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How Icaros Desktop Brings the Amiga Experience To x86 PCs

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the bouncy-bouncy dept.

Amiga 202

angry tapir writes "Icaros Desktop is an effort to build a modern Amiga-compatible operating system to standard x86 hardware. It's a distribution built atop AROS, which is an open source effort to create a system compatible at the API level with the AmigaOS 3.x series. I recently had a chat to the creator of Icaros, Paolo Besser, about the creation of the OS and why Amiga continues to inspire people today."

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202 comments

Deadest horse (5, Funny)

glrotate (300695) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370045)

Evar!

First Post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40370049)

Fuck amiga os on x86 who even uses that shit anymore except hobbyists in lala land

Re:First Post (5, Funny)

pipatron (966506) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370157)

The x86 architecture is actually still used a lot on the desktop and server market, but I understand what you mean. It's pretty dead in the tablets and cellphone market, the largest market for processors.

Re:First Post (-1)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370243)

They were referring to AmigaOS not x86.

Re:First Post (3, Informative)

divisionbyzero (300681) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370715)

They were referring to AmigaOS not x86.

Did you feel a little breeze in your hair? Yeah, that was the comment going over your head. He intentionally switched them up for effect.

Re:First Post (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40371205)

It's a bird! It's a plane! No, just the joke you didn't get.

Re:First Post (1)

drdaz (994457) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370261)

I've got a feeling the AC was saying that Amiga OS is 'only used by hobbyists in lala land'...

Re:First Post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40370691)

whoosh to both posts above this one. i bet you're fun at parties.

Re:First Post (5, Insightful)

jythie (914043) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370419)

Hobbyists are more then enough to justify it. If they get a kick out ouf playing with AmigaOS then good for them. Some people play games, some people read, some people waterski, and some people enjoy playing with old tech. Not sure why people get so butthurt over what other people do with their free time.

Re:First Post (1)

samoanbiscuit (1273176) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370699)

Not sure why people get so butthurt over what other people do with their free time.

Amen! This is an incredibly common reflex, found in all walks of life, and in relation to almost any area of human behaviour imaginable.

Re:First Post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40371657)

I like to spend my free time on slashdot pointing out then/than errors.

You butthurt bro?

Re:First Post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40372051)

FTFY ::

I like to spend my free time on slashdot pointing out those errors.

But you haven't said what the errors are that you're pointing out?

CAPTCHA = subset

Good luck. (0)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370057)

Yes, but having it run on x86 will alienate the Amiga snobs.

Re:Good luck. (5, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370297)

Hardly. Ten years ago, maybe.

I have to say this project upsets me.

Why? Because if it had been completed fifteen years ago, it'd have been something I'd (and millions of other Amiga enthusiasts) would have been able to jump on, and over time it would have grown. The issues with Exec's lack of MMU support would have been, as time progressed, dealt with in an evolutionary way (I have no idea what the solution would have been, but I'm pretty sure it would have come about.) And so the platform would have lived on.

Unfortunately it wasn't completed then, and the mindshare has moved to GNU/Linux. The problems with AmigaOS back in 1994 are still present in AROS. There's no easy way to fix the issues any more, because the people interested aren't tight knit and large enough to actually agree upon a way forward.

Which is NOT, absolutely NOT, to diss the efforts of the AROS crew. What they've produced is impressive, and anyone who thinks all operating systems should either be POSIX or Windows based should, absolutely should, download this and play with it.

What upsets me is that I can't, any longer, jump on something so wonderful. There's no point.

Re:Good luck. (0)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370367)

No, the current-day snobs will still decry running their blessed AmigaOS on x86.

Re:Good luck. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40370465)

No. You see, even the most snobby of snobs is well aware that the only viable CPU architectures right now are ix86 and ARM. 68K is dead outside of the low power (in every sense) embedded world; and PowerPC is a WTF.

Ten years ago, like I said, you might have found a hold out, clinging perhaps to PowerPC as a possible 68k successor, but today? Nope. The CPU wars are over.

Re:Good luck. (1)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370501)

Nope, look at my post below from an Amiga thread from 3 months ago for 3 seperate people in the first 2 pages decrying AmigaOS on x86 and how PPC hardware makes it 'special'.

Re:Good luck. (3, Interesting)

toejam13 (958243) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370859)

3 seperate people in the first 2 pages decrying AmigaOS on x86 and how PPC hardware makes it 'special'.

An 8-core POWER7 processor is special. Most everything these days from the PowerPC series is not.

Had Commodore actually released a PPC based Amiga themselves, then there might have been a real connection between the PPC and the Amiga. But Commodore folded before they could transition off of the 680x0. So all we have are a few third party PPC processor cards and a couple hobbyist companies tinkering with it after it fell from mainstream status.

To me, I think a lot of people had wishful thinking of what could have been had Commodore followed Apple down the PPC rabbit hole. That is why they're so hung up on it. But for most people, the Amiga died when it was a 680x0 machine running 3.x.

Re:Good luck. (3, Interesting)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 2 years ago | (#40372665)

Incidentally, by some accounts Commodore were working with HP to transition to the PA-RISC processor and had no plans to use PPC... Had they not folded, they most likely would have moved to HPPA, later moved to IA64 and would probably be in the process of moving again.

Re:Good luck. (1, Insightful)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370431)

Amiga's moved-on anyway. OS 3 is obsolete, replaced by OS 4.0 and 4.1. Running version 3 today would be like running a Mac with OS9.

