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Amiga Emulation (Games) Operating Systems

The Amiga, Circa 2010 — Dead and Loving It 383

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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  • 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.

  • Move on (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jdigriz ( 676802 ) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @07:19PM (#30627302)
    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.
  • by MrHanky ( 141717 ) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @07:35PM (#30627450) Homepage Journal

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

  • 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 []

    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.

  • # 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 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.

  • 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!"
  • 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:Move on (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RiffRafff ( 234408 ) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @09:26PM (#30628288) Homepage

    I heard it as marketing sushi as "cold, dead fish."

    Cheers from the (long-defunct) Amiga-centric Ack! Phffft! BBS! (circa 1992)

  • 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.

  • Re:2010 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Saturday January 02, 2010 @09:51PM (#30628400) Journal

    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.

  • 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 Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 03, 2010 @12:51AM (#30629350)

    Yes, a PC didn't use to have integrated graphics/audio in 1995, but practically all computers came with an OK graphics card and more than acceptable sound cards ever since the CD-ROM era started (look up the Multimedia PC standard). Stereo sound was absolutely the norm. Doom came out in 1993 and everybody in the neighborhood had a stereo sound card to play it.

    Also, I would argue that most of the time people used to run Amiga games by booting them directly, so in that sense having to drop to DOS to run games wasn't an inferior way to do things. IIRC, some Amiga games completely took over the computer, making it impossible to run them from AmigaOS and retain multitasking.

    Windows 95 had proper multitasking. 32-bit Windows programs were fully memory protected and preemptively multitasked. Admittedly 16-bit Windows programs all ran in the same memory area and could mess with each other, but the 32-bit world was protected from that tomfoolery. In any case, its multitasking worked far better than any else consumer level OS before it (NT, OS/2 and commercial *nix is a different story, of course), and that's including AmigaOS.

    The lack of NTSC and PAL output didn't seem to bother most people. The few who needed it for video production, bought video editing cards and VGA to video converter boxes, and the rest of us were more than happy to instead be able to use high-resolution and high-color modes in Windows 95, with far better fidelity than any old TV could produce.

    And I'm sorry if you were unable to find and use Winplay3 in 1995 for MP3 music on the PC. Your incompetence makes me sad ;_;

  • Speak for yourself (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @05:05AM (#30630468)

    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 people desperately holding onto the past.

    Seemed is the big word in this sentence. The Internet is still primarily Un*x boxes. You know it, we know it. Get over it.

    This isn't the first time I've had to defend Amiga from Linux zealots like you. We do not like Linux and don't wish to ever be associated with it, period.

    All of us, huh? I loved my Amiga too. In fact I still own one. But that doesn't mean you get the right to speak for me.

    About the only thing we had in common was a juvenile dislike for anything Microsoft simply because it was the competition. Well, guess what. Some of us grew up. The ones who didn't? Well, I bet you can figure out what happened to them.

    I have no problem with Microsoft. Juvenile hate is juvenile hate - even yours.

    I was hired in to a firm to write Linux drivers in my post Amiga days. That same firm gave me a job that paid off my mortgage. That's what happened to one of them.

    And yes, I also do Microsoft work there too. I'm not a platform bigot of any kind. Some problems require a hammer, other problems a screwdriver. Use the appropriate tool for the job. Learn them all. Limiting your worldview simply makes you less useful. Learn MacOS, learn Linux, learn Windows. Know what each does best and use where appropriate.

    And cease with the fanboy whining.

  • Re:2010 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mdwh2 ( 535323 ) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @01:38PM (#30632670) Journal

    Ah, have we unleashed an Atari ST fan?

    Here in Europe, the Amiga was the dominant home computer, end of story. The home market back then was far smaller than business, so in raw sales it didn't sell as many computers, but in the home market, it was the market leader. I'm sure there were fewer Amigas sold than all sorts of business equipment, whether it was fax machines, photocopiers or PCs, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a success.

    Well then maybe you can explain why the Amiga didn't beat Windows to the punch with all of the apps.

    What's that supposed to mean? What apps are you referring to? And let's not forget that in the era being discussed, "Windows" wasn't an OS, it was a complete joke of a GUI bolted on to a substandard single tasking command line operating system.

  • Re:2010 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mdwh2 ( 535323 ) on Sunday January 03, 2010 @01:47PM (#30632760) Journal

    The Pentium was released in 1993, barely a year before Commodore went bust. The Video Toaster was released in 1990. So you're saying that Windows is so great, it can do what the Amiga was doing three years earlier.

    Ever notice how the quality of CG in Babylon 5 dramatically increased after the first season? That's because they dumped their Amigas and Vidoe Toasters in favour of more powerful Pentium PCs.

    Wait - *gasp* - you're telling me that as time passes, computer technology gets better? Wow, amazing! If they'd used faster Amigas, it would've got better too. The only reason they couldn't is because Commodore were then bust - so you're saying, Windows is so great, it can compete against platforms that are no longer produced? Amazing!

    We had that on PC too, along with the 3D Studio, which is the product line that went on to be used for making films like Iron Man and Avatar.

    Only years later. And last time I looked, those films were released recently - so you're saying Windows is so great, it can do better than a platform from 20 years ago? Brilliant!

    The thing I love is DOS fanboys trying to use the success of the PC today to justify their purchase of a slow DOS based expensive 286 PC back in the 80s or early 90s. It's hiliarious. The irony is that the ways in which PCs are better today is only because they've added what we took for granted back then on the Amiga (e.g., GUIs, multitasking, coprocessors for graphics).

    On top of that, the PCs and Windows of today have nothing in common with the machines of the 80s and early 90s (other than legacy crap that's an embarrassment to keep around). Just as "Macs" today have nothing in common with original Macs. And if Commodore were still around, you can bet that any "Amigas" would be running a different OS on different hardware too. So it's particularly nonsensical to try to use later hardware to justify a purchase 20 years ago, just based on a shared trademark.

    Today, I use Windows because I consider it the best today. In the 1990s, I used the Amiga. Use the best tool for the job at the time - if you can only justify your purchasing decision based on what happens to the trademark 20 years down the line, you have a problem.

If I have not seen so far it is because I stood in giant's footsteps.