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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Where does the name come from? Are you aware that atheos means "without god" in Greek?

A: The name is short for Athena (the Greek goddess of wisdom) and OS and have nothing to do with atheism. I was not aware that "atheos" indeed was a word in any language when I named the OS but figured that out later. Just think of it as a name. It is not supposed to mean anything.

Q: What is file attributes?

A: File attributes are streams of data that can be associated to entries (directories, files, symlinks) in the filesystem. Each attribute is associated with a name that must be unique within the file/dir/symlink it is added to. An attribute can hold as much or as little data you want (it have the same size limit's as regular files) and it can contain typed data (int/float/string/ect ect) or just a raw stream of bytes (like an icon image).

Attributes are implemented in the native AtheOS filesystem but are not used in AtheOS yet. It will however be a very important part of the desktop manager where it will be used to keep file/directory specific icons, icon-positions, file-types (the mime-type of a file), etc etc. The desktop manager will use the icon information to visually present the file or directory and it will use the type information to deside what application to launch if a data file of some kind are double-clicked (it will have a data-base with information about what applications handle which mime-types so if you click on a "image/jpeg" type file it will launce a bitmap-viewer, if you click on a file with type "text/plain" it will launce a notepad like text editor, and a "text/x-sourcecode" whould launch a more advanced source-code editor, etc etc.

It will also be possible to tell the desktop manager to launch a specific application for any given file or directory independent of it's mimetype by adding an attribute that points to a specific application. It will also be possible to give additional arguments to the launced application by adding them as an attribute of the data file.

The concept of attributes comes from BeOS that again have the concept from MacOS. The attributes in BeOS and AtheOS have a great advantage over the MacOS "resource fork" in that there can be an unlimited number of them for each file (each identified by a name) and there is no size limit on each attribute.

Q: Why dont you just port KDE, Gnome, Rox, or any of the other desktop environments over from UNIX?

A: See the above FAQ.

Q: I have installed the GCC package but whenever I try to compile anything I get the "gcc: installation problem. cannot exec `as': No such file or directory" error message. What is going wrong?

A: GCC needs the GNU assambler and linker to work. This comes in a separate package named "binutils" that you will have to install before using GCC. You can find the "binutils" packege in the download section on this site.

Q: How do I create "shortcut's" or otherwhise add icons to the desktop?

A: You can't. The current desktop manager is not event close to be finished and all the icons on the desktop are hardcoded into the sources. The real desktop manager will be able to display the content of one or more directories on the desktop. You will then be able to add icons by making symlinks in this directory pointing to the executable or directory you want to have on the desktop.

Q: Does AtheOS comply with the POSIX stanard?

A: Not fully. 100% POSIX compliance has never been a goal for AtheOS but it do support large parts of the standard. A great number of POSIX compliant application compiles and run without modification under AtheOS.

Q: How do I properly shutdown AtheOS?

A: Run "reboot" from a shell or press CTRL-ALT-DEL. AtheOS will in both cases kill all processes, unmount all filesystems and flush the disk-cache before rebooting the machine. The native FS is journaled so an "unclean" shutdown will not corrupt the FS but might leave you with corrupted files. If you have mounted a FAT-FS during a crash or power-out you should validate the FS afterwards to avoid further damage to the FS.

Q: I've just installed AtheOS but when I boot for the first time I just get a login dialog. What is the default username and password?

A: There is two accounts defined in the base installation. One with username "root" and password "root". This is the "super-user" that give you access to everything. The other account have username "guest" and password "guest". This is a regular user and serves as an example of how to create new accounts on AtheOS. Look at the install documentation (in install.txt) to learn how to add new users and how to change the password on existing users. There will be a graphical user editor at some stage but I have not got that far yet.

Q: What file-format are used for AtheOS executables and DLL's?

A: AtheOS use ELF for executables and DLL's. Unlike many other OS's using ELF the executable images is loaded and handled entirely by the kernel and not through a user space interpreter. Images are loaded on demand and untouched pages (not written to by the app yet) in all images (executables and libs) are shared between different instances of the same image when loaded into different processes.

Q: Is it possible to switch to real textmode in AtheOS?

A: No, you have to use the terminal emulator.

