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Cloanto Amiga Forever CD-ROM Edition

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      05.09.2002 08:01
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      N.B. It may be helpful to go to this link http://www.blizzard.u-net.com/uae_faq.html before reading this opinion. Amiga Forever 5 is an Amiga emulator for Windows based PCs. Q: What is an Amiga? A: The Amiga was perhaps the most effective home computer of the mid 1980s to mid 1990s. It gave outstanding performance in the area of graphics and video manipulation and special effects. Countless films and TV shows used Amiga driven solutions for SFX including Babylon 5 and components of Star trek Next Gen. But this machine got great acclaim as a home games machine! And very good it was too. Q: What is an emulator? A: An emulator is normally a piece of software and in some cases a bit of hardware that allows one computer system to pretend to be another one. The emulator in this case makes Amiga software think it running in its native environment when it running on a PC. Most Amiga users past and present don't need an introduction to their machine. Non- Amigans will find a host of information on the net if they want to know more(recommended). Why would anyone want to use an emulator in the first place? Well, no matter how much we love something, we have to let it go when it can't do all we want it to. The death of the Amiga started with the demise of Commodore Business Machines, the almost original owner in 1992. However the loyal user base kept this fine machine going for many years, in fact many are still in use today. Mine is packed away safely and will not be sold, I owe her that much she was used daily to1999. Connecting to the internet with an outdated Amiga web browser is unsafe. The Amiga cannot be brought right up to date like a PC can. Unless Amiga Inc brings out the Amiga One, the promised "new Amiga". Amiga users were kept waiting around for years, promises were "vapourware", nothing really materialised. So the loyal users drifted to othe
      r platforms, PCs etc. Emulators are seen by purists as not being the real thing, which they are not. I still own an Amiga and won't allow any Amigan to tell me I'm a traitor. My Amiga may yet be seeing the light of day in the near future because of my involvement with the emulators, so there! Emulation software is generally free, made by wonderful, unselfish people that want to keep something alive so that they and others can experience a little of what the original computers were like. The disadvantage with emulators is that they can be very hard to set up and use. Cloanto, an original manufacturer of software for the Amiga created an emulation package that uses the free emulators WinUAE and Fellow to produce an easy to install and use kit for the inexperienced. Collaboration between Cloanto and the various emulator designers has made Amiga emulation a reality. Modern, fast PCs can now almost emulate the Amigas complex and powerful custom graphics chips as well as a real Amiga, almost. One complication that anyone who tries to build on the basic free emulators will be confronted with is the need for a kickstart rom and a copy of the Amigas operating system "Workbench". The kickstart rom is an embedded piece of the Amigas operating system that lives on a chip inside the Amiga. A bit like a PCs BIOS, but a shed load cleverer. Workbench is a little like Windows ( MS ripped of Workbench and Mac OSs nice bits for Windoze 95) simplistic by today's standards but fully multitasking and multithreaded like Windows XP is supposed to be. Workbench is very stable and powerful with more dos commands than MS-DOS was capable of. These two components, the kickstart rom and Workbench are copyrighted. If you own an Amiga you can legally copy the ks rom and use special copies of Workbench for your emulator. With Amiga Forever 5 these two essential components are supplied legally with the full approval of Amiga inc. Illegal copi
      es are available on the net :( When I said special copies of Workbench I wasn't kidding. The Amiga was built to use a modified floppy disk control system that is more advanced, in my opinion, than controllers used in PCs. Fact, without special hardware intervention a PC will NOT read Amiga floppy disks. The Amiga, with some software will read PC and Mac floppies with ease and comfort. The upshot is that it is possible to convert Amiga disk images to a file format that can be loaded into a virtual floppy drive in the emulator, but a PC sadly cannot read a real Amiga floppy without extra hardware. It is also possible to make an Amiga virtual Hard drive on the PC that the emulator can use. CDs are different. An Amiga CD can be read by a PC CDROM drive. It won't be able to interpret the files but the emulator can. More in depth instructions and help are included with Amiga Forever 5 on all aspects of copying and utilizing the Amiga software you own with the emulator itself. There is, now at least, far more help on the web for those that want to go that extra mile with Amiga emulation. More on this later. The product: Amiga Forever is a complete workaround for those that want to emulate an Amiga on a PC but don't have any experience yet. It is legal and well featured. Once installed we are presented with a dialog box with various options: Read the instructions! For a first foray into Workbench click on the topmost option, Amiga OS 3.X+ and just look around. There is software on Workbench including Personal Paint a very good graphics package from Cloanto, Directory Opus 5, arguable the finest file manager on any platform ever produced and now available for the PC as Directory Opus 6! It is possible, with a little work, to connect to the internet, use most printers, and play Amiga games and to use many of the powerful scripting languages, video and graphics packages and a whole host of very useful pieces of software
