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© 1997-2006
Gareth Knight
All Rights reserved

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AmigaOS 3.5

Developer: Haage & Partner/Amiga Inc.
Announced: October 1997
Released: October 2000
Sales: 13,000+

Amiga OS3.5 Box

After a long and turbulent development period AmigaOS 3.5 was finally released during October 1999. It was the first operating system upgrade in 5 years,  improving support for modern hardware and implementing new functions to supplement the core OS. Numerous hacks that had supplemented the OS over the years (NewIcons, etc.) were made obsolete or moved into officialdom (WarpOS). Support was added for 4Gb+ hard drives and NSD devices.
 

OS3.5 Screen -

Boing Bag
The release also introduced a series of official updates, known as BoingBag releases, that repair problems that may have arisen or improve system speed when using 3rd party applications.. These can be downloaded from the Amiga OS3.5 area on the Amiga web site.
 

Release Release Date Size
BoingBag 1 20th December, 1999 3.6Mb
BoingBag 2 3rd January, 2001 1.2Mb
BoingBag 2a (bug fixes) 9th January, 2001 1.6Mb

System Requirements

For the first time in the Amigas history an OS upgrade has required a specification above the base requirements.
 
Basic system requirements: CD-ROM drive
Hard drive
68020 or higher processor
Amiga 3.1 ROMs (version 40.xx)
4 MB Fast RAM
Mid-range performance 68030 or higher processor
8 MB Fast RAM
Graphics accelerator and/or scandoubler
Modem
Optimum Specification 68060 processor with PowerPC accelerator card
16-bit sound card
32 MB Fast RAM
I/O Accelerator 

The Future (Plans & Options)

Although the development of Amiga OS3.5 was placed in jeopardy, Haage & Partner gave an indication of what features they would like to include in the OS updates that followed. These features do not reflect the contents of Amiga OS3.9, but suggest that an Amiga OS4.0 release was on the cards.
  • Further releases or add-on packages
  • New reworked and extended Kickstart
  • Extended PowerPC support
  • New 68K Emulator for PPC-only systems
  • Many new System Libraries as PPC-native

Criticism

The release of AmigaOS 3.5 has stirred great controversy in the Amiga community. This is hardly surprising, five years of abandonment has led many to upgrade their system in any way they could. Expectations of the update would never have been filled. In particular, four issues have been raised. These complaints seem minor in comparison to the benefits of using OS3.5.

1) 68020 as a minimum
Many users' complained that the operating system require a 68020 CPU as minimum. The logic in their argument is unclear, why would anyone that owns an unexpended A500/A1000/A2000 want to upgrade to OS3.5. There are few benefits and the new eye candy will make their machine slower.
The objections raised appear to stem from the inability to run the OS on every Amiga that has ever existed (this is the first AmigaOS upgrade that has not been able to run on the A1000). As a comparison to highlight the lunacy of these comments, Apple have dropped support for the 68k and early PowerPCs altogether. A500 users with 0.5Mb cannot expect their 10 year old system to remain at the forefront of development.

Decision: Amiga Inc. were right to move the boundaries.

2) Software-only Update
Since 1994 the Amiga has changed considerably, PowerPC, graphics cards, and many other features have become standard. These have highlighted existing problems in the existing Amiga architecture. In particular, many Amigans complained that OS3.5 did not include a ROM upgrade, as was expected. This would have instantly solved some of the problems experienced when using new hardware,  such as syncing early bootup screens to a 31KHz display and ROM support for hard drives larger than 4Gb. In place of a new OS3.5 ROM, Amiga Inc. wrote a software patch (dubbed the 'Jumpstart functionality set' that installs itself on bootup, and provides software support. However, this has not fixed some issues that exist in the ROM itself, such as the aforementioned problems with the early bootup screen.

Decision: An unfortunate omission but understandable

3) Retargetable Audio and Graphics
Early statements on OS3.5 indicated that Retargetable graphics and sound was to be included as standard. Retargetable audio was planned through the use of a new audio system called ARTAS. This is an AHI-compatible system that supported, among other things, streaming sound. However, the required effort needed to implement RTG  and RTA, and the repeated cancellation of the OS3.5 project, led to its abandonment. These have made an appearance in the OS3.9 update, through the use of third party software.

Decision: Again, unfortunate, but understandable omission.

4) ClassAct/Reactor-based GUI (Graphical User Interface) as standard

The fourth and final complaint about OS3.5 regards the use of ClassAct to build the user interface. ClassAct was renamed 'Reactor' replacing the ASL standard interface. Many hated it for its lack of features in comparison to the toll it takes upon system performance. In comparison to ASL, it is slow on a low-end machine and lacks the customization provided by MUI (Magic User Interface). Its choice was explained by Holger Kruse on the Team Amiga mailing list:

The decision to use ClassAct was made a long time ago. Look at it this
way: they had to use *something*. There are not all that many choices:
BGUI is too buggy, their own first choice StormWizard is not powerful
enough and not supported by developers. GadTools-based solutions are
too slow. MUI is probably too controversial, and also rather large
and on some systems too slow.
Also, MUI moves away from the Holy Grail BOOPSI/gadgetclass, making it
more difficult to make further changes or extensions to the object
model in the future. In a way, a decision in favor of MUI would have
been a "bigger" decision, more difficult to reverse or change in the
future, and with much wider implications, than a decision for ClassAct.

Personally I VERY much prefer MUI over ClassAct, for fundamental design
reasons, and some reasons rooted in computer science, but of course I
did not have a say in the matter :-)

And, of course, once the decision for ClassAct vs. MUI was made, most
choices regarding other applications automatically fall into place,
e.g. the browser decision. Popularity does not enter into this at all.

Decision: Make your own decision

Images
AmigaOS 3.5 Packaging (8.11k) BoingBag 1 Christmas Animation (16k) Amiga OS3.5 Screenshot (150k) Amiga OS3.5 Screenshot (203k) AmigaOS 3.5 boxset (61k)

Additional Information
Read the turbulent history of AmigaOS 3.5
Feature List

For more information visit the official AmigaOS3.5 home page.
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