Thursday, 1 July 2010

Linux Amiga Project

Amiga was a range of 16 bit computers produced by Commodore in the late 1980's and early 1990's. It had some success in animation, video editing and early cgi. It was, however, primarily used for playing games. I have some Amiga games and would like to play them. I have an A1200 which is gathering dust at the bottom of a cupboard, so would like to play said games in an emulator. For fun, and to see how difficult it is, I am going to build the emulator from scratch. By build, I of course do not mean that I am going to write the software myself; that would be insane. Instead I am going to assemble all the software necessary to run the emulator and - critically - no more. This is going to be a seriously cut down software install. I am going to go through this step by step, highlighting all the pitfalls along the way.

Why would I do this? For fun. Well, more precisely, to see what happens. It may work, it may not work. If history is any judge, it will not work lots. It will not work so much that I am going to be on beta blockers by the end of this. On the plus side though, it should be a significant educational experience. Also, you are far more likely to be able to fix something if you have put it together yourself in the first place.

So what I am going to do is install Linux From Scratch and then install an Amiga Emulator on top of that. Linux from Scratch is, as it sounds, a very basic distribution of Linux. It is entirely built from source code. There is no hand holding of any kind, you have to command line everything. On the plus side, this means that if you follow the instructions, it should work, and it should also work fast because it has no slow user friendly crap to run.

If you wanted a fully featured operating system, you would clearly be insane to turn to Linux from Scratch. On the other hand if you want a base to run a single purpose application, it is going to work quite well, it it works that is.

Even when you have finished installing Linux from Scratch, what you effectively end up with is a flashing cursor on a black screen. You have a text editor, the ability to do very rudimentary file management, crucially the ability to compile and install software, and ... nothing else. Once I have installed Linux From Scratch, I am therefore going to go on and install some software from Beyond Linux From Scratch, namely the Linux equivalent of Windows audio, video and network drivers. On top of that I will install a graphical interface (“X”), some window management software (for menu bars and close window boxes) and finally an Amiga Emulator. I am planning on using E-UAE at this stage, but there are other options.

In the end I hope to have a system which will very quickly boot to the Amiga Desktop, just like the real thing.

Next time, a closer look at what is involved in the Linux From Scratch install.

No comments:

Post a Comment