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Amiga Emulation (Games) Operating Systems

The Amiga, Circa 2010 — Dead and Loving It 383

Posted by timothy
from the nearly-as-good-as-os/2-warp dept.
Orion Blastar writes "While many Amiga users have moved on to Linux, Mac OS X, and even, gasp shock, Microsoft Windows, some of us don't want to give up so easily. There are two open source projects that are keeping the Amiga legacy alive even if Amiga Inc. seems to be deader than a doornail and not really doing much but selling old Classic Amiga games for new platforms. Like WINE, there was a project to run AmigaOS 3.1 software for Linux and other platforms, but it evolved instead into an open source operating system named Amiga Research OS, or AROS. AROS is best run inside an emulator, and while it is not a modern OS like Linux, it can be downloaded and run inside of Linux (and the downloads section has more). While it is not ready for prime time yet, it is a promising OS that is being ported to many platforms and uses the user friendly Amiga GUI we Amiga users grew up with." Read on for more.
"OK — maybe AROS is not modern enough for you, and you like Linux instead. Then you might like Anubis OS, as it is a hybrid of AROS and Linux. Much like when Apple took NextStep (based on *BSD Unix and the MACH kernel) and the classic Mac OS to make Mac OS X, this project wants to take Linux and AROS and do the same thing.

For those who want the classic Amiga, there is UAE, the Universal Amiga Emulator, which needs kickstart ROMs and boot disk images to work. You can buy them from Amiga Forever; the emulator comes with all the files you need plus other goodies.

For the classic Amiga 68K series, it is recreated via the Minimig, which uses SD cards instead of floppy disks; a must for retro computer hobbyists. AmigaOS 4.1 exists for PowerPC based SAM 440EP systems like the SAM 440Ep systems and parts sold here. (I am not associated with Amiga Kit or Amiga Inc. or any Amiga company. I am just an Amiga user since 1985 and very much into retro computing.)"
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The Amiga, Circa 2010 — Dead and Loving It

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  • 2010 (Score:5, Funny)

    by Master Moose (1243274) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @07:07PM (#30627178) Homepage
    ..Year of the Amiga Desktop
    • Re:2010 (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Zedrick (764028) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @07:26PM (#30627372)
      1985-1995 were the years of the Amiga Desktop.
      (not that Win95 was better in any way, but it managed to finally kill the Amiga commercially, most active Amigausers I know gave up around 95-96.)
      • Re:2010 (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 02, 2010 @08:44PM (#30628002)

        not that Win95 was better in any way, but it managed to finally kill the Amiga commercially, most active Amigausers I know gave up around 95-96

        Not entirely convinced that Windows 95 was to blame. The Amiga- which was *the* machine to have in Europe in the late '80s to early '90s- had already been losing ground to the PC on one side and the Mega Drive and SNES on the other for some time before that.

        Commodore had sat on what was basically the same once-revolutionary core hardware and OS for 7 1/2 years with only minor improvements. The A1200 and A4000 offered some notable (but not revolutionary) improvements, but should have come out *at least* a year earlier- by the time they hit in late 1992, the ground had already shifted, and many people had already moved away.

        I'd say that '95-'96 sounds about right, regardless of Windows 95. After Commodore went bankrupt in mid-'94, the Amiga was in limbo, stagnating for more than a year. Eventually, in late '95, the new owners announced that they were going to start selling the same, unimproved, three-year-old A1200... for £100 *more* than it cost before the bankruptcy!

        They claimed that they had to do this to make their money back, but whether or not this was true (or just a cynical attempt to milk the diehard fans of a doomed format) it was clear- to me at least- that there was no way that this was going to be a success, and that the game was quite obviously up.

        Windows 95's launch probably just emphasised that the market had moved on, and that the Amiga had already missed its final chance to catch up.

      • Re:2010 (Score:4, Insightful)

        by RiffRafff (234408) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @09:19PM (#30628224) Homepage

        Win95 didn't kill the Amiga, the new owners did, coupled with the first viable alternative that was available at the time...Linux.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by MightyMartian (840721)

          I tend to agree here. The real die-hard Amiga users probably ended up going to Mac or Linux, and everyone else just went to PCs.

          • by amiga3D (567632)
            I hung on until 1999 but the hardware was just too outdated by then. I went linux as I was disgusted with windoze at work and OS 9 on the Mac was garbage. I still have several amigas around for nostalgia.
          • by AmigaMMC (1103025)
            I went to PC, after all the years doing communications consulting for Amiga Inc.
          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            The real die-hard Amiga users probably ended up going to Mac or Linux, and everyone else just went to PCs.

            The real die-hard Amiga users went to PowerPC accelerators, and everyone else went to Linux or *BSD, mostly on x86 for price reasons. The Macintosh was never a valid substitute for the Amiga on any level, though with the right hardware, the opposite was certainly true.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            Dead wrong. Your speculation is fueled by pure ignorance about Amiga users and biased toward Linux. My father and I were about as hardcore as you can get and neither of us had any interest in Linux or any other Unix clone. Five other Amiga users I know also didn't follow suit with Linux. Why? Several reasons. For one, software. At the time Linux didn't (and in many ways still doesn't) have a robust commercial software library. Most Amiga users longed for the day they could walk into any small to mid

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by toejam13 (958243)
              I agree. Most Amiga users I knew ended up getting a PC with Windows because that's where all of the games ended up going. I knew a few who went to Macs. I'm not aware of a single one who went to Linux, and I was fairly big into the Amiga scene in my area at the time.

              I think /.'s wishful thinking crowd is getting ahead of themselves.
            • Speak for yourself (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Weaselmancer (533834)

              Rather than simply mod your post flamebait, I think I'll respond to it point-by-point.

