Amiga support and maintenance software

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Amiga Support and maintenance software aids in the continuing operation of Amiga computers. "Support and maintenance software" refers to programs that perform service functions on a computer, as opposed to application software that perform business, education and recreation functions.

Service functions include formatting media for a specific filesystem, diagnosing failures that occur on formatted media, data recovery after media failure and installation of new software.[citation needed]

Original utilities[edit]

Amiga embedded utility programs in the operating system. Many of these were original features, which were adopted into other systems:

  • Installer was a tool for the installation of Amiga software. It featured a LISP interpreter to handle installations. It was not widely adopted because installation required copying a single executable to the floppy or the hard disk where the AmigaOS was installed. Ease of installation made the utility unnecessary. The Amiga Installer didn't support dependencies or track where the installed files were delivered; it simply copied them.[1]
  • AmigaGuide was a hypertext markup scheme and a browser for writing and reading web page-like documents. AmigaGuide files are text files in a simple markup language, which facilitates editing and localization in any ASCII text editor. Commodore developed the AmigaGuide format before the World Wide Web was widely known. Consumers who bought Amiga computers in a store did not receive documentation on how to write AmigaGuide documents.

Utilities borrowed from other systems[edit]

  • Update tools:
    • AmiUpdate was provided to keep installed 3rd party programs up to date.
    • Grunch is a software center for AmigaOS and MorphOS.[2]
    • MorphUP allows MorphOS users install and update new 3rd party software.

Neither update system was widely used by the Amiga community, because updating AmigaOS required only that a single file be copied to an AmigaOS system directory, replacing the previous version. This was a very simple procedure and any user with a minimum of experience could perform it easily.

Commodities and utilities[edit]

Amiga places System Utilities in two standard directories:

  • The Utilities directory contains programs like IconEdit.
  • The Commodities directory (volume SYS:Tools/Commodities/ or SYS:Utilities/Commodities under AmigaOS4) contains executable applet-like utilities which enhance system usability, like for example the ScreenBlanker, the default screen saver shipped with AmigaOS. "Commodities" are usually loaded at system startup. They require no interaction, and do not feature any GUI interfaces.
  • A system utility called Exchange allowed the user to control, stop, reload and tune "Commodities."

Hard disk partitioning[edit]

AmigaOS features a standard centralized utility to partition and format hard disks, called HDToolBox.

MorphOS uses an updated version of the SCSIConfig utility (since version MorphOS 2, HDConfig) implemented by third party vendor, Phase5. In spite of the name, "SCSIConfig" possessed a unique feature at the time, which was providing a consistent mechanism to manage all types of disk interfaces, including IDE, irrespective of which interface the disk(s) in question used.

Diagnostic tools[edit]

AmigaOS diagnostic tools are usually programs which display the current state of Exec and AmigaDOS activities.

  • Active process explorer: Scout, Ranger
  • System calls and messages: SnoopDOS, Snoopium
  • Memory management: CyberGuard, Enforcer, MemMungWall, TLSFMem by Chris Hodges
  • Virtual memory: GigaMem, VMM
  • Benchmark Utilities AmiBench, AIBB

Degrading tools: Degrader

  • These programs "degrade" modern Amiga systems to performance and hardware equivalents of legacy Amiga models.

Promoting tools[edit]

Promoter and ForceMonitor are utilities which allow the user to control the resolution of Intuition screens of Amiga programs.

Game loaders[edit]

WHDLoad is a utility to install legacy Amiga games on a hard disk and load them from Workbench desktop instead of floppies, on which they were often delivered.

jst is an older utility which the developer abandoned in order to concentrate efforts on WHDLoad. Old jstloaders can be read with WHDLoad, and jst itself has some early level of WHDLoad compatibility.

Command line interfaces and text-based shells[edit]

The original Amiga CLI (Command Line Interface) had some basic editing capabilities, command templates, and other features such as ANSI compatibility and color selection. In AmigaOS 1.3, the program evolved into a complete text-based shell called AmigaShell.

Third-party developers created improved shells because implementing a new command line interface into Amiga only required replacing the original Console-Handler standard command line device driver (or "handler" in Amiga technical language). This program controlled text-based interfaces into Amiga. The most famous Amiga replacement for the original Console-Handler was KingCON (also known as its "virtual device" name added with semicolon "KingCON:").

