This weekend was the official launch of a brand new platform, by Genesi. New platforms are rare these days, so this one is something to watch out for. MorphOS is a fully 32bit, pre-emptively multi-tasking operating system for the PowerPC range of CPUs, and is included with each Pegasos motherboard sold. We have some information about the system, three screenshots, and we also talked to Nicholas Blachford, Eclipsis project manager about MorphOS.
Here is the MorphOS platform at a glance:
Pegasos MicroATX Mainboard with:
More info about technical details, read here.
1. Is a port of MacOnLinux emulator a possibility for Morphos in order to run MacOS9/X?
Nicholas Blachford: Hmm, this is a difficult one because Apple’s EULA forbids you from running their OS on a different platform. If someone wants to port it they can feel free but I don’t know if it’s something we can get involved in. On the other hand we’ve heard BeOS PPC might run on MacOnLinux and we are actively investigating this. That said MOL does run on the Pegasos Hardware (we supply Debian Linux along with MorphOS).
2. Is a port of MorphOS to x86 planned?
Nicholas Blachford: Not at the moment. I would be interested to see some version available under x86 though even if it was just under emulation, that would allow x86 users to see what MorphOS was capable of.
3. What are the media capabilities of MorphOS? These days people crave for video editors, digital camera support, USB 2, Firewire…
Nicholas Blachford: We supply a very capable media player built in called Frogger which handles dozens of Audio and Visual formats including of course MP3s. There is TV card support built in.
There is also third party Multimedia support for: Digital Cameras. A DV video editor is in the works called Motion Studio. Analogue Video was very big on the Amiga (and still used to this day) and this too is in the works.
4. To which audience MorphOS is targeted exactly?
Nicholas Blachford: At the moment our market is “Alternative Computing” starting with current and Ex Amiga users, it provides a very similar feel and runs a lot of their software via a 68K emulator (provided it doesn’t access the custom chips). There was and is a great deal of software available some of which has never appeared on any other system so this provides a body of mature software for users to work with, somewhat unusual for a brand new platform.
Going forward we are up against Windows, MacOS and Linux. We haven’t a hope attacking these markets so we intend to target different niches, there are many specific markets out there which are not dependant on Windows or Unix, they may use one of these Operating Systems but the computers primary purpose in these cases is for use as a tool and we can address these markets, looking at what they need and providing it.
Even then we can’t stand still, we have to provide advanced and unique technology if we want to survive. So we have other products in development based on our existing technologies such as the Eclipsis which is a powerful convergence device which combines the worlds of Phone, PDA and Laptop and still fits in your pocket.
On the other hand our hardware is an open platform and we are actively looking for other Operating Systems. We ship with MorphOS and Debian Linux and we are talking to other OS writers / vendors (Gentoo, Mandrake, NetBSD, OpenBSD etc.). We also hope to get Zeta and OpenBeOS working at some point.
5. Please give us the specs (memory, hard drive, gfx card etc) of the computer that runs MorphOS.
Nicholas Blachford: The Pegasos is a MicroATX motherboard so the resellers are free to decide which sort of components are used. The current CPU is a 600Mhz G3 which is attached via a CPU card. This can be upgraded later to a G4 or dual G4 card (up to 1.4 GHz).
The system requirements for MorphOS are low, much lower than the lowest cost systems our resellers provide. It runs happily with Apps in 64MB on a 160Mhz PPC 603 (G2), a 100MB HD should provide ample storage.
5A. Will there be *hardware accelerated* 3D support and OpenGL?
Nicholas Blachford: There is Hardware 3D support via the Rave3D and Warp3D APIs. OpenGL API compatible support in hardware and software is being worked on for a number of cards. We expect to be able to provide good support for ATI cards in the future.
5B. Will there be support for professional audio?
Nicholas Blachford: There is basic audio but not much for Pro Audio *yet* but that is an important target market for us. Audio users can expect OS level support for Pro Audio in the future.
6. What kind of performance are we talking about on MorphOS in regards to both YellowDogLinux, OSX and the classic AmigaOS?
