×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

An Actively Developed GUI for ... FreeDOS?

timothy posted more than 8 years ago | from the esotericism dept.

GUI 63

shanecoughlan writes "FreeDOS, the GPL DOS distribution, has a powerful little graphical user interface called OpenGEM being actively developed for it. Well, powerful is relative. OpenGEM is based off the DR GEM GUI from the 1980s, and is a 16bit single-tasking GUI that tends not to use extended memory. While KDE and GNOME might not be shaking in their boots, it's an interesting opensource project in its own right. And it runs on a 286 with 640kb of RAM..."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

63 comments

Remember kids... (3, Interesting)

alanoneil (749691) | more than 8 years ago | (#13173664)

"640k ought to be enough for anybody"

Seriously though, It's good to see some developers going back to the roots of coding tight, efficient programs given certain constraints, instead of making huge bloated apps and recommending PCs built around the app.

Re:Remember kids... (2, Interesting)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 8 years ago | (#13176255)

On the other hand, the arbitrary constraints that plagued various aspects of the PC architecture are just plain wrong. With a 16-bit segment register and a 16-bit offset register, you'd expect the thing to be able to address more than 20 bits worth of memory.

Hard drives also hit various limits at various times...BIOS limits, limitations of the CHS addressing scheme, and we might soon be hitting a limit the LBA addressing scheme as well (although that at least makes sense).

Of course, all these limits exist because nobody expected such an explosive growth of the amount of internal and external memory that can be cheaply bought, but you'd think they'd eventually realize that arbitrary limits should be avoided instead of replaced by new ones. Other architectures (even some older ones) have had much fewer problems with arbitrary limits than the PC had...if they can get it right, why can't the PC designers?

And I haven't even talked about the software yet. The fact that people were still running DOS, with all its limitations from the 8088 era, long into the Pentium era, is just the stupidest thing ever.

Re:Remember kids... (2, Informative)

triso (67491) | more than 8 years ago | (#13180897)

Arbitrary limitation is still going on, too. Try to buy a AMD 64 that can handle more then 4 GB of RAM. Most of the 64 bit motherboards have only 4 slots for SIMMs and it is even possible that some of the chipsets are limited to 4 GB RAM.

I thought the main purpose of 64 bit CPUs was to break the 4 GB barrier.

No screenshots (1, Funny)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 8 years ago | (#13173685)

I guess that means he's developing on a real PC, not an emulator.

Re:No screenshots (1)

ZosX (517789) | more than 8 years ago | (#13173704)

I checked out your website. Ironically, there are no screenshots there.

Re:No screenshots (-1, Offtopic)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 8 years ago | (#13173740)

Screenshots for command line apps tend not to be very revealing. Check out the can do [sourceforge.net] page.

Re:No screenshots (2, Insightful)

ToastyKen (10169) | more than 8 years ago | (#13173762)

Screenshots for command line apps tend not to be very revealing.

Um.. The whole POINT of this article is that this is a GUI, not a CLI!

The people demand screenshots!

Re:No screenshots (1)

ZosX (517789) | more than 8 years ago | (#13173875)

I was only kidding. Very cool project though. It would be very interesting to get dynamic linking working in windows.

Re:No screenshots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13181148)

Hey,

I implemented a retargetable commenting disassembler (think sourcer with a retargetable backend.) I initially got into it
for personal purposes as I was very active in the cracking scene and was releasing game titles by the dozen every month. But later I had difficulty with school and almost dropped out, so I decided to go legit and apply my cracking skills to school work. It took me about six months to go through all of Cristina Cifuentes' papers and I was reading stuff from Harvard (mainly Ramsey) and from Queens Land (mainly Ciffuentes and van Emmerick.)

My school project never went anywere. I was in high school (technical highschool for science geeks) then and submitted my work in C, I was required to do it in Pascal (that was 1999) and I was missing major points on my report. The code was working but I wrote about four pages worth of thesis when I was required to write about fifty pages.

