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Running AmigaOS on a PC (The Proper Way) 256

Posted by timothy
from the with-a-pinch-of-salt dept.
AmiLover writes: "OSNews is running a review of AmigaXL, a system that allows you to boot AmigaOS on your PC in a way that resembles a regular-booting x86 operating system. Screenshots accompany the article show the latest version of AmigaOS 3.9 running on a Compaq laptop. With AmigaOS 4.0 coming out in March with lots of new features (antialias fonts, better memory protection etc) is AmigaXL the one true future of Amiga, a future that AmigaDE, QNX and Gateway failed to materialize through their involvement with AmigaOS?"
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Running AmigaOS on a PC (The Proper Way)

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  • AROS ? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mirko (198274) on Monday February 04, 2002 @10:23AM (#2950061) Journal
    What about the AROS [aros.org] Project which has been running for long ?
    • I just want a Toaster. Is that too much to ask?
      :)

      If anyone has an extra, just ask; I'll give you my address!
      • I don't think AmigaOSXL has drivers for the Toaster. Or for zorro slots, agnus, amiga keyboards, amiga mice, etc.

        Then again, when Be ported their OS off the proprietary platform, and onto a PC, was the best thing that ever happened to them. Now Be Inc., is worth what? 2 trillion USD?
        • Then again, when Be ported their OS off the proprietary platform, and onto a PC, was the best thing that ever happened to them. Now Be Inc., is worth what? 2 trillion USD?

          You are joking right? Be recently went through liquidation and is no longer a commercial entity.
  • Vm_Ware (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Wind_Walker (83965) on Monday February 04, 2002 @10:25AM (#2950068) Homepage Journal
    Has anybody tried to get this working under VMWare yet?

    For those of you who don't know, VMWare [vmware.com] is a way in which multiple virtual machines can be created on your desktop. What VMWare actually does is it isolates a section of hard drive (appears as a regular file in Linux) and isolates sections of memory (I've had up to 128 MB allocated) and runs a "virtual machine" which runs through a "BIOS" and can do pretty much everything that another computer can do, including running Windows 98 Games!

    So, has anybody got this running under VMWare yet?

    • If you don't want it to take over the computer you could just use UAE, couldn't you? (Ok, so networking isn't exactly perfect, but I'm sure someone will either fix it or pester me enough to fix it.. (This is about the unix-version, I've never even used the windows-version.))


      The JIT might not work in the latest version, but 0.8.15 isn't such a bad version, is it?

      • UAE works nice and fine under Mac OS 8.1 (on a 120mhz 604) and OS X 10.1 (on a 600mhz iMac). I doubt if it runs well on Windows, but I don't really care (even Basilisk II is slow under XP).

        • UAE works nice and fine under Mac OS 8.1 (on a 120mhz 604) and OS X 10.1 (on a 600mhz iMac). I doubt if it runs well on Windows, but I don't really care (even Basilisk II is slow under XP).


          What type of CPU and what programs? Basilisk II ran all of the shareware 68K games I threw at it fine -- i.e. Maelstrom, Apeiron, etc. on a 400Mhz Celeron.
          • apparently you can't read. where he writes "(on a 120Mhz 604)" what do YOU suppose he means? mutt
    • The performance would probably be bad though... this would be a double emulation. Boot up a virtual machine that then boots a virtual amiga to run the OS. Seems kind of not worth it, may as well just set up the AmigaXL thing on its own partition.
    • I think you misunderstand what VMWare does. My understanding is that VMWare is a thin emulation layer that emulates your physical x86 machine on itself so that you can run Linux/*BSD under Windows or Windows/*BSD under Linux. Seeing as how AmigaOS was designed for a completely different platform and, according to the article, a fairly exotic architecture that is difficult to emulate, I don't see how VMWare would help in this case.
      • Amithlon/AmigaOS XL runs on X86 hardware, VMware runs OS's for X86 Hardware. So his question is quite legit, I in fact tried to run it under vmware, but it locked at the book screen.
    • I couldnt get Amithlon to run under vmware. I dont know if QNX runs under vmware, but im grabbing 6.1 to try that later. Searching the the web, and a guy states Amithlon runs under vmware with tweaks, but his screenshot is of the boot screen, which is were it locks. So its prob a fraud.

      Amithlon is a whole OS, but its picky about hardware. It is more compatible, which is more important for an amiga user.
      AmigaOS XL runs on top of Qnx, in that respect, I would rather have it run ontop of linux or winxp.
  • You know the drill... not dead, resting, ex-parrot, ceased to be... etc...
  • Screenshots (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cheesemaker (36551) on Monday February 04, 2002 @10:33AM (#2950091) Journal
    So, when I think "screenshots," I don't usually assume they're pictures of a laptop from a few feet away.....
    • Well if they had just been captures of what was in the frame buffer, what proof would there be that it was really running on an x86 machine? They could have just fired up an Amiga and did the screen captures.

      I know what AmigaOS looks like anyway, this is more interesting.
      • Proof? What proof do you have that the laptop is not merely running an imageviewer that displays screenshots from a real Amiga?

