Amiga & AROS Archive
Solène created a week-long personal computing challenge around old computers. I chose to use an Amiga for the week. In this issue I write about my experience, and what modern computing lost when Commodore died. I also want to show some of the things you can do with an Amiga or even an emulator if you’d like to try. I’ve tried to get into the Amiga-like operating systems – MorphOS, AROS, Amiga OS 4 – but the platform just doesn’t suit me. I find them convoluted, incomprehensible, and frustratingly difficult to use. Not that it matters – I’m not here to ruin the Amiga community’s party – but if they want to sustain that community instead of having it die out as their user numbers dwindle due to old age, they might want to consider making their operating systems a little less… Obtuse.
If you subscribed to cable television in the ’90s, you most likely saw Video Toaster in action on the cable dial. But the most notable use of the Amiga in cable television didn’t actually rely on Video Toaster at all. That was the Prevue Guide, which may not have gotten the attention of the MTV, TBS, or Nickelodeon in those days, but served an important purpose: It was the channel you watched to see what was on those channels. The Amiga was used in a number of projects that required on-screen graphics on TV.
AmigaOS 3.2 comes packed with well over 100 new features, dozens of updates that cover nearly all AmigaOS components and a battery of bugfixes that will undoubtedly solidify the user experience. This is a large overhaul of Amiga 3.x for 68k-based Amigas developed by Hyperion Entertainment. There’s a very long changelog available on Hyperion’s site, but one very interesting addition is built-in ADF management which greatly simplifies dealing with floppy disk images.
This is version 4.9 of the open-source based AmiSSL library for Amiga based operating systems. Version 4.x is a new major release which comes with full compatibility to the OpenSSL 1.1.x line which includes important security related fixes, TLSv1.3 and comes with new encryption ciphers which are required nowadays to connect to modern SSL-based services (e.g. HTTPS). This may seem like a small update to an insignificant package, but it’s hugely important for smaller operating systems like Amiga OS to remain usable in this day and age.
Hyperion Entertainment is proud to announce the immediate release of update 2 for AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition. Update 2 is by far the largest update ever released for AmigaOS and includes more than 200 updated components with hundreds of bug fixes, improvements and new features and six completely new OS components. The update is the combined effort of four years of AmigaOS development and will bring AmigaOS4.1 Final Edition to a completely new level of stability and usability. This seems like a very large bug-fix and stability release, but since AmigaOS 4 is so hard to find proper hardware for, it’s difficult to keep up with the state of the platform. ACube did announce a new batch of Sam460cr boards that can run Amiga OS 4, but I doubt it will be many, and the pricing is, as with everything Amiga OS 4, not exactly cheap. I understand ACube is a small manufacturer, and I’m not at all saying they have much of a choice, but almost €500 to be able to run Amiga OS 4 is a lot to ask of newcomers.
A brand new version of Icaros Desktop is finally ready for everyone. What you have under your eyes is the result of a very long work of analysis and revision, which covers different aspects of the distribution, in its native soul and in the hosted one. We wondered what users would love and how we could make Icaros Desktop more useful and, thanks to the work of third-party application programmers, today we can offer you an operating environment that’s more useful and more beautiful than ever. The novelties to talk about are many: from the Leu spreadsheet to the SilkRAW image reader, from the incredible RNOPublisher DTP to new games, but, above all, the hosted version of Icaros Desktop is the one which has taken a decisive step forward, both for Linux and Windows. The news are so many that, this time, we will list them in different sections. Icaros Desktop is effectively an AROS distribution, and AROS is the Amiga Research Operating System, an open source reimplementation of the Amiga operating system, version 3.x.
In a time when home PC’s were single tasking DOS boxes with 8 character file names and Ataris and Macs were single tasking GUI boxes, hampering any hacker with their glaring lack of a CLI, the Amiga was a champion of both worlds: It combined the CLI and GUI, leveraging both their strengths. But there was more to it than that, something that’s hard to convey in so many words. A long list of little things that the author believes made the Amiga great. There’s some interesting touches in there, but personally, the Amiga OS and its derivatives just do not click with me – and I’ve extensively used all of them. Not that it matters, though – there’s more than enough love for the Amiga to go around.
