Mastodon Comes To The IBM PC

Elon Musk has bought Twitter for an eye-watering sum, and his live adventures in chaotic mismanagement of a social media company have become a compelling performance for the rest of us. As we munch on our tasty popcorn and enjoy the show, many Twitter users have jumped ship for the open-source alternative Mastodon. It offers much to the escapee including instances tailored to particular communities, but aside from all that it’s got something Twitter never had. You can now use a Mastodon client on an IBM PC.

Many of you are no doubt looking askance at us, as you have been Tooting for years from behind the keyboard of a PC. But it’s likely that the PC you’re using is a generic modern x86 machine running an up-to-date operating system such as a GNU/Linux flavour or Microsoft Windows, by contrast here we’re referring to the original, the daddy of them all. Because the client we’re talking about is DOStodon, designed to run on a real IBM PC as though it’s the early 1980s again.

Stunt hacks aside, whether or not you fire up DOStodon on a 16-bit machine to get your Fediverse fix, it’s an interesting piece of software because it’s written in Javascript. Which in turn brings us to DOjS from the same author, a DOS Javascript canvas with sound. Not everyone will be raring to run their Javascript code on an early 1980s PC, but its existence proves that there’s plenty of life in the old platform yet.

Need more Mastodon on unexpected platforms? How about the ESP32?

Header image: Ruben de Rijcke, CC BY-SA 3.0, and Jin Nguyen, AGPL .

49 thoughts on “Mastodon Comes To The IBM PC

    1. Last time I booted Windows 10, it showered me with unwanted advertising, didn’t trust me to do anything on my own, insisted that I don’t have enough RAM, and threatened to update itself into brickage. How is that not the state of the art for 2022 and end-stage capitalism?

  1. What’s most interesting here is the wide spread efforts to promote Mastodon when it’s been around for some time. It’s not some new platform nor did it recently make some great leap forward. The only true difference between now and anytime before last month is with who owns Twitter. It’s no longer being run by a group of adult aged juveniles seeking safe spaces who are easily upset by differing ideas & opinions but someone looking to make it profitable and that typically means more customer friendly.

    Why are so many in tech now trying to promote Mastodon? Things that make you go hmmmmmmmm

    1. What’s changed between now and anytime before last month is that the herd is on the move and it’s our chance to steer them in the open source direction. That’s why there’s so many techs trying to promote Mastodon.

      1. No, I don’t think that is it at all. It’s clearly (to anyone that happens to be paying attention) a case of MDS! Musk derangement syndrome. It commonly afflicts the same poor uninformed souls that suffered from TDS.

    2. It isn’t really about promoting mastodon specifically, it’s about promoting an alternative to Twitter.

      The people who are leaving Twitter are doing so because they don’t like the site anymore, or just don’t want to be there.

      All of those people are looking for somewhere to go.

      When enough people are looking for and talking about a topic, that tends to get noticed and reported on.

      Journalists like to talk about things people are interested in.

      Right now a lot of people are looking to go *somewhere*, and they want to go where everyone else is going.

      Mastodon was around for a long time before the Twitter problems, as you said. It was a fairly stable platform with a lot of people already there. It looks like Twitter, and to someone who doesn’t know better, they would think it is basically a copy of Twitter but with a mastodon instead of a bird.

      All those people leaving Twitter are looking for somewhere exactly like mastodon, so they’ve congregated around mastodon because everyone else is.

      Because so many people are joining and talking about mastodon, journalists are reporting that so many people are joining and talking about mastodon.

      Mastodon happened to be the platform that the mob chose, and journalists are reporting the factual state of reality after the event.

  2. Show me on the doll where Elon touched you

    We need to be honest with ourselves: Twitter was full of extremists abusing the platform, both users and behind the scenes. If it sinks in flames, either from poor management or loss of its bot accounts, it’s for the best from a utilitarian viewpoint… Unless you are advertising your wares on it.

    Meanwhile I’m not quite sure who asked for social media for DOS based computers, but the rest of non-extremist twitter was used by content creators and artists, all of which will probably need some ability to upload and distribute media. A 5 MHz processor may struggle to do that.

    ” I want to talk to my friends” . IRC would probably be the best thing then

    Please refrain from turning Hackaday into a political speech platform. This place is for non-biased hacks and I’ve been noticing Hackaday slowly become more like Twitter and Reddit with more and more biased jabs and commenting on it.



