Microsoft is busily working away on Windows 11 and its redesigned, modern interface. Andreas Kling, meanwhile, is building the wonderfully retro Unix-like SerenityOS from the kernel on up.

Maybe Fluent has really struck a chord with you. If, however, you feel like Windows interfaces peaked with Windows 2000, you’ll love the aesthetic in SerenityOS. Kling calls the project “a love letter to 90s user interfaces,” and it’s easy to see why. There are elements of classic Windows, MacOS and NeXT UIs and there’s no attempt to accommodate touchscreens the way most of today’s desktop OSes do.

This is a classic mouse & keyboard system by design,” Kling posted on Hacker News. On the SerenityOS homepage he adds “this is a system by us, for us, based on the things we like.”

Kling and the SerenityOS have ported a number of apps and games already. Classics like Quake and the retro platformer VVVVVVV are playable and there’s a working port of Nesalizer for emulation fans (complete with sound support).

Perhaps the coolest thing about SerenityOS is the series of videos Kling has uploaded to his YouTube channel. They provide some very interesting looks behind the scenes. One that’s particularly fun is when he shows how to build a simple Breakout-style game — using the HackStudio IDE that was purpose-built for the OS he created himself.

Kling started work on SerenityOS about three years ago. Today, he’s working on its development full time and collaborating with more than 475 contributors. And yes, there’s a bug bounty program.

There’s plenty of work left to do on SerenityOS, naturally. Support for GPUs and large, higher-resolution displays is still in the works, for example. Don’t let that put you off taking SerenityOS for a spin, however. Boot it up on your virtualization platform of choice and marvel at what Kling and his team have built from scratch in just over three years.


Support Liliputing

Liliputing's primary sources of revenue are advertising and affiliate links (if you click the "Shop" button at the top of the page and buy something on Amazon, for example, we'll get a small commission).

But there are several ways you can support the site directly even if you're using an ad blocker* and hate online shopping.

Contribute to our Patreon campaign


Contribute via PayPal

* If you are using an ad blocker like uBlock Origin and seeing a pop-up message at the bottom of the screen, we have a guide that may help you disable it.

Subscribe to Liliputing via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 9,543 other subscribers

Lee Mathews

Computer tech, blogger, husband, father, and avid MSI U100 user.

8 replies on “SerenityOS offers a Unix-like experience with 90s computing vibes”

  1. firefox AND chromium
    communicator with wideo

    sorry byt today haiku is fast and useful not serenity

  2. Everyone needs a hobby. My mom chrochets scarves. SerenityOS may not be as useful as a scarf. It seems to be more there to be admired.

  3. Seeing stuff like this makes me wish someone would do the same thing to replicate the old SGI IRIX interface

  4. This sort of coat of paint on modern OSes is too easy.

    Be hardcore, get an old PC out of storage (or get it from eBay and the like), and set it up like it’s 1998 again – that is get down and dirty with an analog modem, a dial-up PPP connection, and fire up that Netscape Communicator browser.

    1. It’s not just a coat of paint, it’s their own custom kernel, libc, etc.

      Of course, due to the magical joys of driver support, it only runs in a VM, and SMP is still in progress.

  5. Oh, you want oldschool? You know Motif is still a thing if you want to punish yourself! Or get WMaker for a cool early ’90s NextStep vibe!

  6. It’s neat, but it doesn’t need any more attention. The more attention it gets the more it’ll attract power hungry, inconsiderate people who are only interested in the prestige of working on it, and often of “virtuous” bullying of developers, as a launchpad for getting a job with some huge company.

Comments are closed.