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The Amiga, Circa 2010 — Dead and Loving It

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the nearly-as-good-as-os/2-warp dept.

Amiga 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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383 comments

2010 (5, Funny)

Master Moose (1243274) | more than 4 years ago | (#30627178)

..Year of the Amiga Desktop

Re:2010 (4, Interesting)

Zedrick (764028) | more than 4 years ago | (#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 (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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 (3, Insightful)

RiffRafff (234408) | more than 4 years ago | (#30628224)

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

Re:2010 (2, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#30628400)

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:2010 (1)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 4 years ago | (#30628632)

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.

Re:2010 (1)

AmigaMMC (1103025) | more than 4 years ago | (#30628654)

I went to PC, after all the years doing communications consulting for Amiga Inc.

Re:2010 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30628704)

I was a die-hard Amiga user and I went to Windows. And somehow I think I am in the majority.

Because I used the Amiga for games, the very Achilles' heel of Mac and Linux.

Re:2010 (1)

mmontour (2208) | more than 4 years ago | (#30628540)

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.

Re:2010 (1)

AmigaMMC (1103025) | more than 4 years ago | (#30628648)

Commodore killed the Amiga commercially. I should know.

Re:2010 (1)

jonadab (583620) | more than 4 years ago | (#30627442)

No, no, see, the Haiku guys have brought BeOS back from the dead now, so really 2010 will actually be the Year of the BeOS Desktop.

HTH.HAND.

Re:2010 (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30628174)

..Year of the Amiga Desktop

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

News? (-1, Redundant)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30627190)

How in the world is any of this news? While I can see it being a story if there was really a story, this post is nothing more than information that most Amiga fans already know, and tells us what we already know about dead OSes: A) Projects attempt to emulate the OS and B) Projects attempt to emulate the OS, modernize it and change some things. I fail to see how this made it to the front page.

Re:News? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30627352)

Cut 'em some slack. It's a slow day.

Re:News? (4, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | more than 4 years ago | (#30627630)

It beats someone trying to recreate them later using Frogger DNA.

Re:News? (1)

DeadRat4life (1638391) | more than 4 years ago | (#30628448)

oh dear you had to read a story you weren't interested in. I think you should sue slashdot for emotional damages.

AROS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30627192)

I wanted to try this out, but I couldn't find my AROS with both hands!

Re:AROS (1)

ehrichweiss (706417) | more than 4 years ago | (#30627698)

No worries, you won't find Anubis either apparently. Their sourceforge page is almost blank, their "normal" wiki is empty and their developer wiki requires you to register and to chat with someone on IRC(for reasons which are unclear).

Amiga Pansys (3, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#30627246)

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 (2, Insightful)

jdigriz (676802) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Move on (1)

ubersoldat2k7 (1557119) | more than 4 years ago | (#30627418)

Exactly my thoughts. I mean, couldn't all this great work I'm sure some of those volunteers are doing night after night wouldn't be best used on real world projects that are down on human resources? Guys, go help build GNU/Hurd for once and for all! I grew using Mac System 1.0 but I wouldn't waste a key type on porting any of it to today's computers... except for Dark Castle.

Re:Move on (1)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 4 years ago | (#30628638)

It's a labor of love. The amiga was so much fun to use back when all other computers were boring junk. It took me until '99 to move on.

Re:Move on (4, Funny)

dosius (230542) | more than 4 years ago | (#30627728)

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.

Re:Move on (4, Insightful)

RiffRafff (234408) | more than 4 years ago | (#30628288)

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

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

Re:Move on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30627960)

>>Mac OS X is superior in just about every respect

ur funny

Re:Move on (1)

keeboo (724305) | more than 4 years ago | (#30628244)

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 (3, Insightful)

butlerm (3112) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Platform makes Mac look cheap.... (2, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Platform makes Mac look cheap.... (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30627366)

Yeah, but don't forget that AmigaOS doesn't fuck around and squander hardware resources like Mac OS X does.

512 MB of RAM and a 533 MHz PPC CPU go a lot further when using AmigaOS and Amiga apps than they do when using basically any other OS.

