- 1 Introduction
- 2 Requirements
- 3 GUI
- 4 File system
- 5 Hardware
- 6 Utilities
- 7 Developing for FutureOS
- 8 Plans for the next years
- 9 Conclusion
- 10 Web links
FutureOS is new written operating system for the Amstrad CPC6128 and 6128plus developed by TFM. Its development continues from 1990 up to now. The applications of FutureOS can be up to 512 KB in one piece. FutureOS has a memory management system, which divides RAM into 16 KB blocks. Further the file-system allows accessing files with a size of up to 512 KB. FutureOS provides some standard disc and print utilities. Further applications are delivered for disc or hard-disc. FutureOS is written in assembler like most serious 8 bit software.
The core of the OS needs 64 KB ROM. Compatible products are EPROM-cards, the ROM-RAM-BOX, SYMBiFACE II, RAMcard or similar products. If you don't own such a card, you can take a look at FutureOS by using a compatible CPC Emulator (WinCPC, Caprice, WinApe).
The core of the OS itself is executed directly in ROM or EPROM where it is divided in four 16 KB blocks. It jumps between the ROMs with the help of a little common area. Depending on the number of buffered directories it requires between 24KB and 48KB of RAM. The remaining memory can be used for applications and data. Furthermore it contains memory management and file-handling. From AmsDOS/Basic you can start FutureOS with the RSX commands |OS or |FDESK. If you use |FDESK you can leave FutureOS and get back to BASIC where you have stopped before - the first 64KB have been preserved.
FutureOS only runs well on a CPC6128 or 6128plus, because they support the RAM configuration &C3 (which is essential for the mouse arrow of the GUI).
The Desktop of FutureOS is divided in two sections. First an icon-section, where you can choose your functions. Second there is a section below, where you can browse through directories of discs and hard-disc partitions.
The Desktop can be controlled using a joystick, mouse, trackball or light-pen. There is no command line. The user interface is graphical, you click on icons and files to select them for subsequent actions.
Applications can call the GUI as a subroutine. FutureOS is said to be easy to handle, after learning how to work with it. The icons are fixed, so you will always work with the same desktop.
FutureOS is compatible with the CPCs native data-, file- and format structures (f. e. File-header, Disc-formats). It is not compatible with native Amsdos or CP/M programs. FutureOS and compatible applications can be downloaded at: www.FutureOS.de.
Filenames can use all 256 different characters and user numbers from 0 to 254 (except for &E5, which marks a deleted file). Different to Amsdos, a file that is erased under FutureOS will not be shifted to user &E5, but it will be physically removed from the directory. Files can be viewed on-screen (scroll up and down) or printed. You can also view the file-header. When typing a text-file it is possible to set the number of columns and lines of the window the text is displayed in. File-headers are displayed as AmsDOS file or the icon-like file-header of a FutureOS program. An AmsDOS file-header has 128 bytes of which some bytes are unused. FutureOS makes use of those unused bytes so that files have a length definition of 24bit and can have a physical RAM select. Therefore a file can be defined to be loaded everywhere in the external RAM. Also a FutureOS file-header can contain a graphical icon, a textual icon or a short description of the file. FutureOS work with old AmsDOS file-headers.
The OS supports many of the hardware available for the CPC, including the Vortex disc drives, several mice and the Dobbertin HD20.
One idea of FutureOS was to support any hardware available. For example there are 3.5" B-drives, Vortex F1-D-drives, hard-discs, real-time-clocks, serial interfaces etc. Hardware expansion usually need drivers, which can be flexible added to an OS. In contrast to this one of the future goals of FutureOS is to provide a monolithik architecture, where all drivers are implemented in a hardcoded way.
Drives, hard-discs and mass storage
FutureOS supports up to eight drives and up to four hard-disc partitions. It buffers the directories read from any mass storage device in the expansion RAM.
Plug and Play
If you connect a hardware expansion to a CPC, FutureOS will automatically detect that expansion, initialise it and make it accessible. The architecture of the OS allows you to add and remove hardware on purpose. An example: You add a trackball, you use it, then you connect and use a joystick and then you use a proportional mouse for example. You can turn external hardware in the configuration-bytes on or off, if you are able to rewrite the ROM.
Tools like copy, format, verify or refresh a disc exist. You can copy files from different discs and partitions to other discs and partitions at once.
From the Desktop you can call a little machine monitor. This monitor provides features like editing of CPU registers and I/O ports, display and edit memory or the content of the ASIC of the 6128plus. Memory blocks can be copied or initialised. It is possible to call a routine with defined CPU registers and memory.
The Command Bar Menu (CBM) provides an user-interface for own programs. It is not part of the OS itself. The source code is available and it's possible to use CBM for FutureOS programs. An example is the MP3-Player for FutureOS which uses CBM.
Developing for FutureOS
Most of the low level hardware resources must be accessed by the application itself, as FutureOS doesn't provide support for them. E.g. FutureOS doesn't include interrupt handling, which means, that you have to write your own handler at #38 or can switch to interrupt mode 2, if you own a special hardware expansion, which allows this mode. Depending on the existence and type of your own interrupt handler you may use the second Z80 register set when interrupts are enabled.
You can use an assembler for AmsDOS or for CP/M. Switching between AmsDOS and FutureOS is fast and using |FDESK allows to come back to AmsDOS with the first 64 KB or RAM remaining untouched.
Programming in C for FutureOS
It also possible to use C as a programming language. There is a CP/M version of Small-C and also Windows-based cross-compilers of the C language. You have to use FIOLIB.C instead of IOLIB.C. becase FIOLIB.C contains all C functions to use FutureOS system-calls.
You can use a normal C program compile it, assemble it, link the object-code with FIOLIB (an all other needed libraries) and add a header to the *.COM file with COMFU.COM. To start such an C-program under FutureOS you have to start the RUNC-environment. RUNC expands the features of FIOLIB. With RUNC it is possible to store functions in E-RAM, leaving more main memory free for applications.
Plans for the next years
It is planned to support the following hardware during the next years:
FutureOS was designed as a library with some fast routines, while the application has to access and manage most of the resources of the machine by itself. It has specialised file-handling and memory-management that support programs up to 512 KB. The idea is that development of word processors, scientific mathematics, graphics, sound (especially MP3), spreadsheet, management of big amounts of data, bigger games and programming languages should be possible in this environment, though, apart from a MP3 player, none of the examples were written so far.
FutureOS is also meant to be used as a disc and file copy tool including a machine monitor.