Commodore OS Vision

by James Lawrence
from the AmiTech Gazette, April 2012

It's been way too long since my last article, I'm sorry. I'm happy to say that I have a reason to write this article: Commodore OS Vision. All I can say is "WOW." I had no idea that this project even existed until a friend sent me a link on the new Commodore Mini which came as a shock too. Perusing the Commodore site led me to the Vision operating system and download link.

What is Commodore OS Vision?

Maybe up front I should say what it is not. It is not in any way, shape or form related to any Amiga operating system. None. What it is is another version of the the Linux operating system finely tuned by Commodore USA. They don't try to hide the fact that this started as Mint with a Gnome 2 windowing system -- Tweaked. Think of it as if Commodore never went out of business and kept releasing cutting-edge desktops to this day. Imagine comparing 1985 Amiga OS 1 to MS-DOS. Out of the box, all the graphics tweaks are turned on for the latest graphics cards. Features I have not seen the like of on Win7 yet. Granted, there are plenty of Linux distributions out there but this one is by far the most luscious, visual, feature­packed release I have seen yet. Like most other offerings now, you have the option to boot up the system and try it without installing it.

The next shock was the size of install, 2 full DVDs. The problem was the only way to get the downloads was by torrents. At home the download speed was averaging 1 Kbps -- weeks to get. Unfortunately at the university peer to peer downloads are highly discouraged. I talked to a sysadmin friend who stated that torrents are OK if you limit the number of connections to 40, which I used. The transfer started off slowly enough but after several minutes the speed increased and -- ramped up to 5.5 megs per seconds and bits were flying. Once dialed in, the second DVD image took mere minutes and freshly burnt disks a couple of minutes after that. I couldn't wait to get home and decided to try it on my work machine -- dual core i5 with decent ATI Radian card, 4 gigs of RAM. It ran flawlessly the first time and the responsiveness was much greater than what I was accustomed to on Win 7. Linux programs that I love were already in there, very useful system tools unknown to me included.

Problems

Very few problems so far. Booting up the system, if you don't have a 64 bit machine, the boot loader just sits there and does nothing, acts locked up. Having used Linux for several years now, I knew to reboot, hit the tab key and change the word "quiet" to "verbose" in the boot arguments. Only then did it report that a 64 bit machine was necessary. I tried it on a P4 2Ghz laptop I had only to find out it was not 64emt capable. I ran and got my Eee Atom netbook and prayed for results. No deal there either.

Another bit of a gripe I had was what to do with the second DVD disk. The install made no mention of it. Looking on the disk did not reveal any README files or any documentation as to what to do with the disk. I finally just got on Google and searched. There it directed to go to the Menu bar (on the top Ed, where God intended it) and sure enough, there was a command to install the Commodore content which went smoothly, quickly, correctly. I have not had time to do it yet, but there are commands in the system to install purchased Amiga Forever software and old 8 bit Commodore software. YES! A few gigs of old Commodore music and demos were installed.

Last thought

I have to get to bed and haven't gone through this drivel. All I can say is that Vision is awesome. It will very likely become my main machine distribution very soon. Of course from Commodore a system would come together that works like I do with the graphics things that interested me in the original Amiga. Hell, this is even a Deluxe Paint clone in it.