Re:Good luck. (4, Interesting)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 2 years ago | (#40371457)

Not all operating systems need to be, nor should be, multiuser, memory/resource protected, desktop publishing Goliaths. The OS I work on in my spare time is single user, no permissions, no memory protection simple piece of usefulness. I use it to run diagnostics and fix problems and I am proud of how well it does that. I believe your view of what a "useful OS" should be is skewed.

Re:Good luck. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40371567)

If you wanted the platform to live on so badly why didn't you help?

Re:Good luck. (2)

toejam13 (958243) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370341)

Ten years ago I might have agreed. Today with every major desktop OS running on x86 or x86-64, not so much. Besides, people are more interested in the Amiga experience as opposed to the underlying hardware. This goes double since the majority of PPC systems in the post-Commodore world have been something of an expensive joke.

Re:Good luck. (2, Informative)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370463)

Just take a gander at this thread from 3 mnths ago. [amiga.org]

BeOs didn't succeed with x86. Some developers said that those who has originally used BeOs started to use window/Linux and stopped to support original BeOs apps because everythig was easier with Windows/Linux.

Custom hardware is good choise, there woun't be any benefits to go x86/x64

Custom hardware makes Amiga special and force people who has it to use it. (Yes I know there is linux distro for ppc)

OS4 needs to remain PPC.

No valid reason for OS4 to go to commodity hardware. The market isn't there - niche OS's are free/open source on commodity hardware, Hyperion would have no business model.

It's be just another offshoot hobby OS that could once make a meager earning on the PPC side that is now on commodity HW where there's a plethora of free OS'es for every niche market. Another OS I'd have to run an emulation layer on to run legacy software. Why should I run OS4 x86 vs. AROS, vs. UAE/Amikit/Amithlon?

and those are just select quotes from the first 2 pages. The snobs still exist.

Re:Good luck. (2)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370531)

The Amiga wasn't PowerPC based. It was a popular upgrade, and some of the companies that called themselves "Amiga" after Commodore's downfall produced machines they called "Amigas" with PowerPCs, but those machines were basic PREP (or whatever the term is), not resembling the Amiga range in any shape or form. The only connection was the operating system.

What you have here are PowerPC snobs, not Amiga snobs.

Re:Good luck. (1)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370565)

Only the second person mentioned PPC. The first guy was just saying you should have to have 'custom hardware' because otherwise AmigaOS is no longer 'special'.

Re:Good luck. (2)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370735)

Sorry, I thought you were quoting one comment.

That said, it still doesn't really say what you're suggesting. What the first and third comment are saying is that they think the best computer would be combination of AmigaOS and custom hardware. They think AmigaOS should be created for this custom computer.

Now, you'll note a few things. One is that that doesn't specify a CPU. The other is that pretty much rules out the crappy "Let's combine the reference-architecture PowerPC motherboards with AmigaOS" "Amigas" that have been pouring out of companies that have called themselves "Amiga" in the last few years. Because those reference architecture PCI-supporting PowerPC motherboards aren't exactly custom computers either.

I can certainly relate to someone wanting the owners of the Amiga IP to come out with a revolutionary new computer, unlike anything out today. Because that's what we got in 1985. However, I think there's a world of difference between saying that, and saying "Also - it has to have some outdated, crappy, CPU that nobody uses any more". You'd put an ix86-64 in a modern Amiga for exactly the same reason as they put a 68000 in the original Amiga 1000 - it's a powerful, commodity, CPU, the best CPU you can get for the price.

I'd be enormously surprised if the first and third poster didn't agree with that.

Re:Good luck. (1)

toejam13 (958243) | more than 2 years ago | (#40371025)

Define "custom hardware". Not even the game consoles really use specialty custom hardware anymore, and they were the last class of home systems to really do so. Now they just use tweaked versions of commodity hardware. These days, you have to look at big iron and mainframe systems to really find custom in-house designed hardware.

I'm not saying that it couldn't be done, but it really wouldn't be worth the cost. Heck, look at AMD who just licensed an ARM core so that they can get the Trusted Computing subsystem into their x86-64 processors. It was simply cheaper to license something else.

Re:Good luck. (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 2 years ago | (#40371155)

I completely agree with you. I was just saying that "custom hardware" is what the posters quoted were advocating, not "I HATE IX86!!?!"

Re:Good luck. (1)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 2 years ago | (#40371217)

You mean other than the 3rd quote explicitly stating AmingaOS4 has no reason to go on commodity hardware and the first one saying there are no benefits to x86/x64? You seem to be trying to reinterpret their clear statements to try to claim they are saying the opposite of heir own words.

Re:Good luck. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40371315)

You seem to be trying to reinterpret their clear statements to try to claim they are saying the opposite of heir own words

Or perhaps you're a dumbass who doesn't understand English.

Re:Good luck. (2)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 2 years ago | (#40372807)

Those quote are hilarious...

BeOs didn't succeed with x86. Some developers said that those who has originally used BeOs started to use window/Linux and stopped to support original BeOs apps because everythig was easier with Windows/Linux.

Nor did it succeed on PPC.

No valid reason for OS4 to go to commodity hardware. The market isn't there - niche OS's are free/open source on commodity hardware, Hyperion would have no business model.

There is no market for a niche OS targeting hobbyists. Niche OS are free or open source and run on widely available hardware because that's the only way any of them has a hope of attracting a user base. Lots of people have old/spare hardware they would play with a new OS on, but very few would buy expensive hardware just to try an expensive os.

