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Announcements The Internet Technology

The Contiki Desktop OS for C64, NES, 8-bit Atari, 403

Adam Dunkels writes "This is for those of you who think that a text-based operating system that fits compressed on a 1.44Mb floppy counts as 'tiny': the brand new Contiki operating system and desktop environment for the Commodore 64, with ports to a bunch of other platforms such as the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System, the VIC-20, 8-bit Ataris, Atari Jaguar, the Tandy CoCo, and the Apple ][ under development. The Contiki system includes the following: a multi-tasking kernel, a windowing system and themeable GUI toolkit, a screen saver, a TCP/IP stack, a personal web server, and a web browser. The Contiki web browser, which is likely to be the world's smallest browser given its extremely small memory footprint, is the world's first true web browser for an 8-bit system and probably makes the 21 years old Commodore 64 the oldest system ever to run a real web browser! All of the above programs are contained in a single, fully self-contained, 42 kilobytes large binary. The entire Contiki system with all programs running simultaneously is comfortable in 64 kilobytes of memory. The name 'Contiki' is derived from Thor Heyerdahl's famous Kon-Tiki raft which was able to sail across the Pacific Ocean despite being built using prehistoric techniques, something previously thought impossible. There are also screenshots and a FAQ avaliable."
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The Contiki Desktop OS for C64, NES, 8-bit Atari,

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  • by onthefenceman ( 640213 ) <.moc.liamtoh. .ta. .fpeozs.> on Monday March 10, 2003 @08:06AM (#5475824)
    where do I plug the RJ-45 cable into my NES?
  • Thats something! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by watzinaneihm ( 627119 ) on Monday March 10, 2003 @08:12AM (#5475850) Journal
    That should be something, 'cause I can put a commie emulator on my box and run this code from there and I bet the footprint will still be smaller than Lynx.
    Or I coud run an emulator from DOS to get multitasking maybe?
  • by dolo666 ( 195584 ) on Monday March 10, 2003 @08:12AM (#5475853) Journal
    Will this work on the TI 99/4A or will I need a few extra 16k memory expansion cards to get up to snuff?

    I still don't understand why any of you use these big computers. We only need 32k to do everything! I'm using one now and although I had to split this message over a cassette tape, it's still better than using those computers that Bill Gates said were too memory rich.
  • by Asprin ( 545477 ) <gsarnold&yahoo,com> on Monday March 10, 2003 @08:13AM (#5475858) Homepage Journal

    Check me if I'm wrong on this, but I believe the Atari 400/800 are a couple of years older than the C64, which would make *it* the oldest system to run a web browser. I had one (an 800) with 32 whopping-mo-fo-kilobytes of RAM in, like, 1981.

    Yeah, that's right, I was a badass.

  • by Mossfoot ( 310128 ) on Monday March 10, 2003 @08:15AM (#5475870) Homepage
    This gets me to thinking about how much programing is probably "junk" programming these days. Anyone remember the sequal to Elite? Elite 2: Final Frontiers I think it was called. That had thousands of systems, planets, bases, stations, etc... set up in a game that had "realistic" physics. You could actually land on the planets yourself!

    It was 1 disk big (1.44 floppy).

    Now I look at Freelancer. A big CD full of great graphics. Yet at the same time I see it as not nearly as complex and thought out as Elite 2.

    This is an interesting attempt not to make bigger programs, but tighter ones. Making the most of what you have. It feels like there is so much available on computers these days, that programs aren't concerned with getting the most out of it, just using as much of the bells and whistles as they can. Imagine using the same mentality on a modern computer!
    • by Hanno ( 11981 ) on Monday March 10, 2003 @08:26AM (#5475936) Homepage

      I recently tried an emulator and had a look at some of the games that I spent hours and days on as a teen. Games such as Mercenary [zzap64.co.uk].

      And frankly, most of those games that I had the fondest memory of, from today's perspective, plain and simply suck.
      • by Pastey ( 577467 ) on Monday March 10, 2003 @09:22AM (#5476300)
        While that is true for some games, I strongly disagree about many, many others I played in my youth.

        Take the aforementioned example: Elite 2. Have you played it recently? The gameplay is STILL rock solid after all this time. The graphics engine is dated, sure, but what other game gives you such an open-ended experience? You could do almost ANYTHING you wanted! The universe was open to you.

        Actually, I'd submit that that is one of the main reasons that games like Grand Theft Auto do so well - the fact that they are so open-ended and leave the decisions up to the player. Scripting is great if it's well done, but how many of us have wished we could have done something different and see the game adapt?

        Overall, it's very sad how many games today are released hoping that eye-candy alone with crap gameplay will sell copies. *cough*Unreal2*cough*

        Brink back some of these ideas from classic gaming! Older games were often head-and-shoulders above modern titles in originality and gameplay because they HAD to be. The platforms at the time were primitive and couldn't rely on eye-candy as a selling point.

        I remember a recent posting here on /. about universities beginning to offer game development majors. I truly hope that something like "gaming heritage 101" is taught to new students. There's a goldmine of great ideas that have been sadly tossed aside that could be salvaged by a savvy developer.
        • Take the aforementioned example: Elite 2. Have you played it recently? The gameplay is STILL rock solid after all this time. The graphics engine is dated, sure, but what other game gives you such an open-ended experience? You could do almost ANYTHING you wanted! The universe was open to you.

          If memory serves, the actual spaceship combat (a big draw for the original) wasn't that much fun...it was too realistic for a game, hyper fast speeds, long distance zapping with beams.

          But yeah, it was a hell of a universe to be able to fit onto a 1.4 floppy!
      • is that with strict hardware limitations, games could be designed entirely by one person -- or a small group of people -- so a more coherent artistic vision was possible.

        These days, with games being created by tens or hundreds of people, what you get is the median quality of everyone's artistry, and it's a lot harder to produce a unique or artful product.

        How beautiful to go back and play Crystal Castles coin-op, or Adventure on the Atari 2600, and really hear one person's unique voice.
    • This is an interesting attempt not to make bigger programs, but tighter ones. Making the most of what you have. It feels like there is so much available on computers these days, that programs aren't concerned with getting the most out of it, just using as much of the bells and whistles as they can. Imagine using the same mentality on a modern computer!

      I think JWZ said it best [jwz.org]. Scroll down to the "Random Commentary" section.
    • Comparing the size of the Elite 2 (1 floppy) and the size of Freelancer (3 CDs) and coming to the conclusion that the size increase is due entirely to code-bloat is ridiculous. It's the graphics. Players want super realism at high resolutions with tons of voice work, character animation, lip syncing, special effects, etc... now. I'm sure that if you did a size breakdown of Freelancer you'd see that the majority of the space it is taking up on the HD is devoted to graphics and sound assets.
    • Here's a funny story for you.

      When I was still in college I had a typical sort of assignment. Could use any language you wanted. Basically was just a simple sort/db.

      I wrote all of the sorting routines in inline assembly. The bulk was in C.

      It was small, efficient, fairly portable (so long as you stuck to x86 chips) and faster than anything anyone else had in the class.

