There are some projects that initially don’t seem to make sense, but actually turn out to have valid use cases. ChimeraOS appears to be one of those. The idea is that if you own a gaming PC, but it is not necessarily located where you want to be all the time (like in a gaming den or office for example) then ChimeraOS allows you to play games on it remotely via a local machine. That machine may be a media PC attached to your main TV, or perhaps a mobile device like a steam deck.
With support for AMD GPUs only, there is one issue with deployment — if you’re an Nvidia owner you’re out of luck — the premise is to be able to boot up into a gaming-friendly environment with minimal fuss. Hook up a controller and you’re good to go. Support is also there for a few mobile devices, specifically some Aokzoe, Aya Neo, and OneXPlayer devices as well as some preliminary support for the Asus ROG Ally not to mention the Steam Deck as we touched on earlier. From a software perspective, it obviously supports the Steam platform but also Epic Games, Good Old Games (GOG), and tentatively a mention of console platforms. Sadly the website doesn’t mention much detail on that last bit, but there are some tantalizing hints in the project’s Twitter/X/whatever feed. Reading the release notes, there are mentions of PCSX2 (Playstation 2) Super Game Boy and Atari platforms, so digging into the GitHub repo might be instructive, or you know, actually installing it and trying. This scribe doesn’t own an AMD GPU so that isn’t an option, but do drop us a line in the comments if you’ve tried it and how it works for you.
Many of us at Hackday are avid gamers, especially of the retro kind, which is why we really like these projects. Here’s a nice game controller you can print yourself. For self-builds, there’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of a DIY arcade machine, but what if you think outside the box?
Members of Pixelbar woke up to shocking news on Wednesday morning this week as they learned that a fire had destroyed the building housing their Rotterdam hackerspace. Pictures of the fire are pretty dramatic and show the entire building ablaze. We’re not familiar with Pixelbar specifically, but most hackerspaces seem to share space with other businesses in repurposed warehouses and other industrial buildings, and it looks like that was the case here. Local coverage doesn’t indicate that a cause has been determined, but they do say that “large batches of wood” were stored in or near the structure, which likely contributed to the dramatic display. There don’t seem to be reports of injuries to civilians or first responders, so that’s a blessing, but Pixelbar seems to have been completely destroyed. If you’re in a position to help, check out their GoFundMe page. As our own Jenny List, who currently lives in The Netherlands, points out, spaces suitable for housing a hackerspace are hard to come by in a city like Rotterdam, which is the busiest port in Europe. That means Pixelbar members will be competing for space with businesses that have far deeper pockets, so anything you can donate will likely go a long way toward rebuilding.
Continue reading “Hackaday Links: July 2, 2023”
While Microsoft and Apple don’t release the source code for their operating systems, a good estimate is that it takes around 50 million lines of code to run these software behemoths. The Linux kernel alone holds around 30 million lines, with systemd containing over one million lines on its own, which doesn’t include estimates for the desktop environment or other parts of a standard installation. But millions of lines of code, or even hundreds of thousands, aren’t necessary for building a fully functioning operating system. This one sets up a complete OS in exactly 2000 lines of code.
Called egos-2000, short for Earth and Grass Operating System, the diminutive operating system is written for RISC-V computers and while it does contain most of the tools we would recognize in an OS, it was built specifically for computer science students by PhD candidate Yunhao Zhang. The slimmed-down operating system makes it possible for students to easily read and understand every feature of an operating system without it becoming too overwhelming, and can be easily used and modified to experiment with. The name itself comes from its design principles, where parts of the operating system that interact with hardware directly are part of the “Earth” layer and parts that don’t depend on hardware being placed in the “Grass” layer, with applications taking up a third layer.
The OS is available on this GitHub page under an MIT license and works on real RISC-V hardware as well as within various emulators. Building a complete operating system in so few lines of code is an impressive feat, and making it comprehensive enough to teach students with goes well beyond that accomplishment as well. Often when concepts in computer science are reduced to their bare minimum components, we end up with completely illegible (but interesting) experiments like this programming language instead.
Web design has come a long way since those halcyon days of Web 1.0. There are plenty of rules about how to make a clean and efficient website, but sometimes it’s more fun to throw them out and just be creative instead. In that vein, [Simone] has curated a wonderful collection of websites that emulate the computer desktop experience online.