That's how myself and many others first experienced linux. In fact, my first experience of both linux and netbsd was installing them on an amiga since that's the hardware i had available at the time.

x86 denial (1)

pointyhat (2649443) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370073)

Well in 20 years, we'll have x86 denial syndrome instead (of Amiga Denial Syndrome that is).

Re:x86 denial (2)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370123)

Well in 20 years, we'll have x86 denial syndrome instead (of Amiga Denial Syndrome that is).

I deny that

Re:x86 denial (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40371349)

No, you don't

68k games (3, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370143)

Can I seamlessly run Amiga games written for the 68000 on it? This would require emulation, but it's been done before.

Re:68k games (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#40371633)

The biggest problem with games is the copper. Emulators tend to be "best effort", which is often faster than you need, but not locked to cycles. This might work fine for the blitter running as a separate emulation process, but the copper wears a different fur. A "standard" emulator won't do it - you need a special m68k+copper emulator. that can do things in step no matter what the execution speed is.

This is likely a good part of the reason why some games and demos just won't work with UAE and other efforts.

Re:68k games (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40372327)

Take it from someone who used to program Copper every day in the early 90's: It's not exactly a miraculous superchip that is hard to emulate. Games are usually pretty easy, the Amiga demos are harder to emulate 100% thanks to various copper effects.

Sure, Amiga architecture was way different from PC, but these days PCs are so powerful they can emulate 68000+Blitter+Copper easily. I'm pretty sure UAE has this covered pretty damn well by now.

Why not use a Linux distribution? (3, Interesting)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370225)

I wonder why they wouldn't use a Linux distribution for this project.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but what I recall from the Amiga back then (a friend had one), and what I have seen here so far, this "Amiga Experience" is all about the GUI, not so much about the underlying tech. Which is no matter what totally different than on the original Amiga for the simple fact that we have so different hardware nowadays. Hard drives, more memory, USB, optical drives, WiFi, you name it. It wasn't there back then, and is standard now.

Already there are themes to make Gnome or KDE look and behave exactly like OS-X, or Mac Classic, or Windows XP or whatever. They can be themed so thoroughly, using different window managers probably even more possibilities, that I'd say this is the way to go.

Take a Linux distro, e.g. Ubuntu, as base, and build your own customisation on it. There are plenty of derivative distros that do it just like that. Ubuntu being a derivative itself. And presto you have the Amiga Experience, with all it's quirks, with all the underlying goodness of modern hardware support etc.

Or am I really missing something here?

Re:Why not use a Linux distribution? (2, Insightful)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370289)

Because they don't want to use Linux? And, yes, it is also about the kernel, filesystem, etc. according to the Amiga snobs.

Re:Why not use a Linux distribution? (3, Informative)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370293)

Well, according to the cult of the Amiga, you can't replicate the fluidity and responsiveness of Amiga with Linux. Amiga was about the hardware and software. The hardware was quirky, cool, and cutting edge. To use an Amiga in its day was like a trip to the future. Plus it didn't have any memory protection, so a single goof in a program would kill the entire system sadly you can't do that with just a gui in linux. At least not without creating your gui in the kernel.

Re:Why not use a Linux distribution? (5, Informative)

idontgno (624372) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370495)

Yeah. What we need is a Linux kernel module that traps userland segmentation faults and throws a kernel panic. XD

I love all my Amigas; I fought on the epic frontlines of the Amiga versus Atari BBS flamewars before most of you were an ache in your daddys' groins. I carried the Boing Ball flag into harm's way too many times to count. But the true Amiga experience, as depicted by connoisseurs, requires abandonment of such niceties as memory protection and process isolation.

The hardcore nostalgics forget that the Amiga didn't have memory protection first because the hardware wasn't routinely available, and more importantly because the seamless memory map allowed all of RAM to be a huge playground for the CPU and custom co-processors to accomplish amazing things at less than 8 Mhz. Also, the kernel was blazing fast because there was no meaningful context transition from userland to kernel; everything was memory-pointer based, and all memory was directly mapped and non-virtual.

Therefore, it was also fragile. But that was an acceptable cost for blazing speed and jaw-dropping media performance at a time that MS-DOS machines were single-tasking, playing beeps and boops through a 2" speaker in the system case. and displaying EGA-level graphics.

So, let's not wax too nostalgic. True nostalgists wouldn't want this any more than an intelligent car collector will settle for a kit car body, even if it's on a more powerful and capable chassis than the original 1950s Ferrari (for instance).

Amiga enthusiasts who are curious or interested in one evolutionary path of the old OS might want to see this.

Other than that, I can't imagine this being a very popular product.

Re:Why not use a Linux distribution? (1)

KingMotley (944240) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370857)

I fought on the epic frontlines of the Amiga versus Atari BBS flamewars before most of you were an ache in your daddys' groins.

Most perhaps, but not all. Some of us here on slashdot actually wrote the BBS software that the flamewars went on.

Re:Why not use a Linux distribution? (2)

eternaldoctorwho (2563923) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370985)

I love all my Amigas

I'd imagine your Amigos are jealous.