Nicholas Blachford: If you mean responsiveness, it rocks. It destroys everything – even BeOS – and that’s on a G3! MorphOS boots in under 3 seconds. As for classic AmigaOS our JIT engine can run apps at up to 75% of native PPC speed. Even the slowest PPC Amiga accelerators running MorphOS can outrun the fastest Amigas ever shipped.
7. What is the main web browser in the OS? Is there a possibility for Mozilla?
The system is shipped with a browser called Voyager which has flash support, another browser called A-WEB also runs fine. We are looking into getting Phoenix (a smaller version of Mozilla) ported.
8. What language is the main API based upon? Is there support for Java, C++?
It’s written in C with a little assembly. It can be programmed with a variety of different languages. You can essentially use whatever language you want. Java isn’t available yet but it is in development.
9. AmigaOS 4 comes out soon, and so is MorphOS. Please compare the two for our readers and explain their good, bads and differences between the two OSes.
Nicholas Blachford: The aim of the two systems is the same but the approaches are very different. We are creating an entirely new operating system (architecturally similar to BeOS) and inside this we have created an “A-Box” which is compatible with the Amiga OS API. This may sound incredibly kludgy but the original OS has some pretty fundamental limitations and this approach contains these within the box allowing us to create a new modern OS from a fresh start without being tied down.
Amiga’s approach is to port AmigaOS to PowerPC and at the same try to remove the fundamental limitations. This is in our opinion a great deal more difficult and is very likely to break existing applications. They do have an advantage over us in that they have the original source but this is tempered by the fact they don’t have the original programmers and at least some is known to be in assembly code.
It’s very difficult to compare the implementations of the two as Amiga have never really shown much working in public yet whereas we’ve just shipped our first production systems and had a public beta going for over 2 years.
One advantage we have is integration of OS and hardware. We are one of the few companies in the world who design our own hardware and write our own OS (Amiga do neither). When we recently found some hardware bugs in one of the components we were able to get a workaround added in hardware, this can be done in software but that may work by simply disabling something, this is obviously not an ideal solution so in this case close integration worked very well.
10. Which Mac hardware will be able to run MorphOS? How easy it would be for a Mac user to install MorphOS in his Mac? What about the bootmanager?
Nicholas Blachford: This is planned for development, next year. Can’t give any details as yet.
11. On average, how many applications will be available for MorphOS at the time of its release?
Nicholas Blachford: We can run Amiga apps so we have a running start with the thousands of apps already available, we can’t run apps that required the custom chips but well written applications haven’t done that in a long time. 68K apps can be made PPC native as this is pretty much a recompile with perhaps a few minor tweaks. This has already been done for many apps and many more are in the pipeline.
There are no Q applications yet as that is yet to be developed but we will have a transition phase so applications can time gain access the more advanced Q functions as they are developed then once Q is ready complete switch completely over.
12. How exactly do the AmigaOS classic applications will run on MorphOS? Will they share the same desktop with Ambient, or the AmigaOS emulated apps will have to load in their own workbench or another full screen window?
Nicholas Blachford: Before answering this I should explain a difference between the Amiga and other platforms:
Amiga apps either opened on Workbench (the desktop) or in many cases opened their own screen, games are usually the only things that do this on other platforms.
On MorphOS they do much the same (with Ambient replacing Workbench). The emulated apps don’t appear any different from native apps apart from a difference in speed.
13. Do you have plans to use AA fonts and maybe the Freetype Font library?
Nicholas Blachford: It’s not in the first version properly but we do plan to support AA fonts. Freetype 2.0 is supported so applications using it supports AA fonts.
Now we’ll see AmigaOS4 features list. Please, don’t point me to http://os.amiga.com
Yep, but please be patiente, AmigaOS 4 still is quite
far from being finished. Give the developers time.
I’m MorphOS user but am of course open to OS4.
May the best win
However, it’s good contributing too to sth which already
Acutally you should be pointed to os.amiga.com.
It’s been out for ages.
im wondering when Q-box applications appear, will these run
together with A-box apps ? so, say Mozilla is ported to
Q-box, can you use that browser and Yam(email) together,
so when you click on an email address in Mozilla, Yam
will start and pick up the email address ? all, on the same
>im wondering when Q-box applications appear, will these
>run together with A-box apps ? so, say Mozilla is ported
Yes of course. Read the MorphOS in Detail Document to see how it is handled internally.
