[Oberon] General - Academic vs Commercial applications

Felix Friedrich felix.friedrich at inf.ethz.ch
Wed Sep 27 12:17:23 CEST 2017

In fact Oberon is still taught at ETH Zurich.

We are giving a course on System Construction and discuss some Oberon 
language dialects, Oberon inspired operating or runtime systems and 
programmable hardware supporting or based on Oberon related languages 
and systems. In more detail we teach

(a) The Minos Runtime System (based on HeliOS, system control for 
unmanned helicopters), programmed in a dialect of Oberon07 [FF]
(b) The A2 runtime system and GUI together with Active Oberon [FF]
(c) Oberon running on FPGAs: the RISC processor [Paul Reed]
(d) Systems on a Chip, FPGA and Hybrid Systems, programmed using Active 
Cells, another dialect of Oberon [FF]

cf. http://lec.inf.ethz.ch/syscon/2017/

Without exaggeration and with a little bit of pride I can say that 
students like this course a lot -- because we really show how these 
systems work behind the scenes over all levels. We (Paul and I) can say 
that we understand every single bit of it and bring this accross as a 
strong argument for simplicity.

Apart from that I am the "last man standing" for Oberon at ETH. I have a 
lecturer position at ETH and am giving large computer science service 
courses at ETH (hundred of students, C++, Java or whatever is 
requested), which limits my time for working with and for Oberon. I love 
to play around with the language, compiler and runtime systems and 
optimize them according to what I, personally, find the most optimal way 
to present or use the langauge. Because much is driven by personal 
taste, I hesitate to sell my own ideas as "the truth", while I have some 
strong opinions. I feel responsible for the A2 repository comprising the 
A2 Multicore OS, its graphical user Interface and the FoxCompiler toolchain.

I should not forget to mention that the dialects of Oberon and the 
systems that we teach are in use in real-world commercial systems sold 
by companies that in fact use Oberon for commercial development. For our 
course this is a very important argument underpinning that following the 
principle of simplicity can have very positive practical impact, even if 
it is hard to sell academically.

Kind regards
Felix Friedrich

> On Tue, 26 Sep 2017 10:36:35 +0000
> Treutwein Bernhard <Bernhard.Treutwein at Verwaltung.Uni-Muenchen.DE>
> wrote:
>> yes, afaik, with the retirement of Jürg Gutknecht the "Native Systems
>> Group" was shut down.
> Having said that, Oberon is no longer taught, developed, and included
> in informatics research sylabus, at ETH University?
> So is AOS dropped as well?

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