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[News] SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre)ANN.lu
Posted on 12-Jun-2004 23:23 GMT by SlimJim (Edited on 2004-06-13 12:43:11 GMT by Christian Kemp)56 comments
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A VERY ;-) not-so-short review of my impressions of the Developer's release of the Amiga operating system. (Perhaps) easier-to-read versions are uploaded to amiga.org and amigaworld.net.

SlimJim's Not-so-short First-Impressions Review of AmigaOS4(Pre) June 12 2004

Introduction

A nice padded envelope arrived at my door this friday and from the title of this review I guess you can all imagine what it contained. After more than a decade after Commodore, the Amiga operating system has reached a major stepping stone, hopefully one that will be sturdy enough to bring this scarred and so far ill-fated system to new heights along with its equally dented and diminished (but still fervently loyal) user base.

The "Pre-" (Developer-) version of AmigaOS4 is delivered in a stiff-paper foldable case that looks very nice and professional. No paper manual is included and since this is just a developer's prerelease there's nothing surprising about that. The text on the CD refers to the installation manual on-disk. I guess the crowd that this release aims to cater for are mostly a more-than-average computer-savvy lot. They also tend to have more than one computer (whether it be a classic Amiga or some other architecture). -- and these things do come in handy when getting the system up and running.

Note that in the following (rather lengthy, I'm afraid) review, I will make comments and pose critique (both good and bad) on the system that arrived in my mailbox. I make these comments fully aware of the "in progress" status of the OS. There is no "politics" involved here (although I'm an Amigan by heart and cannot be considered fully "objective" of course). Any critique should be considered a helpful suggestion toward future developments rather than any belittlement of the hard work gone into this long-awaited release. I'm also in no position to compare AOS4 to the status of other offerings in the market. So I won't.

The JIT Petunia emulator for AOS4 is not included in the pre-release. All emulation of 68k code runs interpreted. Also, the Graphics subsystem is not yet fully PPC native. Full specifics can be found at the usual sites.

Unless noted otherwise, when I write "AmigaOS4", I am always really referring to "AmigaOS4(Pre)".

Installation and the woes of hardware

But first things first. I have an AmigaOne-XE G4 which is by now two years old. It has 256MB of memory and a 60GB hard drive. I have run Linux Debian on it previously, but I must admit that Debian PPC wasn't all that impressive, so most of my Linux work has actually be performed on an x86 box the last few years (boo! hiss!). I have a 4-way broadband router and to this I have both the x86 box, the A1 and my trusty A4000/060 connected. My plan was also to move stuff from the A4000 to the A1 over the network later. Between the A1 and the x86 I share a large 21" monitor through a Level1 KVM switch. In the past I could never get the mouse and keyboard to work under UBoot v0.0.1(worked once Linux was loaded though). So I ended up sharing the screen, but using two sets of mice and keyboards when wanting to fiddle with Uboot.

In the machine I have a Radeon7000 and a Soundblaster Live! card. Both are bought specifically to be compatible with AOS4.

The first thing I needed to do was to check the installation manual. I got the web version off my parallel-running x86 Debian installation and tried to follow it to the letter. In order to update the flashrom, a secondary computer (or booting into your LinuxPPC-installation) is actually a requirement, since you have to create a floppy somehow. Linux reads the AOS4 CD without problems and I got the correct image from it. Using the dd program I was then able to create a floppy. Reboot of the A1 and setup of some commands had Uboot 1.0.0 installed within seconds. Whereas easy in principle, this step would likely throw a newbie, but that's the price of using a "pre"-version. Final versions will not need this step (or at least be self-going without having to use a secondary Linux installation). There are instructions for creating a CD-updater too, as well as update through a network connection. I didn't explore any of those options.

After a by-the-book one-time modification of the Uboot parameters the installation CD itself was now supposed to start up. It didn't. In fact it seemed the system didn't recognice the CD-ROM at all, but instead went onward in the boot-list and tugged uselessly at the harddrive (where, understandibly, no AOS bootable disk were yet to be found). Swithing over to the x86-Linux I checked on the Amigworld amigaos4 IRC help-room, where my settings where concluded to be OK. However, the CD-ROM itself is a non-descript old bugger (NEC 282) and that might be the problem. So I grabbed the nifty Benq 48x16x48 drive from my other machine and tried that. To my chagrain it turned out to be even worse: whereas the NEC didn't like to boot from CD, the drive was itself atleast listed by UBoot. The Benq didn't even go that far. Eventually I turned to the CD in my A4000, a 24x standard thing. And, finally, that one worked nicely. I bet you, for you inner eye, can imagine a rather releived SlimJim when Kickstart finally began to boot!

The installation proceeds in roughly two steps: First, the CD-based Amiga workbench loads and you (after choosing language and keyboard settings) partition the harddrive in Media Toolbox. If the gfx-card has a problem, this is where you'll se it I suppose; for me it worked flawlessly in 800x600 during the intallation.

An interesting choice in the keyboard selector is the tickbox for "Amiga keyboard". I know this will please many people. I suspect an adapter is needed though. I have a bog standard Windows PC keyboard and so haven't tested the classic keyboard support. The CD boot into the same view as you get when you boot from the CD later too. This is usable for rescue work.

Well aware of disappointing people wanting to hear of a dual-boot installation, I too decided to have AOS4 as a single entity on my hard drives as done in other earlier reviews. Media Toolbox is very intuituive and is looking a lot better than in earlier screenshots. I created four partitions; Workbench, Work, Data and Net. The 'Net' one is there due to me wisening up after my old Amiga days; the IBrowse cachenow and then caused the partition to be unvalidated. Better keep such things on its own...

You are also expected to leave some allocated memory on the disk for use as virtual memory. All partitions I created had the new FFS filessytem with long filenames. I have never lost data with FFS before and feel pretty secure with it (but I know others swear by e.g. SFS). After this parttioning it's time to reboot.

An annoying thing with this particular reboot is that there is still no AOS4 to find on the primary boot partition, so the Uboot will stop and trudge on the HD (much like it did when my CD-ROM(s) didn't work). It's a small thing to change the boot order temporarily, but the manual doesn't mention it and it should, for no other reason than consistency.

The CD-based Workbench starts up again and you choose languages/keyboard a second time. First the partitions have to be (quick-)formatted. This is the first real "WB operation" one gets to do - clicking on the icons, selecting from a menu - and I have to admit the Amiga-feeling came rushing back with full force at this point. Installation then flows pretty much without interferrence. And then AOS4 is in place! Overall the installation process feels both robust and secure. My hardware issues are wise to keep in mind though, if people stumble into problems and are sure they really have setup UBoot correctly.