Re:Platform makes Mac look cheap.... (4, Funny)

Macrat (638047) | more than 4 years ago | (#30627602)

Yeah, but don't forget that AmigaOS doesn't fuck around.

Yeah, it doesn't do anything. It's a corpse.

Re:Platform makes Mac look cheap.... (5, Interesting)

toejam13 (958243) | more than 4 years ago | (#30628164)

There are a number of reasons why the Amiga could run so well using a 50MHz processor or slower.

1) The OS used a flat memory model. The entire address space of the 680x0 looked the same to all processes. So there was no slowdown doing page table translations on a per process basis.
2) Every process could read and write to every other process's memory. One process could pass a memory pointer to a second process, which would then have direct read-write access to every data structure the first one had. No having to pass huge amounts of data using semaphores or pipes.
3) The GUI was very primitive. The BOOPSI widget subsystem was about as bare to the metal as you could get. Even extensions such as ClassAct/ReAction were very minimalistic. That made it very fast.

Of course, that all comes with a price.

1) The flat open memory model meant that any sort of malicious software could eavesdrop on any other memory location without bother. Stealing passwords or silently copying data from your word processor? No problem!
2) That same memory model meant that any program could go outside of its bounds and trash any other program in memory, including the kernel. That's why Amigas tended to crash more often than even Windows 95 boxes.
3) Memory fragmentation was horrible because the OS had no form of garbage collection. You couldn't move allocation blocks around in memory because there was no form of abstraction, either using Win32 style handles or virtual memory pages.
4) No memory tracking / garbage collection. If a process closed without freeing memory, it was gone forever. After a while, you'd run out of memory and would have to reboot.
5) Every modern widget toolkit around today, including Qt, GTK+ and Cocoa, generally make BOOPSI look absolutely prehistoric. Try doing any sort of raster or Unicode based apps under AmigaOS. You'd probably have to write your own BOOPSI extensions to get what you want.
6) You would have hit the 4GB limit of the 68020/030/040 much faster had the platform remained around unaltered. That's because every process would share that space. With OSes like OS X, BSD and Windows, each process gets its own 4GB (~3GB after kernel reservations) to play around in.

Yeah. Even your mobile phone has an OS with better memory management and UI functionality than your Amiga 4000.

Re:Platform makes Mac look cheap.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30628272)

The GUI was very primitive. The BOOPSI widget subsystem was about as bare to the metal as you could get. Even extensions such as ClassAct/ReAction were very minimalistic. That made it very fast.

The Intuition GUI was very fast because it actually ran in a separate "kernel" thread which handled user interaction for the whole UI--I think BeOS is the only modern system with a comparable architecture. Third-party widget toolkits did not have this advantage--they were graphics libraries which were managed by the application's main thread, a la Qt and GTK+.

Re:Platform makes Mac look cheap.... (1)

toejam13 (958243) | more than 4 years ago | (#30628546)

My understanding is that both ClassAct and MUI were subclasses of BOOPSI and inherited their properties, including Intuition-specific threads. This was by design, as BOOPSI was designed to be extendable.

It has been a zillion years, so somebody correct me if I am wrong.

Re:Platform makes Mac look cheap.... (4, Interesting)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 4 years ago | (#30628658)

Most of that is very true. The amiga's memory management was the biggest problem and they did tend to crash if you had badly programmed apps. In general use however it crashed far less than win95 and even less than 98. It wasn't until win2000 that I saw a microsoft operating system that I actually considered superior to the amiga. Unforunately the hardware couldn't keep up after the death of CBM.

Not just about numbers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30627370)

I would want to find out more about what sort of PowerPC core you get before jumping to conclusions based on the clock frequency. As for the RAM, you can get by on 512MB unless you are using software that hogs memory -- people still use systems with less that cost more.

Keep in mind that a PS3 has even lower numbers, at least if you want to run Linux, but still provides outstanding floating point performance and is still suitable for many tasks.

