Free BIOS (was Resources for DOS (was: DOS Compatable OS))

Hans Franke Hans.Franke at
Mon Dec 19 07:09:36 CST 2005

Hi Bob,

Am 16 Dec 2005 9:26 meinte Robert Armstrong:
> >

>   This is probably the best bet for me - I was thinking of something that
> could run FreeDOS on a PC/XT type platform.  No chipsets; no fancy CPUs...

Shure, but to me it seams dead since quite some time.

> > The BIOS is written in Forth

>   A BIOS written in Forth?  I dunno - I don't want to start any flame wars,
> but I'm just not comfortable with that :-)

Well, I'm not a Forth evangelist either, but it got it's
mertoots. to adapt it to a new CPU, all you need is to
write a rather compact core interpreter and a few low
level access routines.

Of course it doesn't free you from adding CPU and hardware
specific code (in Forth) when using on a new machine, but
all Hardware that is already covered can be used right away.

Atempts like that has been done several times, and if you own
certain IBM or Mac (PPC) or Sparc computers, your machine might
already use it. 

The non-x86 world is always lacking hardware, and adding a bus
like PCI does only allow to plug in a card without killing the
machine - without drivers it eats capacity of your power supply
(in best cenario, in worst, it slows down or blocks the bus by
not beeing properly initialized). Here the Open Firmware (IIRC
IBM, Motorola, Sun and HP where involved) initiative jumped in,
by defining a standard where the machine is supposed to have a
forth interpreter in ROM (or wherever the boot and initialize
software is) that is used to execute a set of Forth programms
to initialize the card. As an extension a set of 'entry points'
to do basic I/O funcionality was also defined.

The goal was to be able to plug any Open Firmware card into any
of the machines and have it properly initialized and recognized
by the OS, and in case of certain cards (for exampel graphic) be
even used with a basic functionality without loading card specific
drivers. At least enough to get the system up and running.

I would realy favour the Forth solution over anything else.

> > Now, a complete different aproach here is LinuxBIOS

>   Which, I assume, is unable to run FreeDOS or, indeed, anything except
> Linux ...

Na, just the other way arround. Shure, a Linux gets loaded, but
this can go straight to boot a Windows, or DOS.

VCF Europa 7.0 am 29/30.April und 01.Mai 2006 in Muenchen

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