As Amiga Inc is about to re-enter the computer arena with new AmigaOS4 powered desktop systems as well as with 3rd party embedded products utilizing AmigaDE technology pre-installed, there are a growing number of people who wonder what an advanced classic AmigaOS currently offers. This was an important reason for me to write a simple to understand WinUAE tutorial, so this would hopefully help interested people with setting up a fun and easy to use emulated AmigaOS environment on widely available mainstream Windows computers. This article also includes many WinUAE screenshots and information on acquiring and using freely available software.
Minimal requirements for this tutorial:
– Any Windows 9x/2K/XP powered 200+ MHz PC with DirectX 7 or better installed.
– 20 MB free harddisk space; note however that Windows may need much more free space itself for usage as virtual memory in order to function properly.
– Graphics card with at least 2 MB of RAM.
– AmigaOS 3.0/3.1
Notice: As AmigaOS will run emulated on top of Windows, the better Windows runs on your system, the better the Amiga experience will be. Running without a demanding host OS, as done with Amithlon (commercial), results in a much better AmigaOS performance and a far more convincing and stable environment. Amithlon was previously included with the AmigaOS XL package, but version 2.0, will soon become available seperately. However, do note that WinUAE is a better option for emulating classic OCS/ECS games and demos, as Amithlon itself only supports retargetable standards.
Acquiring AmigaOS 3.0/3.1 legally.
Option 1: Getting the ROMs from an Amiga you own.
Option 2: Buying Amiga Forever from Cloanto. ($29.95)
For this tutorial version 3.0 or 3.1 of the Amiga Operating System is required. Version 3.0 was first released with A1200 and A4000 computers in 1992. The A1200 was targeted at ordinary home users and computer hobbyists, while the A4000 was mainly aimed at professional graphics and video artists. Today the A1200 is still available in small quanities at various Amiga dealers. In 1993 AmigaOS 3.1 was released as an upgrade option for all Amiga models (OCS/ECS/AGA chipsets) build since 1987 or later.
On classic Amiga computers AmigaOS consists of two pieces. A hardware piece called the kickstart ROM which contains the kernel, some drivers and some other system libraries. Mainly due to this ROM classic Amigas are able to boot directly into advanced games and even applications from diskettes or CDs. The complete icon and menu driven environment however comes distributed on seperate diskettes or on a CD.
If you currently own an Amiga computer, you can use an utility which comes distributed with the Amiga emulator WinUAE to write an image of your ROM to disk. This utility is called “transrom” and is located in the “Amiga programs” directory where WinUAE would be installed. This process is well explained well in this transrom tutorial.
Also needed for this tutorial is an ADF (Amiga Disk File) image from one of the Operating System diskettes labelled “Workbench version 3.0” or 3.1. For this, you can use the “transdisk” utility which is also included with WinUAE. The command “TransDisk >ram:mydisk.adf” will simply write 900k disk image files of the disk that is located in DF0: (normally the internal diskdrive) to your RAM. When you have these image files, you can use CrossDOS (Included with AmigaOS) to copy the files to high density Windows formatted diskettes or you can transfer them to your PC over a Network.
If you do not own an Amiga, you can obtain a legal copy of all classic Kickstart ROMs (1.0-3.1) and complete 1.3 and 3.1 versions (ADFs) of the Amiga operating system, from Cloanto’s Amiga Forever software package. This package also includes good networking software and a licensed version of Picasso96 software.
Store the required kickstart image file and workbench ADF on your PC’s hard drive.
First you will need to download the latest version of WinUAE. I used version 0.8.21R4. WinUAE is the Win32 version of the multi-platform Amiga emulator UAE. UAE stands for UNIX Amiga Emulator, although the “U” origionally stood for “Unusable,” as in 1996 on a 90Mhz Pentium, it still was about one third as fast at emulation as the first released 7 MHz A1000 from 1985. The Windows version is currently the most user friendly version available and due to new JIT emulation techniques is reasonable fast for AmigaOS emulation.
