Imagine that one morning like many others, you sit in front of your computer maybe in the office to turn it on and start your daily activities as usual but ..., immediately after the power happens a strange thing! A bit like if for some strange reason or coincidence we had reached the boundaries of reality, something else appears on the screen instead of the usual logos and disappears the request to enter the password because the request for access to the account with which we used to proceed to view our desktop simply does not exist anymore! What we used to call the desktop now has a different appearance, an unusual look, without the countless icons that crowded the screen before. The only icons we see are those of the hard disk and RAM memory! But how? A floating panel at the bottom of the screen contains a number of programmes for everyday use, such as the web browser, the e-mail client, word processing and spreadsheet software, followed by database management software and other software for viewing and manipulating images and photos. Incredibly, everything is new, very tidy and without any warnings, there are no more strange notifications popping up on the right-hand side of the screen, there are no more update requests, there are no more update 'threats' with consequent forced reboots by who knows what hidden forces! Strangely and incredibly, you know by heart where to reach your everyday software, you know where to go to retrieve your files and your favourite applications, you go straight to the point without bothering to check the presence or absence of dozens of icons in the bottom right corner, including the ever-present antivirus. Still strangely and incredibly all the programs that you need to start working and for you most important, appear in full screen clearly visible, but what strange and fantastic a small button at the top right allows us to switch from one program to another instantly allowing us to be concentrated fully on what we are checking or what we are doing from time to time, because we observe only that, but aware that we can access the web browser at any time and without waiting because it is already there below in the true sense of the word! With incredible amazement we are aware that for the first time we can decide the behaviour of our computer in full autonomy and easily, we are the only user present operating the computer, the interaction is now a two-way thing, there are no other users that are predefined entities in the system itself or not with any predefined authorisation! We can decide to arbitrarily start any program very easily, we can change the start-up sequence of the computer, we can freely decide to associate any single data file with any program, as if it were the default software only for that single file, in a few clicks and without altering the default settings of the whole system! It's a different feeling, we have become immediately free to do anything, to do it immediately, easily and without worrying about compromising the system! I can associate the text file of my curriculum vita with the icon of our photograph, I can comment on an encrypted file to know what it is at a glance, I can decide to protect my data by encrypting and compressing it by choosing the encryption and compression algorithms to be combined for that particular file or backup! If needed, I can arbitrarily choose to start a program at a given time by writing the dedicated startup sequence and choosing one utility as a chronograph rather than another for the occasion, and without dealing with any other system settings. Amazingly I see the structure and organisation of the operating system components at a glance and understand the placement of all the elements vital to my Computer with ease, there are no hidden files, no security permissions no absurd requests for permission to browse folders and or view their contents, whatever I'm doing, it's just me and my Computer, no other root entity or any default user group exists or operates in the background.
The saying that goes "Only Amiga make it possible!" was once true more for the play aspect, that is for all those features that made an Amiga superior to an expensive PC in the 90's, graphics, stereo sound, easy and fast access to resources and its operating system, the first real example of Preemptive Multitasking, but you know "destiny does not lack a sense of irony", and so today, beyond the performance it is the ease and versatility of use that makes a Computer more or less attractive. Today, progress has made it possible to have graphic and multimedia resources on every medium-powered computer, all great, but many of the basic concepts of computing have been distorted, such as that of the Operating System, for example, with which everything and more is passed on, ending up making the experience of many users more frustrating than in the past, also due to the fact that we have reached the point where we no longer have complete control of our devices. For one reason or another, we are not even free to format/initialise a smartphone without the manufacturer being notified.
Since the 1990s, hardware in general has never stopped progressing, increasing performance while consuming less power, and this progress has not been accompanied by progress in software. I would have expected an improvement in graphic interfaces that would have gone hand in hand with aesthetics and user-friendliness, after all the available performance has always increased and never decreased, but in my opinion something has gone decidedly wrong. In the linux bedlam, KDE seems to be the only graphical environment that exploits performance more fully and has maintained a sensible and decidedly good graphical appearance using the performance offered by modern GPUs, MS Windows has been sacrificed and reduced to the condition in which it is today with flat graphics for no reason and in my opinion without any practical sense, lying on top of that inherited from previous versions often generating ridiculous and incomprehensible duplicates, in short, a big mess, on Mac a traffic light has long since replaced the icons that represented the functions of stadard windows and patience for colorblind people. ..