      with this well put together emulator kit. This is a difficult opinion to write, to non- Amigans it may be complete nonsense. To Amigans it will be something they may have mastered, if they have wished to. Non- Amigans that want to know what an Amiga is, have the stomach for a challenge and don't mind searching the web for help should get this package. You will be amazed how a computer has changed people?s lives and gathered such a following. Put a little work in and learn a fortune. Amigans, we have to dread the day when the Amiga gets a hardware problem and can't be fixed. That day will come. The various owners of our baby have ALL let us down. We are not commercially viable. Amiga inc. may come through but if it does will the Amiga still be a niche product? With an emulator we can still have something of the Amiga even if a PC can't open more than one public screen! Linux users, many of you were Amigans and will love the Amiga. Those that don't should take a look; it could be your cup of tea. Amiga Forever is a fine package for anyone to see and feel what an Amiga is like. It costs money when other cost nothing. But it is a first step to having a virtual Amiga. For those that have a little money to spare, buy a real Amiga, still available new, plenty of good used ones around. One thing is certain; my Amiga is staying where she is! Cloanto, a company originaly Italian but now jointly Italian and American, deserve the respect for compiling this package, it wasn't easy, and this gives away some good software. But the real value that this respected Amiga company has given us is a doorway to greater things. When the user of Amiga Forever 5 learns how to use an Amiga and the basic emulators, that user can create their own virtual Amiga. One fine example of a free, stand alone emulator package is JayBees Amiga In A Box, type "AIAB" into Google and have a look at this,
      it is brilliant! For legal game files type, "Back To The Roots", into Google and find a site with many stunning games and other Amiga files to keep you busy. Type "Aminet" into that wonderful search engine to find the most powerful Amiga file site ever. Just type in Amiga and be amazed. Many dead links but new ones coming along and some old ones hanging on. One warning for those thinking of emulating the Amiga, there is a cheap CD that was compiled about five years ago that sells for £15.00 on some sites. This is out of date and all of the contents can be downloaded from elsewhere for nothing. The Amiga has given much to many people; the ethos came from a commitment to something better, by good people. This was the only machine to have been given the soul of its creators and users. It is not just a tool. A great deal of thanks to Cloanto for reminding us of this. But it is only now that emulation of this powerful computer is close to the original because of the power of modern PCs. The faster the PC the better! To you the user, the work now begins, it is up to you! 20/01/2003. This update is being written using OpenOffice.org version 1.1. I am trying out this software for the first time, therefore please forgive me for any glaring errors! Cloanto released Amiga Forever version 5.1 just before Christmas, so I purchased the on-line edition for $29.95 via Cloanto's website. Not the upgrade, the full version as I have never liked upgrades ( thanks to Micro$oft). The new version of Amiga Forever is, on the surface, little changed from version 5. Why make changes to a well set up environment just for the sake of it? The under pinnings appear to have changed though. The core emulator for Windows is WINuAE now maintained by Toni Wilen, who has made great efforts to make this emulator more compatible with both Windows and Amiga software. This
      latest version is incorporated in Amiga Forever 5.1, as is Bernd Meyer's JIT code. The JIT code is, without getting technical, an enhancement that increases the speed of emulation by around 300%. Also included is Piccaso 96 graphics driver software that alows the PC's video card to be used under the emulation. A basic emulation without this would give only a very slow screen image of 640x480. The Piccaso96 driver runs happily at the PC's native size, colour and refresh rate. All the previous software remains ie: Personal Paint, Directory Opus 5 etc. Also included as before is Amiga Explorer, this being a programme that alows a PC and an Amiga to be linked together via a serial null-modem cable or TCPIP stack to transfer files between machines. So, very similar to the previous version it apears. Not quite so, version 5.1 is faster and more stable, Cloanto has improved Amiga Forever in subtle ways as the core emulator WINUAE has matured. Stability is vital and so is compatiblity. Speed also is important but as PCs get faster this becomes less of a problem. With the new "Just In Time" code older, slower machines can emulate quite well. I would suggest a processor of 400Mhz to get the best out of most games. I wrote to James M Battle the author of Amiga In A Box when this new version of Amiga Forever was released. We agreed that Amiga Forever is the fastest most stable Amiga emulation environment available. AIAB is an example of what can be done by one individual who cares about a subject. It is a fine example of hard work done by a great guy, willing to share that work. Amiga Forever 5.1 is a professional product and it shows. I had little experience of Amiga emulation when I started to write this review. I had tried to create my own virtual Amiga and prouced some dreadful results. I have a project to create a simple virtual Workbench at the moment, it may not be very good but it is a lo
