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operating systems

Download BeOS for free!
Various Free operating systems
Free Unix operating systems
Free Java operating systems
Windows/Dos clones
Commercial operating systems
Emulators and Virtual Machines
Low-budget super-computers
Other OS-related sites
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It is not a good thing to have just one operating system, one commercial company to dominate world of small computers. Microsoft Windows is not the only operating system around, nor the best. With this page we want to show you that there are many alternatives to the regular MS Windows, like BeOS, Linux, Java, FreeBSD, Solaris, etc.
A lot is happening in the area of Operating systems. Many initiatives are launched to develop new, alternative and compatible operating systems.
Also: emulators, virtual machines, low-budget supercomputing and more.

Various Free Operating Systems
Elegant and powerful object oriented operating system. Versions available for the Power PC and Intel hardware platforms. The operating system is especially suitable for multi-media applications, is extremely easy to use, fast and reliable.
Prior versions of BeOS you had to pay for, but the newest version is free for personal and non-commercial use!

A good site listing all kinds of BeOS information is BeOS Central.

Very small, very powerful, real-time operating system, including graphical environment. Mostly interesting for developers. The source code of most of its components is available. Will become freely available for non-commercial use this summer.
The V2_OS is a very small and open-source Operating System from the V2_Lab (International lab for the unstable media) in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. V2_OS offers small size, more speed, expandability, and hardware control for adventurous projects and easy programming for free.
Free operating system for the Mac hardware platform by Cache Computing. This OS is now under the GNU licence, meaning the source code is available. Runs on standard PC hardware. See what Wired has to say about InfiniteOS
Eros: Extremely Reliable Operating System
EROS is a new operating system being implemented at the University of Pennsylvania. The system merges some very old ideas in operating systems with some newer ideas about performance and resource management. The result is a small, secure, real-time operating system that provides orthogonal persistence.
See also emulators.
CP/M archive : Programs and other resources for CP/M

Free Unix Operating Systems


Linux is a popular free Unix version, for the Intel xx86 platform. Several important applications are now ported to this operating system by some commercial software vendors. Support is increasing and it is starting to become a viable Windows alternative, even for commercial applications.
Several distributions exist (CD-Rom and/or download):
Dragon Linux: UMSDOS Linux which can co-exist with Windows on the same partition, takes up about 20 Mb disk spacel; Internet-readly.
Linux Mandrake
Red Hat
ZipSlack: A special edition of Slackware Linux that can be installed onto any FAT (or FAT32) filesystem with about 100 MB of free space.

Currently there are some incompatibilties between a number of these distributions. A necessary initiative therefore is the Linux Standard Base which wants to create a standard on which all Linux programs will run. There is already support from Caldera, Debian, Delix, and S.u.S.E.

Linux XWindows

Linux News
Is Borland/Inprise thinking of developing a Linux version of Delphi or C++ Builder? See
Corel plans to bring Linux to the desktop by creating a new distribution and porting several applications like Wordperfect and Coral Draw. See here
More Linux news:
Fresh Meat
Linux Journal

Real time Linux
RT-Linux is a free operating system in which a small real-time kernel coexists with the Posix-like Linux kernel.

Extreme Linux
This site provides information on using Linux for Beowulf class supercomputers. A Beowulf supercomputer is a supercomputer created by connecting tens or hundreds normal off-the-shelf computers using high-speed data connections. See also the Freebyte! Low Budget Supercomputing section.

New linux initiatives
Eazel: Veterans of Apple Computer and America Online are in the process of creating a Macintosh-like equivalent of Linux an easy to use version of Linux. This project is an extension of the Gnome user interface.

BSD Unix

There exist several operating systems based on BSD Unix. Many of those variants are free. Three are listed below. There are also BSD magazines available:
* Daemon News
* FreeBSD Rocks
* The FreeBSD 'zine

Well known free operating system based on BSD Unix. Used very frequently in Webservers around the world.

Open BSD
OpenBSD is a free, multi-platform 4.4BSD-based UNIX-like operating system. OpenBSD supports binary emulation of most programs from SVR4 (Solaris), FreeBSD, Linux, BSDI, SunOS, and HPUX.