        Now, I happen to own a copy of AmigaOS XL (Amithlon and AmigaXL) so I know it's real, but I wouldn't call it proof just because the laptop displays a picture of AmigaOS 3.9.
      • What makes you believe the laptop isn't from a framebuffer too?

        grin

  • I'm not dead! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dino (9081) <jd_dino@@@yahoo...com> on Monday February 04, 2002 @10:35AM (#2950102) Homepage
    Amiga = the computer that won't die. Just to drive home an dprove that point, I just purchased an Amiga 1200 from an old friend for $100. Amiga 1200 with EC040/50, 10megs of RAM, couple gigs of HD spread over 5 HDs, SCSI PCMCIA... I've been shopping around second-hand computer shops looking for a giant PC tower case to move it into. I hope to eventially pick up a PPC + graphics board, install WB 3.9 (has super-pimped/hacked 3.0 right now with most to all of the features of 3.5).

    Ahhh the memories. While the Amiga was left behind in the speed wars a long time ago (I forgot how long it takes a simple JPEG image to load!) For ease of use and simple hackability, there never was any competition.

    Long live the Amiga! May she never rest in peace!
    • you paid a HUNDRED BUCKS for an AMIGA 1200? are you insane? that thing only cost 400 when it was new, and that was 10 years ago. WOW.
  • by buckrogers (136562) on Monday February 04, 2002 @10:57AM (#2950171) Homepage
    I am wondering if the Amiga can ever rise from the ashes like the Phoenix?

    It is interesting that it will run on both x86 and PPC platforms. This will help it gain ground. Unfortunately they chose QNX as their kernel, which is not only proprietary, but also has few fanatical supporters. (unlike either *BSD or Linux, both of which have lots of fanatical supporters.) It is at least a UNIX like kernel, and very high performance.

    It would have been better to emulate Apple in picking a free kernel. Then you would have had the supporters of that OS adding the the core supporters of Amiga. Worse case, how hard would it be to make *BSD or Linux be API compatible with QNX?

    All that being said, I would love to see a demo of it, and to see just how fast it is and how well it runs all the programs. I bet we can look forward to ports of open office and mozilla rather quickly as soon as a few developers get their hands on a copy. The full set of GNU tools will also probably be quickly ported to the new environment.

    I have a feeling that this is the last chance for Amiga, it is sink or swim. If they don't succeed this time, then it is all over for the platform.

    And even then I think that Amiga has a lot to prove in a market that is crowed with Windows, Linux/X and Mac OS X in the top 3 places. No one else is even a contendor on the desktop. OS2 is dead, BeOS is dead. They have to prove that they are worth the price. BeOS was arguably as good or better than the new Amiga, and it never caught on.
    • "It is interesting that it will run on both x86 and PPC platforms. This will help it gain ground."

      I bet some fool in marketing at Be Inc., said this same thing, when they decided to kill the Bebox, in its cradle, no less.

      "It would have been better to emulate Apple in picking a free kernel."

      Um, let me get this straight. A new amiga, without real amiga hardware AND operating system? Yeh, you may want to apply for a job with them. I have a suspicion you'd get along fine there.

      The last chance was in the early 1990's, unfortunately. I think newtek killed what was left of Amiga, and who can blame them? They would have killed themselves trying to defend the remnants.
    • "Unfortunately they chose QNX as their kernel"

      Not so at all; AmigaOS 4 won't be using any other OS as its kernel.

      As for AmigaXL, it consists of two products: Amithlon and (confusingly) AmigaXL for QNX. The latter is basically a modified version of UAE running on QNX which is perhaps what you're thinking of.

      It's also not clear that this is a dual-platform approach. Amithlon (and AmigaXL for QNX, and UAE) will only emulate 68k (albeit, extremely quickly) so won't in their current incarnation be able to run AmigaOS 4. But still, it may help the Amiga gain ground as you say (especially all the while AmigaOS 4 is nowhere to be seen).
  • by garoush (111257) on Monday February 04, 2002 @10:58AM (#2950176) Homepage
    I used AmigaOS over 17 years ago. And I can tell you, it WAS way ahead of it's time. Not only was it Max OS X, Linux, and Windows of today, it also had the best hardware of today from low end device support to the best graphic technology.

    It was a developers machine as well as a user's machine to love.

    ----
    • If it was so superior, what killed it? Marketing?

      Sorry, this was a bit before my time (at least computing time). I started on Apples, and even though Amiga was around, it was going out of style (at least around here).
      • "If it was so superior, what killed it? Marketing? "

        Yes.

        I'd have to say just about everything that could go wrong did go wrong.

        Still it was a cool machine. It was the innovator in cheap video production. Or rather NewTek was with the Video Toaster.

        Even so, there are still a number of names around that first started on the Amiga. A lot of the 3D rendering packages like Lightwave started on the Amiga. Some of the game makers are still around like Psygnosis. Jim Sachs was a noted Amiga artist and is responsible for the Aquarium screen saver which is part of the Microsoft Plus! XP pack. etc.
      • If it was so superior, what killed it? Marketing?

        Among other things, yes. Commodore's marketing was awful to say the least, and bankruptcy followed in 1994 leaving Amiga in void for a couple of years. That finally killed the machine for the masses. Yes, I know it is still pretty popular hobbyist machine, but so are for example C64 or MSX.

