Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
EmuTOS, a free operating system for Atari computers (github.com/emutos)
76 points by walkingolof on Dec 25, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 18 comments

For those unfamiliar, this is a full open source (GPL) re-implementation of the original Atari ST (16/32 68000 system) operating system. Here's the long form:

The Atari ST's operating system ("TOS") was forked from Digital Research's 'GEMDOS' (a kind of CP/M 68k / MS-DOS alike disk operating system) along with 'GEM' (Graphic Environment Manager) which consisted of a device-independent graphics subsystem ('VDI') and a windowing system / application toolkit ('AES' application environment services). Atari was given a license from DR back in 1984, and effectively did their own port and forked from the mainline. The story of how that all went down is chronicled in an excellent series of blog posts by an original participant here: http://www.dadhacker.com/blog/?p=995 and http://www.dadhacker.com/blog/?p=1000

Note that this is 'Atari Corp', which was a company owned by Jack Tramiel after he quit Commodore. Not Atari Inc, which was the company responsible for Pong, the Atari 2600, and the original Atari 8-bit computers.

GEM was the brainchild of Lee Jay Lorenzen, who had worked on the Xerox Star project and who had advocated at Xerox for getting some of those concepts onto lower end PC-class machines. He joined DR in the early 80s and headed up the GEM project to work on that. He later left DR to start Ventura Publisher, an excellent DTP package which was built on GEM.

Digital Research went on to develop GEM on the x86 on a separate branch from the Atari version. They were forced by an Apple lawsuit to make modifications to it to make it less Mac-like. Atari's branch was exempted from this.

Atari Corp eventually packed it in, with their assets spread around like ashes, and the IP around their fork of GEM/GEMDOS has been lost to the world (well the source has been leaked but not legally). However after a series of acquisitions, DR's original IP -- including GEM, GEMDOS, CP/M 68k, etc. was open sourced under the GPL.

EmuTOS was created (many moons ago) from the original DR sources in order to have open source ROMs for ST emulators, effectively doing again what the team at Atari did back in the 80s: porting to the 68k Atari ST platform. But since then it's grown to be a full alternative to Atari's ROMs that works on more than just emulators.

In addition to being basically full feature (and quirk) parity with Atari's TOS, it also includes a full hard disk driver which is something Atari's never included without an add-on. This includes support for IDE drives for modern devices like compact flash cards, etc.

It also has been ported to and runs well on other 68k and Coldfire platforms, and runs well on the Amiga, on the Firebee (a modern Coldfire based Atari-like machine), and headless on Coldfire evaluation boards. It's also been recently ported to the 'Kiwi' 68008 DIY microcomputer.

I distinctly remember my ST having a scsi port (or some sluggish version thereof). The harddrive was a stand-alone box with its own power supply and a small D connector cable connecting the two.

ST had something called 'ACSI' which was basically mostly SCSI. A simple physical adapter was needed to interface standard SCSI. But the OS itself did not natively fully boot from or fully recognize the drive, a small driver needed to be installed on the boot sector of the drive.

> ... it also includes a full hard disk driver which is something Atari's never included without an add-on.

I don't remember having to do anything to use a hard disk with any of the official versions of TOS.

I have an SH204 "shoebox" HD from the initial developer offer.

A driver needs to be installed onto the boot sector of the disk itself, I believe.

Usually ICD, AHDI, or HDdriver (still maintained).

Those ACSI cables are a massive pain in the ass to lay your hands on nowadays, the D-Sub connectors haven't been manufactured in the necessary size for ages.

Soembody did a production run a couple of years ago: https://www.bigmessowires.com/2016/06/04/db-19-resurrecting-...

Yeah, I managed to grab the last pair off eBay.

Also: The Atari ST was often referred to as "The Jackintosh" after both Jack Tramiel and the Macintosh it copied much from....

Yep, though if you look at the history of GEM and that it was in part born through a Xerox Star lineage, there's much in there that predates the Macintosh.

Here Lee Jay Lorenzen is showing off his prototype while at Xerox in 1982, before he joined Digital Research. Before the Lisa or Macintosh were released:


Think of an Atari ST as a Commodore 64 (Tramiels and Shiraz Shivji worked on both) in a roadside collision with a Macintosh (GUI) and CP/M machine (GEMDOS).

So frustrating with Atari.. they were only a little behind the Apple Macintosh (but with color!). They almost made the IBM PC:


Different Atari tho. Atari Inc (that made the A8 machines you link to here) and Atari Corp were two different companies. The latter headed by Jack Tramiel with a few assets purchased from the former.

Those assets included the A400/800, which was designed by Jay Miner, same guy that went on designing the Amiga that Commodore bought

Yeah and those assets also potentially included rights to the Amiga Loraine IP itself, depending on who you talk to. Hence the lawsuit that ensued.

I knew this existed but had no idea it was still under pretty active development. How cool!

Very active. Getting close to 1.0, and pretty much at parity and beyond the original TOS.

Tramiel Operation System (TOS) named. after the legendary computer icon, Jack Tramiel.

A trio of Jack Tramiel profiles by Kim Justice:

JACK ATTACK: The Story of Jack Tramiel at Commodore, Part 1 - Kim Justice https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nd9kmBn0M9k

Jack Tramiel Part 2: The Commodore 64 vs The TI-99/4A and the American Computer Crash - Kim Justice https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDJqocxoOBA

The Last Stand of Jack Tramiel: The Atari ST vs The Commodore Amiga - Kim Justice https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bMJt65Jm5E

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact