Who knew that the Raspberry Pi Pico would find itself in such strange situations just a month after release? Developer David Given has successfully ported a UNIX clone called FUZIX to the Pi Pico. Now old-school UNIX hackers can get their hands dirty with a $4 microcontroller.
The Raspberry Pi Pico is a microcontroller for embedded applications. It’s very different from the $5 Raspberry Pi Zero, which is a proper Linux computer intended to run a variety of operating systems. While it’s no surprise that the Pi Pico can run a low-power UNIX-like OS (weaker machines have done so in the past), the fact that this port is functional a month after the Pico’s release is impressive.
FUZIX is a V7 Unix clone based on Doug Braun’s low-power UZI operating system. It was developed by former Linux maintainer Alan Cox in 2014 for the 8-bit Zilog Z80 processor and ported to the Raspberry Pi by David Given. FUZIX contains none of the original UNIX code written by Bell Labs and is not a licensed UNIX product, though its functionality and UNIX-like applications should feel familiar to any UNIX geek.
At a hardware level, the FUZIX port supports up to 15 processes and user binaries up to 64KB. It uses only one of the Pi Pico’s two cores, meaning that the second core could be used for additional processes. And as you might expect, the FUZIX port features a proper UNIX filesystem with a serial console on Pico’s UART0 and SD card support.
While the FUZIX Pi Pico port is fairly stable, it still lacks multi-task and NAND flash support. If you’d like to use FUZIX on your $4 Pi Pico, check out the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s detailed installation guide.