Some well-known shells from other platforms were ported to Amiga. These included Bash(Bourne Again SHell), CSH (C-Shell), and ZSH (Z-Shell). The shells taken from Unix and Linux were adapted into Amiga and improved with its peculiar capabilities and functions.

The MorphOS Shell is an example of Z-Shell mixed with the KingCON console handler. It originated as a Unix-like shell, and is provided with all the features expected from such a component: AmigaDOS commands (more than 100 commands, most of which are Unix-like), local and global variables, command substitution, command redirection, named and unnamed pipes, history, programmable menus, multiple shells in a window, ANSI compatibility, color selection, and so on. It also includes all the necessary commands for scripting.

Amiga WIMP GUI interfaces[edit]

Starting from the original Amiga WIMP standard GUI called Workbench, Amiga interfaces were enhanced by third-party developers. Amiga users are free to replace the original Workbench interface with these: Scalos and Directory Opus. The standard GUI toolkit, calledIntuition, was enhanced in OS2.x with the introduction of GadTools and third parties created their own toolkits such as Magic User Interface (MUI),(the standard on MorphOS systems), and ClassAct, which then evolved into ReAction GUI (the standard GUI on AmigaOS 4.0).

Amiga Advanced Graphics Systems[edit]

Most users added advanced graphics drivers to their Amiga. This let the AmigaOS handle high resolution graphics, enhanced with millions of colors, complete with Alpha Channel. Standard GUI interfaces with this capability are CyberGraphX, EGS and Picasso96.

Graphical engines[edit]

Graphical engines on the Amiga include:

  • Warp3D is 3D graphic engine for Amiga;
  • TinyGL (MorphOS) and MiniGL (AmigaOS) implement subset of OpenGL graphic engine.
  • X11 engine - also available through the Amiga versions of Cygnix.
  • Cairo Vector Library - available on AmigaOS 4 and MorphOS.
  • SSA Super Smooth Animation System for Playback with 50Hz and 60Hz. proDAD Adorage was the first product was used this.
  • GTK - On Amiga it is being developed as a GTK_MUI wrapper, to map any existing graphical features of GTK to the standard Magic User Interface (MUI) graphic user interface system.

All Amiga systems also widely support SDL (Simple DirectMedia Layer) cross-platform, multimedia, and free software libraries written in C which creates an abstraction over various platforms' graphics, sound, and input APIs, allowing a developer to write a computer game or other multimedia application once and run it on many operating systems.[clarification needed]

PostScript[edit]

Amiga supports PostScript through Ghostscript and AmigaTeX. Ghostview is the foremost used graphical GUI for ghostscript in Amiga.

Since AmigaOS 2.1, in the Prefs (Preferences) system directory there is the printer preferences program called PrinterPS which pilots PostScript printers on Amiga.

TrueType fonts, color and anim fonts[edit]

Original Amiga outline fonts a.k.a. vector fonts were Agfa Compugraphic fonts available since AmigaOS 2.1 with the standard utility Fountain from Commodore, then the subsystem of outline fonts was replaced by using most widely used TrueType fonts, using various libraries, such as TrueType Library I and II, and LibFreeType library.

The standard diskfont.library also supported bitmap multicolour fonts (ColorFonts), such as those professional-looking Kara Fonts, or even animated fonts also created in origin from developer Kara Computer Graphics.

Font designer software[edit]

Personal Fonts Maker was the most widely used Amiga software to create bitmap fonts, whileTypeSmithv.2.5b was the de facto standard utility to create outline fonts.

File management[edit]

Backup and recovery[edit]

In the first Amiga OS releases, Commodore included a standard floppy disk recovery utility called DiskDoctor. Its purpose was to recover files from mangled floppy disks. Unfortunately, this utility worked only with Amiga OS standard disks. A major fault was that it did not save the recovered data on different disks, rather it saved the info on the original and performed its operations directly on the original. It wrote on original disks and destroyed Amiga autoboot-non standard AmigaOS disks (mainly autobooting games), by overwriting their bootblock. DiskDoctor renamed recovered disks to "Lazarus" (after the resurrected man in the New Testament).

These features were undocumented and led to an Amiga urban legend that there was a computer virusnicknamed the Lazarus Virus,[3] whose final purpose was to make disks unreadable and renaming it with that name. With version 2.0 came the more useful DiskSalv utility, which was more often used to validate Amiga filesystems in hard disks partitions.

