The AROS distribution Icaros Desktop has made its next step towards compatibility with legacy Amiga workbench applications, including an entire AROS enviroment compiled for the classic Amiga platform, which is almost binary compatible with the original Amiga OS 3.1 (and its extensions). When the user needs an old program, he or she only has to fire up the AROS M68K environment and run the application. The Amiga virtual machine can optionally be set to run at startup like a system service.
Icaros’ approach to M68K software is quite different from the competing ones chosen by AmigaOS and MorphOS: while they use a JIT layer to recompile M68K opcode “on the fly” and let it call PPC libraries directly, Icaros uses the Janus-UAE emulator’s abilities to run an entire AROS session compiled for the Motorola 68000 architecture, making old applications work in a custom, virtualized Amiga computer, which can share parts of the host filesystem and clipboard to exchange data.
This approach limits access to memory areas and prevents the ability to pass pointers from an application to another to share the same data, typical for the Amiga platform. However, it improves system stability.
Janus-UAE is a special version of UAE which allows integrating guest windows in the host desktop screen, while host and guest systems can now share decorations, language, keyboard layout and other settings. There are still many issues to fix but purists, if they need a more integrated environment, can still integrate Amiga Forever on their Icaros computer like they did before.
The new version 1.4.5 of the distribution also includes many bug fixes and new applications. There are three gems: Cinnamon Writer word processor, still young but truly Amiga-inspired, the classic Turrican remake “Hurrican”, which makes use of AROS’ Gallium 3D implementation, and the spreadsheet program Ignition, working under the M68K environment. People who liked creating games with AMOS on their old Amiga 500 will be happy to see both AMOS Pro and X-AMOS bundled with the distribution.