        Another fatal thing was slow progress. It took almost *ten* years to get new graphics chipset and more processor power to the lower-end models, and when AGA finally arrived it was too little too late, PC had already got first sound cards and VGA, and more processor power. There were rumors that Commodore had *lost* the original chipset (OCS) designs, and they had to reverse-engineer the chips to be able to make next generation AGA chips compatible.

        It is also impossible to make an AmigaOS-compatible operating system with real memory protection without using virtual machines or emulators for older software. Original AmigaOS uses pointer-based messaging, and that's why the OS is so efficient. But unfortunately, that's impossible with virtual memory. So though AmigaOS was still way ahead of its time in 1985, it can't be updated to even 1995 standards without losing compatibility.
      • Well, the marketing was a little strange, but it was really a hundred different things at once. First, the Amiga was never marketed to business (would have been pointless anyway), secondly Amiga CD-32 - a spectacular waste of money that went up against Sega and lost, thirdly incredibly shitty build quality, fourthly no progressive scan GFX until the 030 machines meant WP and office stuff was extremely headache inducing and lastly, the Commodore management were idiots and thieves who blew all their cash on private jets and crap when they should have been investing. The real shame of it was the all of the software developers' fantastic work was wasted, some moved on and thrived, some didn't.
        • secondly Amiga CD-32 - a spectacular waste of money that went up against Sega and lost,

          In North America anyway. But in Europe, particularly Britain and Germany, the CD32 was doing a remarkably good job handing Sega's ass to it on a plate, right up until Commodore disappeared out from under it.
        • I don't know about y'all, but I could never bring myself to take seriously a computer whose screen image jittered so violently that using any GUI app was risky to mental health.

          And it made it worse when our CS teacher (touted to be one of the top Amiga minds in the country) told us that it wasn't a big deal. Particularly when I could pull out my PowerBook and do twice as much, twice as happily, and without putting up with ridiculous shortcomings in the interest of being "more advanced."
      • Oy vey...

        Marketing - THATS what killed the amiga - beautiful machine, excellent hardware, great OS (do u know any other OS today that you can mix resolutions on the same screen like 640x200 & 320x200, different bitplanes and all at once? didn't see it anywhere else...

        And yet, Commodore (who bought Amiga) managed to screw each time their customers over, over, and over again.

        Anyone who where following Commodore in their last few years will tell you about their biggest mistake - making their last machine (Amiga 4000) totally incompatible with everything else - was their biggest mistake. Did I mention how much they screwed their customers?

        And people wondered how come Atari ST with less then HALF of the featured kicked Amiga's sales in the butt (neck to neck sales in Europe, sold better then Amiga in U.S)

        Oh dear...
    • AmigaOS was a great OS and it is impressive that AmigaOS could do what it could do on a $1000 machine. AmigaOS, at the time, beat MacOS, Windows, and TOS, hands down in architecture, performance, and funtionality. If AmigaOS had taken over the world, instead of Windows and MacOS, the computer industry would have progressed much faster.

      But the underlying concepts weren't new, even at the time: message passing, multitasking, GUIs, hardware acceleration, etc., were already being used in several other operating systems. OSX's ancestor, Mach, was already being developed, and Linux's ancestors, various versions of UNIX, had been out for nearly a decade. Several GUIs, including early versions of X, were also in use.

  • by ckemp (90569) on Monday February 04, 2002 @10:59AM (#2950178) Homepage
    Exactly same news item was posted [ann.lu] on ANN [ann.lu] several hours ago. In the comments section, Bernie Meyer, the main programmer behind Amithlon, responds in several posts (1 [ann.lu], 2 [ann.lu], 3 [ann.lu])
  • an excellent windowing and multitasking architecture (smooth, not slow and jerky) in 1985. 32 bit hardware at a reasonable price well before that stuff was available for PCs.

    Amiga was one incredible PC and way ahead of its time. I'd certainly love an up-to-date model if the new ones can attain the same type of standards as the old ones.
  • I'll be able to use VideoToaster once again?
  • but it's a bit expansive. 150 euro when UAE is free. (But I only own the AmigaOS ROM 2.0) but this one seems to be a fastest way to run my old amiga code.

    The truth is this thing is a gadget for amiga nostalgics and I would love to see the face of some people when I'll "boot" an AmigaOS on my PC (not really the truth this is still emulation but I don't have to tell them right away and it still would be fun). Is that worth 150 euros?
  • by The Famous Brett Wat (12688) on Monday February 04, 2002 @11:04AM (#2950201) Homepage Journal
    I'm a fan of the Amiga. Not as vehement a fan as I used to be: my shelf-full of old Amigas goes largely unused, but not entirely unused. I can't help but wonder, though: no matter how cool any Amiga-related stuff may be, is it even possible for a proprietary OS to be successful in today's market? Look at Be -- it's the new Amiga: it will probably never die completely either. Apple has its little niche and is staying there thank you: it's not going away any time soon, but nobody is asking whether it will take over the world anymore.

