Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 14th Jul 2009 15:30 UTC
Amiga & AROS So we finally meet! You can't imagine how hard I've tried to get my hands on a machine that could run AmigaOS 4 in all its glory. I've never used the Amiga before - not during its heydays, and not during its afterglow - so it meant an unexplored world for me. You can imagine my excitement when ACube Systems, makers of the sam440ep board that runs AmigaOS 4.1, offered a review machine to me, built around their own PowerPC sam440ep flex motherboard.
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Excellent review
by fretinator on Tue 14th Jul 2009 16:15 UTC
fretinator
Member since:
2005-07-06

What an excellent review! Instead of the usual - I did this and here is a screenshot - you really got down to the heart of the matter. And you did it without being judgmental. Nice! I hope they doubled the usual $10000 EUR reviewer fee. It was worth it.

I personally feel the same about EComstation - OS/2 on Oxygen! It's cool that there is still life out there in the OS/2 world, but what kind of life is it? Is it worth the price? Well, if you have glorious memories of OS/2 of yore (which I do), it might be worth it. But most would find it not all that useable.

However, as you mentioned in your conclusion, I'm glad there are companies out there who keep these things alive. It could be quite boring without them. I think I'll go mess around with my Tandy 200 laptop this weekend. I've gotta get that thing onto my Lan...

[EDIT: spelign]

Edited 2009-07-14 16:19 UTC

Reply Score: 5

RE: Excellent review
by wawrzyn on Tue 14th Jul 2009 21:03 UTC in reply to "Excellent review"
wawrzyn Member since:
2009-03-24

According to the OS/2... Have you heard about Delphi based trojan/backdoor software (called sometimes, improperly, a virus) that is installed in some cash machines running Windows XP? It's a fact right now. It's good to mention, that security experts were warning that changing the OS/2 for Windows XP as an OS for cash machines a couple of years ago is highly insecure. With especially prepared electronic card you can invoke the trojan interface, you can operate with the "new functions" of compromised cache machine, you can even print all the stolen data using internal printer!!! So... Why am I saying about that?

Maybe there is a niche (at least there was, but I think nothing is lost still) for ecommstation? It would be a reasonable replacement for OS/2? And probably it would be not possible to develop such a trojan application to compromise ecommstation cash machines...

I think there are some chances for ecommstation still.

Reply Score: 1

dylansmrjones
Member since:
2005-10-02

ACube does not actually produce the hardware. The boards are evaluation kits bought from AMCC and receive only slight modifications from ACube (overclocking and apparently also some extra memory).

EDIT: Of course they also assemble ACube systems which contain harddisk, graphics card and so on. But the board itself is designed by AMCC which btw. is a fabless company. So production no, assembling yes. To be as accurate as possible.

Edited 2009-07-14 16:34 UTC

Reply Score: 2

elwood Member since:
2006-02-09

Did you compare the Yosemite reference board and the Sam440 board made by ACube. I bet no!! :-)

Reply Score: 1

dylansmrjones Member since:
2005-10-02

Yes, I have them compared. It is not the Yosemite-board ACube is using today. It is the Sequoia-board, overclocked to 733 MHz and with extra memory.

http://www.appliedmicro.com/Embedded/EvalKit_Family.pdf

Reply Score: 1

elwood Member since:
2006-02-09

Check again: http://www.design-reuse.com/news/10766/amcc-comprehensive-cost-powe...

Sequoia is the eval board for the 440epx System-On-Chip but ACube uses the 440ep whose eval board is the Yosemite.

Anyway, the eval board and the sold boards are obviously not the same.

Edited 2009-07-14 17:59 UTC

Reply Score: 1

dylansmrjones Member since:
2005-10-02

I'll be happy to stand corrected ;) - the only thing I need is a statement from ACube that they produce the boards (or more correctly design the boards, since ACube is another fabless company).

This opens another possibility: Having ACube basing a Samantha on the Freescale 8641D, perhaps reusing ideas from the stillborn Genesi-attempt on 8641D.

Reply Score: 2

Lecta Member since:
2009-07-14

Uh? Where did you read that?

That's totally wrong.

ACube produces the board by itself and the board is quite different from the AMCC's eval board - the "Yosemite" (totally different I would say).
A reference board from AMCC costs about 1000 EUR so it would be very "costly" for ACube to buy them, doing "slight modifications" and resell a whole system for less than 700 EUR. They surely would not last for a long time doing that.

Reply Score: 2

dylansmrjones Member since:
2005-10-02

The evakits don't go for 1000 euro. They go for around 500 euro for the bigger ones in larger batches, according to AMCC.

EDIT: On the Acube website there is no claim of producing the boards themselves. They do however write it is based on the AMCC 440EP, which btw. have very similar specs (except not being overclocked and with less memory).

Edited 2009-07-14 17:49 UTC

Reply Score: 2

gregthecanuck Member since:
2006-05-30

Sorry but your statement on this product is completely inaccurate. It appears you are making assumptions without actually doing any real investigation.

Compare the board layouts of the reference design and the product produced (yes, produced) by ACube.

Reply Score: 1

dmantione Member since:
2005-07-06

A circuit board factory capable of producing motherboards costs a lot to keep running, you cannot do that with Amiga sales numbers. Normally companies like this hand over their CAD designs to such a factory that does the actual production.

Are you sure Acube have their own production facility?

Acube designing the board (maybe they receive reference CAD designs from AMCC and edit those) sounds plausible. Acube producing it themselves sounds unrealistic.

Reply Score: 3

Super
by cypress on Tue 14th Jul 2009 16:48 UTC
cypress
Member since:
2005-07-11

Great article Thom! I loved it.

Reply Score: 2

tylerdurden
Member since:
2009-03-17

and its spirit. Given that they want the few users they have left to pay extra for the "honor" of being able to play .avi files, I am glad to see they Amiga community is being faithful to the spirit of the platform, both the technically brilliant implementations and in the brain dead marketing decisions which eventually turned it into a marginal platform.

