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The future AmigaOS 4.0:
the developers speak!
di Andrea Vallinotto

italian version
german version on www.amiga-news.de
The original version is the english one, others are pure translations

The announcement about the forthcoming AmigaOS 4.0 done in April by Amiga Inc. has been longly awaited. Now the Amiga community finally has a path forwards; but what will it be exactly? How the authors of OS 4.0 themselves view the new road taken by Amiga Inc.? The best way to have these questions answered is to ask to the main characters of this drama! So we got to enlighen us:

  • Juergen Haage: Haage&Partner's president, he will once again storm his troops to write the new update of our favourite OS, with the experience gained in the past two developments.
  • Olaf Barthel: the AmigaOS demigod. Responsible for 3.5-3.9 workbench.library and many other contributions, he'll get even more responsability with OS 4.0 . Olaf has a very prolific past as Freeware and commercial Amiga programmer.
  • Hyperion Entertainment: they need no introduction. Not only top-quality games ported to the Amiga, but also the Warp3D graphics library.
  • Picasso'96 Tobias Abt: author along with Alexander Kneer of the well-known ReTargetable Graphics Picasso96 sub-system. Alex and him will shape the new RTG graphics.library of OS 4.0.

Diff: What is your's role in the development of AmigaOS 4.0?

J. Haage: We are responsible for the core part of the OS. Our developers are working on the 68K emulator and porting the AmigaOS into ANSI C code.

Olaf Barthel: Probably the same as with 3.5, which is complaining about the things that don't work and then surprisingly ending up doing all the work to resolve the issues I don't see anybody else finding the time to tackle. That's how I ended up rewriting workbench.library and reimplementing icon.library from scratch, plus taking to fixing a gazillion of other bits and pieces. Believe me, I'd rather have spent my time more productively.

You probably guess that Amiga will have a hard time finding somebody to touch the workbench.library code with a ten foot pole. So that job will probably, again, end up in my lap. TCP/IP stack? Yes, I've been working on one earlier this year out of frustration and boredom. Right now I'm busily working on file systems, too.

Hyperion: Hyperion Entertainment will port MesaGL 3.4.1 to AmigaOS4 and we will also provide the 3D API and drivers for the Voodoo3 and Matrox G450 graphics boards. Advanced 3D drivers which make use of all the features of modern graphics cards are key to the success of Amiga OS.
Key staff-members of Hyperion also serve as technology consultants to Amiga on OS 4.x and OS 5.
As a consequence, we'll be able to port our existing games and to bring some more AAA titles to the Amiga world.

Tobias Abt: We are not sure. Certainly graphics related (what a wonder...), but they did no tell us yet what they want.

Diff: Why you were chosen for that component of the OS?

J. Haage: That's easy to answer. It seems to by self-praise but I think we have done a good job the last two years. Amiga Inc. can trust us as a loyal partner and there is no need for them to chance their partners. One year ago Bill McEwen announced a long term partnership with us and this is the confirmation.

Olaf Barthel: Probably because I didn't say "No, please, not me again!" fast enough ;) I'm also probably one of the few people left who know their AmigaOS well enough to harbor their own ideas on what's good and what's not so good, and try to address the flaws.

Hyperion: Because we have a very good relationship with Amiga Inc. and we guess our expertise in 3D graphics is one of the best for the time being.

Tobias Abt: Experience for sure.

Diff: Amiga Inc has changed his plan for DE/OS 4.0: it was supposed to put all his efforts into DE but changed his mind in favor of 4.0, due to the needs of the future Amiga systems (VM, Resource-Tracking, MP...). Do you think this was a wise decision ? Why ?

J. Haage: It was the only possible decision. Please ask Amiga why.

Olaf Barthel: From the point of view of the developer who has a computer on his desk that was made in 1990, who uses it daily for his work and who is looking for a similarly attractive development system, I believe that the move towards a 'real' stand-alone operating system was a wise one. After all, there aren't many alternatives to AmigaOS in what it does and how it does what it does around. It was about time Amiga Inc. looked at what technology they owned and what could be done with it.

