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Classification: Operating System Programmer: Gregg W. Riedel
Publisher: Independent Year: 1992
Files: Unix128 2 D64s (zip) - Unix128 1 D71 (zip)

Unix 128 is another piece of software for the C128 that demonstrates just how versatile this computer is. With some creative thinking and programming from a skilled individual, the C128 can do the most amazing things… like emulate the Unix operating system.

From what I can gather, Unix 128 is not a true Unix OS, as it is not multi-tasking or written in C; as Unix 128 was written in BASIC 7.0 and compiled into machine code. However, Unix 128 does retain the look and feel of a real Unix system and shares some of it's functionality. I've been using Linux exclusively on my home PCs for the past 23 years and I can say, working with Unix 128 is like working with a true Unix operating system.

You can run Unix 128 a couple of ways. With a 1751 disk drive, you can store all of the system files on one floppy disk, as well as install a disk directory/file system. With a file system, you can use all of the Unix-like DOS commands, like ls, cp, mkdir, etc. You can also set up the system to be multi-user, with logins and user directories!

If you don't have a 1571 disk drive, you can still use Unix 128 if you have dual (or more) 1541 disk drives. You can store the Unix system files across a couple of 1541 formatted disks, then just keep them inserted in the multiple disk drives. You see, Gregg has done a very cleaver thing by making Unix 128 “smart” enough to poll all the devices you have connected to serial bus. When you enter in a command, Unix 128 will look through the “path” of disk devices for it. So, if it can't find it on device 8, it goes on to the next drive in it's list. You can specify the “path” or you can let the OS handle it. When it boots, it scans the serial bus for all devices and makes notes. Everything runs slower on the 1541, but it's still acceptable. To me, it's certainly an improvement (performance wise) over CP/M.

Once you've logged in, you'll be right at home if you've ever used Unix or Linux. Many of the same commands are now at your disposal. The entire system was very familiar to me and it was just like running the BASH command line on my actual Linux PC. I was amazed at how similar it looked and performed.

For those who are reading this who are not familiar with Unix/Linux, some of the most common commands include: ls to list the contents of your current directory, cd to change to another directory, cp to copy files, mv to move files, mkdir to make a new directory (yes you can make sub-directories with Unix 128 even with a 1541 or 1571 drive), and man to read instructions (or MAN pages) on any of the commands available.

Some of the new commands specifically for Unix 128 include: browse which launches a window-ed GUI to easily read up on all of the commands in the system, play to play music files directly from the command line, and ftp which is a file transfer program that allows you to send and receive files between two Unix 128 system.

Also included in the system are two very useful applications. The first one is EMACS, one of the “killer apps” of Unix/Linux systems. This is a very powerful text editor and I'm quite amazed to see it running on my C128 so nicely. Something that is provided within Unix 128 is a program called BASIC, and what BASIC does is, takes a text file you've created with EMACS and converts it into actual BASIC 7.0, which you can then save as a regular BASIC 7.0 program! So, if you're the type of person that really doesn't care for BASIC's screen editor to write your programs, you can use EMACS to do the coding, then use BASIC to turn that text file into a BASIC 7.0 file. I thought that was darn sweet!

One of the first things you can do with EMACS is read the documents “Intro.1” and “Intro.2”. These are the files that make up the Unix 128 user manual and are excellent at explaining some of the ins and outs of the system.

The other application I find particularly useful in Unix 128 is the program SPREAD, which is a very useful spreadsheet program. It looks very much like Lotus 1-2-3, with lots of formula and sorting capabilities. A major limitation is that, you only have 26 columns and 99 rows to work with. But, hey, for what I need a spreadsheet to do these days, I would rarely need more. The nice think is, it's fast and very intuitive to work with and has excellent documentation in it's help screens.

There's so much potential in an operating system like Unix 128, and if could have only been available back in 1987 and a replacement to CP/M, I think the C128 would have been seen in many more office environments and a formidable competitor in that arena. But, it is what it is. If you're a Linux user, I highly recommend checking out Unix 128 on your own C128. It's not Unix, but I'm sure you'd swear it was!

For a quality published book of the user guide for Unix 128, check out my Lulu page, HERE...

Please Note: When loading Unix 128, use the DLOAD command and not LOAD ,8,1, like this: DLOAD“UNIX 128 V3.11”. If you use the old LOAD ,8,1 command, you'll get an ?OUT OF MEMORY error.

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unseen128/unix128.txt · Last modified: 2024/01/11 15:41 by David