Re:Why not use a Linux distribution? (1)

uradu (10768) | more than 2 years ago | (#40371071)

Well said! I was with you in those trenches of Amiga fanboihood in the late 80s, preaching Amiga religion to anybody who would listen and hating on those who wouldn't. Let's face it, it was the only "modern" consumer OS at the time, with proper preemptive multitasking and coprocessing subsystems and a proper driver system for external hardware and message queues. Plus it had a very powerful UNIX style CLI with advanced scripting beyond anything outside of UNIX, a power user's wet dream. And you could open as many shells as you wanted and run simultaneous scripts. So yeah, it didn't have memory protection, but hey :) Oh, and until AmigaOS 2.0 with its Motif look the GUI looked like total shite, like something a bunch of Crayola wielding preschoolers came up with. I still loved that A500 with all my heart though, wouldn't have switched to a PC for anything. I still had the ROM Kernel Manuals sitting around until recently, pounds and pounds of them. Ah, the memories...

Re:Why not use a Linux distribution? (1)

Lussarn (105276) | more than 2 years ago | (#40372377)

Couldn't agree more with what you said. The Amiga was a breeding ground for technologies and programmers. For its day it had it all. Altough I was more of a "Hardware reference" guy, I still remember my first copperbars, spinning cube or a screen full of bobs in glorious 50fps like it was yesterday. But it was a short trip, the OS or hardware never evolved much inside Commodore. A lot of what made it great was third party. And when Commodore went bust the tech was already outdated, and really no way to fix things without starting over, something that never was going to happen. The speed and UI of the Amiga much came from the fact that it was a hack, a very polished prototype for things to come. Great memories indeed, and that's where I like to keep it.

Re:Why not use a Linux distribution? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40373025)

Atari rules commie dork drools!

Re:Why not use a Linux distribution? (2)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370331)

Also, if you had finished the whole summary you'd notice how they want API compatibility with AmigaOS which you don't get from Linux or by changing the GUI.

Re:Why not use a Linux distribution? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370613)

Ironically, Linux is the perfect example of "API compatibility". It shares that with Unix. You could even make libamiga not dependent with x86 so it would run on things like Sparc, and PPC, and Raspberry PI.

Re:Why not use a Linux distribution? (1)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 2 years ago | (#40371233)

Linux is the perfect example of API compatibility with AmigaOS? Huh?

Re:Why not use a Linux distribution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40370655)

But why do you want the amigaos api anyway? The amigaOS API is an old obsolete piece of shit (I know it because I used to develop on it) devoid of anything interesting in this day and age. If you really wanted to you could emulate it as a layer on top of a proper modern OS, if you really really care about running those three or four ancient amiga applications that amiga users still talk about with tears in their voice.

Really this amount of nostalgia induced blindness is pathetic.

Re:Why not use a Linux distribution? (1)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 2 years ago | (#40371267)

They want it most lkely so software developers doesn't need to rewrite any code written against the APIs. It makes it more likely you ony need to recompile not rewrite.

Re:Why not use a Linux distribution? (3, Informative)

Alan Shutko (5101) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370493)

That's exactly what they did. Icarus Desktop is a distribution of AROS, in a prepackaged VM image to make it easy to use. AROS is similar to WINE, in that it can run programs within a hosting OS. It also has native ports, but those progress slowly on the hardware support side.

Re:Why not use a Linux distribution? (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370497)

Because it's an operating system?

Amiga was about the tech (to some) (3, Interesting)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 2 years ago | (#40372563)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but what I recall from the Amiga back then (a friend had one), and what I have seen here so far, this "Amiga Experience" is all about the GUI, not so much about the underlying tech.

Everyone had a different idea of what the "Amiga Experience" was, because the machine was so striking in so many different ways.

I don't remember talking to many people who thought Intuition and Workbench (the GUI) were all that special (right-button fixed-position menus, and "screens" being the only "cool" Amiga-exclusive GUI features that I can think of off the top of my head), but OTOH in the mid-1980s there weren't that many GUI competitors, so I guess it's not far-fetched that at least some people thought that was special.

To some people, it was just the games. The Amiga had its day in the sun where it was, for a brief period, the game machine. When that day ended, those people moved on.

To me, it was all about the tech. And even within the tech, there were at least two camps and lots of people with a mix of membership in both. The custom chips were excellent -- by mid/late 1980s standards (by 1996 I had installed a graphics card and by 2000 the case was truly stuffed to the gills with replacements for nearly everything on the mobo, every Z3 slot filled and some cards with other weirdo connectors which connected to other sub-cards!).

Exec was excellent (if you ignored the issue of memory protection) and simple, and I still sometimes wish on Linux I could "nice" processes with absolute priorities. (But it doesn't matter as much, these days.)

Even AmigaDOS (!) (when's the last time you heard that part of the system praised?) had some very nice things about it, or easily added onto it. Linux finally got equivalent ramdisk tech with 2.4 but I still don't see a pipe device as awesome and convenient as APIPE. ;-) Linux finally got diverse filesystems (on of my favorite things about it) and has pulled ahead by a huge margin (I'll admit that; Linux is now the world leader in this regard) but Amiga people were plugging in, and playing with, and benchmarking different ones, years before anyone ever heard of Hans Reiser. When x86 people were working around fdisk partitioning, Amiga people had RDB -- equivalent tech is just now hitting becoming widely deployed with GPT. Some of its features seem very dubious by today's standards (I can't explain to anyone in 2012 why they would want "assigns" and not sound like a moron) but compared to AmigaDOS' comtemporaries .. oh, those people knew why someone would want a feature like that, and envied the Amiga even if they had to do it in secret.

The Amiga was plenty loved for its tech. Maybe by different people for different reasons, but the techlove was there, and I think critical to Amiga lingering after Commodore's death, for as long as it did.

