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C64 OS: A New Desktop Operating System for the Commodore 64

Last Updated on June 3, 2023


As incredible as it may seem, a desktop OS has been released for the Commodore 64. But is C64 OS going to run on your old breadbin?

Well, unless you have made some modifications, the answer is almost certainly no. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t check this C64 operating system out, as it can be used in the VICE emulator.

Released in mid-September 2022, C64 OS

The OS has the following minimum requirements:

  • A Commodore 64 computer
  • A Joystick
  • An SD2IEC drive

That last item might be a sticking point for many, as the device is expensive (unless you buy the barebones unit). However, if you’re interested in running C64 OS, there is a version of the Epyx Fast Load cartridge that has the SD2IEC drive built in.

The C64 OS documentation states:

An Epyx FastLoad Reloaded cartridge or other speedloader that SD2IEC supports can be used as an alternative to JiffyDOS, but C64 OS boots nearly 2X as fast with JiffyDOS as it does with FastLoad.

You might consider this as a) it is better value than an SD2IEC drive with its own case and b) you need something like Epyx Fast Load to get the most out of C64 OS.

Recommended requirements for C64 OS:

  • A Commodore 64, C64c, Ultimate 64, C128 or C128D computer
  • A 1351 mouse or compatible adapter
  • An IDE64, SD2IEC, CMD HD or RamLink
  • A Ram Expansion Unit or 1541 Ultimate II+
  • A ZiModem WiFi Modem (support to be introduced later)

If all of that sounds like some sort of overkill, or too much effort for an untested OS, you have another option: VICE. C64 OS can run under VICE 3.5 and later with the emulated 1351 mouse and CMD hard disk.

You can find out more in the accompanying video, which demonstrates first run set-up and boot of C64 OS.

You Can’t Download C64 OS

Now, here’s the bad news: the C64 OS isn’t free. That’s no bad thing, of course, as clearly a lot of work has gone into making the OS. Additionally, you can’t download C64 OS. Instead, it’s available on a 16MB SD card (the 59 CAD Starter Version) or 64MB card (the 64 CAD Standard version). These versions include a user guide, installation archive and tools for other storage media, and the Standard version adds a CMD HD hard drive image for use in VICE, C64 graphics files, and popular HVSC SID tunes.

If you want to get started with C64 OS and have a suitable physical or emulated set up, the disks are currently out of stock. But keep an eye on C64OS.com as we’re sure you’ll be able to order your copy soon.

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