back to article Amiga Fast File System makes minor comeback in new Linux kernel

The Amiga Fast File System (AFFS) is making a minor comeback in the new version of the Linux kernel. As noted by chief penguin Linus Torvalds in his weekly state-of-the-kernel report, a change to AFFS popped up among what he described as a collection of “the usual suspects” in new submissions to the kernel over the last week …

  1. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    This will make the soon-to-be-Kickstarted mini Amiga easier

    It's a Linux/AmigaOS hybrid running on a Pi 4 in a Mini-ITX case, and if you just wanted something to emulate all your games in a nice A3000-style box which can fit under the monitor then it's probably the cheapest and most practical way.

    Mini Amiga Inspired Case & Ami-Hybrid | Show & Tell (30 mins)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This will make the soon-to-be-Kickstarted mini Amiga easier

      Not sure why anyone would want a dedicated box like this as opposed to multi-system emulation. But different people have different priorities I guess.

      Personally I play Amiga titles on my 2ds or my Vita. But that's just me.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: This will make the soon-to-be-Kickstarted mini Amiga easier

        You could emulate more systems by swapping the SD card or running them on the Linux side, and you'd still have the nice case.

    2. Quentin North

      Re: This will make the soon-to-be-Kickstarted mini Amiga easier

      I would put an ultimate MISTer in that case and then you can have a FPGA hardware emulation of pretty much anything you could want with almost none of the RPi emulation lag.

    3. juice Silver badge

      Re: This will make the soon-to-be-Kickstarted mini Amiga easier

      > It's a Linux/AmigaOS hybrid running on a Pi 4 in a Mini-ITX case

      That's kinda giving me flashbacks to the old SparcStation IPC machines.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SPARCstation_IPC

      At one point, I had a load of those, as the place I worked at the time was having a huge clearout of obsolete tech. Shame it was in the era before even the Epia mini-ITX boards, as they'd have been good candidates for a little "upgrade" project...

  2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Alert

    Risk Assessment

    Linus scuba diving in Australia? Great Whites eat penguins.

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Risk Assessment

      Excellent! -->

  3. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    My life is now complete...

    ...and I can sleep easy tonight, knowing that some old games that people played 30 years ago can still run for the benefit of a few thousand (hundred?) geeks in 2020. With the right permission bits.

    1. tin 2

      Re: My life is now complete...

      Don't be daft. almost none of the games used the OS's file system.

      1. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

        Re: My life is now complete...

        Oh yes, I forgot how things used to work back in the day. Badly.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: My life is now complete...

          No need to get jealous, your own computer was good in its own way too, it had built-in MIDI.

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: My life is now complete...

            Wasn't it the Atari ST that had the built in MIDI ports?

            A lot of Amiga games came to the ST, but usually afterwards. A great time in British games publishing, making us poor PC owners a bit jealous. ST was more commonly seen in music studios. Amiga

            1. Dom 3

              Re: My life is now complete...

              It certainly was the Atari ST that had built-in MIDI and dominated the music industry (at least in Europe).

              1. Simon Ward

                Re: My life is now complete...

                And you'll still find the odd one or two lurking in the darker corners of some recording studios.

                If you're really lucky, they might still be in working order, too.

                Ah, those were the days - couldn't afford Cubase, and none of the 'usual suspects' were able to get me a cracked copy, so I wrote myself a MIDI sequencer as a way of learning 68000 assembler.

                I wish I still had that degree of drive and curiosity - sadly, working as a developer for 20-odd years has pretty much beaten it out of me.

          2. Terry Barnes

            Re: My life is now complete...

            You had an Oric Telestrat? Cripes!

        2. tin 2

          Re: My life is now complete...

          or really efficiently, depending on how you look at it.....

  4. Chewi

    SFS

    To be honest, if you're using a real Amiga hard drive for more than a few minutes these days then you really want something better than AFFS anyway as the performance is crap. SFS is one of the better alternatives. I do recall a (read-only?) Linux driver for this but I doubt it still works.

  5. mark l 2 Silver badge

    One of the advantage of the AmigaOS was that it could support new file system formats with just dropping in the drivers into the right directories in the OS.

    So there were several updated Amiga filesystems that were brought out over the years as well as support for reading disks formatted for Windows , Linux and MacOS plus other systems. In that manner it was well ahead of its time.

    1. Dr AntiSol, astrophysicist
      Thumb Up

      Indeed. I could never afford an amiga back in the day, but when I finally did get one I was amazed at some of these advanced os features.

      There's a great quote from John Dvorak about AmigaOS in 1996:

      The AmigaOS remains one of the great operating systems of the past 20 years, incorporating a small kernel and tremendous multitasking capabilities the likes of which have only recently been developed in OS/2 and Windows NT. The biggest difference is that the AmigaOS could operate fully and multitask in as little as 256K of address space. Even today, the OS is only about 1MB in size. And to this day, there is very little a memory-hogging CD-ROM-loading OS can do the Amiga can't. Tight code - there's nothing like it. I've had an Amiga for maybe a decade. It's the single most reliable piece of equipment I've ever owned. It's amazing! You can easily understand why so many fanatics are out there wondering why they are alone in their love of the thing. The Amiga continues to inspire a vibrant - albeit cultlike - not unlike which you have with Linux, the Unix clone.

