Booting Helios

Now that we have all config files adjusted to our needs, we should try to boot it.

Normally a simple call to SERVER.EXE should do it, so try now:


This should show you the booting process info and results in a bash-like shell. Hooray! You’re running a real OS on your Transputer, congratulations!

You might have stumbled over the many ‘shoulds’… well, there’s a known problem with the server. It uses very simple calibration- and delay-loops (for/next) to determine speeds and setting pauses between each command sent to the Transputer. If you computer is too fast (i.e. built after 1990) those pauses might by too short and server.exe can’t initialize the Transputer correctly resulting in boot errors 🙁

But don’t despair! Michael Brüstle, aka “Mr. T”, came to the rescue and wrote a little ‘helios loader’ which uses more precise timers but is a bit basic – in other words you have to know what you’re doing… which makes this loader a piece of “real men software” 😉
What it does is: Resetting the Transputer, putting the Helios bootstrap-image and nucleus into the Transputers RAM and then quits. So it’s not booting Helios… that’s still left to the server program. To use this tool 3 steps are to be taken:

1) Download HBOOT.EXE from here and put it into your Helios root directory
2) Change your host.con file to prevent SERVER.EXE to overwrite the already loaded bootstrap-image and nucleus. So add/uncomment these lines in your host.con:

no_reset_target  # do not reset the Transputers
no_bootstrap     # don't load nboot.i
no_image         # don't load nucleus
no_check_processor # don't check CPUs as this would need a reset, too

3) [optional] Create a batch file (e.g. START.BAT) in your Helios root folder containing these two lines:

hboot lib\nboot.i lib\nucleus

That’s pretty self-explaining, I guess. So enter START and Helios should successfully boot now.

Next up, using more than one Transputer with Helios…

4 thoughts on “Booting Helios”

  1. I followed the procedure given and SERVER.EXE still doesn’t run on my pc. It is a 64-bit processor and windows 8. Kindly help us find a solution

    1. Hi Tanishq,
      I’m not quite sure if you understood what you’re looking at/into… Helios is a OS from ~1990, running on a Transputer CPU. A DOS(!) PC or a SPARCStation (1 or 2) is needed to run the “terminal” to comminicate to the Transputer system… which is normally connected through an ISA or SBUS interface card.
      So, in 1990 Windows 8 as well as 64bit address/memory buses were something far, far in the future – no wonder the DOS executable refrains from running on your recent gear.
      But great you came up with this issue, so I’ve put a warning/reminder box into the 1st Helios post to inform people coming here that this is vintage land requireing vintage hardware/OSes.
      That said, you’re very welcome to join into the Helios NG effort to port the original Helios system to something more recent, e.g. ARM.

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