      I got a C, because "No one uses assembly anymore, it's not efficient." The rules of efficiency have been rewritten, it seems to be drifting towards not how good your program is, but how fast you can crank it out.
      • fairly portable (so long as you stuck to x86 chips)

        How does being limited to a single CPU family equate to any sensible meaning of 'portable'?
      • That professor is a moron. Jealousy probably had a part as well.

        I admire some one who can code anything pratical in assm. That may mean I have to admire a lot of people here on /., so I may withdraw that comment ;)
    • That had thousands of systems, planets, bases, stations, etc... set up in a game that had "realistic" physics. You could actually land on the planets yourself!

      It was 1 disk big (1.44 floppy).

      True, it had thousands of planets and solar systems, full of nothing. All you need to do to generate millions of systems is a plasma fractal algorithm and a random seed. Elite 2 sucked immensely, and frankly Elite 1 wasn't so interesting as it sounds. You spent ages accellerating to get to your destination, then spent an equal amount of time decellerating. Fighting pirates feels like you're moving a fixed turret, because you're screwed if you actually maneuver to fight them, because you'll lose your orbital approach or just head in too fast to dock.

      Gotta agree with the other poster, it's just sepia tinted memory at work -- grab an emulator and you'll find that you just don't have the patience or tolerance for these limited and primitive games any more. I was playing the Bards Tale II on my emulator the other day, but I just couldn't bring myself to haul out the graph paper to make those dungeon maps like I used to.
    • quake.exe - 400KB.
      glquake.exe - 426KB.
      zqwcl.exe - 516KB
      zqwcl-gl.exe - 460KB

      PAK0.PAK 18MB
      PAK1.PAK 33MB.

      So the bloat really isn't much in terms of code. Which isn't surprising since there are just so many lines of code you can or need to write - if you use a whole bunch of code very often, you don't duplicate it everywhere - you start calling it something and referring to it by name in the rest of your program. Programming is a bit like data/decision compression.

      BTW have you ever played Sundog on the Apple II? Or Autoduel? Or Ali baba?
  • VIC 20! (Score:4, Funny)

    by fozzy(pro) ( 267441 ) on Monday March 10, 2003 @08:17AM (#5475880)
    I don't know why i would need to multi-task on a VIC 20 but i'm going to pull her out and see if can get her going. I have a slew of tapes/tape drive or the old beauty. If i can get my EE and CE roomates and buddies to rig up an interface to ethernet then we have a low power webserver pretty soon. It's not hi traffic, but it's not like I get hits like Slashdot.

    Writing support for a HD or faster storage then tape would be the best, but no time right now. Getting a basic webserver over a serial modem should be fairly trivial. Porting a Java shouldn't be and i've always wanted to get JAVA to run on C64, VIC 20, or TRS....Not the embeded version.
    • Re:VIC 20! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by turgid ( 580780 )
      I had a ZX81 with a 16k RAM pack and a "proper" keyboard. I also had a multi-tasking FORTH ROM (8k) which was mounted on a daughter board with the BASIC ROM so you could switch between them (with a power off). The FORTH was a native Z80 compiler (not interpreter) and it had user-definable "screens", sort of primitive windows, that programs could output to and update independently. It had a screen editor. It was made by a company called Skywave Software, based in Bournemouthm England IIRC. The multi-tasking was real-time, down to a resolution of 0.02 seconds (the timer ticked at 50Hz). Jobs could be scheduled to start at any time etc. It was such cool fun.
    • I do hope you're joking because your plans range from impractical to improbable to simply impossible.

      If you can create a Java interpreter for the 6510, James Randi will pay you a million dollars for demonstrating the existence of supernatural phenomena. The Cubs will probably win the world series right afterwards.

  • Cool, but.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by erlando ( 88533 ) on Monday March 10, 2003 @08:17AM (#5475884) Homepage

    Seriously, why..? The C64 was a cool piece of machinery in its day but honestly... Who other than sentimental geeks would WANT to browse the web on a C64? Or run anything else than Iridium or Krakout or any of the other cool games..?

    I'm not putting the C64 down. I've owned one myself and I've been pretty impressed by some of the things that have been done on it (including Contiki). But I can't help thinking that such talent that it takes to do this could be put to better use.

    Maybe it's just me. Come to think of it it probably is..

    • Re:Cool, but.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by djupdal ( 629381 ) on Monday March 10, 2003 @08:24AM (#5475923) Homepage
      Because it is fun.

      Programming on old 8-bit systems is very different from programming for windows/unix. You must know the hardware better and do optimisations you would not even think about on a modern computer.

      Some people find that challanging and fun. Not everything needs to be useful.

    • Re:Cool, but.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kennylives ( 27274 )

      Fun programming exercise?
      Interesting engineering challenge?
      A way to show off mad skillz?
      A way to develop those skills?
      To make statement regarding bloat in modern systems?
      It's art?
      Because it's there?

      ... or maybe you'd care to define "better use"?

      You're right though, I wouldn't want to run a web browser on there to do anything 'real', but this is the sort of thing that'll get me to haul the old SX64 out of the closet once more (yes, I am one of those "sentimental geeks"). Not because it's some kind of newfound productivity. And not because I neeed another webserver.

      Simply because it's fun.

    • The best part of C64 is 64kb. You there have in such huge space a multitasking kernel, a GUI, a tcp/ip stack and a web browser. Imagine if linux kernel + XF86 + Mozilla run under not 64k, but 640k, or even 6.4Mb.

      When the hardware resources were expensive even if available, programming was something more optimal that it is now.

      Also things like that with such hardware requeriments could be good for embedded market

      • Blockquoth the poster:

        You there have in such huge space a multitasking kernel, a GUI, a tcp/ip stack and a web browser. Imagine if linux kernel + XF86 + Mozilla run under not 64k, but 640k, or even 6.4Mb.

        And if Yoda says it's true, it must be true...
    • I don't know... It could have uses for the creative mind.

      My digital TV system from the cable company gives me quick news and info in NICE BLOCKY TEXT.

      The C64 has blocky text too....

      I have about 7 64's in the garage. I can take one, rig up RS232 & SLIP through my Linux router, and plug the 64 into the extra AV port of the TV. Now I can get more information IN THE SAME BLOCKY TEXT than I can with digital cable.

      Sure, I can do that with my desktop PC, but i'd have to get off my lazy ass to do it. I'd rather just switch channels with the remote and grab the wired up 64 from the end table and start surfing.
    • Think about how cheaply one could produce a tiny embedded comp with the C64's specs. And trying to get a window manager and web browser working on such an underpowered piece of hardware is good practice for doing more practical things with comparable hardware.
  • by Myriad ( 89793 ) <myriad@noSPam.thebsod.com> on Monday March 10, 2003 @08:18AM (#5475893) Homepage
    A link off the Contiki Screen Shots [dunkels.com] page listed:
    The first two screen shots are actually historical - they show a Commodore 64 web browser browsing web pages served by a Commodore 64 web server :-) The Commodore 64 web server is hosted by Ullrich von Bassewitz and can be seen in action at http://c64.cc65.org/.

    *sniff* Hmmm, do I smell burning plastic? Ahh yes, there melts another C64 powersupply.

    Oh well, it died an honorable death. Damn /., destroying the remains of our technological history! :)

    Blockwars [blockwars.com]: a realtime multiplayer game similiar to Tetris.