One thing, though. For all the Amiga tech we don't have today, we still get by. Some of it got improved on (FFS seems so quaint now), some of it got the need for it bypassed by either new paradigms or brute force (you don't need copper lists, or to tell APIPE how much memory to use for its queue, or decent partitioning system when you have LVM), some of it is now seen as a bad idea (e.g. reading the the code which implements a filesystem, from the inserted media), and whatever we all still lack today, is mitigated by the other advantages of being the mainstream (e.g. Core i5 for $200 instead of a Cyberstorm 060 for $1000). The tech was damn fine, but it's still 1980s tech that we're talking about. It still impressed in the 1990s, but mainly because the 1990s were a semi-dark age.

FFS let the Amiga rest in please (4, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370315)

It was a superb machine (arguably the best personal computer) in the 80s and early 90s, but its now 2012 and things have moved on. Why are people still intent on trying to resurrect it like some festering computer zombie? Its making a mockery of the Amiga name and of the time and effort the original designers put into its HARDWARE - because it was the hardware rather than the OS which really made it what it was.

Re:FFS let the Amiga rest in please (5, Interesting)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370403)

No, it was the OS. The OS was fantastic. I'd have been much more comfortable jumping to ix86 back in the mid 1990s if AmigaOS had been available then.

The hardware was fantastic in 1985. In 1990, it was OK but looking a little odd. By the time AGA finally rolled out, there were serious concerns amongst many in the Amiga community that the Amiga hardware was already way behind the PC and Mac. And, of course, infamously, it was about that time that Carmack made it clear that Doom would never be ported to the Amiga due to hardware concerns, despite it running on the lowest end PCs of that era.

Re:FFS let the Amiga rest in please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40370527)

"despite it running on the lowest end PCs of that era". You make it sounds like it was an arbitrary decision. The Amiga didn't have enough power for drawing images that needed per-pixel calculations. The planar screen format is the big performance killer here, it made per-pixel operations very expensive due to all the bit fiddling required. The miggy's graphical strength was in pushing sprites with its blitter chip.

Re:FFS let the Amiga rest in please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40370623)

You make it sounds like it was an arbitrary decision.

No, you made it sound like I was suggesting it was an arbitrary decision. Try reading the whole of a comment rather than a sentence fragment next time.

Re:FFS let the Amiga rest in please (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 2 years ago | (#40371299)

Doom used planar display mode on x86, so it was NOT a problem. In fact, it allowed several important optimizations.

The first Doom-based game to use true 'flat' 13h mode was Hexen.

Re:FFS let the Amiga rest in please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40371715)

Doom was always chunky mode. The optimizations it has are actually based on the fact it's chunky - using columns of pixels, for example.

Hexen used the Doom engine. If Hexen's version of the Doom engine was planar, and the Hexen version wasn't, then they wouldn't be same friggin' engine!

Re:FFS let the Amiga rest in please (2)

BitwizeGHC (145393) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370599)

No, it was the OS. The OS was fantastic. I'd have been much more comfortable jumping to ix86 back in the mid 1990s if AmigaOS had been available then.

IBM peeled off some Amiga developers to work on the Workplace Shell for OS/2 2.x and later. That OS also had some enthusiasts (and still has a few).

Re:FFS let the Amiga rest in please (1)

KermodeBear (738243) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370693)

Not being familiar with the Amiga OS at all, could you explain what made it so good? Is there anything about it that is better than what we have today?

Re:FFS let the Amiga rest in please (2)

pipatron (966506) | more than 2 years ago | (#40371027)

I use Amiga OS almost every day. Technically, Linux have almost every capability that Amiga OS have.

I write "almost" because the Amiga OS is more or less a true "microkernel", so you could replace most everything in the system live. Normally you don't do this though, and it's pretty insignificant.

What it excelled at during the days was that it had true multitasking with a fast message passing functionality, and it took something like 5-10 years until other desktop operating systems had that (windows, macos, atari etc). In combination with hardware that could have different resolution and colours on different parts of the screen it meant that you could easily work with multiple programs at once without anything being sluggish.

All of this is easily done today, and I don't see the point of running Amiga OS on an x86 except for the "because I can"-reason. I use my Amiga because it has cool hardware and I like to code for it.

Re:FFS let the Amiga rest in please (2)

uhuru_meditation (2573595) | more than 2 years ago | (#40371059)

Apart from multitasking, lots of colors, very small kernel and speed, hundreds of smart and cool features, graphical beatifications, smarmy and small programs - it was always safe to turn off or turn on computer by - pressing on/off button - without waiting for the shutdown crap. It booted in few seconds - well below 10. It had 4 channel stereo sound. There was an ecosystem of add-on cards, pushing it way beyond anything out there. Apart from all that - in the very early 90's the only animated thing on a PC was green blinking cursor, while Amiga run video productions and myriad of graphical editing and manipulation imaging programs. Do I have to mention games? TV connectivity, composite video, RGB video and various simultaneous display and video overlay possibilities. All that at max speeds of 50 MHz - mind you. So ..not really better, but different.

Re:FFS let the Amiga rest in please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40372959)

Back in the early 90s PCs were already running windows 3.0, or OS/2, there was NT by 93, and by the mid 90s there were tons of free *nix clones running graphical interfaces on said PCs.

One thing that has never ceased to amuse me is the capacity for self-delusion of the Amiga community.