Speaking of the Amiga: Thirty five years ago I became an Amiga user. One of the first, actually. This is a meandering and reminiscent post of sorts, written to mark the Amiga’s 35th anniversary and the 35 years I have known and loved the system. The Amiga is such an odd platform. Against every single odd ever created, it is still around, it still has an incredibly dedicated community maintaining, upgrading, and expanding both the hardware and software of not only the classic Amiga, but also the ‘modern’ Amiga OS 4 platform. And on top of all that, there’s MorphOS steadily improving every single release, and AROS as the open source alternative. The dedication the loyal Amiga fanbase displays every single day for 35 years now is inspiring. I’ve extensively tested, explored, and used both Amigs OS 4 and MorphOS, and while neither of those click with me in any way, I can’t help but admire the Amiga community as a whole – the usual warts that go with vibrant communities and all. Here’s to another 35 years, you crazy bastards.
Retrohax.net got their hands on an extremely rare motherboard replacement for the Amiga 1000 – the Amiga 1000 Phoenix Enhanced motherboard. It’s difficult to say exactly how many of these were made, but some people claim around 200, while others peg the number at around 2000. Either way, they are rare. They set around to get it to work, which required a lot of work. There’s tons of photos in the article, and you can go to this forum post for another user who came to own one of these rare motherboards for more information.
Here you’ll find my complete set of posts covering the Amiga Machine Code course. The course consists of twelve letters and two disks, that can be found here. The letters are available as PDF’s in their original Danish language as well as translated to English. Some light reading for the weekend.
Since Java Grinder (a Java byte-code compiler) already supports the Motorola 68000 CPU with the Sega Genesis I figured it shouldn’t be too hard to extend the MC68000.cxx class to support the Commodore Amiga computer. More specifically, the original Amiga 1000. Amazing.
In the early years of personal computing there were a slew of serious contenders. A PC, a Mac, an Atari ST, an Amiga, and several more that all demanded serious consideration on the general purpose desktop computer market. Of all these platforms, the Amiga somehow stubbornly refuses to die. The Amiga 1200+ from is the latest in a long procession of post-Commodore Amigas, and as its name suggests it provides an upgrade for the popular early-1990s all-in-one Amiga model. If I ever get filthy rich, one of the things I’ll be doing with my money is using it to support platforms like the Amiga. Try and buy up as much IP, fund people and companies trying to make hardware and software, try to attract developers with financial incentives, and so on. Not a sound investment by any stretch of the imagination, but still a fun little diversion to daydream about.
Hyperion Entertainment CVBA is pleased to announced the immediate availability of AmigaOS 184.108.40.206 as a free update to AmigaOS 3.1.4 released in September 2018. Since then, some bugs were found and functionality reviewed. We are therefore providing updates that address those issues in order to improve the user experience and also added more workarounds to improve compatibility with some oddly behaving programs. A small bugfix release for the operating system that never dies.
Prior to that epic event, however, there was another Amiga – a lesser-known member of the family most have never even heard of. Back in 1984/1985 Commodore created a few hundred “Development Edition” machines called the Amiga Development System. Sometimes, due to a very unique early design, they are also sometimes referred to as “Velvet” which was a name for a particular motherboard layout some had. Commodore sent these computers to companies around the world in the hopes they would decide to support the new platform in the form of creating software and tools. Thus, the Development System is a very unique machine most of which have been lost to the sands of time. Prior to this writing it was believed that only 5 Development Systems remained around the world. Assuming that’s true, there are now six. As indicated, this is an incredibly rare Amiga machine, so it’s probably the only time we ever get to see such a close and detailed look at it. The linked article contains a detailed video of the outside and inside of the machine as well.
