Data General AOS

Data General AOS

Data General wrote operating systems for its hardware: DOS and RDOS for the 16-bit Nova line; RDOS and AOS for the 16-bit Eclipse C, M and S lines; AOS/VS and AOS/RT32[1] (1980) and later AOS/VS II (1988) for the 32-bit Eclipse MV line.

A modified version of System V.2 Unix called MV/UX hosted under AOS/VS was also available. A modified version of System V Unix called DG/UX was made for the Eclipse MV line and later the 88K and x86 AViiON machines.

The AOS software was far more advanced than competing PDP-11 operating systems. 16-bit AOS applications ran natively under AOS/VS and AOS/VS II on the 32-bit Eclipse MV line. AOS/VS was the most commonly used DG software product, and included a command-line interpreter (CLI) allowing for complex scripting, DUMP/LOAD, and other custom components.

The 16-bit version of the CLI is famous for including an Easter egg taken directly from the Colossal Cave Adventure game. A user typing in the command "xyzzy" would get back a response from the CLI of "Nothing Happens".

When a 32-bit version of the CLI became available under AOS/VS II, the same command instead reported "Twice As Much Happens".

AOS/VS exploited the 8-ring protection architecture of the Eclipse MV hardware with ring 7 being the least privileged and ring 0 being the most privileged. The AOS/VS kernel ran in ring 0 and used ring-1 addresses for data structures related to virtual address translations. Ring 2 was unused and reserved for future use by the kernel. The Agent, which performed much of the system call validation for the AOS/VS kernel, as well as some I/O buffering and many compatibility functions, ran in ring 3 of each process. Ring 4 was used by various D.G. products such as the INFOS II DBMS. Rings 5 and 6 were reserved for use by user programs but rarely used except for large software such as the MV/UX inner-ring emulator and Oracle which used ring 5. All user programs ran in ring 7.

The AOS and AOS/VS kernels were written entirely in assembly language. Almost all of the AOS and AOS/VS utilities included in the operating system releases were written in variants of the PL/I programming language. Initially, AOS/VS utilities closely tracked AOS source development. As AOS/VS matured, many DG-supplied utilities were rewritten to take advantage of the 32-bit address space and reduce dependencies on assembly language, often resulting in substantial increases in functionality, performance and reliability compared with their AOS ancestors.

  1. ^ Hoard, Bruce. "Computerworld Nov 22, 1982". Computerworld. IDG. Retrieved 9/28/2011.