Obscure Operating Systems

Sort of prompted by a comment in one of the WebOS threads and the fact that I have an unwarranted fascination with Haiku, here’s a thread that celebrates obscure and/or stupid Operating Systems. Anyone running anything odd/unusual?

One symbolic tear falls from my eye each year in remembrance of BeOS.

Haven’t run it myself, but LoseThos is something like an attempt to write an OS for modern computers that doesn’t actually have any modern features, like paging or preemptive multitasking. It spawned a massive thread on the SA forums, where the author showed up, and he’s…“interesting.”

Oh wow. Small world. I’m pretty sure I knew that guy back when I worked, briefly, at Ticketmaster. “Interesting” is a very apt description. Looks like he took all the worst lessons from there, too.


Wow, LoseThos is…so beautifully special. No words, should have sent an autistic poet.

On a more practical note, when I was studying at the University of Alberta, the ‘big iron’ system they had used the Michigan Terminal System, instead of the way-more-common MVS, and it was from the pre-Unix era where things were thought of in terms of batch jobs and punchcards and line printers and all that. At the end of each session you’d be presented with a bill, including the number of CPU seconds you used, $/second rate, and total fee, and although we didn’t actually have to pay anything we had a per-day quota.

This was the era where it was quickly being superseded by labs of smaller Unix networks like Sun and HP, but we still had to use it for our introductory FORTRAN course, via ratty old green-screen terminals scattered around campus (the weird thing about them was that they also had APL symbols printed on their keys, and I never did figure out how to unlock their magic). There weren’t any subdirectories, just a flat folder as your home, and there wasn’t much interactivity. Most operations were purely command-line, and you had to associate specific file handles with your input and output files (i.e., something like ‘RUN MYPROG 0=INFILE1.TXT 1=INFILE2.TXT 2=OUTFILE.DAT’).

That was also where I first discovered Usenet, as one of the few interactive applications they did have was a newsgroup reader.

It’s sort of amazing that in some ways we’ve come full circle and you can be billed by your VM provider for the amount of CPU cycles you use.

I have never used an obscure OS. The closest I ever came was running AfterStep as my window manager on Linux.

I have a fond remembrance of getting BeOS to run from a Zip disk on a Motorola Starmax way back when. It shouldn’t have. But, it did.

I once used my copy of BeOS to save the day when it was able to read and save an ntfs partition that nt kept barfing on, back while working help desk in my college days.

I used to have a bunch of Jupiter Ace microcomputers that ran FORTH and also an Oric that ran a very weird flavour of BASIC.

I fiddled around with Apple Pascal on my Apple //e. It was both a language, and an operating system based on UCSD Pascal. But given the dearth of anything that actually was written for it, it was interesting for tinkering around and not much more.

I’ve used Apollo’s Domain/OS, and the only thing I vaguely remember is some networking syntax that was almost URL-like or Windows-like. //hostname/directory/filename. I did no programming on it, so cannot bitch about how must better it was than SunOS or whatever.

BeOS and NextStep, back in the day. Since then? Not so much.

Both could have been decent successors to the Amiga.

Arguably, both were.

Well Next came out a couple years later than Amiga, but really existed side by side. I would consider BeOS a kind of spiritual successor to the Amiga OS, but Next was…really a desktop UNIX done right before Linux ever existed.

Next actually discontinued their hardware line before Commodore stopped selling Amigas.

Mac OSX is NextStep 2.0 in almost every way save UI, since when Steve Jobs returned to Apple from Next he brought NextStep with him. Same kernel, same APIs. Almost every system call in Cocoa/Objective C (the language used to develop for OSX and iOS) begins with NS (NSString, etc.) which stands for NextStep.

High Five, Jupiter Ace buddy. I actually still have mine (along w/ RAM pack), but have no display device I can plug it into. God knows if it’d still run.

Very true. It’s evolved considerably since then, of course, but there’s a lot of NeXT legacy in there.

I’m having trouble believing there hasn’t been a reference yet to Plan Nine. Which is an entertaining thing. :)