Amiga featured a vast number of utility programs embedded into the OS. Many of these are original features, and were then adopted into other systems:
- Installer is a system tool developed by Commodore for the installation of Amiga software. It features a LISP interpreter to facilitate the installation procedure. It was not widely adopted by Amiga software vendors because on AmigaOS, it was often the case that the installation entailed copying a single executable to the floppy or the hard disk where the AmigaOS was installed. This ease of installation made the utility unnecessary in the Amiga community. It should also be noted that, unlike sophisticated UNIX software management subsystems, the Amiga Installer didn't support dependencies or tracking of where the installed files were delivered; it simply copied them onto the target filesystem(s). See also this related external article which explains installation of programs on the AmigaOS.
- AmigaGuide is a hypertext markup scheme and a browser for writing and reading web page-like documents. The AmigaGuide files are simple text files in a simple markup language, which facilitates easy editing and localization in any ASCII text editor. What makes this particularly interesting is that Commodore came up with AmigaGuide format before the World Wide Web was even known. Consumers which bought Amiga computers in a store did not receive documentation on how to write AmigaGuide documents.
- Update tools since AmigaOS 4.0, a standard utility called AmiUpdate is provided to keep the system files and the installed programs up to date. MorphOS, an AmigaOS-like operating system, also has the MorphUP equivalent.
Both update systems are not widely used by the Amiga community, because in order to update the AmigaOS, it is often the case that only a single file is required to be copied into one of the AmigaOS system directories, thus replacing the previous version. This is a very simple procedure and any user with a minimum of experience could perform it easily without the danger of harming the system.
Commodities and utilitiesEdit
Amiga features two standard directories in which the System Utilities are stored:
The Utilities directory contains programs like IconEdit.
The Commodities directory (volume SYS:Tools/Commodities/ or SYS:Utilities/Commodities under AmigaOS4) contains executable applet-like utilities which enhance system usability, like for example the ScreenBlanker, the default screen saver shipped with AmigaOS.
"Commodities" are usually loaded at system startup, and feature neither a GUI interface nor do they require any interaction. These "Commodities" could be controlled, stopped, reloaded, and tuned by a user via a system utility called Exchange.
Hard disk partitioningEdit
AmigaOS features a standard centralized utility to partition and format hard disks, called HDToolBox. MorphOS uses an updated version of the SCSIConfig utility implemented by third party vendor, Phase V.
In spite of the name, "SCSIConfig" possessed a unique feature at the time, which was providing a consistent mechanism to manage all types of disk interfaces, including IDE, irrespective of which interface the disk(s) in question used.
AmigaOS diagnostic tools are usually programs which display the current state of running Exec process list. In programs like Scout and Ranger states of Tasks and public message ports are also displayed. These tools automatically update the list of processes as they are added and removed.
- Active process explorer: Scout, Ranger
- System calls and messages: SnoopDOS, Snoopium
- Memory management: Enforcer, MemMungWall, TLSFMem by Chris Hodges
- Benchmark Utilities AmiBench, AIBB
Degrading tools: Degrader
- These programs "degrade" modern Amiga systems to performance and hardware equivalents of legacy Amiga models.
WHDLoad, a utility to install legacy Amiga games on a hard disk and load them from AmigaOS GUI instead of floppies, on which they were often delivered.
jst, an older one which the developer abandoned in order to concentrate efforts on WHDLoad. Old jstloaders can be read with WHDLoad, and jst itself has some early level of WHDLoad compatibility.
For the Amiga there were dozens of disk copiers. Nibbler, QuickNibble, ZCopier, XCopy/Cachet, FastCopier, Disk Avenger, Tetra Copier (You can play a version of game Tetris while copying Disks), Cyclone, Maverick, D-Copy, Safe II, PowerCopier, Quick Copier, Marauder II (named "Marauder][" with the parenthesis symbol), Rattle Copy, BurstNibble, etcetera. Almost all of these utilities were used to pirate games.
Many of these disc copiers were perfectly legal in many countries, until the phenomenon of piracy were condemned and became illegal worldwide and these programs (like for example Marauder, X-Copy and Nibbler) were sold in normal packages complete with instructions, warranty and EULA as any normal productivity software.
It existed also floppy disks with LED track indicators to show if the disks were hacked by the original programmers to support up to track 82 of the disk, and copyimg solutions that included both hardware and software like Super Card Ami II, or Syncro Express I/II/III.
DFC5 could only copy standard AmigaOS formatted disks for backup purposes, however, it multitasked inside of the Amiga Workbench GUI.