Continuing on the hardware business, I'm sad to report that the Level1 KVMswitch doesn't like the A1 Uboot 1.0.0 at all. I have never been able to abort the upstart while lnked through the switch. Further, whereas Linux PPC at least could handle the peripherals once it was loaded, AOS4 doen't. The mouse doesn't work at all under AOS4 with the switch (I didn't try the keyboard since I already knew it didn't work with Uboot and wanted to retain that capability). The Monitor-sharing works nicely though, so in the end I run two sets of keyboards and mice (three sets if counting the A4000), the same as I did before. Without the KVM switch both mouse and keyboard works well. I am however yet to get the mouse wheel to work at all which is a disappointment. Also, using the Windows keys as a stand-in for the Amiga keys are just plain weird! We need replacement caps, and that fast ...

On the other hand my Radeon 7000 works flawlessly! I have a nice range of screenmodes and can finally utilise some proper monitor estate on my 21" monitor. Also, the soundcard works nicely and the configuration is just a simple requester long. Very nice! Of course I did select hardware among the "safe" AOS4 compatibles, but you never know until you really try it.

After the primary installation was complete, the Workbench: directory held about 60MB (I forgot to check it and have added some large wallpaper directories since, but that seems about right). The SDK is not installed at this point. To get at that, you have to put the CD back in the drive ... but we'll get to that at the end of this review.

Internet

My router supports DHCP, so I could just use the Connection Wizard in the Prefs directory to get stuff going. It ran directly, but oddly enough it set a very short "lease time" on the connection with my router, a time that ended just a few minutes later, disconnecting me. Redoing the Wizard setup and restarting the A1 seems to have solved this oddity, and now it works excellently. No need for Miami anymore, although i haven't checked how secure pages work as of yet.

I ran into a problem when trying to boost my program library -- namely the supplied IBrowse2.3. It has a bug (currently being worked on I hope) that simply crashes the program irreperably when you try to open the Settings. Since i run IBrowse2.3 on my Amiga4000 I know this is usually no problem. Thinking it might be a problem with the demo version, I planned to move my keyfile over from my A4000. First I tried to put it on a floppy only to remember that - alas - AOS4 doesn't recognice floppy drives yet (or at least not mine). So I thought I'd do it by ftp over the network. Now it gets interesting -- it also seems that IBrowse can't download anything from Aminet -- you get a "ftp protocol not supported" error. Not until going to some mirrors where you could download stuff over http, things began appearing on my hard drive. Most clients complain about missing libriaries of one sort of the other, however, and I don't feel like "polluting" the system drawers with stuff just to try and see if it works (don't worry, I'll note my findings on the appropriate lists. You need not shout at me). After wading through a host of various programs I eventually got RC-FTPd to work (the server, not the client) under AOS4. Running AmiTradeCenter on the A4000 made it possible to download safely to the A1. I found that using the (new?) ShowNetStatus command helped to get the FTP going. So now I have a full IBrowse2.3 going. It still crashes heavily when opening the Settings though.

I have now tanked over several gigs of old data from my A4000. I'm yet to find any data being lost in the transfer or any file getting corrupted when moving large files/dirs from my upload dir to another partition on the A1 hard drive. The HD transfer rates are OK (certainly compared to my old Amiga) but it can and will be improved in the future (installing the SDK at the same time as copying the large contribution backdrop directories from CD did bring the system to a crawl though).

Operating system, overall impressions and Quirks

The AmigaOS 4 prerelease sports a very robust system. But it is of course sensitive to failing third-party software. For the two days I've run it (almost 24/7) I have not been able to crash it while performing system integrated tasks (i'm thus not counting IBrowse as integrated since it's not installed with the base pack). The main source of crashes have been trying to start various third-party software. In none of those cases have the system just gone flat down -- there is always a requester giving the opportunity to kill the task, Continue or start the debugger, I'm no programmer, but the potential benefit of having this possibility directly integrated must be vast. Choosing the Kill or Continue button has in almost all instances I've tried (mostly related to games and some other minor programs) caused the program window and requester to freeze up completely. I think I only came upon one instance where the workspace was seemingly cleared of the offending program windows. Interestingly enough such "semi craches" very rarely seem to bring down the system as a whole. I.e. you can move the frozen windows to the side and keep working on other stuff -or at least save your work. This still gives me the impression that when it comes to overall stability, AmigaOS4 is already a very mature system.

Overall, the system talks a lot more to you now than it ever did. For example, when a classic program (notably RC-FTPd) pokes around in system resources in a "non standard" (but non-fatal) way, a requester silently informs you of this, listing the function used. The guru requester (I haven't encountered any black-red screen yet, only normal asl ones) all vary in severity, some let you just kill or continue (or look at it with Grim Reaper) whereas others gives an option to reboot. Another feature I don't remember from AOS3.9 is that the system offers to create drawers for you if a program (even a 3rd party one, like IBrowse) wants them but cannot find it at the designated place. Very simple to use!

The Rebooting is also a topic I would like to touch upon. The first cold-boot goes through Uboot to initialize the hardware. There are thus a short countdown and then a black & white progress bar showing kickstart and all the base components being loaded. Then the screen goes black and after a couple of seconds the workbench simply pops into view, ready to use. I haven't timed the cold start. It's not impressively short considering it's an Amiga but after becoming used to Linux, it's still very good. Now, there is a big difference between this initial cold boot and what happens when you warm-reset the system. The warm reset is done using your normal Amiga-Amiga-Ctrl combination (the different placement of the Ctrl-key on a PC keyboard makes this combination feel oddly akward, but perhaps that's just me.) Testing this, I was surprised that the screen didn't go black directly, as on the old machines (or as when pressing Ctrl-alt-backspace under Linux). Instead there is a clearly noticeable delay of several seconds before the screen flutters out into oblivion. I don't know why this is so, but if it is intentional and not some to-be-fixed bug, there should be some visual indication of what's going on. As it is, one keeps pressing the keys over and over, thinking one did it wrong. Once the warm reset is underway the reset time is impressive though -- within one or two seconds the system is up and running fresh again. Nice.

