EmuTOS. A quick look at the Open Source TOS replacement for Atari ST Computers and Clones


Hello everyone, This is a small presentation of emutos, an open source replacement of TOS, the operating system of the Atari ST family of computers which has been known to run on other 68K based computers such as the Amiga. Also you can use it to boot FreeMiNT on your favourite emulator or virtual machine (I am looking at you ARaNyM). It supports many languages (including Greek) and it has a builtin hard disk driver. We are going to take a look at it on a Hatari emulated Atari STE. Booting the machine you will notice the familiar GEM desktop, but with different icons. That is because EmuTOS is based on the Digital Research GEM sources. Other than that it will operate just like TOS or for that matter like most other graphical operating systems. You can open windows, browse the filesystem, check file and folder information and rename. The filesystem can be browsed as either text or icons. I use icons here but text is more useful in my opinion. As usually you can arrange the ordering of the files by name, type, date and size, however this won’t affect their OS ordering. That is important for when you want to change the order of the AUTO folder programs. For that it’s best to use a program like AUTOSORT Speaking of AUTO folder, that is one important feature of the Atari OS, be it EmuTOS or TOS. The AUTO folder is where programs that add features to the system are executed on boot. They are mostly TSR’s that give access to extra functionality For example in this setup you can see the program TTF-GDOS, which allows the use of true type fonts by applications that support the GDOS extension. Other such programs would be, drivers, tcp/ip stacks etc. Another important feature of EmuTOS is cooperative multitasking. Under Desk you can see two Desk Accessories. They are applications that are loaded after booting and before the desktop is started. They are recognised by the system from their extension, .ACC These are mostly utilities. For example, I have loaded the xControl accessory which is a desk accessory that loads CPX programs (Control Panel eXtensions) and is mostly used for settings for the computer or other programs. However you can find other types of CPX, such as games, programming languages or whatever a programmer thought they’d like to have running. he second desk accessory is a Calendar and Appointments application by Atari. Many applications can also be used as desk accessories. For example I’ve run an IRC client on my real hardware. Unlike what some people believe, the desk accessories are actually multitasking with the rest of the system by using AES time sharing functions (AES is a part of TOS and EmuTOS but I don’t want to get too technical). To launch an application you just double click on the executable. Here we launch Atari Works, an office suite for Atari Computers. The last thing I wanted to address is compatibility. Applications will generally have no problem with EmuTOS and will work great. But in all likelyhood, you are mostly looking to play the games. Many games use undocumented ‘features’ of TOS to do some things and those will generally fail. However a majority of the library will run fine. As a general rule of thumb, if a game runs on TOS 2.06 then it should run on EmuTOS as well. Demos are even more mysterious so there is a higher degree of failure. Hopefully you get an idea of what EmuTOS is and why it exists. Many thanks go to the EmuTOS development team for their work.

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