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TAOS Operating System (uruk.org)
79 points by fanf2 on Oct 22, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 21 comments

TAOS was peculiarly crazy and brilliant. It was written in a sort of macro assembler, essentially a form of assembler with a large number of registers, which was "compiled" to the target platform on demand. It was network transparent so nodes on the network could use devices from other nodes. There's a lot more from an ex-employee here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9806607

I wish one day that it gets open sourced (but I'd settle for a non-open read-only license) because it's unlike anything else.

The IP is gone apparently.

Seems that Chris Hinsley (inventor of TAOS) is working on a modern day version of TAOS. [0]

[0] https://github.com/vygr/ChrysaLisp

There are comments by Chris (vygr) in the 2015 discussion rwmj already linked to: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9806607.

A big thread about his current project happened last week: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15466124.

Yes that's correct, only found it because of rwmj's reference, figured that adding a direct link might help.

Missed last weeks thread about ChrysaLisp, will read.


Usenet post from 1995.

TAOS is/was a "mixed-processor parallel operating system from Tao Systems Ltd of Belsize Park, London" says http://www.cbronline.com/news/tantric_has_taos_developers_ki... . It was for iAPX-86 machines.

I don't believe it's related to Taos, "the operating system for the DEC SRC Firefly multiprocessor workstation" mentioned in https://homes.cs.washington.edu/~bershad/Papers/p37-bershad.... and http://hpl.americas.hp.net/techreports/Compaq-DEC/SRC-RR-63.... .

FWIW, this Usenet post is cited in several patents: https://www.google.com.au/patents/US7836292 .

Submitter? Why is this link interesting?

It wasn't for x86 only. It ran on almost anything: ARM, SPARC, PowerPC, you name it.

In its more mature form, as Intent/Elate, it is _the_ single most radical OS there's ever been, pretty much. It makes Inferno look conservative & staid, Plan 9 no more than a tweaked Linux distro, and Minix 3 a tweak of NetBSD.

It's also been on HN before:





Thank you for the summary.

The first two links to http://www.dickpountain.co.uk/home/computing/byte-articles/t... , which was informative, and I enjoyed david-given's HN comments in the second submission.

Do note that both of those links were submitted by the same person on the same day, so that's a duplicate submission.

The third link noted (1995) in the submission title; useful information missing from this one. It links to the same Usenet posting.

The last link you gave is this discussion thread, so I don't think it's quite fair to include it as a "on HN before" reference.

Perhaps someone more knowledgeable about the topic could update https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_operating_systems and/or https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tao_Group ? That's where I expect to find mention of "TAOS operating System"; a name which simply redirects to Tao Group.

> Minix 3 a tweak of NetBSD.

I mean, now that minix uses the netbsd userland I'm pretty sure this really is true.

So using the same userland but different kernels is now considered a tweak?

I always though the hard part was in the kernel design and not the userland.

Otherwise it would have been the gnu os and not gnu/linux.

And if it was not for a book license there was a good chance it would have been gnu/minix. But meh I'm not in that universe.

But we are in a universe where GNU/NT is a real thing :)

And to your point: I'm not sure which of kernel or userland is harder. Userland is the part I actually interact with most of the time, so I tend to think of that as the main part of the OS. But it may be fair to say that both halves count.

I remember reading about Taos in Byte and thinking this was brilliant. It later turned into something called Elate, which in turn morphed into a semi-boring JVM for small systems. I wish we had the source code of the original, though.

Amazingly this doesn't seem to have a Wikipedia entry. Perhaps someone with some historical knowledge could put one together.

This was interesting to program. Apart from having to use assembler (which was no big deal in '95), you had to structure your program as lots of tiny objects which communicated through messages.

There was no obvious way of running a program which was not designed for this architecture on the OS, except for making one massive object, which then lost all the other benefits.

Pity it didn't go further. :-(

I remember TAOS having some buzz in the RISC OS community in the early 90s. ARM must have been one of its original targets.

Interesting. There was some minor buzz about it in the Amiga community as well, as the basis for a new Amiga OS.


There was major coverage of it in Amiga Active magazine (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amiga_Active), over a number of issues. Sounded really exciting at the time!

From a link in a comment above:

> 386 x86 ARM MIPS PowerPC MCore ColdFire Transputer ShBoom and a V, um, V840? Or something?

So, quite a few architectures.

Was this the OS that they were planning on replacing segments of AmigaDOS with to avoid needing to rewrite a modern kernel?

Yes. It was going to be on desktops and laptops and even little handheld devices.

Maybe put 1995 in the title?

Sounds a lot like Java.

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