Amiga30 at Neuss and Commodore Fan Club Japan

[Edit 151029] Changed some factual errors about the reason Wings Battlefield got made. Added the names of the MorphOS Team members.

[Edit] You can now read a French translation of this blog post here (with some additional information).

I have been away for over a month meeting my inlaws in Japan. Even though I did bring my Powerbook with me I ended up having very little time playing with MorphOS. But I did get the opportunity to visit a Commodore Fan Club meeting in Okubo (Tokyo) the 20th of September. If you read my old blog post about Japan you know Amiga was never big there, but apparently it had more love than I originally thought. Big enough for a meeting.

The meeting was inside this building (Kantou IT Software Kenpo Kaikan, 関東ITソフトウェア健保会館):


Beyond the glas door I was greated by this:


I followed the sign to this door:


Inside was a couple of Japanese people, plus one Italian living in Japan showing off his A1200:


While me and the Italian chatted about things Amiga the other Japanese where chatting with each other:


It turns out that most of them are ex Commodore employees. High up ones even. And they had even met Jay Miner in the States before he died in 1994. Naturally they are still die hard Commodore fans.

The meeting started, and everyones attention turned to the A1200 which started to show off some games and demos running via WHDLoad:


After that I got a chance to show off my Powerbook running MorphOS (sorry, no pictures). For the Japanese this was the first time they saw it running on real hardware and they where really impressed. They seemed most impressed by the fact that it runned natively (not in emulation) and that it could execute 68k based programs. They all said they would get their own PPC Macs to run MorphOS on it. I hope they will.

After that we was shown a program that was meant to enable Amigas to run Japanese native texts (hiragana, katakana and kanji). They run it in emulation on a laptop but couldn’t get pass the installation. It broke down somewhere. But we still got a laugh as the installation program played an upbeat song when started, something I’ve never seen (heard) being done before with an Amiga program:


After that we got an demonstration of the C64 Direct to TV. A fun gimmic but the included games where mostly crap:


It was a nice meeting indeed which lasted for about an hour. After that we went to a local Chinese restaurant and kept talking about Amiga, computers and everyday life stuff. It was nice meeting the guys and getting some more knowledge about how Commodore was in Japan:


Amiga30 in Neuss, Germany

A couple of days after getting back from Japan it was time to go abroad again. This time to Germany to attend the Amiga30 event in Neuss. I was going there as an exhibitor, showing off our magazine Amiga Forum:


As you can see I also brought my Mac Mini with me, showing off some MorphOS demos. Even though my table recieved very little attention and interest it didn’t matter. I was away looking at the other tables and talking to people as much as I could anyway. It was a pretty big event, and this was the view from my table:


As you can see there was a couple of nice A4000T and A1200T (right) and to the left was the cancelled Walker prototype. This was Petro Tyschtschenkos table and he was busy writing autographs and chatting with people. He is after all part of the Amiga fame. R.J. Mical and Dave Haynie was also there but I never got a chance to even say hello to them. Here is the Walker:


While a lot of people call the Walker a design disaster, I’ve always liked it. With the right specs (it’s specs weren’t good sadly), advertisement and timing it could have predated the much praised iMac. Of course it didn’t happen as Escom went bankrupt before that. There was also a glass framed piece of the first A1200 motherboard that came out of Escom. It was broken from the start, but it was still the first Amiga made after Commodore went bust:


Right next to me sat Daniel Müßener of Cherry Darling/Golden Code. He was showing off his numerous games but also a small demo for an upcoming port of Wings Remastered. As you might know, Wings RM was a Kickstarter game that was bringing the classic Amiga game up to modern standards. After several tries they managed to get it funded and one reached stretch goal was NG Amiga ports (by third party). However, since Wings RM was based on Unity such a port would be pretty much impossible.

This prompted Daniel to make his own Wings clone called Wings Battlefield just to show them. After some time Danile was contacted by the developer who asked him to make the port. Though he can reuse some of his own code for the game the 3D engine has to be for the most part a complete rewrite. Talk about ambitious!

[Edit] See comment below by Daytona675x for corrections about the reason he made Wings Battlefield.