I have now grown up and am no longer interested in low-level computing. I am currently studying mathematics and if I do any coding at all, it's in ML or Python. I don't crack either, I got tired of staring at disassemblies of bloatware.

Please say hi to Mr van Emmerick, I see he is active with you in the development of boomerang. I personaly don't have time to check it out right now, but I might in the future. If your goal is code comprehension I found that it's much better to parse the code into memory and offer the user a knowledge-base style shell with a full inference engine the best way to do. You can apply term-rewriting tricks if you know the compiler that generated the code and simplfy it greately. If you use IDA/flirt style signature matching, with debug
symbols if available, you can make things alot easier.

Good luck to you my friend, decompilation is interesting but mathematics is far, FAR more interesting :-)

Re:Screenshots! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13173972)

Wow! This is ... uhm ... it's so ... very ... ugly! Yeah, that's the word.

Re:Screenshots! (1)

orkysoft (93727) | more than 8 years ago | (#13176620)

Yep, it's GEM alright. Some of those screenshots look suspiciously like Atari ST screenshots (the Atari ST was first sold in 1985).

This is an interesting project. (2, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 8 years ago | (#13173780)

GEM was a nice GUI - I used it quite a bit. It wasn't that powerful, but it did what it was designed to do. An Open Source version of DesqView would make an excellent companion project to this, as that was the other popular environment of the day.


There were only a few other packages that were really of exceptional worth - so exceptional, they were "must-haves" for anyone from home users to corporate users. Although, in many ways, nobody would really "use" these programs today, they would have massive educational value as they would provide an excellent way for people to study key components of modern systems without having to dive into all the modern complexity.


The packages I would consider "exceptional" would be QEMM (I can't see anyone disagreeing there) and Norton Guides (good intro to interrupt stacking and context sensitivity). Possibly the EARLY Norton Utilities as well.

Re:This is an interesting project. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13173801)

And PKZIP, of course.

Re:GEM is a VERY interesting project. (2, Insightful)

scotch51 (108624) | more than 8 years ago | (#13177404)

I worked with GEM a lot in 1987. It was plenty fast on an 8 mhz 286... ESPECIALLY when compared to Windows 3.1. Fast as in 10x to 20x as fast. Plenty fast for desktop publishing, which was my main app. GEM even ran on 21" displays.

In 20/20 hindisight, we're probably well served that Windoz is such a resource hog. Moore's law isn't enough to give us 4Ghz CPUs or a Gigabyte of RAM for $100... it also takes big market demand.

But imagine a world where an 8mhz 286 with 2-4 MEG of RAM was fast enough to do everything you do today. We could have been building on that for nearly 20 years.

Today I have a Gig of RAM and a 3Ghz CPU. It's barely adequate on many apps. This story certainly makes me ask "what if?"

Re:GEM is a VERY interesting project. (1)

pamar (538061) | more than 8 years ago | (#13183834)

...

But imagine a world where an 8mhz 286 with 2-4 MEG of RAM was fast enough to do everything you do today. We could have been building on that for nearly 20 years.

Today I have a Gig of RAM and a 3Ghz CPU. It's barely adequate on many apps. This story certainly makes me ask "what if?"

Agreed. I noticed that with old, stable HW (e.g.: Apple ][, the old Atari 2600)... when the hw base did not change (no trace of Moore's law), SW tended to routinely set new records in terms of efficiency/features/power.

On the other hand, there was much less interoperability (i.e. none whatsoever) among the various models/makes etc.

Perhaps the best of both worlds would be a slower cycle of Moore's law coupled with today's multiplatform-oriented stuff (USB, WWW interfaces...)

Re:This is an interesting project. (1)

Anna Merikin (529843) | more than 8 years ago | (#13180944)

An Open Source version of DesqView would make an excellent companion project to this, as that was the other popular environment of the day.