    • The last time the c64 web server was noted in Slashdot, it survived a *long* time. I remembered people posting, puzzledly, stuff like "jesus christ, article has been here for hours and that thing is still up?" =)

      ...and it's up right now! uIP stack rules. Long live 6510!

  • At last (Score:5, Funny)

    by kinnell ( 607819 ) on Monday March 10, 2003 @08:19AM (#5475899)
    The Commodore 64 market has been screaming for an up to date operating system and web browser for decades. This should breathe new life into a sector which has been seen by many as obsolete, and may well trigger a renaissance in C64 development and application support.
  • Pushing the limits (Score:5, Informative)

    by Pastey ( 577467 ) on Monday March 10, 2003 @08:20AM (#5475906)
    Kudos to these guys. My first thoughts after, "No freakin' way!" were, "How the heck did they get ethernet and a C64 together?"

    I figured it was some sort of butt-slow serial hack, but instead they designed their own C64 ethernet cartridge [dunkels.com]! Nicely done.

    Come to think of it, weren't these the same guys we saw a while back here on /. that had some sort of odd C64 hybrid that streamed audio?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 10, 2003 @08:21AM (#5475907)
    What is Contiki and what is it good for?
    Contiki is an Internet-enabled operating system and desktop environment for a number of smallish systems such as the 8-bit Commodore 64. In short, Contiki is the software needed to access the Internet and browse the web. What makes Contiki special is that it makes it possible to do this even from really constrained systems, which previously have been belived to be too small to be able to run this kind of software.

    Is this about retro or nostalgia?
    No. This is not about playing old games to revive childhood memories. It is about pushing the limits and doing things previously thought impossible.

    What do I need to run Contiki?
    A standard system to which Contiki is ported. In general, there are no expansion boards, CPU accelerators or extra memory cards required, not even a disk drive. An RS-232 (serial) card or Ethernet connection is required for Internet connectivity, however.

    The typical system requirements for the Contiki system is about 20 kilobytes of RAM for the base functionality and about 50 kilobytes for full functionality (desktop icons, web browser, web server, etc.)

    Do I need to upgrade my system to run Contiki?
    No. Contiki is designed to work with unexpanded systems, so there is no need for megabytes of RAM or main board upgrades.

    Does Contiki require megabytes of memory, or 16-bit CPU accellerator upgrades?
    No, in general, Contiki does not require any upgrades, accelerators or expansion kits.

    Does Contiki need assistance of a powerful server to reach the Internet?
    No. Contiki does not require assistance of a powerful PC or *nix server to use the Internet. Everything (TCP/IP, HTTP, HTML, etc.) is done by Contiki on the 8-bit system.

    Is the Contiki web browser really the first browser for 8-bit systems?
    Yes. While there are other programs such as the HyperLink hyper-text document viewer that allow an 8-bit system to browse the web, these programs require a powerful *nix server to translate the Internet content to a simpler format that the 8-bit system understands.Contiki does not require assistance of a powerful server, but is fully self-contained.

    There are also web browsers that claim to run on 8-bit system, but in reality require radically more powerful 16-bit CPUs and megabytes of memory. The Wave is such a browser.

    Is it possible to use Contiki with a modem and a dial-up Internet account? Does Contiki support PPP?
    Lawrence Chitty is currently working on PPP support for Contiki.

    Is it possible to use Contiki with a broadband or DSL connection?
    Yes, if you have an Ethernet card for your system, it is possible to use Contiki with a broadband or DSL connection.

    Does Contiki support pre-emptive multitasking?
    No, Contiki does cooperative multitasking. The reason for not supporting pre-emptive multitasking is that it would unnecessarily increase the complexity not only of the operating system, but also of the applications that would run under it. Pre-emptive multitasking is primarily useful in general purpose multiuser operating systems such as *nix, or in real-time systems where response time is critial. Contiki does not fit in either of those categories.

    Where does the name "Contiki" come from?
    The name "Contiki" is taken from Thor Heyerdahl's famous Kon-Tiki raft. Kon-Tiki was built using prehistoric techniques in order to prove that ancient Polynesians actually were able to sail from South America to the Polynesian islands. Similarly, Contiki runs on prehistoric computers, yet it is able to do much of a modern PC usually does.

    Are there any other uses for Contiki?
    The small size of Contiki could make it useful in small networked systems which are required to be very inexpensive. Such a system could be comprised of a low-cost, low-power, 8-bit microcontroller like an AVR, an Ethernet chip such as the CS8900a, an LCD display and three touch buttons - perhaps something similar to the Mosaic Industries EtherSmart Controller. Contiki would make it possible to surf the web from a device with only a small low-cost 8-bit microcontroller, without needing to use an expensive 32-bit CPU.

    Contiki would not make a good environment for an end-user device such as a handheld PDA or a mobile GSM phone, however, as it don't have the kind of features expected from a web browsing environment of today. There is no Java, no Flash, and it even lacks support for images. Most modern handhelds, PDAs and mobile phones have quite a lot of computing power; many of them are even able to run a graphical version of Linux. For systems of that size, there are better environments than Contiki available.

    At the heart of the Contiki desktop environment is the event driven Contiki kernel. Using non-preemptive multitasking, the Contiki event kernel makes it possible to run several programs in parallel. It also provides message passing mechanisms and timers to the running programs.

    In the Contiki event kernel, a process is defined by three entities: the initialization function, the event handler and the idle loop. The idle loop is optional and is called repeatedly whenever the system has nothing else to do (i.e., when no events occur and no timers are scheduled). The event handler is called when an event occurs. The initialization function is used to initialize the program and to register to which events the process is listening. A process the does not have an idle loop must listen to at least one event, or else the process will never be scheduled and will therefore not ever run again.

    Events can be emitted by all processes and can be directed either towards a particular process, or towards all processes. If the processes are listening for the event, the event handler function will be invoked for each process. An emitted event is accompanied with a pointer that can be used for message passing between processes.

    Timers are implemented using events; each event can be scheduled to occur at a given time in the future. The Contiki event kernel will emit the event when the timer goes off. Because the Contiki event kernel never preempts a running process, there are no guarantees about the time-out times.

    The figure the left is an illustration of how the Contiki event kernel works. There are four processes in the system and when the system starts, each process' initialization function (here called init()) is called. After the initialization in done, no events are scheduled, so the idle functions of the processes are being run. Only process 2 implements an idle function, and it will be called repeatedly until event 1 is emitted. Processes 1 and 3 have registered a listener for event 1, and each process' event handler function is invoked in response to the event being emitted. Both event handler functions run to completion, after which no events are scheduled so the idle loop is run until event 2 is emitted some time later. Process 4 has registered a listener for this event, so its event handler function is invoked.

    As a more concrete example of how the Contiki event kernel works, consider the Contiki desktop environment. Here, there are several processes running: the GUI and windowing system (i.e., the CTK toolkit), the TCP/IP stack, and all of the programs such as the web browser and e-mail client. Both CTK and the TCP/IP stack implements idle functions, whereas the other processes only implements event handlers. The CTK idle function checks for keypresses and TCP/IP stack's idle function polls the network device driver for incoming packets.

