The following is an interview with Ola Jensen and Adam Chodorowski, two of the core developers of the Amiga Research Operating System (AROS), a project to develop a open source Amiga OS clone.What is the status of AROS today, and what are your aims and goals for the future?
How finished is AROS? Regarding functionality we are nearing AmigaOS3.1 state, however, there are still a lot of components lacking such as TCP/IP and sound support and other things people take for granted in an OS these days. Because of this, it’s not realistic to start using AROS as your main OS yet. However, developers are working on these issues and we are slowly getting there. Compatibility with Amiga OS is relatively good: most programs can be ported in a few hours with minor changes in the source code. I’m sorry to say at this time AROS has no integrated emulator, so you won’t be able to just run Amiga OS applications out of the box. However, we do have a port of UAE so its possible to run Amiga Applications in a virtual Amiga. As for aims and goals for the future, most of the developers have their own ideas for what AROS is to become. For some this is just a hobby and they find it interesting to work on a OS (they also get to learn a lot) while others want to continue where Commodore left it only to make it better and have it available on every platform one wishes to run it on and of course to have it free and open so that one will NEVER have to go through what Commodore had us doing for the last decade or so.
If I understand correctly, a lot of the current development is done in a hosted mode under Linux, but the goal is a completely independent OS. Will the hosted mode be further supported and developed into the future? It seems interesting for those of us in the Linux community that came to it as Amigans.
It depends on how many developers will be interested in the hosted flavor at that point. We won’t delete all sources for the hosted version when we get self-sufficient native version, but if there are no developers that are willing to maintain and work on the hosted version then it will stagnate and probably get broken. Time will tell.
A lot of people are interested in seeing memory protection (MP) support in an Amiga Compatible OS, will AROS support MP in the future?
This has been discussed many times by the developers, and the general consensus is that it is impossible to have traditional memory protection in AROS due to the API of the OS and the way message passing works. It may be possible to protect certain areas (executable code, kernel code) and impose restrictions (only priveledged tasks can talk to hardware), but full MP with the current API won’t happen. In the very long run (we’re talking *way* past AROS 1.0) it might be possible to change the API to allow MP, and relegate the old one to compatability libraries, but whether this will happen is to early to say now.
Interesting, what are the main obstacles in developing aros today, and will the development team branch into user apps at some point, like for instance will aros ship with its own browser in future, or a productivity suite?
The main obstacles are the lack of developers and sufficient time, which means the development pace is rather slow. There are still far to many things to finish in the core OS, and too few developers, to contemplate branching into user applications. Some larger projects we need to tackle before that can happen is a native (self-hosted) development environment (currently all development is done using a cross compiler under Linux or FreeBSD) and a TCP/IP stack, to name the biggest. Once these are finished and the OS is more or less complete, we think there will be an influx of users and developers,at which point development of applications probably will pickup. We definitely want a web browser and email client, at least.
For those reading that might be interested in aiding development, what have you to say?
AROS needs YOU! We need all the help we can get, so join the team you want to help!
Interview conducted by David Ford, a freelance writer. He is looking for work while also creating a chat empire over at P10Link.net.