Here is his table (games being played is Battle Squadron and Wings Battlefield):


AmiKit was also there demonstrating their Amiga emulator AmiKit 10 (this one showing AmigaOS 4.1 FE Classic):


You could also buy music CD:s based on Amiga classics:


… some new, original games:


… new cool cases for your Nemo motherboard:


… huge passive cooling for the same motherboard:


… a MIST FPGA computer (hardware emulated Amiga):


… or a bunch of old Phase5 prototype motherboards:


Because I was an exhibitor I didn’t have enough time to look and ask around every table. And when I had time, there was usually already a lot of people there talking to the people in charge, not giving me much change to talk to them myself. The fair was pretty packed:


The highlight of the event has to have been the upcoming X5000 computer. Sadly, A-Eon didn’t let the viewers try AmigaOS 4 on it but instead showed off some demos and movies running simultaneously:


ACube also showed off their new motherboard, codename Tabor. I didn’t get a chance to see it myself though.

In the afternoon, when things was a little less hectic I got a visit from Mark “bigfoot” Olsen, one of the core MorphOS developers (and a terribly nice guy) and we ended up having a long conversation about MorphOS, problems, future plans and whatnot:


The MorphOS table showed off some computers running MorphOS. Here is a maxed out Powerbook 1.67 Ghz and a classic Amiga 4000 running MorphOS 3.8. The last supported MorphOS for classic Amigas is 1.4.5, but the Team has been able to get the latest version to work too. But according to them it’s not a painless process to get it to work which is why it’s not released to the public. To the far right is an iBook:


There was also an ACube SAM 460 running MorphOS on it. The SAM 460 is the first currently selling motherboard that is supported by MorphOS (since version 3.8) in almost a decade:


MorphOS is also working on a port to the above mentioned X5000, which people where allowed to try out:


I also got a chance of course to talk to the other members of MorphOS Team and it was such a nice thing to be able to meet them face to face. In fact, this was the highlight for me since there was so much to talk about. They also showed off a working copy of an upcoming MorphOS port of Pagestream, MIDI support and of course MorphOS 3.10 beta. Plus a bunch of other software in the works.

I wish I had taken notes and more pictures, but there was simple too much to see, do and people to talk to. I had a great time and it was nice to see that MorphOS and the Team are doing such a great job. I hope I will have a chance to do something like this again.


MorphOS Team members (left to right): Antoine Debourg, Guido Mersmann, Nicholai Benalal, Karoly Balogh, Jacek Piszczek, Ilkka Lehtoranda, Pawel Stefanski (squatting), Frank Mariak, Andre Siegel and Mark Olsen.

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New game: Tower 57

There is right now a kickstarter for a neo-retro style “Chaos Engine” clone out there called Tower 57. I liked the style from the start and pledged myself an “early bird”. But then the developer dropped a very unexpected hint: he wanted to port the game (if the kickstarter is successful) to AmigaOS 4. Not to make any real money out of it (there isn’t any), but just because he grew up with the Amiga and was happy to hear that development was still ongoing.

Naturally, I pointed out about MorphOS and AROS. He hadn’t heard about them but was open for porting to those too. I told him I knew a guy who programmed NG Amiga games (Daniel Müssener of Cherry Darling fame) and they started to exchange e-mails. Since the game is mostly done in C++ a good port is very much possible. Today I got an e-mail confirming that an AmigaOS 4 and MorphOS port is a streach goal for the game, that Daniel will be the NG programmer (which by now is a confirmed seal of quality) and that the stretch goal is a mere 1000 euro extra, because they really want to make these versions a reality.

But there is only about two weeks left and they have only reached roughly half way. Log into Kickstarter (or join. All you need is a paypal account) and pledge now so we can make this a reality! New games with such a big budget for MorphOS and AmigaOS 4 only happens once every red moon. Click on the teaser picture below to get to the kickstarter.

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Sorting stuff with MorphOS

A couple of months ago I purchased a 1 TB 2.5″ external USB HDD in order to sort all of my stuff from my various computers into one single, well organised place. The idea is that every computer will eventually have the exact same system. So when I add new stuff (pictures, videos, backups etc) all I need to do is dragging the folder to the HDD and it will add the new stuff.

I stop here to add something which might be of interest to you. Since MorphOS doesn’t handle NTFS 100% (the default Windows HDD file system) I chose to repartition the HDD to FAT32 instead. FAT32 is pretty much supported by everything. It handles up to 4 TB partitions, though it can’t handle files bigger than 4 GB. Unless you work with heavy video editing this won’t be much of a problem. I do have a couple of movies that are bigger than that, but I can’t play them in MorphOS anyway (too CPU heavy) so I will save them somewhere else.