    The Contiki Tool-Kit (CTK) provides graphical user interface primitives such as windows, dialog boxes, buttons and text editing to Contiki and its programs. CTK is designed to be highly modularized which makes it possible to change the appearence of it in a lot of ways and to adapt it to many platforms.

    Frontends and themes
    CTK is divided into two separate modules; the CTK backend, which handles how the user interacts with the windows, buttons, menus, etc., and the CTK frontend which draws the windows onto the screen and grabs keypresses from the user. It is this division that makes CTK portable.

    It is also possible to create different CTK looks, themes, by changing the CTK frontend. Currently, there are three CTK themes:

    The textbased "base" theme of CTK. It is designed to be extremely portable; in order to port it to new platforms, it is sufficient to implement as few as three C functions.

    A modern looking grayish theme with squared buttons and windows, and a vertical gradient background. Only runs on the Commodore 64 version of Contiki and was the first graphical theme to be implemented.

    A blueish theme with rounded buttons and window borders for the Commodore 64.

    Similar to most other desktop GUI systems, windows are central to the design of CTK. Windows are the container of all other user interface elements. In CTK, windows can be moved and closed, but they cannot be resized or iconified. The visible windows form a hierarchy where the bottom windows are overlapped by the front windows. The frontmost window receives the user input and is usually drawn in another color than the back windows.

    Dialogs are a special kind of windows that do not have a normal window border, and are always on top of the other windows, and focused. Dialogs always appear at the center of the screen and cannot be moved around.

    The CTK menus are similar to the Mac OS ones in that there is only one menubar and not one menubar per application. The default configuration is to have the menu bar at the top of the screen (like Mac OS), but since this it up to the actual frontend implementation, it could very well be drawn at the bottom of the screen.

    Like most GUI toolkits, CTK uses user interface widgets to manage the user interface. There are six widget types in CTK: separators, labels, buttons, hyperlinks, text entry widgets and icons.


    Separators are passive widgets that only serves the single purpose of separating widgets from each other. Separators have a configurable width, but always has a height of one.


    The CTK label widget is a passive widget that displays text. Both height and width are settable.


    CTK buttons are active widgets that, when pressed, emit a ctk_signal_button_pressed signal to the process that created the button.


    CTK hyperlinks are active widgets that emit a ctk_signal_hyperlink_active signal when pressed and a ctk_signal_hyperlink_hover signal when they are selected. The signals are sent to all processes that are listening for the signal. This makes it possible for both the web browser process and the e-mail client process to listen for hyperlinks, and the e-mail process can choose to handle mailto: links, whereas the web browser handles hyperlinks starting with http://. The ctk_signal_hyperlink_hover signal lets the web browser change the status bar message when a hyperlink is selected.

    Text entries

    The CTK textentry widget is an active widget that is the primary text input method of CTK. The text that the text entry widget edits may be wider than the actual width of the widget, and the widget will scroll the text when the cursor moves off the right of the widget. The text entry widget can be multiple characters high.


    The primary use of the CTK icon widget is to have desktop icons. When pressed, the CTK icon widget emits the ctk_signal_button_pressed signal.

    The Contiki desktop environment uses version 0.9 of the uIP TCP/IP stack to provide Internet communication. uIP is designed to allow limited systems to enjoy full TCP/IP communication.

    uIP provides the following protocols:

    ARP (IP address to Ethernet MAC address protocol)
    SLIP (Serial Line IP)
    IP (fragment reassembly turned off for Contiki)

    ICMP echo (ping)
    Unicast UDP

    In addition to the above protocols, a PPP implementation is currently being developed by Lawrence Chitty.

    DNS - Domain Name System
    In order to run the web browser, Contiki must implement the DNS protocol. DNS maps host names (like www.google.com) into a numerical IP address (like by using a globally distributed database.

    The DNS client in Contiki has a cache of hostname and IP address pairs so that a DNS lookup will not have to be made each time a Contiki program asks for an IP address. The size of the cache is configured at compile time and typically is about 10 entries large.

    The DNS client implementation is not very heavily tested andmay fail with certain DNS names.

    More information
    For more information about the uIP TCP/IP stack, see the uIP homepage at: http://dunkels.com/adam/uip/.

  • NES Install? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jmt9581 ( 554192 ) on Monday March 10, 2003 @08:22AM (#5475910) Homepage
    How the heck do you get a new operating system onto a gaming console like the NES?

    Are the game controller ports used as serial ports?

    Do you use a specially made cartridge?
    • Re:NES Install? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jon Abbott ( 723 ) on Monday March 10, 2003 @09:00AM (#5476144) Homepage
      I believe it is accomplished by having an EEPROM cartridge in the NES that is also connected to a PC via a ribbon to the RS232 (parallel) port. With special software I imagine it would be possible to just erase and rewrite the EEPROM to store the latest version of what you want to play or run. I can't seem to find any information on Google for this, though...
  • Contiki programs (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 10, 2003 @08:24AM (#5475925)
    The Contiki screen saver is started when there has been no user input for a configurable amount of time, usually for five minutes. The screen saver is part of the architecture specific files for Contiki and there currently only is a screen saver for the Commodore 64 version.

    The Commodore 64 screen saver shows two small pillars of fire at the left and right edges of the screen. The fires are drawn using 8x8 pixel blocks, colored in firery colors (red, yellow and white). The screen shots below gives an idea of how it looks, but the fires of course look better when actually running.

    The Contiki web browser is not only the world's first true web browser for 8-bit systems, but also the smallest browser available and sets a new record for the oldest computer ever to browse the world wide web.

    The Contiki web browser contains the essentials of what's needed to browse the web. It does DNS lookups, talks HTTP (over TCP/IP) to fetch web pages over the Internet and renders HTML pages with text, hyperlinks and forms. There is currently no support for pictures or JavaScript.

    Regular web browsers require several megabytes of RAM and disk space. The Contiki web browser only needs a few kilobytes of RAM and no disk at all. With a code footprint of 9 kilobytes and with a total of only 4 kilobytes of RAM required, it might very well be the world's smallest web browser.

    The Contiki web browser is probably the first web browser ever to run on an over 20 years old computer system - the Commodore 64 is from 1982. (This record will be broken when some of the other ports are ready.)

    While it has been possible for some time to use an 8-bit platform for web browsing, previous browser-type programs for 8-bit platforms have required assistance of special programs running on much more powerful Unix or PC servers to be able to reach the Internet and display web pages. This is how Cameron Kaiser's C64 HyperLink hyper-text document viewer, the Uzix FudeBrowZer for MSX, and the VIC 20 WAP browser work. Other browsers have claimed to be running on 8-bit platforms, while in reality they require much more powerful 16-bit CPUs and more memory than most 8-bit systems can handle. The Wave is an example of such a browser.

    The Contiki web browser does not need any special proxy programs or Unix servers. Instead, it connects directly to the Internet, downloads and displays web pages and provide a user interface, without extra software or special power-servers. It is therefore the world's first true web browser for an 8-bit system.

