back to article Chill out, lockdown ain't over yet – perhaps FUZIX on the Pi Pico could feature in your weekend shed projects

Those pondering what to do with the latest Raspberry Pi gizmo, the $4 Pico, have a new option in the form of a FUZIX port. Possibly to be filed under the category of "because we can", the port can be described as an impressive technical achievement, even if there isn't a tremendous amount one can do with the Unix-like OS at …

  1. MyffyW Silver badge

    If only I'd had one of those in 1985. A girl could do great things with a gadget like that. Great things.

  2. Steve Graham

    Young people these days...

    256kb? I have a very old, very thin Toshiba notebook which has 32kb of RAM and boots several flavours of Linux, including one with a primitive GUI (not X11, obviously).

    1. Sykowasp

      Re: Young people these days...

      I think you have 32MB if it's booting Linux.

      32KB would certainly never boot Linux. "Damn Small Linux" can run on 8MB. Very old versions may run on less.

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Young people these days...

        I had a 4 meg 386 with linux running on it. Worked pretty well.

        1. MyffyW Silver badge

          Re: Young people these days...

          I had a 4MB 386 running Linux (Slackware irc) ... but it got bullseyed by a womp rat :-(

      2. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: Young people these days...

        My first install of Linux was Red Hat 4 on a Cyrix 686-166+ with 16MB of RAM. It ran a lot faster than Windows 95.

    2. Andy the ex-Brit

      Re: Young people these days...

      No "notebook" that came with 32 kB of RAM was in any sense "very thin." Back then we had what we called "luggables" that weighed at least 25 lb / 12 kg and had about 6" monochrome 25-line screens.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: Young people these days...

        And the luggable laptop with a Plasma screen and real computer card slots only ran off mains. It did look like a clamshell laptop.

      2. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Young people these days...

        Commodore SX-64.

        1. TheMaskedMan

          Re: Young people these days...

          Oh how I wanted one of those in the 80s!

    3. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Young people these days...

      No, only little Epson computers with possibly a Z80 or related and slim LCD panel in the case, circa 1979 or 1980 had only 32K RAM.

      Even an Apple II had 48K.

      No real laptop I remember had less than 2M RAM, real ones that ran on battery and had colour mostly 128M and upwards.

      Maybe Minix could run on 640K, I forget.

      1. Caver_Dave
        Happy

        Re: Young people these days...

        I was the top technical support in the UK for the Epson PX-4. I knew the OS ROM inside out end even sold them (with the non-qwerty keyboard) to all (but one) of the Formula 1 teams (and many others) for lap timing systems when out testing. That was all written in Z80 assembler, including the fixed point maths required for computing speed trap values collected on the barcode input

        1. ckm5

          Re: Young people these days...

          I actually have one of these.....

        2. David Given

          Re: Young people these days...

          I have a PX-8 (with thermal printer and external floppy drive). Lovely machine. Ridiculously overdesigned and dog slow. I have 90 minutes of me typing on one here! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3MARL-F8NI

      2. Mozzie

        Re: Young people these days...

        "No real laptop I remember had less than 2M RAM"

        Zenith ZL-1,Toshiba T1200 or Amstrad PPC?

    4. Richard Plinston

      Re: Young people these days...

      > Toshiba notebook which has 32kb of RAM

      Most likely it had 32Kb of _Video_ RAM. This number would be displayed when booting. To run any minimal version of Linux would require at least a megabyte, probably 2 or 4 of actual RAM.

      Maybe you ran Minix but this required 640Kb.

    5. Richard Plinston

      Re: Young people these days...

      > 32kb of RAM

      Anything with only 32Kb of RAM would be only an 8bit CPU (8080, Z80, 6502) and Linux never ran on those.

    6. Steve Graham

      Re: Young people these days...

      Yes I was mixing up my kilos and megas. Call it memory corruption.

      Toshiba Portégé 3020CT circa 1990.

  3. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Freedos might fit with a bit of twiddle.

    that might be a giggle.

    1. karlkarl Silver badge

      Re: Freedos might fit with a bit of twiddle.

      Annoyingly it is a no go. Not only is the Pi Pico not an Intel 80186+ but it also doesn't provide a BIOS.

      DOS is a simple OS but certainly not one of the most portable :(

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: Freedos might fit with a bit of twiddle.

        There is DosBox for ARM. Even my old E65 Symbian phone could run some DOS x86 games. The user input was the limiting factor.

      2. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: Freedos might fit with a bit of twiddle.

        I thought I'd seen some decent cross assembly for 8088 to ARM.

  4. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Unix ran in 32kb of ram on a PDP-11.

    Portability though was a challenge

  5. David Given
    Thumb Down

    Typos

    Thanks for the writeup, but:

    s/David Givens/David Given/ (throughout)

    s/just this hack that/just this hacker that/

    Since the blog post I now have the NAND flash, multitasking and pipes working, plus lots of core bugfixes --- Colossal Cave works just fine. So it's useful! Plus, I've discovered I made a mistake with my arithmetic and there's lots more RAM available than I thought: there's about 190kB after the kernel's loaded, and a lot of _that_ can be moved to flash. It should be possible to have multiple processes in RAM concurrently, although with an MMU context switches will require a physical memory copy, so preemptive multitasking won't be feasible. There may even be enough RAM for a NAND-flash-only version, with no SD card.

    1. sreynolds

      Re: Typos

      Yeah and isn't thumb2 a bit more efficient than 8086 malarkey?

    2. David 132 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Typos

      I think "hack" in the article was intentional - Richard was referring to himself, and in case you're not familiar with it, "hack" [noun] is a colloquial term for journalist.

      Nice job on the port BTW.

      1. David Given
        Thumb Up

        Re: Typos

        Oh, yeah! I did know about that, but it was temporarily displaced by the use of 'hacker' in the article. NM, then.

        But they still got my name wrong. (You'd be amazed how difficult it is for some people to spell.)

        *Update*: I found the 'corrections' link, emailed them, and got a reply back three minutes later saying that it's been fixed. Damn it, Register, you have a reputation to live down to!

    3. Arthur the cat Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Typos

      Colossal Cave works just fine. So it's useful!

      How delightfully old school. Virtual pint on me.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But can it run Cry-

    *Runs away before you club me sillier*

  7. shocking

    I had a 286 with 512k than ran Microport V/AT OK. Programming with the different memory models was a PITA - lot of unix software assumed sizeof(int) == sizeof(char *). Had C & fortran compilers, troff, the works. Used to futz around with code at home, then upload to the Amdahl 570 running UTS at work. Good times.

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