|Author:||Matthias Rustler, Staf Verhaegen, Neil Cafferkey
2013 was mainly a year of internal improvements and fixes to AROS, so
there were fewer new bells and whistles added to it than in previous
years. However, there were still a few notable components introduced
that should be mentioned.
After a long journey a cleaned up and split C library was commited to the
ABIv1 branch. Next to a clean up and some improved documentation, the main
part of the patch is a split of the ANSI standard part from the POSIX
part. This allows using standard C functions everywhere in AROS without
having a POSIX emulation overhead added.
In 2012 we reported that AROS was running on the Raspberry Pi, but
hosted on top of Linux. In 2013 a native version of AROS for this
compact and ubiquitous platform emerged, with support for USB, SD card
and graphics (at least with the aid of the proprietary binary blob that
Linux also relies upon).
The Wanderer/Workbench replacement Scalos has been ported to AROS.
Currently it is only available in nightly builds of ABIv1 of the
i386 platform. Scalos can either be started like an application from
Extras:Scalos or it can replace Wanderer by exchanging
Wanderer:Wanderer by Scalos:Scalos EMU in S:Startup-Sequence.
Three new drivers were added for VIA audio controllers, namely some of
their Envy24, Envy24HT and AC97 chipsets. Compatibility of our HD Audio
driver was also increased, and it now supports a wider range of
controllers and codecs.
Lots of smaller improvements were also made, including bug fixes and
refactoring to components such as ATA and SATA drivers, filesystems and
partitioning, EFI support, and system shutdown. User interfaces received
some attention too, with the Zune GUI system gradually becoming more
complete, and new preferences utilities for GRUB and theming options.
At AmiWest 2012, Samuel Crow and Jason McMullan demonstrated AROS v1 running
on the Sam460ex from ACube, the FPGA Arcade Replay from FPGA Arcade,
and the Raspberry PI from the Raspberry PI Foundation.
Jason McMullan gave a 20 minute presentation on the origins and current
development of AROS, and was a member of the banquet discussion panel on the
current state and future of the AmigaOS family of operating systems.
At the show, DVDs of Icaros (pc-i386, ABI v0) and AROS Vision
(amiga-m68k) were given away to all comers.
Another year gone by, another year of coding instead of news-writing,
another selection of highlights.
AROS's usability has made a huge leap with the porting of the modern and
standards-compliant Odyssey web browser. Based on the WebKit engine, Odyssey
CSS, SVG and SSL. It is also highly configurable, with a GUI allowing
management of bookmarks, cookies, content blocking, history, passwords and
Support for the ARM architecture has continued to mature and diversify, with
nightly builds for Linux-hosted AROS versions now available. There is
particular interest among users in running AROS on the ARM-based Raspberry
Pi, albeit in Linux-hosted form for now.
There has been further development on other AROS platforms too. The
Windows-hosted version has seen numerous bug-fixes, and is now a lot more
stable, while the compatibility of the original Amiga version with legacy
software continues to improve.
Wireless networking support has matured, with the addition of two new
WPA-capable drivers: one is for Realtek RTL8187B-based USB devices, and the
other is an updated version of the Prism-II driver that first brought
wireless networking to AROS in 2005. A GUI utility to dynamically scan for
and connect to wireless networks has also been introduced.
Mobile broadband is now much easier to set up, and additional USB devices
and phones are also supported. And AROS can now mount SMB share drives,
although this capability is currently limited to older versions of Windows,
as well as Linux and standalone NAS devices.
Initial printing support has been introduced to AROS. Components of the new
framework include a preferences GUI, a PostScript printer driver and several
traditional utilities such as PrintFiles and GraphicDump. Output can be
directed to USB, parallel or serial ports, or to a file.
Our Intel GMA driver has gained 3D support for certain chip revisions.
Although the GMA hardware has more limited 3D capabilities than
recent nVidia and AMD cards, many older games (of which many have been
ported in recent times) still run well. We also gained an OpenGL driver for
Linux-hosted 3D graphics, and an updated nVidia driver.