If anything, you can always count on the Amiga to find new and creative ways to shoot itself on the foot. That being said, I still long for the days when I used my first amiga. Although I am partial to the old workbench, the new icons/window borders seem too "candyfied" ugh....

Edited 2009-07-14 17:06 UTC

Reply Score: 3

bert64 Member since:
2007-04-23

and its spirit. Given that they want the few users they have left to pay extra for the "honor" of being able to play .avi files, I am glad to see they Amiga community is being faithful to the spirit of the platform, both the technically brilliant implementations and in the brain dead marketing decisions which eventually turned it into a marginal platform.

If anything, you can always count on the Amiga to find new and creative ways to shoot itself on the foot. That being said, I still long for the days when I used my first amiga. Although I am partial to the old workbench, the new icons/window borders seem too "candyfied" ugh....


Yes, back in the mid to late 90s i still used an Amiga, but moved away from it partly due to frustration at being nickle and dimed at every point... They even charged money for a tcp stack and some pretty mediocre web browsers, it was cheaper to emulate a mac (even assuming you bought a legit mac rom set) and run netscape, which was much better than any browser the amiga had.
Also, most of the software required a fairly heavy (by amiga standards) third party gui toolkit that was crippled unless you paid for it...

Reply Score: 2

Remembering icon positions
by JLF65 on Tue 14th Jul 2009 17:14 UTC
JLF65
Member since:
2005-07-06

Unless it's just broken on 4.1, you need to select the icon(s) you wish to be remembered, then select Icons > Snapshot from the menu.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Remembering icon positions
by Thom_Holwerda on Tue 14th Jul 2009 17:19 UTC in reply to "Remembering icon positions"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Unless it's just broken on 4.1, you need to select the icon(s) you wish to be remembered, then select Icons > Snapshot from the menu.


Snapshot didn't work for me, nor should it have to. The idea of a spatial file manager (or any file manager, for that matter) is that it does it by itself. Mannerisms or no, that's just bad design (like the lack of auto-update).

Edited 2009-07-14 17:19 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Remembering icon positions
by elwood on Tue 14th Jul 2009 17:27 UTC in reply to "RE: Remembering icon positions"
elwood Member since:
2006-02-09

I don't agree with you. Let's say you move some icons by mistake. Would you like the system to remember their position? And I really mean, do you want the system to decide things for you?
This is not how AmigaOS works. You need to tell the system that you want to remember the icon position when *you* decide it is correct and should be remembered.

Another place where you find the feeling "the users keeps control of things" is in preference programs (the system settings). If you change many settings and you want to test them before saving them on disk, just click "test".
If you want to use these settings only in the current session (i.e. until you restart the system), just press "use".
At anytime if you want to restore the settings before you changed them, you can do so.
And when you are finally happy with your changes, just press "save".

Now do the same with other systems you know. You need to write down on a paper all the settings you change to be able to restore them after your tests. Friendly? :-)

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Remembering icon positions
by braddock on Tue 14th Jul 2009 18:22 UTC in reply to "RE: Remembering icon positions"
braddock Member since:
2005-07-08

I really enjoyed the review of my childhood OS from a considerate "outsider".

On icon positions - I remember carefully setting up my icons to a design and selecting "snapshot" - too easy to move them and mess them up later.

Of course these were the days where I only had a few dozen files on a floppy. It made sense to care for them individually.

I'd put this behavior in the "alien legacy" not "broken" category.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Remembering icon positions
by paolone on Wed 15th Jul 2009 07:56 UTC in reply to "RE: Remembering icon positions"
paolone Member since:
2007-09-24

Snapshot didn't work for me, nor should it have to. The idea of a spatial file manager (or any file manager, for that matter) is that it does it by itself.


That's true for any other operating system. For the average Amiga user, it's your duty to tell the OS you want that window behaving ALWAYS like that.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Remembering icon positions
by paolone on Wed 15th Jul 2009 08:08 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Remembering icon positions"
paolone Member since:
2007-09-24

Anyway, it's a good and amusing review. You have expressed exactly the doubts I'd expect from people accustomed to nowadays operating systems. AmigaOS is quite different and imposes a completely different paradygms when writing applications and handling the deskt... workbench. You have to get accustomed to them. They aren't easy or comfortable to understand: that's part of the game. The only issue with them, however, is that they just feel... old.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Remembering icon positions
by bert64 on Wed 15th Jul 2009 10:57 UTC in reply to "RE: Remembering icon positions"
bert64 Member since:
2007-04-23

Snapshot didn't work for me, nor should it have to. The idea of a spatial file manager (or any file manager, for that matter) is that it does it by itself. Mannerisms or no, that's just bad design (like the lack of auto-update).


Strange that it wouldn't work, the fact that snapshot is needed comes from the heritage... AmigaOS was intended to boot and run in a usable fashion from floppy (even if you have a single floppy drive and have removed the original boot disk), saving icon position changes automatically would be a considerable overhead on floppies. It does highlight your point about living in the past and not looking forward tho...

There was a patch for amigaos to auto snapshot at one point, there were literally thousands of little tweaks like that for the original amigas.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Remembering icon positions
by Cymro on Wed 15th Jul 2009 11:16 UTC in reply to "RE: Remembering icon positions"
Cymro Member since:
2005-07-07

I never found snapshotting a problem, and as it didn't work for you, it's difficult to form the snapshotting routine that Amiga users had or have. Moving from Amiga to Mac, I was never struck by the superiority of the Finder's method.

I miss snapshotting windows into place. If during the course of my task I need to move it to the other side of the screen and make it larger, I know that the next time I open it, it'll be back where I like it. The classic MacOS never had this and my new Mac can't even remember to open my folders in list view when I specifically tell it to.

It maybe that you, I and/or other users are much less meticulous and fussy about how we organise files in windows than we used to be. Also, when dragging an icon into a folder/drawer, you would instinctively drag it into exactly it's resting place. Some habits have been lost.

If you really want to get into the old-school Amiga paradigm, try forgetting all your modern multi-user knowledge about file organisation. Start mixing apps and folders of documents together by function.

