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Amiga Operating Systems Software

AmigaOS 4 415

Posted by kdawson
Second five-eighth writes "The Amiga is alive and sort of well (you can get the OS, but not the hardware), and Ars Technica has a review of the final version of AmigaOS 4. New features include limited memory protection, 3D display drivers, an improved suite of applications (the bounty for porting Mozilla to AmigaOS has yet to be claimed), and much better 680x0 emulation. Perhaps most telling, the reviewer was able to move his daily writing workflow from Windows XP to AmigaOS 4.0: 'Not only was it possible to do this, but having done so I feel no urge to switch back. It is nice to not have any distractions when working — there is no waiting for the system to swap out when switching between major applications, no constant reminders for updates or to download new virus definitions and even if the worst happens and the system locks up, it takes only seven seconds to reboot and get back to a functional desktop.'"
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AmigaOS 4

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  • Spaceballs? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Loconut1389 (455297) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @12:31AM (#17719722)
    FTA: "this brings things up to ludicrous speed."

    Prepare for the jump to ludicrous speed!
  • ...whatever happened to my old Amiga 500? I wish I knew...

  • Short memory (Score:5, Insightful)

    by edwardpickman (965122) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @12:38AM (#17719788)
    Interesting that he would mention not worrying about viruses. If history repeats itself that should be short lived. Amiga was one of the worst in the old days for viruses. Most of them at the time came from floppies because it had this habit of auto booting the disk the moment they were placed in the drive. Hopefully the new OS is better guarded but the limited user base is likely to be it's best defense.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LoudMusic (199347)

      Amiga was one of the worst in the old days for viruses. Most of them at the time came from floppies because it had this habit of auto booting the disk the moment they were placed in the drive

      Did the Amiga hardware include a motorized floppy drive similar to the Apple Macintosh floppy drive? I don't think that standard "x86" drives would automatically access a disk - the OS usually has to be told to do so, unless it is constantly probing. But I think that would cause the OS to constantly be hanging. I think Tandy also used automatic drives.

      • Re:Short memory (Score:4, Informative)

        by MrShaggy (683273) <chris,anderson&hush,com> on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @12:49AM (#17719880) Journal
        Yes it did.. it knew that there was a floppy. Pretty slick. I would try to put this amiga os on my laptop on a partition. Gives me something fun to try.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by pioneerX (830117)
        It made a clunk every few seconds as it checked for the presence of a disk. This made you stick in disks at random just to shut it up.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Bert64 (520050)
          It did make a clunk, but for no real reason...
          It was possible to turn off the clunk and have it still detect inserted disks correctly.
      • Re:Short memory (Score:4, Informative)

        by rossdee (243626) * on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @01:38AM (#17720164)
        It wasn't a motorized floppy (in the sense of insertion and ejection) but it did detect a diskchange automatically. However if when it scanned the directory block on the disk, it found it was corrupted, it would run a disk validator program. Unfortunatelyhe first place it would look for the disk validator program was on the floppy disk that was in the drive, so a hacker could write a virus that maskeraded as the disk validator and it could automatically run whenb the disk was inserted.

        This type of virus was made obsolete by later versions of AmigaDOS (Version 2 and higher) and there were good antivirus programs in shareware and freeware.

        (I was an amiga owner from 1986 til 2002)
      • by zakezuke (229119)
        Did the Amiga hardware include a motorized floppy drive similar to the Apple Macintosh floppy drive? I don't think that standard "x86" drives would automatically access a disk - the OS usually has to be told to do so, unless it is constantly probing. But I think that would cause the OS to constantly be hanging. I think Tandy also used automatic drives.

        IIRC, the floppies drives on the amiga were identical to x86 counterpart. I back up this claim by knowing for a fact I took a standard x86 drive put it on my
    • Interesting that he would mention not worrying about viruses. If history repeats itself that should be short lived. Amiga was one of the worst in the old days for viruses.

      Even more interesting that he was more productive on the Amiga than XP even despite its shortcomings. It shows just how badly format lockin has hurt the computer industry.

      If we'd had hetrogenous computing environments which allowed free and open data exchange, we'd have had all of those opportunities for competing platforms to establis

    • by cerebis (560975)

      Amiga disk drives had a mechanical switch which acted to inform the OS whenever a disk was inserted into the drive. The OS would read the bootblock when a disk was inserted, but it didn't actually "boot" it.

      Virus writers then used that short-sighted habit of the OS to get their code into memory. These "Bootblock Viruses" were widespread and generally tended to be pretty innocuous, one of the most common being the "ByteBandit" virus, which did nothing but spread itself.