Here I have noticed a clear effect of the warm reset being a software thing. For the first time in my Amiga usage, the warm reset can cease to function properly. The one time I had an actual system freeze (after trying to "Continue" after a Guru when I obviously shouldn't) the warm reset didn't react at all and I had to reach for the reset button on the case (which is equivalent to a cold reset). This is of course a suspected danger when moving the warm reset from the custom hardware of the old Amiga keyboards to software, but still was annoying.

Furthermore, rebooting has hinted to me another difference in the layout of the new Amiga system: In the Uboot settings, I have set the harddrive to have first boot priority. Rebooting with the AOS4 CD in the drive should- and for cold-rebooting it does- *still* cause the system to start from HD, ignoring the CD. But when *warm-resetting*, that CD is recognized and booted from all the same! This gives me the impression that the Amiga OS is *really* "riding on top of" the hardware. It even has it's own boot device sequence. Although I realise warm-resetting an old Amiga also caused it to auto-boot whatever was in the drive, personally I find this boot behaviour annoying and non-intuitive. I always forget to remove the CD when rebooting and is utterly annoyed to have a CD-Workbench started (loading from CD also takes much longer than a normal warm reset).

Speaking of CD:s, there's also some quirkiness going on when inserting a mixed data/audio-CD in the drive (such as Quake). It seems that the first time the CD is inserted, it is treated as an audio-CD (you only see the tracks). You have to remove it and reinsert it to have it appear as a Data-CD. Weird. More serious is however that a CD is not recogniced at all sometimes -- and you have to remove it and reinsert both one and two times to get it to work (and then an additional time to get to the data content). I hope this will be more streamlined in the future -- unless if it is not just yet another example of a CD-ROM of mine acting bizarre ...

... At one instance, involving a swift removal of a CD while in the process of rebooting, I actually ended up at the purple "insert disk" animation! The tick was replaced with a (very ugly) boing ball. An easter egg perhaps?

Looks , Feel and configuration

This is AmigaOS. Have you used it before, you know how it feels already.

AmigaOS4 has the advantage of much more modern hardware than the classic, and thus the Workbench can perform accordingly. One must remember however, that the graphical subsystems are still not native PPC in this release. A complete Workbench overhaul is also something Hyperion has flagged for -- but for a later version of AOS4.

Overall, the graphical system seems more robust than I thought it would be, having heard of its non-PPC status. Windows can have oblique moving and I see no big difference between how it looks in AOS4 from how oblique moving looked under LinuxPPC. It is not entirely smooth, that much is clear however, and large program windows do stutter considerably. Also moving an oblique window over another window causes the background window to flicker rapidly (very rapidly; it's not disturbing, but it's there). On the plus side, requesters and Icon displaying is unnervingly fast; You can still see the order in which they update, but unless for very large directories with hundred of files, I can actually begin using the Workbench windows themselves as listers for starting Multiview, for example. Subtle improvements iinclude a much better-looking display of AmigaGuide documents (with shaded buttons). Text flicker madly when resizing such text windows though.

An important thing for the Amiga experience is the mouse cursor. This moves quickly and fluently and I have not reacted on any sluggish or "jumpy" behaviour, not even under heavy load. It has frozen once -- when the whole system froze -- but not even low memory seems to slow the thing down. This gives a very responsive, Amiga-like feel.

I noticed that there are a whole host of useful commodities in the Tools drawer. After having added ClickToFront, DepthToFront and PowerMenus (gives context sensitive menus) to WBStartup I feel like the Workbench just became much easier to use. FKey has received the nice capability of "Learning" key commands. Being able to close windows with a button is worth gold. In this regard we mustn't forget Amidock -- it allows you to assign hotkeys to all your programs. This is something of a requirement for me and it's very good to see working so nicely.

The use of a default path is working much better now. For example, if the icon of a file specifies an unknown tool, you get the option to choose a new tool (this is good in itself). But in the ASL requester you don't have to go to the directory of e.g. Multiview to select it; just write Multiview in the requester and it will load, regardless of where your directory focus happens to be. I have not seen this feature within a file selector earlier, and it's very useful. With the Pre-release-CD comes , apart from the SDK itself, a host of contribution software. For some reason the Installer nowadays resides in the Utilities drawer(was this always so?) The programs on the CD install OK, but all third-party software I've tried so far wants it to be in C: A simple copy into the default path solves this, but still it might perhaps be considered for the final release. Surely an Installer is so crucial it belongs in C: anyway? I was annoyed by the lack of auto-updating in normal windows. This really became irritating when checking my upload-directory while doing FTP transfer from the A4000. Even worse, the "Update" menu item doesn't have a Keyboard shortcut.

Generally, speaking on behalf of a theorethical newbie buying a new Amiga, it's rather counter-intuitive that many of the basic OS configuration options can only be found far apart from each other -- or are separated into different programs while seemingly doing the same thing, to the un-initiated. If you aren't intimately familiar with the name of every OS component (like you would be if you, say, waited a decade for a new Amiga system...), many designations would be rather cryptic.

There have been multiple discussions and ponderings over the default look and there is not so much I can add to a topic so subjective. I can only say that I personally like the look. And, to use an old cliché, all is configurable. Just to give some ideas:

  • I changed the Window widths both right and bottom to make them more narrow
  • I changed size and geometry of scroll arrows.
  • I made the menus transparent and able to pop up under the mouse
  • I changed some textures in the window borders (you can have different depending on inactive/active etc). You can also add a gradient to them afterwards.
  • I played around with the gadget look controls

I can honestly say there are so many configuration options I haven't had time to explore them all. There are also places where obvious room has been left free so as to harbour future buttons and knobs. Certain features such as Styles, or settings for Strings are also "in development" and not included in th pre-release.

What I really miss is documentation on what all does. It's not always clear what effect a certain setting will have (indeed, what it really means...) and whereas there is a "preview" button supplied I noticed no effect when clicking on it. What will probably be needed for any sort of "public" release is a generous sprinkle of help buttons all over the place. Or at the very least a massive manual.

I find it disturbing that the "Workbench is reconfiguring the screen. Please close all windows except drawers" thing is still there. Such a thing reeks of old - bad - times (and is very impractical now that you have memory enough to run many programs at aonce).

As a side note, I think it is a bad idea to separate the GUI and Workbench configuration utilities. I know there is a conceptual difference, but a newbie won't. It's not intuitive why the "Icon Quality" controls shouldn't be in the same prefs program as the "Background text colour" controls for example. Also, the existance for a separate "Popup menu" prefs editor is not warranted at all. There are already menu configuration options in the GUI prefs editor. You get the uncanny feeling you are doing it all over again (you don't, but it feels like it) when having to open a separate prefs program to define the popup behaviour. The same goes for the ASL prefs. AHI and Sound is also a pair that would look better under the same umbrella.