The three generations of Amiga disk repair tools were:

  • First generation (only floppies): Disk Mechanic, Disk Repair, Dr.Ami
  • Second generation (floppies + HD) : Ami-Back Tools, Ami-Filesafe Pro, Quarterback Tools, Amiga Tools DeLuxe, Diavolo Backup
  • Third generation (modern filesystems): The suite for recovering SFS: SFS Recover Tool, SFSDoctor, SFSCheck 2, SFSResize 1.0

Disk copiers[edit]

During the 8 bit and 16/32 bit era, copying software was not considered illegal in many countries, and piracy was not perceived as being a crime by the users of home computers (usually young people). Commodore 64 and Sinclair ZX Spectrum software were copied using audio cassettes while IBM PC, Atari and Amiga software were copied using special programs called Disk Copiers which were engineered to copy any floppy disk surface byte by byte, often using special, efficient and advanced techniques of programming and "Disk Track driving" to maintain Floppy Disk read/write head alignment.

In the early days of the Amiga platform about 16 disk copiers were created in a short amount of time (1985-1989) that enabled copying Amiga floppy disks, including Nibbler, QuickNibble, ZCopier, XCopy/Cachet, FastCopier, Disk Avenger, Tetra Copier (which enabled the user to play Tetris while copying disks), Cyclone, Maverick, D-Copy, Safe II, PowerCopier, Quick Copier, Marauder II (named "Marauder][" with the parenthesis symbol)[clarification needed], Rattle Copy and BurstNibble.

Many were legal in many countries, until years later. These programs (for example, Marauder, X-Copy and Nibbler) were then sold in packages complete with instructions, warranty and EULA like other productivity software. Some floppy disks included LED track indicators to show if the disks were hacked by the original programmers to support up to track 82 of the disk, and copying solutions that included both hardware and software like Super Card Ami II, or Syncro Express I/II/III.

DFC5 could only copy standard AmigaOS formatted disks for backup purposes, however, it multitasked inside of the Amiga Workbench GUI.

X-COPY III, and later the final version, X-COPY Pro, were the most popular Amiga copy programs. They were capable of bit-by-bit copying, also called "nibbling". Although incapable of true multitasking, the programs were capable of taking advantage of Amiga configurations with multiple floppy drives; for instance, on Amiga systems with four floppy drives, X-COPY was capable of simultaneously copying from a source drive to three others. Coupled with excellent bit-by-bit replication capabilities, these features made X-COPY the de facto standard for copying floppy disks on the Amiga.

Another popular copying program was D-COPY,[4] by a Swedish group "D-Mob", which, in spite of some innovative features and better/faster copying routines, failed to gain dominance.

Archives and compression utilities[edit]

The most popular archivers were LHA and LZX. Programs to archive ZIP, Gzip, Bzip2, and RAR files were available but seldom used, and many have an Amiga counterpart, such as 7-Zip. Utilities were available for reading and writing archive formats such as ARC, ARJ (unarchive only), the CAB files common in Windows installation, StuffIt SIT archives from Macintosh, Uuencode (used for encoding binary attachments of e-mail messages), TAR (common on UNIX and GNU/Linux), RPM (from Red Hat), and more.

Amiga supported "packed" or "crunched" (meaning lightly or heavily compressed) executables, which were common in the age of floppy disks, when disk space and memory conservation was critical. These executable binary files had a decompress routine attached to them that would automatically unpack or decrunch (decompress) the executable upon loading into memory.

The Amiga also included "level depacking", implemented by "Titanics Cruncher," which enabled a binary executable to be decrunched as it was being loaded, requiring a very small amount of memory to do so. In general, packing and crunching was taken from the Commodore 64 cracking scene. Some crunchers, such as Time Cruncher, were "ported" from Commodore 64, displaying the same visual effects during decrunching. The CPU in the Amiga was completely different than the one in the Commodore 64, requiring a complete rewrite.

Noteworthy were TurboImploder and PowerPacker, as they were easy to use, with graphical interfaces. Other popular crunchers were DefjamPacker, TetraPack, DoubleAction, Relokit, StoneCracker, Titanics and CrunchMania. The ability to compress and decompress single files and directories on the fly has been present on the AmigaOS since at least 1994.

A similar feature was implemented relatively recently as a property in the ZFS filesystem.

The AmigaOS packers and cruncher libraries are centralized by using the XPK system. The XPK system consists of a master library and several (de)packer sublibraries. Programs use only the master library directly. Sublibraries implement the actual (de)compression. When unpacking/decrunching, the applications do not need to know which library was used to pack or crunch the data. XPK is a wrapper for crunchers; to decrunch non-XPK packed formats requires XFD.

