This ROOPHLOCH post is quite different from the one I wrote last
year. I am seated in my garden, not camping in the woods, but the
device on which I am typing probably makes this post worth it
anyway: I am typing with ed(1) from a portable Z180 computer, that
I have assembled. It consists of an SC126 retrobrew board, plus
a serial terminal, a small (8") HDMI display, and a USB keyboard.
All this stuff is powered by a 5/12V battery pack, which provides
several hours of off-grid computing.
Needless to say, there is no Internet connection whatsoever, at
least for now, so I will simply cat this file to one of the two
serial devices and then send it over from my laptop.
This machine is running Fuzix, a unix-like system for 8bit
computers put together by Alan Cox, based on a mix of UNIX V7, BSD
tools, and a variety of other utilities written for the UZI
operating system in the '80s and the '90s.
I must admit that using off-grid machines is quite rewarding,
especially these little Z80/Z180 boards, which have probably one
millionth of the computing power of any modern laptop. You
re-discover that there are hundreds of things you can do without
being connected to The Big Internet and still using a computer. An
example? You can port, adapt, and re-run "modern" software on
these tiny thingies, and realise how much resources we are wasting
every day just to visualize jumping icons and flashy content.
And it is quite refreshing to find out that an operating system
written more than 50 years ago still allows you to do meaningful
things on the same hardware that runs your last-gen IoT kettle.
When there are no CPU cycles for the useless stuff, what remains
is what is really necessary. And I think in many ways this
experience is similar to camping "the proper way", which was the
theme of my 2019 ROOPHLOCH. I admit this might not be ideal for
the vast majority of people out there. But hey, this is probably
some sort of geeky equivalent of medieval monastic life after all