The Amiga was more relaxed about this than any other OS I've used. Mainly, I think, because you need a .info file for an icon to be shown. Even on the classic MacOS there seemed to be a greater sense of enforced structure in the visual file manager.

Once you start really caring about your own structure and your own particular workflow, you start laying things out nicely and snapshotting your windows in an almost OCD way. It makes the experience of using an Amiga far more personal and unique than OSes today, IMO.

These days, the desktop picture is the biggest distinguisher of one desktop from another - if I powered up my Amiga 500+ it's totally my desktop. Part of this comes from what now can seem like the rigmarole of snapshotting icons and windows into position.

Having said all that, a little snapshot icon on the window titlebar would be a superb addition (something for AROS to think about!)

It may not be for everyone, but that's the best justification I give for this behaviour, based on what I actually miss about my (beloved) Amiga.

Edited 2009-07-15 11:19 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Remembering icon positions
by kolla on Wed 15th Jul 2009 12:27 UTC in reply to "RE: Remembering icon positions"
kolla Member since:
2009-07-15

Snapshot didn't work for me, nor should it have to. The idea of a spatial file manager (or any file manager, for that matter) is that it does it by itself. Mannerisms or no, that's just bad design (like the lack of auto-update).


Desides who? I personally very much like the fact that it doesnt attempt to write to disk everytime I move something about - it's great for flash disk, memory cards, read-only media, floppies, network drives etc. From experience, the number of times you actually _need_ to snapshot icons/windows is not high at all, meaning there's hardly any need for auto-snapshot.

It's not bad design, it's safe design.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Remembering icon positions
by henrikmk on Tue 14th Jul 2009 17:21 UTC in reply to "Remembering icon positions"
henrikmk Member since:
2005-07-10

I haven't tried 4.x, but I believe Workbench has been largely unchanged since Workbench 2.0, which was meant to be run off an 880 KB floppydisk. "Strange" options like snapshot would be there because of the time it would take to store changes to disk, every time you moved an icon.

As I understand it, Workbench is due for a complete rewrite.

Reply Score: 4

Spatial Metaphor
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Tue 14th Jul 2009 17:23 UTC
Bill Shooter of Bul
Member since:
2006-07-14

I never really understood all of the aspects of spatial file managers. I just never liked the new window for every folder.

So, if you didn't do a new window per folder, but retained the settings per folder, what would that be?

Reply Score: 4

mplayer
by afxgroup on Tue 14th Jul 2009 17:41 UTC
afxgroup
Member since:
2006-02-09

Fantastic review Tom! Very well written and simply to read also for those didn't know AmigaOS.
BTW.. why Mplayer has no audio for you? It could be a problem on you AHI settings? AHI come with volume at level 0 for music unit 0

Reply Score: 2

awesome article
by pmarin on Tue 14th Jul 2009 17:48 UTC
pmarin
Member since:
2006-12-30

I wish to read more articles like this in osnews and less Ubuntu/Windows boring announcements.

Reply Score: 3

Thom... you are D10S
by sergio on Tue 14th Jul 2009 19:03 UTC
sergio
Member since:
2005-07-06

I'm proud to be an OSNews reader man... the review is incredible.

Congratulations and thanks!

PS: party/reunion analogy is pure genious. Perfect.

Reply Score: 2

A free ticket for the Amiga World
by saimon69 on Tue 14th Jul 2009 19:16 UTC
saimon69
Member since:
2008-10-26

Well,is hard for me to be objective when a fellow OS is involved; Thom as an outsider of the Amiga world expressed its concerns about AOS 4.1; so far, i got to realise that the Amiga OSes, including my endorsed AROS are made "by amigans for amigans" in paraphrase to the usual saying for linux.
What I mean is that, when i got interested in AROS in 2006 and tried the live CD, the first thing that made me fell in love with it was the feeling similar to the one of using an Amiga OS, in good and in bad: there were undoubtely flaws, but were *our* flaws, stuff we Amiga users had to live with everyday.

Like the workbench: as file manager has always been not the best option: Directory opus or filemaster has been Amiga user best friends since 1989 to help overcome those flaws,and still Amiga and AROS users deal with it either with the commercial old Magellan or the open source dopus 4 revisited, in example.

And now some of the Amiga desktop paradigmas and usability might look outdated to people coming from other systems, while people like me , used that all the time, actually feel comfortable with the windows that does not stack on click, allowing to focus on the main task and handling stuff in the back; but again is all matter of perception and habits.

I am glad that after many years of inertia things started to move in the amiga world again, but the problem is there is a lot to catch up and so far good old Amiga OSes are now a niche market for aficionados and a hobby; and looks like it might stay like this for long time, and not aspire to be more until many of the flaws are catched up, though i have good feelings about the netbook market...

At the end my personal opinion is: if you never used an Amiga OS or like and want to have a taste of it but have no money to spend, the first answer is try AROS, considered it is free and runs in most x86 hardware (and in virtual machines too); then, once you got used to it, if you like it, you can go the next level and buy a SAM for AOS or EFIKA for MOS too, according to tastes.

Edited 2009-07-14 19:33 UTC

Reply Score: 3

kragil Member since:
2006-01-04

I have to agree. Me and my Amiga friends never used the workbench for serious file management.

That is what the über-powerful Directory Opus is for.

I really miss the different screen feature on Linux .. too bad current graphics card don't really support it.

I also agree that Aros is a good way to bring people to AmigaOS. Being FOSS will help work around the memory protection issues. The good thing about unproteted memory is that bugs show up REALLY FAST. So if you use well tested apps they will JUST WORK.

Awww, if only Commodore had made all the right choices with this gem instead of making all the wrong ones ;)

Reply Score: 3

microkernel
by jack_perry on Tue 14th Jul 2009 19:36 UTC
jack_perry
Member since:
2005-07-06

Thom,

Are you sure that "microkernel" wasn't coined before Amiga Exec was created? I know QNX existed before Amica Exec, and I vaguely remember the terms "modular kernel" and "microkernel" being bandied around before Amiga, but perhaps my memory deceives me.