DesqView opened their binaries after they went defunct or were bought out several years ago. I d/led all the DV versions plus QEMMs (also opened at the time) and tried them in a DOSbox; they worked justs as I remembered them (but not in EMS IIRC). Isn't it funny how memories tend to gloss over difficulties? Even using it running on DR-DOS 7.03 ("Musltitasking") did not help the single-threading. Although I still use DOS regularly, I have just one question for this project: WHY?

Needs web browser (3, Interesting)

ArmorFiend (151674) | more than 8 years ago | (#13173846)

So who has the cahones to develop a standards-compliant web browser for this gui? Meet the new killer app. Same as the old killer app.

I've been poking around for a viable web-surfing configuration for an 8mb pentium-1 system, and there really is nothing out there.

Re:Needs web browser (2, Informative)

Linus Torvaalds (876626) | more than 8 years ago | (#13173898)

So who has the cahones to develop a standards-compliant web browser for this gui?

Who has the cojones to develop a standards-compliant web browser full stop? Gecko ain't compliant and never will be [mozilla.org] . Same goes for every other browser.

I've been poking around for a viable web-surfing configuration for an 8mb pentium-1 system, and there really is nothing out there.

Try an older Slackware.

Re:Needs web browser (1)

myukew (823565) | more than 8 years ago | (#13174446)

I've never found a way to install even the oldest slackware you find on the ftp servers on a machine with less than 16mb ram and just 1 floppy drive

Re:Needs web browser (1)

Xner (96363) | more than 8 years ago | (#13174657)

Really? What version was that? I remeber getting the 2.1 version on a 2 megabyte 386. Now, that was somewhat below the reccomended configuration even at the time, so we had to pull a few tricks, but it worked. Also, i remember running a this version on a 486 with 4 meg (inc. X and fvwm95) with very few problems. Compiling the kernel took 3 hours, but other than that things were just dandy. Of course, a modern graphical browser would probably kill it outright (just use top to see the memory firefox consumes), but if you are willing to step back to NN2.0 you might end up with something workable. If you need some specific assistence, try stopping by #slackware on freenode. Those guys don't mind a little soft-archeology side-project :D

Re:Needs web browser (1)

myukew (823565) | more than 8 years ago | (#13176100)

the oldest version i found was 3.3, where did you get 2.1?

Re:Needs web browser (1)

Xner (96363) | more than 8 years ago | (#13179478)

Umm, that's what was current at the time. I may still have the walnut creek CD it came on, but i need to do some digging in a few boxes.

It does seem to have dropped off the mirrors .. weird.

Re:Needs web browser (1)

psergiu (67614) | more than 8 years ago | (#13174370)

Try Arachne [arachne.cz]
  I personally installed it on a 12Mhz 286 with 2Mb of ram, ISA2000 clone lan card with 10Base2 and Monochome VGA monitor. And with NCACHE (Norton equiv of SmartDrive) configured to use 96kb of XMS was usable (without it - it would take a lot to save all the files of a webpage to the disk cache).
On a IBM PC110 (486SX 33mhz, 8Mb RAM) it really flies.

Re:Needs web browser (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 8 years ago | (#13175261)

I used to run a much older version of Slackware on a 6Mb 386SX20 based monochrome 640x480 laptop, and was just about able to get Netscape 3 going on it. More usefully, I used Slack and NS4 on a 386DX25 with 8MB of RAM for several years, though it wasn't exactly a pleasant experience. I wouldn't recommend either.

It's probably worth noting the biggest problem with what you're proposing is the browser, not the operating system. Despite the fact that a web browser is, for the most part, little more than a rich text viewer with some funky, not particularly complicated, networking added and a relatively minor scripting language, web browsers consume enormous amounts of memory by the 8MB standards you're using. The major issue, as I understand it, is the need to support several zillion pages of legacy, non-standard, HTML. So I'm not sure switching to DOS and GEM is going to help you much. If it does help, there are more pleasant environments that are just as efficient with memory - check out AROS [aros.org] for example.