      t of fun. The upshot is, Amiga Forever is likely to be the best emulated Amiga I shall ever have. I had not understood the importance of this software until I researched emulation in general. Many emulators are simply illegaland have been shut down. Amiga Forever is legal from all stand points, due in part to the good will of Amiga inc which has realised that Amiga emulation is a valuable tool to aid its survival. How important Amiga Forever is can be summed up by the words of Michael Battilana, MD of Cloanto Italia, who kindly replied to an e-mail I sent with regard to some questions I had about Amiga Forever and copyright:- " you mentioned copyrights, and that is indeed one of the issues, but patents and trademarks were also involved. The emulation itself (without Amiga ROM and OS files) implements Amiga patents, which we therefore licensed. At least, according to Amiga engineers and legal people when we discussed this in 1997. This is why the emulation developers liked our idea at the time, because the Amiga companies had announced that they were going to do "something", and in those years "something", when applied to emulation software (see Sony/Sega and others), usually meant shutting them down. So I like to believe that by giving legal coverage to their work we also extended this umbrella to the "free" version, allowing it to evolve and prosper. At least, the theory appears to be holding so far. " So, this software is more than it appears to be. Not simply an emulator but a significant tool in the fight to keep the name Amiga alive. When I bought Amiga Forever I little realised the complexity of the work involved in constructing a functional Amiga on a PC. Cloanto has done a fine job with this software and is not overcharging for it. Cloanto has done more, it has made me aware of the effort it and many others have made to keep the Amiga alive wher
      e so many abandoned it. For my part, no other programme has inspired me to rekindle my interest in the Amiga, for £16.00 I have spent a little and learned a great deal (and had some fun). Thanks Cloanto! 29/06/2003. A worthwhile update, to v5.03 is available via the Cloanto update manager free of charge! We have not been forgotten. Don't forget to update WINUae on a regular basis, this is the core emulator and will be compliant with Amiga Forever's latest incarnation. REMEMBER.... continue to check as many Amiga websites as you can, some will have left us, many remain. 15/07/2004. Amiga Forever 6 was released a couple of months ago. It builds upon the already efficient core emulator WinUae maintained by Toni Wilen and has added new features. There is now an MP3 player and web browser integrated into the virtual Workbench. Many of the system files and libraries have been updated and licensed from the owners to ensure that this package remains fully legal and honest. The commitment of Cloanto to this very polished programme continues and in a most professional manner. I must also praise the continued work of Toni Wilen and the numerous other people who continue to work hard to perfect classic Amiga emulation. Yes, I bought Amiga Forever 6 and it is better than version 5. I hope that this labour of love continues for many years, well done again Cloanto ;-)) Take a look:- http://www.amigaforever.com/

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      • More +
        07.08.2000 05:14
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        Amiga forever turns your PC into an Amiga. The software can be installed onto your PC and will assign it a virtual Amiga drive with workbench. The software can also be run direct from the CD if you prefer not to install it. Various versions of workbench can be chosen according to the software you wish to run, i.e OS versions 1.0, 1.1, 1.2. 1.3 2.0, 2.04, 2.1. Workbench version 3.0 is also suported, but the AGA chip-set is not emulated, therefore specific software using AGA graphics will not run. Although the CD does contain prototype software to run AGA graphics, I have been unable to get this to run properly. Amigas and PCs can also be networked together for data transfer. I found the default settings although they worked fine, could have been customised to show a nicer workbench, and tweaks were needed to run some software. I have a 450 mhz pentium II pc with 160mg ram and the emulator ran at a very acceptable speed. If you are missing your Amiga, then I would definitely reccomend this software, although a certain amount of technical knowledge is neccessary to get the most out of it.

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