The fuzixdist.tar file is a binary distribution intended to demonstrate Cowgol on Z80 Fuzix systems. It needs a platform supporting the Normal™ Z80 ABI; e.g. z80pack, but not the ZX Spectrum. It also needs at least 48kB of userspace, which means the TRS80 model 4P need not apply. It’s not really intended for use for daily development, because it’s really slow and full of holes.


Ensure the tarfile is decompressed, by unzipping it on your host machine.

$ gunzip fuzixdist.tar.gz

Copy it into your Fuzix filesystem. You’ll want to use ucp for this.

$ ucp $DISK "get fuzixdist.tar"

Set $DISK to point at your emulator’s disk image (or a real disk device if you’re so lucky).

Now boot Fuzix. At the shell, expand the archive:

# tar -x < fuzixdist.tar

This will install Cowgol in /opt/packages/cowgol.

Note: Fuzix’ tar has a bug in it where overwritten files aren’t truncated *properly. So, weird things can happen if you reinstall Cowgol on top of a *previous system. I recommend you delete all of /opt/packages/cowgol first.

Next, create a test file and invoke the compiler.

# cd /tmp
# echo 'print("Hello, world!\n");' > test.cow
# /opt/packages/cowgol/bin/cowgol test.cow

After a short pause and quite a lot of tracing (if you’re on an emulator) or a very long pause and quite a lot of tracing (if you’re on real hardware), the compilation will end. You’ll have a file called cow.out in the current directory, which you can run.

# chmod a+rx cow.out
# ./cow.out
Hello, world!


The Cowgol standard libraries (hollow laughter) are installed into /opt/packages/cowgol/share. If you want to use any of them, add them (to the beginning!) of the list of source files when invoking the cowgol script. No, they’re not documented yet.

Known issues

There are many, of which this is a non-exhaustive list.

  • it’s dead slow. There are several reasons, but the biggest of which is that Cowgol is a whole-program compiler and every time you invoke it it has to recompile the standard libraries. It’s possible to partially precompile these, which will help, but this isn’t implemented yet for Fuzix.

  • the standard library itself is a bit of a disaster; most of the Fuzix system calls have been crudely hacked in (so you can actually write and run real, useful programs) but there’s a lot of them and loading them all every time is a disaster, space-wise. (Nearly 5kB of things and 1kB of strings.) This all needs rethinking.

  • there are many Fuzix shell scripting bugs, which means the driver script doesn’t always detect errors properly.

  • you can’t build Cowgol itself on Fuzix — there just isn’t enough RAM available. Although it’s marginal; with a small syscall library and a few basic optimisations, it may be possible.

  • code generation bugs. Haven’t run into one for a while, doesn’t mean they’re not still out there somewhere…

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