However, Windows 7 doesn’t format FAT32 for some petty reason. So I had to find a third party program, preferbly gratis, somewhere else. After some trial and error I found EasyUS Partition Master Free that does this. It was also a very helpful tool in enlarging one partition and merging two in Windows, since Windows own tools refused to do that.

Back to topic.

Organizing my videos, programs and pictures was pretty easy. What ended up taking the better part of two weeks (!) was all the MP3:s I had all over the place.

I got my first Windows PC back in 2000, after selling my last Amiga. Up until then I hadn’t care much for MP3:s, but now I started to collect them like crazy. Since I never runned out of space the number of songs just kept piling up. I also got my first MP3-player at the time, but it could only handle 32 MB so it was pretty easy to keep track on what songs to add.

Then in 2004 I finally got a MP3-player with 1 GB storage (I still have it, but I have lost the cables and software). This was a huge improvement but it also force me to face a challange: I had some 6 GB of music. Only 1/6th of that could be stored in the player. I solved this by creating a separate MP3-player drawer with 1 GB music, for easy transfer and organizing. The result was that I for ten or so years kept adding and deleting songs in that drawer. Eventually, I had deleted a lot of songs I liked and added songs I grew tired with. So I started over again with a new drawer, adding old and new songs but still had to prioritize due to limited space. It’s not until now I have a MP3 player large enough to include every MP3 I got. So when I decided to merge all these different drawers into one organized system it meant I had to go through tens of tousands of songs in order to delete duplicates, poor versions of songs I like and songs I just had for some reason but don’t listen to.

A tedious job to say the least!

But I soon found out that it was a pretty easy to do in MorphOS:


As you can see I have three drawers. The top one is for songs and albums I don’t listen too but decided to keep anyway. The one to the bottom left is one of my old MP3 drawers and the one to the bottom right is the new organizing system, on my external HDD (top right. I named it Osaka. If you like anime, you know what it means 🙂 ). I also started MPlayer and added the drawer(s) that I was currently checking in order to more easily listenand switch between songs. I also used the very handy search function in MorphOS (which is a button above the folders). This helped me make sure I had already copied the songs to it’s final destination, or confirmed if the song in question is the same as the saved one.

Unlike Windows, you have to write “*” before and after the file name if you want it to look for any file with the written words in it. Without the “*”, it will search for that exact file and that exact file only. So unless you have a file called “eat world” (as in our example in the picture above) it won’t find it. Also, if you use “*” only in the beginning of the word it will look for any file that ends with “eat world”, and if you use “*” in the end it will look for file names that begins with “eat world”. This allows for a flexibility that doesn’t exist in Windows, even though I usually end up using “*” at the beginning and at the end anyway.

I also have OWB iconized for quick access when I’m unsure where to put a song or a band. I’m no musician so for me a lot of genres sounds the same, or almost the same to me. In the end, I even had to invent some genres. I can’t tell the difference between house and trance for example so I made three genres besides computer music, electric rock and goa: electronica vocal (where people sing), electronica non vocal (where people say maybe one word or one sentence) and electronica pure (no speach whatsoever). It turned out to be a good choice (at least for me) since these three kinds of genres are easily distinguable. After much work, this is how it turned out:


I also created sub catalogues for languages, albums and sometimes sub categories (like audio books, lectures and so on in Speach).

After working like this day in and day out it felt good that MorphOS was as good as it was for this task. I do think Windows could do it pretty much as easily, but Windows is, unlike MorphOS, a very sluggish, non responsive and slow system. It felt much better to start MorphOS and be ready to work in about a minute, unlike Windows 10 or so (remember, just because Windows have started it doesn’t mean that all the background programs have finished loading, which really adds to it’s sluggish response time).

The only real disadvantage was that sometime MorphOS freezes when transfering a lot of files, or a few really big files. It happens at random (sometimes not at all) so I pretty much had to copy individual folders just to be on the safe side. When copying freezes the file will be corrupt and you have to redo the copying process. If you don’t really know which file has been damaged, the only thing left is to start over in order to be sure no files are corrupt. But if you copy one folder at the time you will at least don’t have to copy too much of the same files. Since MorphOS reboots quickly you will be at it again within a minute.

This sounds annoying, and it was at the beginning, but after I started copying individual folders I quickly got used to it, and the freezing became much less frequent as well.