      I for one think it's awesome to see a patch to offer better Amiga support.

      1. tin 2

        100%. And having just read https://www.theregister.com/2020/09/04/on_call/ and some of the comments, I am very glad circumstances drove me to getting one, and having to persist with it long into the reign of the PC. It's a genuinely very slick OS, was a pleasure to use, and while of course now dated, delivers some lessons OS creators have somehow still not learned. I still boggle when certain (thankfully rare) situations cause Windows' or a Mac's fundamental underlying OS processes to grind to a halt while something is busy.

      2. ecofeco Silver badge

        I am still very depressed the Amigo OS did not come to dominate the world.

        Not even joking.

        Can you imagine where we would be today?

        Just another example of how so many great ideas are abandoned in favor of lesser ones when corporations (MS in this example) lie and cheat.

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          I think, like many seemingly superior offerings, by the time it had all the security and other things required for a modern operating system it would be, well like a modern system of some form.

          The Amiga was good because it wasn't using 8086 small model compatibility, something MS-Dos did which lost computing a decade as a result.

        2. Terry Barnes

          I was a big Amiga fan, but the reason it failed wasn’t because the big boys were mean to it. The OS was seriously flawed - the lack of memory protection meant it was not a safe thing to put any meaningful data in. As the world became networked it would have been a disaster. The tight integration between hardware and software was also a fundamental problem. It gave Amiga a head start but it also defined the end of the road pretty well too.

          Moore’s law and ubiquity beat custom hardware every time. You just have to wait.

          1. tin 2

            Not the case. A lot of OSes were of that nature at the time and... lets take an example of the "winning" one... new iterations came out over and over adding the stuff needed as the underlying computing power came along.

            The Amiga failed due to Commodore being a very shit dysfunctional company, and the companies that tried to take on the mantle of Amiga being even more shit and dysfunctional. That's all very well documented.

            1. Terry Barnes

              I thought Windows and Macintosh always had memory management? That was Amiga’s problem - lots of games and demos required unfettered first party DMA to work, introducing any form of memory management would have broken compatibility. Insecure by design.

              1. Dr AntiSol, astrophysicist

                I'm not sure about memory management, but that's just one example that the parent is listing. Another example would be that neither windows or macs had preemptive multitasking for quite a while - windows didn't get it until win95, and I think macs might have had to wait until osx(?) (I'm pretty sure AmigaOS had it all along).

                The point is that it's perfectly possible for an OS to be updated to accommodate more modern systems. It's been done before. It's been a while since I played around with AmigaOS 4, but that has most(all?) of the features you'd expect from a modern OS. It'll run on a multicore system with USB ports and nvidia cards and wifi and most(all?) of the modern goodies you'd expect. if it ran on x86 hardware I'd absolutely be looking into using an AmigaOS 4 workstation. Unfortunately the hardware it does run on, while super cool and impressive for an amiga, is too exotic and expensive for my tastes.

                1. tin 2

                  So I believe.... and I'm not certain about both of these to don't kill me....

                  - Windows got memory protection in 3.0

                  - While Wikipedia says that they are, I'm not sure how an OS that can lock up such that the mouse pointer doesn't move is pre-emptively multitasking. Surely the system is able to steal back resources to run the code keeping that alive? I've seen that behaviour on Win (lots), Mac (a bit) and in the past couple of days - and very alarmingly - Linux. Maybe I don't quite understand what pre-emptive multitasking actually is. But again, if a 7MHz Amiga can do it, your 1000s of MHz 30-years-more-development whatever bloody well should be able to.

                  1. Dr AntiSol, astrophysicist

                    Preemptive multitasking replaced cooperative multitasking. There are two big advantages to it: 1) your code doesn't need to worry about multitasking and 2) bad code or a crashing program can't lock up the entire system (or at least, not quite as easily).

                    With cooperative multitasking, each program has to play nice (aka cooperate) to allow multitasking to happen. To do this, your code has to tell the operating system when to multitask, so you had to write your loops something like this (pseudo-code):

                    while running {

                    do_a_thing();

                    os.multitask();

                    }

                    the call to os.multitask() would tell the operating system to switch to the next task and run it until it makes a call to os.multitask, etc etc, until it gets back to running another iteration of your loop.

                    This approach has many pitfalls. A couple of big ones:

                    If I forget to include that call to os.multitask in my loop, the entire system locks up for the duration of my loop.

                    Another issue is that if one iteration of my loop isn't very expensive then my code might run slower than it could due to unnecessary task swaps. So I don't want to call os.multitask too often.

                    Preemtive multitasking solves these problems by having the OS kernel take charge of which task is running at any particular moment. Rather than letting one task run until it yields control back to the OS, a preemptive kernel allows one task to run for a (small) amount of time, then the kernel interrupts - pre-empts - it, and switches to let another task run for a little bit of time.

                    But that doesn't have anything to do with your mouse pointer locking up. An example of how that can happen is that the kernel can still get stuck waiting for some IO or whatever, even if it's preemptive.

