You may remember a few months back the MorphOS Team released MorphOS version 3.10 with support for the X5000 for the first time and that many people, (myself included) were a little disappointed they had not supported the Radeon Southern Islands graphics cards which came with the machine.
Well a few months have now passed and we have a new release to play with. (version 3.11, which was a released a few weeks ago) However the sad news as far as X5000 owners are still concerned, is that the Radeon HD7750/ R7 270/290 card which came with your machine is still not supported, however I have been informed that support for these cards will be forthcoming at some point in a future release.
But what if you are desperate to try out MorphOS on the X5000? Well today’s blog post intends to look at just that so you can hopefully decide for yourself if this is something that you would also like to do.
After spending a few weeks with a Mac Mini G4 testing out MorphOS, I decided this was indeed worth the hassle, so I went on eBay to locate a Radeon X1550 graphics card which I ended up picking up off there for the “Buy It Now” price of £7.00.
The model I picked up was a SAPPHIRE RADEON X1550 256MB DDR2 PCI-E GRAPHICS CARD DVI/S.VIDEO and here you can see it installed in the PCI-E 16 slot of my X5000.
The card has a DVI and S-Video outputs, however as I am using a monitor which does not have a DVI input, I am having to output this via a VGA adaptor into my monitor.
The reason for choosing this card is that it offers 3D support in MorphOS and is also supported in AmigaOS 4, although please be aware that this new card is not Warp3D or Warp3D Nova compatible on this platform, so in using this card, you will lose out on all the Warp 3D goodies on AmigaOS 4. The other good piece as far as Linux is concerned is that this card will boot into Linux and it is my intention to have it run hardware accelerated videos and games, which is something that is also not yet supported with the Radeon HD7750 previously installed on my X5000.
So for the time being it is goodbye to the Radeon HD7750 which is now going to sit in a nice anti-static bag for safe keeping until the MorphOS Team are able to support it.
Installation and initial set up.
Installing MorphOS on the X5000 is actually quite an easy and painless task and rather than show you a step-by-step guide, I think it would be best to post a link to Amiga On The Lake’s excellent You Tube video which goes through the whole process.
You will also need to download the MorphOS 3.11 installation CD from the MorphOS website. MorphOS costs €79.00 to register, however if you are unsure that this operating system is for you, it will let you try it out for 30 minutes as a demo before the system slows down and you have to reboot.
Once you have downloaded and burned the image file to a CD it really is a case of just popping it into the CD and selecting start MorphOS from the boot menu.
A few tips from my own installation. First I would probably try to ensure that you use a separate hard disk or SSD drive to install MorphOS on and the second tip is to remember to have both the MorphOS drive you are installing to along with the CD-Rom drive connected to the two on board SATA ports as if you try to connect to an external SATA controller you may experience a few issues.
Once installed you are greeted with this lovely looking blue screen and some icons. MorphOS being an Amiga like operating system is set up with folders and sub-directories that will be all too familiar for long time Amiga users. My system here has been set up with a System partition which contains all the MorphOS system files and also a separate Work partition for all my extras.
Aside from the Extra Icon (which I will touch upon later in this post) the Icons are all MorphOS specific and look quite nice, totally different from the icon set found with AmigaOS 4.
The first noticeable difference for me coming across from AmigaOS 4 and having never used MorphOS before is the lack of a dock at the bottom, but fear not as we can configure a dock which will sit at the bottom.
To configure a panel you will need to go into your Ambient settings and select the Panel option. This will create a dock on the screen which similar to Amidock on AmigaOS 4 you can then drag and drop items from your folders into.
There are plenty of other MUI and Ambient settings that you may want to play around with and to help you with this MorphOS have a rather good support page in their online Library
I also took the opportunity to install some applications which I carried across from my Amiga OS 4 installation. Now in order to do this you will notice from the previous screenshot that I have a drive installed on my screen called Extra and that this is in an AmigaOS 4 style glow icon. This is the same Extra drive which sits on my Amiga OS 4 partition and is a 50GB partition that I have formatted as a SFS partition. You can see that Timberwolf and the SDK from AmigaOS 4 are viewable.
I am keeping this partition as a way of being able to drag and drop files from AmigaOS 4 that can be then seen in MorphOS and vice versa. All my other AmigaOS 4 drives are partitioned in NGFS and so are not viewable in AmigaOS 4.
After some transfer of Amiga ADF files along with other bits and pieces that I wanted to move across, I decided to fill in my little dock at the bottom with some shortcuts and also change the blue butterfly backdrop to a rather more colourful option.
One of the advantages of installing MorphOS is it’s ability to run classic Amiga Productivity software from the desktop in similar fashion to AmigaOS 4. However any pieces of software which bang the hardware, that is to say, they rely on the use of one of the original custom chips found in earlier models will need to be run in E-UAE similar to AmigaOS 4.