Re:FFS let the Amiga rest in please (3, Informative)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 2 years ago | (#40371091)

Over time, there probably isn't a lot that's better than what we have today, beyond efficiency and a look and feel that I just felt comfortable with - which itself is somewhat subjective... hey, take a look here: http://home.datacomm.ch/mrupp/TAWS/WB.html [datacomm.ch]

At the time however, these were considered radical:

- Pre-emptive multitasking
- A shell that was half way between Command.com and Bourne. Had some very nice user friendly aspects, such as named parameters and a shared command line parsing system.
- The file system supported mixed case, long, filenames.
- An automatically-managed multiple desktop system. Larger apps would have their own desktops. Each could be a different screen mode if necessary (important in the days when there was a resolution/colour tradeoff)

Everything was patchable and extendable. Utilities were encouraged to intercept standard library calls for all kinda of stuff. The file system had some extremely nice features such as an assignments system that allowed you to assign symbolic names to directories - you didn't have drive letters or a single file system, but something more partitionable. From Workbench 2.0 onwards it had an extremely pleasant look and feel (older versions, not so much.)

It's hard really to describe how radical and better it was at the time to anything else mainstream. Unfortunately, it became obsolete the moment MMU support (and other security features) became important, which is to say, as soon as the Internet proper came on the scene.

Re:FFS let the Amiga rest in please (1)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 2 years ago | (#40371157)

Not being familiar with the Amiga OS at all, could you explain what made it so good?

It had extremely efficient and lightweight pre-emptive multitasking, such that multiple programs could run simultaneously and respond to the user very quickly even on very modest hardware (e.g. 7MHz 68000 CPU, 512KB RAM).

The downside of that was that there was no memory protection -- all programs ran in the same memory space. While that made efficient data sharing trivial (any program could just get a pointer to any system data it needed to access, and read it), it also made things very insecure -- one buggy program could (and often did) crash the entire OS.

Is there anything about it that is better than what we have today?

For today's users, no. Given today's vastly more powerful hardware, modern OS's do a better job of meeting the user's needs, especially in the aspects of stability and security. (OTOH if you for some reason needed an embedded OS to run a snappy GUI on a very lightweight CPU, AmigaOS wouldn't be a bad way to go, if it had the appropriate hardware support)

Re:FFS let the Amiga rest in please (2)

Nutria (679911) | more than 2 years ago | (#40372041)

The downside of that was that there was no memory protection

Replacing a non-protected OS with a protected version while retaining app compatibility is impossible. That's why Apple had to ditch the original Mac code base and replace it with OSX.

Re:FFS let the Amiga rest in please (2)

toejam13 (958243) | more than 2 years ago | (#40371367)

At the time, the Amiga had a very good blend of processor, graphics and audio performance tied together with a multitasking OS (rare at the time) for a reasonable price. But the OS was admired because it had a very small footprint and was very fast. It was also easy to use.

The only major benefit you'd get out of it today is that it is incredibly lightweight. But that is because it uses a very simple memory management subsystem. There are a lot of benefits of using a more complex memory subsystem, which is why the one used by the Amiga has been abandoned outside of all but the most basic embedded systems.

One feature that would have been nice to bring to a modern OS was the datatype system. It was essentially a universal codec subsystem that could handle not only the different encoding systems (codecs), but the containers as well. And it wasn't limited to video - it could also handle audio, text and images. The closest thing Windows has today is the ffdshow codec package for the DirectShow subsystem.

Re:FFS let the Amiga rest in please (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40371735)

>>>Not being familiar with the Amiga OS at all, could you explain what made it so good? Is there anything about it that is better than what we have today?

It had the same power as Windows98 or MacOs 10.0, but back in 1985. It had preemptive tasking, near-photographic level images/videos, and near-CD quality sound. So in other words in 1985 it was over a decade ahead in technology (and now it's about a decade behind). There's really no reason to use AmigaOS today, except to experiment with a different system..... same reason I downloaded Puppy Linux. Just for fun.

Re:FFS let the Amiga rest in please (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 2 years ago | (#40372061)

BTW, quote from Dave Haynie [archive.org] (who posts here occasionally. Originally a C64 engineer but moved on to the Amiga group and later chipset design work):

And while ads might have helped, additional interfacing with Marketing might not have done much in those days. Amiga engineers were better in touch with the buyers than Marketing. Because most of us WERE the target market - we were making our own new toy, within the financial limits accorded.

That's what's missing from modern computing.

Ubuntu is about cornering the desktop and tablet market.

Mac OS X / iOS is about "user experience" and purity.

Windows is about controlling the market and adding the features users are demanding.

Android is about keeping mobile devices open.

Who's sitting down any more and saying "The computer we're going to build is the one I want to use"?

Re:FFS let the Amiga rest in please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40372711)

Others have covered a lot of the general stuff (though I didn't see anyone mention the split-screen ability, which I used a lot), but here's one specific feature I miss: Assigns. We can do half-assed substitutes with symlinks and the like, but actual assigns were awesome. Say you had three different directories where you had fonts.

>DIR SYSFONTS
  one.font
>DIR LOCALFONTS
  two.font
>DIR DOWNLOAD/FONTS
  three.font

You could create an assign named FONTS: like so:
>ASSIGN FONTS: SYSFONTS DOWNLOAD/FONTS LOCALFONTS
>DIR FONTS:
    one.font two.font three.font

and then
>COPY four.font FONTS:
>DIR FONTS:
    one.font two.font three.font four.font
>DIR LOCALFONTS
  two.font four.font

  This happened because it would do the write operation to whatever the last directory in the assign list was, and assigns could be added or changed on the fly. No mucking about with multiple layers of symlinks and such nonsense. It was really handy, and widely used through the system for abstracting various important system directories.

