Amiga & AROS Archive

Programming AmigaOS 4

Amiga Future has published the first 5 parts of a series of AmigaOS 4 programming tutorials online (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5).

We were shocked when we realised that while we've covered several subjects in programming for AmigaOS 4 in Amiga Future there's been no extensive coverage of all of the many aspects. Additionally, since the release of OS4, quite a lot of time has passed by, and during that time new programming treasures have sneaked into the SDK virtually unnoticed. It's been nine years since the authors did a similar series in "Amiga Magazin". So, we're launching a new 15-part series starting with a short peek at the SDK and the available development environments.

The Faery Tale Adventure: a personal history

The Faery Tale Adventure was a computer game that I created for the Amiga in 1987. It was moderately popular for its day, and was ported to a number of platforms, including MS-DOS and the Sega Genesis.

I decided to write this account because, much to my surprise, there is still interest in the game - I occasionally get fan email or inquiries as to whether there will ever be a sequel. And so I thought it might be interesting to tell the story of how the game came to be, and what happened afterwards.

An account by David Joiner of a game he wrote for the Amiga. One of those stories that's just fun to read, no ifs and buts. Grab a coffee and enjoy.

Amiga 1000 Phoenix motherboard replacement project

First post of the new year - I hope y'all had a good one - and we're talking Amiga.

In October of 2017 I found a really nice accelerator card on Ebay for my stock Amiga 1000 - the Blizzard Turbo Memory Board. My original thought was I would install it into my 1000 and lose the side-car RAM expansions to regain some valuable desk space. Plus - 8MB? That’s gobs for the work I personally do on my Amigas. It was originally designed for the Amiga 500 or 2000 and additionally gave a modest speed boost of 14 Mhz. From my personal experience, 7 Mhz is plenty for the vast majority of Amiga games and software. However in some rare cases 14, 25 or even 40 Mhz can greatly improve the user experience with some math-intensive games and software. This little board seemed the perfect fit for my 1000’s needs.

I then got to talking to the seller on Ebay who was based in Australia. After a short amount of time I came to learn that he had in his possession an ultra-rare Phoenix board, too. Within a few days, money was exchanged and the Phoenix began its long journey from Australia to Seattle, Washington.

This is one of those stories where you just sit back, grab a warm drink, and just enjoy.

Adding a Graphics Card to an Amiga 500

Always after ways to push the trusty Amiga 500 to new limits, I discovered a post on the German A1k.org website about someone who had fitted a graphics card to his A500. This was a feat I felt I should replicate. I'm almost, but not quite, there. However, there were lots of hoops which needed jumping through first...

It's Amiga weekend, apparently! This story is a bit more hardware-focuseed, obviously.

Ten years of Icaros Desktop

It was a long, long time ago. A quite younger myself (Paolo Besser) presented AROS to some hundreds of people visiting Pianeta Amiga 2007, a still popular italian fair about Amiga products. While showing it at the event, I realized that the best way to advertise the open-source Amiga "clone" among the Amiga community was to prove it was already able to do things: AROS, in fact, was being developed for 12 years, but very little was known about its applications outside of its little community of developers and hackers. Most people believed it was simply too far, feature-wise, from AmigaOS and MorphOS to be actually useful for anything. This was, sadly, partially true. AROS hardware support was tiny, it didn't talk with USB devices, it had not hardware acceleration, it could barely do networking but it hadn't even a browser. There were many software pieces already in place, but almost nobody knew how to chain and take advantage of them. Moreover, most AROS applications were difficult to find and configure, so the best most people did with AROS builds was just downloading them from time to time, test the graphic demos, and forget about it 10 minutes later. A real pity: people poking with Lunapaint at Pianeta Amiga 2007 showed amusement and were impressed to see a common PC running an Amiga-ish operating system so nicely. Something more had to be done!

Icaros is probably the best and easiest way to experience AROS - and thus, an AmigaOS-like operating system - today. Great work, and here's to another ten years!