Hehe, okay, I’m very interested in seeing this thing upclose and personal… can you ship beunited.org one to “play with”?
Seriously, good to see you’ve been up to good things lately Nicholas! Started to wonder where you disappeared to after AI. I can’t wait to see this in action!
It’s seems very dark. And the buttons look like the ones found on WinAMP(too small). Is it adjustable or skinnable? Other than that it looks good!
“It’s seems very dark. And the buttons look like the ones found on WinAMP(too small). Is it adjustable or skinnable?”
Yes, the MorphOS UI is skinnable. I hope we can release some other screenshots soon, showing off some more window skins.
As for the UI being too dark, rest assured that this will probably not be the default look
Wow, it sure looks damn good, and those icons, damnit!
Great shit, they should make a linux/windows skin like this.
The MorphOS User Interface looks really good (much better than Linux GUI, although I founded it similar to Windowmaker on certain aspects).
My question is more on the hardware side.
The CPU card on the micro ATX mainboard is upgradable, but if in the future you upgrade it to a G4 (or a dual G4 setup) how will one cool the G4 CPUs ? (this need a fan and heatsink as far as I know). Perdon my ignorance on G4 hardware… will a PC slot cpu fan do it ?
A well done article. My compliments to Eugenia and Nicholas.
The only part which I found rather misleading, was the AmigaOS4 vs MorphOS part.
> It’s very difficult to compare the implementations of
> the two as Amiga have never really shown much working in
> public yet
Actually quite alot has been showed to the public, however components weren’t fully integrated yet. But with regard to these components quite alot was shown, and is known to the Amiga public already.
> We are one of the few companies in the world who design
> our own hardware and write our own OS (Amiga do
Amiga does work on its own operating system and related technologies (AmigaDE/AA). But they have partnered with 3rd parties as well to build a new Amiga desktop computer.
Actually I greatly prefer partnerships instead of having everything under one hood.
http://pegasos-usa.com is Genesi’s new sales/support site for the US. The ordering system still uses pegasos-uk’s one, but it shall shortly be replaced with a full online shopping cart system.
AmigaInc had another company do AOS3.5+ as they didn’t have the money.
BTW Speed is impressive!
> AmigaInc had another company do AOS3.5+ as they didn’t
> have the money.
Nonesense, Gateway is a multi-billion dollar company. They partnered with H&P because it seemed to be a good partner at the time. Later, the current Amiga Inc, not under Gateway (AmigaOS3.5), extended this partnership for AmigaOS 3.9. Amiga Inc’s core development efforts go to the development of the AmigaDE and related technologies.
Thanks for the great article – more good things to look forward to!
….the next BeOS?
Cool Platform, cool OS but no professional applicaions.
Yes, no prof. applications – and don’t argue the semi-prof ports of some well known Amiga apps. What counts is a large Office-App, a Java-VM or things like Cinema 4D or Adobe’s productline.
… so, I am afraid – the next BeOS…
> Cool Platform, cool OS but no professional applicaions.
Well I would say, a great development oppertunity for developers. Note that porting MorphOS/ABOX software to AmigaOS4 shouldn’t be all that hard as well (largely identical structures, similar & laregely compatible components, overlapping OS development efforts, etc.)
Do note hower that Real3D will find its way onto AmigaOS4, as well as many other applications, but most notably the AmigaDE, which includes one of the smallest and fastest Java implementation available. There is alot more to come, so stay tuned.
Adobe doesn’t even make apps for these anymore!
>Cool Platform, cool OS but no professional applicaions.
>Yes, no prof. applications – and don’t argue the semi-prof >ports of some well known Amiga apps. What counts is a
>large Office-App, a Java-VM or things like Cinema 4D or >Adobe’s productline.
>… so, I am afraid – the next BeOS…
If you want a Windows machine by all means go out and buy one.
But, read what I said – trying to compete with Windows, OS X etc has no hope so why even try. Despite what people think desktops and servers are not the only markets.
We will do desktops but thats not all by far.
There are key differences with Be however, their hardware lost them money, ours doesn’t. Then Be went up against MS…
A Java VM is in development, As for killer Apps, today compatibility with file types is becoming more important than the programs making them.