    And note: Linux is quite horrible in most regards as a desktop OS (which doesn't stop me using it as such, or even installing it on the machines of the clueless as a virus-proof alternative to Windows), but it's still the only system making real inroads on the desktop.

    I find the empirical evidence too hard to ignore: unless you're Microsoft, the only way you're going to make significant advances in today's OS marketplace is to be Open Source. Proprietary releases of the Amiga OS for the PC platform might make a few old Amiga die-hards very happy, but is there really any future in it? Is history going to repeat itself again?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I think that you may be a slight bit "open source" slanted. Perhaps the only OS that will make advances in the marketplace is the OS that meets and/or exceeds end user needs, regardless of the open/closed status of the source. You seem to forget that the overwhelming majority of users do not care about the source, their computer is a tool.
    • is it even possible for a proprietary OS to be successful in today's market?

      I guess it depends on what you call "success." If you mean gaining a large marketshare, Amiga ain't gonna do that. If you mean make a profit, then yes, it's theoretically possible.

      Proprietary releases of the Amiga OS for the PC platform might make a few old Amiga die-hards very happy, but is there really any future in it?

      No, there's no future in it. I still use my Amiga every day (for all my email and most of my web surfing) but even I know that. But if you can make Amiga die-hards happy enough to write checks, type in credit card numbers, etc. then everybody wins.

  • The author of this /. story asks, "is AmigaXL the one true future of Amiga...?"

    An answer your question from the article:

    "Is this the future of Amiga computing?," you may ask. Although this package offers a very valuable addition to the options currently available, the future of Amiga computing lies with PPC based Amiga 4.x compatible computers and other AmigaDE enabled solutions.

  • The Amiga. (Score:4, Funny)

    by cooperj72 (83796) on Monday February 04, 2002 @11:12AM (#2950220)
    For those of you who have never used one, let me put it like this.

    In 1989 I bought an Amiga 500. My jaw dropped.

    I have never experienced another piece of
    technology the way I did the first year I used
    amiga. It's sound, graphics, multitasking, and
    interface WAS that good... that far
    ahead of it's time.

    If there were and equivalent to getting laid the
    first time it would be the Amiga. Sure
    you've had better since, but you will
    remember it always. For the record I'll take my
    first lay over the Amiga anytime ;)

    -J

  • What will stop AmigaOS 'XL' on x86 architecture from suffering the same pain as o/s's like BeOS? They cannot rely on the fact that there are a lot of ex-amigageeks out there willing to run AmigaOS on a PC. The software support isn't available and will end up just like BeOS. I, being an amigageek, would have a play with it - but I think the CD/Box would end up back on the shelf after a day or two of realizing that I just can't do what I want to do with it. It's not the same as it used to be which will put off many amigaholics..
  • I have to face the fact. The Amiga as an all in one platform, is now dead. We were the fringe of the fringe at the time, battling even Mac users for spot as the underdog.

    Amiga as we remember it is dead, and it's not comming back! I've moved on to Mandrake as a desktop.

  • Still don't get it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by maggard (5579) <michael@michaelmaggard.com> on Monday February 04, 2002 @11:29AM (#2950297) Homepage Journal
    OK - Like 99.99% of the computer owning public I never owned an Amiga. Fifteen years ago I thought they were great and a pity the company was run into the ground but hey, life moved on.

    Since then the industry has changed tremendously, we've been though how many generations of hardware, software, and even OSes. It's nice that an Amiga-legacy has come back but - to what?

    Is there anything that Amiga now offers that Be didn't or MacOS X doesn't? Something that Wintel in it's messy but with 90% of the market way can't cough up some half-assed version of? The Linux/BSD/etc. can't reproduce?

    Surely there aren't enough Amiga-fanatics out there to support a viable market for running old binaries? And all of those old kewl Amiga apps - they're old hat now - certianly there are better alternatives on other platforms by now aren't there?

    What, exactly, does Amiga offer other then seeing an old friend again? I know nothing else is quite like it but after all these years is it really viable as an ongoing concern? Or is it like CP/M, just a joy to see it but of little real purpose other then the familiarity and the odd bit that can still be useful if only because nobody ever did it as well elsewhere?

    • >Is there anything that Amiga now offers that Be didn't or MacOS X doesn't?

      How about running multiple resolutions at once? If that sentence doesn't make sense to you then you truly don't get it. ;)

      -Jeff
      • How about running multiple resolutions at once?

        Nice, but doesn't seem a make-it-or-break-it thang to me, how is it useful to you?

        -- Michael

        btw I expect (but don't know) that this could be done in MacOS X with it's Quartz layer; might be an interesting thing to look into if you're hurtin' for the feature.

        • by Jhan (542783) on Monday February 04, 2002 @01:06PM (#2950841) Homepage

          This feature (Screens) is one of the major reasons I still use my Amiga daily (in fact, I'm writing this on it!)

          An example: My Workbench (finder, ) runs in a medium-resolution (800x600), 24-bit mode in order to make the icons the right size and the text readable. My paint program is set to run in the highest 24-bit resolution my piss-poor gfx card can handle (1280x960). My C IDE is set to run in 1600x1200, 256 colors.

          I can launch both applications and toggle through the three screens quickly with the screen depth gadget. In fact, I can launch a game and still toggle screens (with a key press, since the game is fullscreen).

