Posts with «operating system» label

Raiders of the Lost OS: Reclaiming A Piece of Polish IT History

In today’s digital era, we almost take for granted that all our information is saved and backed up, be it on our local drives or in the cloud — whether automatically, manually, or via some other service.  For information from decades past, that isn’t always the case, and recovery can be a dicey process.  Despite the tricky challenges, the team at [Museo dell’Informatica Funzionante] and [mera400.pl], as well as researchers and scientists from various museums, institutions, and more all came together in the attempt to recover the Polish CROOK operating system believed to be stored on five magnetic tapes.

Originally stored at the Warsaw Museum of Technology, the tapes were ideally preserved, but — despite some preliminary test prep — the museum’s tape reader kept hanging at the 800 BPI NRZI encoded header, even though the rest of the tape was 1600 BPI phase encoding. Some head scratching later, the team decided to crack open their Qualstar 1052 tape reader and attempt to read the data directly off the circuits themselves!!

Using an Arduino Mega as a sampling device and the tape in test mode, the team were able to read the tapes, but the header remained inscrutable and accompanied by errors in the rest of the data. Promising nonetheless!

Switching gears, the decision was made to use a logic analyzer to read the tapes and use software to decode the data. While they waited for their new analyzer to ship, one of the team members, [Jacob Filipowicz] harnessed the power of Python to write a program called Nine Track Labs (pictured below) which would allow them to read any kind of magnetic tape, at any speed, BPI, and writing standard. Armed with the software and analyzer, the team was able to successfully recover the data from the tapes in its entirety without errors!

Among the data recovered, there were numerous versions of the CROOK operating system — allowing them to reproduce the OS’s development process, as well as hundreds of other files containing programs and tools hitherto believed to be lost. There was also a backup of a ‘live’ MERA-400 system with a binary CROOK-3 OS, ready to run in emulation. All things considered, the techno-archeological tour-de-force was a smashing success.

If — in your more modern travels — you need to recover an audio recording gone awry, know that you can retrieve that data with a hex editor.


Filed under: classic hacks, computer hacks

Arduino Sketch: The Next Generation

What was your first Arduino program? Probably an LED blinker — that seems to be the “hello world” of microcontrolllers. You probably moved on to things a little more complicated pretty quickly. At some point, things get harder because the Arduino lacks an operating system.

There are operating systems that will run on the Arduino. They aren’t full-featured like Windows or Linux, but they allow you to run multiple tasks that are both isolated from each other (to some degree) and have a way to cooperate (that is, synchronize, share data and resources, and so on). One such operating system is ChibiOS. It will run on AVR- and ARM-based devices. You can find documentation about the entire project on the home page along with other ports.

The problem with adopting a new operating system is always getting started. [ItKindaWorks] has started a video series on using ChibiOS and has posted three installments so far (see below; one is about getting started, the other two cover messaging, mutexes, and priorities).

If you want to follow along with the videos, the code is available on GitHub. We aren’t sure if he’s planning more videos, but these will be more than enough to get you started.

According to the ChibiOS project, they are better than many common similar operating systems because of their static design (you can put the processor to sleep without causing problems). They also support true threads instead of simple tasks, meaning that you can dynamically create and destroy threads and synchronize threads easily.

If you are building sophisticated software that needs multiple things occurring at once, having an operating system can make life a lot easier. We’ve seen examples of using ChibiOS ranging from motor control to MIDI players. There are quite a few choices other than ChibiOS, too, if you look around.


Filed under: Arduino Hacks

leOS and looper: task scheduling made easy on Arduino

In his website, Leonardo Miliani proposes a simple prototype of a pseudo operating system for Arduino, dubbed leOS (which is the acronym of little embedded operating system). Its goal is to provide the user with the capability to periodically schedule any given C function according to a specific time period. From his blog:

To be honest, it should more correct to say that leOS is actually something that is halfway a simple prototype of an real-time operating system (RTOS) and a scheduler. [...]

leOS can run simple tasks that don’t require excessive CPU time but it can be useful in all of those situations where the user wants to let a task run itself out of the main loop.

Based on the experience pursued during the development of leOS, Leonardo also proposes another project, named looper, which resembles a simple task scheduler. Its goal is to provide a much lighter set of APIs for scheduling tasks on the microcontroller, if compared to leOS.

More information and source code can be found here, for leOS, and here, for looper.

[Via: Leonardo Miliani's website]

Arduino Blog 29 Aug 10:05