A history of the Amiga, part 11: between an Escom and a Gateway

Ars Technica has released another excellent article in their series on the Amiga. This article covers the beginning of the post-Commodore world, starting with Escom and ending with the beginning of Amiga Inc.

Commodore International declared itself insolvent on April 29, 1994 under Chapter 7 of US bankruptcy law. Ordinarily, this would have been followed immediately by an auction of all the company’s assets. However, Commodore’s Byzantine organizational structure - designed to serve as a tax shelter for financier Irving Gould - made this process far more lengthy and complicated than it should have been.

TwinKick: dual Kickstart boot via floppy for Amiga 1000

A "new" piece of software, quietly created 15 years ago, that allows Amiga 1000 users to load their Kickstart 1.3 or 3.1 (or "morph" between the two on a soft reset after loading 3.1) off a single disk has been discovered. The software is called TwinKick and is downloadable via Aminet. The linked post includes detailed instructions on how to create this disk.

Being able to switch between the two Kickstarts is pretty incredible. Although seeing 3.1 load onto a Amiga 1000 - off a floppy - is pretty mind blowing by itself.

Getting my Amiga 1000 online

Amiga Love has had a few articles on getting various Commodore machines back online and into the BBS world. From C64s to Amiga 500s (et al) as well as the terminal programs we use; PETSCII capable (i, ii) in case you're trying to hit an C64 BBS from your Amiga or ANSI capable, like A-Talk III, for most other boards. There are a lot of options out there, and the BBS scene is vastly smaller than back in the day, but it's not dead by any stretch. Oh no, dear reader, it is not dead. (I see four lights!) If anything, the interest in this form of socializing and connecting seems to be growing lately as hardware options become easier to build and less expensive to source.

Tonight, I finally got my Amiga 1000 online for the first time ever and connected to some of my favorite BBSes. And oh my god, have you ever seen a more beautiful sight? I doubt it. Well, at least not for about 30 years, give or take.

About 2000 years from now, Amiga will be the object of a world religion. It just cannot die.

Apollo Vampire V4 announced

A new Apollo accelerator board has been released. What are these?




Apollo Accelerators is an Amiga Classic accelerator board product line. It uses the Apollo core which is a code compatible Motorola M68K and ColdFire processor but is 3 to 4 time faster than the fastest 68060 at time. It also brings Amiga Classic near to Amiga NG by bringing digital video with millions of colours.

The Vampire V4 improves upon its predecessors in numerous ways. As always, the Amiga community always manages to keep their own computers relevant and up-to-date, if even for just a small group of users. Amazing.

Amiga X5000: an alternate universe where the Amiga never died

Ars reviews the Amiga X5000, and concludes:

The X5000 is different. It feels like an exotic car: expensive, beautifully engineered, and unique. If you bought one, you'd be one of a proud few, a collector and enthusiast. It practically begs for you to dig in and tinker with the internals - the system comes with an SDK, a C compiler, Python, and a huge amount of documentation for things like MUI, the innovative GUI library. On top of that, there is the mysterious XMOS chip, crying out for someone to create software that leverages its strengths. It feels like a developer’s machine.

Should you buy one? That depends very much on what your needs are. If you are simply after the best price-to-performance ratio for a desktop computer, this is not the machine for you. But if you are interested in something very different, something that is pleasant and fun to use, and yet can still be used for modern desktop workloads, then the X5000 is worth a look. I have had this review unit on my desktop for over a month now, and frankly I don’t want to give it back.

I reviewed the sam440ep with AmigaOS 4 way back in 2009, and came to a relatively similar conclusion - these machines are a ton of fun, but they're just prohibitively expensive, meaning only existing AmigaOS users will really get their hands on these. They really, really need a more accessible machine or board - a few hundred Euros, tops.