          In combination with MUI [sasg.com] this feature becomes even more usefull. You can set up any number of screen definitions ahead of time, and select which applications go on what screen. For instance, the graphics program and the picture viewer could both share the high-res, 24 bit screen. The IDE and the text viewer could share the extrememly high-res, 256 color screen. (Normally, each application would either run on Workbench or on its own custom screen.)

          Screens are probably the hardest to reproduce likable feature of AmigaOS, but there are tons of others:

          • Ram disk that automatically grows/shrinks as needed. Perfect for those temp files.
          • Handlers in general, allowing you to very easily create disk-like thingies.
          • A shell that's smart enough to realize that when I type the name of a directory, I don't want to execute the damn thing, I want to move to it!
          • Any sized icons.
          • Icons and disk drawers that remember their position/size. Of course, the Mac has always had this, though apparently there're som problems with OSX.
          • RDB partitioning system.
          • Assigns, esp. multi assigns.
          • The ability to run all my (100's) of old games :-)
          • A unique compromise between simplicity and power. Repeat after me Bill and Linus and Steve: user friendliness is not about creating a horrendously overcomplex system and then trying to hide it from the users by pasting a cute graphical shell on top!
          • Dozens more points I will not bore you with here.

          All of these thing conspire to make me hang on to my dear Amiga, year after year. And the fact that I bloody hate both Microsoft and the PC hardware design.

          • Thanks for the great response. Apparently the ability to have different bit-depth screens is important to some folks.

            I'm still not sure how critical it is to the majority of us nor that it can't be reproduced (and some if it's functioniality seems predicated on remedying other Amiga OS weaknesses) but yes, I can see the advantages. Again, I wouldn't be suprised if MacOS X can't offer much of what you want with some work but it'll never run those 100's of games, at least not natively (hmmm - Virtual PC running....) nor behave like the WorkBench.

            Each to his own.

            So do you think there are enough folks interested in using Amiga or enough developers willing to support it that it will ever "take off" in any more-then-obscure-hobbyist way? I know anything is possible but do you expect it to happen or are we seeing the cadaver get yet another shock through the heart but afterwards it'll still be laying there on the table, lovely but going nowhere fast?

    • ARexx (Score:3, Informative)

      by Judebert (147131)
      The nicest thing about the Amiga, that no one has mentioned yet, was the extensive integration with a scripting language. ARexx was a Rexx variant that allowed developers to expose the internal functions of their programs, and it was a joy. That integration was worth learning a new syntax for.

      An example: I loved doing animation and putting them onto tape. By hand, this involved running each frame through Art Department Professional to resize, deinterlace, and change bit depth; then hitting the "Append" button in my Personal Animation Recorder and adding the changed frame (fields) to an animation.

      I wrote an ARexx program that started ADPro and PAR, then waited for new frames to show up in a directory as they were rendered. It would press the appropriate buttons to load the image in ADPro, manipulate it, and save it to disk, then do the same to have the PAR add it to the animation. If I had a serial VCR, it could even have recorded the thing when I was through.

      That kind of integration was marvelous. Everything had it. You could automate the most amazing tasks. It was like getting a little command-line utility for every function of a monstrously complex program's GUI. It would be nice to have in Linux; the closest we've got now is Gimp scripting.
      • Is that the same Rexx that was on OS/2? IBM put out a Linux version a couple years ago, but it doesn't seem to have made much of a splash.
        • Actually it is (almost) the same Rexx - one of my old Amiga buddies way back when went nuts when he discovered Rexx on his Amiga, apparently they supported it really well.

          So there's a point but is it unique?

          Wintel has VB able to claw into most things and easy to play with as well as ports of most big scripting languages including (I believe) Rexx. MacOS & MacOS X both (and their applications!) support their native AppleScript as well as standard hooks (Open Scripting Architecture) for any number of other languages including Perl, TCL, Phython and even JavaScript. Linux/BSD/etc. of course have all of those scripting languages though few of their larger applications support scripting in any sort of universally structured way (command line switches notwithstanding.)

          A great scripting language is a joy and yes Amiga was innovative in that on a GUI platform but that was then, today it's hardly a distinguishing feature. Heck if that were critical we'd be knee deep in OS/2 right now (IMHO a kewler OS then Amiga and having it's own stalwarts.)

  • when i had my amiga 600 - booted from floppy into my gui (workbench)

    then i spent about £200 ($300) on my 40MB hard disk - i was in awe - i installed the OS to hard disk, and booted from HD - once again my jaw dropped.

    at about this time i just had to get my memory upgrade, i think i remember it being a 1MB upgrade, wow, it was great, i made a 1MB ram drive with it when i needed to.

    im too excited, /me goes out to buy AmigaOS to remember the good old days.

    All this and im only 22, LOL
  • I see the obligatory Amiga posting every month or two on /. I'd like to know more about the user base. In what fields is the Amiga used and why is it a viable platform? What are the unique Amiga only features today.