And so while the big arrow of time in the computer world was advancing without stop, another smaller one, the Amiga systems, which suffered a slow motion effect after the disintegration of Commodore and the start of the chain of sales, acquisitions and bankruptcies, was advancing with a speed equal to a tenth, with the result that today the new Amiga models still keep the original features, the same ones that once were a bit taken for granted, in my opinion today, start to make the difference and in some cases even heavily. I'm aware that the Amiga platform was conceived more for the recreational aspect than the professional one, and that depending on the points of view and the specific needs of more or less advanced users or even professionals, some of the features I'm going to list could pass as more defects than merits but, as far as I'm concerned I see only merits ;)
- In the original Amiga systems there are no other users of any kind, there is only you and your Amiga, plus or minus? In the overall balance today I think it is a plus!
- On Amiga OS we always have full discretion on all the software, that is we can decide what runs and what doesn't, there are no exceptions for the TCP-IP Stacks that are comparable to "linux daemons" (programs that can be started and listen in background) that can be executed at total discretion of the user, this means that if I want I can leave my network device unmounted making my system totally inaccessible, without any service or port listening and then turn it on double clicking on the connection icon at any time.
- We have the ability to arbitrarily turn off or on anything from the system components onwards, it is then possible to "unmount" and "mount" logical and physical volumes, easily and practically immediately.
- On Amiga OS the vital resources of your WorkStation are always in the centre of your view, which means that you always have the amount of available physical memory under control, as well as other valuable information that is visible directly on the WorkBench control bar, not the weather forecast!
- You will never be asked for a password for any reason under any circumstances, unless you want to protect everything inside your Amiga or want to access any internet service.
- In Amiga OS there are no permissions but it is possible to protect from deletion, modification, execution and reading every single existing file with simple switches that can be activated or not both from command line and graphically recalling the information card of any icon. Not least, the possibility of adding a comment on each file, which can always be read by any service or interface.
- You are the one who decides where to place your data, your favourite programs, your jobs, your e-mail and everything else, only you are responsible and aware of the organisation of the data structure inside your Amiga because you are naturally inclined to create it (That's why the Amiga WorkBench can never get as messy as the Windows DeskTop).
- On Amiga systems it is easy to understand the real structure of files and folders whether they are part of the operating system or are files stored by the user. The distinction between directories, or folders or drawers depending on what you want to call them by names of physical volumes and more characteristic objects such as names assignable to logical devices, are easy for anyone to understand and give the flexibility to configure and structure data that no other current operating system has.
- It is you and only you who decides if and when to update any component of the operating system, or any other application, without any limitations or restrictions and if necessary revert to previous versions if something goes wrong.
- You and only you have the absolute power to reboot or shut it down at any time without waiting for anything, there is no real shout-down procedure, you save your work and then do what you want.
- On Classic Amiga systems the reset is a hardware command directly from the keyboard which means that if given, the computer will reset inexorably, a bit like the reset button on x86 systems and non-existent on MAC systems.
- You can modify the boot sequences of your Amiga by understanding the individual steps and adapting them to your needs effortlessly if you feel it necessary.
- Unlike any other modern operating system, Amiga OS runs a startup sequence that is divided into two simple, freely accessible scripts that can be edited and are easy to understand, the first called startup-sequence is the primary script that is executed by the kickstart and starts the system, the second called user-startup contains commands for assigning logical volumes and activations for any auxiliary software installed on the system to work properly.
- Access and control from the command line, shell or dos depending on what you mean or are used to call it is absolutely immediate, in the sense that you can access data, run scripts and launch software practically, instantly after powering up and without loading anything from the hard disk!
- An Amiga computer will never degrade in performance over time, there are no incremental logs saved to disk, no temporary junk files to affect the operating system.
- Installation as well as uninstallation of applications has zero impact on the operating system and in 99% of cases you can install anything manually without a wizard.
During these last two decades I've read a bit of everything about Amiga systems and Amiga OS, posts written by enthusiasts like me, articles written by real programming talents at the highest levels (see Jon L. Aaesenden's Blog), serfing between forums. Generally speaking the idea I got is that Amiga OS, unlike any other operating system existing today, represents the best possible user experience in any case, that is both in the recreational and in the advanced approach. Regardless of the services that the OS makes available to the user, one finds oneself in an environment where learning new features and accessing services are prerogatives characterised by immediacy.
What do you think?