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Installing Amiga OS 3.1.4 – Part 5 – Finishing Touches

Amiga Workbench Wallpaper

In parts 1 through 4 of this guide I covered everything needed to install Amiga OS 3.1.4 on an Amiga 1200 from scratch. However there are still a few things that can be done to improve the installation.

I’m afraid this post ended up a lot longer than I anticipated so I’ve put some links below that will take you straight to each section.

 

Fancy Glowicons

If you’ve seen any screenshots of Amiga OS 3.1.4 on the internet you may well be wondering why we haven’t got any fancy new icons with our Workbench install. Well for some reason the installation of these was never automated so this is something you must do yourself. The good news is that these icons are tucked away on the ‘Storage’ disk and can be installed manually quite easily.

Boot your Amiga up and then insert the ‘Storage’ disk into the drive. Next, open up the Shell and enter the following command:

copy storage3.1.4:glowicons/#? sys: all

This will copy the icons off the floppy disk and onto your Amiga’s system partition.

 

Amiga CLI

This command will copy the new icons onto your Workbench drive.

 

There are quite a lot of icons to copy over so it will take a little while to complete. You should see a load of text scrolling up the window before the command prompt finally returns.

 

Amiga Shell or CLI

When you see the Workbench:> prompt appear the icons have finished copying over.

 

At this point you can close the Shell and reboot your Amiga.

 

Amiga Glowicons

New Workbench 3.1.4 Icons!

 

When it reboots you should be greeted by much more colourful Workbench screen filled with lovely new icons. You may need to spend a little time re-arranging them to your liking but they definitely look a lot better than the old ones!

 

Amiga Preferences

Here you can see all the new Preferences Icons.

 

Setting the Screen Mode

 

By default your Amiga will have configured the screen mode to either PAL (640×256) or NTSC (640×200) High Res mode. This results in a very stretched looking Workbench screen and doesn’t give you much space to work with either.

 

Amiga Screen mode

Vertically stretched Workbench screen in PAL Hires mode.

 

Assuming your monitor will support it, I recommend changing the display mode to High Res Laced. This doubles the vertical resolution providing the correct aspect ratio for your Workbench screen and twice the space for icons and windows.

 

Amiga Screen mode

Amiga Screen modes

 

And here’s what Workbench looks like once the screen mode has been changed – much better!

 

Amiga Screen mode

So much more space and our icons are now the correct shape!

 

I’m very lucky with the screen I’m using with my Amiga. It’s an old LCD TV with a 720P screen. It supports RGB SCART and is able to display all of the standard Amiga screen modes. What’s more, because it’s an LCD panel, interlaced modes do not flicker like they used to do on CRT monitors. This means I can get all the benefits of the extra resolution that interlaced modes offer without any of the negatives! Twenty years ago I would have needed a very expensive Multiscan monitor or a flicker-fixer/scan-doubler to achieve this (or have to put up with the flicker!).

 

Overscan Settings

I noticed something a bit odd after installing Workbench… my screen wasn’t centred and there was a weird border on the left, top and bottom of the screen. Basically dead space that I wasn’t able to utilise… until I cast my mind back 25 years and remembered about overscan border settings with CRT monitors.

 

Amiga Preferences.

 

In a nutshell the overscan settings were a way to tweak your display to maximise the available screen space. Most CRT’s were housed in plastic cases that partially shrouded the outer edges of the tube by varying degrees and thus hid a part of the image. Typically beyond the limits of the designated display area the borders used to be black and you would adjust the overscan settings to get rid of this and have as much ‘picture’ filling the screen as possible.

Modern TV displays and monitors no longer have overscan as they are able to display 100% of the image thanks to flat LCD panels so we should be able to get our Amiga to fill that display completely.

To achieve this load up the ‘Overscan’ preferences to get the display shown below.

 

Amiga Overscan Preferences

Amiga Overscan Preferences

 

Click on ‘Edit Text Size’ to bring up the overscan adjustment screen shown below.

 

Amiga Overscan Adjustment.

 

As you can see from the above image, the borders I was seeing on my screen are perfectly illustrated here. To get rid of them what we need to do is click on those black squares and drag them to the very edge of the outer box like in the image below.

 

Amiga Overscan Settings.

 

If you notice the resolution of the screen has increased from 640×256 up to 692×275 which is a nice bonus. Click OK to save these settings and then click on ‘Edit graphics size’ and repeat the exact same process. Finally click on ‘Save’ to ensure that these settings are stored permanently.

 

Amiga workbench screen

Look ma, no borders!

 

Amiga OS 3.1.4.1 Update

Amiga OS 3.1.4 was released in 2018 and in 2019 a small update (3.1.4.1) was released which fixed a number of minor bugs. This update can be found on the appropriately named ‘Update 3.1.4.1’ disk that we created back in Part 1.

 

Amiga OS 3.1.4.1 Update

Starting the 3.1.4.1 update process.

 

Pop that disk in the drive and then look inside the Install directory and choose the installer in the language of your choosing. Next, run it and click on ‘Proceed’.

 

Amiga Installation Mode screen

Choose an installation mode.

