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Main »» Show Reports

SlimJim's short report on the AmigaOS4 tour event in Gothenburg (30-Jun-2003)  Popular
(Read 6693 times)

I left Lund early in the morning for the 330 km km train-ride to Gothenburg and the AOS4 tour event. The event was held at a different venue to the AmiGBG event; it was very close to the trainstation and much easier to reach (albeit too small for a full-fledged event).

At the event were two Amiga4000/060+PPC (233 MHz I think, not sure), one had a Vodoo 5 card, I think the other had some kind of Vodoo too. One of these machines was used primarily for demonstrations on the projector screen and one was avaliable for the visitors to play around with.

There were also two AmigaOne machines there. Ole-Egil showed Debian and the Amiga1200-on-a-card he just got (I'm sure people will elaborate more on this, I only heard loose comments about it). He also ran the game "Majesty" under Linux. The other AOne machine was later shown running MacOS X on MOL (Mac-On-Linux).

The speed seemed very decent to my untrained eye.

AOS4 was run primarily in 68k mode on the '060, since at the moment running PPC native is actually slower (about 33 MHz(?) '040 speeds). This is due to the majority (there was a list but you'll have to wait for screenshots since my memory is failing) of OS components still being in 68k - and in the native PPC version, these have to be emulated by a emulator that is currently only working in an interpreted mode. The 68k version can of course run these modules at native '060 speed, but in this case "AOS4" is really modules running on top of classic AOS3.9.

Running native in PPC on top of ExecSG was just a reboot away though. Functionality and stability seemed to good in native mode too (albeit slower). When complete, all critical modules are planned to have been recompiled to PPC, and the to-be implemented JIT compiler Petunia are to be almost only concerned with running third-party 68k applications at quoted speeds you can finds on the Petunia website.

I sat down and played with AOS4. I tried it both running on 68k and as native PPC. Having an A4000/060 at home, I very much recognized the speed of things when running the 68k version. That is, mouse movement is swift, and you see something happen immediately when clicking on buttons - this is no different from classic AOS. That said, it IS still running a 1280x1024 screen on a mere 50MHz '060:

Opaque moving of windows is causing a distinct jerky motion. You have time to see icons appearing when opening a new window etc. Running the current PPC native version, this is even more noticeable, due to the reasons given above. But it is still relatively usable and it is not difficult to imagine what harnessing the full power of the PPC will mean to system speed.

I played around with different settings and preferences and indeed you can change and play to your heart's content. The new preferences system reminds me of the MUI prefs - and is easy to navigate. As always in AOS, having the possibility to press th USE button to try stuff out is excellent and dearly missed when having to use some "other" operating systems. The only thing I found strange was having separate prefs-editors for "Reaction" and "GUI". I'm sure the underlying reason has to do with conceptual differences between "Intuition" and "Reaction", but splitting the prefs editors might seem a little counter-intuitive for a newbie.

The somewhat brighter blue look seen in the later AOS4 screenshots stand a good chance of being part of the official look. A semi-offical poll was conducted between the older, darker blue and the present brighter one - and the brighter won out with a devastating majority.

As for the overall feel: If you have used AOS before, you'll feel right at home. This is AmigaOS after all - there is really not so much more to say.

Stability was good and I personally didn't manage to cause any trouble; however some graphical glitches were seen on the presentation screen when loading some demos, also I saw the system lock up once; I think that particular thing had something to do with setting the prefs for the USB (I think this was on the 68k version). All other instances of trying to run problematic stuff I saw didn't bring down the system but rather gave the opportunity to ignore it, reboot or run a debugger to check out the problem.

The presentations were held in the adjoining room. I was impressed to find AOS4 promo-CD's on each chair. The credit for this has to go to the ACG-Gotenburg people - extremely well done! As I understood it, these CD's will be used on other events too from now on. At the show you could also buy an assortment of "AOS4 on tour" merchandice; I got myself a mug and a T-shirt.

Ben Hermans of Hyperion Entertainment held a twenty-or-so minute scheduled presentation. It was followed by a first long Q&A session. Ben is a good public speaker and made a good impression, I'd say. He is also interesting to talk to overall (not many can discuss theorethical astrophysics with me off the top of their head ... )

Later, one of the beta-testers (whose name I've forgotten, sorry) held an short go-through of AOS4 features. It is of course difficult to demonstrate nifty ExecSG features, so the demonstration was nessecarily rather superficial and focused on showing the preferences editor, Media Toolbox etc. I must say that the AmiDock was very impressive in real life. I can see many clever programmers doing just as many clever utilizations of the AmigaDock. Ben Hermans jumped in at the end and it all turned into yet another monster Q&A session. Plenty of knowledgeable people in the crowd, I must say. Considering the two video cameras recording every movement, this two-part Q&A will no doubt be appearing somewhere on the 'net shortly, so I won't and can't) write down the whole thing here.

I'm not sure how many people were there, but somewhere in the region 80-100 is my guess. There were both Norwegians and Danes there. Even more impressive were some people having travelled from the north of Sweden for this event. Overall, not only was it interesting to look at and try out AOS4, but it was also nice to meet Ben Hermans in person as well as getting the opportunity to chat eye-to-eye with some of the people "behind the nicknames".

I must take this opportunity to thank the people of ACG-Gotenburg taking upon them to arrange this show, and thus bring the AOS4 tour to Scandinavia. The venue was excellent and the arrangements felt well-oiled and professional. Very impressive. Thanks.

Overall, events such as this is very good for your confidence in the platform. It's a huge difference to hear people discuss things in real life as opposed to reading text in fora. Thus I feel the event was well worth the trip.

... And today I got news that my AmigaOne-XE/G4 has arrived at GGS Data. Life is good in Amiga land.

- SlimJim
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