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Installing a PowerPC OS in Amiga Forever

 

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Q: Is it possible to install a PowerPC operating system in Amiga Forever?

 

DISCUSSION

Overview

Amiga Forever 7 was designed with a "superior PowerPC emulation experience" goal, and as such it features several enhancements that go to the benefit of PowerPC-based operating systems, plus lots of RAM. Emulated devices include a PCI bridge, a Picasso IV display card, Commodore A2065 and RTL8029 Ethernet and FM801 and ES1370 ("SoundBlaster 128") audio. This means that native drivers provided by operating systems like GNU/Linux and AmigaOS 4 can be employed.

For most purposes, the preconfigured "Amiga 4000 PPC" title in the Systems tab of Amiga Forever is a good starting point. You can right-click and select Create Copy, then Edit to experiment various configurations with much greater ease than what could be done with physical hardware.

By default, an unformatted 750 MB RDB hard disk (new "deployable" type) is included in this configuration. This means that the system is ready to install a new OS. Without that, the Amiga will not be able to boot.

On startup, Amiga Forever auto-detects bootable floppy and CD images, and provides appropriate messages and fallback actions depending on the available media. If the OS installation CD is not bootable, a floppy disk image may be required to boot into the installation.

In Amiga Forever 7, the preconfigured "Amiga 4000 PPC" title also includes a special Shared drive, which can be accessed by both Windows (e.g. to copy downloaded network drivers, or operating system updates) and as an Amiga disk volume. To view the folder in Amiga Forever, right-click the title and select Open/Shared (Local Folder). Any files copied there are also accessible from the Shared volume inside the Amiga.

Quick Setup

If you are looking for a quick way to install AmigaOS 4.1 FE for Classic:

  • Right-click the "Amiga 4000 PPC" title in the Systems tab of Amiga Forever, select Create Copy, then Edit
  • In the General tab, set a meaningful title, like "AmigaOS 4.1 FE Update 1"
  • In the Configuration tab, confirm that devices with native AmigaOS 4.1 FE drivers are used: SCSI & IDE should be set to CyberStorm PPC, Video should be set to Picasso IV and Network should be set to RTL 8029
  • If you prefer to use the Commodore A2065 Ethernet interface, you may need some additional downloadable drivers (you can download them from the PC side, and copy them to the Shared folder)
  • In the Media tab, drag-and-drop the AmigaOS 4.1 FE ISO image
  • In the Input tab, set and take a note of the preferred Guest Keyboard layout (it may be needed later)
  • Alternatively, you can insert the ISO image at runtime, using the CD icon in the Amiga Forever playback window, or use a physical installation CD in the actual drive
  • AmigaOS 4.1 FE should now be ready to boot from the CD (or floppy disk image, if the next section is included), and then install from the CD image
  • Start the Installation Utility (you can skip the Hard Disk Preparation Utility and Media Toolbox)
  • In the Installation Utility, set the desired locale options; if changing the keyboard, make sure that this matches the previously noted Guest Keyboard layout
  • After accepting the EULA, confirm the proposed computer model as Amiga 4000, then click Next
  • Select the Format disk(s) option to format the hard disk that was listed in the Media tab of Amiga Forever (usually DH0), accepting the defaults (Fast File system, International Mode) and selecting a meaningful volume name (e.g. "System" or "AmigaOS 4.1 FE Update 1", etc.), then click Quick Format and confirm
  • Continue installing to the previously formatted partition, which should be preset
  • Under Graphics card, change the selection from AGA to Picasso IV; the Include Boot VGA option is not needed
  • In the following step, which asks for the maximum "frequency" supported by the monitor, select a comfortable resolution (e.g. 1024x768 or 1280x1024), taking in mind that you can always increase the pixel size with the Amiga Forever player controls (2x, etc.) if needed; for the vertical refresh frequency, you can pick the lowest value listed for the chosen resolution, e.g. "@60", to minimize unnecessary emulation overhead
  • Accept the default IDEFix (unselected), cybppc.device (selected), "floppy fix" and other remaining options
  • After the installation is complete, use the CD and floppy disk menus to eject the respective boot images (later you can use use the Media tab to permanently remove them), then click the Finish button to reboot
  • If you obtained the separate "Final Edition Update 1" archive and have that available on the PC side, copy it to the Shared folder

Boot with Additional Floppy Disk Image

Should it be required to boot from a floppy disk image (ADF) file, for example to load some drivers needed before continuing from CD:

  • Look for a file named "BootFloppy.adf" on the AmigaOS 4.1 FE CD or ISO image
  • In the same Media tab where the CD image was added (previous step), also add the ADF file
  • Alternatively, the ADF file can be inserted at runtime, using the floppy icon in the Amiga Forever playback window
  • If you need to reset the Amiga in order to detect the boot media, use the Reset button in the playback controls or select Soft Reset from the keyboard menu

More RAM

The maximum Amiga Zorro III memory is up to about 512 MB on 32-bit versions of Windows and about 1.5 GB on 64-bit versions.

As of Update 1, AmigaOS 4.1 FE can use Zorro III RAM as main memory (not just for swap purposes, as was the case for previous versions of AmigaOS 4). This amplifies the benefits of running in an emulation environment, where more Fast RAM is generally available than on a "real" PowerPC-enabled Classic Amiga.