When being on the subject of the Workbench prefs, a note is warranted on the Screen Title format requester. Remember seeing the memory contens of the OS in the title bar? When looking at screenshots in the future we must remember that those number might be misleading -- because it's the owner of the Workbench himself that sets the labels for the output. I was surprised by the wealth of customization which was available in this regard; you essentially produce a string by writing text and selecting display options from a immense amount of combinations. That's very useful and shows great attention to detail. Thumbs up!

A beef I have about the default title bar text is that the default displays three values - total, fast and virtual. For me, that is (at the time of writing) Total: 47MB, Fast: 47MB, Virtual: 184MB. "Virtual" is not "harddisk virtual memory" as was my first thought, but actually ("virtualized") memory set aside from the pre-adressed Physical memory in order to have it free and available for on-the-fly memory adressing later (I'm sure I got that wrong, but that's how I understand it). So 184+47=231MB is actually free available memory out of my 256MB . Not bad, but the "Total" field is confusing, since it's always the same as the Fast memory ... I would think a more intuitive default would be needed for a public release (ditch the Virtual/fast separation and display only available total memory. The guys in the know configure what they want anyway).

I did a (very) primitive memory/stability check with Multiview, by simply opening large pictures and letting them stay on the desktop (so in essense I was opening a large amount ov Multiview sessions). Doing so, the available "Fast" memory kept dropping as suspected. However, I thought the "Virtual" memory would kick in once the "Fast" got too low, but apparently not so -- when at 1MB Fast, I got "Not enough memory" errors from Multiview. At that point there where 169 MB of "Virtual" memory available. At this point, the system was very slow but still usable and stable - and importantly, the mouse cursor never slowed down at all during the entire process. Closing the Multiview windows dutifully returned all memory to the same amount as it was before. I've done the same test over and over again without rebooting and without ending up with less memory afterwards, nor any stability issues. I know its a very crude test, but I also know thst my A4000 wouldn't have been able to take that kind of punishment without loosing more and more memory and in the end crash like a stone. The reason why the "Virtual" memory doesn't kick in is interesting though (but, as said, the graphics system *is* still preliminary).

The Time prefs editor has a nice option to use a remote nfs server to keep track of time. Haven't tried it, but other reviewers has claimed it works fine. Other prefs programs, such as Pointer and WBPattern haven't changed much. The PrinterPrefs gave me warnings of a missing "printer.device", but since i don't have a printer connected to the A1 I haven't investigated this further. The "Screens" preferences are very nice. They work in a similar way to the MUI screen definitions and it seems very sleek and useful. There is a Picasso96Mode Preference editor too, but I'm using the Radeon screen modes so I haven't fiddled with that. A last example on a "new" prefs program is the "Internet" prefs. It is very similar to Miami, actually. So far I haven't had anything to complain about; as said, the wizard got everything running smoothly for me.

A curious thing was that the first time I opened many of the Prefs requesters I got an error saying that they couldn't open directories in the system: directory. Starting the prefseditor a second time made everything work normally. I can only conclude that those directories were created automatically (although the system failed to inform about it). Those prefs works fine after the second time.

Programs

It should be mentioned that although I have played around a bit, I haven't tested any of the program extensively. As for the games, I've only just tried to install them using the original CD:s. I haven't downloaded any PPC versions of Quake yet,. for example.

The SDK installs into a directory of its own and ends at roughly 200 MB in size. The installation should also set up the environment properly, but I haven't tried to compile anything yet. It includes the 2.95.3 GCC compiler as the default. GCC 3.4.0 is also included, but still considered experimental. Vbcc is also in there along with the system Includes, Autodocs, guidelines for programming AOS4 and PDFs on compilers and debuggers. There is a directory of example code both for beginners and advanced users and the source code for the CLIB2 runtime library.

Personally, I'm at the "beginner" end of the scale, but I really look forward to checking out the SDK further in the future.

IBrowse demo installs without problems. Note that this is not the final OEM version of IBrowse (v2.4 or 3.0 depending on timing) that will be included in the final release of AmigaOS4. Rather it's the standard 2.3 time limited demo version. It's usable with a 2.x keyfile. This release also has some serious bugs (noted at the beginning of this review). Still, it's a nice browser. I feel it's rather slow to update though, maybe the same or slower that on my A4000/060. It's likely the non-JIT emulation that is the culprit here. I was amazed to find my fourth mouse button work to scroll text in IBrowse (still not the mouse wheel). My 4th button doesn't even work in Linux!

In the contribution drawer we can find old gems such as YAM, SimpleMail and UAE, but also new stuff such as a demo of AudioEvolution4 (looks very good, that one). There are also some developer info on e.g. MUI, Shell programs like KinCon and Font related stuff such as TTEngine. DOpus is a familar face, although I've never used it much. I copied a bundle of extra backdrops and toolbar icons to my Presets directory in the Prefs drawer. There is also a set of games (like Duke3D) which I haven't touched yet.

From the Amiga4000 I copied my entire Final Writer97 directory straight over to the A1,. I'm glad to report (as other have) that FW works nicely. It even looks better -- appently it uses the OS Screen prefs. It is not impressively fast (emulation again), but fully usable. I think I have to delete the configs for my Swedish version though (I have both english and swedish) -- it ran on a separate screen and that screen is obviously not defined anymore, which means the program can't open at all.

I installed Payback with all the latest fixes --- and was calmly informed by the operating system that "this program has a known problem", giving me the opportunity to abort or to take my chances and start it anyway. That's service! Of course I took my chances only to have it crash and burn on me. Hopefully a fix will come for this. I cannot wait to play PaybackPPC.

I thought Hyperion's own Freespace would be a safe bet - but no. It went through the installation fine only to complain on a missing "wizard library" when I tried to enter my serial code. Only tried it once, because this happens at the end and it takes quite a while to install.

I also had trouble with QuakeI & II. This is not so surprising; Remember that I haven't updated these installs at all yet.

Conclusions

The pre-release is still a rough system and it was rightly judged not fit for a final release; There are still too many small annoyances and things that need plenty of polish, not to mention the bits that are actually still missing entirely (such as Petunia, VM-pager scheme etc and a native gfx-system). I have tried to give examples throughout this review of things an end-user notice. I might have sounded picky at times, but these are my impressions and I better comment while I still remember it, right?