              For one, software. At the time Linux didn't (and in many ways still doesn't) have a robust commercial software library.

              Pure 100% distilled fanboy bullcrap. Posix. Go read up on it. Java might be a nice follow up read - Linux runs that just fine too. I'll leave it up to you to determine their industry impact.

              Next, there is the Unix philosophy and culture, which for many of us seemed like yet another group of peo

        • by Waccoon (1186667)

          ...coupled with the first viable alternative that was available at the time...Linux.

          You do know Amigans were fanatic gamers, right?

      • by mmontour (2208)

        1985-1995 were the years of the Amiga Desktop.
        (not that Win95 was better in any way, [...]

        It's worth noting that many of the big features of Windows 95 such as:
          - Preemptive multitasking
          - 32-bit support
          - Long filenames
          - "Plug & Play" expansion cards
        had already been present in the Amiga OS since 1985.

      • by AmigaMMC (1103025)
        Commodore killed the Amiga commercially. I should know.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by hazydave (96747)

        Windows 95 had nothing at all to do with the Amiga's death, commercially. It wasn't even out on the market during the commercial life of the Amiga.

        There were two big factors in the Amiga's death. The smaller of the two, but still very substantial, was piracy. While Amigas had a number of very cool niches, the big engine of Amiga sales was home computers, largely driven by gaming. Most of that was in Europe, and at the peak of the Amiga years, piracy was so bad some releases that sold tens of thousands in th

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      ..Year of the Amiga Desktop

      It's Year of the Amiga Workbench, you fool!

    • "While it is not ready for prime time yet, it is a promising OS that is being ported to many platforms and uses the user friendly Amiga GUI we Amiga users grew up with."

      Yeah, Amiga's a promising OS. It's just like my ex-girlfriend's promise to be loyal to me.
  • Amiga Pansys (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @07:13PM (#30627246) Homepage Journal

    Atari TOS/GEM ( And later the open sourced MiNT ) was/is still better! So take that! Seriously tho, see where all that bickering got us? Compartmentalized and marginalized into oblivion as the world of mass produced, consumer oriented mediocrity won in the end.... But I suppose at least we are in the same boat now, going nowhere.. A shame really, as a 'PC' just has no soul.

    • Atari TOS wasn't really an operating system in the modern sense of the term. More like a nice version of DOS, complete with 8.3 filenames and no multi-tasking to speak of. GEM wasn't half bad, but it was woefully limited compared to the Amiga windowing system, unless a single running application with a small number of windows was all you needed.

      I really liked the Atari monitors though - they were extraordinarily crisp. And the Atari ST hard drives were faster (and more common at first) than ones for the

  • Move on (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jdigriz (676802)
    Hey man, I loved the Amiga as much as anybody. We had an A1000 in 1986 and got an A3000 thereafter. Fine computers, if they had had Apple's marketing acumen, they might have ruled the world. However, it really is time to let go now. Mac OS X is superior in just about every respect, and the hardware is lightyears beyond what CBM had. Emulators are great for nostalgia, we'll always have Nuclear War.
    • Re:Move on (Score:4, Funny)

      by dosius (230542) <bridget@buric.co> on Saturday January 02, 2010 @08:09PM (#30627728) Journal

      There's the joke that with Commodore's marketing "savvy", had they tried to do something like KFC they would have called it "Warm Dead Bird" ...

      -uso.

    • by keeboo (724305)

      Hey man, I loved the Amiga as much as anybody. We had an A1000 in 1986 and got an A3000 thereafter. Fine computers, if they had had Apple's marketing acumen, they might have ruled the world. However, it really is time to let go now. Mac OS X is superior in just about every respect, and the hardware is lightyears beyond what CBM had. Emulators are great for nostalgia, we'll always have Nuclear War.

      What are you talking about? When Amiga was still alive Macintoshes had Mac OS 6,7,8,9, not Mac OS X.
      And Mac OS "classic" was not an OS, was a crash-prone, non-multitasking toy.

      • Re:Move on (Score:4, Insightful)

        by butlerm (3112) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @10:14PM (#30628508)

        And Mac OS "classic" was not an OS, was a crash-prone, non-multitasking toy.

        Yes. Structurally speaking, Mac OS Classic was about as much an operating system as DOS was (aside from a a very nice GUI programming environment). One application running at a time, and special tricks required to switch to anything else. Programs were statically compiled to access critical system state variables at fixed addresses in low memory, there was no locking, no scheduler, etc. There was no real multitasking because of that, not even cooperative multitasking.

            By comparison Amiga OS was a modern multiprocess multitasking operating system in every way except originally there was no memory protection, and no virtual memory. More like a modern embedded system than a general purpose operating system, but *very* fast, and ridiculously easy to program for.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        And Mac OS "classic" was not an OS, was a crash-prone, non-multitasking toy.

        MacOS from System 6 had the multifinder (as an option in 6, or all the time in 7-9.) It did multitasking, albeit not very well. Amiga had great multitasking. Both crashed all the time, but the Amiga booted a lot faster.

      • What are you talking about? When Amiga was still alive Macintoshes had Mac OS 6,7,8,9, not Mac OS X.

        That's beside the point. GP certainly meant: the Mac you can get now is better than the Amiga you can get now.