Re:Needs web browser (1)

kernelfoobar (569784) | more than 8 years ago | (#13175569)

OpenBSD runs on a 486 with 8MB ram, you can use lynx to browse. Now, as for graphical stuff, I don't know, I never dared...

Re:Needs web browser (1)

slapout (93640) | more than 8 years ago | (#13180191)

I've been out of the Atari ST world for a while, but I remember people developing web browsers for them. They where single tasking computers that ran GEM and most only had 4 MB. Of course, the browsers probably weren't full featured.

Re:Needs web browser (1)

Anna Merikin (529843) | more than 8 years ago | (#13180989)

So who has the cahones to develop a standards-compliant web browser for this gui? Already done: And it's GPLed. Get it here: http://home.arachne.cz/ [arachne.cz] Also, Caldera's old DR-DOS 7.03 came with a DR-Webspy, a browser that ran, together with the OS, off a floppy. Some years ago IBM marketed a browser based on an early Arachne with a more normal GUI.

Re:Needs web browser (1)

Eil (82413) | more than 8 years ago | (#13194312)


My first try would be Win98SE and K-Meleon [sourceforge.net] . I remember how slow even Win95 was on 8MB of memory, so maybe that's not an adequate option.

You could also try installing an extremely minimal version of either Linux or BSD, along with a stipped-down X and try to run Dillo [dillo.org] or Links [sourceforge.net] . The latter will do SSL and graphics if setup just right.

Long live GeoWorks! (1)

Pacifix (465793) | more than 8 years ago | (#13173886)

I still pine for this shell in a BBS, DOS 3.3, Mac-still-sucked way. Amazingly powerful for its day. It should be open-sourced and truly, we would be faced with a Windows killer. http://www.geos-infobase.de/GEOS1/GEOS1_01.GIF [geos-infobase.de]

A shareware version (GeoPublish) is out there... (1)

Richard Steiner (1585) | more than 8 years ago | (#13175998)

While it doesn't come with source, it does let folks use the GeoManager under DOS.

I've been finding myself using GVFM [ntlworld.com] more and more under DOS, too (a DOS GUI file manager in the style of Windows Explorer).

   

Re:Long live GeoWorks! (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 8 years ago | (#13176096)

Heh... Windows killer in the 3.1 days, and MAYBE the 95 days, but that's it.

If you don't mind buying a $99 copy on floppy disks, http://www.breadbox.com/geocats.asp [breadbox.com] is NewDeal Office 2000 - the last version created by GeoWorks.

It's still in development by Breadbox Software, but they aren't selling their updated version, Breadbox Ensemble, to individuals. The trial's still available, though...

Re:Long live GeoWorks! (1)

iguana (8083) | more than 8 years ago | (#13180042)

I wrote several college papers in GeoWrite and GeoDraw on a screaming 486 with (gasp!) 16M of RAM! Everyone else was using WordPerfect 5.1 under Win3.1.

GeoDraw's "nudge" buttons allowed me to push an object by one pixel (up, down, left right), something I have longed for in every single graphics package I've used since then. Their Tetris is still the nicest I've ever played. For a few years after, I'd still have Geos installed on a 486 just to play Tetris. I bet I still have my 3.5" install disks somewhere.

AFAIK, they never came out with an SDK, though. They can't really complain Microsoft killed them if I couldn't even write any apps for it!

Re:Long live GeoWorks! (1)

edwdig (47888) | more than 8 years ago | (#13183226)

They came out with an SDK for 2.0, and updated SDKs for the various handheld devices that used the OS.

It was pretty nice to work with. I've never found anything else that comes close to the ease of creating a GUI using the GEOS APIs.

People who were comfortable with MFC before trying the GEOS SDK tended to have a hard time, but if you didn't know either, GEOS programming was far easier to learn and use. The main hardship of GEOS programming was the fact that the OS ran in real mode, which rather limited the amount of memory you could access at one time.