X-COPY III and later the final version, X-COPY Pro was the most popular Amiga copy program, which was used to copy floppy disks. It was capable of bit-by-bit copying, also called "nibbling". Although incapable of true multitasking, the program was capable of taking advantage of Amiga configurations with multiple floppy drives; for instance, on Amiga systems with four floppy drives, X-COPY was capable of copying from a source drive to three other floppy drives at the same time. Coupled with excellent bit-by-bit replication capabilities, these features made X-COPY the defacto standard for copying floppy disks on the Amiga, especially on the software piracy scene.
Another popular copying program was D-COPY, by a Swedish group "D-Mob", which, in spite of some innovative features and better/faster copying routines, failed to gain dominance.
Backup and recovery toolsEdit
In the first AmigaOS releases Commodore included a standard floppy disk recover utility stored in the directory of AmigaDOS commands and called DiskDoctor. Its purpose was to recover files from mangled floppy disks. Unfortunately this utility worked only with AmigaOS standard disks, and as major faults it did not saved the recovered data on different disks than original one and dangerously performed its operations directly on the original damaged disks. Also DiskDoctor wrote upon original disks and destroyed Amiga autoboot-non standard AmigaOS disks (mainly autobooting games), by overwriting their bootblock. DiskDoctor also renamed recovered disks with standard name "Lazarus" (as the resurrected man in the New Testament). As these features of DiskDoctor were undocumented, this fact led up an Amiga urban legend that there was a computer virus spreading all around nicknamed Lazarus VirusTemplate:Ref label, which final purpose was to make disks unreadable and renaming it with that name. With 2.0 it came the more useful DiskSalv utility, which was more often used just to validate Amiga filesystems in hard disks partitions.
Here follows a list of known Amiga repair tools:
- First generation (only floppies): Disk Mechanic, Disk Repair, Dr.Ami
- Second generation (floppies + HD) : Ami-Back Tools, Ami-Filesafe Pro, Quarterback Tools, Amiga Tools DeLuxe, Diavolo Backup
- Third generation (modern filesystems): The suite for recovering SFS: SFS Recover Tool, SFSDoctor, SFSCheck 2, SFSResize 1.0
Archives and compression utilitiesEdit
The archivers most used on the AmigaOS and considered a defacto standard are LHA and LZX. Programs to archive ZIP, Gzip, Bzip2, and RAR files are available but seldom used, and many of them also have an Amiga counterpart, such as 7-Zip. There are also utilities for reading and writing archive formats such as ARC, ARJ (unarchive only), the CAB files common in Windows installation, StuffIt SIT archives from Macintosh, Uuencode which is used for encoding binary attachments of e-mail messages, TAR common on UNIX and GNU/Linux, RPM from Red Hat and more.
Interesting phenomenon of the Amiga scene was the support for Amiga "packed" or "crunched" (meaning lightly or heavily compressed) executables, which were common in the age of floppy disks, when space and memory conservation was critical. These were executable binary files which had a decompress routine attached to them, and which would automatically unpack or decrunch (decompress) the binary executable upon loading into memory. An interesting concept originated on Commodore 64 pirate scene, called "level depacking", and implemented on the Amiga by a utility called "Titanics Cruncher" enabled a binary executable to be decrunched as it was being loaded, requiring a very small amount of memory to do so. In general, packing and crunching executables was a technology directly taken from the Commodore 64 cracking scene, so much so, that some crunchers, like for instance the Time Cruncher, were directly ported to the Amiga platform from Commodore 64. This went so far as to even display the same visual effects during decrunching as they would be displayed on the Commodore 64. As the CPU in the Amiga was completely different than the one in the Commodore 64, these were complete implementations from scratch.
Noteworthy of mention in this category were TurboImploder and PowerPacker, which was the most used utility for "crunching" files, as it was easy to use, with a very well designed GUI. Other popular crunchers were the DefjamPacker, TetraPack, DoubleAction, Relokit, StoneCracker, Titanics and CrunchMania crunchers. In the contemporary age, there are libraries such as explode.library to decrunch entire files and directories on the fly. The ability to compress and decompress single files and directories on the fly has been present on the AmigaOS since at least 1994.
A similar feature has been implemented relatively recently as a property in the ZFS filesystem, enabling ZFS filesystems (and thus individual files inside of them) to be compressed and decompressed on the fly, by setting the "zfs set compression=on /dataset/..." property. It is even possible to choose between the LZJB and Gzip compression algorithms, just as it was possible to choose the crunch algorithm on the AmigaOS.
