AmigaOS 4 developer interview: Why it endures and what the future holds

To the surprise of many, the Amiga operating system endures, with developers continuing to eye new features for the venerable OS. We caught up with AmigaOS 4's lead developer to talk about the system's survival.

Image: Amigaos.net

Image: Amigaos.net

The future

Solie says the AmigaOS team is happy to borrow ideas from other operating systems. "For example, the memory subsystem borrowed the idea of slab allocation for memory management. The integration of Python into the operating system was also a borrowed idea."

Other operating systems can also learn from AmigaOS, he says. Primarily, "keep things simple and respond when the user clicks on something. One reason I keep returning to AmigaOS is because it is relatively simple.

"As more features are added it is difficult to keep things simple and efficient, but so far so good."

Solie can envisage a future where AmigaOS 4 shifted away from PowerPC to another platform. "However, there is also a lot of life left in PowerPC," he says, and switching hardware platforms is no guarantee of success for the system.

"I think a successful system is a combination of functionality, applications, operating system and supporting hardware all for an acceptable cost. If your target market is the hobbyist market then perhaps PPC isn't as bad as people think. It really depends on the fans and what they will accept."

Image: Amigaos.net

One gap he identifies in AmigaOS as it is now is good support for printing. PostScript printers are fine — but otherwise "you are in for a world of hurt". A system like CUPS, which made printing on Linux systems a less daunting prospect, would be great, he says.

Hyperion is currently working on AmigaOS 4.1 Update 5 is in the works now. "AmigaOS 4.2 will come later on which will introduce hardware accelerated 3D support, a vastly improved file system API and many other features," Solie says. The list of features that Solie would like to see added is "endless". A modern file system is one feature, and multi-core support, which is currently being worked on, is another.

"I don't imagine AmigaOS will ever become mainstream again," he says. "It is not that I am being defeatist. I'm just trying to be realistic. There are dozens of operating systems out there that are not mainstream and never will be.

Image: Amigaos.net

"There isn’t a huge amount of new hardware coming out to run AmigaOS but it is a steady flow. Keep your eye on ACube and A-EON because I don’t think they are stopping any time soon.

"So for me at least, as long as AmigaOS remains fun to use I will continue to use it. It is a nice break from the grind of business where Unix and Windows rule."

As to whether an AmigaOS 5.0 will ever be released, "it all depends on the fans."

Rohan Pearce is the editor of Techworld Australia. Contact him at rohan_pearce at idg.com.au.

Follow Rohan on Twitter: @rohan_p

Follow Techworld Australia on Twitter: @techworld_au

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