Happy New Year everyone! I’ve got big plans for my Amiga projects in 2019, but thought I’d start off the New Year with a blog post on a not-particularly “exciting” topic, but an important one nonetheless: backups. As I am experimenting more with my X5000 and Amiga OS 4.1, I’ve been getting particularly “twitchy” that I didn’t have a solid backup/restore plan in place, particularly as some of my experiments will invariably go wrong and I’ll need a way to roll back my changes to a known-good state. I spent a few days researching and implementing a backup strategy that’s ideal for my needs and hopefully there will be something of use to other Amiga owners too. Developing and implementing a solid back-up strategy is not just something that’s important for computers running popular platforms like Windows, Linux, or macOS – there’s countless people who do all kinds of more or less important work on smaller platforms like Amiga OS to whom proper back-ups are just as important. This article is a great resource on how to get started with back-ups for Amiga OS 4.
A few months ago I watched "From Bedroom to Billions", it triggered some serious nostalgia and a lot of memories came flooding back. So on a whim, I decided to see if I could pick-up an Amiga on eBay to replay some of those old games that I loved as a child.
It turns out it's not too hard. There's a thriving community that still uses and loves the Amiga. There's also a fair number of people on eBay who refurbish and upgrade them with a 4GB memory card containing workbench and a bunch of software and games. This is very handy because, even if you did manage to buy the original games, there's no guarantee they will work due to the magnetic platters getting mouldy or damaged over the last 30 years. Yes, that's real life bit rot in action.
The market for older computers like these and associated modern expansion cards and add-ons to make using them a little less frustrating in modern times is actually a lot larger than most people seem to think, and anything from using SD cards as boot drives to things like ethernet and WiFi are often available as well. Even if you don't purchase these computers, it's still fun to browse sites like eBay to see what's on offer.
Speaking of Amiga, Mark Round has written a great blog post about running old AmigaOS 3.x software on AmigaOS 4, and the best ways to do so.
While I’ve been having a lot of fun with the new software written specifically for AmigaOS 4, the bulk of my software is still â€œclassicâ€ titles that used to run on my A1200. One of the first things I did when I set up my X5000 was to transfer my old Amiga’s hard drive over so I could continue running this library of software. I also wanted to set up an emulation of my A1200 so I can quickly launch a classic Workbench 3.9 session and pick up all my old projects and bits of code I’d written over the years.
Fortunately, the X5000 and AmigaOS 4 offers a variety of ways of running all your old software.
A brand new version of Icaros Desktop is now available to everyone. V2.2.4 includes new brilliant features and applications, small but important fixes and, for you Amiga lovers, a vintage GUI that can be selected after installation, which reproduces the plain old Amiga OS 3.1 interface.
Icaros Desktop is one of the easiest ways to experiences AROS, the open source Amiga-like operating system for x86.
The new, cleaned-up, polished Amiga operating system for your 68K machine fixes all the small annoyances that have piled up over the years. Originally intended as a bug-fix release, it also modernizes many system components previously upgraded in OS 3.9.
Contrary to its modest revision number, AmigaOS 3.1.4 is arguably as large an upgrade as OS 3.9 was, and surpasses it in stability and robustness. Over 320K of release notes cover almost every aspect of your favourite classic AmigaOS - from bootmenu to datatypes.
This is not AmigaOS 4 - just making that clear here - but an updated version of AmigaOS 3 for classic 68K-based Amigas.
C64 OS has one goal. Make a Commodore 64 feel fast and useful in today's modern world.
It's a very high bar. The C64 was introduced in 1982 and has an 8-bit, 1MHz, 6510 CPU with just 64 kilobytes of directly addressable memory. It has a screen resolution of 320x200 pixels, and a fixed palette of 16 colors. But, it is an incredibly versatile machine. And it enjoys an active userbase and a great variety of modern hardware expansions.
The C64 has had many operating systems written for it, So why write another?
Some of these projects were designed to be experimental, or to demonstrate a point, rather than to solve a problem or to make using the C64 better. Others had good intentions but pushed the machine in ways it wasn't designed for, compromising on speed and usability in the pursuit of features available on more powerful computers. The aim of C64 OS is to work with the limitations of the Commodore 64 and enable it to become useful.
It never ceases to amaze me how much functionality programmers can squeeze out of old micros.