16 6:40 pm this os is totally new for me, i didn’t know it existed!which applications is it best suited for? does anyone use it at enterprise applications? data base servers? carriers? 2004-06-16 6:40 pm Click the link above and follow the “continue” for the TheOS OS. 2004-06-16 8:31 pm I think the site may be getting OSNews’d…trying again later… 2004-06-16 9:00 pm > Click the link above and follow the “continue” for the TheOS OS.Do you mean the executive summary (that list of goals)?Sorry, but I can’t find a look under the hood anywhere, and several parts of the website are password-protected. 2004-06-16 9:57 pm Is it ‘the’ ‘os’, or ‘theos’.Here is the first page of the whitepaper.1. Ease of Use and MaintenanceTHEOS was designed to be a personal computer multiusermultitaskingoperating system that couldbe used by small business people without the need for inhousetechnical support. Depending on howdevelopers structure applications, users can be entirely locked out of the operating system, insteadoperating only in menus which provide applicationspecificoptions. Many tasks that ordinarily requirethe support of technical staff, such as backingupapplication files, can be handled in a truly usertransparentway by an application running under THEOS.Many THEOS enduserorganizations have no technical person on their staff. They are instead remotelyserviced by a VAR who occasionally checks up on the system via a secure connection established viathe Internet or a dialupline. Installation of the operating system typically takes ten minutes. Theprocess is so straightforward that VARs often talk nontechnicalenduserstaff through the process viatelephone. System startupcan be achieved in under ten seconds while system shutdowncan beperformed in under five seconds.THEOS has a genuine commitment to full backwards compatibility of its operating system. This meansthat new upgrades to the operating system do not require additional application coding in order to takeadvantage of new operating system features. This commitment means that many incompatibilities thatplague other operating systems are avoided, thus helping to ensure a stable and easytousecomputingenvironment for endusers.Although it does support all commonlyusedoperating system features and functions, THEOS does notsupport a very large number of unnecessary features and functions as Windows does. Many of theseunnecessary features and functions end up causing Windows to become very large (“bloatware”). Moreimportantly, many of these features and functions significantly increase the complexity of Windows,thus making it more difficult to maintain. A good number of VARs who support the same applicationunder both Windows and THEOS have dropped support for Windows because Windows was too timeconsuming and expensive to support. Complexity also makes Windows more difficult tocomprehensively test, and this means that Windows is more likely to have undetected securityproblems. The consistent internal design and the ongoingdiscipline of a small number of developers atTHEOS allow the operating system to be elegantly simple. This in turn makes THEOS easier tomaintain, significantly more secure, and significantly less expensive to use. 2004-06-16 10:14 pm this OS is free?Can I run it on a 16mhz 286? 2004-06-16 11:01 pm I used to use THEOS back before Windows 95 was released. I don’t remember much about it, but it was better than DOS. 2004-06-16 11:53 pm well I guess many have a big surprise here. I’ve never heard of the OS before but just found it today. I’ve read OSNews for quite some time now (3years or so) and this has never come up. Since it seems to have been around like 20 years it can’t be that crappy….Hope someone gives it a swirl and put in a real review of it… any technical enthusiast who can enlighten us ?Look forward to read more about it anyway… 2004-06-17 12:47 am I think these are the same guys that used a lawyer to try and steal http://www.theos.com away from Theo de Raadt.http://www.theos.com/dispute.html 2004-06-17 2:20 am Back in “the day” (1980) THEOS, or OASIS as it was then called, was a really impressive OS for Z-80 computers. It could comfortably run multi-tasking /multi-user on a 4 MHz Z-80. If you had bank-switching memory, you could have up to 16 users, each with 48K of user memory and a shared 16K space for the OS. OASIS was ported to many many Z-80 systems, and they had something similar to termcap to support different terminal types.The OS was pretty much command-line compatible with IBMs CMS, using very similar syntax. Quite advanced for a microcomputer operating system. Unfortunately, they decided to shift their focus to 80×86 machines and take on Microsoft. They have ended up a niche player, with nothing that impressive to distinguish them from many other more modern operating systems. A pity. 2004-06-17 4:37 am That was my first thought. 