Whats in the dev env?
What docs are available with the system, online, paper manuals?
What compiler, assembler?
Is their a IDE? Form painter type app?
What sort of libraries are there?
The mac can have some real Competition here as more and more Oses are running in the PPC *structure*.
How is the network support? Can it do NFS/Samba?
What about filesystems? What types does it support?
Read the article again. It says they will be working on porting Phoenix, which is just Mozilla w/o the other bloat.
I have to say that it looks a lot nicer than AmigaOS. That was one thing that always bugged me about the Amigas, they were very nifty but the UI was terribly unaesthetic.
MorphOS seems to have corrected these mistakes. As soon as I can run Phoenix, mount my Linux/Win partitions and use bash, I think I may have a go at it. What are the prices right now anyway?
They whish to have it ported. It’s not available yet, hence my question.
I am thinking of buying a new computer. I can’t afford a games machine, and I have a gamecube for that anyway. I was thinking of buying an old iMac, since you can pick up 400Mhz for £300 on ebay and my experiances of OSX on 300Mhz were respectible enough for me. This is still the route I will probably follow but the fact it is largely unupgradable is worrying.
This machine is a little more for nearly the same spec but I need to know that applications will be made for it, not ported. My experiance with Linux software ported to BeOS is not good. It tends to be Beta and slow, so I might as well run Linux.
What do you guys think?
via southbridge? i thought they ran the artica-a southbriges? hmm, it could be northbridge tho i guess…)
its interesting to see now, with the death of the PRE/CHRP platform etc, now we suddenly have all these ppc boards (amiga one, yellow dog, pegasos) all on the same design board.
its a shame these boards are too expensive
<What do you guys think?>
You won’t regret purchasing this piece of hardware. It is execellent
German made … “mit deutsche Gruendlichkeit”. I must be a killer.
How tall is the Pegasos board with a single processor installed (specs only give lengthxdepth, no elevation)? Good-looking icons, btw. Best of luck to these guys.
>its interesting to see now, with the death of the
>PRE/CHRP platform etc, now we suddenly have all these
>ppc boards (amiga one, yellow dog, pegasos) all on the
>same design board.
No, The Amiga One and TerraSoft boards are the same, Pegasos is a completemy different in house design.
>its a shame these boards are too expensive
We’re very low volume right now, that really effects the price of compoents.
However you can always upgrade the CPU to a G4/G4 later.
>This machine is a little more for nearly the same spec
>but I need to know that applications will be made for
>it, not ported. My experiance with Linux software ported
>to BeOS is not good. It tends to be Beta and slow,
>so I might as well run Linux.
The Amiga had mature software many years ago and while the numbers have dropped the quality hasn’t, BeOS was getting there but was not around long enough to get such a good body of software.
> No, The Amiga One and TerraSoft boards are the same,
> Pegasos is a completemy different in house design.
There is one very important difference however, AmigaOne boards are fully licensed hardware to run AmigaOS4. So AmigaOS4 will only run legally with real AmigaOne boards. This is done to prevent people from buying a slightly cheaper Linux boards (without an AmigaOS4 license) and afterwards pirating the OS, hurting the profits of the AmigaOS4 developers.
Apart from the fact that only AmigaOS4 can be legally run on licensed hardware, such boards are the same (and can run the same 3rd party OSes). AmigaOne boards equiped with G3/G4 CPUs are currently being sold by Amiga dealers (so including an AmigaOS4 license and the AOS4 will be sent free of charge, when it is finished).
Also note that the Hyperion team was hired by Mai to develop their new BIOS ROM based on PPCBoot, which are being used for AmigaOnes and for ordinary Mai boards.
In addition the Hyperion team was also hired to port Linux to these boards so now Mai, Terra Soft (early next year) and Eyetech (currently available, with SuSE) can deliver enduser AmigaOne and Mai boards bundled with Linux distributions.
“Do note hower that Real3D will find its way onto AmigaOS4, as well as many other applications, but most
notably the AmigaDE, which includes one of the smallest and fastest Java implementation available. There is
alot more to come, so stay tuned. ”
The version of Java in Tao’s system is a cut down one for use on PDAs,
and it is not clear that it will be usable as a plugin for Amiga
browsers (or for use with standalone programs) even when the DE is
running on top of AmigaOS at some time in the future.
