AmiKit

by Eric Schwartz
from the AmiTech-Dayton Gazette, April 2008

There's been a few things going on in the world of Amiga and Amiga-related stuff recently. One thing of note is that MorphOS V2.0 is supposedly due out by the second quarter of 2008. The problem with this announcement is that it was made on April 1st. Hopefully the April fools' joke is that it ISN'T a joke, because making a fake announcement for its own sake after stringing along the Morph community for as long as they have is needlessly cruel and childish, even for German software developers.

Another bit of news is the AmiKit emulation package which previously was only geared for use on Windows systems is now available for Linux as well. I recently installed AmiKit on my laptop, and will have it available to show off at the meeting. You can find more information about AmiKit at their web site (http://amikit.amiga.sk).

For those not already in the know, AmiKit can best be described as an Amiga emulation "distro." In much the same way Linux distros are often defined largely by the application software and tweaks included in the package, the same can be said for AmiKit. In basic terms, it's a package of Amiga programs put together with the intent of providing an Amiga experience in emulation on-par with any modern operating system. I'm not sure how the Windows version works, other than it being based around the WinUAE Amiga emulator. The Linux version is based on E-UAE.

You start by installing E-UAE, setting up directories for AmiKit and other items, and tweaking the settings, including editing the settings file in a text editor. You provide the Amiga Kickstart ROM file and operating system (either the as 3.5 or 3.9 CD) yourself. Most former Amiga users have these on hand, and ROM image files can be had by dumping them from a real Amiga or buying the Amiga Forever package from Cloanto. After some installation and configuration time, the result is impressive, though maybe not to everyone's taste. I will give the people behind AmiKit credit, as they have put together a great deal of Amiga software and done so legally. All the included software is free and/or has permissions or licenses obtained for use, though a few programs are trial or demo versions. (The IBrowse web browser being a distinct example).

What makes AmiKit special in its own way is that the software and system patches are integrated together to make the operating system environment as fully-featured and professional-looking as possible. Through the benefits of running on an emulator, the system's video and network card are used by the Amiga side as well. It even can do its updates through the Internet. It really goes to show what can be done with an Amiga and existing software when someone sets their mind to putting out a polished product. On the downside, presumably because it's aimed at Windows users, the AmiKit version of an Amiga is extremely Windows-y, down to the fully-featured taskbar at the bottom of the screen. Those who are used to using Windows will probably like that, though I can't say I'm a fan of the choices made here. I'll be changing a lot in the future, though I'll wait until after the meeting, so I can show folks what the setup looks like on a default install. Given some time and experience, I might be able to apply what I've been learning to X-Amiga, and bypass the other OS to get to the Amiga. All I know is that there needs to be more Amiga on my laptop.