    1. Who ever said that Hackaday is for non-biased hacks? What even is a non-biased hack? A lot of hacks are art, and a lot of art has some sort of speech behind it. You don’t own or work at Hackaday, so don’t go around talking about what it “is for”. Maybe leave some respectful commentary about what *you* would prefer to see more of.
      Nobody is seriously suggesting that people should actually use a Mastodon client on an old IBM PC. This is a *hack*, done as a curiosity project. It’s interesting and fun to look at.

      Also also, the article makes no claims about how well or poorly Twitter was managed before the acquisition. The only “political” claim is that it’s currently being chaotically mismanaged in a spectacular fashion, which isn’t really too far into the realm of opinion. When a company makes a big decision and then immediately rolls it back, you know something is wrong – and this happened with both paid verification and a lot of the layoffs.

      1. Lack of politics is one of the big reasons I DO read Hackaday. If it becomes polluted like everything else I’ll stop reading it.

        Some of us enjoy boundaries and objectivity. That’s why we become engineers.

        1. Yep, third-world countries decided to give western companies monopoly rights to their slave labour lithium mines without any politics. It’s great that the capital allocation for engineering projects is completely non-political, and does not systematically benefit certain socioeconomic classes above others. What neighborhoods get their infrastructure repaired? Not a political question at all, aren’t you so level-headed.

          “Objective” is just what you call it when you ignore the obvious political dimensions of engineering. If it makes you uncomfortable, good. There is a lot of awful stuff going on.

          You could maybe argue that science is objective (if you ignore how funding is allocated), but engineers are forced to deal with the real world, and it is flatly unethical to pretend that the interests of our fellow people can be dismissed as political. My engineering school gave me all the same objectivity crap, but it just is not true, and you have a responsibility to remove your head from the sand if you’re a practicing engineer.

    2. It’s someone making a DOS social media client in Javascript that will run on a computer from 4 decades ago. Seems like a hack to me. It’s true though, the politics of Javascript vs VBscript back in the ’90s were pretty intense.

      1. Said without any self awareness or irony.

        You realize what twitter was until a week ago?
        A place where your commie scorn could sit safely unchallenged.

        You’ve still got facebook and fark. Soon you’ll only have fark.

        1. This just isn’t true at all. Twitter has tons of far and not-as-far-right accounts, even if some of the ones that explicitly attack others’ human rights have been banned. Libs of TikTok has incited terrorism several times and is still up.

          Also, if you consider communists an enemy it would be good to at least read a bit to understand the difference between communists and liberals, because the distinction is a very fundamental one. Communists and liberals define freedom in completely different ways, and understanding them would give you a useful inroad to a broader understanding of dialectical materialism versus whatever incoherent philosophy liberals have.

          There are very few communists out there, and fewer well-read ones, but Twitter is packed to the gills with people who court the ideological pillars of Nazism. The internet is the perfect place for people to reject one another’s humanity, and it’s full of very loud people who will stoop to treating people like animals, go figure.

          1. Liberals in Europe aren’t the same thing as liberals in the USA.

            In Europe, liberal means ‘in favor of liberty’.
            In the USA it means the opposite, just another euphemism used by Marxist children.

            Libs of TikTok is hilarious. Rather the ‘libs’ on TikTok are.

            I could name nationally known American ‘Liberal’ politicians that took their wives to Lenin’s Tomb for their honeymoon (to start Bernie Sanders). That makes then not only commies, but Fn Bolsheviks.

    3. Who asked for anything but a comfy couch? Why should we make things people are asking for? Hackers make the reality that want, be it for politics, the cash, teh chicks, or the lulz

  3. Holy crap! The author looked for a ridiculous justification for a pointlessly anachronistic hack, and the comments turn into a butt hurt, snowflake convention! Get over yourselves!
    At the end of the day, it’s still a hack, and I found it amusing.

    1. Elon clarified the terminology.

      He called himself the ‘chief twit’.
      Twits are the stockholders.
      Twats are the users.

      It’s settled! Discussion is over, time to move on to more important subjects.

  4. A “16-bit machine”? An “early 1980s PC”? Or a “real IBM PC” even? If you believed that, I have bad news for you: DOjS requires a 386 with 4 MB of RAM, with a Pentium recommended. So, it’s rather an early to late 90s PC clone we’re talking about. (Still a really nice hack though! :)

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