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Home » » Visopsys (VISual OPerating SYStem) is an alternative operating system and the source code is available under the terms of the GNU General Public License.

Visopsys (VISual OPerating SYStem) is an alternative operating system and the source code is available under the terms of the GNU General Public License.

Visopsys (VISual OPerating SYStem) is an alternative operating system for PC-compatible computers, written "from scratch", and developed primarily by a single hobbyist programmer since late 1997.

Visopsys is free software and the source code is available under the terms of the GNU General Public License.  The libraries and header files are licensed under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public License.

The bulk of Visopsys is a fully multitasking, 100% protected mode, virtual-memory, massively-monolithic-style kernel.  Added to this is a bare-bones C library and a minimal suite of applications — together comprising a small but reasonably functional operating system which can operate natively in either graphical or text modes.  Though it's been in continuous development for a number of years, realistically the target audience remains limited to operating system enthusiasts, students, and assorted other sensation seekers.  The ISO and floppy images available from the download page can install the system, or operate in 'live demo' mode.

Other operating systems can do more than Visopsys; it doesn't include many applications.  Needless to say, it's not as good as Linux or even SkyOS or Syllable.  On the other hand, it's still a one-person project.

From the perspective of a user — the "but what the heck is it good for?" perspective — its primary selling point is a reasonably functional partition management program (the 'Disk Manager') in the vein of Symantec's Partition Magic. Visopsys and its Disk Manager comprise the popular Partition Logic system.  It can create, format, delete, resize, defragment, and move partitions, and modify their attributes. It can also copy hard disks, and has a simple and friendly graphical interface, but can fit on a bootable floppy disk (or CD-ROM, if you're feeling naughty).

The primary goal of Visopsys is to cherry-pick the best ideas from other operating systems, preferably contribute a few new ideas, and hopefully avoid (re-) introducing some of the more annoying elements.

    However many ideas Visopsys borrows from other products, it is not a Windows or UNIX lookalike, nor a clone of any other system.  On the other hand, much of what you see in Visopsys will be familiar.  There are a number of command line programs that are superficially UNIX- or DOS-like, so you shouldn't have too much trouble finding your way around.  It is compatible with existing filesystems, file formats, protocols, and encryption algorithms (among other things).

Some of the higher-level conceptual goals are as follows:

1. "Native" Graphical environment

    * The base-level graphics server (analogous to an 'X' server in Unix, but not X) is integrated into the kernel.  A default GUI environment runs "straight out of the box", with no setup procedure.
    * At a later stage, a new metaphor for the GUI environment.  While not intended to be revolutionary, the planned interface will eventually try to put a new spin on graphical shell design — without making it unfamiliar or non-intuitive.  The ideas are formed, but the code is not written.
    * To the greatest extent possible, the user should be able to perform all tasks, including administrative ones, using this "point and click" interface — no need to edit mysterious configuration files by hand.

2. Strong command line capabilities (text windows and scripting)

    * Users must be given the ability to operate in a text-based environment if they prefer to do so.
    * To the greatest extent possible, the user should be able to perform all tasks, including administrative ones, using the text interface. Configuring mysterious configuration files by hand is, therefore, optional.

3. Compatible.  Visopsys will conform to existing standards to the greatest extent possible.  It is not a goal for Visopsys to define new formats (such as a new filesystem type).  Examples of such standards include:

    * Filesystem types
    * Executable/object/library file formats
    * Image, sound, font, compression and text file formats
    * Encryption algorithms
    * Network protocols
    * Software development environment conventions
    * Hardware interface standards (e.g. VESA)
    * Some level of POSIX compliance, where possible, eventually.

Visopsys is starting to look and feel like a 'real' operating system.  There's still a long way to go before Visopsys might be useful to the average person, but it's getting there little by little.

Coding work was begun as a part-time operation in late 1997.  The large majority of the code is written in C, with portions in x86 Assembly Language.  Following is a list of some of the implemented and unimplemented functionality.
Implemented Features:     Currently unimplemented:

    * Graphical User Interface (GUI)
    * Fully 32 bits, "protected" mode
    * Fully pre-emptive multitasking and multi-threading
    * Virtual memory, and memory protection
    * Flat linear memory management
    * Graceful processor fault and exception handling
    * Good random number capability
    * Buffered, asynchronous disk I/O
    * ELF executable format
    * JPG, BMP and ICO image files
    * Filesystem support for:
      - 12, 16, and 32-bit FAT filesystems (commonly used by DOS and Windows)
      - Read-only Ext2/Ext3 filesystems (commonly used by Linux)
      - CD-ROM filesystems (ISO9660/Joliet)
      - DVD-ROM filesystems (UDF)
    * Native command line shell
    * Small, native C library
    * Native installer program
    * Dynamic linking
    * Hard disk partitioning program (Disk Manager)
    * I/O Protection
    * FPU state saves


Visopsys is available under the terms of the GNU General Public License.

