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posted by Rugxulo(R) Homepage E-mail, USA, 19.02.2012, 21:15

> Nobody outside those cares too, or there would be a well maintained 16-bit
> open source stack.

There already is: OpenWatcom (used by FreeDOS kernel and separately in embedded use [Wilton Helm, 186, no OS]), but that's C/C++, not Oberon.

If you check here, C has 25%, C++ has 9%, Pascal has almost 2% and Oberon only 0.2% and Modula-2 only 0.12%. Doesn't mean they are bad, just less popular.

We're talking several different things here. There are plenty of pre-existing things that support 16-bit that are "good enough" to not have to rewrite or patch anything. But they don't necessarily offer the same host or target OS, memory model, object format, or even (for existing code) language frontends, etc.

> It is not "them" that are failing, it is you, the users of such things.

It's hardly my fault that OMF has changed over the years or that compatible tools vary in quality and licensing.

> OMF is afaik quite adhoc and poorly standarized, one of the reasons the
> unix formats (coff, elf) won out. a.out is also very simplistic, and can
> be seen as an unix counterpart of omf.

It's standardized, just nobody cares because they "moved on" to newer, shinier things. Doesn't mean either is better or worse, it's just some are more popular than others. Like I said, I honestly don't know whether a from-scratch compiler would be wiser to use OMF for interoperability with pre-existing code or better to just roll their own format.

And for the record, *nix weenies hate a.out and COFF for being old and badly spec'd, but praise the newer ELF as only thing worth supporting. I think even GCC has (mostly) given up on older stuff with only minimal support in BinUtils for "older" formats. This is not (barely) based upon technical merit but more on personal preference or political reasoning. (Though indeed, "inertia" plays a part too as nobody wants to heavily mess with the backends. "Thar be dragons.") Before you whine that DOS uses old formats, go get WinNT and Mac OS X to both switch to ELF, then we'll talk. Or is it all "inertia" for them too?

> That's the problem, and my point exactly. Everybody is only messing around
> on 16-bit, and trying to apply bandaids and do some smartshopping (often on
> murky legal grounds) to keep stuff running.

I'd rather not install Oberon OS just to learn Oberon. Besides, it would be much harder to distribute the code as it'd be too heavily reliant on the OS. But yeah, most Oberon compilers lack a standard set of libs. But I don't see how you take issue with patches to pre-existing stuff. I don't see what your point is here. If it works, it works, even if it needs a few patches.

> Probably we'll have this same discussion in 2020 again, and then there
> still won't be an open source 16-bit toolchain.

So what? It's not me whining, I'm at least trying to partially get something to work instead of throwing it away. If you don't like it, fine, but I fail to see the virtue in discarding software and decrying everything that is legacy-based. It's almost like you expect me to roll my own OS, compiler, etc. Surely that's not an easy task. It's almost always easier to adapt pre-existing OSes and tools than start from scratch.

 

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