      The switch wasn't actually necessary

  • by ip_freely_2000 (577249) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @12:41AM (#17719808)
    ..I'll be mentioning something cool in Mac OS LXVIII and some idiot will say "Why, we did that in Amiga OS 4, and we did it better!"
  • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @12:44AM (#17719830) Homepage Journal
    Now I can get ProComm to dial into those old Telegard BBSes that I still have the phone numbers for in my Apple Newton. I hope that someone ports a terminal emulator that supports the RIP protocol, because ANSI and AVATAR are just boring.

    This will completely let me replace my Coco3.

    Tradewars door, here I come!
    • by jesterzog (189797)

      I hope that someone ports a terminal emulator that supports the RIP protocol, because ANSI and AVATAR are just boring.

      RIP graphics had a shiny factor, and were sometimes faster to load, but I definitely preferred ANSI or ASCII for most things. Both put limits on the sysop's often limited design ability to disguise useful information inside shiny graphics. Programs like RIPTerm (in DOS, at least) tended to be a lot more klunky than ANSI terminal apps, although it could have been quite different on Amigas

      • by antdude (79039)
        Agreed. However, ANSImation and ANSI music were annoying, and bad for slow dial-up connections like 2400 speed. :(
    • by antdude (79039)
      Use SyncTERM [bbsdev.net] (no Amiga port though) for that. ;)
  • by stainless69 (1048296) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @12:44AM (#17719834)
    The wayback machine says:
    http://www.archive.org/details/Amigaand1985/ [archive.org]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @12:45AM (#17719836)
    Will it run Duke Nukem Forever?
  • What is it used for? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Fizzlewhiff (256410) <jeffshannon@hotm ... com minus author> on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @12:49AM (#17719878) Homepage
    The Amiga's killer app was video production which has been trivial now on Macs and Windows XP for years. Even the Video Toaster that was cherished by Amiga users now requires a P4 or Athlon and Windows XP. It seems to me that Amiga OS doesn't offer that much when compared Linux, BSD, OS X, and Windows. Heck, I'm even going to throw WM5 in there since it has better browser choices.

    • by StarWreck (695075)
      I was just reading that the Amiga was used to create the special effects for Star Trek: Voyager (including the intro credits used for the entire duration of the series). It feels like Star Trek: Voyager wasn't that long ago. But I guess its been a while.
    • by zakezuke (229119) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @03:34AM (#17720688)
      The Amiga's killer app was video production which has been trivial now on Macs and Windows XP for years. Even the Video Toaster that was cherished by Amiga users now requires a P4 or Athlon and Windows XP. It seems to me that Amiga OS doesn't offer that much when compared Linux, BSD, OS X, and Windows. Heck, I'm even going to throw WM5 in there since it has better browser choices.

      That was the main reason I switched from Amiga to Sun. Browsers were limited to like 4 bit video even if you had a 8 or 24 bit bitplane board, unless you were update the roms "again" to version 3 if I remember correctly. I was a dumb ass and updated to version 2.x roms and couldn't kickstart version 3.x from version 2.x. Not that I was offended by the idea of pirating the roms as amiga folded.

      Also 24bit graphics boards were not really standarized, well I think Picasso II was the defacto standard, something that cost a pretty penny. The board I had could emulate AGA graphics, amiga 8bit ham support, but not without newer roms.

      But I started to price what it would cost to update my hardware on my amiga 2000. The cost was horrible. By the time I added in a faster cpu, more memory via a special cpu board upgrade, a defacto standard graphics board, oh and an extra serial board to handle a standard mouse, not to speak of the fact that you needed a 23pin to something else cable to sport either the stock monitor, an EGA monitor, or one of those rare vga monitors that would sync down to TV levels in the unlikely event the config on my graphics card failed, well... the cost was equal to a high end penium with 16 megs of memory.

      There are still many features I miss.

