Friday, May 7, 2021

Opensource Operating Systems for 16/32 bits wonders

Debian does not provide official releases for the Atari/m68k since the 2000s, but there is still an ongoing porting effort to make Debian run in the debian-m68k mailing list (and even port the Rust compiler to m68k, hey John Paul:)

The EmuTOS project has released version 1.0 of its Atari TOS GPL clone, providing better hard disk disk support, and allowing thanks to binary compatibility to play the myriad of games released on that platform during the 80s and 90s.

Finally there is FreeMiNT, an Atari specific Unix kernel and OS, also under GPL, bringing true multitasking and memory protection to the cost of lower software compatibility. Currently at release 1.18, and still slowly developed.

As the hardware itself is getting old and overpriced, my next Atari machine will be a FPGA, the MiST. Basically a FGPA is a re-programmable hardware platform. Instead of having transistors and logical gates of a chipset burned to the silicon, the circuit description is loaded on power-on, and thus reconfigurable. MiST can also reproduce the hardware of an Amiga and most of the 16 bits heroes of the late 80s.

Having a MiST available will allow me to reuse my joysticks and Midi gear, have more RAM, and a GPL OS that I can update without having to burn EEPROMS. Retrocomputing meets opensource, a good match. Note for self: those Atari related projects have a disposition for complicated mixed-case names.

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