Re:Not just about numbers (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30627414)

Sure, I know that the PPC CPU is going to run a lot better than an x86 one running at 533 Mhz and 512 MB still might be enough memory, but for the price they have for an assembled system ($975) I can buy a system with a Core i7 CPU and still have $200 or more left over to get a good monitor.

Keep in mind that a PS3 has even lower numbers, at least if you want to run Linux,

Well, yeah. And as anyone who has used Linux on PS3 will tell you, its nothing great.

but still provides outstanding floating point performance and is still suitable for many tasks.

Yeah, the tasks of doing obscure math calculations which is what the Cell was made for, but for general purpose use it sucks. Games are similar to what the Cell was designed to do so it does that pretty well.

Re:Not just about numbers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30627950)

I would want to find out more about what sort of PowerPC core you get before jumping to conclusions based on the clock frequency.

Googling "PowerPC 440" indicates its an embedded design dating from 1999. I would guess that a PPC 74xx "G4" blows the doors off this thing at the same clock speed.

It would be more interesting if Amiga was running on a modern ARM core instead of an old microwave oven CPU.

The Amiga, Circa 2010 — Dead and Loving It (4, Interesting)

omar.sahal (687649) | more than 4 years ago | (#30627340)

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:The Amiga, Circa 2010 — Dead and Loving I (2, Informative)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30627350)

Oddly enough, the link wasn't a rickroll. But a tribute video to the Amiga set to "still alive"

A few great Amiga ideas I'm still waiting for (3, Informative)

An dochasac (591582) | more than 4 years ago | (#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:A few great Amiga ideas I'm still waiting for (1, Insightful)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 4 years ago | (#30627450)

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

Re:A few great Amiga ideas I'm still waiting for (2, Funny)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 4 years ago | (#30627576)

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 keep up with the times. That's a lesson one would've thought they would've learned from Atari's behaviour during the 8-bit era. Oh well. It's interesting that the same guy is responsible for both great platforms - the Atari 800 series, and the Amiga. RIP Jay Miner!

In an alternate universe, the computing world is dominated by machines powered by the 64-bit evolutionary descendant of the 6502, the 65864, all labeled Atari, CBM died with the 8-bit world because Miner stayed with Atari, few felt the need to go 'x86' because they were overpriced low-tech pieces of crap, and Woz left Apple to join Miner at Atari. Jobs started his own cult and poisoned himself and his followers in 1992 following a meteorite sighting, and Jerry Pournelle still writes for Byte.

Most people who run Linux do so on Kaypro XII machines with Dvorak keyboards (and type in Esperanto).

Re:A few great Amiga ideas I'm still waiting for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30627906)

A 1985 Amiga could multitask better than any 1995 Windows PC.

Um, no. The Amiga had preemptive multithreading but it didn't have any memory protection, so there wasn't any real multitasking. By modern standards, it was a soft-realtime embedded system: an entirely appropriate choice for a gaming/multimedia machine, not so much for a business computer.

Re:A few great Amiga ideas I'm still waiting for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30628598)

The Amiga OS did not "multithread". The processes were not forks, they were not lightweight, they were fully independent processes. Yes, there was no forced memory protection across process boundaries, but that does not mean processes normally accessed each other's memory like forking would. The processes executed individually, communicating by messaging, or shared memory, by design.
AmigaOS was multiprocessing, with multiple independent processors, some which could execute commands during the vertical blank period which made it extraordinary in the computing/video world. It was premptively multitasking by software design, as well as by user experience.

Re:A few great Amiga ideas I'm still waiting for (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30627990)

A 1985 Amiga could multitask better than any 1995 Windows PC. That leaves out OS/2

It also leaves out Windows NT.

Re:A few great Amiga ideas I'm still waiting for (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30627598)

Maybe not.. But a amiga 2000 from 1987 was definitely ahead of a 95 pc in many areas. It was for example with lightwave and toaster board to produce cgi stuff seen in movies and series. One example would be babylon 5. The first few seasons was rendered entirely on a amiga render farm.

