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Tag - Workbench

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!

Installing Amiga OS 3.1.4 – Part 4 – Installing Workbench

Having created the physical floppy disks in Part 1, installed the 8GB CF card and ROMs in Part 2 and partitioned the CF card in Part 3 it is now time to look at installing Workbench 3.1.4.

The first thing to do is boot up the Amiga using the 3.1.4 ‘Install’ disk. Once the desktop has loaded open the Install disk and look inside the ‘Install’ directory. There will be a bunch of different language installers so run the one that you need, which for me was the English one.

 

Installing Workbench

Various Workbench installers in different languages…

 

This will load up the Installer and give you a little introduction about what it will do. Click ‘Proceed’ to begin.

 

Starting the installation.

 

Now you will be presented with another window that will allow you to add additional languages to an existing install. As this is a clean install just click on ‘Install Release 3.1.4’.

 

Requester giving option of installing another language.

 

Next you need to choose the installation mode – I chose Intermediate.

 

Installing Workbench

Selecting Installation Mode.

 

Installation Mode?

After selecting either Novice, Intermediate or Export User and then ‘Proceed with Install’ you are presented with the Installation Options screen. Here you can choose to ‘Install for Real’ or ‘Pretend to Install’. I believe this could well be unique to the Amiga? I certainly don’t recall ever having the option to do a pretend install on any other system. It can be useful to perform a pretend install on occasions as it lets you discover any potential issues and gives you a chance to fix them before committing to the actual install. However as this is a clean install we’re going to select ‘Install for Real’ and then boldly hit that ‘Proceed’ button.

 

Install for Real… or Pretend?

 

You should see a brief message about ‘Release 3.1.4’ being installed on the Workbench partition. This is because it has detected it is the first bootable partition – if you gave yours a different name back in Part 3 then it will be shown here.

 

Installing Workbench

This is where the actual installation starts.

 

Click the ‘Yes’ button to begin the installation and then choose which language(s) you want installing on the next screen. For my install I just wanted English so just left that option ticked.

 

Installing Workbench

Pick what languages you want installing.

 

Next you need to select what printer drivers you want. I selected them all because space is not an issue and you never know what you might want to hook up to your Amiga in the future.

 

Amiga Printer Driver Request Screen

Choosing a which printer drivers to install.

 

Another decision needs to be made on the next screen about which keymaps are required. Or in other words what language setting do you want for your keyboard. In my case as I live in the UK I chose a British layout before clicking ‘Proceed’.

 

Choosing a keyboard language or ‘keymap’.

 

Let the Disk swapping commence!

After a few moments you will be asked to insert the Workbench disk. There should be no need to click proceed, your Amiga should detect the presence of the swapped disk and continue automatically.

 

Installing Workbench

Insert Workbench Disk Screen

 

A bunch of files will be copied across to your new System drive.

 

Amiga copying files across.

Workbench install – copying files.

 

And then you will be asked to insert the Locale disk.

 

Insert Locale Disk Screen

 

Which will copy more files across… before asking for the next disk – Fonts.

 

Insert Fonts Disk Screen

 

Then the Storage disk…

 

Insert Storage Disk Screen

 

And then finally it will ask you to re-insert the Install disk.

 

Insert Install Disk Screen

 

Now at this point I was faced with the following warning as I had an accelerator installed with a 68030 CPU. I was able to click ‘Proceed’ and carry on but a version of this warning would pop up every single time I booted up my Amiga until I sorted it. Click here and then head down to the bottom of the page for information on how to resolve this issue.

 

Installing Workbench

CPU Warning.

 

And that should be your Worbench 3.1.4 install complete!

 

Installing Workbench

Congratulations – Workbench Install Complete!

 

Remove the floppy disk from your Amigas drive and reboot it. If all has gone to plan your Amiga should silently boot into Workbench 3.1.4 looking a lot like the photo below with all your partitions visible on the desktop.

 

Amiga Workbench

Amiga Workbench 3.1.4 Screen.

 

And that concludes Part 4 of my Amiga OS 3.1.4 installation guide – Installing Workbench.

Now we could leave it here, after all we now have a fully operational installation of Workbench 3.1.4 on our Amiga. However there are a few more things we can do to tweak and improve the install and I will cover these in Part 5.