After executing the installer, you will be asked for a location for WinUAE to be stored; for this tutorial, it is preferred that you leave the given location unchanged. After hitting the install button, WinUAE is installed on your system within 1 or 2 seconds.
Now you will need to download Amiga In a Box. AIAB is a small and freely available package of utilities which are designed to enhance the user experience of version 3.0 or 3.1 of AmigaOS. Grab the latest version of AIAB.exe from the download section (currently version r10c). After executing the installer, several options will be shown. Leave them unchanged and hit the next button. Now you need to make sure that the location where WinUAE was installed is identical to this given location. Hit the install button, and soon you can let either AIAB search for the kickstart file, or if this fails, point to the right location manually.
Now start the emulator by double clicking the new AIAB shortcut located on the desktop. After starting the emulator, you will see that the emulator has numerous tabs and options. Don’t worry too much though; if you follow this tutorial closely, you will have a fully configured AmigaOS running on your PC within several minutes. 🙂
You will now see the configurations tab, now select “HD-Games” and press the “load” button. You have now loaded a configuration file and we are going to make some small adjustments. Under the “Display” tab, select Scanline under the “Line Mode” group. The settings shown at this tab will be used when software tries to open on a seperate screen. As PCs have trouble with displaying ordinary TV screen resolutions, a Line Mode trick is used to make sure that the screen won’t look too disformed. Using black scanlines between the original lines results closer to the display of a real Amiga as compared to Doubling each line. The disadvantage is however that the end result will look darker and less sharp than on a real Amiga. However there are more severe disadvantages by using the Doubled mode, as this would result into more blocky graphics than compared to those on a real Amiga and also needs noticably more computing resources, sometimes resulting in jerkey scrolling or on occasions slowdowns on lower-end PCs. If you don’t have a Joystick or Gamepad on your PC, then go to the “Game and I/O Ports” and change the “Amiga Mouse Port 1” setting to “Keyboard layout ‘B.'” With most games the CTRL key will be used as a firebutton and the arrow keys will be used for directions. Now go back to the “Configurations” tab and press the “save” button. The previous settings are now overwritten with the new configuration.
Now go to the “Chipset” tab and select “AGA,” then return to the “Configurations” tab and change the name to”HD-Games (AGA)” and press the “save” button again. Now you have created a new configuration file for using AGA software. Emulating the AGA chipset is far more demanding and therefore it would be preferred not to use this setting for running solely ECS/OCS software. Also should be noted that AGA emulation still isn’t very mature so that many AGA software titles will still not work under WinUAE.
Remember where you stored your Workbench ADF. Load the “HD-Games” configuration file again and press the “OK” button. You will soon be asked by an AmigaOS requester to insert your workbench disk. Then press F12 to bring back the WinUAE properties again and then go to the “Floppies” tab to select a button displaying three dots on the same height as df0:, select the path to the location where your workbench ADF is stored and then press the “OK” button. Wait and after a while you will be asked to select a screenmode. Later on, you can also change the screenmode from within AmigaOS itself to higher resolutions. For now, choose “800×600 16Bit PC” and press the “save” button. Now just follow through the given options (BTW I use the ProLite IconSet). Before rebooting AmigaOS, be sure to remove the “Workbench disk” from your virtual df0: diskdrive by hitting the eject button under the “Floppies” tab. and you will boot into your newly installed AmigaOS environment 🙂
Read the Welcome guide and experiment a little, if you want. From here you can configure just about the entire Graphical User Interface. This is well explained in the provided documentation. Personally, I dislike startbars, so for me that is the first thing I deleted and use the good old included Toolmanager application launcher intstead. AmigaOS4 will use a similar but more easier to set up docking program called AmiDock. Furthermore, I use the included mac1 pointer, the included BeOS inspired GUI look and finally a background image downloaded from Amiga.org, the central Amiga community portal.
