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[News] Eyetech AmigaOS 4.X explanationANN.lu
Posted on 10-Apr-2001 12:00 GMT by Christophe Decanini38 comments
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From the AmigaOne mailing list: " Whilst Amiga Inc are getting all the details of OS4/5 up on their own website I thought it might be useful to give my own views as to where we are, where we are going and why the St Louis announcement was so pivotal to the future of the Amiga. Its quite long I'm afraid, but hopefully a useful basis for further discussion. If the general consensus is that it helps clarify the issues involved I'll also stick it in the AmigaOne section of our web site. If I've got some details wrong I'm sure Fleecy will comment ;-)" Here's the original message written by Eyetech Group Ltd's Alan.

Over the last few months we have been working closely with Amiga Inc to ensure that the AmigaOne is worthy of being the next generation Amiga - and that of course means that it must have a robust, expandable, secure, efficient real time operating system. But that was meant to be the Amiga DE wasn't it? Well yes and no. The Amiga DE is a quite basic real-time operating system designed primarily for single tasking - and certainly single user - operations on embedded systems such as set top boxes, PDA's, cell phones etc. And since these devices have both low power cpu's and very limited user interfaces the DE needs to be free of much of the clutter that we normally take for granted in a desktop operating system.

On the other hand a home server - the central box that coordinates all the Amiga DE devices and runs 'proper' desktop applications - needs many more facilities, such as task-level memory protection and OS-level virtual memory, that are not practical to implement within the DE without completely compromising its portability and speed.

So what we have now ended up with is the best of both worlds. Desktop Amiga users will have a desktop/server OS, natively coded for the PPC, with added memory protection, virtual memory and a much improved file system, whilst still retaining the efficiency, real time responsiveness, elegance and familiarity of the Classic Amiga OS. The DE will follow its own development path but be totally integrated within OS4+

Developing the new OS is to be a 4-stage process:

  • OS4.0 will be an updated version of OS3.9 with special facilities added to allow existing classic Amiga applications to run on the AmigaOne, accessing the classic Amiga hardware via the hardware bridge on the AmigaOne 1200/4000. Much of the operating system will still be in 680x0 code with in line instruction conversion to PPC code.
  • OS4.2 will add additional features and the recoding of much of the OS in native PPC code. However the major milestone in this release will be the complete retargeting of all operating system I/O away from Amiga specific hardware/chipsets. This means that retargetable 'Classic' applications can be run on the AmigaOne (or any Zico-compliant PPC board) without any 'classic' Amiga hardware present. At this stage the Amiga DE will also be ported to the Amiga OS so that the AmigaOne can be used as a development/porting platform for Amiga DE content (as a more familiar alternative to the currently available Windows/Linux development environments). Drivers will obviously be provided for those resources which are retargeted to the AmigaOne motherboard (USB, sound, graphics, UDMA etc).
  • OS4.5 will be an entirely PPC-native, entirely hardware independant version of the operating system, with full driver support for all Zico resources (FireWire, Matrox NG graphics cards, SCSI etc)
  • OS5 is a full 64-bit fully distributed SMP operating system which will implement virtual memory, memory protection and the Amiga DE in a fully-spec'd, modular home-server/desktop OS.
OS4.x will only run on PPC boards conforming to the Zico specifications which excludes BlizzardPPC & CyberStormPPC accelerators - even when coupled with a Predator-SE PCI bus. We (and Amiga Inc) are pressing DCE, the current manufacturers of these boards, to come up with a 'Zico compliance kit' to preserve the investment of existing BPPC/CSPPC users and allow them to run OS4.x.

Of course this means that - from OS 4.2 on - you will only need a existing 'Classic' Amiga for those few applications that are genuinely not retargetable (ie those that still insist on 'hitting' the classic hardware). All of the existing application software developers we have spoken to are more than willing to port their applications to a fully hardware independent PPC AmigaOne. This also means that by the time we would have scheduled the design and production of the AmigaOne 3000 it would probably be an irrelevant piece of hardware as far as most users are concerned. We're not closing that door just yet, but, because of this hardware independance from OS4.2 onwards we believe that existing Ax000 users will be able to run their applications on stand-alone AmigaOne PPC hardware much sooner than we had originally anticipated. And as far as that most famous of all big-box Amiga accessories is concerned - the Video Toaster - we are going straight round to NewTek ask them to port drivers for their existing PCI-based Toaster to OS4.x as soon as production AmigaOnes are released!

Finally, one of the most significant parts of the announcement is that Amiga Inc have decided - quite properly in my view - to take their ownership of the Amiga OS seriously. They are taking development control, standards definition and quality assurance for the Amiga OS back in house for the first time since 1984. This is the first step in ensuring that we are no longer blighted with compatibility issues between different software modules, or 'kernel wars' between third party developers. Provided everyone is sufficiently unbiassed to see the move in this light there is no reason why Amiga shouldn't choose the best elements from Haage & Partner's WarpOS, Ralph Schmidts's MorphOS, the work from the AROS project team and the existing Classic OS in developing OS4 & 5. The important thing is that we now have - in the shape of Fleecy Moss - a combined helmsman, navigator and Captain for the Amiga OS. And I for one am fully committing our AmigaOne hardware to Amiga's new OS strategy - for the sake of forward compatibility and reliability - and without the diversion of seeing if we can get Linux, MorphOS or anything else running on the AmigaOne board.

Hope this helps

Alan

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