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Old 05-10-2009, 12:15 PM   #1
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Default Hypothetical Kickstart ideas

Ever since the A1000, one of the features we were attracted to and were promised, was that we could easily change the personality of our Amigas. Effectively turning them into very different machines. Commodore pretty much totally ditched that concept and betrayed us all by marketing machines with Kickstart in ROM. So you save a few seconds bootstrapping your machine with ROMS - big deal. The way I see it, had Commodore stayed true with the Amiga teams original design, things could have gotten REAL interesting.

I guess what I am asking is this... besides some of the modern Kickstart patches and hacks, has anyone ever bothered to write a totally new and non-Commodore type "Kickstart"? Of course, this would mean using a totally different OS. Perhaps ST, Mac and PeeCee emulation would have been easier to swallow and more accessible to the masses.

And before I get too far ahead in my reasoning, isn't all of this possible? 256k-512k surely would have been enough room to play around with. At the time, all of the above mentioned platforms BIOS chips were typically even smaller than either of those figures.

So why hasn't the concept of a Kickstart on disk (or chips for that matter) been fully realised? Speed and ease of use emulating other platforms could have been so much better and Commodore could have marketed the Amiga as a true chameleon of sorts instead of wasting all that time and money marketing a PC-10, etc.

Licensing this stuff could not have been more expensive than the resources it took to create standalone clones, could it?
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Old 05-10-2009, 12:23 PM   #2
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Default Re: Hypothetical Kickstart ideas

Quote:
Speed and ease of use emulating other platforms
How is it any easier or faster to have the emulation booted off some disk first and only after that launching the actual target system? I'll take the method of launching the emulator directly, instead.
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Old 05-10-2009, 12:28 PM   #3
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Default Re: Hypothetical Kickstart ideas

Purely for the sake of argument, lets say you inserted a Kickstart disk that told the Amiga it was really an AtariST. Kind of a TOS written for the custom Amiga chips/drives, and other I/O functions. You would then be able to insert a REAL Atari GEM disk and away you go. This scenario would save you the hassle of configuring an ST system AFTER Workbench was loaded and hypothetically speaking, grant you greater compatibility and speed since you are not converting ST functions to Amiga - at a Commodore Kickstart or Workbench level. Not to mention, the time saved loading Workbench and then the emulator. Perhaps my reasoning is flawed or impractical :-)
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Old 05-10-2009, 12:31 PM   #4
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Default Re: Hypothetical Kickstart ideas

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4ta4OYhsEY

well, the fact that the ROM is there doesn't mean that it can't be done. you can always ditch the ROM and do your stuff. not really sure why commodore is to blame for this ?
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Old 05-10-2009, 12:36 PM   #5
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Default Re: Hypothetical Kickstart ideas

Early Commodore (or perhaps otherwise) marketing stated there was going to be much more made out of the Kickstart disk system. It certainly helped users make the transition from various Kickstarts a lot easier since they did not have to open up their computers and mess around with chips. Huge benefit for Commodore when dealing with the common end users.

Not trying to start a flame war here, just asking why more wasn't done to take advantage of Commodores awesomely flexible Kickstart architecture. 3rd party companies I would think, could have really exploited that, I would think.

Kind of like how you can turn your TI-99/4A into a Myarc computer system by installing a "simple" card into the PEB.

If it's true that Commodore only did the Kickstart on disk thing because the current Kickstart was so weak at launch and was all just a bad design, well... lol they must have digressed with the A3000 then :-)
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Old 05-10-2009, 12:50 PM   #6
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Default Re: Hypothetical Kickstart ideas

Yes, C= created the WOM kludge to make up for the fact that Kickstart 1.0 and 1.1 weren't mature enough to be written in stone yet. A similar method was used with the A3k because 2.0 wasn't finished when the first machines were sold.

As Piru already posted, I'm missing the point why it'd be so much easier to port an entire OS to Amiga hardware that you're lacking the source code of (plus drivers for expansions) and then put up with incompatible software (due to 'no emulation') than to just run a much less complex emulation layer that lets you run the guest system on top of AmigaOS.
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Old 05-10-2009, 01:03 PM   #7
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Default Re: Hypothetical Kickstart ideas

I guess my reasoning is flawed if you wouldn't have been allowed to have access to sourcecode Amiga<>Atari for their custom chips, etc. But that could have been ironed out through licensing. If not, how would original software be more incompatible due to no emulation? As an end user, I don't see how it's easier running emulation on top of and after Workbench. And we're all familiar with the incompatibilities of emulating. Especially when the MHZ (or lack of them) really count. I was just thinking emulation would/could have been more practical had it been written on and for more of a hardware level than software.

I'm sure I'm out of my league here and don't fully understand the politics and architecture of it all, just asking the "what ifs" and "why nots".
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Old 05-10-2009, 03:13 PM   #8
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Default Re: Hypothetical Kickstart ideas

Quote:
If not, how would original software be more incompatible due to no emulation?
Well, any software hitting the hardware directly is prone to fail as it's not really there. The systems you've got in mind have no protected access to hardware, so there's no control on who does what.

Quote:
As an end user, I don't see how it's easier running emulation on top of and after Workbench.
What's easier than starting the emulation with a double click of the mouse? In addition, emulation usually enables you to run AmigaOS in parallel to the guest OS.

