Thursday, 16 April 2020

The OS4 Pre-release Preview Part 5: Bang! When it's done.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for historical purposes only. The details herein would be considered obsolete and were correct at time of writing. It is here to provide a timeline of past OS4 features as well as complete the series.

 The OS4 evolution
Well we're finally here, the last part to my OS4 review, never thought we'd make it, huh? Sometimes, I never did, I write more things than I would ever say. :-) Despite the long progression of my review, progressing as much as OS4 has, I must say I don't think it could have come at a better time. You see, AmigaOS4 has just received another update, said possibly to be the last before the final 4.0+ version comes out, and it could be considered in only a 10MB download to be a major revision at that. That's because of a few more OS modules being released, that could change your life, well, could; which I will go into detail here and explain what it means.

There is a new updated kernel, which improves compatibility across different PPC CPU types, includes other improvements and fixes some bugs in the 68k emulator. Namely FPU instructions, meaning more 68k software will run more fluently and won't crash like it used to if that happened.

New IDE device drivers are included, both for the internal hardware and Silicon Images PCI cards, now supporting full UDMA hardware transfers on those machines capable of using it. As well as standard parallel IDE the later brand is also supported with not one but three Serial ATA cards!

A new Picasso96, graphics library and monitor drivers are included. Vertical blanking interrupts and YUV Overlay support in the 3DFX Voodoo driver amongst the improvements, should help graphic operations become more smooth.

A new version of Warp3D has made it. With hardware multi-texture support for Voodoo 2-5 and Radeon 7000 to 7500, later Radeon (like mine) support is in progress.

A major addition: WarpUP! Although OS4 is an Amiga PowePC OS, that didn't mean it could just run classic PowerPC software right away. In fact it had better support for 68k programs, and could only run OS4 native PowerPC binaries. Now this expands the software base of OS4 compatible apps, able to run at last WarpUP PPC software like OS3.9 could, and about time too.

A new shell and command set has made it, along with more documentation. I am yet to check this out fully even myself.

A new Intuition and Reaction GUI with improvements, including Preferences, Datatypes and Locale.

The Roadshow TCP/IP stack has seen an update along with a new onboard Ethernet driver.

Lastly, not mentioning any other hidden improvements and fixes, is a new version of the included Sirion USB stack. Including a usbprinter.device, allowing you to use a USB printer, subject to drivers of course. But all in all, excellent! That's what I call progress, for the new Amiga platform. 

The final say
Yes I have the final say on OS4 at the moment, then you can read all of the special features I have prepared at the end, I hope you can enjoy the big finish I have left for you in this journey to the end. Before I do, here is just another update to what else is new in AmigaOS, and my thoughts on it as well.

Prefs has a new addition giving a GUI to the firmware. Named UBoot, this preferences editor covers all non-volatile RAM settings stored for the boot up process. A lot friendlier than working with a BIOS, which were not used too much usually, and makes things a lot easier when settings need to be changed. Almost a bizarre one is a RANDOM DOS Driver hidden in Storage. Reading anything off it will give back an endless stream of random data, usable perhaps for certain scripts and programs, and a strange addition indeed. Unarc has seen a major speed boost, now compiled native, this certainly is a welcome addition. And now archives can be extracted without dragging along like they used to, if you noticed them taking too long, even the biggest ones I threw at it took only seconds to unravel the contents. The last thing to be updated, would be the documentation, as there still is a lot to go but this is being built up bit by bit. Even so, it still contains almost one meg of reading material, made up of over 120 files. So this is definitely not lacking in that regard.

So finally what do I have to say about the Amiga OS4 Pre-release? First I'm happy something was finally done with AmigaOS and the Amiga platform after all. Sure, the official end result isn't what all Amiga aficionados wanted including even me, but in the end someone got out there and put in the hard yards, and brought us something at last. And isn't it that which matters? For that I'm thankful, and decided to make the commitment to the AmigaOne and OS4 platform. Of course being on the AmigaOS4 and AmigaOne lists does make it easier too when I have a problem or are wondering about something. This is especially so now as not only are there a few beta testers happy to offer a hand and collect bug reports, the two big brothers (solidarity brothers!), Thomas and Hans-Joerg have just joined the list and I haven't wasted the opportunity asking them all sorts of technical questions. Even with their limited time being the two head honchos of the AmigaOS4 team, they are happy to help the end users, after all if they were not keen users of OS4 themselves they would not be here. OS4 wouldn't either. I am sad that none of the actual Amiga hardware will be rejuvenated and brought to life once again, but that is the cost of leaving it too long, and currently the AmigaOne was the best choice to run the OS on. And, slowly but surely, it will make use of more and more PC cards. And being able to use more off-shelf components will definitely help, both the OS and the hardware. In any case, it is finally good to show off a new Amiga item in years, how long have we been waiting for that? Sure, the AmigaOne will take the place of my Amiga A1200, but it won't "replace" it, as you can't just beat the original. This is made true at the meetings, since the classics gets lots of attention, and lately it seems even more so. People more interested in old Amiga's than new Amiga developments? Good on you guys, keep it up, for I share that myself as well. That's why my Amiga user group has such a diverse and wide range of Amiga fans, and another reason why I am happy to still be able to go to an Amiga user group, because it proves Amigans are still alive and active in the scene.