Re:A few great Amiga ideas I'm still waiting for (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 4 years ago | (#30628404)

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 like genlocking, 3D rendering, playing music, etc. The first MP3 player software I installed was on the Amiga. The boss was impressed when I rendered a rotating 3D version of the company logo for the company website (unofficial, we didn't yet have a TLD). My PC did have Word for Windows 2.0, which I still consider my favorite.

Re:A few great Amiga ideas I'm still waiting for (2, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30627476)

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 people upgrade at different points. For example, not everyone is running a Core i7 at the moment, someone might be reading /. on a low-end Intel Atom, A Pentium 4, an older Athlon, or any number of different CPUs. Its bad enough that a Pentium 4 is now considered sluggish for most modern games and OSes, but think of how worse upgrading would be if it would simply refuse to run on a Pentium 4 because it didn't support some of the features.

Re:A few great Amiga ideas I'm still waiting for (3, Insightful)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 4 years ago | (#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:A few great Amiga ideas I'm still waiting for (3, Interesting)

CottonThePirate (769463) | more than 4 years ago | (#30627478)

#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.

Amiga has "say" too. Speaker device is different (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30627704)

Amiga had a "say" command before the speaker: device ever got devised. Yes, it can do some of the same stuff, but the difference is that "say" is a utility. To run it from a program you need to fire off another process running the utility and pass the data to it. Speaker: was/is a device,
so that all a program needs to do is open that device and write to it.

A program that knows how to write sequential files (or a pipe or a tee or ...) can be made to speak output for you without altering
the program itself. If it would have written a sequential file, it can be made, without changing the program, to speak its output with
a little device-independent I/O which has after all been with us since the early 1970s at least. (Check out the old pdp11 DOS-11 which
had a very complete such system, though no speaker: device.)

The speaker: device (speak: if you like) was a great idea. It is also suggestive of a form of I/O plumbing we don't see much, where
perhaps something other than speaking could be cast in similar ways. Trivially, consider voice input. Less trivially, some forms of robotic
controls or drawing or...
Just think of any operation that might be described via a set of commands, where it is desired to have the program NOT have
to know any of the details of implementing the commands (or conversely for inputs). Gradually things like this are being done, by
making browsers act as the OS and similar moves. Of course they have often been done without considering the security implications,
but device permissions can sometimes be useful in such a context, where having the permissions buried in some browser's source
code are harder to control or fix. Had the Amiga way been continued (or were it to be continued) perhaps that could be ameliorated.

Re:Amiga has "say" too. Speaker device is differen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30628432)

Yes, the say command was in the earliest a1000s with 256KB of memory, in 1986 or so. Mac preceded it in time but did not multitask, did not then have color. (Did not preemptively multitask; it could do some fast switching and keep several programs in memory, shades of the old 1970 1-8 user BASIC monitors. The Mac did more than the IBM PC with MSDOS, but Amiga was in keeping with workstation
systems' concepts. It was interesting that the requirement not to clobber the other programs in memory, with no hardware protection,
forced programs to play by OS rules pretty effectively. In that era people were discovering how hideously chaotic it got when two or
more programs tried to steal the same interrupt on a PC...or when one of them tried to exit...
    Playing by OS rules also meant that the OS was forced to have facilities to control all aspects of sound, screen and so on. MSDOS
did not have this, but people programmed hardware directly. That kinda/sorta worked, but failed as soon as more than one program
tried it at a time. It wasn't until W2K, where hitting the hardware directly was prevented, that the Windows folks had to insist on an OS
that could control all functions of the hardware. Amiga had that at the beginning.

Re:A few great Amiga ideas I'm still waiting for (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30627954)

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.

Re:A few great Amiga ideas I'm still waiting for (4, Insightful)

PhunkySchtuff (208108) | more than 4 years ago | (#30627486)

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.

Re:A few great Amiga ideas I'm still waiting for (5, Interesting)

StoatBringer (552938) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:A few great Amiga ideas I'm still waiting for (3, Insightful)

butlerm (3112) | more than 4 years ago | (#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:A few great Amiga ideas I'm still waiting for (1)

Carrot007 (37198) | more than 4 years ago | (#30628442)

> 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!)