    • by Nazlfrag (1035012)

      Hardware light years ahead is it? So can I have multiple resolutions present at the same time on my monitor? No? Amiga wins again! :p

  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @07:19PM (#30627310)
    Wow, the Amiga system makes Mac systems look cheap by comparison, almost $600 for the motherboard alone that only gives you 512 MB of RAM and a 533 Mhz CPU! You can get twice that with a Mac mini. While I do realize that this is a niche product, its still -very- expensive.
    • by butlerm (3112)

      That is why it is much more practical to deal with the Amiga Research OS (AROS) or an Amiga emulator, which both run on x86 boxes. You would have to be quite a diehard or have a very special application to purchase a contemporary PPC Amiga.

      It is worth mentioning that when they first came out, Amigas were much less expensive than (color) Macintoshes, and rather less expensive than any remotely comparable PC as well. Most of the games in the PC world ran in four (fixed, ugly) color CGA at the time. Apple II

  • by omar.sahal (687649) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @07:22PM (#30627340) Homepage Journal
    I never owned or even used an Amiga, but I can't help but respect the longevity of its influence.
    Don't listen to the disparaging remarks on slashdot. I would never have known even the little I know about Amiga, had it not been for the articles here on /.
    Obviously reality matters (time and commitments etc) but if you guys can build a system in your own time that works keep doing it, it may even become a big deal to every one some day. enjoy [youtube.com]
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Darkness404 (1287218)
      Oddly enough, the link wasn't a rickroll. But a tribute video to the Amiga set to "still alive"
  • by An dochasac (591582) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @07:24PM (#30627358)
    It's common knowledge (at least to Amigaphiles) that the 1985 Amiga was at least a decade ahead of the Microsoft game with hardware graphics, built in speech synthesis, preemptive multitasking... What surprises me is how many Amiga ideas died with the Amiga. Must the whole industry suffer from Microsoft's monopoly and Commodore's mismanagement? Here are some ideas I'm still waiting for:
    1. To shutdown the Amiga, you turned it off. There was no delay, no Start->Shutdown...wait possibly forever...
    2. Sliding screens. Why not give each application its own full screen and allow the user to pull down the top menu to slide between these screens.
    3. Simple speech device. What could be easier than "LIST > speak:" to say a directory listing?
    4. Bidirectional linked list filesystem. If you lose a sector or sector link, most of the file could be rebuilt by following links from both ends towards the bad sector. (Disk doctor)
    5. The keyboard garage. The 1985 Amiga 1000 keyboard tucked neatly under the computer where it didn't take up desk space, was hidden from children's fingers and was spill-proof.
    6. Tight integration of hardware with O.S. O.k. this works against everything we've been taught about abstracting everything but since the PC world has boiled down to little more than an O.S. monopoly, a hardware monopoly and a graphics card monopoly, why not eliminate some of the levels of abstraction that will never be used and make my 2Ghz PC perform every day tasks at least as well as my 7Mhz Amiga did?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by MrHanky (141717)

      To be fair, the 1985 Amiga wasn't nearly as powerful, nor as capable, as the 1995 Windows PC.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Tumbleweed (3706)

        To be fair, the 1985 Amiga wasn't nearly as powerful, nor as capable, as the 1995 Windows PC.

        A 1985 Amiga could multitask better than any 1995 Windows PC. That leaves out OS/2, which was much more capable than Windows circa 1995, but hardly anyone ran OS/2, either. OS/2 met the same fate as the Amiga - epic mismanagement. If the Amiga had survived and continued to evolve, adding protected mode and VM, it still would have been far ahead of anything in 1995. Too bad CBM cheaped-out on evolving the hardware to

      • To be fair, the 1985 Amiga wasn't nearly as powerful, nor as capable, as the 1995 Windows PC.

        My 1995 Windows PC needed an add on graphics card, plus a sound card to do anything but beep. It also needed to boot into DOS to run games -- except minesweeper and solitaire. It sure didn't have a speech synthesizer. It also didn't have a software installer as part of the OS -- ok, Amiga didn't get that till a little after '85. It didn't really multitask. No NTSC (or PAL) output. No stereo sound even with the sound card. In 1995, I was still booting my '89 Amiga for stuff my Win/DOS PC wouldn't do l

      • by SharpFang (651121)

        Did you ever use the two side by side?
        The average '95 PC running Win95 took 10 times as long to boot, file manager took ages to open and display icons, programs took often a minute or more to load and it was hell to configure all the hardware

        In the meantime, on Amiga 1200 (no PowerPC CPU) the GUI reactions were nearly instantaneous, programs took 1-2 seconds to load, and mostly all hardware just worked as you plugged it in.

        Sure the PC had more RAM and MHz but its OS was more than capable of eating it all up

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Darkness404 (1287218)

      Tight integration of hardware with O.S. O.k. this works against everything we've been taught about abstracting everything but since the PC world has boiled down to little more than an O.S. monopoly, a hardware monopoly and a graphics card monopoly, why not eliminate some of the levels of abstraction that will never be used and make my 2Ghz PC perform every day tasks at least as well as my 7Mhz Amiga did?

      Um, what hardware monopolies are you talking about? Yeah, just about everything is x86 now, but I wouldn't call either AMD or Intel a monopoly in CPU terms. Same with graphics cards, its about 50% nVidia and 50% ATI though most everyone who isn't a gamer uses integrated graphics.

      And if you want things to work really well on -your- hardware then try running Gentoo and compiling everything with high levels of optimization.

