Classic Z80 computers tend to run CP/M. If you’re a purist you’ll be happy with that because that’s certainly what most serious Z80 computers ran back in the day. However, for actual use, CP/M does feel dated these days. Linux is more comfortable but isn’t likely to run on a Z80. Or is it? Linux borrows from Unix and back in the 1980s [Doug Braun] wrote a Unix-like OS for the Z80 called UZI. There have been lots of forks of it over the years, and a project called FuzixOS aims to make a useful Z80 Unix-like OS.
Of course, 1980 Unix was a lot different from modern-day Linux, but it is still closer to a modern system than CP/M. Fuzix also adds several modern features like 30 character file names and up-to-date APIs. The kernel isn’t just for the Z80, by the way. It can target a variety of older processors including the 6502, the 6809, the 8086, and others. As you might expect, the system can fit in a pretty small system.
The video below shows [Scott Baker’s] RC2014 computer running Fuzix. You’ll see it looks a lot like a Linux system, although that analogy only goes so far.
Although the kernel is pretty portable, there are some tool issues. According to the Fuzix page, there’s no 8086 compiler, and limitation on some of the other C compilers it targets. However, there are a large number of platforms working including Amstrad, Atari, Radio Shack computers, N8VEM boards and many more.
We are always surprised we don’t see more retro computers running MINIX, which was a common Unix alternate back in the day. If you are interested in finding out more about the RC2014, we’ve reviewed it for you.