- amiga history guide Supporting Amiga and compatibles since 1997 -
- banners - disclaimer - faq
- - -
- -     -
recent updates
amiga history
amiga models
internet links



© 1997-2006
Gareth Knight
All Rights reserved




Developer: AROS
Project began: 1995

The AROS mascot

The liquidation of Commodore in 1994 was a turning point in the Amigas history. Many feared that the Amiga market would collapse and it would be relegated to a niche role as a door stop. The liquidation demonstrated the Amiga users' and developers' reliance upon Commodore. The Amiga OS was, and has always been, closed-source, preventing anyone updating the OS. At the time the open source initiative and Linux were becoming recognizable alternatives to the status quo. Several small groups' of Amiga users on the internet coordinated their efforts to create an open-source Amiga operating system that was not controlled by a incompetent, restrictive parent company. The most popular of these was the AmigOS project, which gained brief attention in Amiga User International during 1994. However, bitter flame wars on the feasibility of such an OS tore the project apart and the dream of an open-source Amiga OS disappeared.

During the fourth quarter of 1995, Aaron Digulla attempted to get the project moving again, by sending an RFC (Request For Comment) to the AmigOS mailing list. He suggested that a minimum specification list should be defined, allowing the creation of a basic open source OS. Once this stage had been completed, the group could decide if multi-processing, resource tracking, and other features missing from the official AmigaOS, could be implemented. After some discussion it was decided that the group should create a portable version of OS3.1. The Amiga Replacement Operating System was born...

Amiga Research Operating System

In the 5+ years since these events the Amiga has been officially resurrected and killed many times. The only certainty during this time was the possibility that an open-source Amiga OS could be created that was not subject to restrictions. Several changes have been made that will ensure AROSs portability. AmigaOS modules that access the Amiga hardware (graphic.library, keyboard.device, serial.device, etc.) have been changed in AROS to hardware independent drivers.
AROS Doom AROS Screenshots
The current version is binary compatible when installed on existing Amigas, while on other systems it provides source-level compatibility. Current software simply needs recompiling on another processor. There are versions available for 680x0, 80386+, and PowerPC processors running under AmigaOS or a Unix variant (Linux i386/m68k and FreeBSD i386). These are capable of displaying an Intuition screen under XWindows. This is visually similar to the UAE Amiga emulator, but is even more impressive when it realized that the code in compiled for the host CPU, rather than emulated.
An effort has also been made to create a standalone x86 OS, without the need to install Unix. At the moment the x86 native version includes versions of several libraries: Exec, Graphics, Layers, Dos and Intuition. There is also a VGA graphics driver that sits under the graphics.library and PS/2 mice and keyboards work under the input device. However, a file system is not included yet (due to a lack of space in the loader). Future plans will allow the user to flash AROS in the BIOS, turning the PC into a ready-made Amiga clone.

AROS has continued to influence several projects in the Amiga market. It has played a key role in optimizing UAE and, more recently, Haage & Partner used parts of the code in AmigaOS 3.9. In 2000, the AROS team formed an alliance with the Open Amiga Foundation.

There has been an influx of support for the new OS, including many industry figures, including David Pleasance (former managing director of Commodore UK), who was going to include it with the Amiga if his management buyout of Commodore International had been successful. Petro Tyschtschenko, Jeff Schindler, Bill McEwen, and Fleecy Moss have also been supportive of their efforts, but refuse to embrace it on an official level.

AROS has continued to mature, getting better every year. The next five years will be an interesting for the project, when it will compete for mind share with MorphOS, AmigaOS 3.9, and Amiga DE. It offers the advantage of a mature, portable 'Classic' Amiga-compatible operating system that is unrestricted by the political agenda or market share issues that affect the other two contenders. Could this be your next Amiga?

Try it for yourself!

Matt Parsons has very kindly allowed Amiga History Guide to host a copy of the x86 AROS disk image. Once downloaded, use the DOS program Rawrite.exe to write the image to a blank formated PC disk.

Download AROS disk image (2.5MB)

AROS instructions

External Links
Matt Parson's AROS Page


Last Update: 1/11/2001

Latest updates to the Amiga History Guide. (more)

· Amiga Hardware
· Amiga History.de
· Amiga Magazine Rack
· Amiga-news(en)(de)
· Amiga.org
· Amiga World
· AmigaOS 4.0
· Amiga University
· Commodore Retrobits
· Dave Haynie archive
· Lemon Amiga
· MorphOS Support
· morphos-news.de


Other interesting items in the archive!



home · changes · amiga history · features · amiga models
magazines · technical · interviews · internet links · downloads

Hosted by:
Bambi - The Amiga Web Server