One advantage on the other hand was that when I tried copying in Windows instead it had a lot of problems. Several files had characters it didn’t like and simply refused to copy it. Other files was buried within a large number of subfolders with long folder names and Windows refused to copy those too. Where Windows just refuse to do anything, MorphOS copies correctly without a fuzz.

Also, I have several files that have Japanese names in it. MorphOS can’t read Japanese so it shows as complete jibberish. However, when I copied the distorted file names in MorphOS and then checked them out in Windows the file names was shown correctly. This was an unexpected and welcomed surprise indeed. I expected the file names to be corrupted in the process, but there was no such thing.

To summarize: while MorphOS has problems with occational freezes and not being able to read Japanese file names, Windows is sluggish to boot up and it have it’s own problems which results in files not being copied at all. In the end, I prefered using MorphOS instead for this huge task. This shows that even with tousands of full time paid developers you might actually do something less well than a handful of hobby programmers working out of love.

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New workspace and Ascii the Cat

It has been a busy couple of weeks. First I have been working hard to make my new Mac Mini the way I want it by cleaning it up extensively after restoring my backup. But now it’s pretty much done.


I of course wanted to get rid of the Apple logo so I used a sticker I bought a while ago in Japan. I think it fits rather nicely.


I also had another sticker I made several years ago, taken from the famous Budbrain Megademo. I think it also hit the spot 🙂 Now this machine isn’t a mere Apple computer but a true Amiga. Right? 😛

Also, since I’m a known sucker for merchandise I decided I needed a MorphOS T-shirt. Since there are no official MorphOS useless crap-stores I went to and had one made from an existing design.


I wear it with pride 🙂 The only thing I didn’t like is that it’s was made with screen printing which doesn’t last as long. But the pricing is not bad I think, and the company is international so anyone can make their own if they like/are as stupid as I (just switch the .se to .com).

I don’t use my Powerbook as a dedicated IRC computer anymore. I tried to make it my new main computer, but because of it’s extremely weak USB ports it was out of the question. And after deassambling it and putting my new Mac Mini in place I just thought I only need one MorphOS machine running.


Sorry about the dark picture.

I do have to say I’ve really fallen for this machine. Like I wrote in a previous blog post this little thing makes a lot of sense using as a MorphOS machine since a G5 has so much wasted potential (due to Amiga API restrictions). But the things I really like the most is the size of the Mac Mini. The Powermac G5 weigh a ton, so it was a nightmare bringing not one but two (!) of them to the local Amiga club to see if they could be saved.

As it turned out they both could. It turnes out that my 2.7 GHz had a broken SDRAM that caused the problems. And the other one (2.3 GHz) had two faulty, cheap SDRAM knock offs. Sadly, I’ve rendered them both useless as MorphOS machines by switching licenses from one G5 to the next and then to my Mac Mini. MorphOS Team only allows it if a machine is broken. I guess I could beg them to nullify that by buying a new licence but like I said, I’m happy with my Mac Mini and I don’t need more desktop computers. Now I just need to figure out what to do with them.

Well, this is one reason for being busy. The other reason is actually even more fun! There is a demo party in Stockholm called Edison I have been visiting these last three years. This year I managed to convince my internet buddy Daniel Müssener (the main programmer at Cherry Darling) to come and participate. I was also able to get my friend and subway driver colleague Tomas Nordström to attend too. Tomas is also a musician who among others use an Amiga 1200. This gave me an idea that we should do something small for this party. Nothing fancy, just something small that would be fun to make and show. The only thing we lacked was a graphician. I have done some basic ascii art in my past so we decided to go for that. Now everyone had a role to play.

But along the way our initial plan to make a simple ascii based intro into an ascii based platform game instead. I had this idea for a cat and dog based puzzle platformer. You play as a kitten that needs to steal food to survive until your out of town master returns, who has accidentaly locked you out. Other cats will make it difficult as they make you fall down. And then we have dogs that are instant death. Interesting enough, almost nothing was changed of that first idea and pretty soon we had together made a complete game (with only two levels so far though).

We named it Ascii the Cat.

This is what the main menu look like:

Ascii_the_Cat_demo_main_menuAnd this is level 2 (the one we put a lot of effort in):


We released it at the party for the Wild/Animation compo. And we won! 😀

Our plans now is to polish the music and code plus add more levels to play. The idea is also that the game will be hight costomizable, and also very easy to make your own levels for. When it’s finished it will be released as Public Domain (for free) but only for MorphOS, AmigaOS 4 and AROS. We want to try to make this a community driven game, where anyone can upload new stuff. So a homepage is planned for that end. As of now there is no release date, but since most things are already done it will probably not take that many weeks or months.