Alan Havemose is AFAIK porting a full version of Java for MorphOS,
properly integrated into the OS. If that port is not available for
AmigaOS, then MorphOS will have a substantial advantage.
> The version of Java in Tao’s system is a cut down one
> for use on PDAs
Actually intent is currently available with PJava and J2ME support, which is targeted at many other devices, including Digital TVs, STBs, cellphones, Webpads and lots of other embedded devices. Most importantly it is the fastest/smallest ratio solution for such devices available today.
Next to Java alot of other technologies have been developed for intent (the AmigaDE foundation) including Renderware, MathEngine, handwriting recognition software, etc.
As can be gathered from several interviews, the AmigaDE will run similar (but more consistent and optimised) on AmigaOS as compared to how it does currently on other OSes. Eventually from an end-user perspective there should *virtually* be no difference between normal AmigaOS or AmigaDE applications.
I think you should get the AmigaOne when that comes out instead.
It will get more applications and it does not have a questionable legality.
I agree, I think MorphOS is just a ripoff of the real thing 😉
after a bit more detailed look, things look pretty good.. i wouldnt mind gettnig one of these to test + develop + play with.. the only thing that would stop me, is that you probably cant replace morphos on the pegasos board..
i’d like to be able to dual boot between both! on the same note, i wouldnt want to not be able to use morphos on the amigaone boards…
a quandary.. unless someone can say boath boards will run both os??
my previous comment is missing the vital ‘amiga os4’ keyword… if i can run morphos+amigaos4 on both amigaone+pegasos boards i’d consider it a done deal! otherwise…
The MorphOS team have previously mentioned that MorphOS should be able to run on AmigaOne boards.
> The MorphOS team have previously mentioned that MorphOS
> should be able to run on AmigaOne boards.
Yes they did, however I believe those were misleading statements. Because appears that at the time MorphOS was only tested with old Teron evaluation boards. The (G3/G4) AmigaOne boards (and Mai/Terra Soft Boards) have a newer design and a completely different ROM.
One Pegasus machines, are they planning to make integrated systems ala iMac/eMac? Cause if that’s the case, I really won’t mind buying one for my mom. iMac/eMac in its current form is quite expensive and a overkill for my mother (if it was using OS 9, OS X needs all the power it can get I guess 🙂
On the other hand, personally I would like a Cube like desktop, and seeing from the specs, I see no reason why it is impossible. Of course, I wouldn’t use it (probably would make my mom use it) cause if I were to buy a new machine, it would be a dual Athlon MP, 1 gig of RAM, 120GB of HDD, GeForce 4 MX, a very very nice casing (probably Lian-Li), a DVD burner to cope with the increasing amount of backup space I need (700mb is slowly getting a wee bit too small for backups nowadays), a 19″ flatscreen CRT, probably from LG, and of course for my time on Windows, SB Live! Audigy 2 with Inspire 2.1 or 4.2 speakers (gaming :-).
I don’t see why this company is choosing the PowerPC platform!? It seems they are setting their expectations too low from the outset. If they want to experience any success at all why didn’t they code the OS to an Intel/AMD platform. I’m sorry, the OS may look cool, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to buy 3 year old hardware just to run it. Even the current Mac hardware is about 2 years behind where were at in the PC world. I wish this new OS all the best, but it seems they have a serious uphill climb if they ever want to experience any measure of success with their current strategy. Good luck!
>How tall is the Pegasos board with a single processor
>installed (specs only give lengthxdepth, no elevation)?
It’s not taller than with a normal PCI/AGP card plugged in.
They use the PowerPC for various reasons; among them:
– the PPC had been chosen as the next-generation CPU for Amiga several years ago already, and therefore there’s already a software base which runs partly or completely on PPC.
– on x86 you’d directly compete with MS-Windows (for example who’d buy his games later and more expensive instead just to reboot and use the x86-version?).
– the PPC is the better choice for a microkernel OS than x86 (see http://www.blachford.info/morphos/morphos_in_detail.html).
