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AmigaOS 3.9 - a well done surprise?
In fact we would have liked to write an article about the new AmigaOS 3.9 on our own, but found the article by Martin Steigerwald in the AMIGA Magazin 01/2001 so much perfect that we asked Joern-Erik Burkert, member of the editorial staff at Amiga Magazin, to allow us publising it on in both, German and English. Thank you very much for consent.

AmigaOS 3.9 - A well done surprise?
© AMIGA Magazin - Author: Martin Steigerwald
Translation by Martina Jacobs
This article in German

The announcement of the AmigaOS 3.9 came by accident for many people. Only a few dared to think of having a new version of the AmigaOS in their hands within this year, already. Nevertheless Haage&Partner together with many partners developed the new OS. Read in this initial overview which new features it offers, and come to your own conclusion whether or not this surprise was well done.

AmigeOS 3.9 is shipped on CD-ROM. Who is not satisfied by the operating system's online help might order a printed version (German) from Haage&Partner, which is a tips&tricks book describing what's new in AmigaOS 3.9 in a comprehensive way.

AmigaOS 3.9 contains big and completely new implemented features, e.g. the dock program »AmiDock«, as well as many enhancements in detail and bugfixes, too. Additionally proved third party tools are integrated: features formerly only available as patches, such as like the FontCache or the configuration of asl file requesters, now are firmly integrated into the OS, tools like »RAWBInfo«, and »ViNCEd« simplify the daily work. The description of new features in this article does not claim to be complete and bases on a pre-version of AmigaOS 3.9. But the features described here are already implemented and supposed to be for sure.

Simplified Installation

Compared to AmigaOS 3.5 installation has been simplified distinctly. It is no longer necessary to install AmigaOS 3.1, at first. Also there is no need to restart the system, any more. There are two kinds of installation: the update installation updates an existing AmigaOS 3.5, and only copies icons which are new since OS 3.5. The full installation installs AmigaOS 3.9 - including all of the necessary files of AmigaOS 3.5, and AmigaOS 3.1 - including all of the GlowIcons.

Full installation also allows a fast new installation of the system, if booted from a before created emergency disk. This way AmigaOS 3.9 can be re-installed easy and fast even in case of a complete harddisk failture. As with AmigaOS 3.5 the emergency disk also supports RTG systems and AGA 31KHz screenmodes. Due to this also in case of emergency no 15KHz monitor is needed, any more.

Well Docked?

»AmiDock« simplifies working with the Workbench in a enormous way. To start programs usually one has to click down to the related directory and then double click the program's icon. But with »AmiDock« you are able to easily create button strips, which allow to open programs and directories by one single mouse click.

Contrary to most of the other tools like this AmiDock fully supports the new coloured icons. And - maybe the most important feature - it is extremely easy and fast to use. If you would have to open a configuration window for other programs, with »AmiDock« you just drag the icon of the desired directories and programs into a dock. If you drop the icon, it will automatically be included.

This way docks can be created as fast as the wind, cause you don't have to configure each single switch. Moreover this, there are default configurations for certain directories: e.g. AmiDock just reads the »Prefs« and displays all of the preferences in one dock.
Also the adjustment of the dock's size is conceivable intuitive. Instead of being forced to declare the number of lines and columns inside a configuration window, you just drag the dock to the desired size. Then the dock will be fixed at the related width and height. AmiDock shows this by a small handle bar. By clicking on this the size will be released, again. Or you just drag the dock to a new size.

Beside of calling programs AmiDock also supports opening directories on the Workbench, as well as calling programs using arguments: so e.g. you may drag'n drop a text on the switch which for example will start the editor »EditPad«, and just lets EditPad insert this text.

More comfortable Workbench

Also in other parts working with the Workbench became more comfortable: many new assistants are supporting the daily work. »RAWBInfo« offers a Workbench information window with a nice ReAction GUI which really has got many features. E.g. you even can give an icon a different picture which is loaded via datatypes.

To make the Workbench deal with files which don't have an icon in a reasonable way there is »DefIcons«. This program gives files without an own icon a default icon according to the file type. This way pictures and texts without an icon can easily be started via double click. DefIcons can be configured via it's own preferences program.

Who - a bit envious of Apple or Windows - always was wishing a trashcan directly on the Workbench, will get this feature in OS 3.9. With »BenchTrash« this is no problem. This program either just will delete files dropped on the trash or will move them to a certain directory. But that's not all of it: who always wanted to eject a CD-Rom like it is done on the Mac can do that now. Just drag'n drop the CD's icon on the trash, and there you go! Also handy is the feature to clean up the trash regularly and to delete every file older than a certain amount of days.

It has also been cared for a new clock. »WBClock« displays itself as an animated AppIcon on the Workbench. It even is optionally transparent, which looks very good sometimes.

Also very handy is the search function of the Workbench. This is done by a external program called »Find« which can be started via the Workbench menu »Window/Search« or as a single task. According to how it was started and configured it allows to search in the current Workbench directory or in one or more harddisk partitions. It cannot only be searched for file names, but also for contents (e.g. keywords). Double clicking on a file found tries to start a reasonable action on it: this way e.g. a seldom used file can be searched and started directly from Find.

LhA, LZX, but also archive files of other formats (see »Features«) can be unpacked by a simple double click, thanks to the implementation of »xad« in AmigaOS 3.9. »xad« supports many formats. This way the user only seldom will happen to meet an archive which cannot be unpacked, if any. Related programming knowledge assumed one can write an own unpacking routine. »xad« can also be addressed via shell commands.

