Linux can be called the most advanced operating system right now. It is hacker friendly, is open source and is used on many servers and as a workstation. Sometimes, Linux is compared with netbsd, FreeBSD or SUN OS, because these systems were used early on workstations, but in general Linux is accepted as superior, mainly because of the size of the community and how fast changes are integrated into the kernel.
But, there is competitor in the shadow, called Forth. In theory, Forth can replace Linux. But it is unclear how exactly. Let us make things more easier and describe what Forth can do for a user in the mainstream. A computer can be booted with qemu, but qemu needs an operating system which is stored in the .img file. Some github projects are available which provide such a qemu image with Forth. The idea is similar to the retroforth project which was programmed for the Commodore 64, but only for the x86 PC.
The assumption which was teached by Linux is, that after the booting, the operating system must provide all the hardware drivers for example network, graphicscard, filesystem and so on. And that without the Linux kernel and the userland no additional program can be started. But is this assumption correct? Every computer has a BIOS as default. The BIOS provides the VESA standard which is able to paint lines on the screen. So in theory it is possible to run a PC without an operating system, or with a very small one, for example QNX which is much more compact than Linux. What if we program in Forth a small operating system which is utilizing existing BIOS routines for getting network access, videographics access and put sound to the speaker?
It is unclear right now, if this is possible but it would bypass the existing Linux ecosystem. It would feel more like the early MS-DOS which contains only the msdos.sys and command.com file, but is programmed in Forth. And thanks Forth no complicated C compiler is needed. So the whole system would be a strip down version of Minix 2.
Suppose, a Forth microkernel is able to start high-level programs and schedule them. Suppose the system fits in under 500 kb and is more efficient than current Linux distributions. What can the user do with such a system, doesn’t he has to write Forth code? Yes, he must. It is not possible to execute Linux binary in Forth, so the user must write all the software from scratch. But, as far as i have seen in the Forth documentation it is able to extend the ANS Forth standard with object oriented features. And writing all the needed software is possible. On the first look, the Forth syntax is a bit complicated, but not more complicated then C++. But the main advantage is, that it will run efficient, especially on low power cpus.
The disadvantage is, that the user will loose most of today’s ecosystem: the Linux operating system, the C/C++ compiler, existing libraries for OpenGL access and most other features created by the Open Source movement like the Ubuntu ideology which has the goal to teach programming to beginners. In contrast, a software ecosystem made of Forth is much more mature. That means, Forth is the language of computer scientists
What is the idea? The idea is to create a compact operating system, which is faster than Linux and takes less resources than Linux..Such an operating system is not programmed in Assembly language like the menuet-os example, but in High-level Forth. That means, in Forth is assembly language integrated for setting the BIOS Vesa mode, but then the user can use Forth high-level commands to put lines on the screen. It is unclear, how to program such a Forth OS, but in theory it would make sense.
The most dominant problem is perhaps, that existing software written in C would no longer run in Forth. It is not possible to convert C sourcecode into Forth. Only the opposite direction is possible, but there is no github with Forth sourcecode available. That means, the project would start from scratch and write everything new. As far as i can see at Stackoverflow and on github, there is no large community available which is interested in such a project. Most programmers are fully stretched with Windows, Mac and Linux, they didn’t see a need for Forth. And the programmers who are familiar with Forth are also not interested because it is to easy for them to write a QNX clone in Forth. It is something which doesn’t bring the Forth movement forward.