MorphOS 2.2

by Eric Schwartz
from the AmiTech-Dayton Gazette, January 2009

I hope everyone had a decent holiday this year. Mine was pretty good. I think one of the better gifts this year came from the MorphOS team. A few days before Christmas, MorphOS 2.2 was released to the public as a free update for registered users. Aside from a piece of disk encryption software called Kryptos, 2.2 is basically an update of minor tweaks and bug fixes. Even so, I'm rather pleased with it -- a problem I had with loading files in certain software under 2.1 has been cleared up, and with previous updates my Pegasos 2 system is the most stable and capable it's ever been. It's only too bad it had to take years to make it to this point.

This update is all well and good for those who paid for MorphOS 2 and above, but what about those MorphOS users who couldn't or wouldn't pay for the pricey update? The MorphOS team technically didn't have to do anything for them, especially if the goal was to sell more registrations for version 2, but they did anyway. Around the first of 2009, an "update pack" was released for the free MorphOS 1.4. This package updates several system libraries and other files, mainly to increase general compatibility with MorphOS software written for 2.0 and above system files. While I'm only a former 1.4 user, I can appreciate them taking the effort to compile these updates to help out those using the older OS version.

As I said previously, my Pegasos 2 under MorphOS 2.2 is the best it's ever been, which should be expected considering it's the latest version of the OS. There are a few things that would be nice to add though. Nowadays most modern operating systems are more stable and crash very seldom (yes, even Windows). Software that crashes is usually trapped and can be shut down without bringing the rest of the system down with it. MorphOS has improved in this regard as well, though not to the same level. It may be too much to ask to reach a "crash-proof" level, as MorphOS deals with years, if not decades old Amiga software as a matter of course, while most other OSes have all but totally reinvented themselves over the last several years, and are rarely asked to contend with software five, much less ten or more years old.

While it is not part of an operating system per se, MorphOS (not to mention near any Amiga or related system) could really use a modern web browser, as Internet "standards" have passed Amiga browsers by over time. It may come sooner rather than later, however. At one point a port of Mozilla Firefox was assumed to be the likely candidate, but browsers based on the open-source "Web Kit" software (used for a lot of things, including "Safari" on the Mac) seem closer to reality at this point, such as Sputnik for MorphOS and OWB for Amiga OS4. Hopefully one of these will reach a reasonably complete and modern point before long, and propagate among the related OS forms.

Finally, in what is probably a contradiction of my first wish, I'd love some better compatibility ironing out the quirks of some old Amiga software. Actually, what would be much better is for the old Amiga software to be replaced with native PPC/MorphOS improved ports, or at least something of equal functionality. I suppose having an operating system that works as well as mine is now makes me want all the software I like to use work equally well, and for there to be as much of it as possible (not to mention being able to use it all on an operating system I actually like).

Happy new year, everyone!