Reply Score: 2

All it's glory?
by tyrione on Tue 14th Jul 2009 19:42 UTC
tyrione
Member since:
2005-11-21

So we finally meet! You can't imagine how hard I've tried to get my hands on a machine that could run AmigaOS 4 in all its glory. I've never used the Amiga before - not during its heydays, and not during its afterglow - so it meant an unexplored world for me.


How does one know it holds any glory if one has never beheld this stated glory?

Reply Score: 2

RE: All it's glory?
by bugjacobs on Tue 14th Jul 2009 19:57 UTC in reply to "All it's glory?"
bugjacobs Member since:
2009-01-03

He probably has heard about the glory but not yet beheld the item of said glory :-) I have it like that for a lot of stuff , like the Archimedes..

Reply Score: 2

FPGA
by bugjacobs on Tue 14th Jul 2009 19:55 UTC
bugjacobs
Member since:
2009-01-03

I seem to remember that there was supposed to be a Lattice XP FPGA on the Sam440 board. But I have never gotten a reply to if this is capable enough to be used to put something like the (minimig) ocs/ecs chipset into !? Anyone know ?

Reply Score: 1

Workbench and file managment
by makkus on Tue 14th Jul 2009 20:10 UTC
makkus
Member since:
2006-01-11

As I remember the workbench was more for starting your programs and less for file-managment, even in the Amiga days. I remembering carefully aranging icons of my programs and utilities and snapshot them in positions and Windows so I could open them in a few clicks. I never opened the data folders. Dopus (Directory Opus) was for the heavy Filemanagment and what a file-manager it was, never had a equivalent since, miss it.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Workbench and file managment
by raddude9 on Wed 15th Jul 2009 20:52 UTC in reply to "Workbench and file managment"
raddude9 Member since:
2009-07-15

I never had an equivalent either until I got the windows version!

Reply Score: 1

RE: Workbench and file managment
by JLF65 on Wed 15th Jul 2009 22:46 UTC in reply to "Workbench and file managment"
JLF65 Member since:
2005-07-06

Dopus (Directory Opus) was for the heavy Filemanagment and what a file-manager it was, never had a equivalent since, miss it.


Equivalents
For linux: gentoo, worker, krusader
For Windows: Total Commander

Reply Score: 2

Great review
by wawrzyn on Tue 14th Jul 2009 20:54 UTC
wawrzyn
Member since:
2009-03-24

Great review. It was very nice to read and I have a lot of pleasure.

I think now, you should try Aranym ;-) to get the idea what were the Atari 16/32 TOS machines running FreeMINT. It can give you a taste of it.

Reply Score: 1

Excellent review...
by NovaCoder on Tue 14th Jul 2009 23:29 UTC
NovaCoder
Member since:
2009-07-14

See what Amigan's think of the review right here -> http://amigaworld.net/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?topic_id=29209&fo...

:)

Reply Score: 1

Great review!!!
by warhoon on Wed 15th Jul 2009 00:02 UTC
warhoon
Member since:
2006-11-19

This was a really good review, and as mentioned above, a fresh wind here at OSNews.com from the "ordinary" OSX/Windows/Ubuntu(Linux) announcements.....

I am an old Amiga user, used it until 1998, when I finally "gave up" and got myself a Windows machine, while waiting for the Amiga situation to resolve itself.... Which it unfortunately hasn't really as of yet....

Reply Score: 3

Click to Front
by jack_perry on Wed 15th Jul 2009 05:25 UTC
jack_perry
Member since:
2005-07-06

Clicking a window in AmigaOS 4 will not bring said window to front; it will just activate it. Consequently, you can actually drag windows behind other windows; you need to click the right-most icon on the title bar to actually bring the window to front. This has to be one of the most annoying things I have ever encountered in window management, since having to hit that small little button every time I want to switch to another window started to get on my nerves real fast.


Annoying to you because you're not used to it. As a former Amiga user, I find it to be a wonderful feature that allows one to, for example, activate one window for input and write about something that you need to keep visible in another window.

For me, it's irritating that Windows and Mac force the active window to front each and every time. KDE lets me configure an Amiga-like behavior (although not quite the Amiga behavior) so on Linux I can mostly get around it.

Reply Score: 4

Shutdown time is 0 seconds: really ?
by leo_ on Wed 15th Jul 2009 07:26 UTC
leo_
Member since:
2007-09-04

>A sidenote: shutdown time is 0 seconds. You just... Press the power button

No you don't...

1. First you check that some data you put into RAMDisk needs to be saved or not

2. Then you make sure no software is writting something into your hardisk, cause if it's the case, you'll *loose* the content.

And only then you press the power button.

It's way more than 0 seconds. And you actually do what's the operating system is doing for you in other systems... You can skip that, but you may (and will) loose files.

As for the spacial paradigm, I don't think anyone working in AmigaOS since 1985 ever thought it like that... It has just been implemented this way (as someone pointed out, a lot of things work like this because in 85 you have no harddrive, etc..) and never got updated.

Where you are right is that developers are clearly targetting classic old time users. And thus, won't make any major changes to the way things work. Even though a lot of things are broken... because most users are against evolution. "Having something different won't make it Amiga. Even if it's better."

Like you have to be able to shut it down by pressing shutdown button, even though you may lose data...

They also won't add memory protection,.. because that would mean breaking compatibility, and the old amiga user wants to run his 15 years program, transparently. He wants that better than an improved secured OS...

Edited 2009-07-15 07:29 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Amiga <> Price
by PO15KA on Wed 15th Jul 2009 10:09 UTC
PO15KA
Member since:
2009-07-15

700 Euros and no Monitor? Unfortunately this is what i was afraid of...i wont be able to afford it ;) and that price probably does not include freight (i live in Australia, Sydney) ;)

Reply Score: 1

RE: Amiga <> Price
by werpu on Fri 17th Jul 2009 09:47 UTC in reply to "Amiga <> Price"
werpu Member since:
2006-01-18

Actually I was considering as well, no monitor is good, but 700 euros for a g3 based machine, oh well...
I know it is for the sake of the OS but a g3 is old very old and slow especially if you want to use the machine outside of AmigaOS (Linux) which is very likely.