2004-06-17 9:56 am THEOS was originally known as ‘OASIS’ back in the Z80 days and was, as you say, a very impressive OS. In my opinion it still is. The name was changed for a number of reasons when THEOS 286 was released, initially for the IBM PC-AT. Over the years the system has been developed to add TCP/IP networking support, increased file and disk volume sizes, and so on. The latest version, THEOS Corona, was reported on this site some time ago.A major ‘plus point’ for THEOS at the moment is that it does not have viruses (viri?). This apparently isn’t just because no-one has written one, but according to the developers the internal structure of the OS does not allow it to happen.Another significant application is the THEOS Postoffice server, which has a number of features intended to control junk or ‘spam’ email, at server level.No, THEOS is not a free operating system, the license cost depends on the number of users and exactly what features you have. Cost per seat is quite significantly lower than a similar M’soft product, generally.The dispute with Theo De Raadt (spelling) was, in my opinion, unfortunate. I think the use of lawyers was simply a means of making sure everything was done in a legal fashion, rather than an attempt to be heavy to Mr De Raadt. You wouldn’t buy a house without using a lawyer, would you?Over here in the UK, we use THEOS for the largest-selling veterinary practice management system in the country.I must also confess (if you hadn’t figured it out from the home page) that I represent THEOS in the UK as their distributor. 2004-06-17 10:22 am Sounds really nice all of it.Now the big question is whether you can make some sort of review with screenshots showing of some of the system just like we get 2-3 Linux reviews of Preview distros all the time.I would really enjoy seeing something different. Call it marketing if you’d like =)Look forward to see that newsitem later on, and I’m sure Eugenia wouldn’t mind neither… 2004-06-17 1:53 pm PICK really kicks THEOS butt.Remember PICK? Designed by Dick Pick (I’m not kidding).It was an OS and a relational database in one. 2004-06-17 4:15 pm I recall a Pick distributor coming to see us to talk about porting our applications off Oasis (back in the Z80 days) over to Pick. The problem wasn’t the OS itself, but the DATABASIC language was missing some important stuff that we used extensively, so it wasn’t an easy option.I haven’t really followed Pick, didn’t it die off as an OS and become another database engine on other platforms? I seem to recall that Dick Pick passed away some years ago. 2004-06-17 6:20 pm I don’t mean to be shallow, but if the screenshots herehttp://www.theos-software.com/corona/preview.htmare truly representative of the OS, heaven help them.Artists are cheap compared to programmers. Perhaps they should hire at least one to make their GUI look better than a first pass college window manager project.Also, their website is missing plenty of useful information (like, what programs exist for this OS?)And don’t click on Documentation. I know you might be tempted, but it’s not really documentation. It’s a password protected manual download.It’s just very difficult for me to take something seriously when their international web presence is so sub-amateur. 2004-06-17 7:29 pm It is unfortunate that THEOS is such a niche player. I’ve used previos versions on the x86 platform (I believe this was THEOS v4). It was text-only, and supported C, Basic and assembler. The Basic compiler was the workhorse… it had all sorts of special commands for working with THEOS and the file system, and I believe had support for indexed files. THEOS was designed to be multi-user, but I believe it was achieved mostly through large numbers of serial ports.In any case, I seem to recall a development license being several hundred dollars… and it was protected via a parallel port DONGLE. Yes, you had to keep this little device plugged in or the OS wouldn’t work.It really was like a throwback to the bad ol’ days of DOS. Lots of features and capabilities, but expensive and definitely oriented towards text-based UIs.On the positive side, it ran like a screaming banshee on low-end hardware.And it came with REAL MANUALS… yes, several inches of thick books to peruse through. 2004-06-18 8:12 am Keep in mind that THEOS is designed as an OS primarily to run business-oriented applications. Yes, the graphical user interface probably doesn’t look quite as flash as some other GUIs. How many customers need a GUI to maintain customer details, post invoices, check patient history, etc? If you’re in a busy office or at point of sale, you need to get the job done quickly, pictures don’t help and a mouse slows you down. THEOS isn’t aimed at those jobs that really need graphics, such as CAD, publishing, design, etc.Many developers have used the web interface to give THEOS applications a look that integrates more closely to something like Windows – it’s very easy to develop CGI applications in THEOS BASIC.BASIC is still the primary development language for THEOS. Although there is a C language available, I believe the majority of developers use BASIC because it’s simple to use, fast, and supports virtually all features of the OS either directly or via toolkit APIs.THEOS has integrated ISAM file structures, and the new THEOS Database provides a database server which can be used by clients from other OSs via ODBC drivers.