      One of the main reasons why everything isn't hardware centric is because peopl

      • by obarthelemy (160321) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @08:26PM (#30627864)

        one could talk about an x86 monopoly, which is a weird instruction set, based on a weird CPU architecture. Though the architecture has by now been mostly microcoded away, it makes me sick every time I see x86 assembly code. Even Intel thinks they can do better now, but their RISC and later VLIW efforts failed in the face of x86-entrenchedness (trying to match x86 assembly ugliness with that word !)

        there's also a kind of directX graphics monopoly: though ATI and nVidia go about implementing it in different ways, basically all they do is target directX, which does simplify things for developpers but prevents really innovating designs. OpenGL is tacked on as an afterthought, but all openGL seems to do these days is play catch-up.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by TheRaven64 (641858)

          but their RISC and later VLIW efforts failed in the face of x86-entrenchedness

          No, they failed because Intel does not seem to employ a single person who can design a decent instruction set. The i860 and Itanium both managed to produce something even more hideous than x86. Both have some nice ideas, but producing a compiler that generates decent code for either is insanely difficult. Both had a huge theoretical throughput advantage over x86, but both failed to deliver. The i860 could perform twice as fast as an 486 with carefully optimised code on both, but was slower with code tha

    • by CottonThePirate (769463) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @07:38PM (#30627478) Homepage
      #3 is taken care of by the little known mac command line "say". I just tried and "ls | say" read out my directory from the terminal. #1 I totally agree with, I understand about modern disk caches and the like, but hitting the button and walking away would be nice.
      • by Blakey Rat (99501)

        MacInTalk (or whatever they call it now) has been in Mac OS since day one in 1984. One of the famous demos involved the original Mac "introducing itself" using it.

        Now, I think, every OS has that support. Not sure if Windows has a CLI command for it, but it wouldn't be tough to write a quick VBScript or something to provide one, if you really had a need.

    • To shutdown the Amiga, you turned it off. There was no delay, no Start->Shutdown...wait possibly forever...

      Sorry, you can keep this feature. I, for one, like having things like disk caching that works.

      Sliding screens. Why not give each application its own full screen and allow the user to pull down the top menu to slide between these screens.

      Fullscreen windows. Why slide them up and down when you can switch with Alt+Tab or Cmd+Tab. Also check out Virtual desktops, you might like them.

      Simple speech device. What could be easier than "LIST > speak:" to say a directory listing?

      On the Mac at least you can do this:
      ls | say

      Bidirectional linked list filesystem. If you lose a sector or sector link, most of the file could be rebuilt by following links from both ends towards the bad sector. (Disk doctor)

      Filesystems have come a long way, check out something like btrfs [wikipedia.org]

      The keyboard garage. The 1985 Amiga 1000 keyboard tucked neatly under the computer where it didn't take up desk space, was hidden from children's fingers and was spill-proof.

      How about tucking the slim and very flat keyboard on top of the foot of an iMac. Or, use a wireless keyboard where you can move it out of the way anywhere you like.

      Tight integration of hardware with O.S. O.k. this works against everything we've been taught about abstracting everything but since the PC world has boiled down to little more than an O.S. monopoly, a hardware monopoly and a graphics card monopoly, why not eliminate some of the levels of abstraction that will never be used and make my 2Ghz PC perform every day tasks at least as well as my 7Mhz Amiga did?

      I like to have modern abstractions, like a HAL, so my OS doesn't need to be written in hand-tuned assembly specifically for the hardware I'm running it on. Even in the relatively closed ecosystem that runs Mac OS X there's far more variety in hardware that the one OS image will run on than there was in Amiga land. What kinds of tasks could a 7MHz Amiga do that would cause your 2GHz PC to struggle? I can't think of anything off the top of my head. Even back in the mid 90's when Amiga fans were extolling the virtues of the custom hardware in the Amiga, on the PC side of things we were able to achieve much of the same by brute force. Copper Bars - done by palette switching very quickly in the horizontal retrace interval. Sprites - once again, done using brute force on the CPU, or with graphics card hardware. Even compiling the sprite to assembly to speed up it's operations. Using the blitter to move/copy memory quickly. Done using, once again, brute force or DMA access and done as quickly.

      I'm all for nostalgia, but don't let it cloud your vision with just how far computers have done today.

      • by StoatBringer (552938) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @09:16PM (#30628210)

        Fullscreen windows. Why slide them up and down when you can switch with Alt+Tab or Cmd+Tab. Also check out Virtual desktops, you might like them.

        It's difficult to compare with modern operating systems, but the sliding windows were really clever. Each screen could be a completely different resolution with a different colour map and screen format. If you Alt-Tab between full-screen applications of different resolutions, you can still only see one at a time. With the Amiga, you could see all of them at once. For example, if you're playing a full-screen game today and alt-tab to the desktop, the game will typically switch back into a window and the screen will switch to the desktop resolution. The Amiga method would let you simply drag the full-screen game screen to reveal the higher-resolution desktop behind it, without forcing the game to swap back to a window. Even virtual desktops aren't as clever or flexible as that.

      • by butlerm (3112) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @09:47PM (#30628376)

        Sorry, you can keep this feature. I, for one, like having things like disk caching that works.

        In order to safely flip the power switch to power off an early Amiga, you had to wait until all pending disk writes were complete. This was pretty easy to do if you didn't have any disk writing background tasks running. Just wait for the drive lights to go out and then wait another couple of seconds for the superblock write to happen (which causes the drive light to flash a second time), and then you were good.

        Woe be to the person who didn't wait for the second flash, because he/she would generally have to repair the disk on reboot. That happened to me a couple of times before I learned my lesson.

        The real performance advantage of the early Amigas over many modern PCs is *no virtual memory*. It is amazingly fast to do just about anything if half of your applications haven't paged out to disk, as Linux is wont to do for inactive processes even when there are gigabytes of free memory in the system.

        The Amiga, of course, originally didn't have any memory protection, which made programmers very careful. If you want to develop something for a quasi-embedded system it is ten times easier to debug "kernel level" code on an Amiga than for practically any other system, because the debugger, editor, test tools, etc. are all running in the same address space as what is being tested.