This is what I’ve been up to. Besides family life of course. Let’s see if I can’t write some tips or reviews soon enough too.

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MorphOS 3.9 and SDK 3.9 released

In case you haven’t noticed it yet, MorphOS 3.9 is out since yesterday. This is a typical bugfix release, so there isn’t much news here (except for an update of OpenSSL). You can read the release notes here and download the ISO here.

The is also an updated SDK (Software Development Kit) which contains improvements. You can also download it from here.

I’m sorry about the lack of blog posts. This is because I’ve been busy working on our Amiga magazine Amiga Forum (issue 13 out soon), fixing up my Mac Mini (I love it by the way) and of course family life. But there will be new stuff soon enough 🙂

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When things break down

Early last week I started to have problems with my G5. While it always had a slight tendency to get stuck in “gray screen” (early open firmware) it now started to get stuck in “black screen” (no HD bootup). First day it happened once before work, at the same time it started to get random system freezes. Then I had to restart three times after work (and more freezes). Next day it took some 1o tried before work and after work it didn’t react anymore. It was dead and the “usual suspects” like resetting PRAM and switching HDD to a Mac did absolutely nothing.

Two years after buying it (almost to the day) my G5 finally kicked the bucket.

No worries. I have a spare G5 for this situation (a Powermac 7.3 at 2.3 Ghz; not water cooled). I got it out of storage after a few days, inserted the SSD from the broken one and it worked. If your hardware is broken you can ask to change keyfile from the broken machine to a new one for free, which is what I did. After some 20 minutes it arrived and I was all set.

Then it suddenly frooze. And after that it refused to boot the SSD. And the old Mac HDD that I had just tested before inserting the SSD refused to boot too. And just like the old G5 I tried the usual suspects before having to come to the conclusion that this machine had broken down as well. I had only used it for 40 minutes. Talk about bad luck!

After that, I did not feel like pushing my luck. Though I think the culprit is the SSD disk (for reasons I will explain below) I just don’t want any more “heartache” for a while. So I went to Ebay and found a store that’s specializing in refurbishing old hardware which sold a Mac Mini G4 at 1.5 GHz and 64 MB VRAM (the so called “silent upgrade” edition, the best of the PPC Mac Minis) for about 100 euros. So I bought it and it arrived from Germany after a few days.

Though it’s not as powerful as a G5, it does make a lot of sense “downgrading” to it anyway.

First, it’s one of the best supported MorphOS machines out there, and it supports Warp3D thanks to the fact that it uses a Radeon 9200 graphics card. This means that some legacy Amiga software (i.e. games) can run on it, unlike the later and more powerful graphics card where MorphOS Team dropped that support.

Second, a G5 is overkill for MorphOS. Because a G5 is 64 bit, multicore and have lots of memory MacOS flies on it about as fast as MorphOS. This is because MorphOS is 32 bit, can only use one core and at most 1.5 GB RAM. It simply can not use the full spectrum of the hardware like MacOS. It’s still fast, but not that much faster. A Mac Mini G4 on the other hand only have one core and can only use a maximum of one GB RAM. Even a fresh installation of MacOS runs painfully slow, while MorphOS not only flies, it flies faster even than on a G5. MorphOS can use every bit of the machine and thus really gives this old hardware new life.

Third, a G5 is a power hog and runs really hot. This is because of a design “flaw” from IBM who desperately tried to add more power to the PPC processor in order to please Apple (it didn’t). Even if you don’t mind the power bill it will still be noisy, running the fans at full speed every time you do something that requires the CPU to work for its money. Then I havn’t mentioned the size and weight of the thing. It’s huge! A Mac Mini on the other hand is small and run less hot (meaning less noise) and is thus less in the way at home and also a lot more portable.

The downside of course is: less power (no more 1080p movies, “only” 720p, or Cherry Darling games at best quality), less RAM and less ability to switch hardware (the Mac Mini are not meant to be opened up). So it is still a step down in a sense. But it will be interesting to see how much you can actually push this system.

I’m not saying that using my G5 was a mistake. I had a lot of fun with it, and it’s still a great system to run MorphOS on. I am just looking for a new perspective because of my misfortune. If you want to try out a G5 I say go for it!

