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dedicated forth computer

dedicated forth computer

(OP)
Would it be possible to create a simple operating system on a PC machiene (perhaps linux)  that would run a dedicated version of Forth?   This would allow you to take advantage of much of the computing power that is wasted on windows and multitasking.

RE: dedicated forth computer

It would certainly be possible to create a simple OS whose main function would be to act as a Forth interpreter.

I don't what you mean by "perhaps Linux," though. Linux is an operating system (or an OS kernel, to be precise).

The "simple OS" you're describing could be based on Linux, but I doubt it could then be called "simple."

It would be possible to use a complete GNU/Linux OS (or any other OS that you have some relative control over) and then just use it to mainly run a Forth interpreter, but that doesn't sound like what you're thinking about.


A Forth OS could certainly be the basis for a very powerful system. The problem would be whether or not it would be worth creating. That is, would it actually have benefits that no existing OS can offer, or would it just be reinventing the wheel? (And it's a big wheel).

Of course, as an educational project, anything is worth it.

RE: dedicated forth computer

(OP)
Is there a non-windows version of linux available?   I work at a university and see many examples of people using computers to run experiments.    It seems a major drawback is that the Windows overhead can allow up to 40ms before an input is detected.  A dos type of os would be better for this type of application but people are hesitant to use out of date operating systems.  

Also the fact that forth is relativity easy to learn is a great  advantage.    It would be interesting if a new PC could be totally dedicated to some task that required  a powerfull computer.    


RE: dedicated forth computer

I assume by non-windows you mean non-graphical. (Asking if there's a non-Windows version of Linux might end up pissing some people off... there are a lot of Microsoft-hating Linux-users).


All Linux distributions are potentially non-graphical. Many "real" Linux-users do the majority of their work from the command line (which is what you might refer to as a DOS prompt). Some only use a graphical environment so that they can be using several command lines at the same time.

Unlike Windows and Mac, which have the graphical environment built in as part of the OS, Linux and other Unix-based systems normally provide a graphical environment through a separate program named X. X is a program just like any other. You can install it if you want or you can leave it out.


Even with X, you have a choice of how fancy you want to get with your graphical environment.

There are huge desktop environments like GNOME (www.gnome.org) and KDE (www.kde.org) that are every bit as computation-intensive as Windows.

There are also relatively small window managers like IceWM (www.icewm.org) and Blackbox (http://blackboxwm.sourceforge.net/) that try to avoid the bloat you mention.

Check http://freshmeat.net/browse/56/ if you're curious about what kinds of Window managers are out there.


Anyway, I'm currently using Linux, and right now I have 9 shells ("command lines") open. I do nearly everything from a shell: queue up my music, write programs, monitor my system, manage my files, install programs, upload and download files, kill processes, send e-mail, and many other things.

Graphical applications I'm currently using include an instant messenger client and a Web browser. I could use (and have used in the past) non-graphical versions of both of those, but I choose not to.

I've built several operating systems (www.linuxfromscratch.org) that started off with only a command line interface and no graphical stuff at all. I eventaully installed X on one of them just because I could, but they all work perfectly fine without it.


So yes, it's entirely possible to have a Linux sytem with no graphical environment.

In fact, they are pretty commonly  used. It makes little sense to have a graphical environment for a computer whose only purpose is to act as a firewall, a router, a file server, or something similar. You might log onto them every once in a while to perform maintenance, but that wouldn't require anything graphical. In such a case, having X and KDE installed would be a huge waste of hard drive space. That would be especially bad on something like a file server or a database server.


I still doubt that a Forth OS would be a huge improvement over anything we already have, or that there would be sufficiently many programmers willing to create applications for it. It would certainly be in interesting project, though.

If you're interested in attempting such a thing, I'd suggest that you start off by learning a bit more about OSes in general. Windows is really not a good example. You can't peek under its hood at all.

Ask your University to let you install Linux, BSD, or another Unix-based operating system on one of their computers. (Linux and BSD are completely free).

Before doing that, check to see whether or not they already have such a system on campus. Chances are that they do (as an e-mail or Web server, at least). Get an account on the system and get a feel for using the command line. Then graduate to administrating your own system (perhaps on your home computer).


Once you get a feel for how a Unix system works, you can make a judgement about whether or not the Forth-based system you envision would be enough of an improvement over existing resources for you to try it.

You may find that Unix, while not perfect, is extremely powerful and has enough user and developer support to make it practical.

RE: dedicated forth computer

(OP)
ChipperMDW

Thanks for the response.  I do mean non graphical or command line. I scanned and bookmarked the sites you mentioned.   Your Linux from Scratch site looks especially  interesting.   As far as Unix goes i am not very familiar with it.    

What I am interested in is a powerful computer that could be easily programed to do a single task.   This,  like you say, is what is already done in servers, firewalls etc.  

I too am interested in knowing what is going on beneath the surface.   My interest on Forth stems from using it many years back with a Commodore 64 computer.    I still feel that the fact that it is easy to learn is a distinct  advantage.     I work with graduate students that have both a high workload and a area of concentration other than computers.  Because of this the time required to learn a new language becomes a concern.      I am self taught in both C and Forth (perhaps not very well)   but was always impressed at the speed that Forth can be learned.    

  


Anyway thanks again for your answers.

arydberg

RE: dedicated forth computer

> Your Linux from Scratch site looks especially  interesting.

Just to clarify, Linux From Scratch is not mine; I've just used the instructions from the site to build a few OSs. I don't know if you actually had that impression or said "your" simply because It was "my" link, but... just clarifying.

If you do want to get a better understanding of how an OS works, Linux From Scratch is certainly a good way to go about it. I'd suggest familiarizing yourself with a "Linux Not From Scratch" first, though.

RE: dedicated forth computer

Saw this today and thought you might be interested:
http://www.openbios.info/

It's using a Forth-like language.

RE: dedicated forth computer

This is of course how Forth started out in the early 1970's.  It was its own operating system and used disk access by "blocks" as a simple way to manage program data, talking directly to the hardware of its host computer.  In the 1980's, it was ported to a variety of operating systems like CP/M, MS-DOS, Unix, and Windows to take advantage of the editing and file management tools that the OS enabled.  Forth is still used in embedded systems with no other OS, but normally programs are cross-compiled and the source code is maintained in the richer environment of an operating system.

RE: dedicated forth computer

I bought a 1993 Circuit Cellar Ink The Computer Applications Journal at the local bookstore because it had an article,

Breathing New Life Into An Old Friend: Revisiting the Z8,
From The Bench by Jeff Bachiochi

about Zilog's Z8-Basic chip being also made in Forth: the Z8-Forth chip, and using that chip to build a replacement CPU for the 8031.

It used Forth79, which I have used some. It had a simulator called Z8Forth that you could test code on from MSDOS.

It was offered for sale by Micromint in the magazine, but that was back in 1993.

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