        If you develop kernel mode code your kernel will crash and burn anyway, especially painful if you are on the same system, so it is awfully convenient to take advantage of the simplicity it allows. Even with memory protection turned on, Amiga OS is a single address space operating system. It is ridiculously simple to develop multitasking systems for a single address space OS compared to the hoops you have to jump through to do the same things in user mode in a more traditional Unix style operating system. Much higher performance too, of course.

        • by temojen (678985)

          Apparently one of the advancements in OSX snow leopard is that SL apps keep track of whether they have any pending writes. If they don't, the OS can kill -9 them on shutdown, so only third-party apps have to be sigterm'd, which greatly speeds shutdown. (I haven't upgraded yet so I've not experienced the difference this makes).

          When Linux pages out but doesn't need the memory at the moment, it keeps the contents, but clears the dirty bit after writing the page out. It only needs to read the data back in if it

          • by butlerm (3112)

            It only needs to read the data back in if it has given the space to another process

            That is the way it *ought* to work. In reality, applications get completely paged to disk after any extended idle period, and sooner than that if there is any significant disk activity. Linux pages out process pages in favor of disk buffers all the time. So you come back a few hours later, hit a key and wait five or ten seconds while everything pages back in again. Compared to an Amiga, that is really annoying. It's even

      • by Carrot007 (37198)

        > What kinds of tasks could a 7MHz Amiga do that would cause your 2GHz PC to struggle

        Not have the OS lock up when a new volume is attached for one. (I'm pretty sure it is just in windows these days because people expect it though!)

      • That low-level access gave the Amiga several firsts:

        Hardware accelerated 4-channel digital audio

        4,096 colors (when the PC was limited to 16... Hercules offered hi-res monochrome)

        Hollywood acceptance as an A/B video editor + SFX engine (commercials of the 1980's & Babylon 5 + others)

        The exclusive screenshots to every PC title for a decade

        Granted, computers have come far today. Consider their inspiration. The Amiga really did pave the way for advanced technology. It was a brief moment in PC technology tha

    • # To shutdown the Amiga, you turned it off. There was no delay, no Start->Shutdown...wait possibly forever...

      Most drivers did a sync when you did a soft reboot, e.g. ctrl-amiga-amiga. This only applies if you had write-delayed caching, which was not the default for most early storage devices.

      Sliding screens. Why not give each application its own full screen and allow the user to pull down the top menu to slide between these screens.

      Yes, that was very cool for its day. But now we have Expo.

      # Simple speech device. What could be easier than "LIST > speak:" to say a directory listing?

      You can pipe text to an executable on windows or Unix today.

      The keyboard garage. The 1985 Amiga 1000 keyboard tucked neatly under the computer where it didn't take up desk space, was hidden from children's fingers and was spill-proof.

      They make stands that do this that don't necessitate a retarded case with little expansion room like the A1000.

      Tight integration of hardware with O.S.

      We added layers of abstraction to allow the hardware to do new things, and to permit the use of arbitrary third-party hardware instead of being locked in. You can get a PowerPC Amiga-ish board today, it's six hundred bucks. Or for that you could build the system I'm using now, a Phenom II 720 (3-core, 2.8GHz) with 4GB RAM, 250 GB 7200RPM/16MB cache disk, and more I/O than you can shake a stick at... And the gaming performance is not astoundingly worse than scripted demo performance, which is to say that I scarcely care if I get 90% or 98% of the capabilities of this hardware.

      why not eliminate some of the levels of abstraction that will never be used and make my 2Ghz PC perform every day tasks at least as well as my 7Mhz Amiga did?

      Har de har de har. Even file management was pathetic comparing a 25MHz Amiga to this system running Ubuntu, which has a footprint bigger than the whole hard disk in my A2500. You're succumbing to the temptation to view the past through rose-colored glasses. It wasn't that rosy. The Amiga was an amazing platform for its day, and a $600 Amiga could beat the pants off a $2500 PC in most ways. But it's an enthusiast's platform today, and you can get much more out of a PC costing much less.

    • by AndrewStephens (815287) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @07:55PM (#30627616) Homepage

      I had an Amiga and it was great, however the world has moved on since then. To answer your points:

      1. To shutdown the Amiga, you turned it off. There was no delay, no Start->Shutdown...wait possibly forever...

      No, you waited for the disk light to stop flashing and then turned it off, hoping that all applications had flushed out all of their data. The Amiga got away with it (mostly) by not really having a lot of long lived service-type applications.

      2. Sliding screens. Why not give each application its own full screen and allow the user to pull down the top menu to slide between these screens.

      I do miss this - having each application on its own screen (with its own screen mode) was very useful. Now that we are all running high-res desktops with 24 bit colour, the different screen modes aren't so important, and software like "Spaces" on MacOSX fills much the same need.

      3. Simple speech device. What could be easier than "LIST > speak:" to say a directory listing?

      That was cool, but fairly niche. I am disappointed that computer generated speech as not come further, the MacOSX voices sound only marginally better than the old Amiga voice from 25 years ago.

      4. Bidirectional linked list filesystem. If you lose a sector or sector link, most of the file could be rebuilt by following links from both ends towards the bad sector. (Disk doctor)

      This was very useful on unreliable floppies, but used precious space on the disk and made updating files slower. Now that removable storage is more reliable the trade-off doesn't seem worth it.

      5. The keyboard garage. The 1985 Amiga 1000 keyboard tucked neatly under the computer where it didn't take up desk space, was hidden from children's fingers and was spill-proof.