The Amiga has been the main birthing ground for “Pubic Domain,” “Freeware” and “Shareware” applications, gaming and demo Scenes. This is an important reason why there are over 50,000 software titles written for the Amiga platform. Of these, over 5000 games were written for the Amiga platform, a large majority of these were targeted at low-end 7Mhz OCS/ECS Amiga systems from mid-late 80s and early 90s. Regardless of what the age may suggest to you, even these early machines are very powerful systems for 2D games and at the time State-of-the-Art for 3D gaming as well.
Sadly, most Amiga arcade conversions are not as good as compared to the arcade originals. At the time this was mainly a result of companies wanting people to spend lots of cash at arcades halls instead of just buying an Amiga conversion. Take for instance the Amiga conversion of the arcade classic The New Zealand Story,” which despite of being an excellent game on the Amiga, offers less colorful graphics than the 8-bit coin-up original! This despite to the fact that any Amiga could easily handle identical graphics as well. Luckily, there are good arcade emulators like MAME available for most platforms, including for Amigas. To understand how powerful low-end or high-end Amigas models were at the time, you need to look for software directly targeted at the Amiga platform. A good place to start is the AIAB website which is offering several Amiga classics including Lemming, Walker and Shadow of the Beast free for download. Another good location for games is Back2Roots.org, as it offers a very large quantity of ex-commercial Amiga games. Note however that permissions were given specificly to these websites for distributing these software titles.
Also fans of Boulderdash/Emerald Mine type games are well served at the Emerald Web website. Here there are hunderds of clones being offered freely for download. Finally the center of most freely distributable Amiga software is Aminet, an enormous file archive where new Amiga related files are being uploaded on a daily basis.
Some last WinUAE emulation tips and information:
– Windows PCs are not able to handle emulated Amiga screens very well. Therefore most AIAB applications are configured to be displayed on the desktop screen instead of opening their own screens. On real Amigas it is often preferable to use a separate screen specificly configured for the application so that you would always get a full screen application with the resolution and color depth for which the software was designed. However if you switch between different screens using different display properties under WinUAE, you will get a black screen (sometimes you will shortly see the underlying Windows desktop as well) for a couple of seconds which can be very annoying for Amiga users. It is better to either make sure that the same display properties have been selected for all screens or to mainly use the main desktop screen.
– Screen dragging: The ability to display different screen resolutions and color depths within one monitor display is not possible on modern PC hardware. Only classic Amigas and some early graphic cards are able to support this functionality. This feature eventually wasn’t supported by any graphic card anymore because no other OS was able to support this feature.
– For good links to forums and information regarding UAE and Amiga games, take a look at the TOP 10 Amiga Game Sites and AmigaMOS.com topsites. Other active English languaged Amiga emulation forums are Amiga Emulation Talk, UAE Discussion board, EAB WinUAE board or forums on more general Amiga orientated websites like Amiga.org and www.amigaforums.org.
– When downloading software you will encounter several icon styles, some are drawn with 4 colors as this saves system resources on old un-upgraded Amiga models. Another widely used Icon style is MagicWB which only uses 8 colors but looks good and works fast on i.e. un-upgraded A1200 systems. AIAB uses NewIcons with up to 256 colors. Truckloads of free NewIcons can be found on Aminet and on specific Icon websites like Zapaticons. GlowIcons are similar to NewIcons but are IMO less “cute” and offer a “glow” effect when they are selected. AmigaOS3.5 (1999) and AmigaOS3.9 (2000) introduced an updated icon.library and therefor many icons found on the internet (i.e. these great game Icons) cannot be used directly with AmigaOS 3.0/3.1. Advise: If you like AmigaOS, upgrade to AmigaOS 3.9-2. (2002) 🙂
– Some games don’t run properly when the JIT emulation is enabled. (Examples are IK+, Lemmings, Stunt Car Racer and Deliverance) You can disable JIT emulation at any time during the emulation by setting the “Cache Size” slider under the “JIT Settings” group on the “CPU” tab to 0-Megs. Don’t forget to re-adjust these settings when you return to AmigaOS, as the emulation would slowdown considerably.