Another important invention on the Amiga platform was the ADF format for creating images of Amiga floppy disks, either AmigaDOS Standard floppies, or NDOS ones, for use in Amiga emulators, such as WinUAE. Amiga emulators and AmigaOS can use these files as they were implemented as virtual floppy disks. Unlimited virtual floppies could be created on modern Amigas, although WinUAE on a real PC can handle only four at a time, the maximum that the Amiga hardware could have connected at any one time.

All the popular Amiga compression implementations and archive files are now centralized and implemented by a single system library called XAD, which has a front end GUI named Voodoo-X. It is included in AmigaOS 3.9 and up with UnArc. This library is modular and can handle more than 80 compression formats.

Filesystems[edit]

Amiga can use various filesystems. The historical standards are Amiga Filesystem, named Amiga Old Filesystem. This was good for floppy disks but wasted space on Hard disks and is considered obsolete.

Amiga Fast File System (FFS) can handle file names up to 107 characters, has international settings (it can use filenames with accented letters) and could also be cached, if the users chose to format the partition with the cache option. The FFS filesystem evolved into FFS2.

Modern journaling file systems for Amiga are the Smart File System (SFS) and Professional File System (PFS).

MultiUser File System (MuFS) supports multiple users. Using MuFS the owner of the system could grant various privileges on files by creating privileges for groups and users. It was first available with Amiga ARIADNE multi ethernet card, and later standalone. Professional Filesystem suite owns a utility to let PFS to be patched to support MuFS and MuFS features. The latest version is 1.8 was released in 2001.

CrossDOS is an Amiga standard utility to read MS-DOS formatted floppy disks in FAT12 and FAT16 filesystem, either 720KB Double Density Floppy format or High Density Floppy at 1440KB (on connected floppy drives that can read 1440 MS-DOS disks).

The FAT95 library recognizes partitions of various filetypes common in other systems such as FAT16 and FAT32. It also reads DOS floppies and USB Pen-Drives formatted with FAT16 or FAT32.

Filesystems like ext2 for Linux or the well known NTFS from Microsoft, and more are supported by third party developers.

MorphOS supports natively SFS, FFS/FFS2, PFS, MacOS HFS, HFS+, Linux Ext2 and FAT16 and FAT32, NTFS filesystems.

Data/file types[edit]

The Datatype system of AmigaOS is a centralized, expandable, modular system describing any kind of file (text, music, image files, videos). Each has a standard load/save module.

Any experienced programmer, using the Amiga Datatype programming guidelines, could create new standard datatype modules. The module could be left visible to the whole Amiga System (thus to all Amiga programs) by copying the datatype into the system directory SYS:Classes/DataTypes/, and the descriptor (used to identify files) into DEVS:DataTypes/.

This allows programs to load and save any files for which the correspondent datatypes exist. File descriptors did not need to be embedded in the binary. An independent system of loaders was not needed for new productivity software. Amiga productivity software tools therefore have a smaller size and a more clean design than similar programs running in other operating systems.

Supported Amiga datatypes include:

MultiView[edit]

MultiView is the Amiga universal viewer. It can load and display any file for which a correspondent datatype exists.

MIME types[edit]

Modern Amiga-like operating systems such as AmigaOS 4.0 and MorphOS can handle also MIME types. Any kind of file, due to its peculiar characteristics (thanks to filename extensions), or data embedded into the file itself (for example into file header) could be associated with a program capable to handle it and this feature improves and completes the capabilities of Amiga to recognize and deal with any kind of file.

Device support[edit]

USB[edit]

The only known historical USB stack for the Amiga was created for the Draco Macrosystem Amiga clone. It supported only USB 1.0 and ceased with the demise of that platform.

Modern USB support drivers for Amiga are:

  • ANAIIS (Another Native Amiga IO Interface Stack) from Gilles Pelletier
  • Poseidon USB stack available for AmigaOS 3, AROS and MorphOS. Poseidon has a modular approach to USB and various hardware devices are supported by a certain number of HID devices.
  • Sirion USB stack of AmigaOS 4.0.

FireWire (IEEE 1394)[edit]

The only known historical Amiga support for FireWire IEEE 1394 was built for the DraCo Amiga clone by Macrosystem.

Only one FireWire interface exists for Amiga. It is named Fireworks and it was created for the MorphOS system by programmer Pavel Fedin. It is still in an early stage of development, and is freely downloadable.