    • by master_p (608214) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @05:38AM (#17721170)
      The reason the Amiga was special was that it was a quantum leap for computers of the time for the following reasons in no particular order:

      1) preemptive multitasking.
      2) special hardware for graphics.
      3) a unified memory architecture.
      4) stereo sound with hardware-assisted mixer
      5) a UNIX-like O/S with many goodies, including .info files for executables (a local registry for each program)
      6) a nice GUI that looked good on low resolutions with datatype aware drag-n-drop for every app.
      7) a good DMA architecture that allowed for easy parallelization of many tasks (for example graphics not blocked by I/O)

      What would it take for the Amiga to be a quantum leap today, given that the average 500$ Intel PC has much better capabilities than the Amiga of yesteryear? there are certain possibilities:

      1) provide sound and graphics of 5000$ worth at the price of 500$. This is highly unlikely, because all the billion dollar pioneering research in graphics takes place in the labs of NVidia and ATI, two companies that will not be willing to sell their top technology for a mere 500$. The Amiga was the result of hardware gurus like RJ Mical that worked on their own designs...so unless a similar group of talented individuals gather up and make something unique, this possibility is less likely to happen.

      2) provide a computer with a fixed hardware, like a console, but with an O/S that the users can write applications and games that hit the hardware directly. It might sell but for small numbers...back bedroom programming will certainly thrive on such a machine,
      but I do not think the numbers it sells will be sufficient to sustain it.

      3) do something really wild like a computer with 3d stereoscopic graphics projected either in mid air or in a special display. Now that would be a quantum leap, but only if the price is right, and it would certainly be hard to make and sell.

      Overall, I do not think Amiga has a place in today's computing environment...especially when the O/S works on special hardware platforms.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Bert64 (520050)
        Port AmigaOS to the PS3 or one of the other games consoles (not a huge step because theyre all PPC based), provide a keyboard and mouse and a developer environment to write homebrew apps as well as some educational programs etc. Most people i knew who's parents bought them amigas did so because they _WERENT_ just games consoles, and could be used for doing homework etc.
      • by radish (98371) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @10:30AM (#17723136) Homepage
        1) preemptive multitasking.
        2) special hardware for graphics.
        3) a unified memory architecture.
        4) stereo sound with hardware-assisted mixer
        5) a UNIX-like O/S with many goodies, including .info files for executables (a local registry for each program)
        6) a nice GUI that looked good on low resolutions with datatype aware drag-n-drop for every app.
        7) a good DMA architecture that allowed for easy parallelization of many tasks (for example graphics not blocked by I/O)


        There were other machines around at the same time with many of these features, at the same price :-) Surely you haven't forgotten the 16-bit wars already!

        provide sound and graphics of 5000$ worth at the price of 500$. This is highly unlikely, because all the billion dollar pioneering research in graphics takes place in the labs of NVidia and ATI, two companies that will not be willing to sell their top technology for a mere 500$.
        Don't they already sell their top designs for $500? Isn't that what a top-end video card costs these days? You just don't get the rest of the computer with it :-) What you would need them to do is sell their top designs for $20, which isn't going to happen.

        Overall, I do not think Amiga has a place in today's computing environment...especially when the O/S works on special hardware platforms.

        Agreed, and even more so given that, as far as I can tell, this new AmigaOS has very little to do with the original other than name. It's just another niche OS which is platform specific, non-free (in any sense) and very, very limited in functionality. Pointless.
  • emulator or vmware? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Danzigism (881294) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @12:53AM (#17719898)
    i'd really like to try AmigaOS 4 out.. I google'd some screenshots, and it looks fun to experiment with just for something different.. i'd like to try emulating an Amiga system.. Or possibly using something like Vmware.. does anyone know if this can be done?
    • by POds (241854)
      You'll probably get just as much fun from AROS - although, theres, last time i tried it, it did not have any emulation - that may have changed, but i doubt it!

      http://www.aros.org/ [aros.org]

      Nice system, plus it has its own compilers etc so you can write software for it. It would be kinda neat if someone took the interface and ported it to *nix.
  • by greenguy (162630) <estebandido.gmail@com> on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @12:54AM (#17719906) Homepage Journal
    There's something not right, here...

    Something not up to Slashdot standards...

    Ah... there's no "dept." caption/commentary!
  • by nick_davison (217681) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @01:30AM (#17720118)
    no waiting for the system to swap out when switching between major applications

    I hear not having any will do that for you.
  • I know it was a cool OS back in the day... but now hasn't it been surpassed by just about every other operating system / linux distribution? Also... if you can't buy the hardware for it whats the point? To say "Hey... I got Amiga OS on a CD!"

