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Multitasking, Desktop PalmOS? Yes. It's real.
It's like a desktop operating system made up of a dozen Palm Pilots. Wild.
Ready to have your mind blown?
Seriously. Make sure you’re sitting down. Because this is bonkers.
Remember PalmOS? The single-tasking, full-screen-only application OS that powered PalmPilots in the 1990s? The (later) color ones looked like this:
Well, some mad scientist has created a variant of PalmOS… that lets you run several applications at the same time. He calls it: PumpkinOS. And it looks just as insane as it sounds.
While this project isn’t brand new — the developer first posted details about this project back in 2019 — it appears to have recently taken some pretty big strides.
PumpkinOS even includes the ability to run multiple PalmOS applications at the same time in a multitasking environment.
Check out this video which the developer recently posted to Twitter. It showcases two games (including a port of DOOM) and an old 8-bit computer emulator running simultaneously.
While running multiple applications simultaneously is not exactly ground breaking when we’re talking about Desktop Operating Systems in general… these are PalmOS apps. They were always meant to run one-at-a-time.
One great approach with PumpkinOS, is that it can run “native x86” applications. Meaning PalmOS applications that have been recompiled specifically for PumpkinOS… or it can run 68k Palm applications using emulation. And it can run them side-by-side with no perceptible difference between them.
“There are three applications included [in the first preview release]: MemoPad, MineHunt and Vexed. MineHunt is a standard 68K binary PalmOS PRC distributed with the early Palm devices. Vexed is a third party freeware that is also a standard 68K application. If you install them on a real device or on a traditional emulator (like POSE), they will run normally. MemoPad is a different story: it was compiled from source code to the native x86 architecture. Although it is apparently also a normal PRC file, it will only on Pumpkin OS.”
The current preview release is a year old… but the video above — showing fluid multitasking, and support for more binary types (including ARM support) — was just posted a few weeks ago.
Which is encouraging, as it shows continued progress and what is a truly fascinating project.
The idea of running several — completely square — PalmOS applications as your primary desktop environment… is both constrictive and weird… and oddly compelling.
Here’s hoping a new preview or beta type release (or even an open source release) happens soon. Especially if it could sit on top of Linux (the current preview build requires Windows). It would be tremendous fun to play around with it and see how usable such a system could be nowadays.
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