Two men enter, one man leaves
Similar to the situation the warriors went through in the fighting arena in that film, Mad Max III: Beyond Thunderdome, when there are two existing technologies competing one is bound to win out in the end. And the other is, sometimes sadly, to be left behind, perhaps dead and buried. I have two such scenarios here, AmigaOS and the AmigaOne. Both have their warriors, and the results of each battle are shown, those left behind as the losers appear on the left. And those who rise up to be the winners appear on the right. Take your seats, place your bets, and cheer on for your favourite warriors. This is to be a fight to the death, with no other correspondence entered into, for two men will enter, but only one man will leave alive. Without further ado, let's enter the arena, it's time to get it on!

AmigaOS: The software battles

32-bit 4G HD limit
2048G's max HDs!
ROM based Kickstart
Disk based Kickstart
Exec 3.1 68k
ExecSG 4.0 PPC
Single shared memory space
Virtual split memory space  
68k Hunks
PPC Elfs
Native Graphics
Picasso96 RTG
2D Graphics
Draggable screens
Off screen dragable windows
Window outline dragging
Solid window dragging
Right mouse menus
Context menus
Outline fonts
Anti-aliased outline fonts
30 char filename limit
107 char filenames 
3rd party disk doctoring
OS4 Partition Wizard
Media Toolbox
Blacked Blanker screen
Blacked Blanker DPMS
Guru Meditation
Grim Reaper
AmigaOS 3.9
AmigaOS 4.0!

AmigaOne: The hardware battles

Kickstart ROMs
U-Boot firmware
Atari joystick ports
PS/2 ports
Zorro  :-)
PCI  :-(  
Chip RAM
Video RAM
Onboard Ethernet 
USB keys
Classic Amiga cases
Customised tower cases 
Amiga Classic

The good, the bad, and the just plain buggy 
The following is a non-exhaustive list of software tested on OS4. We have a good list of well behaved software that presents no known problems and acts as it should. We have a blacklist of bad software that just doesn't play by the rules, either completely disobeys the style guide or just does both and will probably just freeze the whole system from a standing start. Or it might just need a classic system component not existing any more. Then we have the just plain buggy, this software might appear to work fine then when you least expect it, it starts performing a boom crash opera. Sitting between the good and the bad, this stuff can't be trusted. And OS4 already has plenty of work arounds for badly written software, even popular ones that might perform illegal activities, have to be trapped and taken care of for the safety of the system. 

As well as the lists, I also have added few extras, to provide extra information current at the time of testing. These are codes appearing after a name, the legend explained here. P means I have personally tested it, I specifying it won't install normally; a work around must be employed, a ~ tilde for behaviour specifies that is acts good usually then sometimes slip up; these programs are safe to run and the situation can be overcome, and a % for limited functionality. Buggy software will have condition codes. Finally we have any comments that relate to the program.

I’ve divided the lists into good and bad. On top of this I’ve also provided a native list with native OS4 ports of titles. Now, let's get listing.

The good news




AmFTPd, AmigaAMP, AmIRC, 

Ampifier, AmTelnet, ArtEffect

(P, %)
Don't press Hardware!
(P, ~)
JPEG I/O crashes



Class Action

Cygnus Ed

Datastore, Diamond Box 

Diavolo 2000, Digital Universe (Non-FPU)

DirOpus 4 
(P, ~)
Read module can crash
DiskImage, Elastic Dreams, Envoy


FinalCopy II 





But runs slow


(~ )




ImageFX, ImageStudio

(P, I, Non-FPU)
Open wrong size screen


MoneyMatters, NewsCoaster


(P, I, ~, %) 

Can also run slow!
PerfectPaint, Photogenics


PPaint, ProCalc 

SBasePro4, SnoopDOS

(~, %)

(P, %)
But can't debug
ToolsDaemon, TurboBase, TurboText

TVPaint, Typeface



(P, ~)


World Construction Set, XTrace




(P, I)

Beyond Zork


Diamond Caves (P)

Earth2140 (I)

Eat the Whistle, 

Exodus: The Last War, Heretic II 


(P, ~)

Nemac 4 



Puzzle Bobs 


Simon the Sorcerer 

Software Tycoon 

Soliton, Tales From Heaven 

(P, PD)

The Feeble Files


Wipeout 2097 

The bad news


WebDesign, XCad 

Needs split screens
Vista, PCx

Samplitude Opus 

Needs Paula

Needs CIA

Also needs CIA + WarpUP HAL

Needs dongle


Abuse, Bubble Heroes, Colonization, 

Battle Chess, Shogo, Freespace 


The native news


Audio Evolution 


DiskMaster2, Frodo




Blobwars, Crimson Fields

Duke Nukem 3d 

Needs data

Quake II


! Unrelated to Amiga game
Zombie Apocalypse (P)