You can run VxWorks too!

(this is a guest post from Tenox)

VxWorks is an embedded operating system that typically runs on things like Mars probes, Boeing 787 or Apache helicopters, but today you can run it too! WindRiver has an evaluation target that you can run on an Intel CPU, meaning you can spin it up on your favorite hypervisor at home.

Go to this page: register, download the two ZIP files and follow the instructions.

VxWorks running on VMwareVxWorks comes with two shell modes C and admin. In C shell you execute C code and you can write simple programs or even patch existing running code like they did on Mars Pathfinder. This is the default one with -> prompt. You can enter to admin shell by typing “cmd”. If you are familiar with KSH “vi” mode you can use it for history and editing command line.

The evaluation target is very basic and limited. If you want to do and learn more stuff, you need to download evaluation of VxWorks Platform and spin up the VxWorks Simulator, or build your own target. This is a picture of a slightly older version running on Windows:

vxworks-emulatorThe operating system was also recently featured in Forbes


A/UX Documentation Update

(this is a guest post from Tenox)

I have recently received a large box with Apple Unix 3.0 documentation. Scanned and published here:

The latest additions are these documents:

  • Apple A/UX 3.0 Essentials
  • Apple A/UX 3.0 Installation Guide
  • Apple A/UX 3.0 MacX User Guide
  • Apple A/UX 3.0 Networking Essentials
  • Apple A/UX 3.0 Programming Languages and Tools Vol 1
  • Apple A/UX 3.0 Programming Languages and Tools Vol 2
  • Apple A/UX 3.0 Roadmap to A/UX
  • Apple A/UX 3.0 Setting up Accounts and Peripherals for A/UX
  • Apple A/UX 3.0 Toolbox: Mac ROM Interface
  • Apple A/UX 3.0 X11 User’s Guide for A/UX


To my knowledge only 2.0 version of these were floating around.

This should go nicely with the latest release of Shoebill Emulator.

WYSE Unix Virtualized

(this is a guest post from Tenox)


WYSE Unix Virtualization Challenge has been officially won by Mihai Gaitos of He received $100 prize via PayPal. Congratulations!

WYSE Unix has now been virtualized and can run in Qemu via Curses mode, or modified Bochs due to character map issues and vanilla VirtualBox!

wyse_on_bochswyse_on_vboxMihai has posted some gory details of the installation challenges on his website.

Ready to run image with modified Bochs binary for Linux is available here.
VirtualBox OVA file available here.

For hard core fanatics, the system comes with SLIP/slattach so you should be able to network it much like Dell Unix.

Special thanks to:
Andrew Gong for finding a tape image on eBay
Al Kossow of for recovering the tape image
Michal Necasek for patching up the original floppy disk image


Virtualization Challenge Part II – WYSE Unix

(this is a guest post from Tenox)

The second virtualization contest is now on! Similar to the previous one, the winner receives $100 via Paypal and the submission is posted on this blog! Hopefully this one will be little bit more challenging. 🙂

The subject is the rarest of the rare WYSE Unix!

The progress so far: A few years ago I came in to possession of a set of floppy disks pictured here:

Wyse UnixThanks to Al Kossow from the floppy disk content has been recovered. Michal Necasek of OS/2 museum successfully converted them in to an usable format and made some modifications to get them to boot on VirtualBox:

Wyse Unix in VirtualBoxCouple of years later, thanks to Andrew Gong, a WYSE Unix tape has been found on eBay:

wyseunixMore recently Al Kossow was able to read the tape in to an image, which now I have uploaded to my web server:

The next step is yours! Install the whole system on to a hypervisor of your choice, document the process and supply a vanilla boot image or VM.

The winner shall be the person who will first post a comment declaring success including a screenshot and can further prove it by emailing emailing me the submission shortly after. If the comment gets blocked by spam filter, don’t worry the original submission time will of course count. Oh and almost forgot: I also need aclock binary for it, however if there is no compiler and the standard SysV binary works fine, you are exempt from the requirement.

The catch? Looks like floppy disk trouble. The boot disk is fine after it has been fixed up by Michal. The Base floppy looks like has same content as boot. Copy Tools is very small. Looks like it may be truncated. Hopefully not, but if yes I count on your creativity. Remember that Dell Unix is an exactly save release of SystemV/386 and did not have or needed copy tools to install.

Good Luck!

Update: Looks like the contest has been won by Mihai! Congratulations!

VenturComm Venix/86 on PCem

(this is a guest post by Tenox)

This is a step by step guide on how to install Venix/86 on PCem, by runner up of Venix/86 Virtualization Challenge – Mihai Gaitos of Thanks for a great work!

Rebuilding Venix for PCEM:

First, in order to avoid problems with weird HDD parameters I chose a reasonable hdd geometry – 512 cylinders, 8 heads, 17 sectors (most drives back then had 17 sectors).

