.NET Micro framework used for a prompt-based computer

[Tom] is doing a little show and tell with his latest .NET Micro framework based project. He managed to get a prompt-based computer running on a FEZ Cobra board.

A USB keyboard serves as the input device. To give himself a familiar way to navigate and execute programs [Tom] mimicked the functionality of DOS. Above you can see the familiar format of the directory listings as he navigates the data on an SD card. But this goes deeper than changing directories and listing files. He also has access to commands which control peripherals, showing manipulation of the WiFi connection and demonstrating some simple code to show images on the screen. Since the hardware centers around the .NET MF, any compiled binary for that environment can be executed from the prompt as well.

See a complete demonstration of the project embedded after the break.

[Thanks Major]


  1. Tom has some very cool projects for .NET Micro Framework. He’s always got something cool cooking.

  2. grioja says:

    .NET is pathetic
    why do you support corporations instead of free software?

    • Skewworks says:

      You do realize .NET Micro Framework is 100% open source, right?

    • n0lkk says:

      I wonder how many corporations where supported in making these comments possible? :)

    • Drone says:

      Ditto, .NET is bloatware. Mono is dead. What a waste.

      • Miles says:

        Mono is dead… seriously? Where on Earth are you getting that information? Mono is the best thing that ever happened to cross platform software development, and it’s still in very active development. The client distributable package for .Net by the way is 40 MB that only needs to be installed once. Most single apps these days are bigger than that. I suppose you think Google Chrome is bloatware too? That’s over 100 MB. That’s hardly even relevant anyway since we’re discussing the .Net Micro Framework which runs happily on a microcontroller.

        • TheBenjaneer says:

          Thank you sir!
          Exactly the response i would have written. Seriously. Mono is far from dead.. rather it is in full blown ACTIVE development and makes cross-platform apps a cinch. Having a reliable framework on all platforms is much better than wasting time building your own rather than focusing on writing your app. Free software people complaining about .Net need to go read this:


          Essentially; as long as you Create a FULL implementation of the non-optional parts of the specification, you are free from an legal issues. M$ is not and cannot going to come along and stop mono or the .net micro framework. WCF on the other hand is another matter and that is why mono has avoided it.

          Seriously though… to the rest of these whiners… you should try things before knocking them. .Net is powerful and very handy for cross-platform work. As for dos.. you’d think Free software people would understand the usefulness of a command-line…

  3. mur1010 says:

    Looks very 1337 h4x0r, the coolest part was when he connected to WiFi, looked like a scene from “The Matrix”. I think I should buy one of these boards and give it a try.

  4. luuko says:

    .net? just say .no

    • valktech says:

      Huh? What does that mean? It saddens me to see such nonsense. Do you still program in COBOL? Do you write everything in Assembler because you want to control everything? Look, all programming frameworks abstract you away from the hardware. .NET MicroFramework actually takes it to the next level, making development faster and easier. What, you don’t like garbage collection in your Apache Open Source Development platform? Maybe the easy to use free debugger (with watches and breakpoints), threading, and your choice of languages is just too good to be true? The reality is that you could definitely do the same stuff with C on other platforms, this platform brings with it many advantages and a handful of disadvantages.

      Why don’t you give it a .try before you comment on it?

  5. qwerty says:

    Every time someone pushes the adoption of .NET in the embedded world, the Devil strangles a kitten.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I won’t even get started on .NET, but why would you mimic DOS? It’s just all around horrible to use. I guess the same reason he’s using .NET, probably never used a non-Windows OS.

  7. Lion XL says:

    You guys are ridiculous…..

  8. Some People says:

    Guy creates something pretty cool, and all we get are a bunch of free software-pedaling crybabies who can’t get past their anti-Microsoft droning to see it. Most of them probably aren’t even old enough to remember DOS, though, so their opinions aren’t of much weight.

  9. ianlee74 says:

    Very cool Thom! Don’t let the kids who can’t see past an 8-bit Arduino bring you down. I can’t wait to see what you create next.

  10. Gus says:

    Love skewworks project, most are free and open source and love .NET Micro Framework, free and open source. Wish everyone knew the benefits before they just assume things.

  11. Andrew says:

    Wow! And only 4 times the price of a Raspberry Pi! Where do I sign?!

    • Bill Gates does not use dotNET says:

      This time… the berry does the crushing…
      Now over clocking above 1GHz with new deb kernel…. =)

      The mono package also supports .NET framework within the Pi.

    • valktech says:

      The Raspberry Pi is a great platform, but you can do .NET MF with a $25 Cerb40 as well. Or buy the chip for $6 and build your own board. .NET MF is open source and free under Apache License, so I don’t see how it adds to the cost. This could be done for less than the cost of a Raspberry Pi. The fact that this particular implementation used more expensive hardware is a rather arbitrary basis for criticism.

  12. anyone says:

    I can’t wait for the day this embedded .net gets swept under the rug and forgotten about.

  13. jpnorair says:

    If you had implemented this on an MCU with 4KB of RAM, I would be impressed (it is indeed possible). As it stands, though, I don’t know if this is a high-feature MCU project or just a frumpy SBC project. With 16MB RAM, I’m inclined to feel the latter. DOS *maxed-out* at 640KB… Moreover, I just don’t like the idea of .NET programmers ruining the embedded space the way they currently ruin the desktop space (I say the same about Java, so it’s not an anti-MS thing).

  14. n0lkk says:

    While I’m certainly rusty on the DOS command line now, I was fairly adept with it. After reading what the NET Micro Framework actually is and what’s being done here I’d rather fresh myself on the DOS, rather than learning what others tell me what in their opinion is better.

  15. Sabrin says:

    Hmm. This could also easily be done when using a normal ARM + ChibiOS/RT as an RTOS, since it has a very nice LCD library which also provides a console:


    • Skewworks says:

      You could and *should*! It can be a lot of fun to replicate older systems or create things that may not have a specific purpose in mind. If you end up doing one on the Chibi please leave a comment here w/ a link we can all check it out. :)

      • Tectu says:

        Sorry – the post Sabrin is from me.
        Doing something like this was one of my goal projects using ChibiOS/RT. Sadly, I got stuck in the problem that there are really no good (and affordable :D) LCD libraries out there. So I begun to write ChibiOS/GFX. Now I am stuck in that project, since I took it further than I thought.
        I am currently trying to write different examples to show the usage of ChibiOS/GFX – Maybe this would be a good idea :)

  16. Nice job.
    Is SBASIC your own implementation of BASIC?

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