 

Now you must select the installation mode. As this is a straightforward upgrade I chose Novice.

 

Amiga Language Selection Screen

Choose your language.

 

Then the language required for the install…

 

Amiga Installer progress

Installer doing its thing.

 

After which the update started to install. I think it took around a minute to complete.

 

Amiga installation complete message

Installation complete.

 

When the files have finished copying across a new window will appear to confirm the install has completed. Hit ‘Proceed’ and then reboot your Amiga.

We’re not quite finished with this update though as there is also a FastFileSystem v46.20 upgrade to perform which we will tackle next.

 

Installing FastFileSystem Patch 46.20

 

To begin this part of the upgrade process we need to launch HDToolBox (found in the ‘Tools’ directory) and then click ‘Partition Drive’. If you have more than one drive shown here then make sure you select the one you wish to update.

 

Amiga HDTooBox Window

Amiga HDTooBox Window

 

When the partitioning window appears select your boot partition (the one on the far left) and then tick the ‘Advanced Options’ box. A bunch of extra settings should appear below as you can see in the next image.

 

Setting Direct SCSI Transfer option for DH0:

 

Now what we need to do is make sure that the ‘Direct SCSI Transfer’ box is ticked for DH0. (Mine wasn’t).

 

Amiga Direct SCSI Transfer

Direct SCSI Transfer

 

We then need to ensure that this is also ticked for each of your other partitions. To do this just click on each of your partitions on the top bar in turn and tick the ‘Direct SCSI Transfer’ box for each one.

 

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The next task is to apply the FFS patch to the drives. To begin the process click on the ‘Add/Update…’ button at the bottom of the window.

 

Amiga HDToolBox add update button

Add/Update button.

 

This should bring up the following window that lists all of the available file systems you can use.

 

Amiga File System Maintenance Window

File System Maintenance Window

 

Now the readme supplied with the update seems to be rather vague here. The first time I tried this update myself it didn’t work. In the above window you can see two file systems listed. Custom File System and Fast File System. What actually needs to appear here is ‘International (FFS)’.  So in the end to get this to work I clicked ‘Add New File System…’

 

Don’t touch this.

 

I didn’t change the default path in the box that popped and also accepted the following details that popped up without altering them (below image).

 

Amiga File System DosType

Don’t touch this either.

 

After I clicked ‘OK’ I was dropped back to the System Maintenance screen and this time my file system was listed at the top with the correct version number.

 

International (FFS) Now on the list.

 

I clicked ‘OK’ and was dropped back to the initial screen where I could see that there were changes waiting to be written back to the drive.

 

HDToolBox - with changes to be saved to drive.

HDToolBox – with changes to be saved to drive.

 

After clicking ‘Save Changes to Drive’ I got a very scary message warning me that it was going to destroy all the data on my drives.

 

Amiga Commit to Changes message

Dire warning message!

 

However the readme file does warn you about this message and insists that it can be safely ignored. Feeling suitable comforted I pulled the trigger and clicked ‘continue’ then rebooted my Amiga. Happily it rebooted without a hiccup – phew!.

The last thing to do was do a quick test to make sure the update had been successfully applied. To do this I opened a Shell window and entered the following command.

version dh0:

 

Amiga Shell

Version DH0 command

 

The version command returned ‘Filesystem 46.20’ which was spot on. Mission accomplished.

 

Fixing my GlowIcons!

There now remained just one nagging problem – throughout my whole time preparing this guide the appearance of my icons bugged me. They didn’t look as good as the ones in the screenshots I’d seen. My icons were displayed on a sort of background ’tile’ which should have been transparent. Basically they looked ugly and needed sorting!

 

Amiga Workbench Preferences Screen

Amiga Workbench Preferences Screen

 

After rummaging around the Preferences directory I eventually found ‘Workbench Preferences’ which contained the settings I needed to modify. On the right hand side is an Icons section and for some reason mine was set to ‘Poor Quality’ and ‘Large Border’. I have no idea why this was the case but I changed them immediately to ‘Best’ Quality and set the Border Size to ‘No Border’. I saved the settings and like magic my Icons were transformed into the beautiful little works of art they should have been all along.

I have to confess I don’t remember this particular preferences program from back in the day which is why it took me a while to figure it out. It could be a new feature of Amiga OS 3.1.4… or I might just have completely forgotten about it!

 

Amiga WBPattern Preferences Screen

Amiga WBPattern Preferences Screen

 

At this point I also decided to throw on some wallpaper to brighten up my desktop. This is easily done by heading to the WBPattern Preferences and setting Background Placement to ‘Workbench’ and Type to ‘Picture’. Then it’s just a matter of clicking ‘Select Picture…’ and browsing to an image of your choice. Amiga IFF images of 256 colours or less work best here as they load instantly and don’t gobble too much of your precious Chip RAM. Pictures using over 256 colours will also be dithered which spoils their appearance which is another reason to choose wisely.

And that pretty much wraps up Part 5 of my Amiga OS 3.1.4 installation guide. Enjoy the fresh lick of paint and tune-up this gives your Amiga!

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Steven

Gamer, gadget lover, retro Commodore computer fan and general all round geek.

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