The NetBSD Project is a collective volunteer effort to produce a freely available and redistributable UNIX-like operating system. NetBSD runs on a broad range of hardware platforms and is highly portable. It comes with complete source code, and is user-supported.

GNU Hurd
GNU Replacement for the Unix kernel. The Hurd is a collection of servers that run on the Mach microkernel to implement file systems, network protocols, file access control, and other features that are implemented by the Unix kernel or similar kernels (such as Linux). Currently only available for x86 machines, but will be ported to other platforms. Advantages: free, object-oriented, scalable, compatible.
Sun's solaris free for non-commercial use! Intel and Sparc versions available. You can order this OS on CD by Sun by paying only media, shipping and handling costs. Alternatively, to educators, students, and researchers the Aachen University will send a full copy on CD for $20-$30.
Small free Unix operating system, constructed for educational purposes by TanenBaum. Other links: How to get and install Minix; comp.os.minix newsgroup

Free Java Operating systems
JOS: Free Java OS
Free Java operating system under development.
Among the JOS Project's precepts are the creation of a portable, extensible, open, and object-oriented operating system licensed under the popular model of freely licensed software, the GNU license. Built from the ground up to work on the Internet, plans call for a full implementation of the Java standard laid out by the International Standards Organization. It will also include built-in networking and be capable of booting from a floppy disk.
In addition to running on the latest Pentiums, JOS will be able to run on machines as dated as 486-based PCs with four Mbytes of RAM and a 40-Mbyte hard disk.
Java Virtual Machines
A page listing JDK 1.1 compatible virtual machines known to Javasoft/Sun. Some have the advantage of being free, others are faster. Benchmarks for the performance of JVM's can be found at Volano LLC and performance related articles at JavaWorld.
Very good free virtual machine, it has been built from the ground up without consulting Sun's sources. Released under the LGPL licence. Versions available for Win32, FreeBSD X86, NetBSD x86, Linux x86, Solaris x86/Sparc.
Transvirtual Free Java VM
A Java VM, or Java Virtual Machine is a relatively small piece of software that allow you to run Java applications on your computer.
This product, called Kaffe OpenVM is a free Java Virtual Machine, designed to be compatible with Sun's specifications. Kaffe OpenVM comes with a just-in-time Java compiler, class libraries that include the language's component JavaBeans and Abstract Windows Toolkit.
The result is a Java implementation that gives developers using Java in their devices a full graphical environment in as little memory space as 500 KB, according to Transvirtual. It is licensed under the GNU license so the full source code is available.
Sun Java Runtime Environment
Small package containing only the runtime part of the Java Development Kit from Sun. It consists of the Java virtual machine, the Java platform core classes, and supporting files. Includes the fast Symantec JIT bytecode compiler for greater performance. Solaris and Win32 versions available.
CodeWarrior JIT
Java Just-In-Time compiler for Linux on Power PC. Including source.
See the Freebyte! Programming page for more Java tools.

Information on Windows/DOS clones, projects to replace Windows and other Windows/DOS related stuff.
98lite is a an application that breaks the tight integration between Windows98 and Internet Explorer, opening up a range of new possibilities for configuring Windows98. These possibilities are realised by implanting the leaner and faster Explorer shell from Windows95 onto the improved core of Windows98. You keep all the Windows98 improvements to the hardware support, drivers, memory management, Fat32 and improved networking, but the Explorer95 interface is considerably faster and consumes fewer computer resources. Pricing is very reasonable.
A Y2K compliant freeware clone of MS-DOS.
A commercial Y2K compliant clone of MS-DOS by Caldera. Also suitable for embedded applications. Free 90-days evaluation version available for download.
Fully DOS compatible industry-strength operating system. Includes source. Keywords: multithreading, realtime, GUI, FAT32.
React OS
ReactOS is an open source effort to develop an operating system that is compatible with Windows NT applications and drivers.
This operating system started out as a very ambitious attempt to fully implement the Win32 API. There has been a change of plans, because now it can be read from their site: "the first version of Freedows should provide functionality to run native applications (Java), in addition to some Windows applications and DOS." I have my doubt wether this initiative will ever produce a working operating system, since there has been a constant lack of reported progress.
Trumpet Software (mainly known for their Winsock implementation) plans to release PetrOS, which is meant to implement the Win32 API without any unnecessary frills. Within one year a commercial version should be available at a price of US$20-$100.
The WRP, or Windows Replacement Project is a project to create a distrbution of Linux, that will replace Windows. The idea is to create a OS that will integrate X-Windows, WINE, DosEMU, and an easy setup and install program all into one simple distribution. W.O.L.F (Window Based, Ordinary Linux Flavor).
A free implementation of Windows on Unix.
Other Windows compatible operating system projects.