Re:Long live GeoWorks! (1)

edwdig (47888) | more than 8 years ago | (#13183275)

It's very, very unlikely to ever stand a chance of being open sourced. There's too much licensed code around the system. The issue isn't so much replacing the code, but rather tracking down people who know enough about it to locate and remove the licensed code.

Even if the code was open sourced, you'd have a half gigabyte of 16 bit assembly code. There's not a lot of people who'd be willing to go through the effort of making that usable.

Slow News Day? (1)

Umbral Blot (737704) | more than 8 years ago | (#13174077)

Sure its nifty and all, but why does one person's small project make the news? It doesn't even seem to be a team of people, and it is limited to one small OS. Is he giving bribes to the editors? Are the editors FreeDOS users? I am not trying to imply that it isn't a cool project or worth doing, but that if his project makes the news so should the majority of sourceforge projects. Me first please.

Re:Slow News Day? (4, Insightful)

salesgeek (263995) | more than 8 years ago | (#13174971)

Sure its nifty and all, but why does one person's small project make the news?

Puhleeeez. Every time Slashdot features any small project someone has to pop in and bitch that it's not important, who cares, why is /. covering it and on and on... Sit down and have a nice cup of shut the @##@$@ up and be happy that another project just got a little sunshine.

Incidentally, this project is actually useful and could be yet another killer open source application when it grows up. Do you know how many old computers are out there that are obsolete only because there's no free lightweight desktop OS with internet connectivity for them?

Frankly, the only way a small project becomes a big one is when other developers, supporters and users find out the project exists and can contribute to it.

I am not trying to imply that it isn't a cool project or worth doing, but that if his project makes the news so should the majority of sourceforge projects.

Of course your not, but you are bitter about something. Don't be a boo-bird.

Me first please.

At least you admit it, thought which is a step up from usual :)

Re:Slow News Day? (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 8 years ago | (#13175477)

No, this is what counts as actual news. If you don't consider it news, and would rather see the stuff that Slashdot fills its pages with when there isn't news, you can get it from the following sources: You certainly don't need to go to Slashdot for that stuff.

In the mean time, your geek card is hereby revoked. While you've made an honest attempt to pretend to be one, your lack of interest in an actual computing project that works well for the minority that uses it and uses technology in ways uncommon today shows a clear preference for the mainstream. Please return to Python "programming" and obsessing over how "Linux" will not be "ready for the desktop" until "Grandma" can use it, where I suspect, in pseudo-geekdom, never straying too far from the mainstream while dabbling in all that tech stuff, you'll feel more at home.

See Bill Was Right! (1)

tod_miller (792541) | more than 8 years ago | (#13174181)

We don't need more than 640kb of ram after all!

(firefox is currently using 130mb with a fat 620mb vm size... oops - but that is all page data and media and bad flash plugin / mem handling)

Re:See Bill Was Right! (1)

GreatDrok (684119) | more than 8 years ago | (#13174263)

We don't need more than 640kb of ram after all! (firefox is currently using 130mb with a fat 620mb vm size... oops - but that is all page data and media and bad flash plugin / mem handling)

For crying out loud! How tough is it to get the capitalisation right? Its MB (Mega Bytes) and KB (Kilo Bytes). This really annoys me with PC users today who seem to use bits and bytes interchangeably. I was trying to get broadband the other day from British Telecom of all people and the woman on phone assured me that I was wrong when I suggested she might want to try again when she told me there was a 15 GB (Giga Bytes) download limit and not 15 Gb (Giga bits) as she insisted it was. That wouldn't have been too bad but the 1 Gb limit on the most basic service sounds really mean if she is right as that would be 128MB a day! You could hit that one a single website!

There was a time when knowing your bits from your bytes and how to do boolean algebra were some of the most important things you could learn when you first got your grubby hands on a computer. These days people are confused if the flipping icon changes!