Re:A few great Amiga ideas I'm still waiting for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30627574)

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

Disk caches would disagree with such behaviour. Syncing disks every time a single byte is written would kill performance these days.

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.

We've got hardware-composited desktops - using 3D hardware to display window contents however we like, rather than relying on a quirk of how a video signal is generated.

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

Will "ls | say" on a Mac suffice?

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)

Journalled filesystems say hi.

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.

I'm typing this on a laptop which, not too many years ago, would have easily been qualified as a supercomputer, home entertainment system, radio, television and all sorts. It fits on my lap, and hasn't cooked my bollocks off or crushed my pelvis yet. Computers moved beyond desks.

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?

Levels of abstraction which mean that software is not stuck on that particular hardware. This Apple laptop will run software designed for an entirely different processor architecture, on a graphics subsystem designed by a completely different company, you name it - it's not tied to hardware decisions made in the mid 1980s. HAM modes and four-channel sound were nice hardware hacks for the time, but they were utterly irrelevant even by the mid-90s.

And modern computers are no slouch - let me know when any Amiga plays back multiple 1080p streams of hardware-accelerated H.264 video, or throws around 30-megapixel RAW files from a dSLR in the blink of an eye, or throws information over a network at a gigabit per second...

Amigas were incredible for their time, but the clever hardware and software hacks which made them possible weren't exactly friendly towards sustained development...

Re:A few great Amiga ideas I'm still waiting for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30627582)

Babylon 5 had its visual effects done on an Amiga. Then they moved to Pentium based systems then Alpha based ones. Amiga never moved on.

Re:A few great Amiga ideas I'm still waiting for (3, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30627596)

# 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.

Re:A few great Amiga ideas I'm still waiting for (4, Interesting)

AndrewStephens (815287) | more than 4 years ago | (#30627616)

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.

Re:A few great Amiga ideas I'm still waiting for (1)

cowbutt (21077) | more than 4 years ago | (#30627664)

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 these days, it's easier to just have applications in windows. Remember that nearly 15 Amiga "hi-res" (640x256 for PAL) screens will fit in on a single desktop these days. And we have virtual desktops and multihead, if you need more than that.

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

speechd claims to provide equivalent functionality [archive.org]

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)

On the other hand, we have RAID1(0), RAID scrubbing and SMART these days. If used correctly, you're less likely to lose a bad sector in the first place. Furthermore, Amiga floppy handling was particularly unsafe; writing a sector caused the whole track to be rewritten, without verification (unless you used TrackSalve to patch trackdisk.device, If you insist, you can always use the affs (Amiga FFS) filesystem under Linux. Thought I'm not a filesystem expert, I suspect that it's been superceded by more modern filesystems.

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.

USB rollable waterproof keyboards made out of rubber?

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?

And cement those monopolies further and make it hard to expand in the future (cf. the trouble Amigans had to go to to introduce support for 'chunky' graphics devices and 24bpp displays)? No thanks.

Re:A few great Amiga ideas I'm still waiting for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30627696)

1. To shutdown the Amiga, you closed the applications and waited until it had finished accessing the disk(s), then you turned it off. Any unsaved state was lost. That kind of design is entirely unreasonable for systems with background processes. If you limit yourself to the capabilities of an 80s Amiga, you can do the instant shutdown stunt with modern systems: Think live Linux system with a data directory on disk.

2. We have desktop managers and if you want things to move they can be animated too. The vertically sliding screens were a result of the way the Amiga display hardware worked. The Copper coprocessor could set any display parameter at precisely defined raster positions, which allowed the programmers to switch from one screen to another by reprogramming the graphics chip at an exact raster position. PC graphics used a stricter framebuffer concept and gained the necessary animation capabilities much later, but in return PC graphics are not limited to a few hardware-determined "special effects".

3. Software speech synthesizers exist for all desktop platforms and far exceed the quality of the Amiga speech synthesizer. It was pretty good and far ahead at the time though.

4. The bad block is still gone. Modern storage systems use a more general redundancy concept.

5. There are keyboard drawers and you can build (probably buy) a monitor stand which serves as a keyboard garage if you want.

