A new Lisp-based OS that hearkens back to the old days of comprehensible computers

SPC spedraja at ono.com
Tue Sep 29 12:06:25 CDT 2015

Very interesting. I must do an end-of-training project this year involving
Rapsberry Pi devices. Perhaps I'll give it a try.


2015-09-29 14:20 GMT+02:00 Liam Proven <lproven at gmail.com>:

> A little offtopic but I hope of some interest.
> I rather miss the days of small, simple, 8-bit computers which a
> single non-specialist could really get inside and understand.
> The latest OS I've seen which addresses this longing is Interim.
> http://interim.mntmn.com/
> This is most of the introduction from the explanatory paper:
> «
> Computers, networks and the software running them today are shrouded in
> mysteries and corporate secrecy. As miniaturization progresses in the name
> of mobility and energy-efficiency, an increasing amount of complex
> functionality is crammed into ever smaller System-on-Chip dies.
> The so-called "Home computers" of the 1980s contained comparably larger
> and simpler circuit boards with blocky, easily discernible DIP (Dual
> in-line package) components and circuits that could be visually understood
> by the human eye. The central processing unit (CPU) was easily identified
> by its size and exposed placement. The separate memory chips were neatly
> arranged like terraced houses. The computers worked in pedestrian
> single-digit-Mhz speeds and memory was measured in kilobytes. They shipped
> with handbooks that taught a novice reader how to program the machine, and
> a circuit diagram of the whole machine – useful for repairs – was easily
> available.
> In the 1980s home computer era, operating systems where typically stored
> in read-only memory (ROM) chips. As in modern proprietary operating
> systems, the source code was not directly available, but this was not
> strictly necessary, as they were written in assembly language and not
> "compiled" from a higher level language. Commented "dis-assemblies",
> machine code listings, were available in printed book form [Schineis1984]
> for popular computers like the Commodore 64 and its "KERNAL" OS and BASIC
> language interpreter.
> Today, we have Linux, probably the most successful open source Unix-like
> operating system and the BSD family of OSes, but these systems and most of
> the platforms they run on (PCs, ARM-based telephones) are so complex and
> contain so many obscure components that no single book can describe their
> operating principles in full detail, and trying to understand and master
> them is a task that takes many years of study.
> With "Interim", I try to describe a computer and operating system that
> takes advantage of modern-day hardware technology while ideally being
> fully comprehensible in a couple of days. My strategy is to use minimalism
> and generic, reusable patterns wherever possible while learning from
> historical, ultimately unsuccessful but valuable attempts like Lisp
> machines or the operating system Plan 9 from Bell Labs [Pike]. The Interim
> system is supposed to be a pointer in the right direction, not a perfect
> blueprint, and a documentation of my own experimental attempts. Others may
> build upon these ideas.
> »
> (Yes, it's Lisp-y.)
> The previous OS with this view being TempleOS: http://www.templeos.org/
> This is a nice explanatory quote:
> «
> The main reasons TempleOS is simple and beautiful are because it's
> ring-0-only and identity-mapped.  Linux wants to be a secure,
> multi-user mainframe.
> That's the vision for Linux.  That's why it has file permissions.  The
> vision for
> TempleOS is a modern, 64-bit Commodore 64.  The C64 was a home computer
> mostly used for games.  It trained my generation how to program.  It was
> simple,
> open and hackable.  It was not networked.  The games were not multimedia
> works
> of art, but generated programmatically with innocent, programmer
> (non-artist)
> quality graphics.  It was simple and unsecure.  If you don't have malware
> and you don't have bugs, protection just slows things down and makes the
> code
> complicated.
> »
> Source: http://www.templeos.org/Wb/Home/Wb2/TempleOS.html
> --
> Liam Proven • Profile: http://lproven.livejournal.com/profile
> Email: lproven at cix.co.uk • GMail/G+/Twitter/Flickr/Facebook: lproven
> MSN: lproven at hotmail.com • Skype/AIM/Yahoo/LinkedIn: liamproven
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