Installing Amiga OS 3.1.4 – Part 3 – Partitioning a Compact Flash Card

Compact Flash Card

Having created the physical floppy disks in Part 1 and installed the 8GB CF card and ROMs in Part 2 it is now time to set about partitioning and formatting the compact flash card so we can install Workbench 3.1.4 on it (in Part 4).

To start the process of partitioning a compact flash card I booted my Amiga off the 3.1.4 Install disk. Once it booted I ran the HDToolBox program found inside the ‘HDTools’ directory.

 

HDToolBox

HDToolBox Program

 

This brings up the window below where you can see all of your installed hard drives. Mine is listed as a SCSI unit which is normal as this is how the Amiga sees the internal IDE controller.

 

Amiga HDToolBox

Amiga HDToolBox Main Window

 

Clicking on ‘Change Drive Type’ brings up the window below. As this is a new CF card there is nothing on it yet so you must click on ‘Define New’.

 

Amiga HDToolBox - Selecting a Drive

Amiga HDToolBox – Defining a New Drive

 

Which brings up the the ‘Define a New Drive Type’ screen. You need to click ‘Read Configuration’ at this point which will bring up another message. Simply click ‘continue’ to move on here.

 

HDToolBox

Informational Message

 

The software will then take a moment to scan the CF and identify the size and parameters needed to access it.  After the scan has completed it will display this info in the window as seen below.

 

HDToolBox

Drive Parameters

 

Now you can simply click ‘OK’ to get back to the ‘Drive Type’ window and then click ‘OK’ once more. At this point you will be warned ‘Are you sure you want to change the drive type for the current drive?’ Clicking ‘Continue’ will return you to the main HDToolBox screen once more.

 

Amiga HDToolBox

Back to the main screen but now with a ‘Changed’ drive status.

 

Now that HDToolbox knows the ins and outs of our CF card it is time to partition it into drives. Of course we could just make it one big 8Gb partition, after all Amiga OS 3.1.4 now natively supports large drives. However I always like to split mine into at least 2 partitions to keep things organised.

To start this process click on ‘Partition Drive’.

 

Partitioning a CF (Compact Flash) Card

Select ‘Partition Drive’.

 

Which should bring up the partitioning window as shown below.

I chose to make my first partition 500MB, this will be my System/Workbench drive. To select the size you simply drag the little triangle pointer and slide it along the bar. It’s virtually impossible to size a partition exactly so just get it as close as you can.

You need to give the partition a name – I called it DH0. I also ticked the box to make it bootable as this is the first partition and will be the one the Amiga will boot off.

 

Partitioning a CF (Compact Flash) Card

Creating the first partition.

 

To create another partition you click ‘New Partition’. Don’t be tempted to click the ‘OK’ button until you have finished creating all your partitions. For my second partition I called it DH1 and made the size approximately 1.5GB. I will be using this to install applications and save documents to. I will probably keep a small selection of music on this drive too.

 

Partitioning a CF (Compact Flash) Card

Creating the second partition.

 

I left my biggest partition for last so it could use all of the remaining space on the card. This worked out at a little less than 6GB in total. I called this partition DH2 and this will be where I install WHDLoad games.

 

Partitioning a CF (Compact Flash) Card

Creating the third partition.

 

You can click each of your partitions in the bar to check their details. Once you are happy that they are all exactly the way you want them to be, hit ‘OK’. You should then be back to the main HDToolbox window.

 

Partitioning a CF (Compact Flash) Card

HDToolBox with ‘changed’ drive status.

 

You must now click ‘Save Changes to Drive’ for all the settings you have configured up to this point to be written to the disk (CF card). The window should then change to look like this:

 

Amiga HDToolBox

HDToolBox back to ‘Not changed’ status.

 

Congratulations! Your new Amiga drive has now been prepped and partitioned! The final step is to format the partitions. To do this you need to reboot the Amiga whilst leaving the Install disk in the drive so it can boot off it.

 

Uninitialized Amiga Disks

The three partitioned but currently ‘uninitialized’ drives created earlier.

 

When your Amiga has finished rebooting you should see a screen similar to the one above. You will notice that the partitions show either as ‘Uninitialized’ or just as a weird name (or both in my case).

 

Amiga Icons Menu

The Format Disk menu item.

