I’ve spent the last couple of days working on getting my old Amiga working (I finally have a functional keyboard again!) and then virtualised under a modern emulator/VM, and WOW SO BORING but I wanted to document it somewhere.
Yes, yes, the student has become the master, etc.
Plus it’s kind of hilarious to see these old network configuration files again. lol murkworks.seattle.wa.us what even. Does that system still exist anymore? I honestly don’t know.
Hoo, where to start? Okay, first, I’m running FS-UAE, which emulates Amiga hardware. FS-UAE is good because it’s open source, multiplatform, and all versions use the same disk image files, which are really basic raw drive images that you could literally write back out to a physical drive with dd and use in a real machine.
You need Kickstart ROMs, of course. There tools out there to image your own old ROMs if your Amiga is working, but if not, Amiga Forever is the best place to get those, because they’ll see you every ROM ever for like US$30, and a bunch of (again, legal!) OS versions on floppy disk images.
You’ll need to have a Windows PC to run Amiga Forever on once, because the download is an .msi file, and you’ll need to unpack that mess. Or, if you don’t mind waiting, you can buy the “deluxe” edition for $10 more, and they’ll mail you a DVD, eliminating the PC requirement.
If you go with the download, then once you have it/install the .MSI file, it’ll let you make a DVD-R ISO which you can burn. That’ll produce the same DVD as the deluxe edition would give you, only as DVD-R instead of DVD but whatever. If you’re using a USB drive, you can just have Amiga Forever write out all the files to a standard directory structure there, as well. FS-UAE will work with either to import the ROMs.
In my case, I was able to get my old hard drives viewable under Linux. (That’s because A4000 used IDE instead of SCSI rives, and EIDE cages talk to them.) That meant I could make .img files just using the linux dd command. If you want to virtualise your old machine pretty much intact, you’ll want to image the whole drive to a file – not the partitions individually.
If you have a SCSI controller and can hook your old Amiga drive(s) to it, you can do the same trick there.
Dara Korra’ti You can also mount your old hard drive partitions under linux, though they will be read-only. This still will let you copy things off, and on any modern file system, FS-UAE will let you use a directory as root of a virtualised Amiga hard drive. I’m doing this as drive … four now on my newly virtualised Amiga. That gives me unlimited access to the host machine’s drive space, which is cool, and both my OS X host and my Windows 2000 VM can read/write that directory so all three OSes can share files freely now, which is definitely handy.
Sometimes people apparently have problems mounting the Amiga partitions individually; here is a helpful page on that. The most important part of it really is that fdisk doesn’t recognise Amiga partition tables and that can confuse things, but parted does, and even if you have to get super-squirrley (I did not) then you can make it work with data you can extract via parted.
The reason I’ve been concentrating on OS X is because the Linux version of FS-UAE wants PulseAudio, which I do not want on my DAW, which is my main linux machine. But since I’m using standard dd-created disk images, I can migrate later if I have an appropriate Linux machine for this task.
If you do not have an existing Amiga hard drive, FS-UAE will happily let you create a virtual one and install whatever Workbench versions you want to it.
Anyway, once I had the virtualised machine booting at all to my old system (albeit as an Amiga 4000 with 68020 processor, how the hell that was supposed to work I can’t tell you but it did), I then booted to an Amiga Workbench 3.1 install floppy image instead of the hard drive, and installed 3.1 as an upgrade on my old (now virtualised) drives. After that, everything behaved a lot more normally and I enabled PPC-acceleration-board emulation – which was another advantage of Amiga Forever, since the extra ROM needed was also in the Amiga Forever image.
(Though I did have to rename it. But it asked for the file by name, so it wasn’t hard to figure that out.)
Anyway, that should get you started. There are lots of app floppy images floating around you can use for things too. Lots of legal ones, even. FS-UAE and Amiga Forever will both point you at those and will even include some of them.
Oh, if you have old Amiga floppies and a working/workable Amiga and floppy drive to read them, you’ll want TransADF, which lets you create ADF files out of Amiga floppy disks:
It runs on the Amiga side of things and creates .adf files that fs-uae will use. It’s not really for copy-protected stuff tho’. As far as I can tell, it is about the easiest way to get files off Amiga floppies and onto a machine while preserving all their attributes and such.
Finally, if somehow you have a working Amiga but it doesn’t have LHA, this will help:
I have used a spell to rip this walkthrough from Amiga’s decaying floppy disks, and
sealed it in one of the servers floating in the Furthest Ring. The gods may
disperse the signal throughout the cosmos as they wish. Perhaps it will be of use
to past or future species who like us have been ensnared by crazy-ass antique operating systems.
I see another drive has filed. Pardon my egress. You’re on your own now.
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