However: the AmigaOS4 prerelease *is* a much more able system than I suspected from the pre-release status. The base system seems stable and feels both responsive and quick even under the limitations of a non-complete gfx-system. This is very important and I was suprised not to encounter any large snags in my enjoyment (which is why I was able to concentrate on smaller grievances). The Installation was smooth and once every A1 is sold with updated firmware, it should be easy for a newbie Amigan too. Much attention to detail has gone behind the hood (note how I haven't even begun discussing the stuff *really* under the hood, like ExecNG. I'll leave that topic to more able people), stuff you do notice and appreciate in everyday use.

If you have managed to read this far, I'm impressed. I apologize for the length. But it's not every day a new AmigaOS lands in my lap. And certainly not one with so much promise for what will come. Something to instill pride in the developers and the community both. Something to allow the battered Amiga users to take a first uncertain step toward a carefully optimistic future.


SlimJim, Uppsala 2004

SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 1 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by Anonymous on 12-Jun-2004 22:07 GMT
Excellent review! Thanks a lot, Slim Jim!

A tip:

>I was annoyed by the lack of auto-updating in normal windows. This really >became irritating when checking my upload-directory while doing FTP transfer >from the A4000. Even worse, the "Update" menu item doesn't have a Keyboard >shortcut.

I have a program that this exactly this on OS3.9, can't recall the name
of it, though ;). "AutoUpdateWB" I think. Anyway, if this patch isn't implemented we must bug Hyperion to include it, as I consider this to be
a vital function.
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 2 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by Jacob on 12-Jun-2004 22:29 GMT
In reply to Comment 1 (Anonymous):
Great review, cheers!

[[ I will make comments and pose critique (both good and bad) on the system that arrived in my mailbox. I make these comments fully aware of the "in progress" status of the OS. There is no "politics" involved here (although I'm an Amigan by heart and cannot be considered fully "objective" of course). Any critique should be considered a helpful suggestion toward future developments rather than any belittlement of the hard work gone into this long-awaited release. I'm also in no position to compare AOS4 to the status of other offerings in the market. So I won't.

The JIT Petunia emulator for AOS4 is not included in the pre-release. All emulation of 68k code runs interpreted. Also, the Graphics subsystem is not yet fully PPC native. Full specifics can be found at the usual sites.

Unless noted otherwise, when I write "AmigaOS4", I am always really referring to "AmigaOS4(Pre)".]]

Its so sad that you have to include that before you write a review (note not a critique of you, a critique of the community..!) Hopefully one day people could just assume those things wihtout even thinking.
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 3 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by Joe "Floid" Kanowitz on 12-Jun-2004 23:14 GMT
Newer CD-ROM drives may come up expecting one DMA mode or another, while U-Boot itself might only think about PIO support (when it comes to ATAPI devices?), since "why should it need more?" Sometimes you can fiddle that through jumpers or Windows-based drive setup utils.

Or I could be completely wrong.
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 4 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by cheesegrate on 13-Jun-2004 00:11 GMT
good work, thanks
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 5 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by Anonymous on 13-Jun-2004 01:32 GMT
Being a developer pre-release, wouldn't it be wise to review it from a developer's perspective? Is it better/worse than the Amigacev CD2.1, are there any modern development utilities included. Does the release give you a good impression on how the final product might turn out? Is this enough to start working on your applications and getting a head start when the full release is out? How about the cross compilers, are they there?
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 6 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by oGALAXYo on 13-Jun-2004 04:17 GMT
Someone pointed me to a link on Amigaworld.net yesterday where I was able to read that Eyetech claims that with the pre-OS4 release their responsibility ends for those who already bought an Earlybird or later device. The next upcoming OS4 will be charged fully again. The matching link I was refering to is here. I always thought that the owners of an AmigaONE will receive a full OS4 at the end as I was able to read on various places and as I initially assumed to happen. Could someone lighten this up please ?
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 7 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by Anonymous on 13-Jun-2004 04:21 GMT
In reply to Comment 6 (oGALAXYo):
Helps to just read what it says:

[quote]

Please also remember that this 'Free OS4' offer only applies to Earlybird systems and boards. We (and other dealers) took and delivered a number of orders for 'Developer' boards prior to the announcement of the Earlybird systems (although many of these were delivered at the same time as Earlybird systems were shipping).

These boards were intended for people assisting in the development of OS4, and their purchasers were given a 10% discount on list price at time of purchase (worth around ukp50/euro75/usd 80). Purchasers of these boards are not entitled to a free copy of OS4-PR. Most purchasers in this catagory however already have access to OS4-PR by virtue of their involvement in the development or official beta testing of OS4.

For the odd few people who managed to buy discounted developer boards but did not participate in the OS4 development program, Hyperion have agreed to supply OS4-PR (and subsequent downloaded updates) for a significant discount on list price. Because we expect relatively few people to fall into this catagory it probably makes sence for Hyperion to handle these sales directly. We do however first need to make an assessment of the exact number of people involved, so if you think it applies to you, please email, in the first instance, to OS4-devbd@eyetech.co.uk.

[/quote]

Which is no biggie really.
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 8 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by SlimJim on 13-Jun-2004 05:30 GMT
In reply to Comment 5 (Anonymous):
You are right that a developer's view is needed. I'm interested in developing, but alas, I have not the experience to judge this part fairly. To my untrained eye it is a complete, if IDE-less development environment. The cross-compilers are there. There are list published on what's included (somewhere on AW) so I didn't think I needed list everything too faithfully.
.
SlimJim
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 9 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by Don Cox on 13-Jun-2004 06:16 GMT
Excellent review. Thanks.
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 10 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by Anonymous on 13-Jun-2004 06:21 GMT
Sounds interesting.
Thank you for sharing your experience.
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 11 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by Anonymous on 13-Jun-2004 06:50 GMT
In reply to Comment 7 (Anonymous):
> Helps to just read what it says: [quote]

You are quoting the wrong text. Galaxy means the text that comes with the pre-release and that says that with the pre-release, all their obligations end.