– If at any time a game is running too slow you can alter the “Refresh” slider under the “Display” tab.
– You can add internet support by enabling the BSDsocket.library emulation at the “Misc” tab.
– Now that you have AmigaOS running you may wonder what AmigaOS looks like on ordinary Amigas or what you can do to customize its look and functionality. Here are several screenshots along with more information by AmigaOS users.
Within the following sections I will give pointers to locations where good freely available Amiga software can be found. I will also include brief descriptions and emulation tips if necessary. Note however that there are also many good commercial software titles available at more than one hundred Amiga dealers around the world. You can add CD support at WinUAE’s “Hard Drives” tab.
A very configurable and simple to use IRC client. You can chat with usage of different text colours, sound effects and text styles. URLs are clickable and will be opened with your preferred browser. AmIRC is shareware, so you may only test this application for 30 days with only 30 minute sessions before the program quits itself. The cost for registration is £20.You can download the latest version from VaporWare. This program is also included with AIAB’s “Internet Tools” upgrade package. A completely freeware, but less advanced IRC alternative for AmigaOS is ChatBox. Screenshot.
Directory Opus 4.x
A completely free, powerful and easy to use file manager which includes excellent drag and drop functionalities. This application allows you to easily manage files and add all kinds of additional functionality. The source code is publicly available and is still being actively developed. A copy is already included with AIAB. For more information, read the Directory Opus 4 research project website. DOpus Magellan is a program offering similar functionalities but seamlessly integrates this into the AmigaOS environment. Hyperion has licensed DOpus Magellan source code to be used with AmigaOS4.x.
Fully featured FTP client with drag and drop functionalities. You can download the latest version from VaporWare. mFTP is shareware, you may fully test this software for 30 days. This program is also included with AIAB’s “Internet Tools” upgrade package. A freeware alternative is ATC.
Perfect Paint 2.x
A very useful freeware painting program with lots of effects and even animation support. You can download this application and additional scripts from PP’s website. Read the requirements section, as you will need to download some additional libraries from Aminet (if you don’t have them installed already). Furthermore to get this application to run you need to drop the fonts drawer into your virtual “Workbench:” partition.
A freeware ICQ client. For information on setting up this software, turn to the STRICQ.com homepage. This program is also included with the AIAB’s “Internet Tools” upgrade package. For an open source alternative there is Jabberwocky, an Amiga jabber client.
Allows you to easily start software with the use of hotkeys, customize the tool menu or launch software with the use of pictures on the Workbench or on separately dragable Dock windows with “click picture to start program” and drag and drop functionalities. Toolmanager has been one of the progams I have used on nearly a daily basis since v1.5 in 1991. The screenshot shows a dock configured to use 4 columns, but you can have these picture buttons displayed horizontally or vertically anywhere on your desktop. You can also add multiple docks. This high degree of flexibility and powerful features comes at a price though; newbees will have trouble figuring out how to set up Toolmanager correctly. You can download the program here from Aminet.
A very friendly harddisk install and enhancement/fixing package for old Amiga software. Much old software in the past used disks formatted with a custom file system to prevent this software from being copied. Sadly, that would often mean that the game could not be installed on a harddisk as well. WHDLoad supports already over one thousand install programs for original Amiga games, but this program does not only install them to your harddisk (which results in immense loadup speed imporvements), but often also removes annoying copy protections, bugs and adds high score savings or other cool enhancements. IMO a must have application for every Amiga games freak. A fully functional shareware version is included with the AIAB package. By registering you would need to pay 20 US$ or 20 EUR and after that you will receive a keyfile which will hide a requester page before loading the software.
