OS News Archive

PsychDOS: a desktop environment plus extra software for DOS users

The PsychDOS desktop environment is an ANSI-like graphical interface for launching applications and having a few other features. I highly recommend looking at the SCREENSHOTS and DOCS sections, as well as taking a look at the QCKGUIDE.PDF (Page 3.5 Issue #01) file to get a better idea. I don’t care what anybody thinks – this is an awesome project, and an awesome idea. The readme contains a lot more detailed information about the project.

What is Lua RTOS?

Lua RTOS is a real-time operating system designed to run on embedded systems, with minimal requirements of FLASH and RAM memory. Currently Lua RTOS is available for ESP32, ESP8266 and PIC32MZ platforms, and can be easilly ported to other 32-bit platforms. Niche, for sure, but an operating system nonetheless.

What is NitrOS-9?

NitrOS-9 is a real-time, process-based, multitasking, multi-user, Unix-like operating system for the 6809 and 6309 processors. It runs on TRS-80 Color Computer, Radio Shack Color Computer 2, Tandy Color Computer 3 and Dragon 64. The original OS-9 was created in 1979. NitrOS-9 is the modern equivalent of that OS, and includes advanced features like support for up to 2 MB RAM and 4 GB Hard drive partitions. It is still being developed, and support is available in many mailing lists and forums. That is what we call commitment.

Genode OS Framework 21.05 released

The most prominent user-visible features of Genode 21.05 are the support for webcams and an easy-to-use component for file encryption on Sculpt OS. Both topics greatly benefit from Genode’s component architecture. The video-conferencing scenario described in Section Webcam support sandboxes the webcam driver in a disposable Genode component while using a second instance of the nitpicker GUI server as a video bridge. This design strikes a beautiful combination of simplicity, robustness, and flexibility. Genode keeps on improving at an impressive and steady pace.

SerenityOS’ founder and main developer goes full-time for SerenityOS

Until now, I’ve been juggling SerenityOS as a side project while also having a full time programming job. That all changes today! I just wrapped up my last day at work, and I’m no longer employed. Instead, I will be focusing on SerenityOS full time starting right now! :^) This is all made possible by the extremely generous support I’m receiving from folks via Patreon, GitHub Sponsors and PayPal! I feel super fortunate to have the trust & support of so many people. Thank you all so much!! SerenityOS is amazing, and its main developer seems to be a delightful person, whose character and demeanor is attracting a lot of interesting developers to the project. The progress it’s making is astonishing, and with this news, that progress is bound to keep steady for a long time to come. Since pretty much all the alternative, small operating systems from the early 2000s died out, it’s heartwarming to see a new one pop up and thrive.

About our current dearth of content

You may have noticed a lack of new stories on OSNews the past week, and that’s because my fiancée and I had our first baby about a week ago. Since I’m making use of my ten workdays of childbirth leave as granted by the Swedish government, I’m not allowed to perform any work during those ten workdays (we’ve got another few hundred days of parental leave, too), which includes OSNews work. Since OSNews’ owner David happened to be on vacation with his family at this time, too, we were kind of left in the lurch. Our apologies, but there wasn’t much we could do. In any event, we’re learning how to be parents by leaps and bounds every day, and we’re taking good care of our little .deb. I’ll be back on duty coming Monday, so expect normal service to resume then. In the meantime, feel free to submit news items David can quickly and easily post – it doesn’t have to be perfect, as long as we give y’all some stuff to talk about. Until then, I’m going back to installing and configuring Void Linux on my main laptop – I already use and love it on my POWER9 machines – and I’ll see you all in a few days.

Plan 9 transferred to the Plan 9 Foundation

The funky second OS from the Unix masterminds, Plan 9, has been fully transferred to the Plan 9 Foundation, and it’s been released under the MIT license. We are thrilled to announce that Nokia has transferred the copyright of Plan 9 to the Plan 9 Foundation. This transfer applies to all of the Plan 9 from Bell Labs code, from the earliest days through their final release. The most exciting immediate effect of this is that the Plan 9 Foundation is making the historical 1st through 4th editions of Plan 9 available under the terms of the MIT license. These are the releases as they existed at the time, with minimal changes to reflect the above. The historical releases are at the Foundation’s website. Nokia also posted a press release which gives some more background about Plan 9 for those who may not know about its history.

Why use old computers and operating systems?

On this blog, I write about the various computers I use and about the operating systems I use on them. Apart from Windows 7, which is relatively modern, these include Mac OS 10.6 Snow Leopard, which at this point is quite old, and Mac OS 9, which is practically ancient. I’d like to talk a bit about why I use such old systems. A good, succinct answer to the posed question. I love using older systems not for nostalgia’s sake, but simply to learn, to experience systems I didn’t get to experience when they were current because I was too young or the hardware was too expensive. A few posts down I mentioned I’m about to buy an old HP-UX workstation, and I can’t wait to get my hands dirty and learn as much as I can about it.

