There were few warts - AmigaDOS because of the BCPL roots as it was an extremely last minute addition when the planned CAOS never materialised, and icons were a pain to work with. Thirty years of working on other things and I still believe they got 95% just so. The plug and play of Win 95 was pathetic compared to AutoConfig (IIRC what it was called), in Zorro 1. MFM and IDE hard drives compared to SCSI on its own DMA channel etc etc. Stuff that took decades to arrive on Win.
As for a reboot - I can imagine an Amiga like OS experience on several platforms, but hardware? I find it difficult to even imagine how something could have the quantum leap that Amiga was compared to everything else on the market under $50k.
Or: if one were building a hobbyist OS today, what would be the key takeaways to pull from AmigaOS?
* file system assigns
* AREXX scripting of many/most programs
Actually recently I've started thinking about what it would take to create a toolchain to do the minimum to provide the pieces of AROS (for the uninitiated: AmigaOS "reimplementation" though it goes beyond the original in some respects) that might make sense on Linux and provide a compatibility layer to make it work.
AROS itself can run hosted on Linux, but not integrated well with Linux apps, but quite a lot of AROS relies on relatively small subsets of the AmigaOS API, and it'd be a fun experiment to e.g. bring data types to Linux, possibly combined with a fuse filesystem as a fallback to do on the fly conversions for apps with no support.
I'd love to see if some of those things could gain traction if suitably modernized.
What if we could make an OS with constraints, or an app store with a vetting process, or both complementing each other, to the effect that:
A widget pressed or touched or interacted with could always be trusted to respond in time - or fail in an understandable manner.
- No launching screens on touch interfaces suddenly being sluggish.
- No waiting for apps to download and install and can not be used during that time. (Solved by having updates installed quietly in the background.)
- No stutter or slowdowns, ever, no audio lags, ever.
the main thing should be that what you are interacting with must never feel like it's sluggish, no more than the water flowing out of a faucet starts to lag or freeze/unfreeze suddenly. The interface should feel so solid and "real", that if it stuttered you would be so shocked as if a thrown ball in real life stuttered in mid air.
: Give GUI code very high priority. This will have to involve putting some intelligence in GUI code, or the interface will appear to be unresponsive or do strange things when underlying IO or network is being slow.
: Focus on determinism and time budgets, not raw performance throughput
: Vetting of applications
: Constrain apps to hard RAM budgets
: IO budgets for apps?
: Have apps allocate and bid for network performance and available bandwidth
I have a feeling much of this would not need a ground up rewrite. Probably Android or Linux could be used as a basis for such a system.
Even a simple button involves half a dozen threads in AmigaOS between the drivers, the handlers "baking" raw events from the drivers into something higher level, the Intuition thread processing the button presses into events related to a specific button etc.. It affects total throughout but increases responsiveness.
I think that if the OS provides responsiveness, and some key apps do, people will demand it. That is what happened with AmigaOS. You didn't get away with making a system sluggish because you'd get compared to apps that were extremely responsive.
IFF standards. In today's world it would be an unthinkably open approach taken by open source only. Even more surprising it came from a joint venture between Commodore Amiga and EA! Every single graphics program understood, and via datatypes understood in a standard way, IFF graphics. Saving, processing or reading. They were so prevalent and expected that you would be hurting your chances to release something with a propriety only format. Same went for sound and no end of other things. Had the Amiga thrived there'd no doubt have been an IFF in place of many of the multimedia formats. With a standard OS level library call to decode them, etc.
The conciseness of approach, necessary in a system providing proper multi-tasking in 256K, meant all the services other platforms placed at least partially in the .exe were usually in the OS. There were system libraries you could rely on without the absurd version dependent dll hell of windows. I'm sure had the Amiga persisted there'd be some version annoyance, but I can't imagine it reaching the stupidity of now.
Windows had far more than glue code in the exe. If you needed to use a file requester, accept messages, have a window that could be resized etc there was tons of unique OS related code in the exe for all that etc etc. Update the OS and unless you update the source and rebuild the exe it will clearly and obviously be of the previous Windows release. Or as was so often the case buy the latest office and the look is clearly of the next, unreleased Windows. Amiga had it such that all that rubbish was nearly all external. Set up your structures, call the API, get woken up when there's something you need to care about. If you updated OS, all your window chrome, file requesters etc, would be of the new OS. No ridiculous dependencies on v 3.2.152 of MSVC.dll, and 3.3.x not being acceptable, meaning you end up with 12 different installed versions etc.
Only apps doing something clever - like CygnusEd with its hand written assembler scrolling that remains, 30 years later, my benchmark for "fast and smooth enough" editor scrolling. Essentially nothing has yet matched it, though Sublime is probably closest just without smooth scrolling. It was really difficult to come to accept - in some sense I still haven't - that I had to do so much of this OS housekeeping for myself each and every time, in every application for other platforms. I often used to wonder what Windows was, in fact, adding as it always seemed like I was doing everything myself. I gave up complete on Windows programming pretty quickly as a result. :)
AmigaDOS may have been a bit of a last minute, ugly addon, but in use it felt like a lightweight single user *nix. Proper filenames, priorities, comments, proper scripting and ARexx if you needed additional integration. Sure, it was far happier on a HDD, but what aside from DOS - more a program loader than OS - wasn't? :)
What hasn't lived on, of course is a concerted push for an ecosystem around tools for working with the underlying container format instead of the specific formats. This is what made the biggest difference in the Amiga: to a great extent when coming up with a storage format,the question was increasingly "which IFF chunk types are suitable" rather than a question of designing a format from scratch.
Nerdier trivia: Erlang's BEAM VM emits compiled bytecode files in an IFF format. (Which is a strange choice, honestly, since they could have easily chosen to use a purpose-made executable-binary container format like ELF, which would have made .beam files more amenable to analysis using standard compiler toolchain tools.)
Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L41oIvre9K0
For those who never used CED on an Amiga, this is how it ran on now 30 years old hardware clocked at 8 MHz.
It's still experimental, but RedoxOS is really the only newish OS that I know of that does the Microkernel design.
Without that it wasn't hard or unexpected for an unstable app to take down the system. Used to happen reasonably frequently on 68000 Unix systems. Certainly for every time that happened you might expect a couple of caught core dumps, but before hardware protection it was still wing and a prayer...
If a Windows 3.1 process failed to yield, it could result in a nonresponsive OS. On Linux, an abusive process would have to try a bit harder to take down the system (fork bomb, hog a bunch of ram, etc). On AmigaOS, a process could just overwrite part of another process or the OS itself to cause a crash.
RISC OS (Acorn) had its infamous "Abort on data transfer" (or "Abort on instruction fetch" if you branched instead of LDR/STR'd). And if you were especially naughty and chased a null pointer, you got "ofla" -- which was the contents of the first four bytes of memory!
But, since arguably the Amiga is the only computer with a modern GUI and being super responsive, it really points out the absurdity of everything modern when you feel it.
It can't be gleaned from youtube videos, either. You must hold that damn old mouse in your hand and click something or drag a window. To the brain, there's zero latency. NOTHING. You ARE the computer. (I think that is one reason why it's so addictive, it's one of the truly cybernetic devices. My modern Mac comes close, but not quite. Scrolling on some phone apps come close.)