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Limitations of Amiga Explorer

 

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Q: I don't like surprises: what are the limitations of Amiga Explorer?

 

DISCUSSION

A: The Amiga side of Amiga Explorer communicates with the Amiga Explorer part which resides on a Windows computer, exposing all Amiga drives to one or more PCs running Windows. In this configuration, the Amiga is called the "server", because it is the computer which satisfies requests from "clients", which are Windows machines. All Windows clients can "see" what is on the Amiga server, and read and write to the Amiga from the Windows Desktop. The Amiga itself does not see the drives mounted on the client machines, i.e. the drives of the Windows computers do not appear on the Workbench screen of the Amiga server.

Like the Amiga operating system up to version 3.1, Amiga Explorer uses 32-bit logic for file size and partition size values. This means that Amiga Explorer is not able to correctly determine the size of objects which are larger than about 4 GB of data (or 2 GB, when using signed values). While this is rarely a problem when working with files, it may limit operations on larger hardfiles (i.e. virtual files containing Amiga hard disk partition images created by Amiga Explorer).

Two perceived limitations of Amiga Explorer of which we are aware involve use over a poor-quality serial connection and the fact that the software is implemented as a namespace extension rather than as a file system. The former is due to a design fault, and only affects use with bad cables or excessive speed settings. The latter was a conscious design choice, and provides several benefits.

When used with proper serial cabling (or over TCP/IP or Bluetooth), Amiga Explorer is known to provide a rewarding user experience with high satisfaction and productivity. Unfortunately this can easily turn to frustration when an improperly wired or poor-quality cable or connector are used, or when the speed is set to a value higher than the computer or cable or connector can handle. This is because Amiga Explorer does not excel in recovering from corrupt data. To avoid this we recommend to pay great attention to the use of appropriate null-modem serial cables. Limiting the use of additional connectors (adapters, gender changers, etc.) may also be useful, as each additional component reduces the quality of the serial link as a whole, which can result in errors as the speed is increased.

A design feature of Amiga Explorer is that, while it benefits of many advantages that come from being a Windows namespace extension (such as speed and direct access to certain Amiga-specific features, which a file system cannot provide), resources located on an Amiga cannot be mounted as drive letters on the PC, nor are they directly accessible from inside the emulation. This means that it is necessary to access and copy items using the Windows Desktop, or using Windows Explorer, before they become available to the emulation software. Newer applications, such as Directory Opus for Windows, also directly support namespace extensions like Amiga Explorer. Amiga Explorer already supports the functionality required to be used as a file system (e.g. seek command), so it is in theory possible that a newer version of Windows or of the emulation software mount Amiga Explorer as a file system.

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Article Information
Article ID:13-170
Platform:Windows
Products:Amiga Explorer
Additional Keywords:None
Last Update:2008-10-25
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