The selection of audio drivers available for AROS has improved, with new
drivers becoming available for ES137x and CMI8738 sound chips. The former is
significant in that it provides audio output under VMWare.
Our HDAudio driver has also gained wider compatibility in both playback and
There have been improvements in accessing disks from AROS. We now have an
AHCI driver that provides native SATA support on many modern machines. In
addition, standard Windows partitions can now be read using an early version
of an NTFS filesystem handler, and write speeds to FAT partitions have been
improved. The newly open-sourced version of the Frying Pan CD-writing
software is also now a standard AROS component.
Last but not least, our Papercuts initiative led to many small but annoying
bugs being fixed throughout AROS.
AROS now has its first distribution for the original (MC680x0) Amiga
platform, AROS Vision.
As well as AROS itself, AROS Vision includes many freely distributable
third-party AmigaOS system components and applications.
Another new AROS distribution is AEROS, which
aims to combine the best features of AROS and Linux by integrating them into
a seamless environment. There are currently versions for x86 and ARM
Once again, the news has been long delayed, mainly because we've been
too busy adding features and fixes to AROS. In fact, so much has
happened in the last year that what follows is only a selection of
An important new chapter has been opened in AROS's history with the
development of a stand-alone AROS port for the original Amiga computers.
This should also be of great interest to people using WinUAE to run old
Amiga applications. Such is the level of compatibility, the AROS ROM
image can even boot original Workbench disks as old as V1.3. This
development will hopefully also lead to improved integration of original
Amiga software into AROS on x86 platforms and elsewhere.
AROS's platform support has continued to diversify in other directions
too. A Linux-hosted ARM port has emerged, and new hosted ports for Mac
OS X support three different CPU architectures. And AROS may soon become
even more portable with the recent development of new iOS and Android
On the PC-compatible/x86 front, a lot has been happening too,
particularly in the area of graphics. The Intel GMA graphics driver has
been extended to support a wider variety of chipsets, and also now works
with laptop LCD displays as well as external monitors. The Nouveau and
Gallium based driver for nVidia graphics cards has been improved too: as
well as increasing its speed and hardware support, it has also become
the first driver with hardware-accelerated alpha-blending operations.
A notable graphics feature from our Amiga heritage has also been
introduced to AROS: most native graphics drivers now support screen
dragging and scrolling. These include our drivers for nVidia and Intel
GMA chipsets, as well as the generic VESA driver.
Apart from the graphics drivers, AROS also received some additional
graphics libraries: egl.library and openvg.library. The first provides
portable GL initialisation and window management interfaces, while the
second is a vector graphics library accelerated using Gallium. Our port
of the SDL library has become more polished too, with improvements to
features such as SDL-to-GL integration, leading to a more enjoyable
Two significant milestones in network support for laptops have been
reached. Firstly, a modern and secure wireless networking stack has been
added to AROS. The first driver to use this infrastructure supports many
popular cards with Atheros chipsets. Secondly, support has been added
for a wide variety of mobile broadband USB devices.
Debugging support and error reporting have been improved. Misuse and
mismanagement of memory and other resources by applications is now more
easily detected, and error reports now include stack traces showing
where the error occurred.
A lot of fine tuning and ease-of-use improvements have been made to
various components. The FAT filesystem handler has received a number of
important bug fixes. Native graphics drivers are now typically activated
automatically for detected graphics cards, and the AC97 and HDAudio
sound drivers usually need no manual configuration before use. And at
last, AROS is no longer stuck with one unchangeable mouse pointer: the
standard pointer to use can be chosen in a new pointer preferences
program, and applications can change the pointer to suit different
situations. The AROS shell has become more sophisticated, and now has a
scrollable output history, as well as support for more modes and some
bug fixes. AROS's handling of GUI themes has also become significantly
faster. Finally, another piece of the backwards-compatibility jigsaw has
been filled following the transformation of Regina into a much more
complete ARexx clone.
