Personal OS-9 to return?

According to a post made today by Allan Batteiger in the Microware OS-9 public group on Facebook, we may finally see the return of a version of OS-9 for hobbyist use.

The message announced the pending release of OS-9/68K to version 4.0, and OS-9 for ARM, PowerPC and X86 to version 6.1. Notable updates including an new networking stack supporting IPv6, and updates to OPENSSL. He also mentioned work to get the CLANG/LLVM compiler generating code for OS-9 PowerPC and ARM, with an alpha release coming later this year.

Of interest to the hobbyist community:

“Work has been proceeding on the OS-9 for Makerspace. We now have USB & Networking working on the Raspberry Pi 1 & 2 boards. Work has started on the Raspberry Pi 3. Also work is moving forward on the BeagleBone Black and Asus Tinker boards. The plan is to release preliminary versions of the Makerspace OS-9 yet this year.” 

For those of us who used to run OS-9/6809 on the Radio Shack Color Computer, or OS-9/68K on systems like the MM/1, this is pretty exciting news. A low-cost Raspberry Pi could be very fun to play with, though it would be missing the advanced terminal and screen controls that we had under OS-9 Level 2 (CoCo) and K-Windows (MM/1). To me, porting that functionality would be one of the first projects we should undertake.

Exciting news!

11 thoughts on “Personal OS-9 to return?

  1. Brian Holdsworth

    I think my BBC micro would make a fantastic OS-9 ARM machine using PiTubeDirect. Even better if I could figure out a way to cross-compile and upload binaries to the CoCo 3!

      1. brianholdsworth

        Hi Allen. The BBC has a “Tube” interface that is there for supporting coprocessors, of which they shipped several varieties, including the very first ARM processor (recall Acorn is the company that created both the BBC micro and the ARM processor).

        PiTubeDirect is open source project that allows a Raspberry Pi to connect to the Tube interface and serve as a coprocessor.

        For this scenario, the Pi would be a (really fast) ARM coprocessor running this updated OS-9. The BBC micro provides all the keyboard, display, terminal, I/O, disk, etc. functionality for the ARM, just as it is designed to do for any other coprocessor you’d attach to its Tube interface.

        1. Allen Huffman Post author

          I am out of the loop. This is not the BBC Micro from the 80s. Now that I read this, I seem to recall they did something along the lines of a Pi, recently?

  2. Rob Schofield M.Sc. MIET

    There was an excellent Practical Electronics article (about 86, I think) that described a Tube interface between a Dragon D64 and a BBC-B. Essentially, the Beeb was slaved to the Dragon as a group of peripherals. Since I was running OS-9/6809 L1 on the D64, it struck me as a good way to expand the D’s capabilities, so I embarked on a driver writing session that got moderately far along (I seem to remember Paul Dayan had a hand in the port for Dragon Data), but then I got a job in NL and it stopped dead! I rather regret not completing that project. Both computers are sat here in their boxes under the bench, along with the CoCo3s that I have… and now a CC4! :D

    1. Brian Holdsworth

      Sounds pretty cool. For the new generation of OS-9 for Raspberry Pi, a first pass could be just updating the OS-9 kernel to use the BBC as its console interface, probably by replacing the default RS-232 console with ones that uses the Tube. All the other peripherals could still use RPi native stuff, initially. Then, gradually new drivers could supplement ARM I/O with using the BBC for disk access, bitmap graphics, etc. I bet the work would be not too different than the console driver you probably created before so the D64 would use the Tube interface to make the BBC your keyboard/terminal.

  3. Walter ZAMBOTTI

    I would expect that OS-9 on a Raspberry PI would already have drivers for the built in video (HDMI), USB (keyboard mouse), Micro SD (storage). Push comes to shove, let’s get something (not matter how preliminary) out here! OS-9 already runs on other single board ARM packages according to microsys:

    MicroSys miriac™ SBC6Q, i.MX6Q
    Atmark Techno Armadillo840, R8A7740
    Atmark Techno Armadillo440, i.MX257
    OLIMEX A20-OLinuXino
    ZYBO, Xilinx Zxnq-7000
    Atmel AT91 SAMA5D3X-EK, SAMA5D3x
    WinSystems SBC35-c398Q, i.MX6Q

    1. Allen Huffman Post author

      They didn’t have support for the USB the Pi uses, so no USB keyboard or mouse, and no networking since the Ethernet goes through the USB bus. That is/was the holdup. I guess they were using it with a serial terminal hooked to the UART pins on the IO connector.


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