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History

One of the first public demonstrations of Amiga Unix was at the 1988 Uniforum Conference in Dallas, TX. The prototype machine, Amiga 3500, housed in a Commodore PC60-III tower case was demonstrated at the Business Computing Show in 1991 and finally launched as the slightly re-configured Amiga 3000T in october 1991.

The A3000UX was also sold for universities and students. The machines were generally well-received and liked by students and staff. In some universities students were required to buy required hardware and after the end of support for Amix, later on after the demise of Commodore, universities were in serious trouble finding spares to support students who had bought Amigas. In some cases universities were forced to buy machines back from their graduated students! (Thanks to Pentad on Amiga.org forums for this info).

Amix was sold for only a couple of years and it's support was dropped already before Commodore's bankruptcy in 1994. Rumour has it that the last (at the time only!) Amix support engineer was fired in 1993. Like several other UNIX packages of the early 1990's, Amix never managed to grab wide user base and partly due to the limited hardware support. Unlike Apple's A/UX, Amix didn't have any compatiblity layer to allow running AmigaOS applications under Unix. It also didn't make much use of the Amiga's graphic and sound capabilities, the parts of the hardware that made Amiga itself any special at the time. Also Amix's only supported CPUs (68020/68030) were underpowered and not competetively priced compared to the competing Unix workstations.

In the early days of Amix there were talks of Sun Microsystems selling Amiga Unix machines (the prototype Amiga 3500) as a low-end Unix workstations under their brand, making Commodore their OEM manufacturer. This deal was let down by Commodore's Mehdi Ali, not once but twice and finally Sun gave up their interest.

Lead developer of Unix SVR4 port and distribution for Amiga computers was Michael Ditto (Unix Systems Software Architect at Commodore 1988-1991).

a3000ux_born_to_run_unix_svr4.pdf A3000UX - Born to Run Unix SVR4. Original Commodore brochure. Wanted: better quality version of this - please contact if you can provide one!


Reviews

The December 1990 issue of Byte magazine featured an article on the Amiga 3000UX with Amiga Unix. The Amiga is praised for it's complete package, and it is favoured above a NeXT, Mac or even a 386 PC.

At US$ 4000,- it outperformed the equally priced systems, but could not perform at the level of the “automobile priced” SPARCstation or Silicon Graphics machines.

more_than_a_toy_but_no_bargain.pdf UNIX World December 1991 Review. “Commodore hasn't given us a convincing reason as to why it put UNIX on the Amiga


Special features of Amiga UNIX

(From “Using Amiga UNIX” manual)

Your Amiga UNIX System is a complete version of AT&T's UNIX System V Release 4.0 (Release 4) and provides all the features of that operating system. However, Amiga UNIX is more than just Release 4; it combines elements from several sources:

  • Amiga high resolution graphics
  • Amiga enhancements, including virtual screens, device drivers, and system-specific hardware functions
  • AT&T UNIX, which includes Berkeley and Xenix commands
  • public domain utilities

What features are unique to Amiga UNIX?

Amiga UNIX enhancements cover four distinct areas:

  • screen management
  • online guided interface to user and administrator tasks
  • public domain utility programs
  • miscellaneous utilities and system calls unique to the Amiga port of the UNIX operating system

Screen management programs define and create virtual screens, allow access to the Amiga console and custom RAM, and control various display elements of Amiga screens, including color, font type, and character size.

We added several public domain programs, and even documented them as primary options, because they are well known and, in some cases, more useful than the comparable Release 4 programs. The Release 4 programs still exist, work properly, and are located in the right place; we have simply added altematives, as shown in the following table.

Table 1: Unix standard → Amiga UNIX alternative
mail elm
more less
finger Finger
vi emacs
cc gcc

Other public domain programs provide functions not included in standard UNIX Release 4. These programs are in the directory /usr/public/bin.

Unique Amiga UNIX functions

Some Amiga UNIX features are unique only because of the Amiga hardware. Functions such as formatting floppy disks and hard disk partitions, connecting a paraller printer, and setting a keyboard translation map exist in some form on many system; the specific variants for Amiga UNIX are documented in this chapter. Again, any unique features are in addition to UNIX Release 4, no AT&T, Berkeley, or XENIX functions have been removed or replaced.

Where are the Amiga UNIX programs?

Amiga programs and utilities that are not available on any other system are in the following directories: /usr/amiga/bin /usr/amiga/etc /usr/amiga/lib/kmap /usr/amiga/lib/font /usr/public/bin

Some of the special Amiga UNIX commands

A2024 linked to true or flase to allow or disable high resolution

amixadm Amiga Unix System Administration tool

amixpkg system packages installer

color set or show screen color

fdfmt format a floppy disk

getscr define and create a virtual screen

passwdall set/erase all system account passwords

rdb set/show hard disk partitions

sioc set/display keymap, font and screen size


Sources:

  • Big Book of Amiga Hardware
  • Wikipedia article of Amiga Unix
  • Amiga History Guide
  • Commodore.ca
history.txt · Last modified: 2018/08/31 18:25 by wiki_admin