"This is your `Free copy of OS4` purchased with your Amigaone Earlybird board or system. [...] Note that this shipment completes our liability under the earlybird offer."
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 12 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by Rik Sweeney on 13-Jun-2004 09:10 GMT
So what do the Context Menus do?
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 13 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by Richi on 13-Jun-2004 09:34 GMT
Well done! Os4-pre Rules!
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 14 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by Don Cox on 13-Jun-2004 10:02 GMT
In reply to Comment 6 (oGALAXYo):
"Someone pointed me to a link on Amigaworld.net yesterday where I was able to read that Eyetech claims that with the pre-OS4 release their responsibility ends for those who already bought an Earlybird or later device. The next upcoming OS4 will be charged fully again. The matching link I was referring to is here. I always thought that the owners of an AmigaONE will receive a full OS4 at the end as I was able to read on various places and as I initially assumed to happen. Could someone lighten this up please ?"

I guess if they download all the updates over the next couple of years, they will have a complete AOS 4.0.

If you feel you are not getting what you paid for, you could return your Pre-Release unopened and insist on waiting for a completed version. As nobody knows what will happen in the future, it seems to me it would be safer to take what is on offer now.
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 15 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by Anonymous on 13-Jun-2004 10:22 GMT
In reply to Comment 11 (Anonymous):
False advertising, OS4 was described concurrently with the making of this offer and the description does not match this at best half finished OS. Putting it in a shiny box doesn't change that, though we ought to have expected that from Hyperion given what Ben wrote about it in the past.

Elsewhere Alan has admitted that A1 boards were effectively not available without OS4, and that his prices to dealers include the cost of OS4, so it's not FREE according to the meaning of that word in most advertising legislation.

So that adds up to a situation where in 2002 people paid Alan for a machine with OS4, and now (in 2004) he says that this half-finished CD in a shiny box fulfills that obligation. Don't let anyone tell you this is legitimate business. I don't expect any A1 owners to challenge it, but that's just another example of how easy it is to exploit fanboys.
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 16 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by FuZion on 13-Jun-2004 10:35 GMT
In reply to Comment 15 (Anonymous):
I for one am not too worried about the final OS4 release. If I have to pay something, I have to pay. If I don't, I don't.

I understand that not everyone will see it this way but the way I see it. The people that have made the AmigaOne a reality & the people that have made OS4 a reality do not exactly have the kind of customer base that they would like. If paying some towards the final release too helps the cause, I'll pay.

FuZion.
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 17 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by SlimJim on 13-Jun-2004 11:03 GMT
@Christian

Thanks for tidying up the text! You can remove the inital comment about the other sites if you wish -- they are just as readable as the ANN version now. ;-)
.
SlimJim
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 18 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by SlimJim on 13-Jun-2004 11:17 GMT
In reply to Comment 12 (Rik Sweeney):
The context menus work so that they only show the appropriate menu pop-up. Example: Normally when selecting an icon and bringing forth the menu, you get the entire menu tree and has to select the "icon" submenu by hand. With context menu, only the icon menu pops up.
Simple, but very useful.
.
SLimJim
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 19 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by SlimJim on 13-Jun-2004 12:13 GMT
ERRATA 1: (Would be good to have this attached to the review itself somehow.)

I'm happy to report that contrary to what I wrote in the review, the Benq 48x16x48 does indeed work nicely with the A1 and AOS4.

The fault lies entirely with me. Grabbing the drive from the x86 box, I didn't remember that I run the CD-ROM as master on the second IDE channel there. So I missed switching the drive to "Slave". It works well now.

*blush*

.
SlimJim
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 20 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by Alkis Tsapanidis on 13-Jun-2004 12:18 GMT
In reply to Comment 19 (SlimJim):
Good review dude! Free from politics and stuff! Well done!
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 21 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by ehaines on 13-Jun-2004 12:37 GMT
In reply to Comment 15 (Anonymous):
> So that adds up to a situation where in 2002 people paid Alan for a machine
> with OS4, and now (in 2004) he says that this half-finished CD in a shiny box
> fulfills that obligation. Don't let anyone tell you this is legitimate
> business. I don't expect any A1 owners to challenge it,

You didn't bother reading the thread on amigaworld.net, did you....
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 22 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by SlimJim on 13-Jun-2004 12:46 GMT
In reply to Comment 20 (Alkis Tsapanidis):
Thanks, Alkis! (and others saying nice things about the review in this thread ;-)
.
SlimJim
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 23 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by Anonymous on 13-Jun-2004 12:54 GMT
In reply to Comment 21 (ehaines):
> You didn't bother reading the thread on amigaworld.net, did you....

Why, that is excatly the site and thread where the issue came up and, until this moment, Eytech hasn't said anything on the 'hereby, our obligations are fulfilled' note that comes with OS4 beta. See yourself. http://tinyurl.com/2qs2y
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 24 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by ehaines on 13-Jun-2004 13:10 GMT
In reply to Comment 23 (Anonymous):
>> You didn't bother reading the thread on amigaworld.net, did you....

> Why, that is excatly the site and thread where the issue came up and,
> until this moment, Eytech hasn't said anything on the 'hereby, our
> obligations are fulfilled' note that comes with OS4 beta.

I was erasing the "these Amiga fanboys will accept anything" myth. If you
notice, there's a fair amount of grumbling there. Rightfully so...the
whole thing is becoming pretty confusing....
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 25 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by Anonymous on 13-Jun-2004 13:26 GMT
In reply to Comment 21 (ehaines):
The machine I'm using to post this can't read AW.net, presumably as a result of another tantrum by Dave Pitcher. If it's important I could read it via a machine at another site but it's about the _Amiga_ which is long dead. How important could it be?

Go on people, fill me in on what I've missed through not being able/ bothered to read AW.net today. Has Dave P launched another prize contest where there's no prize, and then no contest? Is there to be another site feature that lets users ask questions of someone with no real influence over or interest in the things they're asking about? Maybe after his huge success working on Mozilla, Dave now has OpenOffice working, but accidentally destroyed the only working version, all backups and all the knowledge in his brain concerning the project?
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 26 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by Anonymous on 13-Jun-2004 13:28 GMT
In reply to Comment 24 (ehaines):
I stand corrected, let's see how long it lasts.
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 27 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by SlimJim on 13-Jun-2004 13:43 GMT
In reply to Comment 25 (Anonymous):
Oh grow up. Mail DaveP directly instead of flame-baiting here.
.
SlimJim
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 28 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by SlimJim on 13-Jun-2004 13:49 GMT
In reply to Comment 26 (Anonymous):
Ok didn't read this before replying ... ;-)

Still no point to, out of the blue make a personal attack on someone not even posting in the thread though.
.
SlimJim
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 29 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by Anonymous on 13-Jun-2004 14:29 GMT
Excellent review.
Thans ;)
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 30 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by Deniil715 on 13-Jun-2004 14:43 GMT
About the reset delay.
My A1200 has always had a 3 seconds delay from I press Ctrl+Amiga+Amiga until the screen goes blank. Both on AGA and RTG and with build-in kbd and an external (through a kbd-interface) keyboard.