More Multimedia

But also some has happened in the case of multimedia. PlayCD, the somehow bare appearing CD player from AmigaOS 3.5 has been started up thoroughly: the program now supports skins. Another advancement: PlayCD as a rule doesn't need to be configured any more, but itself looks for a suitable CD-Rom drive, if necessary.

»ACTION« plays Quicktime and AVI movies optionally on an own screen or inside a window on the Workbench.In doing this it's very fast. Even on not that good equipped Amigas acceptable results are to accomplish. Control buttons allow to start and stop the movie, to adjust volume, as well as to well directed »skim through« the movie using a scroll bar.

»Amplifier« beside MPEG-3 music files also plays AIFF and WAV files. It has got play lists which can be both, loaded and saved. The program as well supports skins and is capable of playing music either via the Amiga sound chip Paula or via a sound card. With this the standards AHI and X-Audio are supported. A X-Audio driver for the Paula sound chip is included. On the Workbench music files can easily be drag'n dropped into the play list to add them to this.

»AWeb SE 3.3« which came with AmigaOS 3.5 has been updated to the new version of »AWeb«. This version now also supports »FONT FACES«. So you can let it display websites nicer and more true to original with suitable fonts. Support of JavaScript has been enhanced, too, and much more. And to be able to start surfing immediate AmigaOS 3.9 contains the full version of »Genesis« with ReAction GUI. Only the Genesis preferences program could not be transposed to ReAction in time, because of it's scope. Who has MUI installed can use it however - otherwise MUI must get installed. But the enhanced Genesis Wizard compensates for that, which makes it very easy to configure an internet account on the basis of the provider database.

Powerful Console

Beside of the extensions to the Workbench and the players also shell enthusiasts will not miss out with the new update: as console handler for shell windows now the powerful »ViNCEd« is used.

From now on all of the console windows are having scrollbars to re-display text which scrolled out of the window. But it also has been thought of the shell users which don't like typing in: using the TAB key incomplete file or directory names can be completed now. With this »ViNCEd«, according to it's settings, not only searches for suitable entries inside the current directory, but e.g. also inside the assign list or inside the command search path. If »ViNCEd« finds only one entry the string immediately gets completed, otherwise an asl requester will open to choose from the suitable entries found. Handily the completion also works multileveled: if needed the given string gets completed up to the first char from which multiple entries are possible. By entering a character or pressing the TAB key and selecting an entry the procedure can be continued. »ViNCEd« is very versatile configurable and offers many other features.
  • complete ANSI emulation
  • supports graphics boards
  • Macros - with these e.g. it is possible to use the F keys for often used commands and functions.
  • configurable keyboard control
  • Job control, as known form Unix shells

And what else?

Moreover there is a nice set of interesting and useful features: so the new »diskfont.library« with integrated FontCache cares for faster display of font requesters. This features has been implemented completely transparent for applications, but also can be disabled for single directories. New installed or deleted fonts are automatically recognized and the cache file gets updated accordingly.

Also »asl« has been extended. Using the preferences program position, size, and sorting order of asl requesters can be set. Also this is not a patch any more, but is »officially« controlled by the new »asl.library«, and the new »IPrefs«. The »text.datatype« now supports searching inside of the text, as well as marking parts of the text. Marked parts handily are automatically copied to the clipboard. Also the »string.gadget« has been extended: so now you can mark char by char or undo the last change inside of every text input field.

The new »test« function of the screenmode preferences program is a nice detail, too. You no longer have to tapper in the dark and maybe reboot, if the newly chosen mode accidently cannot be displayed contrary to what you've expected.

New Features
  • AmiDock: completely new written and extremely easy to use dock program. The fast way to easy start programs or to open certain directories.
  • Integration of Workbench extensions: »RAWBInfo« offers a nice done and rich of functions Workbench information window, »DefIcons« a default icon system
  • More compatibility: »newiconemu« allows to edit the new coloured icons (»V44-GlowIcons«) with NewIcon capable programs, too.
  • New Tools: »BenchTrash«, the free configurable trashcan on the Workbench; »WBClock« , the clock being an icon; as well as »IoMegaTools«, the tool for ZIP and JAZ drives.
  • Extended PowerPC support: WarpOS V5 is included, new »picture.datatype« supports PPC
  • More multimedia: new versions of »PlayCD« with skin support and many bugfixes; QuickTime and AVI movie player »ACTION«; player for MPEG3, AIFF, and WAV »Amplifier«
  • Genesis: the TCP/IP stack for local area networks and internet connection - already widely with ReAction GUI.
  • xad: the archive unpacking system. unpack archives from the Workbench by just double clicking it. Supports LhA, LZX, ZIP, RAR, ARJ, DMS, and many other formats.
  • ViNCEd: new console handler with scrollbar, file name completer, ANSI emulation, and many other handy features.
  • AWeb 3.4 SE: the in AmigaOS 3.5 included browser has been updated. »FONT FACE« support, enhanced Javascript support, and much more.
  • Find: allows searching for file names or file content on multiple partitions. Can be called directly from the Workbench menu.
  • Asl requester: there is also a preferences program for setting the size of, and the sorting order inside of requesters.
  • text.datatype: now allows searching inside of the text, and copying of marked text parts into the clipboard.
  • New gadgets: the colour wheel (»colorwheel.gadget«), and the gradient slider (»gradientslider.gadget«) now support screens with 65000 or 16 millions of colours; the new »string.gadget« offers marking char by char, undo, and much more.
  • New FontCache: faster display of font requesters.
  • rexxmathlib.library: new math functions for ARexx.
  • Many bugfixes: new mathe libraries with important bugfixes, bugfixes in ReAction, Workbench, and many other.
(unk) (Translation: unk)

[News message: 01. Dec. 2000, 03:02] [Comments: 0]
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