OSNews Patreon update: the SunFire V245 and other planned projects

It’s time for an update on the OSNews Patreon, and the projects I’m working on as part of it. Almost three weeks ago I wrote about the Sunfire V245 delivered to my door, ready to be turned into an entirely impractical and loud UltraSPARC workstation. Last we left off, I had just received the unit, and was waiting on a few additional parts to get going – most importantly, a USB serial cable – which were delivered shortly. Why, then, hasn’t there been another article or update, showing the big server running? It turned out the machine wouldn’t boot properly. Together with John, the person who donated the machine to me, I’ve been trying to diagnose the problem, and after two weeks of troubleshooting, we seem to have isolated the probable cause of the problems. We think two replacement parts will address the problem, and John will be sending those over as soon as possible. I’ve kept all the logs and information I noted down during the ongoing troubleshooting process, and rest assured, I will write a summary about our steps and processes, to give you a glimpse into diagnosing a hardy and annoying problem that seems to be a moving target, yet is probably caused by a very much fixed part of the machine. Stay tuned! Moving on, I have two other Patreon projects planned. First, I accidentally ordered the wrong graphics cards for the SunFire V245 – they turned out to be incompatible, instead being designed for Sun’s AMD Opteron-based Ultra workstations. Since I’m now stuck with two identical Sun-branded NVIDIA Quadro workstation GPUs, I figured I might as well try and find a Sun Ultra 40 and see just how useful that beast of a workstation is in 2021. Sadly, as with many pieces of more exotic hardware, they are hard to find in Europe, and affordable machines from the United States come with very hefty shipping costs. I’m hoping for some luck on the old world continent here. Second, I intend to build a machine using nothing but parts from AliExpress. As most of you are probably aware, there’s a lively market of new Chinese-branded single and dual-socket Intel X79 and X99 motherboards on AliExpress. Countless other people on the web and YouTube have built machines around these motherboards, sporting used Xeon processors and RAM. This has become a pretty popular and mostly reliable and trustworthy market on AliExpress, and I want to explore if it’s worth it to build such a machine for people like us here on OSNews. It’s fun, exotic, cheap, and possibly stupid, so why wouldn’t you want to see me try? Please note that these plans are all subject to change, of course, and because they involve purchasing equipment from places like eBay and AliExpress, I cannot give any timelines or make any promises. Thanks to all of our Patreons – 56 of them already! – for making these projects possible, and if you want to help, support OSNews and become an OSNews Patreon!

VSI OpenVMS V9.0-G released

VSI has made available OpenVMS V9.0-G for x86. This is the first x86 release of the year, and seventh overall, and it’s another good one with more functionality, VMware support, and a number of improvements. VSI also added five additional EAK testers (approaching 50 in all) and there may be a few more in the coming days. The porting process is progressing nicely.

Unikraft: automatically build unikernels

Unikraft is a comprehensive toolchain and library operating system which builds highly specialized unikernels, software bundles that consist of a target application along with just the operating system primitives and libraries features it needs to run. Unikraft breaks the status quo of building unikernels manually, providing an automated toolchain that builds tailored unikernels that meet your (and your application’s) needs. We haven’t been paying a lot of attention to the concept of unikernels on OSNews, and I’m not sure why – possibly because they’re outside of the comfort one of a lot of people, including myself.

seL4 micro-kernel working towards a general-purpose, multi-server OS

In addition to the establishing of the seL4 Foundation and adding the open-source RISC-V architecture as one of their primary architectures, the seL4 micro-kernel has been seeing a lot of work and also research into future work. Among the ambitious research goals is to create a “truly secure, general-purpose OS”. This multi-server OS would be secure, support a range of use-cases and security policies, and perform comparable to monolithic systems. Be sure to flip through the slides of the presentation in question for more information.

Limine and TomatBoot

As I was browsing back and forth around the website for skiftOS yesterday, I came across two more interesting related projects – two bootloaders with very specific goals. First, Limine: Limine is an advanced x86/x86_64 BIOS Bootloader that supports modern PC features such as Long Mode, 5-level paging, multi-core startup, and more thanks to the stivale and stivale2 boot protocols. Second, since Limine does not support EUFI, they mention TomatBoot, which uses the same boot protocols but in an EUFI environment: TomatBoot is a simple kernel loader for 64bit UEFI based systems. The gold of this bootloader is to serve as an example of how to create UEFI applications, we use the edk2 headers/libraries without the edk2 buildsystem for simplicity.

skiftOS: a hobby operating system

skiftOS is a hobby operating system built for learning and for fun targeting the x86 platform. It features a kernel named hjert, a graphical user interface with a compositing window manager, and familiar UNIX utilities. This looks remarkably advanced for a “hobby operating system”, and can be run in both Qemu and VirtualBox. This one is definitely worth a virtual boot. The code is licensed under the MIT license and available on GitHub.

Remembering Windows 3.1 themes and user empowerment

The rise of OSX (remember, when it came along Apple had a single-digit slice of the computer market) meant that people eventually got used to the idea of a life with no desktop personalization. Nowadays most people don’t even change their wallpapers anymore. In the old days of Windows 3.1, it was common to walk into an office and see each person’s desktop colors, fonts and wallpapers tuned to their personalities, just like their physical desk, with one’s family portrait or plants. It’s a big loss. Android and Linux desktops still offer massive amounts of personalisation options – thank god – but the the other major platforms have all individuality stamped out of them. It’s boring.

Genode’s roadmap for 2021

Herein, we lay out our plans for evolving Genode. Progress in addition to this planning will very much depend on the degree of community support the project will receive. The Challenges page collects some of our ideas to advance Genode in various further directions. The road map is not fixed. If there is commercial interest of pushing the Genode technology to a certain direction, we are willing to revisit our plans. This is a very detailed roadmap, but as clearly mentioned in the opening paragraphs, this is not set in stone, and things may change. Most of the planned focus seems to be on vastly improving support for ARM, for instance by working on bringing Genode to the PinePhone. They also want to streamline and improve the process for porting Linux device drivers to Genode, which should help in increasing hardware support.

A week with Plan 9

I spent the first week of 2021 learning an OS called Plan 9 from Bell Labs. This is a fringe operating system, long abandoned by its original authors. It’s also responsible for a great deal of inspiration elsewhere. If you’ve used the Go language, /proc, UTF-8 or Docker, you’ve used Plan 9-designed features. This issue dives into operating system internals and some moderately hard computer science topics. Sounds like an excellent article for us!