AMIX History

Image Amiga UNIX, also called AMIX, is (or was) Commodore's port of AT&T System V Release 4 to the Amiga in early 1990's.

The two "official" machines made for Amiga UNIX are the Amiga 2500UX and 3000UX, which were optionally shipped with Amix pre-installed.

However Amix can run on any Amiga that meets its hardware requirements, specifically 68020/68030 CPU with FPU and MMU, at least 4MB of fast RAM and a SCSI hard disk drive connected to a compatible controller. This basically includes the Amiga 2000, 2500, 3000D and 3000T models with the appropriate CPU boards and SCSI controllers. Although fe. the A3000UX has Zorro III capable slots, the only cards ever supported by Amix are Zorro II. Driver support is quite limited, although not desperately so. You have a choice of at least two ethernet cards for example.

One of the first public demonstrations of Amiga Unix was at the 1988 Uniforum Conference in Dallas, TX. The prototype machine, Amiga 3500, housed in a Commodore PC60-III tower case was demonstrated at the Business Computing Show in 1991 and finally launched as the slightly re-configured Amiga 3000T in october 1991.

The A3000UX was also sold for universities and students. The machines were generally well-received and liked by students and staff. In some universities students were required to buy required hardware and after the end of support for Amix, later on after the demise of Commodore, universities were in serious trouble finding spares to support students who had bought Amigas. In some cases universities were forced to buy machines back from their graduated students! (Thanks to Pentad on Amiga.org forums).

Amix was sold for only a couple of years and it's support was dropped already before Commodore's bankruptcy in 1994. Rumour has it that the last (at the time only!) Amix support engineer was fired in 1993. Like several other UNIX packages of the early 1990's, Amix never managed to grab wide user base and partly due to the limited hardware support. Unlike Apple's A/UX, Amix didn't have any compatiblity layer to allow running AmigaOS applications under Unix. It also didn't make much use of the Amiga's graphic and sound capabilities, the parts of the hardware that made Amiga itself any special at the time. Also Amix's only supported CPUs (68020/68030) were underpowered and not competetively priced compared to the competing Unix workstations.

In the early days of Amix there were talks of Sun Microsystems selling Amiga Unix machines (the prototype Amiga 3500) as a low-end Unix workstations under their brand, making Commodore their OEM manufacturer. This deal was let down by Commodore's Mehdi Ali, not once but twice and finally Sun gave up their interest.

Lead developer of Unix SVR4 port and distribution for Amiga computers was Michael Ditto (Unix Systems Software Architect at Commodore 1988-1991).

Sources:
Big Book of Amiga Hardware
Wikipedia article of Amiga Unix
Amiga History Guide
Commodore.ca

What's inside the box?

Image Original box cover

Image Pile of manuals and installation media (one tape and 2 floppies)

Image Manuals: Installing, Using and Learning Amiga UNIX plus Working together: Amiga UNIX and AmigaDOS.

And in later versions: separately printed updates to the manuals.

Special features of Amiga UNIX

(From "Using Amiga UNIX" manual)

Your Amiga UNIX System is a complete version of AT&T's UNIX System V Release 4.0 (Release 4) and provides all the features of that operating system. However, Amiga UNIX is more than just Release 4; it combines elements from several sources:
  • Amiga high resolution graphics
  • Amiga enhancements, including virtual screens, device drivers, and system-specific hardware functions
  • AT&T UNIX, which includes Berkeley and Xenix commands
  • public domain utilities
What features are unique to Amiga UNIX?

Amiga UNIX enhancements cover four distinct areas:
  • screen management
  • online guided interface to user and administrator tasks
  • public domain utility programs
  • miscellaneous utilities and system calls unique to the Amiga port of the UNIX operating system
Screen management programs define and create virtual screens, allow access to the Amiga console and custom RAM, and control various display elements of Amiga screens, including color, font type, and character size.

We added several public domain programs, and even documented them as primary options, because they are well known and, in some cases, more useful than the comparable Release 4 programs. The Release 4 programs still exist, work properly, and are located in the right place; we have simply added altematives, as shown in the following table.

Unix standard -> Amiga UNIX alternative
  • mail -> elm
  • more -> less
  • finger -> Finger
  • vi -> emacs
  • cc -> gcc
Other public domain programs provide functions not included in standard UNIX Release 4. These programs are in the directory /usr/public/bin.

Unique Amiga UNIX functions
Some Amiga UNIX features are unique only because of the Amiga hardware. Functions such as formatting floppy disks and hard disk partitions, connecting a paraller printer, and setting a keyboard translation map exist in some form on many system; the specific variants for Amiga UNIX are documented in this chapter. Again, any unique features are in addition to UNIX Release 4, no AT&T, Berkeley, or XENIX functions have been removed or replaced.

Where are the Amiga UNIX programs?
Amiga programs and utilities that are not available on any other system are in the following directories:
  • /usr/amiga/bin
  • /usr/amiga/etc
  • /usr/amiga/lib/kmap
  • /usr/amiga/lib/font
  • /usr/public/bin
Some of the special Amiga UNIX commands
  • A2024 linked to true or flase to allow or disable high resolution
  • amixadm Amiga Unix System Administration tool
  • amixpkg system packages installer
  • color set or show screen color
  • fdfmt format a floppy disk
  • getscr define and create a virtual screen
  • passwdall set/erase all system account passwords
  • rdb set/show hard disk partitions
  • sioc set/display keymap, font and screen size

Image amixadm, System administration tool running in Amix's Open Look window manager in X11R5.
Contributors to this page: MindWalker , cjcox , dalamar and failure .
Page last modified on Tuesday 03 of May, 2016 15:46:16 EDT by MindWalker. (Version 43)