      6. Tight integration of hardware with O.S. O.k. this works against everything we've been taught about abstracting everything but since the PC world has boiled down to little more than an O.S. monopoly, a hardware monopoly and a graphics card monopoly, why not eliminate some of the levels of abstraction that will never be used and make my 2Ghz PC perform every day tasks at least as well as my 7Mhz Amiga did?

      What you are basically wishing for is MacOSX, where one company controls both the hardware and the software, and it does (suck it, haters) produce better computers. However, even MacOSX has abstraction layers and drivers because Amiga-style direct hardware intergration turned out to be a terrible long-term plan. The clever hardware tricks that made the Amiga1000/500 so cheap and fast back in the early 80s ended up holding back Amiga development 5 years later.

      To sum up, while the Amiga was (in a lot of ways) ahead of its time, modern computers (and I am including Windows in this as well) do more and operate in a different environment than in the 80s. Although the Amiga was fast and amazingly inexpensive for the time, for the equivalent money today you could buy a high-spec iMac that is better in every way. Those who pine after the lost Amiga are living in the past.

    • by cowbutt (21077)

      To shutdown the Amiga, you turned it off. There was no delay, no Start->Shutdown...wait possibly forever...

      The Amiga didn't commit changes to disc synchronously, but it provided no sure-fire way to flush all pending write buffers.

      Sliding screens. Why not give each application its own full screen and allow the user to pull down the top menu to slide between these screens.

      That was a workaround for low resolution displays with small colour palettes. With 1920x1200, 24bpp displays being common place thes

    • If I could go back in time and make just one change to the Amiga, it would be to have ensured that the A1000, or at least the 500 & 2000 onward, had a 68010 instead of a 68000. Nothing, and I mean *nothing*, caused more software to crash and burn on Amigas with 68020+ microprocessors than the damn Move SR, instruction (privileged on everything from the 68010 onward, but nonprivileged on the 68000 -- and used by just about every Amiga copy protection scheme.) From what I remember, a 68010 cost a whopping

      • ^^^ argh. I forgot Slashdot doesn't transparently handle less-than and greater-than characters, even in "Plain old Text" mode. The offending instruction should read "move SR, (ea)" (substituting greater-than and less-than for parentheses).

    • by toejam13 (958243)

      1. To shutdown the Amiga, you turned it off. There was no delay, no Start->Shutdown...wait possibly forever...

      Which prevented the use of native filesystem write caching due to the chance of data corruption. That's why all writes under AmigaOS were immediate. Heck, if you turned your computer off during a write, even without caching, you could still fubar your filesystem.

      2. Sliding screens. Why not give each application its own full screen and allow the user to pull down the top menu to slide between these screens.

      Windows, X11 and the like all support full-screen modes for programs. As for window shades, I always considered it a gimmick and never used it much. ALT-TAB is better.

      3. Simple speech device. What could be easier than "LIST > speak:" to say a directory listing?

      ls | myspeechprog

      4. Bidirectional linked list filesystem. If you lose a sector or sector link, most of the file could be rebuilt by following links from both ends towards the bad sector. (Disk doctor)

      Too much overhead. That's why Commodore removed inline datab

    • 1. To shutdown the Amiga, you turned it off. There was no delay, no Start->Shutdown...wait possibly forever...

      Well, DOS did that too. But there’s a reason this is not used anymore: Cache. Especially disk cache. So if you disable all caching, you can turn your system off at any time. Of course be sure to first close any apps that might be killed in mid-air.
      Or use hibernate or sleep mode. It allows you to do the same with cache enabled. Just that if you want your ram be powered off, it has to be saved on disk, which because of today’s HDD speed, takes a little while. (Or use non-volatile RAM.)

      2. Sliding screens. Why not give each application its own full screen and allow the user to pull down the top menu to slide between these screens.

      That’s

    • by CAIMLAS (41445)

      # To shutdown the Amiga, you turned it off. There was no delay, no Start->Shutdown...wait possibly forever...

      And what did a person do about unparked heads?

      # Sliding screens. Why not give each application its own full screen and allow the user to pull down the top menu to slide between these screens.

      This is a feature I do not understand, conceptually - unless you are referring to something like OSX's Expose or the Awesome window manager's tags. Screenshot?

      # Simple speech device. What could be easier than "LIST > speak:" to say a directory listing?

      Something like:

      ls -m --color=never | festival --tts

      Does the trick just fine. Or was Amiga really all that hot that it made TTS not sound like someone with a puckered asshole?

      The keyboard garage. The 1985 Amiga 1000 keyboard tucked neatly under the computer where it didn't take up desk space, was hidden from children's fingers and was spill-proof.

      What? Is this even a valid complaint? I've got a drawer under my computer desk where my keyboard hides. It fits the qualified descrip

    • The nice part about Amiga sliding screens is that each sliding screen could be at a different resolution and bit depth.

      Haven't seen anything like that since.

      Thus when sliding a screen down, if the screen(s) underneath needed something "better" the monitor automatically adjusted.

      This trick was also used by "playing fields"... really made for some nice graphical tricks.

      I'll miss the Amiga. Ahead of it's time, and STILL ahead of the times (sadly).

  • My first computer was an Amiga 500. It was 1991. I was 4. It was the most amazing machine on the planet. I could draw pictures on it. I could play Thomas the Tank Engine. I could even make it say things out loud.

    We only got rid of it, when the video chip fried itself. It was better than the Mac in it's day. Too bad it's almost gone.

    • by hitmark (640295)

      and if you want the A500 feel today, fire up AROS on this:
      http://www.ubergizmo.com/15/archives/2009/12/gecko_surfboard_packs_in_everything.html [ubergizmo.com]

    • by butlerm (3112)

      It was better than the Mac in it's day

      Better than the original Mac, absolutely. Better than the Mac II, for many things, yes. Video production, games, most entry level applications, yes. The Mac II was *expensive* and often slow by comparison.