The collection’s website very much fits this theme. Upon visiting, an Award BIOS screen flashes up. From there, we get a Windows 95-like interface full of links to other sites that emulate a computer desktop layout. There’s even a 3D screensaver that pops up if you mouse away for too long.
There’s Browso.app, which semi-accurately tells you information about your computer in a theme reminiscent of MacOS 9. Meanwhile, clicking on “It Is As if You Were Doing Work” will take you to a weird game that’s compelling in its replication of office banality. Nightwave Plaza offers exquisite vaporwave vibes, while others simply intend to faithfully recreate various OSes in a browser window.
It’s a fun collection of websites that go from the weirdly afamiliar to downright impressive recreations of former realities. It’s certainly fun to click around for a while and see what’s out there. We do love some good web ephemera around these parts!
Ever wonder what makes a cellphone’s operating system secure, or what that app you just installed is saying about you behind your back? In a brand new video series, [Jiska] gives us a peek into different topics in smartphone software reverse engineering.
For instance, her latest video, embedded below takes us through some steps to poke at Apple’s RTKit OS, which is the realtime OS that runs inside most of their peripheral devices, including AirPods, but also on their bigger devices too. We don’t know much about RTKit OS, but [Jiska]’s trick in this video is to get a foothold by looking through two different RTKit OS versions and noting which symbols are common — these are probably OS function names. Now you’ve got something to look for.
Each of the videos is short, to the point, and contains nice tips for perhaps the intermediate-to-advanced reverser who is looking to get into phones. Heck, even if you’re not, her demonstrations of the Frida dynamic tracing tool are worth your time.
And if you want a longer introduction into the internals of cellphones, we heartily recommend her talk, “All Wireless Stacks Are Broken“.
Continue reading ““Reversing Shorts” Demystify Phone Security”
[Esperantanaso] has long been involved in producing homebrew 8-bit computers. His various builds could all achieve different things, but he grew frustrated that applications written for one could not be easily run on another. He recently took a big leap forward in this area, though, cooking up his own 8-bit operating system called WheatSystem.
The work initially began with BreadSystem, which relied on applications existing in bytecode. This would then be run by the BreadSystem OS which would handle the requisite conversion to the machine code of the system it ran on. However, the work quickly got out of hand when it came to implementing advanced features like the file system and floating-point handling. BreadSystem was looking likely to be too heavy to run on lightweight 8-bit systems.
That led to the development of WheatSystem, which kept the bytecode runtime environment, unified heap, and a memory permission system from BreadSystem. Fancier features like granular memory permissioning, automatic garbage collection, and file system directories were dropped.
WheatSystem quickly became a basic and functional OS. To demonstrate it, [Esperantanaso] created WheatBox 55A1, a small homebrew computer based on the ATmega328. It readily runs simple applications like a prime number generator or a basic RPG.
Creating one’s own OS is no mean feat, even at the 8-bit level. We’ve seen it done before, and it never fails to impress.
Continue reading “WheatSystem Is A Homebrew 8-Bit OS”
Ever wondered what it would take to roll your own OS? [Sebastian]’s Snowdrop OS might just provide you with some insight into that process, and maybe even some inspiration.
[Sebastian] created Snowdrop completely from scratch, using only x86 assembly language. It’s more than just bare-bones, and boasts a number of useful utilities and programs including a BASIC interpreter and linker (for creating standalone BASIC executables.) That’s not even touching on the useful essentials, like multitasking and a GUI framework. There are even a number of resources specifically for making game development easier. Because as [Sebastian] puts it, what’s a operating system without games?
Interested in giving Snowdrop a try, or peek at the source code? The binaries and sources section has all you need, and the other headings at the top of the page will send you to the various related goodies. If you have a few minutes, we recommend you watch a walkthrough of the various elements and features of Snowdrop in this video tour (embedded after the page break.)
Snowdrop is an ambitious project, but we’re not surprised that [Sebastian] has made it work; we’ve seen his low-level software skills before, with his fantastic efforts around the classic stand-up arcade game, Knights of the Round.
Continue reading “Homebrew An OS From Scratch? Snowdrop Shows How It’s Done”