 

They now need to be formatted so that the Amiga can actually use them. To format a partition you just click on its icon and then select ‘Format Disk’ from the ‘Icons’ menu.

 

Formatting a Partition

Formatting and Naming DH0.

 

In the above example I called my DH0 partition ‘Workbench’ but you can call yours whatever you like. If you are interested in the new long file names feature of 3.1.4 now would be a good time to select that tick box.

 

Disk Format Warning

First format warning…

 

Make sure you select ‘Quick Format’ or you’ll be waiting a very, very long time for the format to finish. You will get a couple of scary warnings that give you an opportunity to back out if you’ve accidentally selected the wrong disk to format.

 

Disk Format Warning

Second and final format warning.

 

Click ‘Format’ in response to both of the warning messages to seal the deal. A few seconds later a drive on your newly partitioned and formatted compact flash card should appear on the workbench screen. Now simply repeat this process for each partition you created earlier.

And that concludes Part 3 of my Amiga OS 3.1.4 installation guide – Partitioning a Compact Flash Card.

I must admit I had originally intended to include the Workbench install in this part too but decided against it as I thought this post was long enough already. Therefore I will be covering the installation of Workbench in Part 4 shortly.

Installing Amiga OS 3.1.4 – Part 2 (Fitting a CF Card & Kickstart 3.1.4 ROMS)

Having created the physical floppy disks in Part 1 of this guide it is now time to fit the IDE Compact Flash adapter and the 2 Kickstart 3.1.4 ROMS.

Fitting the IDE Compact Flash Adapter

For this I needed to open up my A1200 to gain access to the mainboard.

 

Location of the 5 case screws.

 

Removing the top half of my A1200’s case was just a matter of turning it over and removing five screws. I’ve circled their locations in the photo above. There were three along the front edge and one each side of the case. The two rear edges of the case are held together by some little lugs and recesses in the case itself.

 

Pin 1 of ribbon cable aligned with pin 1 on mainboard.

 

Fitting the IDE Compact Flash adapter simply involved fitting the 44 pin cable connector to the IDE header on the board. Notice how the coloured strip of the ribbon cable aligns with PIN 1 on the board. I chose an 8GB CF card for my install as Workbench 3.1.4 now natively supports large drives. However a smaller card would work just as well. I think my original A1200 had an 80MB (yes I do mean Megabyte!) drive back in the 90’s so 8GB is an insane amount of storage!

 

Foam pad fitted to insulate underside of adapter.

 

As the compact flash adapter has lots of solder pads on the base, I stuck a thick foam pad on the underside. This will ensure that the contacts don’t short out when sat on top of the metal drive bracket. (This drive bracket would have been used to house a 2.5″ IDE HDD back in the day).

 

CF adapter in it’s final resting place.

 

 

Removing the old Kickstart ROMS

Luckily the Kickstart ROMS have their own little cut-out in the metal RF shielding so there is no need to remove the shield to access them.

 

Kickstart 3.0 ROMS

The original Kickstart 3.0 ROMs. Note the empty socket pins on the left!

 

I used my trusty chip puller to remove these, gently alternating pressure from one side to the other until they popped out. You could use a small flat bladed screwdriver to do this. Make sure to alternate from side to side, lifting the chips one millimetre at a time so you don’t bend the pins. If you want to make life even easier, use an old screwdriver and bend the blade 90′ at the end to make getting it under the chip easier.

 

Kickstart 3.0 ROMS

Pulling out the Kickstart 3.0 ROMS.

 

 

Fitting the new Kickstart ROMS

With the old ROMs removed it was time to fit the new ones. After making sure the pins would line up OK (they were splayed out a little too far) I began to fit them.

It’s vitally important they are fitted correctly and besides the usual static precautions there are three things to watch out for.

  1. The chips have to go in the right sockets. The chip marked as ‘HI’ must go in the front slot. The chip marked ‘LO’ must go in the rear slot.
  2. The chips must be oriented correctly. The end with the notch must be fitted so that it is on the same side as the notch in the socket.
  3. The sockets have 42 pins whereas the chips only have 40! You must make sure to leave the 2 pins on the left side of each socket empty.

 

Kickstart 3.1.4 ROMS

The 2 new Kickstart ROMS fitted correctly.

