AMIX

AMIX Ad

AMIX Ad

Back in 1990 Commodore took the Amiga in a new direction with it’s new Amiga 3000, by commissioning a port of A&T SYSV Unix to the Amiga. Taking advantage of the 3000’s 68030 CPU and 68881 Math coprocessor, along with its integrated SCSI controller. It certainly was the hallmark of typical UNIX machines of the time.

When originally announced there was some big interest in the platform by SUN, as their original SUN-1, SUN-2 & SUN-3 lines of workstations were all 68000 based machines, and being able to rebrand a mass produced Commodore model would have been a good thing, however the deal ultimately fell through.  The machine would have been the Amiga 3500, which later became the Amiga 3000T.

Another thing to keep in mind is that SUN’s SYSV (Solaris) was targeted to the SPARC processor, and it is unlikely that they would benefit from selling a 68030 based machine in 1991.

Typical of the time, AMIX installs from a set of boot floppies, and then pulls the rest of the installation from a tape drive, such as the A3070.

AMIX was released at a time when the UNIX world was rapidly moving to RISC processors, SUN had their SPARC, SGI had their MIPS, IBM and their POWER, Motorola built UNIX machines around their 88000 RISC processor, NeXT was also going to move to the 88000 until they gave up making their own hardware and shifted to a software company.  So who would want a then dated 68030 based machine when the industry had made their first steps into the world of RISC computing.

So how does it measure up?  Well it is SYSV, and if you’ve seen one, well honestly you’ve seen them all.  What is kind of neat is that AMIX includes OpenLook and a C compiler, which is kind of a rarity for the period.

Another flaw was that when the 68040 processor was released it’s MMU was incompatible with the 68030, and the VM subsystem for any UNIX would have to be rewritten.  While NetBSD can run on both the 68030 and 68040, AMIX never was updated, and so it can only run on 68030 based machines.

AMIX never did get any critical traction, and slipped into oblivion with the death of Commodore.

Up until recently it was impossible to run AMIX in any emulator, but there has been a lot of work on the ARANYM and Pervious emulators which included doing 68030 MMU support for the possibility of running early versions of NeXTSTEP. Toni Wilen was able to adapt their work onto WinUAE and it is not possible to run AMIX.!

Reading through this thread,  I was able to put together the needed bits, and get it running under CrossOver, by using the pre-configured settings for WinUAE, and replacing the exe with the new beta exe, the supplied hard disk image from amigaunix.com and I was up and running in no time!  The only real change from the config was to change the SCSI ID of the hard disk from 0 to 6.

Screen Shot 2013-01-13 at 8.48.54 PM

AMIX starting up on WinUAE

The default password is wasp.  I thought it was kind of interesting that AMIX includes ‘dungeon’.  really cool!

Open Look on AMIX

Open Look on AMIX

I am unsure of how to enable the high resolution graphics, but sadly the Amiga known for its multimedia capabilities, AMIX with stock graphics runs in monochrome.  Such a major underwhelming thing.

Oh well, for anyone inclined you can now run AMIX, and enjoy another dead SYSV.

The Commodore Amiga

I was enjoying that great site, stumbleupon when I came across a commented listing of the Amiga 1.2 ROM. Then it hat hit me, I’ve never really written about some of the great emulators for the Commodore Amiga.

Back when I was in highschool I wanted a Commodore Amiga, as at the time I was stuck with a Commodore 64. However the world was starting to accept the IBM PC swing of things. Windows 3.0 was out, suddenly the protected mode of the 80286 could be exploited for only a few hundred dollars, vs the thousands for a UNIX port, or what OS/2 cost. And of course the big appeal at the time was that you could build your own PC in a kit fashion (well it still is!). So I was toying with the idea of buying this 286 8Mhz board for $30 CDN when I saw this program that a kid had brought in… It needed VGA, but it could apparently emulate a Commodore Amiga!

You can still download it here.

Running it just simply threw up a picture of the Amiga’s insert a workbench diskette, and clicked the drive madly.. Passing it through a hex editor showed a copy of an Amiga ROM tacked on the end, but it didn’t actually emulate anything.

But I didn’t realize it at the time, and it cemented my decision to buy the 286.

Years later and the topic of m68k emulation came up, as there were simple cross assemblers and simulators, and I can remember in college searching to see if anyone had started an Amiga emulator… And there was one project!

UAE

Originally it stood for “Unusable Amiga Emulator” and well it was unusable. But then with enough people starting to flock to the project it suddenly could boot AmigaDOS. I used to use this on MS-DOS back in the day for ‘maximum’ speed. I was able to find one ancient version of this 0.65 that still has an MS-DOS exe. And it runs great under DOSBOX. You can find it here.

And for the heck of it, here is a screen shot with a 1.3 ROM.

UAE 0.65 under DOSBOX

UAE 0.65 under DOSBOX

Naturally transferring disks was a major pain in the butt… I luckily had a friend with a working Amiga and cross dos for AmigaDOS all configured so I could transfer some terminal emulator to my poor Amiga 500 I had picked up at a used hardware store in college. Then I used what I could of ramdisks, compression programs and whatnot to upload via some 50 foot nullmodem cable I had to transfer ADF’s of my workbench disks and an old favorite game of mine, Captain Blood. Even back at the time, Commodore was bankrupt their future was bleak. Getting spare parts then was becoming hard for my Amiga 500. And my 486SX-20 could almost run at an acceptable speed in emulation..

But time marches on.

UAE was then ported to Linux & X11, and the SVGA lib. I had some old RS232 terminal so I could keep on using my machine to ‘work’ and still play console vga stuff like doom for SVGAlib and of course UAE. Now with CPUs in the GHz++ speed range, emulation of a 8Mhz machine with 3 custom chips is more in software then raw cpu speed. The UAE project kind of died off, there hasn’t been any big updates in years, but the CPU core work lives on in all kinds of m68k derived work.

There is no doubt that there is still a few closeted Amiga users out there, but I suspect that we don’t kick up UAE all that much these days.. But it’s still cool to watch it in action.

And of course the demos! One of my favorites was the fairlight 242 demo. Which UAE with a Kickstart 1.3 ROM will run. Even the MS-DOS version!

fairlight 242 UAE for DOS on DOSBOX

fairlight 242 UAE for DOS on DOSBOX

I should add you can find more demos here, and a Win32 version of UAE here.