Somethimes when it hangs hard it can even take up to 30 seconds before the reset actually takes place from that I have pressed. But usual is 3 seconds. Only in extremely rare situation can I recall it has resetted immediately (like f.ex. an A500) when I press reset on the keyboard.

The delay in OS4 is because of serial output. It outputs alot of serial when (re)booted, it also searches through a list of gfx-cards and when it reaches your card, that's when the screen goes blank. The serial is at 9600bps so it takes a bit of time.
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 31 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by Anonymous on 13-Jun-2004 14:59 GMT
In reply to Comment 26 (Anonymous):
> I stand corrected, let's see how long it lasts

Containment kicking in, Eyetech has taken it to a closed non-public forum. Viva amigaworld ;)
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 32 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by itix on 13-Jun-2004 15:48 GMT
Very good review!
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 33 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by DaveP on 13-Jun-2004 16:39 GMT
In reply to Comment 27 (SlimJim):
Im used to it from this particular individual. Still, if it keeps him off the streets ;-)
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 34 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by Analnymous on 13-Jun-2004 16:39 GMT
In reply to Comment 31 (Anonymous):
> Containment kicking in, Eyetech has taken it to a closed non-public forum.

Er.. Discussing matters that concerns AmigaOne owners in a forum dedicated to AmigaOne owners. =:-o

> Viva amigaworld ;)

Er... Someone [Alan] posted a new thread in a different forum. =:-o
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 35 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by SlimJim on 13-Jun-2004 17:52 GMT
In reply to Comment 34 (Analnymous):
Anyway, Alans post in the AOne forum means the AOS-status is now quite clear as far as Eyetech is concerned. A little slow on the uptake perhaps, but at least everyone should get their OS in due order.

In short; the AOS4(pre) will be updateable (over the web) to a "full" OEM-version - the one we Earlybirders were promised we'd get. So it's out of Eyetech's hands, which they also stated (although in an admittedly rather fuzzy and rumour-starting way).
So we're all set.
The few buying the discounted pre-earlybird ("developer") boards and which are not beta-testers already, should check in the AmigaOne forum on AW on how to proceed.
.
SlimJim
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 36 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by Anonymous on 13-Jun-2004 18:05 GMT
In reply to Comment 34 (Analnymous):
> Er... Someone [Alan] posted a new thread in a different forum. =:-o

Into a private forum for AmigaOne owners ;) Generally speaking, why does amigaworld have to keep disscusions among AmigaOne owners behind curtains? My intention to buy AmigaOne hardware is minimal but not zero, obviously I'd be interested in reading what real AmigaOne owners really think (bugs and all). I don't request write access, if it's an owner's forum. A site such as amigaworld is a major turn-off for me. I think the AmigaOS4 community deserves a better, independend web site, more honesty, less manipulation, less Eyetech.
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 37 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by SlimJim on 13-Jun-2004 18:35 GMT
In reply to Comment 36 (Anonymous):
Anyway, the parts relevant to this discussion you can find in my post above.
.
SlimJim
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 38 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by ikez on 13-Jun-2004 21:37 GMT
In reply to Comment 37 (SlimJim):
Seems strange to me to post information on a closed forum. I can't understand how they would sell anything if no one knows what Aone users think. I believe the better advertising are the ... users themselves. Conceiling information, ..., isn't the best way to give trust to potential buyers.

I was on the list to buy an earlybird, had cancelled all 7 month later as nothing come. As no communication make me nerveous, conceiling things make me dubvious and lies make me anger. This is the state of amiga market now, sad.

Hope all the company involved in amiga market will understand one day that with a soo tiny market it's time to make customer happy, not to make them babling on forum hoping the graal to come. Nothing good comes from babling about graal :), like buying product for instance.

ikez who want to know how to write good english sentences ^^
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 39 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by ehaines on 13-Jun-2004 21:37 GMT
In reply to Comment 36 (Anonymous):
> Generally speaking, why does amigaworld have to keep disscusions among
> AmigaOne owners behind curtains?

Probably to keep things focussed, and not deal with a lot of extraneous
side issues that non-owners would bring.

> My intention to buy AmigaOne hardware is minimal but not zero, obviously
> I'd be interested in reading what real AmigaOne owners really think (bugs
> and all).

There's plenty of that outside the AmigaOne owners forum...my own experience
as an AmigaOne owner, however, is that not many REALLY want to hear what
AmigaOne owners think; they'd rather go on second-hand rumor and innuendo and
so on. Reality just isn't as much fun, apparently.
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 40 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by ikez on 13-Jun-2004 21:42 GMT
In reply to Comment 39 (ehaines):
mmm seems to me that they forget me :).

ikez
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 41 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by Anonymous on 13-Jun-2004 22:59 GMT
In reply to Comment 39 (ehaines):
> Probably to keep things focussed, and not deal with a lot of extraneous
side issues that non-owners would bring

Hardly, that could be achieved by making the forum read-only for unregistered visitors, like thousands of other internet forums. Making the main discussion forum for AmigaOne hardware private and putting it behind curtains ... I just don't like the attitude. Are they so insecure that they can't discuss Eytech's hardware openly, as users do on, for example, on morphzone re the Pegasos?
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 42 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by redfox on 13-Jun-2004 23:36 GMT
@SlimJim

I was surprised to see your review over here on ann.lu ....

Thanks again, for a well-rounded review.

---------------
redfox
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 43 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by acg on 14-Jun-2004 03:22 GMT
If there are any programmers who have the pre-release...what do you think about the develop capabilities of AOS4...will it be easy to port old Amiga apps like pagestream, ImageFX, Scala, Hollywood, ProStation Audio, or some video capture, editing suite to AOS4?

that would go a long way in getting more people to want to buy AmigaONE(especially if the OS is as stable as OS3.1 was)....

Also, does anybody have any ideas for a killer app? One idea I have had recently is for a module that can read and "speak"HTML files, e-mail and /or PDF files...Sort of like the old narrater device on the old AmigaOS and if I remember it was used on an old word processor called ProWrite.

that could make the Amiga a good niche market for blind users who want to surf the net. It would allow them to be able to get info over the net, or review manuscripts without them being converted to braille...It would also be useful for publishers of audio books, who could download their "books" with low bandwidth...if they can improve the old narrator to sound more human, not like the old commodore/Amiga narrator this could be a boon.
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 44 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by Don Cox on 14-Jun-2004 05:43 GMT
In reply to Comment 43 (acg):
"Also, does anybody have any ideas for a killer app?"