P.S. The woman from BT also assured me that I couldn't use my Mac on the basic broadband because it was incompatible and I would have to have the more expensive service at which point I told her I knew she was wrong (as I had recently had to use my iBook to set up a relative's basic broadband because her PC wouldn't talk to it) and that based on my experience during this call I didn't think BT was technically capable of providing a service to the standards I required and I would look elsewhere.

Sorry, mid week blues....

Re:See Bill Was Right! (2, Informative)

Xenkar (580240) | more than 8 years ago | (#13174417)

Actually a capital K is used for the Kelvin [wikipedia.org] temperature scale in the Metric System. kilo [wikipedia.org] uses a lowercase k.

The file size is 932 kiloBytes.
It is 305 Kelvin outside.

Re:See Bill Was Right! (1)

sbryant (93075) | more than 8 years ago | (#13175893)

It is 305 Kelvin outside.

It is here too, and we don't have air conditioning. That sucks! Tomorrow's going to be even warmer too...

-- Steve

Re:See Bill Was Right! (1)

fbjon (692006) | more than 8 years ago | (#13180719)

Actually, the tradition is to use K for 1024 and k for 1000, as in 128kbit and 100KB. The SI standard has k for kilo=1000 and ki for 1024.

Re:See Bill Was Right! (1)

d99-sbr (568719) | more than 8 years ago | (#13174506)

Apparently quite hard, since it is MB and kB. The latter is sometimes written just K, but never KB (which could of course mean Kelvin-Byte).

Re:See Bill Was Right! (1)

tod_miller (792541) | more than 8 years ago | (#13174883)

You know, only non-geeks have to adhere to the b/B guides, use geeks are far to lazy to hit that shift key over, and my pinky was just too lazy (if it makes you feel better, I winced when I typed it, but thought, nah, there is noone that pedantic... oh well, thsi is slashdot!)

Re:See Bill Was Right! (1)

GreatDrok (684119) | more than 8 years ago | (#13175728)

yeah, sorry about that but it was the experience with the BT sales person that really made me flip. As others have pointed out I was wrong about the k thing, duh! Regardless, bits and bytes, its important.

Re:See Bill Was Right! (1)

LizardKing (5245) | more than 8 years ago | (#13174767)

Hmm. The only machine I've used GEM on had 4Mb of RAM. An Atari ST, which was a damn site nicer to program on than the PC's of the same era.

Such a modest guy! (1)

uradu (10768) | more than 8 years ago | (#13175771)

From his "Personal stuff" page:

"I'm a complex guy, and thus possess a substantial amount of personal information. The real question is whether you want to browse through it all."

He's also got a version control system named SVS, for Shane Versioning System. I'm surprised he left the name OpenGEM alone, without morphing it into ShaneGEM or something.

Re:Such a modest guy! (1)

RevAaron (125240) | more than 8 years ago | (#13177249)

Only on Slashdot does some dickweed nitpick every aspect of another gent's webpage... The Slashdot Pasttime! What is weird about the guy having a lot of personal files? Are you saying he's a pompous ass because he's got a lot of photos and other personal files? FOR SHAME!

Re:Such a modest guy! (1)

uradu (10768) | more than 8 years ago | (#13178516)

> Are you saying he's a pompous ass because he's got a lot of photos and other personal files?

Yes, and because of everything else I said. That's exactly what I'm saying, indeed.

Re:Such a modest guy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13179982)

get a life

Re:Such a modest guy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13201431)

I guess you would be the expert on being a pompous ass, wouldn't you?

Re:Such a modest guy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13181135)

Normally I'd agree with you, but damn, look at his page. He tries to disable text selection and right-clicking, has dorky looking pictures that he obviously thinks are cool, and clearly has an ego the size of the universe.

Re:Such a modest guy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13186813)

As an aside, right-clicking and text selection are indeed disabled, but they pale in comparison to the awe-inspiring power of Firefox's Select All command in the Edit menu.
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...