 

Thankfully testing the ROMS is pretty straightforward. Flicking on the power should display a brand new boot screen. That boing ball is definitely new! You can also see the updated ROM version and copyright message.

 

Kickstart 3.1.4 ROMS

The brand new Hyperion Amiga boot screen.

 

That concludes Part 2. In Part 3 I will deal with partitioning and formatting the Compact Flash card.

Installing Amiga OS 3.1.4 – Part 1 (Obtaining the Disks)

For my ‘new’ Amiga 1200 I decided I wanted to have the latest Workbench running on it so I ordered myself a copy of AmigaOS 3.1.4 from Sordan in Ireland. It arrived a few days later in a small cardboard box and consisted of a ROM Installation Guide, 2 Kickstart chips and a bunch of labels for you to stick to your own Amiga OS 3.1.4 Disks.

 

Amiga OS 3.1.4 Disks

This is what you get when you purchase Amiga OS 3.1.4

 

Registering my Purchase

To actually obtain digital copies of the disks I had to register my serial number (found on the top of the Kickstart ROM’s) on the Hyperion Entertainment website. After doing that I was able to download a bunch of ADF files and a few other things (Wallpapers, Icon packs and documentation mainly) on my PC.

 

Box of Blank 3.5" Floppy Disks

Time to crack open a nice box of 3.5″ Floppies.

 

It would have been nice to have received the disks in the box but it’s no real hardship creating my own and it cuts down the price quite a lot. I love working with real floppy disks anyway, the tactile feel of them in use and listening to the whirring of the drive as it accesses them*.

*I hate working with grotty, mouldy, faulty old disks that end up giving me nothing but aggravation and a headache.

 

3.5" Disk made in England

You don’t see this much any more…

 

I decided to use my trusty Amiga 500 to create the disks as it has an SD Card reader that makes transferring the files across from my PC a doddle. Once I’d copied the ADF files over I loaded up my favourite ADF software, GoADF and dug out a box of new 3.5″ DS DD floppy disks and set about creating my 6 Workbench disks.

 

GoADF

 

Creating the Workbench Disks

I started with the Workbench disk first, selecting it from the list of ADF files provided. Double-clicking the name of the ADF loads the image into the software.

 

Amiga OS 3.1.4 Disks

Here we can see all the Amiga OS 3.1.4 Disk images in GoADF.

 

Alternatively you can click the ‘Load image’ button on the bottom left of the screen.

 

GoADF

Load (ADF) Image.

 

As I wanted to create a physical disk from the ADF files I selected ‘Image to disk…’

 

GoADF

To write ADF images to a real floppy you must select the ‘Image to disk’ option.

 

Which loads up the disk creation window. Here you can select which drive you want to use and whether you want to format and/or verify the disk.

 

GoADF

My disks were IBM PC formatted hence the ‘not a valid DOS disk’ warning.

 

I opted to both format and verify the disk. You simply can’t be too careful when working with floppy disks these days. Most DS/DD floppy disks have to be at least 20 years old by now as new ones haven’t been manufactured in a long time.

 

GoADF

At this point it might be a good time to check that the disk you have inserted really is the one you want to use!

 

Writing the First Disk

Clicking ‘write image to disk’ brings up the obligatory warning that the disk will be overwritten. Clicking ‘yes’ begins the process which starts off with the disk being formatted.

 

GoADF

Formatting the disk…

 

GoADF features a neat virtual representation of the floppy disk marking each sector white as it’s formatted…

 

GoADF

Writing the data to the disk…

 

Then blue as the data is written to it…

 

GoADF

Verifying the disk…

 

And finally places a small black dot in it after the data has been successfully verified. A couple of minutes later a little box appears to confirm the disk has been created successfully.

 

GoADF

Hurrah – one down, five to go!

 

And here’s the completed disk with it’s snazzy label affixed.

 

Amiga OS 3.1.4 Disks

Amiga OS 3.1.4 Workbench Disk.

 

Now it was just a matter of repeating the process for the other 5 ADF’s to give me a complete set of Workbench disks.

 

Amiga OS 3.1.4 Disks

A full set of Workbench 3.1.4 floppy disks!

 

However there’s a couple of other disks that needed creating – ones that no labels are provided for. The first is the ‘Modules Disk’ and the second is a new ‘3.1.4.1’ update that has recently been released containing the latest Workbench bug-fixes. The update disk was a separate download from the Workbench disks but is provided free for registered users.