AROS now has a third distribution available in addition to the regularly
updated Icaros Desktop and AROS Broadway. The new AspireOS
distribution is aimed mainly at the Acer
Aspire One 110 and 150 netbooks, but may also be interesting to users of
other PCs looking for a lightweight distribution.
Many applications and games have been added to AROS's software selection
in recent months. Some application highlights include AmiFig, Protrekkr
and Open Universe. 3D games such as Cube, AssaultCube and Super Tux Kart
(with a popular kitty car!) put AROS's 3D graphics enhancements to good
use, while many 2D games such as Giana's Return and Mega Mario have also
arrived. We have added a number of emulators too to allow even more
retro gaming fun to be had.
Many things happened since the latest status update.
Michal Schulz developed the GMA950 hidd, so AROS can now use 2D native functions of the latest GPUs from Intel. This will be really handy for
people using Stephen Jones' iMica systems and netbooks like the Acer
Aspire One A150.
Krzysztof "Deadwood" Smiechowicz has gone really far with his Gallium3D
port to AROS: he has now integrated 2D and 3D accelerated functions in a
single driver called Nouveau, which supports 2D acceleration for almost
all GeForce GPUs starting from the ancient GeForce 2 cards
until the recent GTX 200
series. 3D functions, however, are available only to GeForce FX (5x00),
cards and upwards. Some models and GPUs might not be supported yet.
Users of Nvidia cards may now regularily use this driver,
instead of the old Nvidia one. This will also help
Krzysztof fixing it, as it is still work-in-progress. Please refer to this
AROS-EXEC topic to help him spotting and fixing bug (and please
remember he's not directly responsible for driver quality: he's just
adapting and porting to AROS what has been done by Nouveau/Gallium team).
Pavel Fedin is reworking our graphics subsystem, cleaning it up and
making it behave like the original Amiga one: the day we won't need anymore
to enter driver names in GRUB boot lines is approaching. Some
drivers can now be mounted moving them in the Monitors directory (like
on AmigaOS), while others not yet. But he's still working on it. Pavel
is also fixing linux framebuffer driver and his Win32-hosted version of
AROS, which can now move screens like classic Amigas.
Neil Cafferkey has vastly improved our support to FAT partitions, and
also made AROS installable on USB pendrives (and bootable from them).
This means that regular nightly builds, but also Icaros Destop version
1.2.2 can now be installed on netbooks and
other USB-bootable systems using a memory stick instead of a DVD. Paolo
Besser has written a complete how-to in PDF format, and placed it
on the Icaros website.
Pascal Papara has brought us a brand new distribution called
Broadway, which is targeted to attract also people never involved with
Amiga computers, and include a
stripped down version of the incoming AMC, the first media-center
environment based on AmigaOS-like systems. Broadway is not complete yet,
but a nice preview version can be downloaded from its website.
Steve "ClusterUK" Jones has announced a new silent version of his iMica
line of computers. This Atom-based system will be as performing as the
old one, but it will also run completely fanless. We also have to thank
Steve for his funding efforts: after paying Davy Wentzler for his useful
AHI HDAudio drivers, he also financed the port of the Catweasel MKIV
controller drivers and the development of Michal's GMA driver.
Good news for ACube's SAM440EP users too: since April 14th, AROS
nightlies are available also for this nice PPC platform, which is still
actively mantained. Michal Shulz has also recently brought a EFIKA
version of AROS too.
Nick "Kalamatee" Andrews has slightly improved Wanderer and some long-
running bugs have been fixed. AROS won't nest directories recursively
anymore, when a drawer is placed into its own window by mistake, and
AROS desktop can now be populated using the leave out/put away options,
which are now finally enabled. He is also working on icon and list view:
files can now be listed by details and sorted as you prefer.
There are also many small and big enhancements ongoing "under the hood"
and coming from third party software developers, but they are simply too
much to be mentioned here. We apologize with them, but we'd also like to
say a big "thank you!" to anyone helping us in any way, porting
applications, creating new ones, writing documentation and/or just
evangelizing AROS inside and outside the Amiga community.