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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, 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.

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.
  • 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 programs to communicate with each other and the ARexx programming language. This allows one program to use another, for both programs to serve the user and to let the user to control those programs from one program to another or from simple scripts.
  • 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.

What is AmigaOS?

AmigaOS concepts are described here. You will learn how to operate your computer via the command line interface (using your keyboard) or using the graphical environment, the Workbench, by using your mouse.


In order to explain what is AmigaOS and how it works, we need to start with basic concepts like "what is an operating system?", "what is a file?"...etc. Although you may be familiar with these concepts, this manual needs to stay accessible to all audiences and it's important to start with the basics. Also as some concepts vary a bit from an operating system to another, it may be an interesting read for skilled people as well.

In this section, you will find:

  • what is AmigaOS
  • an explanation of what AmigaOS is made of
  • what is the Shell
  • what is the Workbench
  • how AmigaOS is booted on your Amiga computer
  • ...

All details here will be described in general. In order to fully understand everything you will need to read the AmigaDOS manual and the Workbench page below.

Now let's start with this introduction to AmigaOS.


A lot of 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 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.

The Workbench, the graphical environment

Introduction to the Workbench and link to its page.