If you are using "Final Edition Update 1" with Amiga Forever, be sure to enable the new option to use Zorro III RAM as main memory. Open S/Startup-Sequence (e.g. launching NotePad from the dock) and look for the following line:

C:BootLoader

Replace it with:

C:BootLoader COMMANDLINE="NORAMPAGER"

Would you like to try an insane amount of RAM? You can increase the Zorro III (Z3) memory in the Configuration tab, letting the emulated Amiga use up to 512 MB on a 32-bit version of Windows, or 1.5 GB on a 64-bit version of Windows. To enable 64-bit mode, set the (experimental) "Use 64-bit version" option in the Emulation settings (under Tools/Options/Emulation/WinUAE).

If you see Zorro devices, possibly including the emulated graphics card, "disappear" after increasing the RAM to 512 or more MB, try reducing the RAM again. This probably means that the operating system does not support Zorro expansion boards above the first GB of address space, or RAM beyond the 768 MB heap address space.

For most practical purposes, a maximum of almost 1 GB of Fast RAM can be used in AmigaOS 4.1 FE Update 1 by configuring 768 MB or slightly more Zorro III RAM, 64 MB of Fast RAM, and by carefully limiting the use of the Zorro III bus addres space. For example, this can be achieved by using the Commodore A2065 Ethernet interface, rather than the RTL 8029 one (which is preset because AmigaOS 4.1 includes drivers for it, but at the cost of some Zorro III address space).

Faster Disks

Amiga Forever 7 introduced "deployable" hardfiles, which combine the portability benefits of embedded disks with the superior performance of external images, without affecting compatibility with older versions. The preset PPC system uses such a disk image. On first run, the hardfile is deployed to the local Amiga Files location (to view, select File/Open/Amiga Files, then go inside Shared/hdf).

If you started from Amiga Forever 7, you should already be experiencing this new feature. Only the first launch may take a little longer, as the disk image is deployed.

If for some reason you are working with an embedded disk, you can still choose an External disk location to put the disk image on any location on your hard disk. When working with images that are several 100 MBs, this can save time on edit, startup and when disk changes need to be committed on shutdown.

To make an embedded disk external:

  • Right-click the "Amiga 4000 PPC" (or other) title and select Edit
  • In the Media tab, click the desired hard disk image file and then Edit...
  • Change the Location drop-down from Embedded to External
  • Accept the default location (Shared/hdf, inside Amiga Files), or set a different one
  • Click Save and OK to confirm all changes

The Undo option may also have a performance impact when starting and turning off a session. If you enable this feature for a drive, you will have more freedom to experiment during the emulation session, with the option to commit or discard the changes at the end. For larger undo-enabled disks, this can add a delay on startup and when exiting the emulation, as data needs to be copied. If you value startup/termination performance over safety, do not use the Undo option, in which case the data is written directly to the disk image file.

Amiga Forever 7 further supports booting from mounted directories (host file system), however this is slower than using hardfiles, also because some file system features use 68K emulation under PowerPC emulation.

Larger Disks

In Amiga Forever 7, the preset PPC system disk image has a size of 750 MB, which should be sufficient for most Amiga needs. If you would like to use a larger disk, you can do so in the Media tab: click Add..., then set Type to Hard Disk Image File, and Create Blank..., making sure that the type is left to the default (RDB).

If prompted for hard disk device and geometry details, these are:

  • Device: cybppc.device
  • Reserved: 2
  • Sectors (also called "blocks per track"): 32
  • Surfaces: 1
  • PreAlloc: 0
  • Block size (also "sector size"): 512

Alternative File Systems

If you opt to use the Smart File System (SFS), Fast File System (FFS) with "Long names", or any other file system not supported by the original 3.1 version of the Amiga ROM, remember to install the corresponding 68K driver (L:SmartFileSystem or other) to the rigid disk block (RDB), as explained in the AmigaOS 4 documentation. If that is not installed, the most evident symptom will be a "Not a DOS disk in device DH0" or a Guru Meditation error message when the system starts again.

CD ISO Images

If you are working with CD ISO images, mount the image file directly in Amiga Forever (in the Media tab, or at runtime via the CD icon in the playback window), rather than mounting it in Windows and then referencing that virtual drive in Amiga Forever. This helps not only with performance, but also to preserve lower-level boot, file system and other CD-specific properties which are processed both by Amiga Forever and by the underlying emulation and OS layers.

Other Advanced Options

If you do not wish to install a native PowerPC operating system, but you simply would like to experiment with a Classic Amiga environment and an added PowerPC CPU, you can edit a title that comes with a 68K operating system, like "Amiga 4000" or "Workbench 3.X", and enable the PowerPC CPU in the Configuration tab. The operating system will not actively use the PowerPC CPU, however any specially designed applications that you use will be able to access it.

If you prefer to hold down the Escape key to access the CyberStorm boot menu, you can change the Amiga Forever escape key to F11 (or some other key) under Tools/Options/Input.

Credits

Adding to the exceptional teamwork behind every major release of Amiga Forever, special credits for the new PowerPC features go to Toni Wilen, with additional contributions by the QEMU Team and others as listed in the Credits section of the Amiga Forever documentation.

Related Links

 

Article Information
Article ID: 16-127
Platform: Windows
Products: Amiga Forever
Additional Keywords: PPC, PReP, CHRP, PUMA
Last Update: 2017-07-07
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