Click here for descriptions of the different download types and instructions for use.

A "change log" file for detailed information about each release is here.

Quick Links
Latest CD-ROM version
Latest floppy disk version
Latest source code
Latest VMware image

VERSION 0.7 (current)

  • ISO image:
visopsys-0.7-iso.zip (10.2M) 431ac2ce0190190778076489bc2f0f27
  • Floppy disk image:    
visopsys-0.7-img.zip (608K) 21b9c1fb1bc14165b59bdd1c17b4135a
  • Source code:
visopsys-0.7-src.zip (11.7M) 7a8e028a810ac0951896f6075c5b331e

What's New in This Release:

· Updated the appearance of windows and several types of widgets.
· Added JPEG image format support.
· Added image resizing code.
· Added 64-bit disk support.
· Added UDF (DVD-ROM) filesystem support.
· Added GPT disk label support to the kernel and to the Disk Manager program.
· Included a quantity of new icons based on contributions provided by Leency, including the folder icon, and all of the file browser icons for different file types.
· Implemented keyboard navigation of the GUI menus using 'Alt' to activate them, and the cursor and 'Enter' keys to navigate and select.
· Alt-Tab now raises the root window's 'window' menu for keyboard navigation between open windows, in a way somewhat analogous to the way Windows and other GUIs do it.
· Created new icons for the 'cal' (Calendar), 'mines', and 'snake' programs, as well as for the 'lsdev' (Devices), 'install', and 'users' (User Manager) administration programs.
· Added loader file class support for the ability to recognise GIF and PNG images, Zip, Gzip, and Ar archives, and PDF and HTML documents. Also added file browser icons for PDF, HTML and archive files.
· Designed and implemented a new proprietary font file format that enables sparsely-mapped, bitmapped fonts. Added a 'fontutil' utility program for editing and managing the new format.
· New splash image for the 0.7x series.
· New default background pattern wallpaper image, and three additional, full-sized ones.
· Redesigned the 'bangicon', 'infoicon', and 'questicon' images.
· Changed the visual effect which clicking on, or dragging icons. Instead of reverse-video (xor), the icons now tint yellow. Additionally, when dragging icons, the icon image now appears instead of a box outline.
· Changed the way icon text is drawn, so that it no longer has a solid box behind it, but instead has a little drop shadow. Icon components are now optionally focus-able, enabling keyboard navigation of (for example) the desktop icons, or the icons in the shutdown program
· Implemented image alpha channels and blending, with support for resizing
· Added support for reading monochrome windows bitmap (.bmp) images.
· Added support for some new (non-4:3 aspect) graphics modes.
· Implemented horizontal window scroll bars.
· Added a 'divider' window component, for placing simple little lines in a window. Useful for separating sections of components.
· Window components can now be created with a flag to suppress the use of scroll bars.
· Improved the IDE driver so that it can detect and operate multiple controllers, correctly use PCI I/O port remappings, and PCI interrupts, as well as adding improved support for things like backwards-compatible SATA disks/controllers.
· Added initial, very basic detection of AHCI SATA controllers (operating in native AHCI mode) and their disks.
· Reimplemented the kernel API interface. It now supports variable-sized arguments and return values, and does checking on argument types and values (for example user vs. kernel pointers, NULL values, etc).
· Reimplemented the kernel's file stream subsystem for character-based file I/O as a simple buffered mechanism with a file pointer, instead of using the kernel's streams.
· Added an 'I/O ready' state to the multitasker, so that processes waiting for (for example) disk I/O can go into a 'waiting' state and be awoken as soon as possible when the I/O arrives, rather than polling for interrupts as they had been doing previously. The 'idle thread' now loops through the process list, looking for any I/O-ready processes and yields its timeslice when it finds one. The scheduler gives such processes high priority.
· Added more efficient power management, idling the processor during spare cycles.
· Moved common keyboard functionality out of the drivers and into the abstraction layer, with an interface for handling of specific keyboard 'special' events such as PrtScn or Ctrl-Alt-Del.