1. Use a 3D games engine for garden design.

Really, it needs full ray tracing and radiosity to give a true effect of what the garden will look like in various lighting conditions. I believe these are planned for future graphics cards.

2. Use Bezier curves to edit a melody in a music program. Not all instruments produce individual notes like keyboards and guitars.

3. A music program that automatically adjusts the pitch of each note in a chord to give the correct harmonic ratios. Choirs can do this, but keyboards cannot.

4. A good international DTP program, using Unicode, so you can mix Chinese, English and Arabic in one document without hassle.

5. Program to generate college essays and reports automatically. Give it the topic and a few key words, and it will produce something good enough to get a pass mark. Good for those tight deadlines.

6. A program to sort out the Israelis and the Palestinians.
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 45 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by Joe "Floid" Kanowitz on 14-Jun-2004 06:16 GMT
In reply to Comment 43 (acg):
Also, does anybody have any ideas for a killer app? One idea I have had recently is for a module that can read and "speak"HTML files, e-mail and /or PDF files...Sort of like the old narrater device on the old AmigaOS and if I remember it was used on an old word processor called ProWrite.

that could make the Amiga a good niche market for blind users who want to surf the net. It would allow them to be able to get info over the net, or review manuscripts without them being converted to braille...It would also be useful for publishers of audio books, who could download their "books" with low bandwidth...if they can improve the old narrator to sound more human, not like the old commodore/Amiga narrator this could be a boon.


This is always a good idea, but it should be noted that a surprising number of those users are content with Windows, seeing as it's been 'the only thing' going for the past 5+ years. The leading products in MS-land (JAWS?) work with nearly everything those users could want or be asked to use on the job, and presumably many are lucky enough to get the costs subsidized one way or another, while the usability is said to blow away what's available on competing platforms. (Stands to reason in a way; the audio interface effectively overlays the Windows Experience(TM), and the popularity of the solutions themselves mean they get more testing and annoyance-fixing than those on competing platforms. Having to add support program-by-program for popular cases gives them a chance to introduce niceties that generalized solutions would miss, so Worse-is-Better design wins again.)

I gather Braille displays are getting rare these days, because they're expensive hardware (apparently less-commonly subsidized now that audio is cheaper and found to better-serve more people; blind users can also attempt piracy like anyone else, and you can't trade hardware under the table), and soundcards are prevalent while allowing two hands on the keyboard (and perhaps a faster data rate... I get the impression that Braille's not so easy to speed-read, while even the sighted can deal with audio at the rate of a Chipmunks album or higher)...

---

Speaking of scary applications of Windows, what might be most beneficial to that market right now would be a port of this algorithm to an inexpensive PDA (or PDA-like) platform with the horsepower to run it and the sound and USB features to drive the glasses and output... and if DE/AA could help with that, more power to it.

---

I'm not *trying* to be doom and gloom in this thread, so heck, as what used to be the graphical platform, maybe we can better serve the deaf? How about a 'visual bell' that actually visualizes tone and duration, with transparency to not obliterate the screen? Or bringing that syslog-like functionality I mentioned once to fore somewhere in the GUI, so a user who might be looking away (or might not be at the keyboard) can be aware of an event?
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 46 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by Joe "Floid" Kanowitz on 14-Jun-2004 06:50 GMT
In reply to Comment 44 (Don Cox):
"Also, does anybody have any ideas for a killer app?"
...
6. A program to sort out the Israelis and the Palestinians.


Reason was a hardware implementation... (Yeah, I know, I know! *Ducks and covers*)

...but Anthem is worth a nomination.

I'm still bumping around and stumbling in the dark looking for something that combines the 'interface' of a TI-8x calculator (simple, 'conversational' command line), with the graphing and tracing ability of at least a... TI-8x calculator, without costing an arm and a leg. I honestly can't remember if MAPLE did or didn't come close, but free implementations seem divided into MATLAB clones (Octave - great software, but I don't want to have to think about dumping a function into a matrix before I can view it; the interface is right, in that there 'isn't one' until it's time to manipulate a plot), and Mathematica clones (SCILAB - Um, again, serious overkill, probably does the right thing, but why a rather scary GUI for the text window, but no *obvious* mouse-manipulation for graphs?)... Sounds like MuPAD might get it right, but it's sort of hard to tell for a few technical reasons.

Obviously an Amiga port of something like SCILAB might suffer fewer widget-set issues than the original incarnation, though it's probably not a task for the faint of heart. (Why yes, all of these are complete overkill for a desk calculator, but if that's what it takes to get an 'interface' that lets me keep track of what I'm doing, instead of emulating a one-line LCD...)

Being the first platform to host a massively-multiplayer VR game with a first-person avatar view (iGlasses or equivalent are almost affordable now, though there're still the hand-position and 'walking' problems to tackle... but if kids can learn to work all the sticks on a Playstation controller, there're probably shortcuts to that) might be a worthy goalpost to set. At least a profitable one, if all the other MMOs are any indication, though I'm sure Sony is already thinking about how to make it happen with the PS3.
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 47 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by priest on 14-Jun-2004 07:56 GMT
"Once the warm reset is underway the reset time is impressive though -- within one or two seconds the system is up and running fresh again."

;-) ;-)
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 48 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by Anonymous on 14-Jun-2004 11:56 GMT
In reply to Comment 3 (Joe "Floid" Kanowitz):
Those CDRom problems where caused by incorrect master/slave settings in his CDRom. here sayd that in amiga.org
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 49 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by SlimJim on 14-Jun-2004 15:48 GMT
In reply to Comment 42 (redfox):
> @SlimJim

> I was surprised to see your review over here on ann.lu ....

> Thanks again, for a well-rounded review


Thanks yourself!

And I always post all "not-so-short" stuff (the few that I've done) on both AW, a.org and ANN. Less politics that way. ;-)
.
SlimJim
SlimJim's Not-so-short Review of AmigaOS4(pre) : Comment 50 of 56ANN.lu
Posted by SlimJim on 14-Jun-2004 15:49 GMT
In reply to Comment 48 (Anonymous):
I also mentioned it here on ANN, earlier in this thread.
.
SlimJim
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