    This is not a troll. I'd like someone to enlighten me and possibly other readers.
    • I don't know too much about the Amiga (I wish I had the chance to own one but I didn't) But I do know that a lot of lower end production companies still use Amigas for their video editing. (Yes, the Amiga was THAT good that people have decided NOT to go with Adobe Premiere) Also, Commodore systems have always had graphics that were way ahead of their time. (Hell the C64 had 320x200x16 back in 1979, PCs at best had CGA (320x200x4)) So as best I can see this is where Amiga shined the most just because this is where people still use them for real tasks everyday TODAY.

      Maybe I am wrong, if so let me know.
      • "But I do know that a lot of lower end production companies still use Amigas for their video editing." err, I don't think so. You could put together a PC based edit system for 1500 on a PC or 2000 on a Mac that would crucify ANY Amiga Toaster - no-one in business uses such ancient HW these days. I work in TV, the last AMiga I saw in use was in 1996, and that was in a room full of Macs (it was a fully tricked out 4000 running Toaster, looked pretty shabby next to an Avid).
    • by Sloppy (14984)

      I use an Amiga daily, so I'll take a shot at this.

      For me, the Amiga has no unique features, anymore, that are terribly important. BUT...

      I happen to like the scheduler and the GUI's responsiveness. Until about (very roughly) 2 or 3 years ago, the Amiga was much faster and responsive than any mainstream OS. You could beat it with other fringe OSes such as BeOS, but GUIs such as GNOME, KDE, and Windows, couldn't really measure up to it. The catch is that the hardware that the mainstream OSes run on, is so much faster, that at even one tenth (this is very subjective, I admit) of the efficiency, they're able to keep up now. A 300 MHz Pentium running Windows or Linux is a sick joke compared to a 50 MHz Amiga, but a 1.2 GHz Athlon isn't. So this advantage has mostly disappeared, as far as I'm concerned.

      The other advantage is one that only applies to Amiga die-hards. We're just familiar with our old software. If you don't already have an Amiga, you probably don't need this stuff. But I have a hard time giving up:

      1. AWeb: a very nice web browser. Galeon is better in some ways, but missing some features. Netscape 4.x and MSIE (all versions) are very crude. Opera is pretty nice. There's no reason existing browsers couldn't gain the things about AWeb that I like; it's just that they haven't for some reason.

      2. Directory Opus Magellan: a very good file manager. I find Nautilus, GMC (or whatever that older GNOME file manger was called), KDE, Windows Explorer, and yes -- even Mac finder and OS/2 WPS -- to be somewhat slow and clumsy in some ways compared to working with DOpus (it depends on what you're trying to do). DOpus 5.x has a extremely efficient UI, IMHO.

        FWIW, I have recently been thinking that the best parts could probably be duplicated in a couple hundred lines of Python, so maybe I'll give it a try. Also, I've heard it's recently been ported to Windows, but I haven't seen it. And I think some older versions of DOpus (4.x) have been cloned for other platforms. So it's not a really unique advantage, but it's still something that the mainstream hasn't latched onto yet.

      I also use my Amiga for mail, using a program called Serious Voodoo. But I suspect that today's mailers on other platforms are just as good; I just haven't tried them. But when I first started using it in 1996 (?), the mainstream didn't have any decent GUI mailers with PGP integration (which I'm guessing is commonplace now).

      Other Amigans may list other apps that they like, or violently disagree with my favorites. Whatever. I guess the point is that, no matter how dead the Amiga may seem, it had many years of life, and in that time, a very large library of software was written, some of ahead of its time. The remaining Amiga users are probably pretty used to the apps.

      There are some little things too, like "assigns" (a way to use a sort of shorthand for a long path) which you can kinda fake on Unix-like systems with softlinks in your root, I guess.

  • Hopefully the ability to take desktop sceen captures will be part of the next release. Nothing better than digital stills of a laptop screen ;)
  • by SoupIsGood Food (1179) on Monday February 04, 2002 @11:37AM (#2950338)
    So, the Amiga joins the ranks of Be, Geoworks, OS/2, GEM, and SCO.

    They are all also-ran commercial competitors to not just Windows, which commands 99% of that market and comes bundled with 99% of the systems available, but three flavors of BSD, all free-as-in-beer-and-as-in-speach, and a few housand different Linux-based operating systems (distros). Top it off with a few clever, and completely free "other" OSes, like Atheos, and the situation looks grim.

    I expect them to enjoy the same long-term success enjoyed by Be and OS/2... which is to say, an ignonimous death after the Nostalgia buffs tire of toying with it.

    To be brutally blunt, the only way to introduced a closed platform in the current market is to work it as a total system. Sun and Apple desktops survive in a Windows world by offering a total package... you don't gotta be faster than Wintel, or cheaper than Wintel, but you have got to offer something Wintel doesn't. Comprehensively integrated systems is a damn good start, the insane system speed and responsiveness with limited resources that was a trademark of the Amiga of yore is another area to focus on. Move to Mips, ARM, PowerPC, MAJC, what have you... design a platform, not an OS but a whole platform, and you have a fighting chance.

    Emulating a 10 year old architecture on an bone stock PC and then charging for the privelege is a fast track to irrelevancy.