Heck it is probably half as expensive to get a first gen g4 mac mini, and skip AmigaOS if you want a PowerPC based machine!

Reply Score: 2

User-friendliness
by alex on Wed 15th Jul 2009 10:38 UTC
alex
Member since:
2005-07-06

Good review! It's very true that some of the ways AmigaOS works are hardly intuitive for new users - the way that you have to configure Clicktofront is a prime example, and it would be nice to have at least some sort of wizard on first boot that lets you setup things like that quickly. Of course, without decent memory protection, it's unlikely the Amiga is every going to get huge exposure, but Hyperion could still try to make things a little easier for hobbyists like yourself (who are probably the primary market for the OS at the moment).

I'd say the thing most indicative of how the OS has become less accessible to new users is the names of items in the preferences drawer. Some of this is due to the legacy of 3rd party add-ons fixing gaps in the OS over the last 15 years or so, hence "AHI" and "Picasso96Mode". "ASL" and "DefIcons" are hardly intuitive either. Changing this sort of thing wouldn't involve much, but would at least indicate that the OS is moving from a million-and-one patches to something more cohesive.

There definitely are unique features in the OS that a lot more could be made of. Draggable screens are one you mentioned (as a way of reducing clutter/grouping windows/perhaps aiding multiple monitor support?) I'm surprised no-one's mentioned datatypes as well - grab a small file to translate a file format and even application written in 1992 will understand the latest graphics/audio files (I suppose modern OSes have similar features, but they've never seemed as easy-to-use or prevalent). Same for scripting - a huge number of AmigaOS apps could talk to each other via ARexx (I believe Python is now the language of choice for OS4, but I've got no idea how widespread it is).

Reply Score: 2

Amiga 1200
by Chaos_One on Wed 15th Jul 2009 10:57 UTC
Chaos_One
Member since:
2005-07-18

Comment posted from a real life Amiga 1200/060!

Reply Score: 4

Good review... but...
by Spirantho on Wed 15th Jul 2009 11:21 UTC
Spirantho
Member since:
2009-07-15

A nicely written review... but there are some problems. Particularly that it's been written from the point of view of a beginner (a good thing) but one who's not read the manual (a bad thing). I'll have to check my OS 4 manual - maybe it doesn't mention about snapshotting icons etc. - but all of your major worries aren't the OS's fault, it's just you're not aware they're different to Windows and others. The only thing really missing is memory protection, but as long as you keep to well-written programs, you'll have minimal problems.

What I'd suggest doing is learning to use the OS - AmigaOS is not a beginner's OS - but it is perfect for people who like getting their hands dirty as it does exactly what you tell it to and nothing else. Once you've used it for a week or so, including chatting on IRC or something to a long-time user, write a follow-up review.

Reply Score: 1

Good, balanced, critical write-up
by lproven on Wed 15th Jul 2009 13:01 UTC
lproven
Member since:
2006-08-23

Like it.

One of the serious problems of a number of the old "legacy" OSs fighting for survival today - e.g. RISC OS, AmigaOS in its various forms, and arguably Solaris and the BSDs - is that they are far too keen to hang on to their old-fashioned ways from when the world was young and there were no "standard" ways of doing things.

I think one reason for the success of Linux is that it doesn't tend to do this. It emulates bits of the leading OSs. Unix used to have focus-follows-mouse, but the legions of Windows and Mac users aren't used to that, so Linux dropped it. Unix GUIs never had file and folder icons on the desktop, but that's what people are used to, so we got KDE and GNOME, which behaved the way newcomers expect. Same for cut&paste, permanent app menus (instead of on a desktop-middle-click) and so on.

Then you look at the Amiga variants, which default to behaviour unlike any other GUI from the last 25 years. I've not tried OS4, lacking suitable hardware, but I have an Amiga 1200 with OS 3.1 and I've tried AROS. It's very weird indeed if you're used to any other OS.

Compare with BSD and its insistence on its own system of "disk slices" and whatnot. Guys, you're on a platform with its own partitioning system.

For the Amiga types, for instance: guys, we all have near-terabyte super-fast hard disks now. We're not booting off floppies any more. You can drop the RAMdisk support, we no longer need it. Leave it as an installable option for the retro-heads who are stuck in the 1980s.

Adapt to change. Be like a reed not a tree; bend with the wind, rather than snap.

Reply Score: 4

madcrow Member since:
2006-03-13

I will admit that the Amiga way of doing things can be a bit odd (though it's not that hard to get used to, as it DOES have a high level of internal consistancy) but I feel that you're attack on the BSD partitioning system is off base: The PC partitioning system is extremenely inflexible and while things like GUID and EFI might someday fix the problem, at the moment the BSD solution of "create one 'system' partition and then divide that up in your own smarter way" makes perfect sense.

Reply Score: 2

lproven Member since:
2006-08-23

It doesn't make sense, inasmuch as the PC has its own native partitioning system already. Trying to impose one's own rules when one is working in someone else's territory is not a winning tactic.

When Linux runs on SPARC hardware, it uses SPARC partitioning. When it runs on Macs, it uses Mac partitioning. When it runs on PCs, it uses PC partitioning.

Run Mac OS X on a PC, it uses PC partitioning.

Etc. etc.

This is, I'd argue, The Right Way. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Adapt to the prevailing local customs and systems.

AmigaOS grew up in isolation; e.g., for many Amiga fans, Intuition was probably the first windowing system they ever used. Now, though, there are accepted ways of working, so AmigaOS /has/ to conform to the way everyone else works now.

It is a case of conform or die, I'm afraid.

I'm all for putting in support for working the old way for users who prefer it, but it needs to work the way non-Amigans expect out of the box. Firstly, there may be hundreds of thousands of old Amigans out there, but they are a small potential market. Secondly, even all those old fans have probably been using Windows, Macs or Linux since they moved on from their Miggys.