· Added basic internationalization library support (libintl), modeled on the GNU gettext system.
· Added 32-bit CRC calculation to the kernel.
· Added RAM disk support, courtesy of contributions from Davide Airaghi.
· Implemented 'lazy' FPU context saving; the context is only saved or restored if a different process tries to use it.
· Added new keyboard mappings: French, Belgian, and Spanish.
· Keyboard mappings are now stored in files, rather than hardcoded in the kernel. The 'keymap' (Keyboard Mapping) program has been enhanced to facilitate the editing and saving of new keymaps. In addition, the file browser will now use it to open keymap files when they're clicked.
· Added a new configuration file /system/config/mount.conf containing variables for specifying mount points of filesystems (like Unix fstab) and whether or not to auto-mount them. The 'mount' and 'computer' programs use the file (as well as the kernel's automounting), and there is also a new 'filesys' program in the Administration window for editing it.
· Added some extra error checking in the filesystem detection code.
· The FAT boot sector now copies the partition table entry pointed to by the SI register, so that it is in a known/safe location for passing off in turn to the OS loader.
· Added right-click context menus to the disk icons in the computer browser.
· The menu currently contains 'Browse', 'Mount as...', 'Unmount', and 'Properties' choices.
· The computer browser now shows the filesystem label, if applicable, in its icon text.
· When a wallpaper image is chosen, it is now automatically resized to fit the the client area of the window.
· When displaying an image, the 'view' program now scales large images down by default so that they use no more than 2/3 of the screen.
· The 'view' program now has a right-click context menu to zoom in and out on images, or show them actual size.
· The 'disprops' (Display Settings) program has been reorganized, and now shows a thumbnail preview of the selected background wallpaper image.
· Added an option to the windowFileDialog to show image file thumbnail previews.
· The 'imgboot' program now has 'run' as the default selection, instead of 'install'
· Added locking to the kernel's stream functions.
· Added kernel logging of the OS loader's hardware info structure.
· Added a 'model' string field to the kernel and user disk structures.
· Window components now receive mouse enter/exit events.
· Window components can now have custom mouse pointers, as windows do.
· Added mouse pointers that indicate window resizing, and they are now switched to automatically when passing over window borders.
· New default desktop color that goes better with the splash image
· The window shell now uses the foreground color for the root window menu, instead of the desktop color (this way there's a contrast).
· The foreground, background, and desktop colors are no longer specified exclusively in the kernel's configuration file. They are still there as default values for boot time, but additional color settings are specified in the window configuration file, and those override the kernel ones when they're available.
· Added windowNewThumbImage() and windowThumbImageUpdate() functions to the window library. These can be used to create a thumbnail-sized window image object from an image file name.
· Added a kernelFileGetFullPath() function (userspace fileGetFullPath) that will return the full path+name of a file referenced by a file structure.
· The kernelFontLoad() (userspace fontLoad) function will now search the system's font directory (/system/fonts) for a font file, so it's not necessary to pass a complete pathname.
· Removed /system/mount directory, as it wasn't being used.
· The kernelFileFind() (userspace fileFind) function now acccepts a NULL file structure pointer, for instances in which the caller is really only interested in whether the file exists.
· The windowFileDialog window library code now interprets a non-empty fileName argument as a value to show by default in the file name field. Additionally, the file name field no longer shows the fully-qualified names of files, just the short names.
· Added a windowNumberDialog to the userspace window library, for requesting the user to enter a number value, and providing a graphical slider widged for setting the value with the mouse.