    SoupIsGood Food
  • I never had an Amiga, but I'm fascinated by "old" computers (anything older than 3 years is ancient history, right? &ltgrin&gt)

    Anyway, for people looking for a slightly lower cost (but legal) solution, check out Amiga Forever [cloanto.com], a commercial distribution of UAE [linux.de] that comes with *every* version of the Amiga Kickstart ROMs and Workbench disks! And this isn't a warez CD either... these are legitimately licensed from (insert current company that owns Amiga's IP). I believe it also includes some commercial software and software that will allow you to mount Amiga hard drives as network drives under Windows. Might be worth a look for former/current Amiga fans.
  • I'm a big a fan as any of the old computer stuff, but I have to ask - what's the point here? How would an Amiga OS be useful in todays computing world? Do we have any new software for it? Is any looking to port any present software to it? (most likely candidates would be open sw packages, I'd think)

    If not, then this really is just sort of an oddity. Off hand, I'd think that the AmigaOS would have some advantages in that:

    • It has to be small, even with 10 years of semi-active development, I would think that it would be pretty streamlined
    • It's VERY userfriendly from what I've been reading
    • It looks to have at least decent 3D support

    Could this be an alternative to desktop for Linux? I'm sure it would be tough, but is it feasible to utilize the Linux kernel instead of QNX (I think it was)? I'm really asking here. I don't know much about kernel hacking as my job is at the application layer.

    I also don't want to start any desktop wars. But as much as I like KDE and BlackBox (for VERY different reasons/purposes, obviously) it doesn't seem like they are as "user-friendly" (idiotproof?) as they should be. Perhaps Amiga/Linux could be an alternative desktop for Harry Homeowner. (although it seems as though some features would have to be unloaded as the Linux kernel supports those features).

    Anyway, I thought I'd throw it out there and ask...

  • I recently got a copy of Amiga Forever 5.0 [cloanto.com], and I tried out WinUAE with that. I also installed AmigaOS 3.9 to it and it worked just fine. Even when I am not really a big Amiga fan (more of a foamy-mouthed Commodore 64 user =) I must say I'm really impressed... With the JIT stuff and the bsdsockets, it worked fast and supported network. A real, hardware C64 can do ISDN (with proper RS232 buffering, of course), but now I have an emulated Amiga that does DSL =)

    (Screenshots? 1 [beastwithin.org] 2 [beastwithin.org] 3 [beastwithin.org])

    Of this stuff, I have to say I'm impressed, too - no need to boot to some other OS to run another, which means some more stability - UAE 0.8 isn't 100% stable yet. Very nifty.

    (And I think Amiga hardware was pretty nice, but PC got ahead of it at last (after so many years!) when they ditched ISA bus and got USB input devices.)

    I need to get the JIT + bsdsockets for *NIX UAE soon. Too bad the fullscreen modes in X11 UAE often suck - DGA, with its r00t requirement, means trouble. Anyone working on a SDL port?

  • I used Amiga's for five or six years, and my impression was always that the strength of the Amiga was in its hardware, not its OS. The Amiga OS did some impressive things with very limited resources, due in large part to liberal usage of shared libraries, but the most powerful thing about Amiga was the use of specialized, intelligent chips for each type of IO. Nowdays, this is common, to varying degrees, on x86 platforms. If you discount Intel's push to offload IO processing onto the CPU (thereby driving the need and market for faster chips) via dumb peripherals like WinModems, USB, etc., most x86 based machines have intelligent graphics cards, intelligent sound cards, and intelligent network cards.

    I don't see a clear, motivating reason to buy into the new AmigaOS, except for nostalgia.

    It is ironic, to me, that all that survives from Amiga is the OS. One of the main reasons that the Amiga line died back because Amiga was even worse that Apple about releasing new versions of the OS.

    • What I find the most nostalgic about this /. discussion, is that some of you Amiga-is-the-hardware guys are still around. ;-)

      I replaced as much of my A3000's hardware as I could with GVP, VillageTronic, and Phase 5 "cyber implants" at the first opportunity, because the Amiga hardware was so limiting. I remember when I had to choose between talking to my modem at 115200 bps, or displaying 4 bitplanes on my hires screen, because the chip bus'es bandwidth was maxed out. Amiga hardware was great in the 80s, but lame in the 90s. But once I took care of the hardware limitations, the Amiga still kicked ass well into the late 90s and I'm still using it today... no thanks to the Amiga hardware.

  • Is anyone else missing the absolutely wonderful ASSIGN command? Sigh... Still, 13 years after I got my first A500 I long for this long gone command.

    I want my pics:, mp3: and games: again, not just stupid c:, d: etc. Unix paths doesn't do it for me either and the same for soft and hard links.

    Give back the ASSIGN command to me and give it to me NOW!

    :)
  • by zrafnid (155155) on Monday February 04, 2002 @02:33PM (#2951251) Journal
    The Amiga was waay ahead of it's time. Yeah, sure, you've heard this before, but I know of what I speak. No kidding. Let me explain.

    About 10 years ago, a number of business associates (well, friends, really) and I had a company that used the Amiga extensively. We built, from the ground up, an embedded control and data collection system using Amiga computers. The average facility we installed with this product (yes, we sold it) went for about 70K.