    User agent string
    If you see something like the following in your web server logs, you know you've had a visitation from the Contiki web browser:

    User-Agent: Contiki/1.0 (Commodore 64; http://dunkels.com/adam/contiki/)
    Ideas for the future
    In the current version, the main limiting factor is the memory usage. By optimizing the web browser code and introducing loadable program modules, more memory will be made available for feature enhancements. Some of the possible future features are:

    Buffering for faster scrolling. The current version of the Contiki browser does not buffer the downloaded web pages. Instead, it parses the HTML on-the-fly and only stores what's actually shown on the screen. This means that in order to scroll down a page, the page has to be downloaded from the web server again. By buffering a larger part of the web page, scrolling could be made radically faster. Adding support for this will be straightforward as the current architecture already is designed for this extension.

    File and full disk downloads. Being able to directly download files from the Internet down to a C64 disk or tape would be a very nice feature to have. Also, the ability to directly download a full D64 image to a C64 disk would be a nice way to get new software and demos for the C64. Since latest version of cc65 now supports file I/O, this feature could probably be quite easily added.

    Improved forms support. Currently, only forms with a GET action is supported, and only the input types submit, text and image.

    Tabbed browsing. Starting with Mozilla and Galeon, many modern browsers have started using a feature known as tabbed browsing. With tabbed browsing, multiple browser sessions can be kept in parallel and accessed using special buttons at the top of the browser window. Adding tabbed browsing to the Contiki web browser will probably require a more sophisticated memory management on the Contiki web browser's part as well as more RAM, but should otherwise pose no fundamental problems.

    Viewing JPEG images. The amazing JPX/Juddpeg C64 JPEG viewer by Adrian Gonzalez and Steve Judd shows that it is possible to render JPEG images on a C64. Their code could perhaps be incorporated into the Contiki browser which would facilitate viewing inline JPEG images in the web pages. The main problems with JPEG decoding is that it probably requires a lot of CPU cycles, and might use too much memory to be possible to incorporate in the Contiki browser.

    Viewing GIF images. There are several GIF viewers available for the Commodore 64, and it might similarly be possible to integrate one of these into the Contiki browser. GIF image decoding should be less CPU intensive than JPEG decoding, and uses less memory since it does not require as much memory for tables as JPEG decoding.

    SID player plugin. Downloading SID tunes to listen to while browsing should be possible. By reserving the memory between $1000 and $2000, a lot of SID tunes could be used.

    Flash plugin. Olivier Debon's Flash player is quite small - only about 9k when compiled for the x86 - so it just might be possible to port it to the C64.

    Java virtual machine for running Java applets. While this idea is more far fetched than the above ones, it should be noted that Brian Bagnall actually is working on porting/implementing a Java virtual machine for the C64.

    The Contiki personal web server provides a convenient way to transfer files from Contiki to any other computer over the Internet. The web server currently only works with the Ethernet-equipped Commodore 64.

    The web server works by sending a full C64 disk image as a D64 disk image over the Internet. The D64 disk image can be downloaded using a regular web browser. Future versions of the web server will make it possible to download selected files and read the directory over the Internet.

    The Contiki telnet client is intended to make it possible to do text-based remote logins to Unix servers from Contiki. It is currently under development and when finished, the Contiki telnet client will implement a VT100 compatible terminal which will allow screen based programs such as vi and emacs to be run from Contiki.

    Currently, the Contiki telnet client only is good for doing other stuff than actually running telnet. It can be used as a poor man's e-mail program, for instance.

    Or it can be used to read and post Usenet news.

    HTTP and HTML purists can even use it as a very simple web browser.

    Apart from the two applications that come with Contiki 1.0 (the web browser, the web server and the telnet client), there are a few applications under development:

    An e-mail program.

    An IRC client.
    More applications are expected to be developed.

    The Contiki e-mail program will eventually support reading and sending e-mail from Contiki. It currently is possible to send mails, but getting incoming e-mails have not yet been implemented.

    The Contiki e-mail program first will need to be configured with identifying information and the names of the e-mail servers that will be used for sending and receiving e-mail.

    Once configured, one can start typing in short e-mails.

    Of course, we don't want to accidentally erase the message we spent so much time typing in. As can be seen from the screen shot, the program isnt bug free yet (where is that "No" button?).

    And off we go! The e-mail is converted from the Commodore PETSCII encoding into regular ASCII before sending, hence the captialized text in the mail.

  • Darn... (Score:5, Funny)

    by CoolVibe ( 11466 ) on Monday March 10, 2003 @08:28AM (#5475948) Journal
    Where was this stuff 10 years ago? I wouldn't have dumped my c64 for that stupid x86 hardware. *sigh*

    Seriously, this is very cool stuff. I might dig up my old CBM from the attic to play with this. Now only to be able to hook my oceanic 1541 drive to my PC or my Mac somehow. Or are there ways to simulate a c64 disk drive from a PC with a resoldered C64 disk cable?

    How _does_ one transfer software from PC to a real hardware C64 nowadays? Can some people in the know drop some pointers to FAQ's and links?

    • Try software and instructions from FUNET's archive [funet.fi]. I have used a cable to connect the 1541 to PC serial port and there was a DOS program used to transfer data back and forth - unfortunately for me, I have the Less Supported Cable (I wish my father had made an x1541 cable for me instead of a Trans64 cable, that might have also been supported by Linux software...). I believe there also are programs that make PC appear to C64 as a disk drive.

  • by erinacht ( 592019 ) on Monday March 10, 2003 @08:28AM (#5475951) Homepage
    Please some clever person with no value on their time: Make a version for the spectrum, the world needs this! The speccy is a (modified) Z80, so is the NES (as I remember) - it should be possible and possibly quite easy that would be so cool! Web browsing on a rubber keyboard, those fancy CBM machines are almost "real" computers by comparison
    • The Z80 has a much more complex instruction set than the 6502, so it might be possible to fit this sort of thing into less RAM on the Spetrum? Also, there is the alternate register set which would make context switching really fast if you limited your "user-mode" programs to use only the main registers. Sounds like a fun project :-) Funily enough this morning I was just wondering about the feasablility of multi-tasking on the old (z80-based) Amstrad PCW machines...
  • Contiki Links (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 10, 2003 @08:32AM (#5475974)
    Contiki Links

    URL: http://dunkels.com/adam/contiki/links.html

    System information and emulators

    Commodore 64/128

    The Commodore 64 is based on the 6510 CPU, which is a 6502-derived 8-bit CPU. It has 64k of RAM and 16k ROM which includes a BASIC interpreter and some basic I/O services. Graphics is provided by the VIC chip which has 16 colors and a maximum resolution of 320x200 in hi-res mode. It provides a 40x25 raster of characters in character mode. The three voices of digital sound is produced by the SID chip.

    The Commodore 128 is an extended version of the Commodore 64 that contains a 8510 CPU which is capable of 2 MHz operation and can address 128k RAM (hence the name Commodore 128). It also has a Commodore 64 compatibility mode which is extremely similar to a regular C64 but with a few minor differences.


    The SuperCPU [cmdrkey.com] is a 20 MHz 16-bit 65816-based computer that is plugged into the back of the Commodore 64 or 128. It uses the C64 keyboard and joysticks for input and the VIC and SID chips for audiovisual output. The SuperCPU is capable of addressing several megabytes of memory and is usually used together with a 16 megabytes RAM expansion board.

    There are no SuperCPU emulators avaliable.