The packers and cruncher libraries on AmigaOS are actually centralized by using the XPK system of AmigaDOS device drives and pseudo devices (which talk to the various XPK libraries). The XPK system consists of a master library and several (de)packer sublibraries. Application programs only use the master library directly: the master library takes care of loading and using the sublibraries. Each sublibrary implements one type of (de)compression. There are different libraries for different types of data. When unpacking/decrunching, the applications do not need to know which library was used to pack or crunch the data. XPK is a wrapper for crunchers, to decrunch non-XPK packed formats requires XFD.
Another important invention on the Amiga platform was the creation of ADF format for creating images of Amiga floppy disks, either AmigaDOS Standard floppies, or NDOS ones, for use in Amiga emulators, such as WinUAE. Not only Amiga emulators, but also AmigaOS can use these files as they were implemented as virtual floppy disks. Unlimited virtual floppies could be created on modern Amigas, although WinUAE on a real PC can handle only four of them at same time, which happens to be the maximum that the Amiga hardware could have connected at any one time.
Nowadays all the popular Amiga compression implementations and archive files are centralized and implemented by a single system library called the XAD.Library, which has a front end GUI program named Voodoo-X, and included in AmigaOS 3.9 and up with UnArc.. This library is modular and can handle more than 80 compression formats.
Command line interfaces and text-based shellsEdit
The original Amiga CLI (Command Line Interface) which had some basic editing capabilities, command template, and other interesting features such as ANSI compatibility and color selection. In AmigaOS 1.3 it soon evolved into a complete text based Shell called AmigaShell.
There were also created more improved shells from third party developers thanks to the easy way to implement a new command line interface into Amiga by replacing original Console-Handler standard command line device driver (or "handler" in Amiga technical language), the program that controls any kind of text based interfaces into Amiga. The most famous Amiga replacement for original Console Handler was KingCON (also known with its "virtual device" name added with semicolon "KingCON:").
Due to easy to implement third party developed shells, there were ported into Amiga some well known shells from other platforms, such as: Bash (Bourne Again SHell), CSH (C-Shell), ZSH (Z-Shell) (one of the most Non-Amiga shells very appreciated into Amiga environment). These Shells taken from Unix/Linux were adapted into Amiga and improved with its peculiar capabilities and functions.
The MorphOS Shell it is an example of Z-Shell mixed with KingCON: console handler, and being originated as an Unix-like shell it is provided with all the features expected from such a component: AmigaDOS commands (more than 100 commands, most of which are Unix-like), local and global variables, command substitution, command redirection, named and unnamed pipes, history, programmable menus, multiple shells in a window, ANSI compatibility, color selection, and so on. It also includes all the necessary commands for scripting.
Amiga WIMP GUI interfacesEdit
Starting from original Amiga WIMP standard GUI called Workbench, the Amiga interfaces where enhanced by third party developers. So the Amiga users are free to replace the original Workbench interface with these ones: ScalOS, Directory Opus. The standard GUI toolkit is called Intuition, was enhanced in OS2.x with the introduction of GadTools and 3rd parties created their own toolkits such as MUI (Magic User Interface) which is the standard one into MorphOS system, ClassAct, which then evolved into ReAction GUI which is the standard one into AmigaOS 4.0.
Amiga Advanced Graphics SystemsEdit
Most used drivers for advanced graphics into Amiga, which let the AmigaOS capable to handle high resolution graphics, enhanced with million colors features, complete of Alpha Channel into programs and standard GUI interfaces are CyberGraphX, EGS and Picasso96, which became a standard into Amiga.
Into Amiga are available some graphical engines, and we remember Warp3D original 3D graphic engine for Amiga, StormMESA which was a 3D library almost all OpenGL compatible and was based on the latest MESA implementation (MESA V2.5). StormMESA it is now obsolete. TinyGL and MiniGL engines let Amiga use some capabiities of OpenGL graphic engine from Linux world. X11 engine it is also available through Amiga version of Cygnix. Cairo Vector Library it is available on AmigaOS 4.0 and so it is Anti-Grain Geometry library. On Amiga it is also being developed a GTK_MUI wrapper, to map any existing graphical feature of GTK with standard Amiga MUI graphic user interface system.
All Amiga modern systems widely support also SDL (Simple DirectMedia Layer) cross-platform, multimedia, free software library written in C that creates an abstraction over various platforms' graphics, sound, and input APIs, allowing a developer to write a computer game or other multimedia application once and run it on many operating systems.
Since AmigaOS 2.1, in the Prefs (Preferences) system directory there is the printer preferences program called PrinterPS which pilots PostScript printers on Amiga.
TrueType fonts, color and anim fontsEdit
Original Amiga outline fonts a.k.a vector fonts were Agfa Compugraphic fonts available since AmigaOS 2.1 with the standard utility Fountain from Commodore, then the subsystem of outline fonts was replaced by using most widely used TrueType fonts, using various libraries, such as TrueType Library I and II, and LibFreeType library.