– the PPC has lower power consumption and heat emission. Therefore – since it would be suicidal to try to compete with MS-Windows on the desktop – it allows them to serve niches like (clusters of) servers, handhelds (Eclipsis – see the link in the news item) and other tailor-made non-desktop solutions to actually earn money.
Be Inc. lost money by their hardware and then tried to compete with MS-Windows on the same platform. Genesi will make money with the Pegasos (for special niches) and use that money to improve their OS to become stronger – step by step, niche by niche.
The hardware looks very cool – I want it!
I really dont know how to feel about MorphOS – never used an Amiga, but if it really does look and feel like BeOS, then I’ll probably want that too.
If the price is right, this hardware could turn out to be the next open PPC “standard” instead of Apple just pushing their own propietary stuff down our throats.
We *NEED* an open hardware platform – x86 is getting raped by DRM, TCPA and Palladium.
Sorry for the double posting…
In fact they’re even thinking about adding such a “B-Box” for BeOS just like the current A-Box for Amiga-software to MorphOS. If you (or anybody else here) are a skilled BeOS developer and interested in helping to add such a B-Box to MorphOS, you might want to just contact Genesi, maybe they’re interested.
@ Senex – I removed the double post.
@ Elver Loho
I would like to point you to an alternative, the AmigaOne and ordinary Mai boards. The Amiga-XE is currently being sold in combination with G4 CPUs and SuSE Linux and offers an additonal 66 Mhz PCI slot in comparison with the Pegasos, but is offers an ordinary ATX form factor board instead of the mATX form factor one like the Pegasos.
Terra Soft will also have similar boards available, early next year, however they will not be able to run AmigaOS4 by default. Recent OSNews interview with Mr Kai Staats:
Thanks for removing the double post.
Grateful as I am I’ll complete your comparison of the two different PPC-boards: 😉
Although lacking indeed one PCI-slot (three instead of four, with the fourth sharing the bus with the AGP-slot), the Pegasos offers, compared with MAI’s reference design Teron, also:
“sound, firewire, gameport, infrared-interface and optical audio-output are on-board (optionally a modem as well), processor modules with two CPU’s are supported”
Furthermore the Pegasos does have the VT8231 southbridge instead of the VIA 686B (which is known for its DMA problems) and also provides Genesi’s “April”-chip which fixes in hardware some bugs of MAI’s Articia northbridge (this northbridge is used by the Teron/”AmigaOne” as well).
A more comprehensive article what Genesi, Pegasos and MorphOS is about can be found here:
I agree with this being another BeOS. Unless they can do what Gasse failed to do and co-opt with a more powerful company that needs it’s OS to build a new one of their own, I can’t see anything coming from this other than a curiosity.
There are those that will use an OS because it has a technical superiority that they admire, and I admire their conviction, really.
And I have considered this position myself. There is somethnig romantic about championing the underdog. But eventually I always realize that I really do want to play a few modern games, or just open a Word doc someone has sent me without jumping through hoops.
Linux has really solved some of these issues nicely, but it took some time. I am just not sure, even if I was an Amiga user, why I would want to run an OS that just runs what my Amiga already does, but in emulation.
Unless there is a killer app, this will be another OS footnote I think.
As far as I know all end user AmigaOne boards have also a HW fix for ArticiaS, even though it’s not the “April” fix.
(and I think Teron boards that are being sold by Terrasoft have also the same fix)
The fix for VIA southbridge is most likely a SW fix (not just DMA disabling I hope).
And AmigaOneG3-SE boards have the AMR slot for audio (AMR audio card is being made) and AmigaOneXE boards will have onboard audio.
Alan Redhouse saud that, in his opinion, there’s not enough interest in an AMR card, because the price would not be worth it, and therefore it won’t come from him. There’s an hobby project about it, though. But it’s a fair thing to say that the A1G3-SE doesn’t have on board sound and you’ll need a sound card. Even better if it is supported by AOS4.
As for the other things, Senex is right: and I should add that the Pegasos is sold at LESS than 500 Euro+VAT including MorphOS and a Linux distro (vesalia.de , pegasos-uk.com and quite a lot of other dealers), while the A1G3-SE has less features and cost 580 Euro+VAT, and if you don’t preorder it, you’ll have to add the price of AOS4 when it comes out.
Just for the sake of completeness.