So I’ve spent a couple of days wrestling with AROS. I really like the idea of a AMIGA compatible x86 OS so I’m trying to learn more about the code. Getting started with AROS is not hard, if you go with the Icaros Desktop you actually just need to follow one of the guides. I wanted the source though since I intend to do a lot of coding on this platform.
Yesterday I decided I needed to get some C environment going on the classic amiga. There are some to choose from, gcc, vbcc (which I use on my linux machine for crosscompiling), StormC and friends but I went with SAS/C as suggested by a friend. It came with an installer and I had no problem answering questions and hitting that “Proceed” button. As suggested, I copied the “starter_project”, disliked the builtin editor (ed’s my friend) and compiled the cli version of “hello world”.
Busy days in the basement-office (where the not so lucrative but fun stuff happens). I got wifi and I managed to find a lha package with wget that worked out of the box. That was great, but I also wanted some kind of basic browser (for reading text) and ssh. We are a bunch of dysfunctional geeks with our own chatserver so SSH will be my only way to communicate with friends from the amiga.
The best week ever. The other day my fabulous CF IDE arrived and, of course, it went straight into the Amiga 1200. Then the other day I met up with my favorite geek-buddies and we spent the whole evening playing around with our old computers. I spent my evening struggling with the pcmcia wifi card. With this wonderful little item and a software called “Miami” I suddenly could scan for wifi networks.
So I spent the weekend getting some more muscles in the old A1200. It went straight on the surgeons table and got disassembled, which was kind of nervous since it’s been 20 years since the last time. Everything went smooth though (thank you youtube) and I soon had a lot more muscles and the Indivision DVI card in place. It will be a lot better to code on it with a real monitor for sure.
It’s been a couple of busy months with a lot of work and too many holidays to celebrate. It all ended up with me getting seriously caught in nostalgia which i couldn’t resist so, I’m now the owner of some classic amigas as well. The first one arrived yesterday, a good old A500 with 1 MB of memory and the lovely Tac-2 joystick that will help you guide the paperboy when he delivers newspapers (or something).
Since my wireless cards did not work with AROS (very few do) I went with ethernet. Unfortunately I noticed that I just couldn’t plug my cable in any of the boxes and surf away. In AROS you really need to choose your driver manually, nothing is setup for you from the start. Know your hardware Things will be a lot easier if you know your hardware before you try putting AROS/Icaros on it.
Yes, why? Why on earth would anyone spend hours of their precious time playing around with an old software stack that probably won’t run at all on any modern computer without hours of frustration? I would say most people don’t want to do that all, they like things that “Just works” and they have no interest in learning why and how it actually works. Well.. I’m not one of those people.
So, I decided to give Aros a go and went for the Icaros Desktop since I had the feeling that this was the most “complete” system. There’s a lot of information in the User docs, you can for example run Icaros hosted on your Linux or windows system or go virtual in Virtualbox. For me that wasn’t an option though since I wanted the “real thing”. Hardware I watched Stephen Jones great videos about building an AROS based computer from old hardware which made me go for a treasure hunt in the garage and basement.