Quote:
Especially when the MHZ (or lack of them) really count.
Performance-wise a ported system/OS may give better results than an emulated one, but this highly depends on the complexity of the emulation, esp. that of the CPU. When the CPU is no problem and the guest OS is somewhat hardware-friendly, there's little loss in performance (e.g. MacOS emulation).

Quote:
I was just thinking emulation would/could have been more practical had it been written on and for more of a hardware level than software.
Sure. You just missed on the point that the only problem is lacking the source code it's impossible to port the OS in question to the hardware in question. Not to mention the applications in question. ;-)
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Old 05-10-2009, 05:29 PM   #9
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Default Re: Hypothetical Kickstart ideas

I'm sure there might be obstacles. But the idea has benefits. As for Atari ST (or MAC) on Amiga. Without hardware emulation one could simple make a TOS API wich uses the Amiga hardware. Or even Amiga libraries.

And then there's the project to make a free Kickstart clone
(to kick Amiga Inc leash )
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Old 05-10-2009, 05:48 PM   #10
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Default Re: Hypothetical Kickstart ideas

Quote:
freqmax wrote:

And then there's the project to make a free Kickstart clone
(to kick Amiga Inc leash )
Now this is what I'm wondering about most. It's a fair assumption that most of the ROMs nowadays are burnt EPROMs, but why hasn't anyone started designing a new kickstart replacement?? That, right there would be the most of use "classic" item.
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Old 05-10-2009, 06:44 PM   #11
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Default Re: Hypothetical Kickstart ideas

Quote:
Methuselas wrote:
Quote:
freqmax wrote:

And then there's the project to make a free Kickstart clone
(to kick Amiga Inc leash )
Now this is what I'm wondering about most. It's a fair assumption that most of the ROMs nowadays are burnt EPROMs, but why hasn't anyone started designing a new kickstart replacement?? That, right there would be the most of use "classic" item.
Because the ROMs are copyright to AMIGA inc and no one is allowed to copy, sell or reverse engineer them without their permission. It is why you have to buy AMIGA forever to get the emulation with the ROM images. Clonato have a license to sell them.
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Old 05-10-2009, 07:30 PM   #12
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Default Re: Hypothetical Kickstart ideas

No need really to reverse engineer the Kickstart ROM. Application software expects certain functions in each library. Make a replacement function for each of them, viola!
As the Kickstart is heavily based on inheritance may not necessarily need to be a large programming task after all?
The v1.3 ROM ought to be a measure of the minimum amount of code reqiured to run. So how much of the 256 KB (ROM) is really used?
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Old 05-10-2009, 08:18 PM   #13
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Default Re: Hypothetical Kickstart ideas

It is perfectly legal to clean room reverse engineer them, the patents are long gone, there are no trade secrets anymore. It is not legal to copy them or directly use their code since that would break copyright, which lasts 50 years. It is not legal to call them Amiga since the trademark belongs to somebody else.
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Old 05-10-2009, 09:29 PM   #14
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Default Re: Hypothetical Kickstart ideas

Doesn't the AmigaOS license explicitly prohibit even clean reverse engineering?

As for name.. I found that "best friend" is el mejor amigo, which maybe is to close. But "friend" is compañero, most likely sufficiently different to be in the (legal) clear.

Otoh, library interfaces are published. Making replacements doesn't likely count as reverse engineering.

Seems a huge mystery as to the actual details of who has the copyright on AmigaOS presently
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Old 05-10-2009, 09:32 PM   #15
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Default Re: Hypothetical Kickstart ideas

There was a different set of Diagnostic Kickstart roms made for the A1200 I believe. I have seen them for sale before. I almost bought a set just out of curiosity but I sold my A1200.
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Old 05-10-2009, 09:34 PM   #16
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Default Re: Hypothetical Kickstart ideas

Diagnostic Kickstart ROM ..?

Diagnosing specifically the A1200 hardware I suppose?
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Old 05-10-2009, 10:06 PM   #17
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Default Re: Hypothetical Kickstart ideas

Quote:
Doesn't the AmigaOS license explicitly prohibit even clean reverse engineering?
It doesn't matter what M$ lawyers says, a contract enacted when you open the box where the install media of an operative system is packaged is not a binding contract.

Also, I rememeber the #$%& DMCA has a clause that allows reverse engeniering of hardware that is no longer produced and guess what, it has been more than a decade since an amiga with a kickstart rom was last manufactured.
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Old 05-10-2009, 10:34 PM   #18
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Default Re: Hypothetical Kickstart ideas

Is there an assumption here that the legal rights to OSx.x are holding back anything? Cannot the ROM images/software be purchased very cheaply "per machine" via Ainc (via Cloanto?) -- for far less than a PC manufacturer purchases Windoze? (Disclaimer: Maybe I've been staring at my computer screen far, far too long today.)
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Old 05-10-2009, 10:53 PM   #19
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Default Re: Hypothetical Kickstart ideas

@save2600
Quote:
I was just thinking emulation would/could have been more practical had it been written on and for more of a hardware level than software.
Putting something to KS ROM doesn't make it any more "hardware level" than having it as a separate program to run. ROM is just read only memory to store software to.
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Old 05-10-2009, 11:19 PM   #20
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Default Re: Hypothetical Kickstart ideas

I would like to see a kickstart replacement that would accelerate the booting of AOS3.9 machines & classic PPC machines. (my 68k A4000 does two resets to patch the kickstart before it loads up, it makes the booting 3x slower)
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