6. The abstractions enable improvements without having to throw everything away and start over just because you changed the hardware. Since that problem is one of the reasons why "nobody" is using Amigas anymore, good riddance to missing abstraction.

Re:A few great Amiga ideas I'm still waiting for (1)

carlhaagen (1021273) | more than 4 years ago | (#30627838)

1. "Any unsaved state was lost" - and this differs how from "modern" OSs? And if you think AmigaOS did not run processes in the background aside from an application one might start and let sit in the background, then you are wrong.

Re:A few great Amiga ideas I'm still waiting for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30628042)

"Any unsaved state was lost" - and this differs how from "modern" OSs?

Exactly. "An dochasac" made it look like the Amiga OS did some magic with disk accesses that made it superior to current desktop OSs. In fact Amiga OS just benefited from an application design which mostly used only user-triggered disk-writes, due to the slowness of floppies and hard disks not being standard but an expensive add-on. (You could very easily lose data by turning off an Amiga in the middle of a write, because the Amiga always wrote full tracks.) As I wrote, you can have exactly the same behavior by booting a Live-Linux and using storage only for explicit persistence (most systems will automatically disable write caches for external media, like USB thumb drives).

Re:A few great Amiga ideas I'm still waiting for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30627748)

Here are some ideas I'm still waiting for:

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

Years ago, I volunteered in a school that had a lab full of Amiga 2000 machines. The students were dogged by corrupted files on their floppy disks, and the school had a technician check out the hardware. There was nothing wrong with it-- when the kids were saving their files to floppy disks, they'd wait until the light on the drive turned off before powering off the machine. BUT! That wasn't enough, and what they had to do was wait for the light on the floppy drive to go out, and then wait for it to come on again, then wait for it to turn off.

On an Amiga, you have to sit and wait for all the disk activity to cease before you power off the machine, or you'll have corrupted files. On Linux, you can do "shutdown -P" and walk away, letting the computer ensure that all write activity is done. On the other hand, if it matters that much to you, you can do it the Amiga way on Linux.

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.

The comparison to workspaces in modern window managers has been done ad nauseum, but I want to note that the sliding screens trick worked because on OCS/ECS Amiga systems, all of the screenmodes shared the same pixel clock (or an even multiple), so sliding screens were a simple copper trick. On AGA systems, the sliding screens didn't always work so well because trying to display two screenmodes with different pixel clocks distorted one or more of the screens. Some of the later "RTG" systems, like Picasso96 IIRC, used brute force methods like scaling and copying large blocks of data around to implement sliding screens.

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

Agreed. Where's my /dev/speak?

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'd like to point out that the same tight integration of the hardware with the OS that made the Amiga so phenomenal back in the day also doomed it to obsolescence, since there was no layer of abstraction to allow swapping out the original chipset once the rest of the industry started producing hardware that far outpaced the old Amiga hardware.

Re:A few great Amiga ideas I'm still waiting for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30628148)

It's under accessability options in the linux kernel. It has support for either hardware speech devices or a variety of software implementations (including passing the kernel an application to run from the command line.)

Re:A few great Amiga ideas I'm still waiting for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30627754)

The Amiga had a very cool feature where it would access removable media by label, and ask the user to insert the correct media if it was unavailable. It was also possible to alias a label to a drawer [directory] on the hard drive. This feature would be extremely handy today for CDs, USB keydrives and SD cards.

Re:A few great Amiga ideas I'm still waiting for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30627982)

honestly. what a load of crap.
1) To shutdown the Amiga you turned it off. --- Hopefully whilst it's not writing to floppy or (if you had one) a hard drive.
  2) Sliding screen - different approach to multiple desktops on modern window managers. Interesting though, not seen anything similar since
  3) 'Built in' speech - in the sense that typing 'speak' ran a program from disk called 'speak'. The 8-bit Acorn BBC Model B had this in 1982 (thanks Superior Software)!
  4) linked file system - utter crap. You can repair FAT disks in the same way - and most other file systems
  5) wow, like most PCs since 1982. And the Amiga 1000 flopped like an overweight lead balloon.
  6) some synergy comment that makes virtually no sense.