Re:FFS let the Amiga rest in please (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370717)

it was about that time that Carmack made it clear that Doom would never be ported to the Amiga due to hardware concerns

Apparently, Carmack was wrong. It won't run on an Amiga 500, but the A500 was 6 years old at that point. The Amiga 1200 was current at the time Doom was released. And you can obviously run Doom on it now.

What Carmack really meant was that it wasn't worth the effort to port Doom to the Amiga hardware.

Re:FFS let the Amiga rest in please (2)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370879)

Well, kinda. The Amiga 500 was 6 years old, but the 500 and 600 were the most popular brands of Amiga ever made and there were tens of millions of them. The 1200 was sold towards the end of Commodore's life and didn't sell at anything like the same rate.

Could the 1200 run Doom? Well, yeah, just about, but that wasn't what Carmack was getting at. He was looking forward, saying "Look, mainstream Amigas have this bitplane architecture. It's nice, and flexible, but when it comes to 3D games, it's just never going to pan out. Sorry." Unbelievable levels of assembly-level optimization would be needed to get Doom to work at an acceptable framerate on a 1200, and as for a popular model of Amiga, forget it. What would that say about Carmack's next big project?

Commodore knew it was a problem at the time too, and the CD32 actually had a bizarre hardware hack thing in it that would copy data in a chunky forward optimally to a planer format so the CPU didn't have to do that work, but...

The point I'm making is that the Amiga, in the early nineties, just wasn't something you bought for the hardware. It was nice hardware, but you could get better, and what's more, if you knew where the industry was heading (in terms of hardware requirements to support the software that was coming), the Amiga architecture was on its last legs.

Commodore knew that. Actually, they knew that in the late eighties, but various projects to fix it were either cancelled (AAA) or came too late (Hombre - which arguably was an attempt to create a post Amiga system, rather than a next generation Amiga.)

Re:FFS let the Amiga rest in please (1)

anss123 (985305) | more than 2 years ago | (#40371343)

The Amiga 1200 was current at the time Doom was released. And you can obviously run Doom on it now.

Running Doom on a stock Amiga 1200 would be a painful experience. If it's upgraded with a 030 CPU and 4MB memory is another matter, but there wasn't many of those. You could also run Doom on an upgraded Amiga 500, as there were 030 upgrade cards for them too.

But I strongly doubt a stock A1200 would be anything but epically slow on Doom. First you need to run it straight from a floppy drive, as most owners didn't have a hard drive. Then you'd have to squeeze the game into half the memory, and that memory is quite slow as it was used by both the chip-set and the CPU (On the stock Amiga 1200 Commodore had in their infinite wisdom neglected to add fast ram). And even with fast ram the CPU itself is a good bit slower than a 386, which only ran Doom okayish as it was.

License (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40370319)

AROS uses AROS Public License.
It is not a license approved by FSF, OSI or DFSG.

They should pick a *real* free open source software license.

Still inspires? It doesn't. (3, Informative)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370411)

>> why Amiga continues to inspire people today

Um...not really. I owned two Amiga machines and worked on two different Video Toaster rigs. Fun at the time, but I'm very, very happy that the Amiga's best features (graphics, sound and text-to-speech) went mainstream. I haven't plugged in any of my old systems in more than five years.

Let it rest - RIP.

Re:Still inspires? It doesn't. (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#40372323)

I think the weight of "people are inventing entire operating systems built in the manner of AmigaOS" outweighs your "I never turn on my video toasters any more."

Why the animosity? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40370471)

Why the animosity to Amiga enthusiasts? Im willing to bet that a significant portion of Linux users on Slashdot were once Amiga users and for various reasons moved on - maybe like myself - a reluctant windows user in the late 90's before discovering Linux and dumping windows for good eventually! Initially Linux - for me reminded in many ways of Amiga OS which is why it was so easy for me to fall in love with it.

Although Linux will for the moment remain my primary OS I've been keeping an eye on AROS. Over the years and as of late the system is becoming really polished with different distro's including one for 68k that can be run on classic hardware - as well as a port currently underway for the Raspberry PI. So you will see that this is not just about running AmigaOS on x86 but creating an OS that eventually will run across different processor architectures. There is also a very interesting Aros / Linux hybrid which opens up the world of linux applications to use inside AROS ... Aeros / Broadway X [aros-broadway.de] .

How quickly we forget that Linus Torvalds was scratching an itch to build a minix clone for x86 which has led to the incredibly widespread and varied use we see today. So to AROS which started albiet more recently than Torvalds effort which has similar but humble beginnings.

AROS and the work that has been done are enabling things like replacement , royalty free Kickstart's that can be used with emulation software - free of the chains of licensing. Its open source nature will ensure that the operating system can be free and modified by all.

I for one applaud the efforts that have gone into the project particularly since they have so few active developers. (Anyone interested should probably dig in)

Re:Why the animosity? (2)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370635)

> Why the animosity to Amiga enthusiasts?

There's plenty of people here that will screech and point at anyone they think isn't part of the herd.

I suspect that's not the old 68K users acting like pod people here.

Re:Why the animosity? (-1, Flamebait)

MORB (793798) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370741)

I used to use amigas since 1989, and develop on them (I even released a few things on aminet and participated in community events and such), and to my great shame it took me until 2001 to come to my sense and realize that amiga and its community are a pointless waste of time.