 

Amiga OS 3.1.4 Disks

The extra disks needed. Sadly no professionally printed labels for these!

 

In Part 2 I will cover installing the ROM chips and performing a clean install of Workbench on a new CF/HDD.

How to access IMAP email on an Amiga 500 in 2018

 

Update – May 2019 – I’ve now tested this setup with the latest version of SimpleMail (0.45) and am delighted to report that everything still works and you can still access IMAP email on an Amiga. The instructions remain exactly the same too. For reference I’m also using Roadshow 1.13 and AmiSSL v4.6. What’s even better news is that the updated version of SimpleMail is both faster and more stable than its’ predecessor!

Yep, you read the title correctly, this article is a step-by-step guide on how to access IMAP email on an Amiga 500 in 2018! This works with any IMAP email system including Gmail!

Who would have thought 30 years ago that we’d be able to get electronic mail on our Amiga 500 computers in 2018. It really is a testament to both the original designers of the Amiga and to the ingenuity and tenacity of the current community that this is actually a real possibility now. In this guide I’ll show how to get it working, step by step. It’s entirely feasible and actually works really well! Read on to find out what you need and how to get it configured.

What you need

First things first, you need to head on over to the SimpleMail website to download the latest version of the software (currently 0.44). Click on the downloads page and select the appropriate installer file from the list. I’m using Workbench 3.9 so downloaded the simplemail-0.44-0s3.lha file. If you’re using anything less than Workbench 3 then I’m afraid you are out of luck.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

The SimpleMail page on the SourceForge website

 

access IMAP email on an Amiga

The download page – choose the OS3 version.

One you’ve download the installer go ahead and install it and meet me back here for the next step. If the program doesn’t run then go back and check the readme file. There are a number of additional custom MUI classes that it requires to run and you may need to download and install one or more of these too.

Launching SimpleMail

Find the folder where you installed SimpleMail and open it. Inside there should be a Readme, an AmigaGuide document and the program itself. Double-click the SimpleMail icon to launch the software. After a brief splash screen you should be presented with the main application screen. This is the point at which we can begin to configure the program to get our emails.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

The SimpleMail folder

 

access IMAP email on an Amiga

The SimpleMail Splash screen – very attractive!

 

access IMAP email on an Amiga

The main program window

How to Configure your email account

Select “Configuration…” from the Settings menu and then Accounts from the configuration screen that pops up. This is where we can add our account and do lots of other things later on to get the mail program working just how we want it.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

Here is how you access the configuration screen.

 

access IMAP email on an Amiga

The ‘Accounts’ section of the configuration screen.

Adding your email account

The next step is to add your email account and you start the process by clicking on the ‘Add’ button in the top right of the window. I should point out that the program has very helpful tool-tip descriptions that pop up if you hover the mouse pointer over a particular button or text entry box for a few seconds.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

Click this button to begin adding your email account

The account name can be anything you want – this is just a label so you know what the account represents in the future. Enter your name, email address and reply address (if you want one) associated with your email account.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

Entering the account name and personal info relating to the account

Setting up IMAP – the ‘Receive’ configuration

  1. Click the IMAP4 radio button in the ‘Receive’ section..
  2. Enter your IMAP server name in the ‘Server’ box.
  3. Enter the port number in the ‘Port’ box.
  4. Ignore the Fingerprint box for now – this will be automatically filled later on.
  5. Select the type of security your account uses next to the ‘Security’ drop-down menu (for SSL select TLS).
  6. Enter the username and password you need to authenticate with in the ‘Login’ and ‘Password’ boxes respectively.
  7. Lave the rest of the settings in this section as they are.
access IMAP email on an Amiga

Entering your IMAP details

Setting up SMTP – the ‘Send’ configuration

  1. Enter your SMTP server name in the ‘SMTP Server’ box in the ‘Send’ section.
  2. Enter the port number in the ‘Port’ box.
  3. Ignore the Fingerprint box for now – this will be automatically filled later on.
  4. Select the type of security your account uses next to the ‘Security’ drop-down menu (for SSL select TLS).
  5. If your SMTP server requires authentication (most do these days) then click the ‘Use SMTP AUTH’ tickbox.
  6. (If required) Enter the username and password you need to authenticate with in the ‘Login’ and ‘Password’ boxes respectively.
  7. Leave the ‘Login into POP3 server first’ and “Use IP as domain” boxes unticked.
access IMAP email on an Amiga

