How to emulate an Amiga 1200 on your Linux or Raspberry Pi PC

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In 1989, Tim Burton’s Batman movie was in theaters and advertising campaigns were in full swing to promote the Caped Crusader. At Commodore, their marketing team had signed a deal with Warner Brothers Pictures and Batman was to be on Amiga. The Amiga 500 “Batman Pack” became the iconic pack that saw this humble home computer dominate the market.

But the Amiga 500 was not the first machine in the Amiga range. That honor goes to the Amiga 1000 used in 1985 by Andy Warhol to digitally alter a photograph of Blondie’s lead singer, Debbie Harry. However, the Amiga 500 is the machine that has had the most impact on the 16-bit home computing scene. With 512 KB of RAM and a 68000 7MHz processor, the Amiga 500 was much more than a gaming machine. It was a proficient desktop computer, music creation tool, artist’s studio, and workhorse for television, capable of mixing live television with graphics created on Amiga.

Emulation is a great way to get into the Amiga scene and there are a myriad of emulators for different platforms. For Windows users, there is Cloanto’s Amiga Forever, a software suite that provides all the files needed to emulate many Amiga models and many different applications. For about $ 60, we can buy the premium edition with three DVDs of software and videos.

Raspberry Pi users can install Amibian (https://www.amibian.org/) which is a completely Amiga-centric distribution for the Pi. All you need to bring are your Kickstart ROMs, which act like an Amiga’s BIOS, and disk images for an instant nostalgic kick. There are other emulators for Windows, Linux and macOS such as FS-EAU (Win-EAU for Windows) which provides a user-friendly and expansive way to experience the Amiga. And that’s where we start our journey, emulating an Amiga 1200 with extra RAM and an internal hard drive, on our Ubuntu machine.

What you will need

  • A Linux computer
  • Amiga Kickstart ROM
  • Amiga Workbench 3.1 disk images
  • A copy of Cloanto’s Amiga Forever Plus edition

Configuring the emulator

1. Download the recommended download from https://fs-uae.net/download and extract the files.

2. Open a terminal, navigate to the folder with the extracted files, this should be FS-UAE, and run the launcher.

./Launcher

3. Copy Kickstart ROMs and Workbench Disk Files (ADF) from your copy of Cloanto Amiga Forever Plus Edition to the relevant directories in the FS-UAE directory.

4. In the FS-UAE launcher, click on the Amiga logo at the top left of the window. Select “Import kickstarts” and navigate to the location of your kickstart files. Import all Kickstart ROMs.

5. On the main screen of the Launcher, under Amiga Model select A1200 and 3.1 ROM 68020 CPU.

6. Insert the emulated ADF Workbench 3.1 disk image through the floppy drives. Click on Start to turn on and start the Amiga.

The Amiga operating system is called Workbench and it is a graphical interface similar to the Apple operating systems of the time. It features all the design styles we know of. Windows, icons, menu and pointer, and it has a shell interface that is comfortable for Unix / Linux users. The Amiga Workbench underwent the biggest change from Workbench 2 onwards, from a simple operating system to a powerful and efficient design. Make no mistake, Workbench 1.3 was what we used with our Amiga 500, but it looked rather childish compared to later versions.

Workbench 3.1 used on the A1200 and A4000 was a big problem. The Workbench 3.1 disc contains a number of folders. Prefs is where we can configure the Amiga. Change fonts, set screen resolution, change input settings, and set system sounds.

Install Workbench on a virtual hard disk

A hard drive was a luxury for the early Amigas. With the release of the 600 and 1200, we saw built-in IDE interfaces and the 600HD and 1200HD models were on the shelves, offering a huge 40MB IDE hard drive. For our virtual Amiga 1200 we will be installing a 256 hard drive. MB using FS-UAE.

1. Click on the Amiga logo at the top left of the window and select HDF Creator.

2. Create a single partition hard drive file called LXF.hdf and it will be 256MB in size.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

3. Click on the Home icon and make sure your Amiga model is an A1200, with 3.1 ROM and 68020 processor.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

4. Click on the Diskette menu and, in the upper slot, insert the ADF Workbench 3.1 disk and, in the second location, insert the Workbench 3.1 installation disc.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

5. Go to Media Swap List, and click on the + icon, select all your Workbench 3.1 disks, whose “install” must be present.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

6. Go to the Hard Disk menu and verify that LXF.hdf is present.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

7. In the RAM & ROM menu, make sure the correct Kickstart ROM is present, and set your Chip RAM to 2 MB and Fast RAM to 8 MB.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

8. On the left of the launcher is a save configuration dialog box, add name A1200 LXF and click save button to save the configuration for future use.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

9. Click Start to run the emulator.

To format this drive, a single left click on the icon, then press and hold the right mouse button. Move the mouse to the top of the screen and select Icons, Format Disk. The format options must match these.

10. Workbench will start as before, but we now see an additional icon on the DH0 NODOS desktop, which is our 256MB hard drive.

List of options:

  • Format – DH0
  • Current information: Device capacity ‘DH0’ 256M
  • New volume name: WB3
  • Put the trash: O
  • Fast file system: O
  • International mode: N
  • Directory cache: N

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

11. Click on Format, then in the following two pop-ups click OK and Format. The formatting process will take approximately five minutes. A new disk will appear DH0 (first hard disk) which is ready for use.

12. Double click on the installation disc icon then double-click on the installation folder. Double click on the language of your choice to run the installer in that language.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

13. Click Continue to install Workbench 3.1 on a hard drive.

14. Make sure the installation mode is Novice, click Continue with installation to continue.

15. Skip the printer configuration screen, the keyboard must match your country / language selection.

The installer will now run and copy the files from the floppy drives to the virtual hard drive. Sometimes we will be asked to insert another disc.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

16. Press F12 to swap disks when prompted. Use the cursor keys to scroll down to REMOVABLE MEDIA, press Enter to eject the previous disc and automatically insert the next one. The Amiga will detect the disk change and continue with the installation.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

17. Once the installation is complete, you will be prompted to eject the disc from the drive, do so again via F12 – REMOVABLE SUPPORTS. Then click Continue to restart.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Your Amiga 1200 will now restart and boot from the hard drive for the first time.

Linux Amiga 1200 format

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)


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