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Old 31 August 2018, 20:56   #1
ca_groundhog
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New to Amiga, advice appreciated!

Hello, I am brand new to the Amiga scene and could use some pointers. I own an Amiga 500 which I finally got setup so that it’s usable, now I’m trying to figure out what productivity software, system software and what programming tools are available to me. It seems a lot of programs require installation but my system has no hard drive. I’d like to use a C compiler with an IDE and an assembler to get started however I’m also open to other languages. Any recommendations?

Information I could use:

The ADF file format and Amiga floppy disk layout
Books or PDFs on Assembly programming for the 68000
Literature on workbench and the Amiga 500
Hardware Add-Ons and upgrade info
Basic usage information
Memory layout, hardware sprites? I’m C64/128 user maybe this isn’t applicable.
Things I may not be aware of, which is pretty much everything!

Software I’m interested in:
Painting programs
Compilers and Assemblers
System tools
Data and Image Compression software
Assembly subroutines and C Libraries

My hardware:

Amiga 500
512Kb memory expansion
Gotek floppy emulator
RGB to VGA converter

http://www.retro-commodore.eu/2014/0...nverter-amiga/

Last edited by ca_groundhog; 31 August 2018 at 21:21.
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Old 01 September 2018, 02:05   #2
idrougge
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You can't run a C IDE on a 512 k machine, it's hardly possible to even run a command-line C compiler that way. If you want to go the C route, and use an IDE, use a cross-compiler.
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Old 01 September 2018, 04:43   #3
ca_groundhog
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I can run Power C on my C64 and C128 and it is an IDE.
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Old 01 September 2018, 06:14   #4
Hewitson
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You might be able to run them, but I'm sure you'd run out of memory very quickly without an REU.
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Old 01 September 2018, 07:46   #5
Matt_H
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Welcome!

I'm assuming you're running Kickstart 1.3, which means your configuration is pretty limited by current Amiga standards, but the good news is that it corresponds to a very common setup at the time most Amiga literature was published. Have a look at DLH's Commodore Archive for heaps of period reference material.

I don't think you'll be enjoying a modern-style IDE with no hard drive and only a meg of RAM, but there are plenty of decent text editors that will work on your system and I think a few of them support syntax highlighting.

Be prepared for a *lot* of (virtual) disk swapping.

Extremely important resource if you're not already aware of it:
Aminet, particularly the Fred Fish Disks which have lots of software from the 1.3 era.

Key upgrades to consider are:
- 1MB of Chip RAM. Most A500s shipped with 512K Chip RAM on the motherboard; the trapdoor RAM would be configured as Fast RAM. With a so-called 1MB Agnus chip (which you may already have) and some minor motherboard modifications you can instead have a contiguous 1MB block of Chip RAM. (Your machine may already be configured this way.)
- Fast RAM. There are a number of vintage and modern add-ons that plug into the side expansion port or the 68K socket that offer up to 8MB of Fast RAM. Some of the newer ones also include IDE/ATA or CF ports to add a hard drive, but you may need Kickstart 2.04 or 3.1 for that to work.
- Kickstart 3.1. This, especially coupled with more RAM and a hard drive, will give you many more options for development tools. A lot of software written for Kickstart 1.3 won't work with it, but if you're mostly planning on writing your own programs that won't be an issue. If you want to run a vintage/circa-1988 system (with more programs that bypass OS functions and hit the hardware directly), stick with 1.3. If you want to run a semi-modern/circa-1994 system (with many more OS functions for users and developers), then you'll want 3.1.
- You may also want to look into a Flash-based Kickstart switcher to easily swap between 1.3 and 3.1 or use custom-built Kickstarts (I think a few people have been working on getting the ATA/IDE driver from 3.1 into 1.3)
- If you want to plunk down serious money, a 68020 or 68030 accelerator will turn your A500 into a real powerhouse.

Software:
- Deluxe Paint IV is the gold standard for vintage paint programs.
- Directory Opus 4 is an essential file manager, but you may have trouble using it alongside anything else on a single-floppy system. Version 4.11 still runs under 1.3; I'm not sure about later versions.
- I'm no expert on development tools, particularly for Assembly, but the resources linked above should give you plenty of leads to follow. For C, I think the popular compilers from the 1.3 era were Manx, Aztec, and Lattice. Lattice later became SAS/C and was widely used but I don't know if it works under 1.3.