Entering your SMTP settings

Testing your setup

Now it’s time to see if everything works! Click the test button over on the far right. This will first test your IMAP settings and then run through your SMTP setup to make sure everything is in order.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

Testing your account settings

You will see the following error appear twice, firstly for the IMAP connection and secondly for SMTP. Click ‘Trust Always’ to have SimpleMail  save the certificate ‘fingerprint’ so this error doesn’t re-appear in the future.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

This error will appear but it’s OK to click Trust always as you know this is you email provider.

Now in order for these 2 fingerprints to be saved permanently, preventing any future warnings from popping up every time you try to download or send email you must save the configuration using the ‘Save’ button at the bottom left of the configuration window.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

Prompt reminding you to save the configuration.

Correcting Errors…

Now at this stage you might end up with the following screen with everything highlighted in red! Don’t panic – this just means that the test failed due to an error in one or more of your entries. Go through and double/triple check every piece of information you have entered. Make sure the ports are correct, there are no typos in the server name etc.

The problem in my case was the passwords as mine contain numerous weird and wonderful characters. Now this isn’t normally an issue but for some reason the keyboard mapping on my Amiga was wrong so these characters were actually appearing as something else entirely when typed…

You cannot see the password you are typing so I highly recommend opening up a shell window and typing your password into that just to check it appears correctly. Once you have ironed out any kinks with getting it to appear properly, go back to SimpelMail and enter it again in both boxes.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

This screen means you’ve made a mistake somewhere!

Final steps

Hopefully you’ve got every bit of information correct now and can see a screen similar to the one below with the fingerprint boxes fully populated.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

Success – IMAP and SMTP settings have been correctly entered and tested,

Don’t forget to click on ‘Save’ at the bottom left of the configuration window otherwise all your hard work up to this point will be lost!

access IMAP email on an Amiga

Don’t forget to SAVE the configuration!

After you have saved the configuration you will return the main program window. You should see your newly added email account appear at the bottom of the folder list. At this point it will not have downloaded any of your emails or even folders for that matter.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

Your new email account initially appears like this…

Accessing your emails

Now click on the name of your email account and SimpleMail will connect to your email server and download a list of all the folders within it. This will include your Inbox, Sent items etc. along with any custom folders your have created too. This might take a few seconds – you can see what is going on by checking the status bar at the bottom of the window.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

You will always know what is going on by checking the status area of SimpleMail

 

access IMAP email on an Amiga

Your email folder heirarchy

At this stage the program still hasn’t downloaded any of your emails. To do this you must left click on any of the folder titles for it to fetch the contents of it from the server. In the below example I clicked on my Inbox and it fetched 17 mails from the server. This took just a few seconds – if you have hundreds or even thousands of mails it will take a bit longer.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

This is the progress bar. If you have a lot of emails then it will move quite slowly

 

access IMAP email on an Amiga

Inbox with 17 new emails.

 

access IMAP email on an Amiga

Main program window with Inbox emails displayed in the top right pane

Finally – Viewing an email!

Even though the messages are now displayed in the list view, these are only email headers. The body of the messages have not been downloaded. Click on an email to download the message – the body will be display in the bottom right viewing pane. If you would like the program to automatically download full messages you can of course enable this but it will greatly slow down the process of fetching emails.

Unfortunately SimpleMail does not yet support HTML mails so you will only see the plain text version of them like the example below. Personally this doesn’t bother me too much as most HTML mails are sent from companies trying to sell you stuff. Friends and family send plain text emails so I can live with that.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

Example of how HTML mails are presented

Downloading Complete emails rather than just the headers

As I mentioned above, you can have SimpleMail automatically download complete messages, including the full body. It does make reading through your mailbox quicker, but at the expense of longer fetch times. Only you can decide if the trade-off is worth it. To do this, left click on the folder or Inbox you want to make the change to and select settings.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

Selecting the settings option

Now you should see a window like the one below. Select ‘Complete mails’ from the ‘Download’ drop-down menu and then click OK. The next time you perform a fetch/click on that folder it will download each and every message inside it in full.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