    Can it even be run in a VM environment?
  • by LoudMusic (199347) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @01:56AM (#17720274)

    Perhaps most telling, the reviewer was able to move his daily writing workflow from Windows XP to AmigaOS 4.0: 'Not only was it possible to do this, but having done so I feel no urge to switch back. It is nice to not have any distractions when working -- there is no waiting for the system to swap out when switching between major applications, no constant reminders for updates or to download new virus definitions and even if the worst happens and the system locks up, it takes only seven seconds to reboot and get back to a functional desktop.'
    If you're looking for a fast booting and obscure operating system I'd recommend something more like Zeta (what has become of BeOS).

    http://www.zeta-os.com/ [zeta-os.com]

    I really liked BeOS. In fact I've installed and used it in the past year. Though it was short lived ;)

    I'm sure these operating systems are excellent for older hardware that has already been downgraded to web browsing, emailing, and simple word processing. All they need to do is boot and run Firefox. Google takes care of the rest. Has anyone made an uber-lite Linux distro that just includes X and Firefox? Perhaps even launches straight to a Firefox full screen window with tabs. I guess maybe a Linux web kiosk ... shit, I've got to look that up!
  • Nice Nostalgia (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ewhac (5844) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @02:04AM (#17720310) Homepage Journal
    A quick Google will reveal that I was very deep into the Amiga at one time, and a lot of the platform architecture still holds a lot of appeal for me. I wrote a eulogy [vwh.net] for the platform about 12 years ago. Even to this day, I still judge a platform's value by how it stacks up against the Amiga's design and philosophy.

    If I could find an affordable Ethernet card, my Amiga 3000 would still be in active use today, mostly as an archive server for all my old stuff. Sadly, the only Ethernet cards I can find are $150 or so, and the TCP/IP stack is (usually) not included.

    The way things are now, though, the only way Amiga will have a future is if A) a dedicated investor with very deep pockets and a lot of patience funds a company to look after it; or B) they Open Source the entire OS and support utilities. The latter is likely very easy from a contractual aspect, since the only "borrowed" code was from TRIPOS, and much of that was re-written in C for the OS 2.04 release years ago.

    I could go on and on about what made Amiga great, but every time I even mention it, people immediately place me in the slot marked, "crazy." I'd like to see more Amiga philosophy in modern software design, but even I have to admit that light of Amiga may be irretrievably fading. Really, you people have no idea what you missed...

    Schwab

    • The way things are now, though, the only way Amiga will have a future is if ... or B) they Open Source the entire OS and support utilities.

      You mean like this? http://aros.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]

    • by whorfin (686885)
      Well, if people can have unnatural reverence for the IBM M Keyboard [wikipedia.org] or Rotary Dial Phones [wikipedia.org], I see no reason why sticking by the virtues of the Amiga is to be shamed. However, just remember not to mumble too much when you stare at people.
    • by DingerX (847589)
      Nostalgia is Greek for "pain of the mind".

      The Amiga was the only OS I ever used where my interaction with it was characterized by screaming obscenities: it worked really well, really fast, and without ambiguity.

      Reading this article makes it all hurt again: the author tries to write a review that glosses over the fact that all the applications are fifteen years behind the time, and the author fails. It still hurts.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Atario (673917)
      I could go on and on about what made Amiga great, but every time I even mention it, people immediately place me in the slot marked, "crazy."
      You think you've got it bad? Check out my handle...er, user name.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bitsy Boffin (110334)

      If I could find an affordable Ethernet card, my Amiga 3000 would still be in active use today, mostly as an archive server for all my old stuff. Sadly, the only Ethernet cards I can find are $150 or so, and the TCP/IP stack is (usually) not included.

      I have an A3000 out in my garage, amongst other bits and pieces of history. It was pretty trick for it's time, a full complement of memory, soft-kicked running the last official Kickstart of the time, a Picasso card with Pablo expansion (never worked out how to

  • After reading TFA (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TinBromide (921574)
    While I enjoyed a review of all the old programs and whatnot, this would be like a company buying windows 3.1 from microsoft, updating it to 4, and a reviewer touting the joys of lotus smart suite or eudora.

    I am a fan of old hardware and my old macintosh 512 lives on in a basilisk II emulator which I will occasionally use to play some of those old mac games. (galax ftw!)

    Anywho, I am all for an OS and hardware being limited to the hobbiest domain, sort of like using ham radio instead of IRC, but I shu
  • by Dwonis (52652) * on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @03:29AM (#17720676)

    I remember when "Amiga" meant innovation and usability at an affordable price. One of the amazing things about the Amiga was that most of the cheesy slogans that were used to sell it (e.g. "Only Amiga makes it possible" and "The computer for the creative mind") were true. It felt good to own an Amiga, because it was orders of magnitude better than anything else out there.

    Today, "Amiga" is just a trademark. Will this new Amiga-branded system compete with Mac OS X? With GNU/Linux? With Windows? If not, why should I, as an nostalgic Amiga zealot, care?