It's a theoretical point, really - AOS4/4.1 manifestly hasn't done this, and the BSDs are unlikely to change their ways now. If either it, it would infuriate loyal fans. I'm just trying to point out a philosophical difference in outlook, that's all!

Reply Score: 1

kolla Member since:
2009-07-15

It doesn't make sense, inasmuch as the PC has its own native partitioning system already. Trying to impose one's own rules when one is working in someone else's territory is not a winning tactic.

When Linux runs on SPARC hardware, it uses SPARC partitioning. When it runs on Macs, it uses Mac partitioning. When it runs on PCs, it uses PC partitioning.

Run Mac OS X on a PC, it uses PC partitioning.


Bullocks

Really, this is just nonsense, please check up your so called facts. What kind of prtitioning to use is largely determied by the firmware on the machine, and what the heck do you mean by "SPARC partitioning" anyways? Check out what the Tivo used, for example.


This is, I'd argue, The Right Way. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Adapt to the prevailing local customs and systems.


This is done of necessity, nothing more. With some luck the old MBR partitioning crap is soon gone.


AmigaOS grew up in isolation;


Pure speculations and mostly utter nonsense, again. AmigaOS grew up in fierce competition with both old MacOS, Atari, old windows and more. The OS itself is a compromise of different systems of the days, and it was largely compiled on SunOS in the start.


e.g., for many Amiga fans, Intuition was probably the first windowing system they ever used.


Probably true or some, but for how long? There were at least a handfull of systems that I tried before I ended up on AmigaOS, each with their own windowing systems, and back in the days there was actually plenty to chose from and you were more likely to stumble upon them as well. Today the chances that you find something other than windows or OSX are slim, and when it happens, chances are very high it's linux with either Gnome or KDE.

Now, though, there are accepted ways of working, so AmigaOS /has/ to conform to the way everyone else works now.


Utter nonsense. That would remove the very point of keeping AmigaOS around.


It is a case of conform or die, I'm afraid.


Nonsense again. It's much more "conform and die". Did Apple conform to anything with OSX? Does Microsoft conform to anything with Windows Vista/7?


I'm all for putting in support for working the old way for users who prefer it, but it needs to work the way non-Amigans expect out of the box. Firstly, there may be hundreds of thousands of old Amigans out there, but they are a small potential market.


Oh no... please dont bring in "the market" - there is no market to speak of, and there wont be - just drop it already. AmigaOS today is for and by old stubbern users, noone else.


Secondly, even all those old fans have probably been using Windows, Macs or Linux since they moved on from their Miggys.


And you think altering how amigaos works will bring them back somehow? Fat chance.

Reply Score: 2

darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Actually, it does make sense. The partitioning scheme of a system is determined both by the firmware on the machine (bios in the case of most PC systems), and the operating system or systems installed on that machine. The reason we have the MBR partitioning scheme today is that DOS and later Windows clung to a system that was never designed to be extendible and was extended by a hack (extended partition and logical drives). It is all the bios can handle (ugh, bios go away!) and since the Microsoft family of oses use the bios for a large part of their disk access, it is what we're stuck with. It makes much more sense, imho, to have a partition for each os and be able to slice each os's partitions up in the way most beneficial to that os--this is how *BSD and Solaris work, for example. This way, each os is self-contained inside its own partition, making it much easier to work with the partition table when necessary and much safer, as a mess-up in one os will not kill any of the other oses. Compare this to the MBR partitioning scheme that Windows and PC-based Linux both use, if you aren't careful you can easily delete the wrong partition or make another mistake, and there's no clear division as to which os is controlling what partition without looking at the partition type and possibly checking your volume mounts in all affected oses. The entire X86-based PC, from bios to typical disk access and partitioning, is one giant cludge of a hack.

Reply Score: 3

kolla Member since:
2009-07-15


For the Amiga types, for instance: guys, we all have near-terabyte super-fast hard disks now. We're not booting off floppies any more. You can drop the RAMdisk support, we no longer need it. Leave it as an installable option for the retro-heads who are stuck in the 1980s.

Adapt to change. Be like a reed not a tree; bend with the wind, rather than snap.


Listen, schmuck - if you change AmigaOS to behave like the rest of the crap, then there's really no point in using AmigaOS, is there? Besides, who are you tell us how AmigaOS should be? You're not an amiga user, so your oppinions regarding how AmigaOS should work are moot.

And I'm not stuck in the eighties, I'm just fed up with the current situation where all systems are focused on the needs of the so called "most users", and how to attract windows users to their plattform, for reasons I really dont understand. I much rather have a system that I know and like, used by less than thousand people on the planet, than dozens of systems all badly mimicking windows.

And writing off RAM disks in these days of SSD netbooks, where linux installs put more and more on tmpfs. No, we're not booting off floppies anymore, we're booting off memory cards.

Reply Score: 3

dragossh Member since:
2008-12-16

Listen, schmuck - if you change AmigaOS to behave like the rest of the crap, then there's really no point in using AmigaOS, is there? Besides, who are you tell us how AmigaOS should be? You're not an amiga user, so your oppinions regarding how AmigaOS should work are moot.


That’s the kind of elitist attitude that, coupled with the high price of Amiga hardware, makes people not consider Amiga. And besides, maybe he used AROS.

I much rather have a system that I know and like, used by less than thousand people on the planet, than dozens of systems all badly mimicking windows.


That’s right. I hate that there is no diversity in the UI. Everyone except Amiga, Apple, RISC OS and Haiku copies Windows instead of trying to come up with better ways of doing things. But that doesn’t mean AmigaOS should cling to the past and not try to expand its userbase just to be different.

And writing off RAM disks in these days of SSD netbooks, where linux installs put more and more on tmpfs. No, we're not booting off floppies anymore, we're booting off memory cards.


I bet he didn’t realise the usefulness of the RAM Disk when you download something and want to try it out.