This is a very easy to use program which functions as a GUI frontend for several archiving utilities for extracting or compressing LHA, LZX, ZIP, DMS, TAR, and GZIP files. This program is standardly included and pre-configured with AIAB! Simply click on the archive icon and the content will immediately be opened by WizARC. If you aren’t using AIAB, you can download the program from Aminet here.
Yet Another Mailer is an open source and freely available mailing program which supports multiple users and search functions. You can download this excellent program from Aminet here.
The following software titles are some of my favorite freely distributable PD Scene (Freeware, Shareware, etc) games. These are all full games without any limitation. The bedroom programmer Scene flourished on the Amiga; many innovative game concepts originated from these Amiga game developrs. For instance a multi-platform hit title like Worms originated from one bedroom Amiga games developer. The WinUAE screenshots taken from most of these games were taken while running in a doubled line mode. Therefore, on a real Amiga the graphics will look less blocky.
A freeware Tank/Artillery clone. You and your team member must try to destroy the enemy artilleries with well calculated canon shots. You can either configure the game to use a window on your Workbench or open a seperate screen for fullscreen game display. You can download the game from Aminet here. If the game asks for certain fonts then you can find them on your AmigaOS 3.0 or 3.1 fonts disk. Another excellent Tank clone with lots of different weaponry is Scorched Tanks.
Deluxe Galaga (AGA)
You control a space-craft, and your mission is to protect earth from alien invaders. Nice touches to the game are various sub-games, many upgrade options for your fighter, a two player mode and many hidden bonuses. You can download the full game from Aminet here. If your machine is too slow to handle AGA games properly under emulation, then there’s also an ECS version available. Under the “Chipset” tab under the “Collision level” group, select “full”. Also you need to have the AGA chipset selected and need to change the Amiga screen resolution to 800×600 under the “Display” tab before booting into AmigaOS. Within the game press the “E” key for sound effects.
Deluxe Pacman (AGA)
IMO one of the best, if not the best 2D pacman clone for any platform. The game offers lots of extra bonuses, levels and weapons and is addictive for any age. You can download the full game from Aminet here. Set the display options to 800×600 for seeing the entire game area. As there aren’t lots of fancy things going on on the screen, even low-end PCs will be able to emulate this AGA title without slowdowns (but there is an ECS version available as well).
A very addictive online multi-player Dynablaster/Bomberman clone. You need to be connected to the Internet to be able to start this game. Don’t be frightened when the game offers you the option to format your C: partition. The game detects that you are running a version of UAE and the programmers thought it would be funny to kid around with UAE users. Just hit the format button to continue. For more information turn to the dynAMIte homepage.
Megaball (AGA enhanced)
A good Arkanoid clone with lots of levels and different bonuses. On Amigas, these type of games are normally played with the use of a mouse, but if you want, you can also use the keyboard or a joystick. You can get this game here from Aminet.
Monsters of Terror (AGA)
A professionally implemented arcade action game by Starfox. With up to four simultaneous players, you try to kill all the nasty creatures in these small labyrinths. Great sounds, nice graphics and amazingly addictive gameplay makes this game one of the shining examples of high quality PD Scene software by “bedroom game developers”. You can download the game from Starfox’ website. Be sure to check out his other games too. If you are a Loderunner fan, be sure to check out his excellent clone called Minerunner.
Two player thrust clone with excellent raytraced graphics. You control a small spaceship and try to kill your opponent with loads of different weaponries or compete against each other in races. You can download this game here from Aminet.
The best Tron clone I have seen for any platform, with up to 6 simultaniously playing human opponents (up to 10 with computer opponents included). Lots of additional bonuses, obstacles and different weapons to choose from. Download the full game from Paul Burkey’s Sneech homepage.
These games are freely available from the given websites. Do note, however, that these websites have acquired exclusive permission for distributing this software. Alot of new software is being added to websites like Back2Roots.org on a monthtly basis. The WinUAE screenshots taken from most of these games, were taken while running in a doubled line mode. Therefore, on a real Amiga the graphics will look less blocky.
