Review of Operating Systems

This page is under constant construction.
Please help me enrich it, by sending annotations to existing pointers, new pointers, and the usual feedback.

Please tell me about any other interesting pointer you know, that may relate somehow (anyhow) to the Tunes project...

Updated October 9, 1999 by Emmanuel Marty: Minor updates and fixes.


This index favors original and research operating systems. In each category, systems are listed in alphabetical order.

Of course, do not forget languages that are another side of computing systems.

Free OSes

Original Free OS Projects

Free Unix akins and likes

Free OS projects in early stages of development

Of course, I'd encourage you to join Tunes if you are looking for a deep rethinking of an OS, VSTa if you like custom microkernel-based message passing, GNU HURD if you like the new wave for computer tradition, Linux if you like the old traditional unixish approach. Also, GGI might interest those who like display drivers and tweaking. OS-DeViLs seems to federate low-level PC OS hackers, while LispOS gathers high-level language gurus.
But if none of these please you, if you like doing things from almost scratch, here are projects that might interest you (in alphabetical order):

Apparently dead OS projects

The following OS projects seem to be dead, as in not having been upgraded for years. However, they are still worth mentioning, as learning tools, and also in the hope that maybe someone will want to pick up the work where it stopped.

Educational OSes

These are instructional OSes developed and used in some Universities for their OS courses. They are freely available, and have some docs, too. In portable C, unless stated otherwise.

Popular Commercial OSes and their clones

Original contributions from Commercial systems

Operating system for embedded devices

As embedded systems (PDAs, cellphones, point-of-sale devices, VCRs, industrial robot control, or even your toaster) become more complex hardware-wise with every generation, and more features are put into them by the day, applications they run require more and more to run on actual operating system code in order to keep the development time reasonable.

The good:

The ugly:

Commercial Unices and beyond

Lots of commercial vendors base their system on the Unix family of design, as standardized in POSIX.
The existence of free Unix systems like the great Linux forces them to find justifications for charging so much for systems that were so bad; hence, recently, significant OS research has been done by commercial companies, even though the benefit for users and developers is not obvious, as "protected" research is by definition not beneficial to people.

DOS-class systems and extensions

Because DOS has been such a phenomenon in OS history, that it ought to have a place here, despite its absolute nullity (the only service of it that is used rather than worked around is the filesystem, which is the worst piece of junk ever implemented).

Losedoze-class systems

The same company consistently produces the worst wimpy OS, hence this section...

OS Related Pointers

More netsurfing

To Do on this page

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