back to article Helios-NG: An open-source cluster OS that links the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga

What is old is new again: linking open source Unix-alikes, native cluster OSes for massively parallel computers, and 1980s platform rivalries. You get all this in a somewhat dusty project hoping to "breathe new life" into Helios, a manycore OS from the '90s. Parallel computing is back in fashion. Just last week, The Reg …

  1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Oooo ... transputers :-)

    Transputers caused much dribblage when I pretended to be a comp sci student.

    Had to learn parallel processing techniques and Occam ... Very confused lectures, resulting in an unforgettable question from a student to a young lecturer "... but aren't you making this up as you go along?" The lecturer admitted that the stuff was so new that he was about a day ahead of us ... at which point we all softened our attitudes towards him as we realised that he was trying to keep us on the crest of a technology wave ... even if it meant buying the worst value book in history "The Occam Programming Manual" by Inmos which had multiple pages inscribed with the phrase "this page is intentionally left blank".

    1. boblongii

      Re: Oooo ... transputers :-)

      I remember that manual. But I also remember Occam fondly.

    2. David 132 Silver badge

      Re: Oooo ... transputers :-)

      even if it meant buying the worst value book in history "The Occam Programming Manual" by Inmos which had multiple pages inscribed with the phrase "this page is intentionally left blank".

      So what you're saying is that the Occam book had been shaved to be as simple as possible.

      How very apt.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oooo ... transputers :-)

        Ah the transputers ! Fond memories. I probably still have a couple of TXXX manuals here.

        So sad Inmos was bought by STMicroelectronics, when it entered its years of inept management, who basically:

        - decided flash mems had no future (in 2007) and spined off all flash activities, where all landed later in the US and Europe has basically no such techno anymore. Well done !

        - dumped transputers entirely (for whatever reason)

        - engaged into a frantic rush in creating joint ventures and similar chaotic contructs with partners and competitors who had entirely different tools, never to see one work

        Joint ventures strategy which failed spectacularly in 2012/2013 with ST-Ericson being closed down, not before taking approx 1B euros of STM cash reserves !

        Really happy I no longer work there !

        1. Rich 2 Silver badge

          Re: Oooo ... transputers :-)

          ST actually went on to use a transputer core in its digital TV set top top box chips. Not that you would know unless you dig deeply; it was all hidden/buried in the dev toolchain

  2. Paul Sidnell

    Wow - a blast from the past! I worked at Inmos at the time, I was quite excited to have a play with Helios (which was literally written up the road). It was very promising but easy to crash the whole network of processors as there was no memory protection between the user code and the OS itself. This was an issue with the underlying chip at the time, I think.

    1. David 132 Silver badge

      Showing its Amiga influence there. "Memory Protection" was an alien concept in AmigaDOS (to be fair, there was no MMU on the original 68K processor if I recall correctly).

  3. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    The Atari ST operating system was TOS (The/Tramiel Operating System) which combined GEM as GUI with GEMDOS underneath. GEM was available on other platforms, including Mr Sugar's hateful but cheap IBM PC Clones, though on those restricted to one or two windows because Apple claimed to have a patent on resixeable windows.

  4. Blackjack Silver badge

    Unfortunately due to compatibility issues is usually better to just set up a VM.

  5. Xalran


    I remember that on my first PC ( an Amstrad PC1512 ), it was light years ahead of Windows 2.0/286 which came a bit later ( and I had the *joy* to use a few time ).

    ( and I won't go on how much faster it felt )

  6. tiggity Silver badge

    I remember Helios on transputers, IIRC very little need for OCCAM as there was a "parallel C" language variant bundled for transputer work so most stuff I did was with that rather than OCCAM... That was when transputers / parallelism were "the next big thing" & on the degree course they wanted us to get a feel for parallel programming methods (& could well have been similar case to other commentards where new to the lecturers too, hence C focus more than OCCAM in the practical work)

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