· The boot menu installer program 'bootmenu' now checks for previous installations and remembers the old entries.
· The 'imgboot' program now checks for the presense of the 'install program before querying about whether to install.
· The 'iconwin' program now skips any entry whose icon is missing.
· Reduced the padding values of the text area in the 'lsdev' (Devices) program. Also fixed it so that it doesn't scroll down and then back up again while it's visible.
· The kernel configuration reader/writer functions have been augmented with get/set/unset convenience functions for quickly getting or changing individual configuration values from files.
· Removed the title bar from the 'clock' program.
· The 'window' (Command Window) program has been renamed 'cmdwin'.
· Changed the runtime program name of the 'fdisk' program from "Visopsys Disk Manager" to just "Disk Manager".
· Implemented proper stack backtraces for help with debugging. Walks the stack frame, uses the process symbol table, etc. Used by the exception handler and by calling kernelStackTrace().
· Added a kernelDebugHexDwords() function for doing simple hex dumps of dword-oriented memory such as stacks.
· Added a stack debugging output function kernelDebugStack().
· Added a 'hexdump' command for examining the contents of binary files.
· Added a 'Details' button to the kernel error dialog window, which brings up a dialog showing process debugging info and a stack trace.
· Added a kernelRealloc() function like the C library realloc().
· Added a generic kernelImageCopy() function which is exported to userspace as imageCopy().
· The window canvas component now resizes itself properly, using the image resizing function.
· Added a kernelDebugBinary() function for doing simple binary dumps.
· Added the -fno-stack-protector argument to Makefile.include so we can link using gcc 4.1.3 (Ubuntu 7.10, etc).
· Added tests for since and cosine calculation to the 'test' program, and made both do 'double' calculations, and some random ones also.
· Added an fabsf() function to the C library.
· Added a getenv() function to the C library.
· Added _dbl2str() and _flt2str() C library functions for converting doubles and floats to strings, respectively, and added %f format specifier support to the _xpndfmt() function (used by the printf family of functions).
· Added an fls() C library function and fixed up ffs().
· Added a kernel API function kernelFileSetSize(), a driverSetBlocks() filesystem driver function for the back end, and ftruncate() and truncate() C library functions for the front end.
· Added a sleep() C library function.
· Added a strtok() C library function.
· Added and exported a kernel API function randomBytes() for filling a buffer with random data.
· Exported the kernelWindowComponentUnfocus() function via the kernel API.
· Added a kernelDebugError() macro that reports errors only when debugging is turned on on. Replaces several locally-defined debugError() macros in drivers, etc.
· Added a new 'label' field to the kernel's generic logical disk filesystem structure. The filesystem drivers fill it in, where applicable.
· Added mouse support for scroll wheels.
· Window event streams are now just plan kernel streams with wrapper functions that read or write only complete events -- the way they were originally intended to be.
· The 'mines' game map now stays on the screen after the game, so you can have a look at it.
· Fixed the cos(), cosf(), sin(), and sinf() functions so that they work periodically (i.e. for larger radians values that are greater than (PI * 2).
· Exported the kernelPageGetPhysical() function to userspace programs as pageGetPhysical()
· The multitasker now uses system timer mode 3
· Added a sys/ascii.h include file to include definitions of commonly-used character codes.
· Fixed: The OS loader could hang during disk detection (divide by zero error) if the BIOS 'get drive parameters' function returned success despite there being no such drive.
· Fixed: The PS/2 mouse driver has been reworked to deal properly with mouse interrupts from various types of mouse hardware.
· Fixed: Clicking outside of a context menu could fail to erase the menu if there were no other focusable components.
· Fixed: After a window relayout, the mouse pointer was not being properly redrawn.
· Fixed: Resizing any window to a larger size in a vertical direction caused the window thread to generate a divide-by-zero exception
· Fixed: The C library's dirname() function didn't work correctly for items in the root directory.
· Fixed: The C library's fread() and fwrite() functions were returning negative error codes as return values. They now return a size_t of the number of items read/written, and any error is in errno.
· Fixed: The C library's strcmp() and strncmp() functions were not dealing gracefully with NULL pointers, and the strncmp() function was returning nonstandard result codes.
· Fixed: The kernel's kernelFileStreamRead function was overwriting properly-sized buffers by 1 byte, causing buffer overflows.
· Fixed: Opening an existing file stream in read/write mode (using fopen() or kernelFileStreamOpen()) would cause the kernel to seek to the end of the file for writing, but begin reading at the beginning of the last file block. Now all opens begin at offset 0 unless they're write-only.
· Fixed: The FAT filesystem driver no longer sets the size of the file to a multiple of the block (cluster) size on every write. Only if the number of blocks changed.
· Fixed: The access mode flags in unistd.h were not bitwise-exclusive.
· Fixed: open.c did not handle access mode flags correctly and was returning errno rather than -1 on error.
· Fixed: Before multitasking was enabled, printing debug messages could crash because it printed the current process name without checking to see whether there *is* a current process.
· Fixed: When a windowTextArea was being detroyed, it was not resetting the text input and output streams of the process in the multitasker.