Hyperion: It's a very wise decision : you don't build an OS from scratch overnight. While the AmigaDE and OS 5.0 are being built, the Amiga market needs to stay alive and people want new features in the Classic OS to go with the new hardware (AmigaOne).
Moreover, we've been expecting a new AmigaOS for a long time. Now that it's coming, we can't be happier !

Tobias Abt: Sorry, I don't know enough about that as I am working too many hours to be able to keep track of Amiga Inc decisions.

Diff: Amiga Inc has for 5.0 an ambitious agenda: SMP and Memory Protection. It sounds like a complete new OS, and Fleecy himself has confirmed that OS 4.0 applications will "run in a sandbox". In your view, will that mean abandoning the AmigaOS architecture as we know it ?

J. Haage: I can't answer you this.

Olaf Barthel: There's no way around it, I'm afraid. The architecture of the new system will have to use resources just as wisely as the 68k AmigaOS architecture used to do, but I don't quite see how you can cater for memory protection and symmetric multiprocessing using a single, shared address space and pointer twiddling for message passing alone.

Hyperion: The fact that OS4.0 applications will run in a sandbox is great for backwards compatibility. This kind of feature is in the air these days, just look at Java and MacOSX which run the MacOS9 applications this way.

Tobias Abt: Yes. From the OS point of view certainly. But if it feels the same for the user, I would say it is ok.

Diff: If yes, wouldn't that mean an Amiga system that only shares the label with the Amiga we know ?

J. Haage: N/A

Olaf Barthel: Before I can answer that question, we'd both have to agree upon what makes an Amiga an Amiga. It can't be in trying to pickle a 1980'ies operating system design.

Hyperion: No, a lot of concepts and even some implementations will be carried over from OS 4.0.

Tobias Abt: Yes and no. It would certainly be different, but sometimes you have to break an egg or two to make an omelette.

Diff: Amiga Inc is willing to bring the development and management back to the U.S.; what would that mean for Europe developers like you ? Are you concerned by this move?

J. Haage: N/A

Olaf Barthel: I'm quite happy to stay where I am. If Amiga is moving developers and management back into the U.S., I don't see how this is going to impact my work. Well, unless developer support were to suffer from that move.

Hyperion: Amiga Inc. wants to manage the development of the AmigaOS, which is quite logical. By the way, I don't think that H&P, the P96 team and Hyperion are american ! We have an excellent relationship with these people and many people working for Amiga are in fact europeans. We'd work with aliens if it would get us anywhere !

Tobias Abt: It would simply mean to have more American contacts than European. I don't mind at all. Ok, there are a few differences in mentality, but don't see a problem.

Diff: Amiga Inc. now defines itself as a "software only" company, giving certifications for hardware but without building it. Do you think this will help the Amiga hardware market?

J. Haage: N/A

Olaf Barthel: Help? Well, not being a hardware guy my best guess is that at least it won't hurt it ;)

Hyperion: Yes. Better let the companies who know how to build a good hardware instead of reinventing the wheel in Amiga Inc. It will also allow for more choice.

Tobias Abt: It won't help unless there are multiple companies who jump the bandwagon.

Diff: Overall, are you satisfied of Amiga Inc. new business direction?

J. Haage: N/A

Olaf Barthel: I think it's an improvement over the original approach which apparently failed to capture the hearts and minds of the Amiga community.

Hyperion: The answer is a plain YES !
We have therefore officially endorsed Amiga Inc's roadmap for OS 4.x and beyond.

Tobias Abt: I know too little about it.

Ok guys, thank you very much to all of you!


Andrea Vallinotto
Studente di Informatica all'Universtità degli Studi di Torino.
Utente e sviluppatore Amiga, programma, quando ha tempo, in C e ARexx.
Collabora come free-lance (senza sapere dove poi atterra) alla rivista francese AmigaNews.
Altri hobby: subacquea e viaggi.

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