From CPCWiki - THE Amstrad CPC encyclopedia!
Revision as of 20:03, 16 February 2009 by Prodatron (Talk | contribs) (app demos moved to the app article)

Jump to: navigation, search
FutureOS main screen


FutureOS is an operating system for the Amstrad CPC6128, 6128Plus, C-One and CPC TREX. The version for the CPCPlus supports some of its special features. FutureOS is developed by TFM of FutureSoft in Z80 assembler. Its development continues from 1989 up to now (2008). FutureOS allows the user to control the computer with with an icon section and a file section; it can deal with files up to 4 MB big in one piece. It has a dynamic memory management system, which divides RAM into 16 KB blocks. Further it supports a variety of hardware expansions. FutureOS is delivered together with basic utilities in the same ROMs.


The core of the OS needs 64 KB ROM. Compatible products are EPROM-cards, the ROM-RAM-BOX, SYMBiFACE II, RAMcard, Jareks Flash-ROM 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, CPCEmu).

The core of the OS itself is executed directly in (Pseudo-)ROM or EPROM (in four 16 KB blocks). It jumps between the ROMs with the help of a little common area. Therefore the numbers of the four 16 KB ROMs are hardcoded.

FutureOS uses 2 KB (&B800...&BFFF) of the first 64 KB; the rest of the RAM is available to applications. Additional RAM can be reserved for DIRectory buffering. Furthermore the OS uses memory management, file-handling and specialized Low/Mid/High-level routines to access the hardware.

FutureOS can be launched from AmsDOS 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 48 KB (not the screen) have been preserved.

FutureOS only runs well on a CPC6128 or 6128plus (not CPC464 or 664), because of their support for RAM configuration C3 (essential for the mouse pointer). FutureOS is not compatible with native AMSDOS or CP/M programs.

User Interface

The User Interface (UI) of FutureOS presents the user with three fixed sections: an icon section (upper half of screen), a file-name display and selection section (lower half of screen) and a message line (bottom). It appears directly after booting FutureOS, but can also be used from applications. The user can browse through directories of discs and hard-disc partitions. The size of the text window is fixed, so 64 different file names can be displayed at once (this equals one complete directory of a data of system formatted disc f.e.) A cursor arrow is used to select devices, functions or files; this cursor arrow can be controlled with nearly all of the pointer based HID devices (joystick, mouse, trackball, light-pen, grafpad) available for the CPC.

Applications do call the UI as a subroutine, and the user can return to the application via the OK button. The icons are fixed, so the layout remains stable throughout its use.

Files can be viewed on-screen (scroll up and down) or printed. File headers can also be viewed. When typing a text file it is possible to set the number of columns and lines of the window the text is displayed in.


The "command bar menu" (CBM) is an optional UI for FutureOS, which can be easily linked into applications. It consists of several flexible pull down menus and file selectors. Using CBM as the standard UI for FutureOS programs helps making them looking similar and useable in an intuitive way.

File system

The file system of FutureOS can handle multiple simultaneous floppy disc drives and hard disc partitions. After the selection of a device FutureOS reads and buffers the directory entries of the medium. Integrated utilities like the multi file copy can copy files from physical sources to different physical destinations in one run.

The file system is compatible with the CPCs native data-, file- and format structures (f. e. File header, Disc formats). FutureOS supports the Data, IBM, System, Vendor and Vortex disc formats.

Filenames can use all 256 different characters and user areas from 0 to 254 (except for &E5, which is reserved for deleted files). Unlike Amsdos, a file that is erased under FutureOS is not shifted to user &E5, but is physically removed from the directory. File headers are displayed as AmsDOS files or the icon-like file-header of a FutureOS program. An AmsDOS file header has 128 bytes of which 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 includes one of the fastest FDC-based disc- and file-reading and writing routines ever written for the CPC. This is possible by ignoring the interleave factor, reading one physical sector directly after each other to the correct position in memory but also by just starting with the first appearing sector of every new track. With an increased track step rate it's even faster than optimized copy programs like Crowns' Crime.


The OS supports many of the hardware available for the CPC. One of the ambitions of FutureOS is to support all hardware available. Hardware expansions usually need drivers that can be flexibly added to an OS. Contrary to this approach, a goal of FutureOS is to provide a monolithic architecture where all drivers are implemented in a hardcoded way.

  • Disc drives and hard discs: 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 a hardware expansion is connected to the CPC FutureOS will automatically detect that expansion, initialise it and make it available to the user. The architecture of the OS allows you to add and remove hardware on purpose. The user can switch external hardware on or off in the configuration bytes (use ConfigOS utility).

OS supported Hardware

8 bit printer ports

  • 8 bit printer port 6128 Plus
  • 8 bit printer port patch (PIO)


Expansion cards



  • Analog Joystick (6128 Plus)
  • Digital Joystick 1
  • Digital Joystick 2

Memory expansions


  • dk'tronics RTC
  • Dobbertin Smart Watch (at ROM select 15)

Additional HIDs

The following pointer-based input devices are supported by the file management module. Applications can use them by calling the appropriate function in OS-ROMs A, C or D. 

ROM-included Utilities

The FutureOS roms already include several utilities as an addition to the operating system. Tools like copy, format, verify or directory refreshing are available without the need to load them from an external medium. Multiple files can be copied between different physical media in one go.

A small machine monitor is also provided. This monitor provides features like CPU register editing, I/O ports, memory editing and display and manipulation of the ASIC contents (6128 Plus). Memory blocks can be copied or initialised. It is possible to call a routine with defined CPU registers and memory.

Developing for FutureOS

You can developp very freely, even the RST vectors are free usable. Also the second register set of the Z80 is freely usable.

  • Z80 Assembler: 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 48 KB or RAM remaining untouched.
  • Programming in C for FutureOS: With FIOLIB it also possible to use C as a programming language.

Applications / Demos / Executables / Games

The following programs can be downloaded at the FutureOS homepage, see Weblinks below.


FutureOS is designed as an OS with fast routines. It has specialised file handling and memory management capabilities that support programs up to 4 MB. The idea is that development of games, graphic tools, word processors, sound, management of big amounts of data, and programming languages are possible in this environment. At this point, the user can listen to MP3 files, work with graphic, use C programs, watch movies & demos and play games.

Web links