Q: Will it be possible to switch to real textmode in the future?

A: No. Text-mode support is not planned for AtheOS. AtheOS is centered around the "builtin" GUI and will never support textmode. AtheOS is a desktop OS not a server OS and running it without the GUI would not make any sence. And a quite decent mostly X-term compatible terminal emulator is just a couple of mouse clicks away anyway. If you get scared by the thought of maybe seeing something resembling a GUI while you prove your superiority with the CLI you can always start the terminal emulator full-screen/borderless :)

Q: Is it possible to make a bootable AtheOS CD?

A: No. AtheOS currently have no suport for CD-ROM.

Q: AtheOS boot's from the install floppies and into the GUI but when I try to mount an existing FAT partition or format the AFS partition it appear that AtheOS have not detected any of my partitions. What can I do?

A: This is a fairly common problem but I am not 100% sure what might cause this. AtheOS currently use the BIOS to access the disk's and the problem is most likely related to the way your BIOS translate disk addresses compared to the OS you normaly access the disk from. The only advice I can give is to experiment with the BIOS settings for the disk in questions. Most BIOS'es provide LBA, and a few CHS modes. Try the various modes and see if you can find one that match the translation your OS are using.

Q: How do I install AtheOS in a VMWare virtual machine? AtheOS boot from the boot floppies but not from the HD after installed.

A: VMWare put some restrictions on the upper end of the address-space that cause some problems for AtheOS. To make AtheOS boot you must tell the kernel to don't use the last few megabytes of the 4GB address-space by adding "uspace_end=0xf7ffffff" to the GRUB kernel-line in "boot/grub/menu.lst". This is already added to the boot-menu on the boot-floppies but not on the default boot-menu included in the base installation.

Q: Why does my serial-mouse dont work?

A: Did you plug the mose into COM1? Currently only COM1 is scanned for a mouse. If you use a serial-mouse you must use COM2 (the default) for the kernel debugger even if you dont have a serial cable attached to the port.

Q: Is AtheOS Intel only? How attached is it to the Intel platform?

A: At the moment AtheOS only run on Intel (and compatible) platforms. The reason is simply that I dont own any other hardware worth porting AtheOS to and that the vast majority of the "target" group is running Intel hardware anyway. Beside I have not run out of challenges on the x86 yet. That said, most of AtheOS is written in highly portable C/C++. There is very little assambly code and none of the designs are centered around the Intel architecture. AtheOS use a flat paged memory model. It does not depend on "Intel-only" features like segmentation, more than 2 privilige levels, call-gates, etc etc. I don't think porting AtheOS to another platform should cause much problems, but then again I have never tried :)

Q: What kind of architecture is the kernel built on? Monolitic, micro-kernel, nano-kernel?

A: I often ask myself that question to :) The kernel is very modular and the it have a well defined interface between the kernel and it's device-drivers and file-systems. So given that each component communicate through a thin well defined interface, and don't know much else about each other, it ressembles a micro-kernel. I am not sure if this is the right term though, since all kernel-components lives in kernel-space and is not protected from each other, this is all properties from a monolitic-kernel. I am a bit confused :)

Q: Is it a BeOS clone?

A: No it is not. The AtheOS and BeOS GUI have a similar API but AtheOS is no clone of BeOS. At the class-level you will find many similarities and the message/event system is quite similar. Some similarities are inevitable between two API's trying to do the same (implement a OO GUI interface in C++) but the internal implementation and most finer details in how the API's work are very different. I think the BeOS API is nice in many ways and I have spendt some hours with the BeBook but I have never intended to make a BeOS clone.

Q: The GUI look very Amigaish, is it an AmigaOS clone?

A: No. In the beginning it was actualy ment to be one, but this days there is nothing resembling the AmigaOS in AtheOS other than the window-borders. This seems to be rather hard for the Amiga-community to grasp though. They still think AtheOS is an Amiga clone :) Hey the Window borders look like on my Amiga! It must be an Amiga clone Right? I find it rather amusing to see that the Amiga-hord think that the single-most important property of an OS is the window-borders :) BTW: You can replace the border-look by writing a plugin to the appserver so I guess the Amiga look will go away quite soon.