Tetris-OS Is an ‘OS’ That Only Plays Tetris

Illustration for article titled Tetris-OS Is an 'OS' That Only Plays Tetris

Screenshot: Jdah/Github

As a former Tetris fanatic, the idea of an operating system that only runs Tetris, over and over again forever, is fairly compelling. First, my workday would be completely different. Gone are Zoom meetings, mid-morning Slack standups, and endless writing. In fact, a computer that can only play Tetris would remove me from the internet entirely, thereby reducing my intake of fake news, social media muck, and Kardashian gossip. The only thing I could do is play Tetris, and that sounds wonderful.

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To that end, dear reader, we invite you to try to compile and install Tetris-OS, an “operating system” by YouTuber and programmer Jdah that lets you play Tetris at the very heart of your machine. The OS currently runs on macOS inside an emulator, so you probably won’t be able to slap it onto a floppy and punch it into your old Packard Bell PC. Instead, you’ll only be able to celebrate the magic of Tetris-OS in a window on your desktop.

Jdah talked about his development process and even walked us through the creation of his masterpiece. He warns us to try it on our own computers at our own risk.

“You probably know what you’re doing if you’re going to try this,” he wrote. “Just burn boot.iso onto some bootable media and give it a go.”

To be clear, this isn’t an operating system, per se. As one HackerNews wag noted:

This is cool, but I think it’s misleading to call it an operating system. It’s Tetris that runs without an operating system, which is to say, on bare metal, old school. Writing programs that run on bare metal is a cool and worthwhile thing to do, but calling any such program an “operating system” is confusing

And he’s right. Tetris-OS doesn’t manage files, control communications between processes, or handle logins. But, again, this is Tetris-OS. You don’t log into Tetris-OS. You live it.

What this actually is, is a version of Tetris that runs in the bootloader, a small space in any disk (or in this case ISO file) that runs before anything else on your computer. In fact, many game disks from the 1980s and 1990s contained their own “operating systems,” in the loosest sense of the word, which also made it possible to run Space Invaders as an OS and even run Tetris as a computer’s BIOS. That said, it’s a great effort and, ultimately, could incite true human enlightenment if we can all get together and replace Facebooking, Tweeting, and TikTokking with endless games of Tetris.

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