HDD geometry:

BIOS Autodetect:
pcemven2(answer “Y” here)

The obvious approach of Booting the XFER.IMG and then switching to BACKUPn.IMG doesn’t work, failing with “Soft error”:
pcemven3 Continue reading “VenturComm Venix/86 on PCem”

Veritas in a Modern World

(this is a guest post by Tenox)

I used to use Veritas products (Volume Manager, File System and Cluster) professionally for quite a long time on Solaris and HP-UX. Except for Cluster, the software was exceptional for it’s time. Unfortunately after acquisition by Symantec and advancements of other storage technologies such as ZFS, the product suite disappeared from the radar completely.

Back to present time, I have a small x64 server that I use primarily as a NAS box plus run some applications, services and a few VMs. The machine runs Windows 2012 R2 Server which, for most parts I really like, with an exception of the storage stack, namely Storage Spaces. This is a completely botched feature both from functionality and management point of view. I don’t want to rant about it too much about it, so I just leave it as non working.

Unable work with Microsoft Bob of storage I have been looking for different alternatives, from using the Windows built-in VDS RAID-5 option found, to moving entirely to a different OS. This is when I remembered that, some (OMFG) 10 years ago Symantec has announced free Storage Foundation Basic, also available on Windows. Still continued and supported to this day, so obviously I wanted to give it a spin and evaluate whether it makes any sense to use such a dinosaur in a modern world.

I spun up a Windows 2012 R2 guest vm, added some data disks, downloaded the latest version 6.1 (released in 2014) from here and ran the installer.

sym1 Continue reading “Veritas in a Modern World” Virtual Machines

(this is a guest post by Tenox)

Ran across this curiosity today: Microsoft Edge Dev Center provides a bunch of ready made virtual machines with different versions of IE web browser. But they can be used for different purposes if you need to quickly spin up a specific version of Windows quickly.

This is whats available:

modeirnie1Different hypervisor type images on Windows, Mac and Linux are available:

modeirnie3Very handy stuff. This is beloved Windows XP after it booted first time:
modeirnie2Very handy and not only for browser testing.

There also is a Remote IE which opens IE window straight from Azure. I wonder what are implications of it for censorship in some countries as well as piracy etc.

VenturComm Venix/86 on MESS/MAME

(This is a guest post by Tenox)

This is follow up to a previously posted challenge to virtualize VenturComm Venix/86 so that it can be run on a modern machine under an emulator. The competition was a huge success and the rest of this post is an entry by the winner – Jim Carpenter. Enjoy!

Install MAME/MESS 0.164 and get the “at386” machine running. Standard issue ROMs.

Create a new hard drive image with “chdman createhd -chs 615,4,17 -c none -o hd.chd“. This is only 20MB. You can certainly use larger drives but make them a standard type, something that is a defined drive type in the BIOS. I’d stay away from user defined types.

Start the emulator, configure the first floppy drive to be DD and the second to be HD. Restart so it takes effect. Attach XFER.IMG to the first floppy and your hard drive image to the hard drive. Restart again. (Venix uses the BIOS for *everything*. So if you attach without rebooting, chances are the BIOS missed your hard drive which means Venix won’t see it either.)

Go into the BIOS and configured the floppy and hard disk types. The command above creates a type 2 drive:venix1Save and exit and let it reboot.

We wish to prepare the winchester hard disk:
venix2 Continue reading “VenturComm Venix/86 on MESS/MAME”

Venix/86 Challenge

(this is a guest post by Tenox)

I’m extremely busy with some matters and unable to spend much time with computer archaeology. I would like for some much overdue projects to progress independently of myself, so hopefully the community can participate and help out.

Let’s start with Venix/86 which has been awaiting my attention for a while. I have been recently contacted by Alex aka uav1606 who wanted to get it to work. I have since decided to open this up to anyone else interested.

To my knowledge actual install media did not surface so far. However a while ago I came in to possession of a boot disk and a backup of a live system, in form of nine floppy disks which look like a tar archive. In theory it should be possible to boot the xfer disk, format a hard disk and restore the backup system to get a working system.

VenturCom Venix/x86
VenturCom Venix/x86 running on a real AT/286

I’m offering $100 prize via PayPal to the first person who will run Venix/86 on an emulator of any kind (PCE, PicoXT, QEMU, Bochs, Vbox, MESS/MAME, etc NOTE: it doesn’t have to be strictly XT emulator as long as the system works), compiles Aclock and sends me a binary + complete working virtual machine. I will also of course publish it on this blog featuring all your hard work! It will be awesome to see your progress and collaboration in the comments 😉

Everything I have is here:

Update #1: From Frode van der Meeren who is the owner of the floppy disks: “The disk images are not corrupted, the disks only use a different track arrangement. The disks image format arranges the tracks by cylinders, storing head 0 and then head 1, while the actual disks arrange tracks by all cylinders on head 0 then all cylinders on head 1. If you want to mount the images into something else than Venix/86 then you need to rearrange the tracks in the image file.”

Update #2: the competition has been won by Jim Carpenter! Congratulations! Jim has just received the $100 prize. I have received detailed install instructions and will post it in a follow up post 🙂

Update #3: The winning entry, how to install Venix/86 on MESS/MAME

Venix running on MESS/MAME
Venix/x86 running on MESS/MAME by Jim Carpenter

It was a real pleasure to see great community response, participation and most importantly to see Venix/x86 run again!

Stay tuned for another one 😉