When I ordered the Mac Mini it would ship with 80 GB HDD, which is not that much nowadays. However, since I have several computers that share a lot of stuff like pictures, movies, mp3:s and such I got the idea of buying a 2.5″ 1 TB external USB HDD. They are not expensive (mine cost about 70 euros) and does not require an external power supply. Note that these do not work with a Powerbook due to it’s very weak USB ports (which is why I havn’t turned my Powerbook into my new desktop). I did have to use third party software under Windows to format it to FAT32, the only truly universal disk file system that can handle larger HDD:s, though. Windows (7) does not give you this format option by default. So now I keep my interchangable files in that HDD and mostly just programs in the internal HDD, which is not nearly as much as 80 GB.

One of the good things about MorphOS is that it’s very simple to backup and restore: simply copy all files to a HDD, and then copy them back into the new system. It doesn’t even have to be on the same hardware, but if you copy from and to different hardware you will have to change some settings so they are correct afterwards.

However, before my hardware malfunction I did not have a fresh backup. So my SSD had a whole lot of new files I wanted to save. To do that I bought a rather cheap SATA disk USB dock. It can use both 2.5″ and 3.5″ disks which is what I needed (and cost about 12 euros). So I inserted the SSD in that and connected it to my Ibook (which has good USB ports unlike the Powerbook). At first I though it wasn’t working until I noticed it did something interesting.

It merged the Ibooks system: and work: partition with the external SSD disk ones. I have no idea how that works, but it seemed that everything that wasn’t included in the Ibook was added by the USB disk. When I copied over everything from the disk to the backup external HDD drive it kept the settings from the Ibook, but with some newer games I didn’t copy to it and a lot of downloaded files from work:downloads. So I was able to save everything this way (save for a few settings I needed to redo).

However, when copying I had problems with the SSD freezing every now and then which required a reboot. This reminds me of the freezing I experienced before my G5:s started to break down. This led me to the conclusion that the SSD somehow must have broken something in the machine, like the HDD controller. I have read that SSD:s, especially those that are a few years old now are not too reliable. I did imagine mine breaking down one day, but not taking the whole computer with it. Let alone two of them! I might be wrong there of course since there is no good way of testing this hypothesis but I still want to warn people out there that this might be the couse of my problems.

Right now I’m typing this blog on my Mac Mini in my way too messy workspace (which is why there are no pictures in this blog post today, sorry). I wanted to write about this earlier but work and our baby has kept me busy with not MorphOS related stuff. It might be a while before I post something again, but like I said, I do look forward to see what this little piggy can do at the market 🙂

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MorphOS 3.8, Synergy Server and Wings Battlefield Demo

After 9 months of development version 3.8 of MorphOS was finally released on Friday the 15th. Just by looking at the release notes you will see an impressive list of news, bugfixes and improvements. But since I’m a betatester I have been enjoying these improvements for quite some time now, so for me this is more a conclusion rather than something new and exciting. A chance to see every other MorphOS user out there enjoying these nice new features that I’ve taken for granted for so long now.

Support for currently made hardware

So what is most notable here? It has to be the support of Acubes SAM 460 and 460CR motherboards. While AROS have had a lot of new, cheap hardware to play with, and AmigaOS 4 new (but not cheap) hardware for years and years now MorphOS has not since 2006, when the Pegasos II motherboard stopped being made (edit: as jPV pointed out you could (and still can) buy the very cheap and very underpowered Efika 5200b home servers after the Pegasos). A lot of people has asked the MorphOS Team to support something/anything that is still being made. Which amount to a very small list since it has to be PPC based. They finally caved to the preasure and the result now is support for these two motherboards.

Even better, MorphOS now support several modern RadeonHD PCI-e graphics cards as well. But it’s still in a rudementary state as they lack hardware 2D and 3D acceleration. The MorphOS Team still has a lot of work to do with those, but rather than waiting with the 3.8 release anymore they rather released it in this state. This is similar to the 3.0 release when the newly supported Powerbooks lacked working WiFi. Rather than waiting they released MorphOS without that support. Indeed, it took them over 2 years to get WiFi to work.

I got confirmation from a core developer that future releases will have full support.

But regardless of that, how does a SAM 460 fare? Well, it got pretty poor price/performace ratio, having only a single core CPU at 1.1 GHz. It also only have three PCI slots (PCI, PCI-e 1x and PCI-e 4x), so after adding a graphics card and a sound card you will not have much space left for expansion. All this for the starting price of 539€ (plus tax). Some old benchmarks (may be outdated) using the encoder/decoder Lame gives us these numbers (using nothing but raw CPU power (single core if more cores are present), lower is better):

SAM 460 = 47 seconds.