Re:A few great Amiga ideas I'm still waiting for (1)

Miamicanes (730264) | more than 4 years ago | (#30628158)

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 $10 back around 1988. In "Commodore quantities", it probably would have cost a buck or two more than a 68000, and would have made it a lot easier for Commodore to sell higher-end Amigas with greater markup.

Re:A few great Amiga ideas I'm still waiting for (1)

Miamicanes (730264) | more than 4 years ago | (#30628166)

^^^ 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).

Re:A few great Amiga ideas I'm still waiting for (1)

HeadSoft (147914) | more than 4 years ago | (#30628202)

Another feature I miss from the past was common in 8-bit systems like the Commodore 64: Instant booting. You pressed power and the system was on! It was pretty bare, but it booted (from ROM) in less than one second. There are still times when I would gladly trade the modern features like disk caching for instant booting or shutting down.

Re:A few great Amiga ideas I'm still waiting for (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30628500)

It rather restricts your choice of motherboards, and takes some hackery; but coreboot [coreboot.org] can bring up a minimal linux build extremely quickly.

Re:A few great Amiga ideas I'm still waiting for (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30628232)

I'm surprised no one mentioned the obvious regarding your first point. You can just press a button and walk away. I do it every day on my Debian system with acpi support, and my parents can do the same with their Vista system. The shutdown is not instantaneous, but who cares? You don't have to watch it.

Re:A few great Amiga ideas I'm still waiting for (1)

toejam13 (958243) | more than 4 years ago | (#30628464)

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 datablock pointers in FFS. Besides, use a journaling filesystem and chances of corruption go way down. My HAMMER filesystem on my DragonFlyBSD system hasn't corrupted once.

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.

At work, I have a $10 hunk of Chinese plastic called a monitor stand that includes a keyboard caddy. Works just as well.

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?

I think you have nostalgia clouding your memory.

I have an Amiga 3000/040-25 with a Cybervision 64 (S3-Trio64) in my closet of misfit hardware that I occasionally boot up to test portability of some of my C programming. It boots to Workbench fairly fast, but most programs really slow down when you run your desktop higher than 800×600.

Regardless, hardware abstraction is what made the move from PCI to AGP to PCIe so simple. It would have made the migration from Zorro to PCI a heck of a lot easier. It is also what makes writing drivers much easier due to their modular design. Lastly, it doesn't add as much overhead as you think it does.

Re:A few great Amiga ideas I'm still waiting for (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30628528)

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 exactly what I do with the CompizFusion cube (and some window rules, enforcing fullscreen, etc). But you can do it with any window manager that supports multiple virtual desktops. The top menu would then be the virtual desktop chooser.
There are even tools to do this in Windows. But I bet it’s more comfortable and elegant in XMonad.

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

Well, in UNIX environments, everything is a file. I bet it’s easy to run a text-to-speech daemon that listens on a pipe (and socket) for a text stream. Should be up and running in a few minutes in Linux.

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)

Well, we try to prevent losing sectors in the first place. And bidirectional is not much better than unidirectional. So we try to do much more advanced solutions. There are b-trees, and really cool stuff, which definitely is better than a simple linked list. I’d recommend ZFS with scrubbing or something alike.

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.

Well, you know those drawer-like things that you can mount below the table top, so you can put the keyboard on it? I think that solves it.

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?

Well, I’m all for taking out everyone who develops a inner platform [wikipedia.org] , and shooting him.
But I’m also for abstraction where it makes sense.
The thing is, that abstraction does not have to be mutually exclusive to extremely tight integration. My Gentoo Linux is compiled in a way that it runs only on my CPU and on my system. The abstraction is at the source code level. Not so much at the binary level.
Only in Linux desktop environments (which rape and torture the whole UNIX philosophy by the way) are there loads of stupid abstractions and frameworks. (Nearly as a OS running is a browser.) But there is a project to circumvent the whole X system. (I think it’s called Wayland.)
Then again, you don’t expect everyone to program straight to the metal, do you? I think things like OpenGL, which are already very tightly integrated into the graphics card and driver, and also mostly just an abstraction on the source code level, are very much making sense and not slowing things down at all. Quite the opposite.