    • The VICE [t-online.de] emulator is capable of emulating a large number of Commodore machines. It emulates the C64, the C128, the VIC20, most of the PET models, and the CBM-II. VICE runs under Windows, Linux, FreeBSD, and a number of other host systems.
    • Joakim Eriksson's Web C64 [dreamfabric.com] emulator, written in Java, runs as an applet within a web browser.
    • Per Håkan Sundell's CCS64 [computerbrains.com] emulator works under Windows and DOS.
    • The ec64 [uni-halle.de] emulator is developed for Linux and was originally written entirely in x86 assembler.
    • An article [mooli.org.uk] by Simon N Goodwin about C64 emulators.
    • The Commodore emulators [dmoz.org] category in the Dmoz has more links.
    Operating systems and desktop environments

    Commodore 64/128

    There are plenty of alternative operating systems for the C64, mostly written in 6502 assembler. Some of them are far from complete, however, and only appear as dark shadows on a few web pages - MagerValp's SMOS and my own osT are among those.

    • GEOS [zimmers.net] from 1986 probably is the most well-known graphical operating system for the C64. It is still sold commercially by CMDKEY.com [cmdrkey.com].
    • LUnix NG [sourceforge.net] is an open-source multi-tasking operating system with TCP/IP/PPP-support, a *nix-like command shell, and a number of *nix-like utilities such as ls and cp.
    • Craig Bruce's ACE [csbruce.com] is a text-based single-tasking operating system for the 64 and the 128. It provides a *nix-like command shell, a text-editor, a terminal program for the SwiftLink RS232 interface, as well as device drivers for a lot of devices
    • GeckOS/A65 [6502.org] is a multi-tasking operating system with TCP/IP support and a *nix-like command shell.
    • Wheels [ia4u.net] is a version of GEOS that requires RAM expansion to run.

    With its 20 MHz and megabytes of memory, the SuperCPU is powerful enough to run fully-fledged graphical operating systems that rival early Machintosh or Microsoft Windows systems.

    • Wings [igs.net] is a TCP/IP-enabled graphical operating system for the SuperCPU. It includes a MOD music player, JPEG viewer, web page download utility, etc.
    • JOS [sweetcherrie.com] is an older version of Wings.
    Internet software

    TCP/IP and PPP connectivity

    To surf the web, send or read email, etc., the first step is to actually get in touch with the Internet. This requires both physical access to an ISP, either via a modem and a phone-line or an Ethernet broadband connection, and the TCP/IP software running on the C64.

    There are a number of programs that make it possible to reach the Internet with a C64/C128.

    • LUnix NG [sourceforge.net] contains a TCP/IP stack and a PPP implementation which makes it possible to reach the Internet using a modem and a dial-up ISP.
    • GeckOS/A65 [6502.org] also contains a TCP/IP stack, but no PPP dialer.
    • My own uIP [dunkels.com] TCP/IP stack has been used for some time to run a web server on a Commodore 64 [cc65.org]. uIP currently does not include a PPP dialer.
    • Novaterm 10 [ros.com.au] contains a PPP dialer and enough TCP/IP code to be able to run telnet over the Internet.
    Application programs


    All of the above mentioned SuperCPU operating systems have TCP/IP support.

    • The Wave [ia4u.net] is a web browser for the SuperCPU (and not for the Commodore 64/128 as the web page claims) that runs under the Wheels operating systems. Here [videocam.net.au] is another page with information about The Wave (that also falsely claims that The Wave is for the Commodore 64/128). The latter page also includes screenshots of The Wave in action.
    Commodore 64/128

    Small graphical user-interfaces (GUIs)

    User interfaces for embedded systems range from the simple buttons on the front of a washing machine to those of fully fledged web browser type interfaces on information stations. The underlying technology varies from simple electronic circuits to full-scale PC compatibles.

    • PicoGUI [picogui.org] is a GUI architecture designed for embedded systems to desktop machines. It does not require any supporting GUI system and can be used on anything from graphical screens to text based systems. Their smallest target system are handheld terminals and the compiled object code size is on the order of hundreds of kilobytes.
    • Microwindows/NanoGUI [microwindows.org] is a graphical user interface system designed to run without support from an underlying system. On 16-bit systems Microwindows is about 64k large.
    Small web browsers

    The smallest web browsers are usually specially designed for the limitations of embedded systems and other specialized computers such as car navigation systems, set-top boxes and medical equipment. There are also a few small web browsers for old DOS PCs available.

    • Interniche's NicheView Portable Embedded Web Browser [iniche.com] is probably the smallest full-featured web browser around with its 35 kilobytes code footprint. There is also an additional JavaScript module available.
    • AU-systems' AU Mobile Internet Browser [aumobilesuite.com] supports both HTML/TCP/IP and WML/WAP as well as SSL. It occupies 340 kilobytes of code (plus an additional 190 kilobytes for the protocol stacks) and uses 5 kilobytes of RAM when idle (plus 8 kilobytes used by the protocol stacks). Extra RAM is used when downloading web pages.
    • The Fusion WebPilot Embedded Micro-Browser [dspos.com] supports much of the features found in modern web browsers including frames, authentication, and JavaScript. The web page does not specify memory footprint.
    • MicroDigial's Graphical MicroBrowser [smxinfo.com] supports tables, frames, images as well as FTP as uses 260 kilobytes of code memory and requires a minimum of 210 kilobytes of RAM apart from that. A demo version is available.
    • The 2net Alice Web Browser [2net.co.uk] is intended for handheld computers and PC based architectures and requires 400 kilobyte of free RAM and 200 kilobytes of code memory. It includes a TCP/IP stack.
    • WebBoy [aleph.com.br] is a fully-fledged browser with SSL support intended for 386 DOS boxes with more than 4 megabytes of memory. Includes a TCP/IP stack.
    • The Arachne web browser [arachne.cz] runs under MS-DOS or Linux and requires at least 1 megabyte of memory. Does not include a TCP/IP/PPP stack.
    • Lynx [browser.org] is probably the most well-known text-based web browser around. It is ported to many different operating systems and architectures including MS-DOS [fdisk.com].
    • The Off by One Web Browser [offbyone.com] has been labeled as the smallest web browser ever, but is quite large in comparison with other small web browsers. It is 1.1 megabytes large and requires support from an underlying Windows operating system.
    • Mirko Sobe's BOSS-X HTML browser [12move.de] for 8-bit Ataris is not a full web browser, but an off-line HTML viewer with hyperlinking abilities written in three days.
    • The pre-alpha v0.3 GEMWeb [geocities.com] browser supports 640x480x16 VGA.
    • The Atari Phoenix Web Browser [tripod.com] is a non-existant vapor-ware web browser project intended for the 8-bit Ataris.
  • by siliconeyes ( 154170 ) on Monday March 10, 2003 @08:34AM (#5475985)
    You guys are so behind times man! Katz's buddy Junis from Afghanistan was beta testing this a year back!

  • by joshsnow ( 551754 ) on Monday March 10, 2003 @08:45AM (#5476045) Journal
    Excellent! Now I can play Monty on the Run and Sanxion in Death Match mode..
  • by Lethyos ( 408045 ) on Monday March 10, 2003 @09:07AM (#5476196) Journal
    Although the focus of this project is not the technology itself I think. This guy has proven to any employeer he will ever approach that he has superior skills when it comes to programming under tight constraints. Enjoy working in the embedded systems industry (and making money hand-over-fist doing it)!