      For graphic design and desktop publishing not so much. That is where the Mac II really shined. There was nothing comparable to Quark on the Amiga. Device independent or high bit depth raster graphics on the Amiga were the exception, not the rule. The sort of thing

      • by irix (22687)
        Pretty much. In the early 1990s I worked in a lab doing video training and computer-based training. We used an Amiga A3000 with Video Toaster for doing video production and similar vintage Mac IIs (IIci/IIcx/IIfx) for literally everything else. By that point in time the Mac kicked the stuffing out of the Amiga for doing everything but the video production, and don't get me started on how much better of an OS System 7 was as compared to AmigaOS.
  • Sound is more important than graphics! Amigas can't run GS/OS!
    Apple //gs+ is coming out any day now !!1!11!!

    (If you don't understand this, please don't rate it.)

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by adarn (582480)

      The only time I have had 2 computers at the same time in my life was when I purchased an Amiga 500 as the IIgs days were waning.

      The amiga was vastly superior, even aside from how more games game out in the first week I owned my amiga than the entire time I owned the IIgs.

      And lets not forget the demo scene.

      God, i miss when computers were fun.

      • by RiffRafff (234408)

        "God, i miss when computers were fun."

        This. +1

      • by butlerm (3112)

        Relative to what it was trying to accomplish, the Apple IIgs was the slowest computer I have ever used. Imagine trying to backport a subset of Mac OS Classic to a 2.8 Mhz 16 bit CPU with an 8 bit data bus. The early Macs were slow enough (i.e. barely tolerable) even with a much better processor at two and a half times the clock rate.

        By comparison, the Amiga (and the Atari ST in its own way) was just plain fast.

  • DVD set is a must (Ofcourse The various Kick's are needed but that is simple to get from the original disks or rom's.) Running all old code projects and to get at old content not available anymore because ooffice does not support Final writer and so on...

    http://www.last.fm/music/16+Bit/INAXYCVGTGB [www.last.fm] :-)

  • by ThatsNotPudding (1045640) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @08:31PM (#30627898)
    The 1960's: "I was at Woodstock!"
    The 1980's: "I had an Amiga!"
  • The Amiga crowd might be placated by an X-Windows interface skinned to look and behave like Amiga. Then port everything to keep it alive on Linux.

    Yes I didn't read the whole thing and the part I skimmed I didn't understand, but I have the moral right on /. to comment especially after not reading properly.

    • Re: X vs. Amiga (Score:3, Interesting)

      by butlerm (3112)

      [begin rant] X is precisely everything the Amiga was not, an innovation that set open systems graphics back by at least a decade. Aside from an SGI app here or there I never saw an X interface that looked good until 1998 or so. Functional yes, attractive compared to the alternatives, not in the slightest.

      X was so poorly designed that network transparency, which should have been its greatest strength, was essentially unusable anywhere other than the local LAN, and still is to this day. RDP runs circles aro

      • Re: X vs. Amiga (Score:4, Informative)

        by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @08:39AM (#30631078) Journal

        Actually, the big problem with X with regards to network transparency is xlib, not the X11 protocol. The protocol is very well designed for remote use (although not as nice as NeWS or DPS), but xlib was designed to make X11 programming 'easy' and so wrapped an asynchronous protocol in a synchronous API. Run a typical xlib program over the network and you'll see that the network is not saturated and the CPU load on both machines is tiny. The reason for this is that the client is spending most of its time in blocking xlib calls. If you have a 100Mb/s network with 100ms latency, you can only make ten blocking xlib calls per second, which doesn't come close to using the network throughput.

        XCB does a lot to improve on this. It's very close to the protocol and designed for asynchronous use. If you write good XCB code, your app will be very responsive over the network (or all apps using your toolkit, if you are using the XCB to write a toolkit).

        Xlib is too low level to be nice for writing apps and too high level to be nice for writing toolkits.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 02, 2010 @09:00PM (#30628118)

    Here are a few things that personal computing lost when the Amiga died.

    * Abstraction of data handlers from apps. Datatype handlers were stored in their own directory. You could drop new ones in, and more or less *every* app of that type (sound/video/images/text/etc) would suddenly be able to read the new format. No farting about with "this app only handles image formats X and Y, but not Z". Drop in a datatype for Z, and it now handles Z. Sound editor didn't support saving in mp3? Drop in a datatype. Now it (and every other sound app on your system) does. It wasn't perfect, and some apps didn't support it, but many did.

    * Single metadata format for everything. We now have 92340860159 different file formats, many replicating the same functionality as other ones. The Amiga had IFF (Interchange File Format). Ok, eventually all the stupid PC formats (then typically without any metadata to speak of and far less well designed) were supported, but originally IFF was just about it once you got above ASCII. Apps could be built to handle just a subset of the data from a file- e.g, just the sound from a video multimedia file, for example. You could parse the container without having to understand all the data in it. Granted, there are many other formats now which do that, but in the 80's it was groundbreaking, and with ONE container format instead of a million, you stood a much bigger chance of any given app supporting the scheme. To boot, it was open: most apps published their storage formats, and were typically good about using established standards for images, movies, sound, etc.

    * About 10 years of time loss while DOS and later Windows PCs caught up to what the Amiga started out with. Who knows where we'd be now if they hadn't been so far behind from the start.

  • I don't mean to be a whippersnapper, but ... why would one install this? What does one do that constitutes "play"? Are there games you're nostalgic for, or is there something useful about it? I can understand running a VM of a current OS for development or sandboxing, but ... there's tasks there that can be made useful by that. What's one do with an Amiga VM?

