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Collapse OS

Bootstrap post-collapse technology

Collapse OS is a Forth operating system and a collection of tools and documentation with a single purpose: preserve the ability to program micro- controllers through civilizational collapse.

It it designed to:

  1. Run on minimal and improvised machines.
  2. Interface through improvised means (serial, keyboard, display).
  3. Edit text files.
  4. Compile assembler source files for a wide range of MCUs and CPUs.
  5. Read and write from a wide range of storage devices.
  6. Assemble itself and deploy to another machine.

Additionally, the goal of this project is to be as self-contained as possible. With a copy of this project, a capable and creative person should be able to manage to build and install Collapse OS without external resources (i.e. internet) on a machine of her design, built from scavenged parts with low-tech tools.

Git repository no longer updated

In the wake of my rejection of modern software and complexity, I've stopped using git to manage versioning in Collapse OS because I consider RCS to be sufficient. The commit adding this message is therefore the last I'm adding.

Further improvements of Collapse OS are available on Collapse OS' website as tarballs of the project including RCS metadata. Those tarballs are updated regularly.

Getting started

Documentation is in text files in doc/. Begin with intro.txt.

Collapse OS can run on any POSIX platform and builds easily. See /cvm/README.md for instructions.

Alternatively, there's also Michael Schierl's JS Collapse OS emulator which is awesome and allows you to run Collapse OS from your browser, but it isn't always up to date. The "Javascript Forth" version is especially awesome: it's not a z80 emulator, but a javascript port of Collapse OS!

Organisation of this repository

  • blk.fs: Collapse OS filesystem's content. See below.
  • cvm: A C implementation of Collapse OS, allowing it to run natively on any POSIX platform.
  • doc: Documentation.
  • arch: collection of makefiles that assemble Collapse OS on different machines.
  • tools: Tools for working with Collapse OS from "modern" environments. For example, tools for facilitating data upload to a Collapse OS machine through a serial port.
  • emul: Tools for running Collapse OS in an emulated environment.
  • tests: Automated test suite for the whole project.


This file is a big text file containing the "real deal", that is, the contents of Collapse OS' filesystem. That filesystem contains everything that a post-collapse computer would manage, that is, all Forth and assembler source code for the tools it needs to fulfill its goals.

The Collapse OS filesystem is a simple sequence of 1024 bytes blocks. That is not very workable in the text editor of a modern system. blk.fs represents an "unpacked" view of that block system. Each block (16 lines max per block, 64 chars max per line) begins with a marker indicating the block number of the contents that follow.

Blocks must be in ascending order.

That file can be "packed" to a real blkfs with /tools/blkpack. A real blkfs can be "unpacked" to its text file form with /tools/blkunpack.


The project unfinished but is progressing well! See Collapse OS' website for more information.

Looking for the assembler version?

The Forth-based Collapse OS is the second incarnation of the concept. The first one was entirely written in z80 assembly. If you're interested in that incarnation, checkout the z80asm branch.