Things are still at the proof of concept stage but there is already enough to play around with. Sitting on a command line prompt, the first thing I tried was typing ls. Doing this revealed the presence of a single file, a C source code file called hello.c. Attempting to compile with GCC wont work because GCC isn't installed. Examining the content of the file got the the bottom of things:
~ # cat hello.c
/* This C source can be compiled with:
tcc -o hello hello.c
int main(int argc, char **argv)
That the system includes the Tiny C Compiler (not to be confused with Small-C) makes sense as that is another project that was started by Bellard. You can get an idea of what other utilities are supported by the system by typing
So, what could this thing actually be used for, I hear you ask? As it stands, not all that much. For one thing, networking is not yet emulated. To perform any type of file transfer between the host and guest environments, one has to use the system cut and paste buffer and a virtual /dev/clipboard device. Other than that, there's no way to get data into or out of the system. This could be a point in the system's favor because, as it really is running locally, rather than on a server, it's fairly good in privacy terms. You can wipe the entire system by simply hitting refresh.
It could perhaps be used to provide some sort of training environment to teach people how to use the Linux command line. As it stands, the system could be used to compile simple snippets of C code if you were to find yourself stuck on a machine without a compiler installed.
[Update: Seems that a pal of mine, Chris Williams, is using it to demo his hobbyist microkernel project Diosix]
UK based freelance writer Michael Reed writes about technology, retro computing, geek culture and gender politics.