· Fixed: Intensive floating point operations (for example when displaying JPEGs or resizing images) could cause a system crash. The exception entry end exit macros were incorrect.
· Fixed: The _xpndfmt() code used for printf-style format strings was initializing a 'double' type unnecessarily, causing any attempt to print things inside the FPU exception handler to blow up.
· Fixed: The sliders of the color choosers (e.g. in the display settings program) were 'backwards' in the sense that they should decrease to the left and increase to the right, intuitively.
· Fixed: Clicking on a filename with embedded spaces failed to open the file in the file browser, because it wasn't quoting the name.
· Fixed: The kernelWindowLayout() function now properly lays out and resizes the window, particularly if it's already been laid out previously.
· Fixed: A bug with mixing types in the sinf() and cosf() functions could cause floating point operations to get into an endless loop of "device not available" exceptions.
· Fixed: Booting was failing on Virtual PC. VPC does not properly support the IA-32 architecture's "nested task" concept. The multitasker no longer uses interrupt returns and nested tasks -- all task switches are done with far calls. Mouse and keyboard still don't work properly in VPC.
· Fixed: Text console error messages about not being able to find mouse pointer images.
· Fixed: The 'cdrom' program was crashing with a page fault during device scanning.
· Fixed: A kernel error message was showing in the console log when there was no boot splash image (a la Partition Logic) and the initialization code was trying to free the unallocated memory.
· Fixed: The parititon diagram in the Disk Manager was showing extra border lines when clicked, that didn't appear until moused over and made stranger-looking by the phantom redrawing of invisible menu items at the same theoretical coordinates that caused them to be discontiguous. The superclass image component was unhelpfully drawing its border when focused.
· Fixed: Detecting USB mice and keyboards at boot time could fail and prevent other devices such as PS/2 mice and keyboards from working properly.
· Fixed: When using the 'disprops' program to enable the clock on the desktop, clicking OK after checking the box caused a page fault.
Fixed: When closing the console window opened from the command line, the following error message appeared:
· "Error:console:kernelWindowContainer.c:remove(401): No such component in container"
· Fixed: The setData() function of the kernelWindowTextArea component was inserting a NULL 1 byte past the end of the supplied data buffer
Fixed: Opening the edit program when running from a read-only filesystem produced the following error in the window:
· "Error:edit:kernelFile.c:kernelFileGetTemp(3304) Filesystem is read-only"
· Fixed: When running the edit program from a read-only filesystem, specifying a non-existent file would close the program without any message.
· Fixed: The windowTextField widget now scrolls properly horizontally.
· Fixed: Recursive copying of a directory into another directory using the 'cp -R' command did not create the destination top-level directory, but instead merely copied the contents of the source directory.
· Fixed: Added a NULL-parameter check to the strlen() C library function.
· Fixed: the multitasker's createNewProcess() no longer crashes when the caller passes a NULL parameter in the argv[] array.
· Fixed: The native installer program created an unbootable installation when using a FAT32 filesystem type.
· Fixed: A disk caching bug wherein the cachePrune() function could be called in the middle of a mult-part cache read or write operation.
· Fixed: A NULL-parameter kernel API call in the 'cal' Calendar program.
· Fixed: A page fault exception that could occur when starting the 'filebrowse' File Browser program.
· Fixed: A bug in the C library 'memmove' function could cause a page fault when called to move 0 bytes.
· Fixed: In the generic C library malloc() code, there was a bug that was causing partially-allocated blocks to not be split correctly. Also added a consistency-checking function.
· Fixed: The 'edit' program was creating temporary files that weren't being deleted on exit.
· Fixed: A number of components were creating error messages and/or crashing when certain files (such as mouse pointer images and icons) aren't present.
· Fixed: When using a FAT12 filesystem, writing any FAT sector after the first one was causing 2 sectors to be written - resulting in a write of the last FAT sector overwriting the first root directory sector.
· Fixed: The kernelConfigRead() function could overrun its line buffer if the line was longer then 255 bytes.
· Fixed: The FAT filesystem driver was under-calculating the correct size for the free-cluster bitmap in the case where the data clusters were not a multiple of 8.
· Fixed: Assorted compiler and script errors when working with the source on an Ubuntu 10.10 system.
· Fixed: Passing an empty string to the kernelFilesystemMount() command was resulting in the new filesystem being mounted over top of the current directory.
· Fixed: The windowIcon initializer now error checks for NULL image data.

Boot-time splash screen

Greeting at first boot

Normal login screen

Default desktop

The Computer browser
and File Browser

Viewing a JPEG image
 from the File Browser

A command window,
the Programs folder, and
the Calendar, Edit,
Mines!,  and Snake!
programs running

A file selection dialog,
 the Administration folder,
 and the Devices and Disk
Manager programs

The Administration folder,
and the Configuration
Editor, Display Settings,
and Keyboard Mapping
programs running

Hoops background

Japan background

Saturn background

Custom Search
Adserver                   610x250

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