AmigaOne X1000 (1.8 GHz dual core) = 18 seconds.

Mac Mini G4 (1.42 GHz) = 16 seconds.

Powerbook G4 (1.67 GHz) = 14 seconds.

Powermac G5 (2.5 Ghz dual core) = 5 seconds.

(Source, page 27)

I have seen fully working PPC Mac Minis going for 30€ at Ebay. So there are only four reasons for buying a SAM 460:

  • Because you are afraid the aging PPC Macs will break down (you can actually switch a paid MorphOS licence from a broken machine to a working one. Just mentioning it since you can (if you are extremely lucky) buy some 18 Mac Minis for the price of one SAM 460 motherboard).
  • Because you really want to use those RadeonHD cards (whos performance will be hampered – even when fully supported – by the slow CPU).
  • Because you (also) want to run AmigaOS 4.x.
  • Because you just really like unusual hardware and don’t care about the price.

I really can’t recommend a buy (I don’t own one) since you can get several, more powerful machines for the price of just one motherboard. My 2.7 GHz Powermac G5 with the Radeon X800 graphics card and SSD cost me about 400 € all and all. And then I overpaid on purpose just to quickly get my hand on such a machine. I can also tell you from first hand experience that even new hardware can and do break down. And only if you are lucky it happens before the warranty becomes void.

This is still good news for those who own or want to own a SAM. It will also once again make competition between AmigaOS 4 and MorphOS be on identical terms which will be – if nothing else – interesting.

From here on I’m gonna talk about the features/news that I personally find most useful. If you want to see what’s new you really should read the release notes instead. I’m gonna spend the rest of the blog talking about stuff that directly benefit me.

More RAM

First up is more RAM for Powermac G5’s. Up until now we have had to make due with only 1 GB of RAM. Well, 1.5 GB to be exact, but 0.5 GB had to be used by the system and is unusable and hidden from the end user (edit: according to bigfoot you could use the whole 1 GB RAM if thats what you had). By raising the total RAM to 2 GB RAM (1.5 GB for the end user) it becomes a whole lot easier to surf the web. OWB eats up a lot of RAM over time (because of poor programming from Webkit it suffers from memory leaks) so 0.5 GB extra RAM makes a lot of difference.


Faster HDD read/write

Another problem has been that the G5 loaded from harddrives pretty slowly. More than half as slow as on a G4 machine. This has also been addressed and now everythings loads noticably faster (still not as fast as on my Powerbook G4 but it’s really a lot better).

Better movie playback

We also have improved movie playback (edit: about 20% faster thanks to overlay optimization according to jPV), but the Team also fixed a longstanding annoying bug that cropped 1080p movies. It turned out to be that somewhere along the way movies where suddenly not allowed beyond a certain size. When they removed that, I could correctly watch 1080p movies on my G5 again.

Synergy Server

The biggest difference between version 3.7 and 3.8 is Synergy Server. This is a program that makes it possible to use one keyboard and one mouse for two computers with two monitors via LAN. This is very useful for me who like to try out a lot of software, settings and other stuff that can cause a crash. Up until now I had to chose between testing stuff or use IRC since crashing sometimes every 5 minutes while trying to talk to people online was really not optional.

Even before there was a client in MorphOS, but it required that another non-MorphOS computer was the server. By adding a server, one can now connect two MorphOS machines directly.

So now my Powermac G5 act as my main machine and my 1.67 Ghz Powerbook is a dedicated IRC device:


The monitor to my right is connected to my G5, and the one to my left to my Powerbook (you can see it on top, middle). The keyboard on the left and the black mouse is now being used on both computers. The other keyboard and mouse are connected to the Powerbook in case I can’t use Synergy at the moment. By moving the mouse to my left and right I jump between the monitors, and the screen where I got my mouse on at the moment is the one I can also type on.

How to get it to work

First you need two MorphOS machines with working network capabilities (obviously). Next you need the latest version of MorphOS installed on both of the machines (3.8). You also need to connect both computers to the same network. Just having them connected to the internet won’t work. Since I really suck at network things I went for the simplest approach: I connected both computers to the same router.


It’s pretty simple: my router has one connection connected to the wall (for internet) with a common UTB cable (or LAN cable), and then I got my two computers connected to the router with the same types of cables.

