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Old 30 December 2015, 18:43   #63
Olaf Barthel
Registered User
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Lehrte, Germany
Posts: 83
Originally Posted by idrougge View Post
What did Finkel do, and when?
Andy Finkel worked as a consultant for Amiga Technologies GmbH in 1995, and as far as I know this would include getting the Amiga operating system code into a usable form again, suitable for product development.

I saw the result and as far as I could tell it did what it was supposed to be doing, but there was one limitation which had to be resolved one way or another. Essential components of the Amiga operating system (intuition.library foremost among them) could only be built using the Green Hills 'C' compiler. Andy Finkel had solved that problem by making the build run on a Sun 3 workstation, which is exactly the environment in which that compiler ran at Commodore. I did not know the exact details of how this would work out, especially how you started the build and transferred the resulting binary to the Amiga (possibly using rsh, rcp or an NFS client).

One problem with this approach was that ESCOM had already liquidated all the Commodore hardware, and what remained were backup tapes of the various workstations. How do you build intuition.library if you did not have a Sun 3 workstation handy?

The other problem was in that ESCOM/Amiga Technologies GmbH certainly did not have a license to use the Green Hills 'C' compiler. As far as I know nobody knew which licenses or contracts Commodore had made, all of this had been lost during the bancruptcy and liquidation.

So we had to find a way to either find Sun 3 workstation, make the compiler work somehow, or find a replacement. eBay as we know it today didn't exist in 1995. This type of hardware was long obsolete, having been replaced by Sun 4 workstations. How do you find such obsolete equipment which was still in good shape for a decent price? We had no idea back then (in 1995 Germany).

In 1996 (too late: ESCOM had already gone bust) I managed to hack the NetBSD 68k kernel so that it would run the compiler, the assembler and the linker, which together would produce exactly the same intuition.library binary as the last production build in 1993 did. Yay! That still left the license issue for the 'C' compiler. Eventually, I would rework intuition.library so that it could be built properly using the SAS/C compiler on the Amiga. Funny thing about that: when I was finished with this effort, I discovered that Peter Cherna, who was in charge of intuition.library at Commodore until the end, had done exactly what I was doing. I wish I had known this earlier

Andy Finkel did something for me which literally changed my life. He pointed me to two books which were new at the time, these being "Debugging the development process" by Steve Maguire and "Dynamics of software development" by Jim McCarthy (Steve Maguire's other book "Writing solid code" blew my mind). Reading these books I realized that there was a professional practice for developing quality software. Andy set me on the path of becoming a professional programmer.
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