Finally, stay far away from Amiga Basic
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Old 01 September 2018, 08:25   #6
ca_groundhog
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Thanks Matt for your helpful reply! Lots of good information there!
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Old 01 September 2018, 10:58   #7
BippyM
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Use winuae, then use your a500 to test compiled work.

Your life will be much less stressful
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Old 01 September 2018, 12:18   #8
adolfo.pa
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Welcome ca_groundhog!

About the ADF format, checkout ADFLib docs: http://lclevy.free.fr/adflib/adf_info.html . They're pretty good.

If you want to learn to program on the Amiga, you should get a copy of the Developer CD (available at Vesalia). Although it documents version 2.x of the OS, it is invaluable (and includes the SDK for 1.3 too). Some of it is available on the net: http://amigadev.elowar.com/ . You should at least skim over the Exec chapters to get an overall idea of the basic concepcts of the OS.

You should also get a copy of the AmigaDOS manual (I think it is available at bombjack.org). It describes AmigaDOS both from the user and the programmer's perspective (the RKM doesn't cover AmigaDOS at all).

To learn WB, the A500 manual should be enough. To learn about AmigaDOS from a user perspective check out:
- AmigaDOS for Beginners by Frank Bunton (available for free on Aminet).
- AmigaDOS Inside & Out. If memory doesn't betray me, this was a decent AmigaDOS book. Available at bombjack.org

If you insist on using the A500 to develop C programs, afaik your only option is Dice (on Aminet). This is an Ok compiler that should work on small Amigas (haven't tried it on an unexpanded A500, though). BlitzBasic is worth a look if you don't mind learning another language; it has great support for all things Amiga :-)

About "must have" software, a second vote for DOpus. It is an amazing tool; but if you want to learn the system, I recommend for you to get familiar first with "raw" AmigaDOS (DOpus will replace the CLI for almost everything once you get familiar with it).

I also recommend you to install ARexx. It is not the greatest programming language in the world, but on the Amiga it is a game changer. To learn about it, check out:
- ARexx for Beginners by Frank Bunton (Aminet)
- Using ARexx on the Amiga (bombjack.org).

Enjoy!
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Old 01 September 2018, 13:26   #9
Hewitson
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In my opinion DOpus is not a must have at all. All you need for file management is the CLI.
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Old 01 September 2018, 22:17   #10
BippyM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hewitson View Post
In my opinion DOpus is not a must have at all. All you need for file management is the CLI.
It isn't, but it does make life simpler in many respects
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Old 01 September 2018, 23:03   #11
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I used to run Lattice C on my A500 with 512kb chip + 512kb fast using two floppy drives, not recommended, but it worked.
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Old 01 September 2018, 23:15   #12
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I was in a similar position a while back, though I have an A500+

Every month, a company called Sordan.ie make a small batch of accelerator cards called the HC533 for about £100.

It has on it a 33mhz 68000 processor, 8MB Fast RAM, an an IDE interface. It usually comes with an IDE Compactflash adapter so there’s your hard drive.

I love mine.

Also, upgrade to Kickstart 2.04, I went 3.1 as some music software needed that.
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Old 06 September 2018, 16:20   #13
Hewitson
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There's really no reason to upgrade to 2.04 instead of 3.1. For an A500 I would invest in a kickswitch. This is a device which allows you to install two kickstart versions (preferably 1.3 and 3.1) simultaneously.
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Old 06 September 2018, 17:35   #14
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Hey ca_groundhog,

I did something very similar last year when I fished my family's Amiga 500 out of a cupboard and decided I was going to write a program for it knowing nothing.

I had an existing external floppy drive and I bought a HxC floppy emulator.

I wrote a sudoku solver in Draco and a bit of 68k assembly. I chose Draco because:
- the compiler can still be used on a 512kB machine (albeit with limitations)
- it has very good documentation and samples
- the original author responded to my e-mail!
- I didn't really know any better

Here's a few PDFs I found very helpful about Workbench 1.3 and the 68000:
Here's the macro assembler I used, the original I tried was buggy.

Hope you end-up having as much fun as I've had so far!

Here's what I made:

Last edited by matburton; 06 September 2018 at 23:05. Reason: Image link didn't work
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