Edited 2009-07-15 17:50 UTC

Reply Score: 2

kolla Member since:
2009-07-15

"Listen, schmuck - if you change AmigaOS to behave like the rest of the crap, then there's really no point in using AmigaOS, is there? Besides, who are you tell us how AmigaOS should be? You're not an amiga user, so your oppinions regarding how AmigaOS should work are moot.


That’s the kind of elitist attitude that, coupled with the high price of Amiga hardware, makes people not consider Amiga.
"

Are you kidding yourself? People dont consider Amiga because there is close to nothing to consider, a vast majority dont even know what Amiga is, nothing wrong with that. I'm not showing elitist attitude, I'm just stating obvious.

And besides, maybe he used AROS.


And? Maybe I've used ReactOS, I dont go whining over how Vista or 7 must change or die because of that.


But that doesn’t mean AmigaOS should cling to the past and not try to expand its userbase just to be different.


Oh I know the solution, we just need to make Microsoft name the next Windows release "Amiga", and everyone will be happy. Right?

Reply Score: 1

dragossh Member since:
2008-12-16

Are you kidding yourself? People dont consider Amiga because there is close to nothing to consider, a vast majority dont even know what Amiga is, nothing wrong with that. I'm not showing elitist attitude, I'm just stating obvious.


"Listen, schmuck”, "Besides, who are you tell us how AmigaOS should be” is clearly not elitist attitude.

And? Maybe I've used ReactOS, I dont go whining over how Vista or 7 must change or die because of that.


You don’t. But you have the right to. I can speak about Buddhism even if I’m not a Buddhist, for example.

Oh I know the solution, we just need to make Microsoft name the next Windows release "Amiga", and everyone will be happy. Right?


Please don’t put words into my mouth. I didn’t say that and you know it. Now grow up and stop the nonsense.

Reply Score: 1

kolla Member since:
2009-07-15

"Are you kidding yourself? People dont consider Amiga because there is close to nothing to consider, a vast majority dont even know what Amiga is, nothing wrong with that. I'm not showing elitist attitude, I'm just stating obvious.


"Listen, schmuck”, "Besides, who are you tell us how AmigaOS should be” is clearly not elitist attitude
"

Exactly, elitists would use irony and sarcasm, not blunt name calling.

"And? Maybe I've used ReactOS, I dont go whining over how Vista or 7 must change or die because of that.


You don’t. But you have the right to. I can speak about Buddhism even if I’m not a Buddhist, for example.
"

But can you tell buddhism to please change and conform to ordinary hinduism, so that potential buddhists wont have to be so confused? Thanks.

Edited 2009-07-15 19:57 UTC

Reply Score: 2

dragossh Member since:
2008-12-16

But can you tell buddhism to please change and conform to ordinary hinduism, so that potential buddhists wont have to be so confused? Thanks.


If I were to read an article that thoroughfully explains the differences between Buddhism and Hinduism, maybe I would if I consider it appropriate. Just like I’m no Linux user but I can still suggest ideas to GNOME/KDE because I’m at least a little bit familiar with them.

He just expressed his opinion on how AmigaOS could be improved and you don’t have to take it so personally and go name calling him just because he is “not an Amiga user." Thom clearly explained how AmigaOS works in this article just so that we can talk about how it can be improved.

Reply Score: 1

kolla Member since:
2009-07-15

Thom clearly explained how AmigaOS works in this article just so that we can talk about how it can be improved.


I dont see him explaining how it works, he explains how he think it works, and how he think it should work.

Regarding snapshot - it's already there, and it's a manual operation, which is how it should be. If there was a huge demand for auto snapshot, then a patch/commodity would already have been written.

Regarding autoupdate - AutoUpdateWB has been around for ages - if it's something you cant live without, then just get it.

Regarding AHI, P96whatnot etc - yes, those are annoying, AHI and sound prefs should have been integrated, and same for P96, screenmode (and overscan). The reason they're not is two-fold: first they are not really part of OS4, but licensed third party software. And secondly, the GUI toolkit of OS4, Reaction (aka ClassAct) has no means (AFAIK) to do modular design, so there is no way to integrate the prefs progs. This in contrast to MorphOS where MUI allows all the prefs to be modules for the big system prefs program.

Edited 2009-07-17 11:54 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

Guys, you're on a platform with its own partitioning system.


Too bad the X86 partitioning system is braindead. Give me slices any day over 4 "primary" partitions and the horrible "extended" partitions nightmare.
Slices kick ass, X86 partitioning not so much.

Reply Score: 3

Still beating this dead horse?
by jsutton on Wed 15th Jul 2009 15:53 UTC
jsutton
Member since:
2006-03-24

This OS is an insult to the real Amiga.

Reply Score: 0

RE: Still beating this dead horse?
by afxgroup on Wed 15th Jul 2009 16:03 UTC in reply to "Still beating this dead horse?"
afxgroup Member since:
2006-02-09

good explanations.... well done.. you should also ask Tom if you can review something..

Reply Score: 2

Heh
by Tuishimi on Wed 15th Jul 2009 22:32 UTC
Tuishimi
Member since:
2005-07-06

Up until 8 years ago I had an old Amiga running in my basement. Zippy sucker. Had it alongside my BeOS machine, my Mac OS X 10.0 machine, OS/2 machine...

Fun stuff.

Ah well... until Haiku is solid enough for everyday use, I think Snow Leopard will be the next fun OS to play with. I think with all the underlying changes they are making regarding threading it will be something else!

Reply Score: 2

Missing in review ...
by -pekr- on Thu 16th Jul 2009 07:54 UTC
-pekr-
Member since:
2006-03-28

Hello,

now my few cents. I like Tom's work in overall, and I think that he did pretty decent work for the review. I can understand his pov, as from user perspective, I am a person who is not forgivable to system flaws ...

However - as I was writing for Amiga Review for 4 years, I have slightly different perspective on how such review could (not should) be made. Reviewing clearly dated system, which once was cult, I would probably first try to find some long time Amigan, providing me some introduction to the system, in order to better understand why are some things done in certain way, and to see, what can tweaked OS do.