    I have no need for yet more proprietary hardware running yet another proprietary OS in a time when commodity hardware and free software are where most of the interesting things are happening.

    The new Amiga we dream of won't be called "Amiga". It will be something completely different---built by a small group of brilliant people that nobody has ever heard of---not the underwhelming output of some company whose only real purpose is to figure out how to extract revenue from the copyrights and trademarks for a 20-year-old technology.

    • Amiga turned into a three ring circus. First you have those who sort of own the copyrights (most of the patents still are owned by Gateway and are licensed out to Amiga). The sad tale of OS4, it was suppost to be owned, sort of, by Amiga Inc and Hyperion. Hyperion's orginal contract to roll out OS4 had a $25K buy back option (which I under was executed by Amiga Inc). Little did Amiga Inc know or realize, Hyperion allowed a newly coded kernel that was owned by Hyperion subcontractors (Frieds (SP) Brother
  • by SpaghettiPattern (609814) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @04:37AM (#17720948)
    I'd do the sensible thing: 1) migrate to ppc, 2) put in large chunks of BSD code and 3) migrate to x86.
  • by airship (242862) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @11:25AM (#17723814) Homepage
    I was the managing editor of .info magazine, which covered the Amiga exclusively until 1992; just before it died, we did.

    My (admittedly high-end, for its day) Amiga 3000UX could run Windows 3.1, Unix, and AmigaOS SIMULTANEOUSLY on three pull-down screens. People would freak out when they saw me pull down and flip between three different screens running three different operating systems. And it wasn't just some cheap parlor trick - all three were running various applications in real-time.

    Oh, and you could even run a Mac emulator on the Amiga screen at the same time.

    This was in 1990. Can your machine do anything even remotely like that today? AmigaOS had a very different way of looking at how computers should work. There is still a lot that OS programmers can learn from the Amiga.
  • by Billly Gates (198444) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @01:00PM (#17724902) Journal
    Screw that.

  • by Sloppy (14984) on Tuesday January 23, 2007 @02:49PM (#17726732) Homepage Journal

    The article's 3rd and 4th paragraphs explain why it has taken so long to be developed, and why nobody knows how much long-term maintenance there will be. The software was held hostage by dying companies. And it still is.

    Fool me twice, shame on me. Open it up, if you want it to live. Until then, it's going to have the same kind of maintenance problems it has had for the last 15 years, and the next major update will be in 2022, if ever.

    And as usual, freeness has technical consequences and isn't just a damn fool idealistic crusade:

    Adding full memory protection would break too many existing Amiga applications

    In earlier versions of AmigaOS, when you asked exec for memory, you passed some attributes to AllocMem(), one of them being MEMF_PUBLIC, which if set, meant "this indicates that the memory should be accessible to other tasks." The catch is, with AmigaOS up through 3.x, this attribute didn't actually do anything. But theoretically, it could have been fairly easily used to add memory protection to an Amiga with an MMU. Just give each task its own address space, except for its public blocks which could all share memory. This would have given the Amiga most of the stability of modern systems, while also retaining its blazingly fast IPC. But, as the article says, adding this feature would break many old apps, because those apps were written either before the MEMF_PUBLIC was added to the spec, or the programmers just didn't do it right, or whatever. If AmigaOS had implemented memory protection, those unmaintained apps would allocate their IPC buffers privately, and fail when they tried to pass a message.

    Now, imagine if this situation happened with Free Software, such as GNU/Linux. What would people do? They would fix the broken software, duh! It doesn't really take a lot of effort to grep through source looking for AllocMem()s and adding an attribute if it's being used to allocate a message buffer.

    But on AmigaOS, you didn't have the damn source to most of your apps. A lot of really popular programs were no longer maintained by developers that had left the platform, and some source had even been completely lost. D'oh!

    Being unmaintainable retards technological advance. It's that simple.

    I don't know what how the AmigaOS 4 guys finally decided to implement memory protection, but from the article's description, it looks like they had to make serious compromises. Then they admit that maybe with AmigaOS 5 (due out in 2022 by my above predictions) they'll finally get to Do It Right (probably by throwing away the legacy apps, or running all the legacy stuff in a single virtual machine which just can't talk to the rest of the system). Heh, reminds me of how OS/2 or Windows deals with MSDOS apps. In my Amiga days, a comparison of AmigaOS to MSDOS was fightin' words. ;-) This just ain't pretty, and yet, being pretty is what the Amiga excelled at.

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