    What else is interesting about this is that it goes to show how foolish and blind nearly the entire computer industry is when it comes to technology advances. People can't upgrade to a 10GHz processor fast enough, when all they need to do is check their email. Companies are constantly wasting servers and replacing them with newer models. This is not necessary. Today's software is written so poorly that super high-end hardware is needed to make up for lazy/poor programmers. Look at what these ancient systems can do. That "old" PIII or PII or K6 sitting on your desk is a power house. What's the problem? The software you're running on it is likely to be wasting 75% of the CPU cycles it eats.

    It's a shame there aren't more developers or at least software architects out there with this guy's talent. We'd all be saving a hell of a lot of money I think. Then again, hardware prices would increase in proportion to its long-term value. Then again, there's a lot of savings in many ways (largely environmental -- less junk being dumped into the wild at the beginning and end of a computer's life cycle). Of course, I wonder if most of the blame goes to businesses just trying to get software out the door as soon as possible without stopping to think about good design (in all senses).
    • by trash eighty ( 457611 ) on Monday March 10, 2003 @09:15AM (#5476258) Homepage
      Today's software is written so poorly that super high-end hardware is needed to make up for lazy/poor programmers.

      the problem today compared to back when all code had to be small, tight and efficient is that there is a much greater demand for programming. the actual number of good, top flight coders is always going to be small as it was back then but these days you have a lot more code that needs to be churned out so a lot of it gets done by journeymen programmers (and i include myself in that)

    • Today's software is written so poorly that super high-end hardware is needed to make up for lazy/poor programmers.

      No. The market has determined that programmer brains are far more valuable than cpu cycles. It's cheaper to upgrade a cpu than it is to upgrade a brain.

      It's a shame there aren't more developers or at least software architects out there with this guy's talent. We'd all be saving a hell of a lot of money I think.

      In all reality, it's probably just that he spent a lot of time on it. Programmer time is expensive to businesses. I'm sure if people were willing to spend more money on software, they could save a little money on hardware.

      Good engineering practices don't equate to small code. For example, reuse of existing libraries may increase overall code size compared with something written from scratch, but is usually a better engineering choice, as the libraries can be tested individually, and mature long before use in any particular application.

      Yes, I'm talking mainly about desktop computers, which usually requires different constraints for the applications than embedded devices. Don't mix the two up, the skills demonstrated here could apply very well to embedded programming, but they are less useful in a desktop environment.

    • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Monday March 10, 2003 @10:37AM (#5476867) Journal
      That "old" PIII or PII or K6 sitting on your desk is a power house. What's the problem? The software you're running on it is likely to be wasting 75% of the CPU cycles it eats.

      How true. A couple of years ago I was given some code to review, written by an 'experienced' (i.e. paid more than me) programmer. I tryed to run it on a ppro 200, which was just painful. After about an hour of hacking it I'd got the CPU utilisation down to <60%. By the end of the day I had got it down to <20%. After that I came to the conclusion that coders should not be allowed fast machines for testing. You may need a powerful workstation for compiling (although with incremental compiling and good code this is debatable) but testing on a fast machine really does encourage bad code.

      It was quite entertaining watching this guy's reaction when he read my changes to his code. 'How does that work? ... That wouldn't work! ... Oh. ... Hmmm ... Wow.' Almost as good as the expression on my project manager's face when I pointed out that they'd missed out the standard IP clause from my contract, an observation that was quickly followed by an offer of sponsorship.

    • What else is interesting about this is that it goes to show how foolish and blind nearly the entire computer industry is when it comes to technology advances.

      Uh, no, I'd say Opera is a much better demonstration of that fact... Mozilla and IE are how big?!!!

      It's not secret that modern programmers waste huge ammounts of performance. Just look at KDE. However, that doesn't mean you have to use what is commonly being churned out.

      I am an OpenBSD user myself, the OS performs amazingly, and is very very small. I could fit the OS and all the programs I use in 512MB... (OpenBSD, OpenBox WM, GIMP, MPlayer, Web Browser). The only place things get hairy is with the web browser. Opera is nice, but I despise it's horrible UI, and no fast browsers have even the basice features I need, so I typically use Mozilla or Konqueror, which would be a bit slow on a 100MHz PC. If the Dillo developers just add a few more features, and improve stability, we'd have a good web browser too. Then again, Konq-embedded works fairly well if you are willing to give up on those minor features, like printing, multiple windows, folders to organize bookmarks, etc.

      Since the OS, and the programs I use are very quick, I would be happy with a 100MHz machine with a 512MB hard drive. With soft updates, I could do just fine with an old 4500RPM hard drive a well.


      Now, ignorng the unfortunate browser situation (since it will likely improve), there is just one problem... Multimedia. No matter how great you are at programming, you can only get so much performance out of a 100MHz CPU. Playback has some reasonably modest requirements (I can play downscaled, downsampled DivX video on my 106MHz handheld), but encoding is the big problem. Even if every program you use is incredibly fast, you still need to get a fast damn processor to encode multimedia at reasonable speeds, and large storage to save it.

      So, although everything else would be fine on a 100MHz system, I still have to have a 750MHz Athlon (which oddly enough runs mencoder as fast as my 1.2GHz P3 Celeron in my notebook) to encode video. For other people, video games are their poison, and since they need such a fast system to run their games, they don't care that Windows XP is eating up such a huge ammount of their CPU, RAM, and HDD.

      My point is just that so many people just don't care about the requirements, that it is more cost effective to make an ineffecient program. Unfortunately, many people who don't play games, or encode multimedia, want to use these ineffecient programs, and so they have no choice but to jump on the upgrade bandwagon as well. At least, that's the current state of affairs.
  • Truly artistic (Score:2, Insightful)

    This is what I call making a point! The very concept of a multitasking OS and web browser/server on a C64 or ATARI is the greatest thing the coding community could do to show how much waste and politics has sucked itself into technology. Not only that, but this OS might even be portable to a watch-sized machine.
  • by spanky1 ( 635767 ) on Monday March 10, 2003 @09:10AM (#5476218)
    The screen shots look a lot like Windows 1.x or 2.x... no proportional fonts, bright solid colors, etc. :)

    Also, I don't see how this would work on my VIC-20. I still remember when it's powered up it says "3583 bytes free". Not quite enough free space! I have an 8K expansion cart, but that still doesn't bring me up to the required amount of RAM.
    • It's pretty hard to do proportional fonts on the Commodore 64 due to it's screen layout. Even in bitmapped mode, the screen is still addressed in square 64-pixel blocks.

      I suppose you'd need a relatively large abstraction layer to do proportional fonts properly. This would explain the high system requirements for the Wave [cmdrkey.com] browser, which does do proportional fonts and runs under GEOS/Wheels. (requires SuperCPU w/1 MB SuperRAM)

  • Anyone know what I'd need to do to get TCP/IP over RS-232 with this? They say it can be done on the page, but I'm not sure what kind of cables I'd need. The coolest thing about this project is that it will run on a standard c64, with no expansions of any kind.

    (Currently looking at c64 and 1541 drive sitting on my closet shelf.)

