[Oberon] Current Oberon System

Les May zen53397 at zen.co.uk
Mon Dec 17 05:30:44 CET 2012

On 15/12/2012 14:48, Bernhard Treutwein wrote:
>>> 5. Which line of Oberon system is being currently developed? x86
>>> (Native) Oberon? System 3? A2?
>> I think AOS or A2 is more a research project than a true OS.
> My imporession is that all Oberon Systems are/were research projects about
> OS design and the only one, which is currently still developed is A2
> respectively
> WinAos/UnixAos.
> But the active group is much too small ...
> --
>    Bernhard
> --
> Oberon at lists.inf.ethz.ch mailing list for ETH Oberon and related systems
> https://lists.inf.ethz.ch/mailman/listinfo/oberon
This comment serves to emphasise the heavy reliance which Oberon users 
have on university research projects for the continued availability of 
compilers. In turn this raises the question of of whether Oberon has a 
long term future as a viable programming language.

By contrast an earlier iteration of Wirth's ideas about language design, 
Pascal, continues to be actively developed as FreePascal and has an 
'industrial strength' compiler which is available for a range of 
operating systems making it a 'write once, compile anywhere' language. I 
will allow others to speculate on why there is no similar Oberon project.

Wirth's message about the virtues of strong typing, initialisation of 
variables and detection of errors at compile time now extends beyond 
Pascal, Modula 2 and Oberon. Safe-C which can be found at 
http://chat-webcam-samuro.com/safe-c/start-en.html has been strongly 
influenced by these ideas and gives about the same degree of type safety 
and compile time error detection as Pascal.

I don't know whether Safe-C has a long term future but it does have the 
advantage that potential users do not have to learn a completely new 
user interface. Whatever the virtues of the Oberon TUI (Textural User 
Interface) in 1990, a time when in many instances computer monitors were 
used as little more than glass teletypes, it does not compare with the 
present day windowing interfaces available for BSD, Linux and MS Windows 
and now may well serve only to deter potential users from adopting Oberon.

I understand the nostalgia for a time when computing was simpler and 
memory was measure in kilobytes not gigabytes but unless standalone 
compilers are developed for other operating systems I do not see any 
substantial number of new users being attracted to Oberon.

Les May

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