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ArcEm ported to Amiga OS 4

By Chris Williams. Published: 12th May 2006, 01:10:27 | Permalink | Printable

In a tussle of obscure OS on obscure OS

ArcEm logoThe Archimedes emulator ArcEm has been ported to Amiga OS 4. Chris Young of Unsatisfactory Software brought the open source project to the closed source PowerPC powered Amiga OS, and says RISC OS runs a "little sluggish" on his 800MHz G4 system. Games, on the other hand, reportedly run at a reasonable pace.

Chris discovered ArcEm after a discussion of RISC OS was brought up on an Amiga OS 4 mailing list; he previously tried running Archie on DosBox without success as it took an hour to reach the ROS 3.11 desktop. It later took Chris, who regards RISC OS as having a "good user interface design", about a week of coding to complete the Amiga OS port.

He said: "After some more searching, I came across ArcEm and took a look at the source code, noting that it had already been ported to a few platforms and the platform-dependent code was limited to only a couple of files for reading input and displaying the screen.

"I initially didn't understand what all the functions did, but a very helpful Peter Howkins explained exactly what needed to be done to port ArcEm to a new platform, and a lot of the code could be stolen from other platform ports with little or no alteration. I had a working port of ArcEm after about a week of more-or-less solid coding."

Chris admitted that the currently available version of the port has a few minor issues, although these have been mostly addressed.

He added: "The current version on my hard drive is recompiled with GCC 4 and runs much better than the previous release.

"It only runs full screen, partly because I've never understood the need to run emulators in a window - especially on AmigaOS, where you can switch screens with LAmiga-M - and partly for speed reasons. I can open a screen identical to the emulated one, assign the same palette, directly change the 'drawing pens' etc on an 8-bit screen."

The ArcEm team are currently working on the next formal release of the emulation software, which as well as the recent Amiga OS 4 and GP2X ports, should also include sound support and an updated HostFS.


ArcEm website Are RISC OS and Amiga OS so dissimilar?

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All this porting stuff is very noble, but is it really any use to anyone? The efforts required seem to me to be rather large and the rewards little more than a bit of kudos. If every other person who spent a week coding a pet project OS port spent that week instead writing something fresh and useful (that could even be sold!) for RISC OS, I think we'd all appreciate it rather more.

Maybe I'm just getting old and cynical!

 is a RISC OS Userharmsy on 12/5/06 8:55AM
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I wonder who is more surprised that the other is still around, Amiga users or RISC OS users?

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 12/5/06 9:41AM
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Well If the ArcEM on the GP2X works better in the future I might get one nothing beats having a riscos handheld that can display games on TV!!! Spheres of Chaos and zarch all the way

 is a RISC OS Userhighlandcattle on 12/5/06 9:56AM
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I'm surprised to see Amiga is still going.

Their web site is interesting...


I noticed that they sell Amiga PCs, Set Boxes, PDAs, Smartphones and other devices.

The Amiga clubs still meet here in Auckland, New Zealand and other parts of NZ surprisingly interesting to see.

The web site says that as the Amigas die the membership do too as people take the easy way to Uncle Bill's PC world. :-(

Supplies are just too hard to get in NZ and salvaging part off older machines in getting scarce and too difficult to bother.

A shame though, to see other platforms to give up until they have one day faded away.


 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 12/5/06 10:53AM
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We are lucky that we have new post-Acorn hardware available to buy that runs current versions of the OS. In the Amiga world while there are Amiga One owners there are no more being produced - so now that Amiga OS 4 is nearing completion they currently are hampered by having no new hardware to run it on..

 is a RISC OS UserJohnB on 12/5/06 12:24PM
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AFAIK there was also a company called Merlancia, which claimed it was going to be producing new Amiga hardware. Apart from never hiring any engineers, and not paying its employees, I think the company directors ended up being sought by bailiffs in the end. The whole epsiode didn't do a lot for Amiga's image.

It seems every small platform has a Microdigital ;-)

 is a RISC OS Usertimephoenix on 14/5/06 8:36AM
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Eyetech Ltd. [link] do still produce AmigaOne systems and www.hyperion-entertainment.biz hyperion entertainment are supporting the machines as well as lots of other things. hyperion-entertainment are like the R-Comp of the Amiga world, they have even ported Heretic 2 and Quake 2!

 is a RISC OS UserCheatWarrior on 14/5/06 11:00AM
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See here for an interview with Eyetech which details the sorry story of where things have ended up - [link] They stated that it would have been cheaper for them if they'd given people $500 NOT to buy their hardware. Additionally there have been no new production runs of Amiga One's for months and it doesn't look like there will be. Hence the current situation where the only serious known new hardware coming to the market is ACK's Powervixxen which can work either as an upgrade to Classic Amiga's or (with an expansion board) as a stand alone system.

It would be good if the Amiga One did become viable to produce again - but to my knowledge nothing's changed of late. I'm sure there would be bunting on the Amiga World website if any model of Amiga One was readily available again ^_^

 is a RISC OS UserJohnB on 14/5/06 12:02PM
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"John B"

"See here for an interview with Eyetech which details the sorry story of where things have ended up "

Very sobering reading especially when Amiga used to have a much bigger market than Acorn. Where have all the USA enthusiasts gone ?

I guess Risc OS users should count themselves very luck there is new hardware. Although I guess the acid test is if people like castle decided to repeat developments now they have real commercial experience of development costs and a better understanding of the size of the market.

I guess a factor must be that people involved with Risc OS seem to be extremely optimistic by nature and not a jot of cynical realisium to be seen.

One of the bigger challenges for the Amiga is that they had to rewrite for a different processor. I wonder how much different things would have been if they had decided to rewrite to run on the PC platform.

 is a RISC OS UserJwoody on 14/5/06 12:27PM
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We've been lucky that Castle and AD6 have had the ability to successfully market their hardware outside of the RISC OS desktop market. I'm sure this is core to how we've managed to end up with two excellent hardware offerings available.

Unfortunately for Eyetech they don't seem to have achieved any significant successes in other markets and, in addition to that, Amiga OS 4 hasn't officially been released. So not only were they limited to the enthusiast market but also further limited to those who were willing to accept just to be able to run PPC Linux and (later!) the beta releases of Amiga OS 4. While AD6 said that their beta scheme offering did very well I'm certain that that alone would not have made their venture financially viable.

It's not all gloom for the Amiga though - Amiga OS 4 is pretty much ready for release pending the availability of hardware to coincide with an official release. So hopefully the Powervixxen will be completed soon and there are hints of another hardware solution so it's just a case of wait and see and hope for the best. I would be sad to see the Amiga completely fade away.

 is a RISC OS UserJohnB on 14/5/06 1:34PM
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