The standard diskfont.library also supported bitmap multicolour fonts (ColorFonts), such as those professional looking Kara Fonts, or even animated fonts also created in origin from developer Kara Computer Graphics.
Font designer softwareEdit
Amiga Advanced Audio SystemEdit
The foremost used advanced Audio System into Amiga, which let the AmigaOS capable to handle current features of 16 bit modern audio cards and surpass original 8 bit audio hardware facilities of Classic Amiga models it is called AHI (Amiga) (Audio Hardware Interface).
Amiga can handle various filesystems. Standard ones are Amiga Filesystem, then named Amiga Old Filesystem which was good for floppy disks usage, but it wasted disk space when used in Hard disks, Amiga FFS (Fast File System), or the SFS Smart Filesystem, journaled filesystem, or even PFS (Professional Filesystem).
CrossDOS it is the Amiga standard utility to read MS-DOS formatted floppy disks in FAT12 and FAT16 filesystem, mainly either 720KB Double Density Floppy format or High Density Floppy at 1440KB (obviously only Amiga HD floppy drives can read 1440 MS-DOS disks, or also an external MS-DOS floppy drive connected to Amiga could handle it).
Partitions of various filetypes common in other systems such as those included into Windows as Fat16 and Fat32 are now recognized under a single library which is named into Amiga as FAT95 library, which reads not only partitions, but also MS-DOS Floppies, or even USB Pen-Drives formatted with Fat16 or Fat32.
The Datatype system of AmigaOS is a centralized expandable modular system describing any kind of file (text, music, image files, videos) each one with a standard load/save module of its own.
Any experienced programmer, following the Amiga Datatype programming guidelines, could realize new standard datatype modules for each kind of file it is required to be loaded or saved, and leave it visible to the whole Amiga System (this means also to all Amiga programs) by simply copying the datatype into system directory SYS:Classes/DataTypes/, and the descriptor (which is called to identify files) into DEVS:DataTypes/.
This fact allows Amiga programs to load and save any kind of files for which it exist the correspondent datatype (IFF. Datatype, Jpeg. Datatype, MP3.Datatype, AIFF.Datatype, etc.) without the necessity to embed file descriptors in its binary, or without the necessity of realizing an independent system of loaders any time it is created a new productivity software running on the Amiga platform. This fact thus keeps Amiga productivity software tools with a smaller size and a more clean design than similar programs running into other operating systems.
Here follows a brief example list of existing datatypes taken from big library of Amiga datatypes:
AIFF, JPEG, PNG, TIFF, IFF ANIM, CDXL, BMP, GIFAnim, JNG, HTML, 8SVX, HyperGuide, ILBM, MPEGAudio, MPEGVideo, PBM, Microsoft Word, Photo-CDs, Protracker, RGBx, Wav, Word Perfect, WordStar, XBM, Sun .au, etcetera.
MultiView is the standard Amiga universal viewer capable to load and then show any document or image file, or even play any single music or movie file for which it exists the correspondent datatype.
Modern Amiga-like operating systems such as AmigaOS 4.0 and MorphOS can handle also MIME types. Any kind of file, due to its peculiar characteristics (thanks to filename estensions), or data embedded into file itself (for example into file header) could be associated with a program capable to handle it, and this feature improves and completes the capabilities of Amiga to recognize and deal with any kind of files.
The only known historical USB stack for the Amiga is the one created for Draco Macrosystem Amiga clone. It supported only USB 1.0 and ceased with the demise of that platform.
Actually the modern USB support drivers for Amiga are: ANAIIS (Another Native Amiga IO Interface Stack) from Gilles Pelletier, the Poseidon USB Stack by Amiga programmer Chris Hodges and available for Classic AmigaOS, AmigaOS 4.0 and MorphOS, and Sirion native USB stack of AmigaOS 4.0. Poseidon has a modular approach to USB and various hardware devices are supported by a certain number of HIDD devices.
FireWire stacks (IEEE 1394)Edit
Actually exists only one FireWire interface support into Amiga. It is named Fireworks and it was created for the MorphOS system by programmer Pavel Fedin. It is still an early stage of development, but it is already freely downloadable.
Print Manager program TurboPrint, by German firm IrseeSoft it is the de-facto standard for advanced printing with Amiga, and it is also a modular program with a vast number of drivers which support the foremost known modern printers on the market. PrintStudio Professional I and II was another well known and appreciated printer driver system for the Amiga.
