An early look at Amiga OS3.5

Introduction

It all started at the AmigaDownunder show in Canberra Australia on the 21st August. I had been looking forward to the show for months and recently, when Amiga Inc announced that Amiga OS 3.5 was to be released at this show, I am sure that most of the world's Amiga population wanted to be there also. The show was great but two disappointments from Amiga Inc were evident early.

First, Jim Collas was not able to make it (Maybe recent events had something to do with that!),

Second, OS 3.5 was not ready for sale at the show..

But then there was Petro....

I , like most Amigans, had been following his career since at least the Commodore bankruptcy and had admired his ability to keep Amiga as a going concern through many tough times. However, even though I thought highly of Petro before then, I went away from the show with an even higher opinion of him. He is an easy man to talk to and an inspiration to listen to.

Because the final release was not available at the show, Petro had 50 copies of a special "AmigaDownunder Prerelease" version to give away.

Actually, the first real evidence I had of the existance of OS3.5 was when I saw Juergen Haage (Of Haage and Partner fame) walking around with a OS3.5 prerelease CD. He did a fine job of demonstrating this software later in the show, including answering the questions from an eager crowd. Thanks for coming out Juergen.

Anyway, I won a copy, got Petro to sign it, and came home and had it installed that same day.

I will tell you now that my overall opinion of this software is positive and I would have paid money for even this pre-release, which has features missing. In particular, the full documentation is missing, no support for >4Gig harddrives and no internet support (No TCP/IP stack, web browser or e-mail library) is included in the prerelease.

My system is an Amiga 1200 (In an A2000 case), BlizzardPPC 603e@166MHz, 040@25MHz, AGA only and 48Mbyte fast mem.

Compatability page.

The mini-review.

Packaging

The software comes in an attractive no-nonsense box with some screen shots on the back and interestingly, on the side, an area to indicate which model of Amiga kickstart this box includes. Inside the box is the OS3.5 CD and a cut-away for the Kickstart chips. All documentation is in HTML format and (In the final release) PDF format. Some people at the show thought that this might be a problem if your Amiga won't boot and so stops you from reading the docs to fix it, but both PDF and HTML are so non platform specific that both could be read on your other Amiga (Or, if you must, a PC.)

Installation

Installation really was a pleasure. It is a two staged affair, with a pre-installation step that sets your boot partition up for the main stage. A reboot is required inbetween these steps. This first step modifies your startup-sequence to remove the kickstart rom icon.library and workbench.library from your system and allows the Amiga to load new disk based ones.

; $VER: Startup-Sequence_HardDrive 44.0 (03.05.1999)

; Startup-Sequence for hard drive systems and AmigaOS 3.5

RemLibrary icon.library

RemLibrary workbench.library

There was discussion in the Amiga community some time ago about how the AOS3.5 developers would get around being limited to KS3.1 functions as no new kickstart chip was being developed. This is obviously how and it works well.

The installation uses a new version of installer with the ability to use backdrops, sounds and pictures.

Click on the link for a full size picture

Here is the opening installation window

Install image 1.

Here is an example of what the new installer looks like whilst working.

Install image 2.

The installation process moves any non-compatible software from your wb-startup drawer (e.g. ARQ does not work with WorkBench3.5 and so is copied to a drawer called WB-startup.off). I think much testing has been done in this area and for good reason, because god knows what workbench hacks have been applied to peoples' workbench's over the years. The same procedure is also done to other parts of the OS, such as datatypes etc.

I had no problems with the install and the machine came up after the final reboot with no problems whatsoever.

Workbench look and feel

OS3.5 improves Workbench in many ways. Some are bug fixes (Such as the way menu option "New Drawer" asks you for the name before it creates it, and if you cancel, no drawer is created at all), others are cosmetic.

One of my favourite aspects is the real-time scrolling of icons in windows. You just grab hold of the scroll bar and yank it around. It is fast and smooth and can by done with the cursor keys or the mouse.

Also, new short-cuts in workbench make life easier. Now you can just type the first few letters of an icon to select it and use the usual right-Amiga 'O' to open it.

I know that there is a lot more in the way of keyboard tricks but the prerelease did not come with the full documentation and I haven't experimented enough.

One surprise was that the WB1.x disk "fuel gauge" is back, but looks much nicer than the old implementation.

Have a look at this Workbench screen shot. As you can see I have not spent much time on customisation yet.

Workbench snapshot.

New menus have also been added :-

- Clean up by column, name, date, type, size.

- and to resize the window to fit the icon layout

I have been using these functions for a week and could not go without them now.

The file requesters come up in the middle of the screen and have had new menu options added.

When you click on an icon that has a default tool that cannot be found, a requester appears prompting you to retry or select another tool. This will (and already has) come in very handy for me. Little things like this make WB3.5 a pleasure.

Copying and deleting files now have a progress bar that can be interrupted.

The new icon system.

The Icons that come with OS3.5 seem to be based on the "GlowIcon" collection and look great. As far as I can tell, the new icon system does not use 'NewIcons' but is compatible with it. I did not have NewIcons installed before the 3.5 install, and do not have it installed now, but NewIcon icons are rendered correctly. NewIcon support can be turned off in the new 'workbench' preference settings. (As a side note, notice that you can now hide devices with this tool)

It seems that OS3.5 has direct support for 3 icon types :-

1. The new OS3.5 icons system,

2. The NewIcon system,

3. The traditional Workbench system.

To support the new icon system, a new version of iconedit is provided and works well.

Click on this link to have a look at the new iconedit.

Iconedit image.

What is not shown here are the many pulldown menu options including the nice "add glow" option.

Preferences.

The usual Workbench preference programs have all been given a workover and use the ReAction GUI toolkit. Some have had real funtionality added to them, for example, pointer prefs has had a full selection of drawing tools added. Two new pref programs are workbench (shown above) and ReAction.

Locale in particular looks great.

That's it for now. This was a very quick review that probably does not do this upgrade much justice, but honestly, I am glad I installed it on my machine.

There is more in the new WB3.5 prerelease than I have mentioned here, and more in the final release that I have not yet seen. I will update this page as I discover things.

Any Suggestions please mail me, Steve Zoneff .