Actually, you can use WiFi if you want, but I don’t recommend it. Since it’s not as fast or stable you will most probably experience lag. By connecting via a cable instead it will run smoothly.

Next we will go to System:Applications/:


Open the folder Synergy:


Here are the two files that do all the magic. Decide which computer will be server and which will be client. It’s the servers keyboard and mouse you will be using. This computer will be server so I click on the SynergyServer icon:


As you can see, you can add plenty of clients if you want. But I only need one. I will put my client on my right. Doing that means that when I drag my mouse to the right it will jump to the next screen. I can do that by putting the client above, or left, or bottom, or bottom right etc but that simply makes less sense to me since my other monitor is on my right.

The client needs a name so I name it Powerbook:


Next we need to configure the network. We do that in right click –> Settings –> System Settings –> Network:


As you can see I got Dynamic IP Address (DHCP) on. This means that MorphOS will configure the network automatically for me. The downside is that depending on the number of devices currently using the network (like smartphones via WiFi) the network address will change. You can either manually set your network (which I don’t know how to do correctly) or start a Shell and type: ifconfig <device name>.  In my case it’s ifconfig eth0:


I get this output:


The part called inet is the address: This I will need to remember for the next step.

Next we will start the other MorphOS machine. Go to System:Applications/Synergy and click on SynergyClient:


First we will write the network address number we mentioned above in Server Address:


Next we have to write the clients name. It’s the name I gave it in SynergyServer: Powerbook:


Now we just click on Connect:


Now we are connected. We can disconnect by pressing Stop. The green light besides the Stop button will be red when your mouse is on the server monitor, and go back to green when you jump back to the server monitor.

Autostarting the programs

We of course wants these two programs to start every time we boot both MorphOS machines. This is also fairly simple. On the server side you just need to copy SynergyServer (with the icon) to System:WBStartup/:


As I don’t want the program to pop up every time I start my computer I open the program –> right click –> Settings –> MUI Settings:


On Windows I have Show an icon on desktop unchecked and Iconify on startup checked. This way the program will start in the background, not showing itself.

The downside is that you will not be able to open the program the usual way anymore. Clicking on the program in System:Applications/Synergy or in System:WBStartup will do nothing.

To open the program you must start the program Exchange in System:Utilities/Commodities/:


Start it and double click on Synergy Server to open it:


Note that if you click on the close button (square at the top left of the window) of SynergyServer it will not close but go back to it’s invisible state again. If you want to close it, you can do it in Exchange. Mark the program and chose Remove (bottom right, Ta bort in Swedish).

As for the client, I opened a Shell and wrote: ed s:user-network-startup and added this line to the text file:

Run >NIL: System:Applications/Synergy/SynergyClient

Unlike SynergyServer I do want this program to show up on startup. So if we go to the same MUI settings as above but for the client I will do the opposite setting: show an icon on desktop but not iconify on startup.

This is because I might need to write a new network address when it starts, so having it invisible is a bad idea. I also start the client and go to Advanced Settings:


I check Auto-Connect on Startup. Then it will connect automatically if the network address is correct, which is not that uncommon.

Because it’s a hassle to start Shell and type ifconfig every time the client got the wrong address, jPV had been nice enough to create a practical little script that will check it for you. Go to and download the ShowIPAddress-scripts (direct download). Unpack it and you will see two scrips:


There are two scrips, but for out purpose we only need ShowIPMAC. Drag the file to your System:WBStartup drawer:


Now, every time we start your server system you will get this little message:


This will show the current network address for 15 seconds or until you press the button.

And we are done. Now we have a very nice setup for using one keyboard and one mouse for two computers. You can also copy text between the two computers, like you would on a word processor. In the future you may also be able to copy entire files between systems which would be awesome. Lets hope that will come into fruition.

Note however that the program is not perfect. For example, because of how keyboard layout was made for the Amiga some keys may not work on the client side. I’ve noticed that for the Swedish layout the key “>” does not work. Regardless what I do it will write “<” instead. This can easily be fixed by using the copy and paste function from the sever side. It’s a bit annoying but you get use to copy and paste instead pretty quickly (how often do one use “>”?). It’s sadly an unfixable problem. Your own language may experience similar problems. Or not. Apparently English layout works as it should. Besides this one letter I for one have not had any problems with this program.

Wings Battlefield demo released


The first public demo of this game (which I reviewed here) has been released. Final (commercial) version will follow. You can download it here.

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