Psygnosis (1992) Orignal target specs: Any Amiga with 521 KB RAM
A nice sideways scrolling shoot`m up within which you control an owl. The game has good graphics and excellent music. The harddisk version can be downloaded form the download section of AmigaInABox.
Core Design (1994) Original target specs: Any AGA Amiga.
A very good vertically scrolling shoot `em up, the best one I have seen for any platform so far. Beautiful silky smooth scrolling graphics are combined with excellent 1 or 2 player gameplay. Great weather effects and huge end-level boses makes this truly a real masterpiece. During emulation the score/energy/lives stats row is missing, but overall the game plays well, although the game does need a very fast computer to run properly. You can download the game here from Back2Roots.org.
Beneath a steel sky – CD version
Virgin Games (1994) Original target specs: Any Amiga with 2MB RAM and CDROM drive
A hilarious adventure in the same league as games like The Secret of Monkey Island” (part 1&2) and “Simon the Sorceror” (1&2). The game offers excellent speech but also takes quite some space on your harddrive. You download this game here from Back2Roots.org. If the game does not load up correctly under AIAB then boot into MiniBench. This can be done by pressing the left mouse button during AmigaOS bootup. After this find the game and load it and this game should run correctly.
Vivid Imagine (1991) Original target specs: Any Amiga with 1 MB RAM.
An action packed platform game with excellent graphics and sounds. Along the levels lots of puzzles are needed to be solved in order to progress. You can download the HD version here from Back2Roots.org.
Psygnosis (1990) Original target specs: Any Amiga with 1 MB RAM.
A very addictive puzzle game. You try too rescue your lemmings by appointing certain tasks to certain lemmings (like i.e. sacrifice some for the sake of the group). The Amiga orginal is easily the best Lemmings version available. Great classical music tunes, well thought out level design and a hilariously fun two player mode. You can download the HD version from the downloads section of AmigaInABox.
Thalion (1992) Original target specs. Any Amiga with 1 MB RAM.
Graphically the most impressive 2D platform game I have seen for any computer or game console. Alot of parallax scrolling layers makes this game a feast for your eyes to watch. Good sound effects and good gameplay makes this game a true classic. You can download the ADFs from the Thalion webshrine here. To install this game onto your harddrive you need to get an installer form the WHDLoad website.
Mega lo Mania
Image Works (1991) Original target specs. Any Amiga with 1 MB RAM.
A great strategy game where you try to take control of small islands. A great aspect of this game is that you need to advance your tribe with inventions in order to outsmart your foes. The game is of a similar quality as compared to other Amiga strategy classics like Populous2 and Powermonger. You can download the HD version from the downloads section of AmigaInABox.
Shadow of the Beast
Psygnosis (1989) Original target specs: Any Amiga with 1 MB RAM.
A great looking and sounding classical game. This game has sold many Amigas in the past as it was used in shops to demonstrate the enormous power of even bog standard entry level Amiga computers. You can download the HD version from the downloads section of AmigaInABox.
Super Cars 2
Gremlin (1991) Original target specs: Any Amiga with 1 MB RAM.
A top-down viewed one or two player racing game with great music and loads of weaponries. This game is very fun to play with a friend, either try to blow eachother of the racetrack or to co-operate with eachother against other competitors. You can download the HD version here from Back2Roots.org.
Xtreme Racing (AGA)
Silltunna (1995) Original taget specs: AGA Amiga with 030 CPU and 4MB RAM
A great 3D racing game which needs quite a fast computer to be emulated. On a real Amiga you have the ability to play this game with lots of friends over a network. During the game you need to alter the screen resolution to 1×1 as the game looks rather blocky in 2×2 mode (used for bog standard 14 MHz A1200s). You can download the ADFs here from Back2Roots.org. When you have the game installed on your harddisk be sure to edit the game startup file with an editor and delete a line regarding the cracker intro. If you don’t do this the game may crash as it did initially on my setup. Screenshot.