Copyright (c) 2012-2016 Hyperion Entertainment and contributors.
Welcome to AmigaOS
AmigaOS is an operating system pretty easy to understand. Of course you need to learn some basic concepts. This documentation will provide these and your imagination will do the rest.
AmigaOS exists since 1985. At this time it was an operating system ahead of all others i.e. it could do what others could only dream of. It was the first system that could display animations while playing music and while doing this it could still read data from disks, all at the same time. This is why many people/organisation used this great system. Some of them are famous: Andy Warhol, Arthur C. Clarke, the NASA, the Hollywood and the TV broadcasting industries and many others that thought only Amiga makes it possible.
Today many people still think AmigaOS has something special that makes it more interesting than other systems. A system that allows the user to control its computer, not the other way around. A system you fully understand, easier and more flexible to use, in other words more fun.
AmigaOS: The flexible operating system
AmigaOS is an operating system - a collection of efficient programs written to start the computer, let the user control the computer and to present feedback to the user.
AmigaOS is designed with ease of use and flexibility in mind. To begin with, AmigaOS provides a clear view of your computer, your applications and files. A number of methods are available to let your computer serve you - whether it is graphically with a mouse, by using the "Shell" command line or by some other means the user configures.
AmigaOS strives to avoid stupid limitations that can be found on other systems. An AmigaOS user can organise their files the way they like. There are few limits on file hierarchy, locations and file names - drives don't have to named with a letter or cryptic names (C:, sda1), your files don't have to reside in your "Documents" folder and your hard drives aren't hidden from you. If you're not writing to drives and you want "shut down", why do you have to wait for the OS to allow you? With AmigaOS, just hit the power switch.
An Amiga does not start with pre-installed applications serving some sales conglomerate, marketing organization or their big brother. AmigaOS does not do actions behind the user's back. As unique as it is today, the AmigaOS computer serves the user and not the other way around. With one of the largest proportions of user-programmers around, the trustworthy AmigaOS ethic is mirrored in AmigaOS applications
Since the first versions twenty-five years ago, AmigaOS has also been designed to serve efficiently. Developers of this operating system and programs have always strived to optimize their applications. The result is an operating system and applications that take less space on your hard drives, waste less time loading, consume less memory, require less processing power and respond quickly to the user.
Every update of AmigaOS doesn't demand you must buy newer, more powerful hardware. AmigaOS currently runs on twenty year old 200MHz computers or brand new dual core 1,800MHz computers - it's the user's choice how they want to enjoy AmigaOS.
Some AmigaOS features
Here are some of the features of AmigaOS that make easy to control your computer. Some of these concepts were copied by other operating systems which tend to show they are the correct way of doing things.
- Small footprint: AmigaOS can work with 64 MB of memory. On disk, a default installation takes around 200 MB only. The smaller footprint translates into a more responsive user experience given any hardware.
- Straightforward operating system design: With a clear layout and easy to understand names (Classes, Libs, Fonts, Prefs, Storage...etc.) you can easily understand what everything in AmigaOS is and what it does for you. Nothing is hidden from the user and the user is not restricted by AmigaOS.
- User configurable graphic interface: Using the provided "preferences editors" the user can dramatically reconfigure how AmigaOS looks, sounds, runs and responds to every user whim.
- File recognition based on their content: You can name a file whatever you want, even without an extension. Examples: "my file" or "picture of Jay in Santa Clara". There is no need to add an extension to explain what the file is, like ".txt" or ".jpg". AmigaOS really examines the file content to recognise what type of file it is.
- Logical assignments: Easily set and use logical names names for directories located anywhere on your system. For example, "Auto:" can point to your directory car show pictures buried on your media drive.
- Ram disk concept: On AmigaOS there is a special disk called the Ram disk which represents a part of your computer memory. This area is not fixed. It automatically grows whenever you store files in it.
- Command line and graphic interfaces: Both the the graphical user interface (GUI) and command line interface (where you type commands with the keyboard) can be used to manage AmigaOS, its programs and files. Both interfaces are intergated with each other so you can easily use command lines from the GUI or open graphical elements from a command line.
- ARexx Ports: Throughout AmigaOS and third party programs, "ARexx" message ports let one application to talk with others and for apps work together to serve the user. AmigaOS also provides the lightweight ARexx and modern Python programming languages that can control AmigaOS and those applications with their ARexx ports.
- Resident Commands: Commands can be made resident i.e. they are kept in memory so that they can be reused with no loading time.
- Restart only the operating system: if you feel the need to restart the system, you can do so restarting only the operating system and not the whole computer.
AmigaOS platform targets
While the original versions of AmigaOS would run on computers of the eighties on the Motorola 68k series CPU chips, the current AmigaOS runs on computers using the PowerPC processor chips hardware. These can be the old Amiga computers (also called "Classic Amigas") with PPC "accelerator cards" or the new generation Amiga PPC computers.
In this guide, we will concentrate on the current AmigaOS running on the supported hardware.
What is AmigaOS?
In order to explain what is AmigaOS and how it works, we need to start with basic concepts. What is an "operating system" and how is the AmigaOS special? In the following Introduction to AmigaOS pages we will discuss the basic concepts:
- how to use AmigaOS
- an explanation of what AmigaOS is organized
- what is the Workbench
- what is the Shell
- how AmigaOS is booted on your Amiga computer
Now let's start with this Introduction to AmigaOS.
The Workbench: the graphical AmigaOS environment
As with all modern operating systems, AmigaOS provides a graphical means to start applications, manage your computer and all your files. Files and programs are represented with icons, generally known as "Projects" and "Tools". They can be stored in any arrangement of directories ("Drawers").
The Workbench provides an interface that uses the windows, your mouse and various utilities to make managing files easy and straightforward. In the following pages we will discuss the these concepts:
- What is the Workbench
- Workbench menus
- Keyboard control
- Workbench requesters
- Workbench help
On to the Workbench Docs...
AmigaDOS: the underlying system
Many beginners are rather confused by the differences between the terms "AmigaDOS" and "Shell". Some people think they just use the Shell whereas they are using AmigaDOS commands in a shell window.
DOS was originally an acronym for "Disk Operating System". Some say it should be "Disk Based Operating System" as it does a lot more than operate a disk and that it was really an operating system based (stored) on disks. Some say it should be "Device Operating System". The "Shell" is really a text-based window into AmigaDOS and the commands that run there.
The whole AmigaDOS system includes things such as:
- A set of commands that can be used in the Shell window and elsewhere.
- A system for saving data to disk and retrieving it from disk.
- A system for filing data on disks.
- An interface for peripherals such as keyboards, monitors, printers, etc.
- A method of running programs
- A multitasking system for running more than one program at a time.
- etc. etc. etc.
Read the AmigaDOS manual to understand and learn everything about AmigaDOS.
AmigaOS System Tools
AmigaOS comes with a variety of programs to help in the preparation of your computer. These include tools for:
- Drive preparation (Media Toolbox, Format, Format DCRW & Mounter).
- Font Handling (TypeManager & FixFonts).
- Script Languages (RexxMast and Python).
- The Shell.
- Miscellaneous Utilities (Find, Help, Grim Reaper & Ringhio Server).
AmigaOS comes with a selection of utilities to assist the the user, including:
- Editors (Notepad, MEmacs, PrefsObjectEditor & IconEdit).
- Postscript oriented apps (AmiPDF, AmiGS & Ghostscript).
- Disk apps (PartitionWizard & RawDisk).
- AmiDock and Dockies.
- The Unarc dearchiver.
- Miscellaneous apps (Clock, printing apps, KeyShow, install apps, etc.).