People who still haven't realized that in the year of our lord 2012? They are fucking morons, and deserve all the mockery they receive.

Why the inspiration? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40370667)

Why the animosity to Amiga enthusiasts?

Why indeed? BTW the article never really answered is own question, "why does it [Amiga] continue to inspire people"? Nostalgia only goes so far. I've picked up AmigaForever to play with, but that "solution" obviously doesn't answer the question because "alternatives" like the article mention's are still being created.

Re:Why the animosity? (4, Interesting)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 2 years ago | (#40371471)

Because back in the early nineties, we were obnoxious.

I'm not kidding. We'd bring in the Amiga into every discussion. How it was the best computer in the world. How you suck for having a PC or Mac. How Bill Gates sucks because he won't support our wonderful computer system.

We were basically the early nineties equivalent of Apple fanbois. Except worse, if you can imagine such a thing.

And I suspect there are a few Team Amigans out there who are still like that. The rest of us are old farts who post to threads like this and reminise, which makes us easy pickings both for trolls, and people who just didn't like us back in 1992.

That's not all of it of course. There's also always the MBA-who-thinks-he's-a-geek type who, on hearing someone has created a 6502 entirely out of discrete soldered together transistors, or out of Lego, posts here demanding to know WHY ANYONE WOULD MAKE A 6502 in 2012?!! And they're posting here thinking "Amiga?! But why would we want anything other than {"Linux"/Windows 8/Mac OS X}"

That's why. My advice. Ignore it. Enjoy the fact geeks are doing geeky things. And try the OS if you have a chance, you might find a use for it, and you'll certainly learn something from it.

Why the history? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40371745)

Because back in the early nineties, we were obnoxious.
I'm not kidding. We'd bring in the Amiga into every discussion. How it was the best computer in the world. How you suck for having a PC or Mac. How Bill Gates sucks because he won't support our wonderful computer system.
We were basically the early nineties equivalent of Apple fanbois. Except worse, if you can imagine such a thing.

OS/2 fans have you beat there. And of course, much like Amiga, OS/2 still lives.

Re:Why the animosity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40371475)

People hate hipsters. Amiga enthusiasts are considered hipsters and even worse... geeks.

Re:Why the animosity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40372379)

No, you can't be a hipster if the entire world looks at you with pity for your nostalgia. Only children and amnesiacs know little enough to assume otherwise. As a general rule, Commodore and Amiga fans are much too dedicated to their platforms to qualify, anyway.

ex-Amiga fan (1)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370535)

I used to be a die hard Amiga fan and I still dip into the scene every now and again to see what's going on.

They seem to have a fairly decent browser in the form of a Firefox port called Timberwolf, but it's quite sad to see the amount of effort they have to through just to watch a video on YouTube.

Likewise, USB support is still quite lacking (I'm not even sure they have USB2 support yet), and most of the software is just ports of Linux software (Blender etc.)

It's interesting to see what's going on, but it'll only ever be a hobby. Some of them still seem to think the Amiga will take over the world one day.

Re:ex-Amiga fan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40370677)

Once timberwolf is done it will be no problems watching youtube using html5. So luckily that issue is soon gone.
And I think OS4.1 got usb2 in one of the latest updates.

Re:ex-Amiga fan (2)

LoadWB (592248) | more than 2 years ago | (#40372289)

I'm running USB2 in my 4000D with OS3.9. With this, I have a multi-card reader, 10/100 Ethernet adapter, and wireless keyboard and mouse. It can also handle USB wireless adapters and I connect USB flash drives and hard drives frequently. Not bad for a dead system. And, yes, it's a hobby and it's fun. I can't explain it any more than anyone can explain why it's fun to tinker with old cars, planes, stamps, etc.

heY1 i aM lIGHT AND bREEZY AND i kNOW jUST . . . (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40370555)

. . . WHAT TO DO1

Icarus flew too close to the sun and he came falling down, which is why God gives us wax build up in our ears, so we don't try to get there. The only true way to God is by nailing lifts on the feet of pygmies. I know it's true. I read it on slashdot just now.

AROS on Raspberry Pi (2)

snowball21 (2186378) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370583)

Pascal Papara's Broadway AROS project [aros-broadway.de] has been brought to the Raspberry Pi by Stephen Jones [facebook.com] . There's also an ARM6 hosted version of the AROS project available [sourceforge.net] .

Re:AROS on Raspberry Pi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40370823)

Thanks for the post, you saved me the trouble after reading the article over at their website this morning.

Woohoo! (1)

Pf0tzenpfritz (1402005) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370803)

Another undead "Amiga". Hooray...

I seem to recall the last time (3, Funny)

IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370913)

something was named Icarus, it went down in flames.

Other techie nostalgia ideas with similar value (0)

SgtDink (1930798) | more than 2 years ago | (#40370955)

A) Retrofit my car to eat oats and shit it onto the street. B) Write Lil Wayne to 8-track tape. C) Add sail to X-37B. D) Make a vacuum tube amplifier for the "perfect sound" E) Reverse genetic engineer the placenta into a Homunculus genesis organ

AmigaOS 4.1 (1)

tracius01 (2541214) | more than 2 years ago | (#40371405)

you all know that if you buy a modern MB with a PowerPC in it you can run the true AmigaOS http://www.amigaos.net/ [amigaos.net]

YES! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40372241)

Because UI design from 30 years ago is SO AWESOME and INTUITIVE!

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