On Amiga there was a good software for digitizing videos, for example DigiView frame by frame digitizer, FrameMachine Zorro II (Amiga 16bit card standard bus connector) expansion card for A2000, 3000, 4000, Impact Vision IV24 from GVP, VidiAmiga real time digitizer, and for the Paloma module which could be purchased with Picasso IV Amiga compatible graphic card.
In the past SummaGraphics Tablets were the most famous in the eighties and were the most widely used into Amiga also. Summagraphics supported directly Amiga with its drivers, also some Amiga graphic programs provided their bundled drivers for some limited graphic tablets models.
In 1994 GTDriver (Graphic Tablet Driver) was the most common used driver for serial port tablets, like Summagraphics MM, Summagraphics Bitpadone, CalComp 2000, Cherry, TekTronix 4967 and Wacom. It was capable also to pilot some serial PC mice.
Actually the graphic tablets are mainly USB devices, and automatically recognized by Amiga USB stacks, but there are not so many drivers capable to pilot it. The most widely used driver for graphic tablets is FormAldiHyd from Chris Hodges (who realized also the well known Amiga Poseidon USB Stack). FormAldiHyd it is capable to pilot various Aiptek, Aldi, Tevion and Wacom IV (Graphire, ArtPad, A3, A4, A5 and PenPartner) graphic tablets.
Usually Amiga programs have Scanner drivers embedded in their interface, and limited to some ancient scanner models, such as the program Art Department Professional, which has its own module to pilot scanners.
In the recent times the scanner management system has been made independent from the single programs. The hardware interface it is now always USB and managed by Amiga Poseidon USB Stack which is capable to detect scanners from their signature, and loading the corresponding HIDD scanner module. The graphical interface it is managed by programs like ScanTrax and ScanQuix which became a de-facto standard for the Amiga.
Genlocks, Chroma-Key, signal video invertersEdit
Amiga has a special circuitry to make its palette colours support Genlock signal, and Chroma-Key. In the past there were many programs and hardware interfaces to pilot Genlocks. Most famous were Genlocks from GVP (Great Valley Productions), an American hardware manufacturer, and Hama, Electronic Design, and Sirius Genlocks from Germany.
InfraRed Devices and remote controlsEdit
It exists IRCom class for USB Poseidon Stack. It is a driver for IRCom standard to pilot infrared remote devices and has an interface called IRCom Remote to learn and assign commands and functions to any infrared device.
Pegasos Amiga Clone computers have an internal IrDA port connector ready to pilot infrared devices, but there is no support for it in MorphOS. The Internal IrDA port can be used installing any Linux flavours supported on that computer model and using Linux IrDA drivers.
WiFi and Bluetooth DevicesEdit
Amiga can pilot WiFi external routers connected physically through ethernet cable and talk with remote WiFi devices. There are drivers available for Prism2 internal PCI WiFi expansion cards, but no drivers to pilot Bluetooth standard devices like mobile phones, Bluetooth Handsets, keybooards or mice.
For the Amiga existed in the past special drivers and hardware cards to pilot Polaroid Freeze Frame Digital Camera System Polaroid Digital Palette CI-3000 and Digital Palette CI 5000, with the software created by Polaroid itself.
There were many professional drivers to pilot step-by-step video recorders to save on tape the 3D animations created by Amiga (Digital piloted Ampex and Betacam), and TBC devices (Time Base Correctors devices, which is a family of devices that correct timing errors which can cause unstable edits) in order to adjust Amiga TV output signal to a vast amount of broadcast video devices and link the signal to professional Betacam videorecorders, signal converters to change NTSC American TV system to PAL European TV system, and professional blue-screens used in broadcast productions. One of these products was Personal TBC series of programs for the Amiga.
Another example of a complete new line of products that Amiga helped to create and launch on the market, were the digital recorders, now widely available on the market, coupled with an internal hard disk and a DVD device, in order to transfer the recorded file. One of these products was Broadcaster Elite, one of the very first digital videorecorder, based on a SCSI system and a Zorro II Amiga expansion card.
There were also programs to pilot digital oscilloscopes and even expansion cards to transform Amiga into an oscilloscope/vectorscope changing the video interface and adapting it to a new GUI every time it should be changed the measurement system and the emulated device either oscilloscope or vectorscope.
Amiga Phonepak card from GVP Amiga Phonepak was an expansion card to transform Amiga in a complete professional integrated telephone switchboard, fax system, and answering machine for SOHO (Small Office, Home Office) market.
Amiga Also helped as a videotitler system in the High Definition TV standard first experimental broadcasting. A battery of three Amigas was used as videotitlers on Analog HDTV experiments on HDTV NTSC 1125 lines standard, by channels like ESPN, ABC, NBC.