Crash course: Amiga assembly programming

Tuomas Järvensivu and Harri Salokorpi:

The 30th anniversary of Amiga inspired me to dig into Amiga programming. Back in Amiga's golden era (late '80s and early '90s) I never had the chance to try this out since despite my relentless whining my parents wouldn't get me one. Luckily later when I was studying at the uni, I managed to bargain one fine Amiga 500 specimen from the flea market at an affordable price of 20 euros.

Although Amiga as such is not that useful a platform to know these days, learning how to write programs for it can be very educational. Amiga as an environment is much simpler than (for instance) modern PCs. This makes learning low-level programming on it faster than on more complex environments. Although the hardware architecture is quite simple, it has some computer system design features that are still in use in modern environments as well such as DMA and interrupts. On top of being plain fun, writing assembly on Amiga teaches programming concepts that are usually hidden by higher-level languages and modern operating systems.

I've written this blog post together with Harri Salokorpi. We'll walk you through an example that creates graphics on the display with a simple animation. We both hope this blog post provides a quick start to those who want to try out programming on this legendary device. However, we're mostly going to use an emulator as a development environment, so the real device is not mandatory.

Fascinating article for those of us who can actually program.

AmigaOne X5000: first impressions

Many were waiting for the day when new and strong Amiga(One) will appear. That happened now. Currently, the X5000 can be purchased with the dual-core processor. In the future, a more powerful machine will be available. Is it worth buying the current model or wait for a four-core version?

A look at the new X5000. Note that the author is Polish (I think), and English isn't her or his first language.

Making music on the Amiga today

The Amiga has what is with no doubt in my mind, the absolute finest sound chip inside of any computer or console throughout the 1980's as well as most, if not all of the 1990's. Full disclosure; I have an MT-32... And the Amiga can actually do a piano. Yes, in a time when the vast majority of IBM and compatible PC owners were using a small speaker stuck deep inside of a metal tomb, Amiga users had a quality of sound nobody else could touch for that price.

To combat the story that has long been shaped that the Amiga was not popular to musicians because it did not have built in MIDI connectors I give you this quote given directly to me from the creator of the sequencing program Music-X, Talin:

"The story with MIDI is actually much more complex than most people realize. You see, the early Amiga models had a hardware bug which made the serial port unreliable at high data rates. Basically the problem was that the serial port hardware had only a one-byte buffer, and if you didn't grab that byte before the next byte came in then data would be lost. Unfortunately, the Amiga's four timer chips would generate a software interrupt at regular intervals, during which time the serial port could not be serviced. And while MIDI speed wasn't super-high, it was high enough that you'd get a dropped byte every 10 minutes or so depending on how many notes you were sending over. Note that this did not affect the higher-end MIDI adapters which had their own dedicated serial point, but those were considerably more expensive."

Interesting article about past MIDI challenges with the Amiga and how to hook up a modern synth to an Amiga to make music.

AROS adding 64bit and SMP support

After many years of active development, AROS finally seems to be able to 'evolve' the now 30+ years old architecture of the Amiga API. The original Amiga computers from Commodore brought to home users and professionals the first pre-emptive, window based operating system at affordable prices, although its kernel was tailored to the single Motorola 68000 CPU mounted on the machines. After Commodore's demise in 1994, a long debate started about the evolution of the Amiga platform and, although many announcements were made, current AmigaOS 4.1 is still a 32bit-based, single-core oriented operating system, and the same is true for Amiga-like alternatives MorphOS and AROS.

Things, however, are changing. In his weekly survey about AROS progress on AROS-EXEC.org and Amigaworld.net, Krzysztof Smiechowicz talked about "Work on handling additional CPU cores in x86_64 AROS kernel", adding "Initial version of SMP scheduler has been introduced in AROS i386/x86_64 kernel" just a week later. In the following weeks, a screenshot from coder Nick Andrews and a video on Youtube showed a 64-bit version of AROS, runnning on multicore AMD and Intel processors, handling 4 and 8 cores correctly.

