I was notified of some good news earlier this week that after many long months of waiting, MorphOS 3.10 had finally been released and more importantly as a feature of the new release would be supporting my new machine the Amigaone X5000.
MorphOS for those who are unfamiliar with the Amiga scene in general, is a PowerPC based Amiga like operating system launched back in 2000 and which is forked and developed from AmigaOS 3.1 for which MorphOS is API compatible. The operating system retains a high level of compatibility with native 68K Amiga software through in-built emulation as well as having a repository of its own dedicated software.
MorphOS runs on a number of different hardware too from Pegasos boards to a number of older pieces of Apple PowerPC hardware like a Mac Mini G4, Power Mac G4 and G5 and for a mobile solution a Power Book G4.
You see back in 2015 when I purchased my Amigaone 500 machine it based on the Sam 460cr motherboard and MorphOS version 3.9 had also converted across to this platform. However due to the fact that MorphOS only supported on board audio on a Sam 460 it meant that I could use it, but I would have no sound as the 460cr model did not benefit from on board audio and required you to use an external sound card.
I waited, thinking of course that perhaps in a future release it would all be sorted out, but in the meantime, I was hearing news about a new machine from A-Eon to replace their X1000 series. Rather interestingly, their new machine the X5000 was to support MorphOS in addition to AmigaOS 4. Great I thought, a machine that would be able to run both operating systems with the added bonus of also being able to fire up a few Linux distributions. I would have brand new and powerful hardware and finally be able to check out what many in the Amiga scene had been saying about MorphOS.
Except I can’t. The reason for this, MorphOS 3.10 which has Amigaone X5000 support as the main feature of the latest update does not support not my Radeon HD 7750 graphics card, nor does it support any of the graphics cards which many X5000 owners currently have installed in their machines.
Yes, you read that right, they go to all that trouble of getting this all up and running on our system, make a big song and dance about it and then choose to ignore a good 90% of the existing X5000 user base. You really couldn’t make this up!
Well you can use another type of card surely? The answer is yes I can, but the answer is a little bit more complex than that you see. With AmigaOS 4 we have seen development of a dedicated Warp 3D driver for Radeon Southern Islands cards. More importantly than that we are seeing new libraries and updates to the Radeon HD graphics drivers which are taking advantage of the power of these cards. I could swap to one of the supported MorphOS cards like a Radeon HD 5450 but it would mean that I lose out on the much cherished Warp 3D functionality under AmigaOS 4. it means I then cannot play games like the fantastic new release Spencer, Return to Castle Wolfenstein or indeed anything else which requires Warp 3D or Warp 3D Nova under AmigaOS 4.
Equally is your average Joe who just wants to use his machine going to swap their graphics card every time they want to run a different OS? Not to mention incur all the risks that can carry if not undertaken properly such as damage to the motherboard, the pins or indeed the graphics card itself. I’ve owned various pieces of Amiga hardware now for 30 years now, hardware is fragile even on my shiny new machine and I personally wouldn’t like to keep opening up the case unless I really had to.
Yes I could try to find a 2nd graphics card to run on this machine in conjunction with AmigaOS 4 but the combinations are not always easy to run on this motherboard as I have been experimenting with Linux. Some 2nd graphics cards may work under Linux, but they can result in AmigaOS 4 hanging when you try to boot it up. Equally a PCI card like the ones I have around the house aren’t always compatible, look for example at this Radeon 9200 card which is supposedly supported by MorphOS. It wont fit on the X5000 motherboard because the gap between the edge and the pins is too large.
Most X5000 users would like the ability to be able to run the different OS’s available to us under the one graphics card. After all it is the main and unique selling point of this machine as you can see from the early start-up menu. No messing around with configuring silly boot loaders, it has already been done for us.
Look at the following retailers who are selling the X5000 and look at the graphics cards they are all supplying their customers with
Amiga Kit Radeon R7 250
Amiga on the Lake Radeon HD7750
Amedia France Radeon R7 250
Alinea Computer Radeon R7 250
Relec Radeon R7 250
All of these new machines are being provided with a Radeon HD 7750 or Radeon R7 250 card. Worse is they have known about this for close to a year now whilst the X5000 has been on sale and moreover many of the developers should have been aware of this.
I am sorry to say this, but it needs to be said but I feel as far as X5000 owners are concerned, The MorphOS team have dropped the ball here and big time.
A lot of Amiga users are pretty tired of the politics and ego in the Amiga world, which in reality given the extremely small user base is nothing more than watching two bald men fighting over a comb. A lot of users are above the negative red camp vs blue camp wars that exist on forums and just want to enjoy what each system has to offer and it was in this spirit that A-Eon asked the MorphOS to consider supporting the X5000.
Except X5000 users can’t right now, unless we decide to ditch our existing graphics cards for a much inferior model and for the MorphOS team this should be seen as a missed opportunity. Right now I would love to be sharing to my readers a blog post about the installation process, showing them how to do it and how easy it will be running from the early start-up menu which as you can see below is already set up for MorphOS.
I would love to be posting blog updates about the interesting applications which exist on this platform which may help inspire others to the platform and to help promote it further and ultimately bring in new users, something which is sorely needed to help stimulate and continue development.
Talking of stimulating development, MorphOS are also losing out on a new revenue stream through the registration of a new licence. Yes they are turning down the opportunity of hundreds of X5000 owners paying €79 a piece to register their product. Surely it really doesn’t make financial sense to be turning away new users and lose out on all this good will?
Many MorphOS themselves users are curious about the X5000 as a machine and many do want to run AmigaOS 4, ideally on the same hardware if possible. I’d probably wager that some would be willing to replace their aeging 10 year old hardware that they run MorphOS on too also although yes many will baulk at the price of an X5000, but from what I have seen on many MorphOS forums, many are curious to see how this machine performs with the OS.
Am I grateful for the hard work which has gone into the release of MorphOS 3.10? You bet I am and I congratulate the team for their efforts thus far given their limited financial resources. However at the moment given its current state, the X5000 port feels like a massive missed opportunity. I hope really do hope we get to see the support for our cards soon, because an increase to the number of users to both platforms benefits the community as a whole.