I want to ask a question about using nitros9. Nitros9 is a modern clone of the original OS-9 operating system used on the . Nitros9 is run on both vintage coco3 hardware, and on modern emulators hosted on Windows or Linux.

I'm unsure if the question would be considered on-topic, for these reasons:

  • nitros9 is still being developed. The most recent build I've found is from 2014, so nitros9 is not itself retro.

  • nitros9 is largely the same as os9, but I think there are differences. I never ran OS-9, so I don't know if any differences there are would matter for my question.

Possibly applicable meta question

This question is similar to Are legacy OS's on modern systems on-topic?, except that I am asking about a clone of a retro OS on retro or emulated retro hardware; that question is asking about running a legacy OS on modern hardware. The advice given in that question's answer, which seems good to me, is:

A general guideline is to look where the problem asked is originates.

  • When it's on the 'classic' side a question is perfectly on topic (like when in above configuration a your Assembler produces unlinkable output).

  • When it's due to some emulation software it might be on topic, as these are tools within the RC scope.

  • When it's about modern environment/OS or modern non RC specific tools it's clearly off-topic.

The first and third points of that list are salient: If nitros9 operates the same as OS-9 in regards to my question, then my question is on-topic, because it is the classic side of the question that it applies to, according to the first point. If, however, nitros9 operates differently than OS-9 in regards to my question, then my question is probably off-topic according to the third point.

My trouble is, I don't know whether Nitros9 differs from OS-9 in any way that matters.

The gist of the actual question

The question I want to ask is how to abort the EDIT editor without saving the file. The EDIT editor in Nitros9 appears to be the same as that in OS-9, because I am able to use original OS-9 documentation to learn how to use it. However, there may be differences that I am not aware of, since I was never an OS-9 user.

(If I actually do ask the question, it will have more detail).

Should I ask this question?

Would this question based on a modern clone of a retro OS, which may have differences from the retro OS, be on-topic?


4 Answers 4



I'm fairly sure that there's precedent for this situation (forks / reimplementations of a retro OS), both on meta and main, but I can't find any of it. This question is definitely good to go, in any case, unless those are deemed wrong and off-topic.

For the sake of argument, this answer therefore makes the stronger (and afaik unprecedented) assertion that questions about the use of operating systems designed for retro hardware, regardless of when they were designed, are automatically on-topic, unless the operating systems' design is sufficiently similar to a modern¹ OS's that instructions for the modern OS would automatically apply to this one in almost every case.

This rules out modern versions of Windows, RISC OS, etc., since they were not specifically designed for the retro hardware. However, a hypothetical macOS update to support Motorola 68k series processors would be on-topic, since it would explicitly target early Apple Macintoshes – this is unlikely to ever happen, but it's a possible failing of this rule (or not).

¹: by this, I mean "modern and not otherwise in the category described in this paragraph".


I agree it's on-topic. NitrOS-9 is already referenced here in a popular Community Wiki.


The particular question you want to ask is fairly clearly (to my mind) on topic because it could well be a question about original OS-9. If the way to abort without saving is different between OS-9 and NitrOS9 (or if it's possible to do in the latter but not the former), that's worth documenting, and I would hope we'd get answers for both systems. (I think it's perfectly reasonable to have one question covering both, and I don't see any benefit at all to splitting it into two questions.)

To address the broader topic, consider how you feel about questions such as, "I'm trying to write a new program X in 6809 assembly language; how do I do Y in 6809 assembly?" Is this on-topic or not? I would say yes, because it's running on a processor that's clearly a retrocomputing item. If you accept that, that pretty clearly makes the case that modern software alone cannot make a question off topic, so long as it still has a significant retrocomputing component.


In general : Yes

While it, as usual, depends on the exact question asked, this seams as quite on-topic.

In case of new 'off the shelf' (*1), the primary question to ask is:

"Is that software under active development / does it have a default support (forum)"

If yes, the question should be considered off-topic for RC.SE and targeted at the appropriate support instance.

At that point I'm a bit confused about Wizzwizz4's answer, especially:

[new software for old computers] are automatically on-topic, unless the operating systems' design is sufficiently similar to a modern¹ OS's that instructions for the modern OS would automatically apply to this one in almost every case.

While this sounds nice, it leaves more question than it answers. What is "sufficiently similar", what parts does it target or what features must be present or how they need to be present to trigger this?

Assume for example a new OS for the CPC series is supporting a LoRa connection. Its setup dialogues (GUI) will need the same data and might look quite similar to what one may find on Windows. Further the underlaying software structure will be rather similar as the task at hand is the same. Now, a question like

"how do I configure LoRa to connect to network XYZ"

showing up on RC.SE. The correct / a valid answer could be

"Go into preferences, select LoRa from the list, check if the DevEUI and GatewaayEUI is present. Klick on 'connect' and see if a DeviceEUI is returned ... [and so on]"

Handling may be almost exact like under any other modern OS, as the task at hand is the same. So, would that qualify as "sufficiently similar to a modern OS" and making it off-topic?

Lets add one level and say it's for a complete new 6502 hardware with no similarity to any old system.?

While I'm interested in Wizzwizz4's clarification on this. As said, maybe I'm just misinterpreting the wording here.

As for myself, I wouldn't exclude such per se, as long as there is no default support (see above) and the question stays on the retro(ish) side.

*1 - Meaning it's about a pre-made application, not the OP writing some software.

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