Yes, tweaked OS. Sometime in 1994 I got A1200, and the first thing I did was, I was using some tool (don't remember the name), which allowed to tweak certain OS areas to death. Not just the look of buttons (skin), or placement of arrows of slider or adding additional buttons to window bar, but also overall system behaviour. So, for example the highly criticised window being brought to top on click feature: it was customisable, you could even have bring-window-to-front-on-mouse-over feature. Besides the relative difficulcy to bring desired window to front, I would put it in reverse - I miss exactly that feature with Windows for ages! It is imo FATAL ommision to not have something like that. Anyone who ever manages some systems, need to write down some notes by observing something in the top window, knows what I am talking about.

What other things I miss, while I know, that from end user perspective those might not be obvious immediately?

- overall system simplicity - the feeling you got from the system usage after some time. You've got the feeling you are managing the system, not that system is managing you.

- locale system - just /catalogs directory. You turned system into CZ and each app looked, if there is its CZ catalogue. There was ATO (Amiga translation organisation), which helped to translate apps, so that you could release your app with tens of catalogs from the beginning. ATO was professional, e.g. here in CZ some folks helped MS with Win98 translations.

- datatypes - for various media formats. If your app knowed how to work with datatypes format, it could read or save those formats data without no explicit effort

- devices - perfectly async behaviour of the system. Remember how with A500 equipped with 68020 accelerator, I was playing chess, running smooth demo, unpacking lha archive and copying data from floppy to floppy external drive. Without a mouse glitch. Now could someone explain me, why inserting DVD into my Vista notebook causes a bit of a mouse freeze? Well, some parties did not get multitasking properly working even after 20 years :-)

- scripting - AREXX. Each app could have so called AREXX port, hence was scriptable. Each menu item was then accessible IIRC. There were tones of scripts, which automated so many tasks. It was really easy to use, nothing like WSH.

As I said - good review, but I've got feeling that the system did not let Tom in. I also agree, that many things could be easily fixed, and should be fixed, to stop denerving users. Other than that, even if Amiga was my passion, I am not sure that it could have any impact today. They should definitely port at least to ARM, to allow ppl to buy more price-wise accessible HW, or it becomes really expensive reunion (liked the term :-) experience ...

Reply Score: 2

the toilet in the courtyard
by paolone on Thu 16th Jul 2009 09:59 UTC
paolone
Member since:
2007-09-24

No, pekr, not. You don't need to be a man from 2 centuries ago to understand that having the toilet outside home is bad. And any people form early 1900 won't ever succeed in change my mind: having the toilet outside home would be really, really bad, whatever he would tell me.

In my humble opinion, Thom's review is interesting exactly 'cos he's NOT a former AmigaOS user, and this is really good because he's more objective in his review.

He spotted some GUI anachronysm that must be fixed, because one thing was the situation of 1992, another thing is the situation nowadays. Once upon a long ago, lower resolutions existed, visualizing windows contents took time, access to floppies was slow and so on, so ALL the problems Workbench 1.3-2.1 faced in the Eighties, today don't exists anymore.

There is no need for manual snapshotting, it MUST be done by the system itself, even if it is not "amiga-like" anymore, whathever amiga-like should mean in 2009. If a drawer hasn't ANY .info file into it, Show->All files SHOULD be choosen automatically by te OS, or the user will think there's nothing there, exactly as like as AROS does on foreign media (if a mounted volume hasn't a disk.info files, show->all files is choosen by default). PPC machines haven't the issue of slowly loading icons from floppies, they get all the icons to show in no-time from the hard drive.

And yes, I agree that 'AHI' should be called "Sound" in Prefs. Or at least "Sound (AHI)", in order to be comfortable for both old Amiga users and newer ones. I'd like to introduce these cosmetic changes in Icaros Desktop, however I'd get some issues when updating the system. But, who knows, maybe someday I'll convince at least AROS developers a similar change would be absolutely good. ;-)

Reply Score: 1

RE: the toilet in the courtyard
by -pekr- on Thu 16th Jul 2009 15:25 UTC in reply to "the toilet in the courtyard"
-pekr- Member since:
2006-03-28

I don't know what are you replying to. You reply to no single point I made, trying to explain me things I might understand. I did not talk about snapshotting, nor AHI, nor anything you mention, so who are you trying to educate here?

I know exactly what I am talking about, so I persist - Tom imo did not live long enough with Amiga in order to better understand its philosophy, so just those things that seemed weird to him, overweighted possible positive experiences users had in the past. Judging from today's perspective of mainstream OSes - then Tom is of course absolutly right, but it is not imo all that fair. AmigaOS 4.1 does not pretend it belongs to first league - it is a reunion release for those still interested.

That is like turning on ZX Spectrum and complain it can't handle FullHD video :-) It just happened, that after all those years, AmigaOS is still developed, cause there's still a community around it. But Amiga today, is a complete niche, not even a market, just a hobby ...

Reply Score: 2

Comment by mrAmiga500
by mrAmiga500 on Thu 16th Jul 2009 21:58 UTC
mrAmiga500
Member since:
2009-03-20

This is a good review and Thom seems to be going out of his way not to offend long time Amiga users (like me).

As others have said, most users didn't do serious file management from Workbench - which was really only suited to launching programs. Most people used a filemanager program for serious file management (my favourite was ABCdirectory). It would have been nice if there was a new powerful filemanager program included with OS 4.1, because it's definitely needed.

The icon/window snapshotting feature is one of my favourite Amiga features. If I specifically want an icon somewhere or a window to always be a certain size, I snapshot. If I'm just temporarily doing something - or I dragged it accidentally, I don't need to be careful about putting it back later. The same goes for all preferences: screw around with whatever the hell you want and next reboot everything will be back to normal - unless you specifically want to keep the new settings, then you save... and Amiga is the only OS I ever used that doesn't mysteriously revert your saved settings to default at random.

This post was made from a 1987 Amiga 500. (seriously)

Reply Score: 2