Printer drivers[edit]

Print Manager program TurboPrint, by German firm IrseeSoft, is the de facto standard for advanced printing with Amiga. It is a modular program with many drivers which support many modern printers. PrintStudio Professional I and II are another well known printer driver system for the Amiga.

PrintManager v39 By Stephan Rupprecht, available at Aminet repository, is a print spooler for the AmigaOS 3.x and 4.0.

Video digitizers[edit]

Video digitizing includes DigiView, FrameMachine Zorro II (Amiga 16bit card standard bus connector) expansion card for A2000, 3000, 4000, Impact Vision IV24 from GVP, VidiAmiga real time digitizer and the Paloma module which could be purchased with the Picasso IV Amiga compatible graphic card.

Graphic Tablets[edit]

In the 1980s, SummaGraphics Tablets were common. Summagraphics directly supported Amiga with its drivers.

In 1994 GTDriver (Graphic Tablet Driver) was the most common driver for serial port tablets, like Summagraphics MM, Summagraphics Bitpadone, CalComp 2000, Cherry, TekTronix 4967 and WACOM. It could also be used as a mouse driver.

Graphics tablets now are mainly USB devices, and are automatically recognized by Amiga USB stacks. The most widely used driver for graphic tablets is FormAldiHyd. FormAldiHyd can be used with Aiptek, Aldi, Tevion and WACOM IV (Graphire, ArtPad, A3, A4, A5 and PenPartner) graphic tablets.

Scanner drivers[edit]

Amiga programs often have Scanner drivers embedded in their interface, and are limited to some ancient scanner models. One example is "Art Department Professional."

In recent times scanner management is managed by the Amiga Poseidon USB Stack. Poseidon detects scanners from their signature, and loads the corresponding HIDD scanner module. The graphical interface is managed by programs like ScanTrax and ScanQuix.

Genlocks, Chroma-Key, signal video inverters[edit]

Amiga has special circuitry to support Genlock signal, and Chroma-Key. Genlock software vendors were GVP (Great Valley Productions), an American hardware manufacturer, and Hama, Electronic Design, and Sirius Genlocks from Germany.

InfraRed/remote controls[edit]

The IRCom class was a driver that supported the IRCom standard, is available the for USB Poseidon Stack.[5]

Pegasos computers have an internal IrDA port connector for piloting infrared devices, but MorphOS offers no support for it. The Internal IrDA port can be used by installing Linux.

WiFi and Bluetooth[edit]

Amiga can use WiFi external routers connected physically through ethernet cable and talk with remote WiFi devices. Drivers are available for Prism2 internal Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) WiFi expansion cards, but no drivers for Bluetooth standard devices like mobile phones, Bluetooth handsets, keyboards or mice.

A USB class exists for Poseidon Stack to use the "Wireless PC Lock" USB device by Sitecom Europe BV and engage its security functions. It is called Wireless PC Lock.

Others[edit]

In the past, drivers and hardware cards were available to drive the Polaroid Freeze Frame Digital Camera System Polaroid Digital Palette CI-3000 and Digital Palette CI 5000, with Polaroid software.

Drivers for step-by-step video recorders allow users to save on tape the 3D animations created by Amiga (Digital piloted Ampex, Betacam, and TBC devices (Time Base Correctors devices, a family of devices correcting timing errors). These drivers adjust Amiga TV output signal to many broadcast video devices and link the signal to professional Betacam videorecorders, signal converters to change NTSC American TV system to PAL European TV system and professional broadcast blue-screens. One was the Personal TBC series of programs.

Amiga helped to create and launch digital recorders coupled with an internal hard disk and a DVD device, for file transfer. One was Broadcaster Elite, one of the first digital videorecorders, based on a SCSI system and a Zorro II Amiga expansion card.

Digital oscilloscopes and expansion cards could transform Amiga into an oscilloscope/vectorscope. The emulated device could be either an oscilloscope or a vectorscope.

Amiga Phonepak card from GVP Amiga Phonepak transformed Amiga into a telephone switchboard, fax system and SOHO (Small Office/Home Office) answering machine.

Amiga was used as a videotitler system in the High Definition TV standard for experimental broadcasting. A battery of three Amigas was used as a videotitler on Analog HDTV experiments on HDTV NTSC 1125 lines standard, by channels like ESPN, ABC and NBC.

See also[edit]

References[edit]