    Why the Amiga? Several reasons :

    1) it was built for NTSC/PAL output. We needed to get signals to TV's for display.
    2) it had state of the art graphics. I believe the only other "standard" at the time was VGA or SVGA.
    3) it was *really* fast, compared to the X86 machines of the day. This was probably due more to the custom chips than the CPU clock...
    4) it was built by very intelligent people who put a lot of thought into the design of it. The Zorro bus (peripheral card bus) was pretty straightforward to connect with. We built a single card design that worked on an A2000/3000/4000 and the A500.
    5) it was cheap. Really really cheap for what you got (about $300 per A500 and this had everything we needed in a nice, small package).
    6) apart from the lack of an MMU (generally) and memory protection, the OS was a dream to program and the system a dream to use.
    7) we liked it. What can I say? We liked it. In addition to the company that built this embedded system, we had a computer store that dealt in the Amiga and Video Toaster.

    We had to kill the product when Commodore went the way of the Dinosaurs. It's too bad, really, because we would have liked to continue.

    I still love the Amiga - but it's not ever going to be a viable system to use again. I really *do* hope that the hardware and software guys who built the Amiga system get together and build a *real* piece of hardware and software again.

    Think about the custom chips for a minute -

    You had the blitter : basically an area based logic unit. Big deal? Well a buddy of mine wrote a program that could run a hi-res screen, some blitter code and very very little CPU and iterate through life (the simulation - not reality) at about 30 frames per second. No discernable CPU use. It wasn't until about '96 that I saw similar achievements on X86 hardware.

    You had the copper : the chip that allowed for multiple resolutions. It defined how to output graphics information and at what resolution : take a hi-res screen with x colors and allow it to be dragged over a low res-screen with x*256 colors. There's nothing I've seen since that can do this.

    You had the graphics chips themselves : Agnus and Portia (or whatever). They did all the work of putting out the display, along side the other two custom chips.

    All of the use of the CPU was in processing - everything was basically DMA, everything ran the same memory interleaved with the CPU. It was *sooo* cool and so very quick.

    A couple of my partners wrote a program called Amoeba Invaders (space invaders clone) (through our company Late Night Developments - we were young and thought it was a cool name). I could run about, oh, 20 copies of this game concurrently because most of the animation was done with the custom chips and not the CPU - and this was on an Amiga 1000 (68000 system).

    But... Commodore was run by business folks who wanted to make a buck. And they did. And when they were happy with the buck they'd made, they killed it.

    So, the Amiga was waay ahead of it's time. But it's now dead and technology has certainly improved well beyond what the Amiga excelled at.

    I saw this thread on an emulator and have one thing to say. So what? I liked the Amiga because of the hardware and the software. No emulator so far has been able to do a good job of the hardware that made the Amiga greater than the OS. Oh well.

  • Interesting piece, but I'm afraid it's not a review. It's a piece of Amiga evangelism in the wrong place.

    We don't need to be told about AmigaOS. We don't need to be told about AmigaOS apps, or about how good or bad they are, or anything about Amiga itself.

    There's about 5 pages of irrelevant stuff in there.

    This is meant to be a review of an emulation package.

    There are, as I understand it, two emulators.

    Identify them. What are the differences? What do they do? Why use them instead of UAE or Fellow?

    Start with one. Explain what it is and how it works. Explain how it's installed and used. Comment on how well it works. Criticize its failings, don't just praise its strengths.

    Then take the 2nd. Do exactly the same.

    Now, compare the two. Explain the differences. Take 1#. Point out where #1 is better than #2, then where #1 is worse than #2. Now take #2 and do the same.

    Now, comment on the overall package. Compare it to any competitors: UAE, Fellow, AiaB, AmigaForever. Compare it to a real modern Amiga.

    What's in the box? What manuals? What's the help like? What's the support like?

    Specify its EXACT hardware requirements. Explain an optimal config, a minimal one, and the difference it makes.

    Explain its cost and where to get it.

    Summarise, in ten words each, its pros, its cons, and an overall verdict. Award it points out of ten for performance, ease of use, features, functionality, compatibility, value for money and overall.

    *That* is a review.

    This piece, however enjoyable, isn't.

    But thanks for it! I enjoyed it. It just didn't tell me what I needed to know: do I want it? Is it worth buying?

    --
    Liam P.
    [echoed on OSnews]
  • A few months ago I bought a factory new stock Amiga 1200. Since then, I have added an old 4 gig 2.5" Toshiba laptop hard drive and am thinking about a '060/PPC card with some serious RAM (on an Amiga, 16 MB is really lots and lots of RAM).

    A few years ago, I lived a coupla miles from the old Commodore Sweden HQ and they didn't take down the old sign until recently and every time I passed by on my bike or in my car, I'd shed a tear thinking about the good times I had with my amigas and how different the world could have been, if only... If only Irving Gould and Mehdi Ali hadn't been such greedy bastards. They must have been grown out of a baboon's ass - there is no way in hell those two idiots could have been born and raised by humans. No, I'm not bitter. I'm BITTER!.

    Let me go, I feel much better now! No, don't make me run XP again - NOOOOOooooo!

If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments. -- Earl Wilson

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