    • by butlerm (3112)

      What's one do with an Amiga VM?

      Personally, I like Deluxe Paint better than anything I have seen since then. Other than a few applications like that (and modern ports thereof) it is probably mostly a hobby thing.

      The Amiga is extremely easy to program for, so one of these days there might be a number of useful applications that people might run a VM for. Or it could escape the VM and be used as an operating system for embedded systems. Amiga programming is certainly a lot easier than Linux kernel mode prog

  • Back when I was in college one of my dorm mates had an Amiga.

    It had a two-player tank game where you basically raided the other guy's base. You could drop mines, and shoot his tank or his base.

    Does anyone know what this game was called? Is there an online or PC version?

  • MorphOS (Score:3, Informative)

    by Vyse of Arcadia (1220278) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @10:29PM (#30628586)
    I find it odd that no one has mentioned MorphOS [wikipedia.org].
    • I have a Genesi PPC box and run Morph OS on it. It's excellent, although, only if you're a major geek. Compatibility primarily consists of old-school Amiga applications. You need to be Amiga minded. heh. Boots quickly. Power off is as simple as pulling the coord. The development API & tools suck. Sorry. They just do. You need to be motivated to develop (or port) for the platform... or simply have an existing Amiga application's source. Power PC native apps are supported as well as old Motorola CPUs (w/
  • the amiga was dead 20 years ago if we want to be truthful about it guys. this is just a case of people doing stuff because they can. there's also a guy out there who collects brown paper bags.
  • Misplaced sentiment. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tjstork (137384) <todd.bandrowskyNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday January 03, 2010 @12:38AM (#30629308) Homepage Journal

    The whole Amiga OS story is utterly misplaced and foolish. Amiga, for those who were into PCs, really, was a story about hardware that was way ahead of its time for the price. You had a 32 bit processor in the 68k married up with 4 channel waveform audio and hardware accelerated bitmap graphics. It was amazing, it really was. But as someone who learned C on the Amiga, I never thought the Operating System was really all that great. Indeed, I had a really fun summer working on a game engine with a friend of mine and our biggest triumph was NOT to use the operating system to manage the Blitter because it was too damned slow. I mean, Intuition had its upsides, for sure, but overall, the whole Amiga story was about the hardware. People bought that Hardware Reference Manual because it was so well written, and, in those days, you had IBM PC's with CGA / EGA graphics and the best sound you got from them was a dopy Adlib or SoundBlaster with tinny crappy FM synthesis and Amiga had faux true-color displays with quadraphonic sound playing. It was a revolution.

    For me, to get that same kind of hardware buzz, since then, has really been in workstations. I loved my Dual Pentium II with first a FireGL and then a Voodoo2 and then an nVidia GeForce board, that was Amiga to me. I loved my Dual Opteron, that was Amiga to me. And right now, I have my dual Nehalem Xeon with a GeForce GTS, that is Amiga to me. Amiga's not a software story, never has been. It's about hardware that makes you imagine entirely new kinds of applications with just the sheer power available, power that makes you drool, or at least, is really fun to screw around with.

  • by hazydave (96747) on Monday January 04, 2010 @07:31PM (#30648150)

    Intelligent Window Manager.

    When you're running an application in AmigaOS, let's say it's so busy, it's not reading window messages (Windows would report this app as "not responding"). For most applications, you could still move the window around, shrink it, grow it back, etc. At worst, the contents of just that window don't refresh. You don't have the window "stuck" not responding, you don't have parts of other windows getting into each other, as you often see in other OSs. You can even resize the window (again, you MAY not see it refresh properly, or you may, depending on the nature of the window itself).

    Datatypes

    System level objects used everywhere. You don't care about the kind of graphic file or video you're opening, you just open an IMAGE or a VIDEO or a DOCUMENT or whatever in your program, and you can open any of these known to the system. BeOS implemented a similar idea, but I haven't seen it anywhere else. Sure, there are programs that do this for you, and different systems within the same OS to deal with SOME media types. But nothing as complete, not at least that I've seen.

    AREXX

    Every program of consequence had an AREXX port. Basically, any command the program could understand was available in AREXX (standard scripting language, originally invented at IBM). So you could build very interesting interactions between running programs. Linux users get a taste of this, between a million command lines and pipes, but this was so much more powerful. And very well supported, pretty much in every commercial application.

    ASYNCHRONOUS I/O

    Every I/O operation to every device driver could be done synchronously or asynchronously. So what becomes a pain in the butt in an OS like Linux was a couple of extra lines of code in AmigaOS. Of course, in those days, there was no point of asynchronous I/O for Windows or MacOS, since they didn't multitask and pretty much had to dedicate the CPU to loading or unloading your I/O, anyway. But it was a beautiful thing in AmigaOS, in the day.

    Probably some other stuff, but I gotta go. It's not that I plan on firing up my A3000 when I get home, rather than that home-integrated Q9550 PC with nVidia 8800GT graphics, 8GB RAM, twin 1920x1200 monitors in 24-bit, and 11TB of total attached storage. My old Amiga was weak at electronics CAD, and I'd still be waiting for that first AVC render for Blu-Ray creation to finish... not to mention the lack of support for huge drives and all. But it's a shame when you have to leave behind better ideas just to move forward a bit.

    And don't even get me started on word processing... all the power I had with Scribe at CMU in the 80s, to be stuck with things like Word or OpenOffice, it's crime. I do like the WYSIWYG editing, just wish they didn't have to remove 100 IQ points from the formatting engine to get that....

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