SMP is being added to AROS by experienced coders Nick Andrews and Michal Schulz, and while it is not available in public nightly builds just yet, there is finally the chance to see an Amiga-like operating system handling modern CPUs properly.

Flower Pot: AmigaOS 4 install tool for Windows and macOS

Looking for an easy way to install AmigaOS 4? We made everything as easy as possible to emulate AmigaOS 4.1 on your Windows or Mac.

Basically, Flower Pot makes the process of installing AamigaOS 4 on Windows or macOS using WinUAE as easy as possible. All you need is the AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition ISO (the version for Classic!) and required ROM files, and the rest is automated. This means that the only way to legally get this up and running is to not only buy AmigaOS 4 for Classic (which is not that expensive at €25), but also to somehow get the Amiga 4000 ROM. My first thought was that other than extracting said ROM yourself, the only other way to get it was to buy Amiga Forever - but I'm not sure Amiga Forever contains the required ROM, which may mean you have to sail the seven seas to get it (Update: Amiga Forever supports it!)

In any event, I'm interested in getting this up and running, since buying an actual Amiga system is prohibitively expensive.

The open source Amiga DVI/HMDI graphics card: MNT VA2000

The VA2000 is a FPGA based graphics card for Amiga 2000/3000/4000 computers featuring high resolutions and color depth over DVI-D/HDMI. It has a hacker-friendly expansion header for upgrades and custom mods and features a slot for MicroSD cards that can be mounted in AmigaOS.

The YouTube video provides additional insight into the open source graphics card. Interestingly enough, I've been looking into getting my hands on a classic Amiga, but the one I would want - an A3000 or A4000 - are quite hard to come by here in The Netherlands.

AmiKit 9 Reloaded for Mac

AmiKit 9 Reloaded has been released for the Mac.

Now it is super fast because it uses the latest WinUAE emulator running on Wine. This concept, paradoxically, is much faster and actually more stable than the previous E-UAE edition. ​

AmiKit 9 for Mac also includes the Rabbit Hole which allows you to launch Mac apps from AmiKit desktop! You can also open Amiga files with your favourite Mac apps!

AmiKit is basically a pre-configured AmigaOS environment that runs inside *UAE, but you do have to supply your own OS and ROM files.

A history of the Amiga, part 10: the downfall of Commodore

As the 1990s began, Commodore should have been flying high. The long-awaited new Amiga models with better graphics, the A1200 and A4000, were finally released in 1992. Sales responded by increasing 17 percent over the previous year. The Video Toaster had established a niche in desktop video editing that no other computer platform could match, and the new Toaster 4000 promised to be even better than before. After a rocky start, the Amiga seemed to be hitting its stride.

Unfortunately, this success wouldn't last. In 1993, sales fell by 20 percent, and Commodore lost $366 million. In the first quarter of 1994, the company announced a loss of $8.2 million - much better than the previous four quarters, but still not enough to turn a profit. Commodore had run into financial difficulties before, particularly in the mid-'80s, but this time the wounds were too deep. Sales of the venerable Commodore 64 had finally collapsed, and the Amiga wasn't able to fill the gap quickly enough. The company issued a statement warning investors of its problems, and the stock plunged. On April 29, 1994, Commodore International Limited announced that it was starting the initial phase of voluntary liquidation of all of its assets and filing for bankruptcy protection. Commodore, once the savior of the Amiga, had failed to save itself.

Announcing AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition, Update 1

Hyperion Entertainment is proud to announce the immediate release of AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition Update 1 for all supported systems including PowerPC equipped 68K Amiga machines. Building on the existing AmigaOS 4.1 Final Edition platform, Update 1 is the culmination of many man-months of work by our dedicated team of AmigaOS developers, translators and beta testers. It delivers a selection of new features and a host of bug fixes.

The naming scheme still confuses me.