Now I am not going to go too in-depth here with the various applications, after all these are all going to be blog posts for another day, but MorphOS comes bundled with a number of applications including Odyssey Web Browser which stands at version 1.25 and which rather handily now is able to spoof as one of the following web browsers if required:
- Microsoft Edge
- Internet Explorer 11
- Firefox 51
- Safari 10.0.3
Whilst browsing with Odyssey on AmigaOS 4 is still pretty useable for about 90 percent of my tasks, I have to say this latest update to version 1.25 is a vast improvement and it moves lightning quick too on the X5000. I have been really impressed with how this performs. You Tube videos can play full screen in a player thanks to a fix that you can download. Websites appear to render better and best of all, I can now use the full WordPress website that I am typing this from instead of being limited to the feature limited mobile website that I had been using on AmigaOS 4.
Email tasks are handled by a rather client called Iris which is a MorphOS exclusive and which you can download here. I have been really impressed with Iris, it seems to work a lot better than SimpleMail or YAM and has support for HTML emails which also open up in Odyssey with no problems whatsoever. In short it works!
The file package manager Grunch has also caught my eye upon my initial first few weeks of using MorphOS. If you have used the Synaptic Package Manager in Debian then you will be familiar with this type of program. Whilst Grunch also works under AmigaOS 4, I have to say the MorphOS version is much more feature rich than it is on AmigaOS.
File repositories can be found either at Aminet, MorphOS-Storage.net or the Polish based MorphOS files I find MorphOS-Storage.net the best one to use, everything on there seems nicely laid out and you also have access to the Chrysalis set of files which are a set of add-ons to complement your MorphOS installation. I downloaded the games pack which has given me a few games to try out such as Voxel Bird which I am pleased to report works just as well on MorphOS as it does on AmigaOS 4.
You will also find an emulation pack that you can download which covers all the main systems, although I was disappointed to not see Hatari, The Atari ST emulator included in this but you can of course download the latest version from one of the file repositories.
Playing of videos and multimedia is handled by either MPlayer or a Beta version of the well known VLC player found on Linux and Windows.
As VLC is in Beta, I won’t dwell on this too much other than to say that it coped well with 360p playback from some test videos but there were some issues with some 720p that didn’t display properly.
On the flip side, MPlayer really stood out for me. Playback of 720p video posed no issue at all and appear to run at a better frame rate and with less pixelisation of the image compared to playing the same video through MPlayer on AmigaOS. Bear in mind is with a graphics card which is not as powerful as the one I have been using and certainly the playback felt more fluid than it did with Emotion player which can suffer from the odd frame drop with 720p video on the X5000.
Overall first impressions
Playing around with MorphOS for the past few weeks, first with an Mac Mini G4 and finally on the X5000 have been extremely positive. In fact it was playing around with the Mac Mini G4 and being so impressed with it, that convinced me to finally install MorphOS on the X5000. The speed of system on the X5000 with its extra memory and processor power is quite something and so far it’s been able to handle most things I’ve wanted to do with speed and ease. I can’t really draw on any comparisons between say a Mac G5 as I have never used one, but certainly compared to the Mac Mini G4 I was using, the X5000 is much quicker.
The boot time in the video is an astonishing 16 seconds from switch on to desktop.
Writing this blog post has made me realise just how much quicker and more productive it has been to use MorphOS. I’ve been doing screen grabs and inserting them into this post with ease and its been nice to use.
Equally the system has been stable with no annoying crashes or lock ups. As a long time Amiga user too everything feels very familiar in MorphOS although there are a few quirks such as the joystick support that I am going to have to get used to.
For those stuck on the fence about MorphOS, I would say give it a go with a cheap card off eBay and see what you think. Chances are you won’t be disappointed and ultimately you the end-user will have to decide about what is important to you on a day-to-day basis and how you use your current X5000 setup. For me anyway, I am going to stick with the Radeon X1550 card until the Radeon HD7750 card is supported.
Some people out there may think that I am mad in swapping my graphics card to a lower specification one, and that in doing so I am perhaps missing out on some AmigaOS 4 goodies or jumping ship. In truth with some of the recent developments like Warp3D Nova enabled games I probably am missing out on some of the cool developments which are taking place on AmigaOS.
However by replacing my graphics card with a lower end model for the time being I am realising more of the full potential of the X5000 machine by being able to run three different Operating Systems (AmigaOS, MorphOS and Linux) and more importantly use them for my own needs.
The graphics support for my Radeon HD7750 card will come in time on both Linux and MorphOS, I have no doubt of that, but at least for the time being I have put that AmigaOne Boot menu to good use and in doing so given myself many more potential blog posts to share with you all across all three formats.
Until next time have fun with your Amigas!