    Finally I have a use for that XE1541 cable [ntrautanen.fi] I bought two or three years ago.
  • The Norwegian company "Norsk Data" made a computer in the 80's called "Kontiki", a Z-80 computer with an OS called "Tiki". Considering the vast number of people who loved this computer, it is confusing to have another OS named Contiki. Norsk Data also had to change the name of the computer to Tiki because of trademark problems. See for info on the original Kontiki computer.
  • Jaw drops... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Monday March 10, 2003 @09:21AM (#5476294) Journal
    All of the above is included in the self-contained Contiki binary, which is 42 kilobytes large and runs comfortably in 64 kilobytes of memory.

    Kernel, GUI, screen saver, TCP/IP stack, web server, telnet client and web browser in 42 KB? Wow... I suppose the TCP/IP stack is based on his uIP code that's around 5 KB large, using 500 bytes of RAM. =) And I like how the GUI is skinnable. =)

    Another cool part is of course that I've studied at the same university as him. hehe.. He was rather well-known there as a "decent" programmer. =) You know, those that writes a complex algorithm, compiles it once, and it works.
  • by Pedrito ( 94783 ) on Monday March 10, 2003 @09:28AM (#5476335)
    Okay, well, I've got 6 Ataris (some 800xls, a 1200xl, and some 130xes). Let's see, if I cluster them together, I'd have a total of 6 * 1.79, 10.74mhz at my command. Don't get jealous guys. Wipe away the drool. That's right baby, I'm gonna be crunching some SETI@home units today...
  • credit due (Score:2, Insightful)

    by zuralin ( 462240 )
    looks like the submitter just found this article [osnews.com] on osnews [osnews.com] and slightly re-worded it.
  • ...on my trusty ol' Timex Sincliar with its mind-numbing 20K of (expansion) memory. And don't even try to get me started the friggin' keyboard....
  • C is a horrible match for the 6502. This is a processor with a 256 byte stack and no stack frame support. In my experience with C compilers for the 6502, they were barely usable as toys. Now someone is claiming to have written a 42K OS package including a webserver that runs on 1MHz chips? Even in assembly language that would be amazing, but in C? I have serious doubts, unless this guy wrote his own C compiler that's geared toward this application.
    • Re:Written in C? (Score:4, Informative)

      by skwirl42 ( 262355 ) on Monday March 10, 2003 @10:12AM (#5476639) Homepage
      It's using the cc65 compiler, available here [cc65.org]. My TRS-80 CoCo 3 port will use gcc [skwirl.ca], however, since I took the time to look at some old work done on targeting the 6809 with gcc.
    • Re:Written in C? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Hayzeus ( 596826 ) on Monday March 10, 2003 @10:31AM (#5476820) Homepage
      C is a horrible match for the 6502. This is a processor with a 256 byte stack and no stack frame support.

      It's not really C that you're referring to, it's the way most compilers use the stack.

      Actually, there are C compilers available for PIC microcontrollers (and similar devices) that are even more limited than the 6502: 8 byte hardware stack (not directly accessible from code), Harvard architecture, etc. These work quite nicely, although they can't use the stack for much, instead using and intelligently reusing registers for parameter passing and local variables. All of this requires call-tree analysis, which precludes recursion. But then you'd be insane to write recursive code on a machine with an 8-byte stack.

  • If it'll run on an Apple ][, it ought be doable. Heck, my Trash-80 has 128k. Lee Kaiwen, Taiwan, ROC
  • by Asmodai ( 13932 ) on Monday March 10, 2003 @10:20AM (#5476707) Homepage
    In fact, Fairlight created the first browser for the Commodore 64:


    Look at FairligHTML. (1997!)
    • by GridPoint ( 588140 ) on Monday March 10, 2003 @10:36AM (#5476854)
      That's not a full web browser, but a standalone HTML viewer that reads HTML pages from a disk and not from the Internet. The HTML viewer is only a small part of a full web browser. A real web browser must do a lot of other stuff as well: HTTP, TCP/IP, DNS lookups, etc. The Contiki web browser seems to do all that, so it is a real web browser and not just an HTML viewer (although an HTML viewer is part of the web browser).
  • Wow! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BinaryCodedDecimal ( 646968 ) on Monday March 10, 2003 @10:40AM (#5476893)
    Incredible, absolutely incredible.

    In this day of ever increasing memory and hardware demands for new software, it's nice to see that there are people out there still trying to do new stuff on old hardware.

    Old computers never die - They just get TCP/IP stacks written for them!
  • by KjetilK ( 186133 ) <kjetil@@@kjernsmo...net> on Monday March 10, 2003 @11:27AM (#5477282) Homepage Journal
    Actually, in the early 80-ties, a group of Norwegians started making Kon-tiki personal computers. A rather weird OS, but nevertheless, I can still remember the days where we only had Kon-tiki-machines in school. I think about 1987, Thor Heyerdahl successfully sued the makers of the Kon-tiki PCs for something. Perhaps trademark infringement or something. They then started to use the name "Tiki". For a few years, they continued making their own breed of PCs, before it pretty much collapsed and around 1990, they started doing IBM clones. I can remember the 20 MHz 386 SX boxes we had at school, about that time.

    In his older years, Heyerdahl also developed the rather obnoxious habit of threatening with lawsuits against anybody who might disagree with him. He was a big childhood hero of mine, but he pretty much ruined that with a threat directed at a website I edit.

    So, if he had lived, he would certainly have sued these people, and BTW, I should probably stop here, so that I don't risk a lawsuit myself.

  • by Hubert_Shrump ( 256081 ) <cobranet@gmai l . com> on Monday March 10, 2003 @11:38AM (#5477377) Journal
    because it renders the HTML on the fly, without caching.

    so, to scroll a page, it has to reload the page and rerender it.

    being on 56k is bad enough. i like to forget what 300 baud was like. *shudder*

  • Wow! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Junior J. Junior III ( 192702 ) on Monday March 10, 2003 @12:50PM (#5477940) Homepage
    I'd say with the advent of this new operating system, this would be a great time to buy stock in Atari or Commodore. Once news of this hits Wall Street, there's sure to be a surge in the market.
  • by thehunger ( 549253 ) on Monday March 10, 2003 @01:25PM (#5478275)
    Way back when I was studying computer science, we had this book called "The Psychology of Computer Programming".

    It referred to a few legendary (back then) programming feats, including one about the guys at the Jet Propulsion Lab.

    They found they had 1/2/I forget which/ Kb of RAM left on the Pioneer/Voyager/I forget which/ spaceprobe they were writing the software for.
    So they wrote an image pattern recognition program that would study the atmosphere in jupiter/saturn/I forget which/ planet.

    Ok so I don't remember all the details but it sounded like really, really, REALLY tight code.

    You want a .sig? Here's a .sig for you: Take THAT! How's that for a .sig?
  • by Eric Smith ( 4379 ) on Monday March 10, 2003 @01:25PM (#5478277) Homepage Journal
    Not even close. People have run web browsers on PDP-11s. The PDP-11 was introduced twelve years before the Commodore 64. I suspect that people have run web browsers on computers even older than that.

As in certain cults it is possible to kill a process if you know its true name. -- Ken Thompson and Dennis M. Ritchie