Getting the software to download Complete mails instead of just the headers

Renaming your email account

You may have noticed that your email account has an odd name. The program seems to name the account itself based off the server it connects to. Don’t worry though, you can easily change it to something more recognisable. Simply right-click on the mailbox name to bring up a folder menu and select ‘settings’.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

Selecting Settings option in the Folder menu

Here you can enter the name you want to appear in the folder list by entering it into the ‘Name’ box under Folder properties. Hit ‘OK’ at the bottom of the window when you are done.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

Entering your mailbox folder name

You should now be back at the main program window and your mailbox should be named correctly in the folder view.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

Mailbox now showing the correct name

Concluding

And that is it – you can now access IMAP email on an Amiga in 2018!

SimpleMail is constantly being worked on, so if you are reading this in the future there may well be a better version out with even more features.

I have only given you the bare minimum instructions here to get you started with accessing your email. There are plenty of other things this software can offer. Mail sorting rules, signatures, integrated address book and so on. You can also resize each of the viewing panes or remove them completely. Have a play around with it all and enjoy.

Gmail!

I run my own mail server but this should work for any IMAP email out there. I have personally tested it with Gmail and it works perfectly. Here’s a screenshot of the configuration screen so you can see what settings I used.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

Gmail configuration

Some extra info about system requirements

For the record I got this running on an Amiga 500 with a Vampire V500 V2+ accelerator card. The biggest advantage this offers is speed – up to 12 times faster than a stock A500! You certainly don’t need a Vampire to run SimpleMail though. What you will need is Workbench running off a hard drive or CF card solution, a TCP/IP stack and SSL software. I’m pretty sure you would also need at least an 68020 CPU or suitable accelerator card to get any of this running at all.

Of course this isn’t just limited to Amiga 500 computers, that just happens to be what I use. It should work just as well on the big box Amiga’s and of course the A1200 too.

Anyway, I really hope you found this article on how to access IMAP email on an Amiga both interesting and useful – if you did please let me know! If you have any questions or requests then drop me a message and I’ll do my best to answer them.

access IMAP email on an Amiga

Installing the Vampire V500 V2+ in my Amiga 500

Vampire V500 V2+

With the arrival of the weekend it was the perfect time to give my A500 the Vampire V500 V2 treatment!

Getting started – removing chips

First off I needed to remove the original Motorola 68000 CPU and the Kickstart chip.

Vampire V500 V2

Amiga 500 motherboard with empty 68000 CPU socket

Vampire V500 V2

Removing the Kickstart chip with a chip puller

Installing the card

The next step involved carefully inserting the Vampire board connector pins into the empty CPU socket. This actually took a hell of a lot more force than I thought it would. I’ll admit I was scared of damaging the CPU socket or the motherboard itself with the amount of pressure I had to exert. Anyway it eventually slotted in all the way and no harm was done. Please do make sure you remove both the CPU AND the Kickstart chip though – this wasn’t mentioned in my instructions (but they’ve been updated since I got mine to mention this). If you don’t remove the Kickstart chip then the Vampire board won’t sit flat and the CPU connections may be unreliable. Thanks to Igor Majstorovic for taking the time out to let me know about this!

Vampire V500 V2+

Vampire V500 V2+ fitted to A500 CPU socket

Cables & CF Card setup

The next step was to hook up an HDMI cable to the socket on the board and fit a Compact Flash ‘hard drive’ to the Vampire’s 44 pin IDE header. I opted for a 32Gb CF card as this is the size of the Apollo OS (Coffin) image. (This is a pre-configured Workbench 3.9 system that you can download and use with your Vampirised A500.

Imaging the card was simply a matter of downloading the Apollo OS image from here and using Win32 Disk Imager in Windows 10 to write that image to my Compact Flash card.

Vampire V500 V2+

Vampire V500 V2+ with CF Card and HDMI connected up

For once in my life everything went as it should and when I powered up my Amiga 500 it worked! As Hannibal would say; ‘I love it when a plan comes together!’ I was greeted with a really cool Vampire logo boot screen after which the Workbench loaded just a few seconds later.

Vampire V500 V2+

Vampire V500 V2 Boot Screen

Vampire V500 V2+

Vampire V500 V2 ‘Insert Floppy’ Screen that appears if no bootable device is present