                    HTH :)

    2. Joe Montana

      Not just directory of the OS, you could actually load a copy of the driver into the partition table itself, so it could boot from a totally alien filesystem...

      You could also load corrupted drivers there, which would cause the system to crash as soon as it read the partition table (ie before boot). Only way to recover was to take the drive to a non amiga and delete the offending data.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Boot off a floppy and use HDToolbox to re-write the driver to the partition table thingy, Shirley?

        1. Def Silver badge

          That would work too. And don't call me surely.

      2. Alan W. Rateliff, II
        Happy

        Only way to recover was to take the drive to a non amiga and delete the offending data.

        Uh, no. You can take it to another Amiga to fix it. You can also disable devices in the early startup menu to prevent the bad filesystems from being loaded. Easiest thing to do is to boot from an OS "Install" disk and use HDToolBox to correct the errant filesystem in the RDB (Rigid Disk Block.) I admit to trashing an RDB or two in my time.

        As to the flexibility, my RDB currently contains FFS patched to 45.17, PFS3, and CrossDOS (MS-DOS filesystem.) All related partitions mount at boot and are accessible without running startup-sequence or mounting via Workbench's DOSDrivers drawer. Running OS3.9 and I need to update to 3.1.4, but I have not had the motivation to do so, yet.

        I have mounted and used SATA and IDE drives on my 4000 desktop via USB (Deneb.) Never tried this, but I suspect one could also hang a drive off a MorphOS machine, like a MacMini, with a suitable USB adapter. Obviously not with a SCSI drive... though, you might be able to use a USB to SATA/IDE, then SATA/IDE to SCSI.

    3. Def Silver badge

      RISC-OS also had support for pluggable file systems.

      I remember when the first ZIP files started appearing most other machines needed some third party utility to read and write to them (most still do). Someone kindly (bravely) wrote a RISC-OS file system driver for them so the whole OS and any application that needed to access their contents could do so as if they were a regular drive.

      Fast forward 30 *years* and Windows Explorer has finally got "native" support for reading/writing ZIP files. (But no other compressed formats.) The lack of innovation in our industry is all rather depressing at times. There are still many cool features of early systems that are missing from today's "advanced" operating systems.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        "Fast forward 30 *years* and Windows Explorer has finally got "native" support for reading/writing ZIP files. (But no other compressed formats.)"

        I remember that already being there by the days of Windows XP, so we could just fast forward ten years. Then again, the way that that is implemented isn't particularly useful; it's just the same interface to view files but it doesn't make archive handling transparent to an application. Fortunately there are libraries like the ones designed for 7zip which can provide a common interface to various compressed files which programs can use to implement better support inside them.

        1. Def Silver badge

          Apparently (I've just discovered) the Plus Pack for Windows 98 was the first public release of "Compressed Folders", but I honestly don't recall it being useful or even usable - if it had been I wouldn't have kept needing to use other tools to open ZIP files.

          I tried to avoid Windows XP as much as possible (at least on my home PCs) and jumped straight from Windows 2000 to Windows 7, so maybe I just missed out on that particular feature.

          It is entirely possible, of course, that my memory is even more shot to shit than I... err, remember. :)

      2. Sandtitz Silver badge

        "Fast forward 30 *years* and Windows Explorer has finally got "native" support for reading/writing ZIP files."

        30 years, what? XP was the first Windows version with native support. In 2001.

        Before XP, I remember using Magic Folders for a native experience on WinNT and Win9x. ZIP files were usable like any other directory, even on a command line you could cd into them and manipulate files with MF doing all the background work.

  6. ColonelDare

    > Maybe he'll stay home and play with an Amiga instead.

    Wasn't he more of a Sinclair QL man?

    As I was - he just took it all a bit further than me! ;-)

    In 1986 the 16yo produced: Linus Torvalds Sinclair QL software GMOVE

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm still smarting at the rejection of my ZX Spectrum compatible cassette driver.

    But not to worry - I just added it to systemd.

  8. John Savard Silver badge

    Good News

    Given theat Linux included support for the Amiga's file system, it's good to see that bugs in that support have been fixed. But while this forestalls a crushing blow to the survival of the Amiga, it won't lead to what I want: new 68000 chips with 64-bit addressing and contemporary levels of performance!

    1. Vometia Munro

      Re: Good News

      Well, there was the M88K, which, er... wasn't the same thing at all really, was it? It was a nice speed upgrade on the VME-based systems I was using at the time, but I liked the CISCy elegance of the M68K. I guess I felt the same about the Vax vs. Alpha/AXP/whatever-it-was-called-that-week: there's no denying the Alpha was a good chip (well, other than DEC's marketing, who may as well have just said "this is rubbish, don't buy it" for all the good they did) but I would've preferred something more, well, Vaxy.

  9. VK2FVAX

    PowerPC

    This'll be really nice. I have a transfer partition with FFS on it on my SAM460EX amiga that's split between linux and Workbench and I use it to transfer file between operating systems. The permission bits have been b0rked for decades. This'll be really nice. I just wish there was Book-E support in NetBSD for the AMCC 460EX processor. Sadly.. no.Shut up and wait. :)

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