You see, that’s why I love Linux. You can at least do it (or choose the option), if you want it. :)

Oh, and with the proper window manager and lightweight apps, it also will be much smoother than even AmigaOS. Just don’t expect to have the cake (modern effects and all the neat little stuff) and eat it too (still have the same smoothness). Your choice. :)

AROS = AROS Research Operating System (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30627388)

...not Amiga

Re:AROS = AROS Research Operating System (1)

oh_bugger (906574) | more than 4 years ago | (#30628416)

I hate recursive acronyms. Why is there more than a few in open source software?

A new award needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30627552)

We have the vaporware award, now we need a Dead Horse Beaters Award. Seriously for all those hanging onto their 8-track tapes and Beta tapes and Amigas. No significant commercial software has been released for the Amiga since the mid 90s and very little open source or freeware/shareware. You might as well have a 325 chevy engine setting on your computer desk just waiting for some one to build a car to put it in. I had a few Amigas back in the day. They had a lot of potential but they had their flaws too. Personally I liked the hardware more than the OS at the time. Also some features like being able to put ram on cards and such was a lot of fun back when PCs had a 32 meg line drawn in the sand. An Amiga 3000 had better than a gig of potential memory even though the hardware didn't exist. Amigas were very advanced but now they are very dead. Amiga's death blow was really when processors got fast enough so they could do with math what Amigas did with hardware. Ironically that's starting to reverse and more work is being shoveled onto video cards and such. Have your Amiga bronzed or gold plated and move on. You might as well be saying the south shall rise again as saying the Amiga OS will be viable again. It's so badly out of date now you might as well start from scratch.

My First Computer (1)

Dartz-IRL (1640117) | more than 4 years ago | (#30627600)

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.

Re:My First Computer (1)

butlerm (3112) | more than 4 years ago | (#30628650)

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 that made the Mac slower at first, and the Amiga lacking a few years later.

Obligatory //gs whine (1)

cpu_fusion (705735) | more than 4 years ago | (#30627658)

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:Obligatory //gs whine (2, Interesting)

adarn (582480) | more than 4 years ago | (#30628186)

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.

Re:Obligatory //gs whine (1)

RiffRafff (234408) | more than 4 years ago | (#30628378)

"God, i miss when computers were fun."

This. +1

Re:Obligatory //gs whine (1)

butlerm (3112) | more than 4 years ago | (#30628570)

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.

"AROS is best run inside an emulator" (0, Redundant)

carlhaagen (1021273) | more than 4 years ago | (#30627796)

Wat?

Amiga Forever (1)

McNihil (612243) | more than 4 years ago | (#30627844)

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] :-)

From one generation to another (5, Insightful)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | more than 4 years ago | (#30627898)

The 1960's: "I was at Woodstock!"
The 1980's: "I had an Amiga!"

Re:From one generation to another (1)

dougsha (247714) | more than 4 years ago | (#30628144)

The 1960's: "I played at Woodstock!" The 1980's: "I wrote a hit game for the Amiga!"

amiga users (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30627942)

amiga users take it up the ass

Instead (1)

icepick72 (834363) | more than 4 years ago | (#30628068)

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.

what personal computing lost (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Amiga Dead !? (-1, Flamebait)

Rotorua (1006439) | more than 4 years ago | (#30628388)

who gives a Sh#$ ! Another peice of dead technology..... guess it's a slow news day !!

What does one DO with it? (1)

gknoy (899301) | more than 4 years ago | (#30628522)

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?

What was that Amiga tank game? (1)

maillemaker (924053) | more than 4 years ago | (#30628580)

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?

Re:What was that Amiga tank game? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30628682)

Bolo?

MorphOS (2, Informative)

Vyse of Arcadia (1220278) | more than 4 years ago | (#30628586)

I find it odd that no one has mentioned MorphOS [wikipedia.org] .

people love old crap, not news (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30628700)

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.
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