Motosu lake in front of mountain Fuji

Motosu - a taskbar for Atari GEM

What is it?

Motosu is a taskbar which also offers a start menu and acts as a DHST server. The project is currently in beta.
Notable features: Adjustable taskbar height (3 presets), persistent tabs, reordering of tabs, echoing the desktop image as taskbar texture.



*) Needed to echo the Thing desktop background.
Note: To allow Thing to go beyond the 8-bit *.IMG image format you may use Lonny Pursell's ThingImg v1.07 [url]
**) Thing desktop can create GRP-files for the start menu, but if using another desktop Jaygroups II can be of great help.


2024-01-19 • Motosu v0.92 beta (68k + V4E/CF)
2023-12-31 • Motosu v0.9 beta (68k)

New in current beta

  • Bugfixes to path handling
  • Bugfixes + improvement to GRP-file parsing (start menu)
  • Uses AV_STARTPROG whenever launching something (Teradesk ignores VA_START)
  • Dynamic detection of AVSERVER starting and terminating
  • Now includes binary that should work on Firebee (
  • See history.txt for a more complete list of changes  

    Distribution notes

    Motosu is released as unrestricted shareware. You may freely use and share the program as long as it is distributed in its original and unaltered archive.
    If you enjoy the program and want to encourage further development, the best way is certainly by sending feedback. Knowing that there are actual users that values the work put into this makes all the difference. Sending an email to gokmase<AT> is one way, or you could share your thoughts on it over at Or simply drop me a line on Discord where my handle is GokMasE#5909


    Atari Falcon/CT60

    Screenshot of Motosu in 32-bit colour XaAES 928x704 @ 8-bit colour (texture off, expanded taskbar height)
    XaAES 928x704 @ 8-bit colour (texture on, expanded taskbar height)
    XaAES 928x704 @ 8-bit colour (texture off, compact taskbar height)
    XaAES 928x704 @ 8-bit colour (texture on, compact taskbar height)


    XaAES 1280x720 @ 32-bit colour (texture off, expanded taskbar height)
    XaAES 1280x720 @ 32-bit colour (texture on, expanded taskbar height)
    XaAES 1280x720 @ 32-bit colour (texture off, compact taskbar height)
    XaAES 1280x720 @ 32-bit colour (texture on, compact taskbar height)


    Make sure any GRP-files associated with the start menu are located at a path where Motosu will look for them. Motosu uses Thing groupfiles (*.GRP) to generate the start menu, and searches for INDEX.GRP in the following locations (in the order as listed below):
    If not found in any of these, the workdir of Motosu will be searched as a last resort.
    These environment variables are required:
    Where applicable, it is highly recommended to make sure the following environment variables are set:
    A new environmental variable, $TAPIRSERVER (Taskbar and tray API Register) is established to point applications to Motosu if they wish to either change their appearance on the taskbar or create a tray object. In the distribution archive you will find two small API demo programs, TempView and RAMses. To enable this functionality make sure to add the following to your setup:
    If XaAES is targetted you get a nice and slender appearance with the following app_options:
  • app_options = motosu, thinwork = true, xa_nomove = false, winframe_size = -1 (if not using textured background, you might like winframe_size = 0 better
    Unzip the archive and run MOTOSU.PRG. When first launched, the program will try to write cache files for icons and (where applicable) background textures.
    The cache files are written to subdirectories of /$HOME/motosu/cache/
    Motosu will save its configuration file to /$HOME/motosu/ (if $HOME is not set, workdir of Motosu will be used instead)
    Discalaimer: Motosu is beta software and while it has been tested extensively to avoid instabilities and risc of doing any kind of damage to the system, it is however offered as-is and comes without any kind of warranty. Run it, use it, enjoy it - all at your own risc.  




    Before anything else, let me get this out of the way: I am a big fan of Taskbar by Jo Even Skarstein. There is no denying that it has inspired more than one aspect of how Motosu is put together - it has been a major influence and inspiration. When Taskbar arrived, it was a definite game changer in how I used my Atari. Slightly due to the start menu with its features but even more so in how I could suddenly access and control the programs currently running. The way that I could interact with applications had suddenly turned a thousand times more smooth and intuitive compared to having to resort to the cumbersome application list in the desk menu.

    The initial spark

    So why writing another taskbar? Well I was working on some unrelated code that involved logging temperature readings from wireless sensors and started thinking that it would be pretty nifty to be able to display the results somewhere. Other systems in many cases offers the possitiliby to do so in the area near the system clock, so maybe I could do that too? At some point I started toying with rough coding ideas on how to keep track of running processes as a proof of concept - and over time it all just seemed to snowball into a project of its own. It has been suggested noone really uses GEM anymore, but then again, I realized I still do.

    Extended ideas

    In order to define some kind of place/object where I could display sensor data and similar, I came up with the concept of "Tray items". Much like the notification area in the taskbar of Windows, the area to the left of the system clock is now reserved for applications that wish to display certain information within a dedicated container labelled Tray item. This new area of display consists of an icon + two display areas. The display areas can be used to draw a level meter, display text or both. There is an API to access this of course, although documentation for that needs some touching up before I make it available.
    While the look of early incarnations of Motosu to some degree was an echo of what Taskbar had accomplished, the development has since been aimed at creating something that more distinctly offers a unique identity. I can only hope I succeeded in doing that.

    Project basics

    General ideas

    I am basically creating a system utility tailor made to suit my own needs, hence the look and feel as well as the system requirements will naturally reflect my setup and how I use my Atari. Rather than aiming for maximum compatibility with every system combination imaginable, I decided in a fairly early stage of development that I want to use a different approach. The idea is to take advantage of any OS/AES function that simplifies the task of reaching the desired goals, and therefore Motosu has been written with FreeMiNT in mind from the get go. The program heavily relies on a number of kernel function to keep track of vital data and it may also be noted that shared memory is utilized for client interaction.


    When it comes to Geneva I have sadly decided that it is missing too many of the crucial functions to be easily supported. As for MagiC, I would expect it to potentially have fewer incompatibilities since it shares quite a few of the more advanced functions with MiNT. However, already from the start I decided that I would much rather spend more time developing the application further than regularly checking for compatibility with MagiC. While I could establish a detailed list of functions that needs to be present, you are realistically facing the choice between XaAES, N.AES and MyAES.

    Development details

    Motosu is coded in GFABASIC and is taking advantage of several of the new GFA commands made available up until v3.73+ which is what I currently use. The program is being developed on a Falcon/CT60@100/25mhz with 14+512Mb and frequently tested on an EmuTOS-powered V4SA. My configuration on both setups are based on FreeMiNT + XaAES with Thing desktop as AVSERVER.

    GokMasE © 2020-2024 - Motosu is a YesCREW production