Emulators and Virtual Machines
There are actually programs which enable you to run several modern operating systems simultaneously on one computer.
You can also run software created years ago for very old computer systems like the Commodore 64 on your current machine!
This is all possible with programs called 'emulators' and 'virtual machines'.
Emulators for PC's
Very good page listing quite a lot of emulators of small systems running on ordinary PC's. Listed: Sinclair, Commodore, Atari, Sega, Acorn, Gameboy, Apple II simulators and much more. Programs for these platforms you can now run on your normal PC.
Commercial, virtual platform which enables running more than one modern operating system simultaneously on one xxx86 computer. This is no joke and it actually works quite well!
Currently one can run DOS, Linux, Solaris, Free BSD, Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000 (professional beta) concurrently. Up to four virtual Ethernet cards (having different network addresses) can each be assigned to each running virtual machine.
Each operating system runs in its own protected sandbox. Each operating system is executed directly by the processor, which gives a fast performance.
Two versions available of this VM, one which sits on top of Linux, the other sits on top of Windows NT.
Note: to run different operating systems simultaneously, you need to have as much memory as the sum of each requires.
Emulates PC's on other systems (Mac, Unix, etc.). A portable x86 PC emulation software package that emulates enough of the x86 CPU, related AT hardware, and BIOS to run DOS, Windows '95, Minix 2.0, and other OS's, all on your workstation. Source code available.
CP/M Emulator for the MAC
Emulates CP/M-80 ver2.2; includes source.
True Reality
Nintendo 64 emulator for the MAC. You might want to turn off loading images in your browser to speed up viewing this page.
Newsgroup on emulators which impersonate Commodore machines.

Commercial operating systems
MacOS is the operating system for the iMac and other Apple computers.
A site with lots of good Mac related links is The Page.
IBM's very stable and excellent PC operating system. Also runs DOS/Win3 applications. They had to give it a low profile because of pressure from Microsoft but it's still very much alive!
See also these other OS/2 sites.
Currently the most popular commercial operating system for PC's. Versions avaialbe: Windows 3, 95, 98, NT, CE, 2000.
An interesting initiative is the "OpenVMS and the OpenVMS hobbyist licensing Program". For a few hundreds of dollars you can now own your own (secondhand) DEC VAX computer! See also the DECUS (the Digital Computer Users society) and this article in OS-News

Security information, avoiding being hacked, related files and links.
Security related news; news and background information about hacking attempts.

Low-budget super-computing
With the term 'low-budget' we mean that the supercomputers listed below are relatively inexpensive, but not for the avarage individual to build or buy.
For scientific institutions which don't have large budgets these computers can be extremely useful though.
A general story on the subject of low-cost supercomputing, can be found at Wired.

Relatively ($152.000) low-cost 20 GFlops super-computer using standard components. Traditional super-computers are costing several millions of dollars. The Avalon super-computer was ranked as the 315th fastest computer in the world at the recent Super-computer '98 conference in Mannheim, Germany. It was constructed using seventy 533 Mhz Digital alpha desktop computers. The operating system for each node is Linux.

Modest super-computer created by interconnecting sixteen Pentium Pro Processors. Performance: 1.2 GFlops; price: less than $20.000.

Other OS Related sites
OS Opinion
Contains articles and columns about operating systems and related matters.
Operating Systems Project Information
This page contains links to all sorts of operating system projects scattered across the world-wide web.
OS News
Daily news about operating systems.
OS Discussion forum
Discussions on Operating Systems related subjects.

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