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Chris Young's Report on ANT's AmigaOS 4.1 Presentation

On Sunday 13th of July, the Amiga North Thames user group hosted the first UK presentation of AmigaOS 4.1. Although the gathering was announced at short notice those users who attended were treated to the first glimpses of the new features in AmigaOS 4.1. Chris Young has kindly provided his own report on the presentation.

If you're disappointed about missing the AmigaOS 4.1 presentation, then you will be pleased to learn that ANT is planning a repeat with the provisional date of August 9th.

Chris Young's Report

Okay, so it was a sunny Sunday morning as I decided to head of to Enfield to see OS4.1.

Rigo turned up with his MicroA1 upon which was a newly installed OS4.1.

The first thing we got to see was the new OS4.1 boot screen. An immediate reboot so the Poles could take photos, and we were into OS4.1.

The first obvious difference (apart from the slight change to the default theme) were the transparent inactive windows. The degree of transparency can be modified, and the title bar of active windows can be made transparent too.

ASL has been rewritten and now uses Reaction. The black background on save requesters has gone (personally I think this is a bad idea, as that gave an important warning that you might accidentally overwrite something, but hopefully some indication will come back in the future), but otherwise it is a good improvement. The style of the text can be customised depending on whether it is a drawer, file or link, exactly the same as you can customise the new WB listviews. I also saw some options to select what actions the third, fourth and even fifth mouse buttons have in the requesters, but didn't click into those. Middle mouse action was set to volumes, fixing the old style guide non-compliant right mouse button for the same. You can also set the background of the rows to alternating colours, in order to make it easier to read across to the information. For some unknown reason this wasn't working however.

Scrollwheel support has been improved and the mouse wheel is now supported directly by Reaction gadgets. Cycle gadgets and listbrowsers can now be navigated with the wheel without the application having to support this itself.

WB has been enhanced. There is a new menu item to display the contents of volumes instead of having to locate them on the WB backdrop (I'm forever trying to find the RAM disk under a mass of windows, so I'm sure I'll find that incredibly useful). WB can now be set to "close windows automatically". When you enter a drawer, usually WB will open the drawer and leave the parent one open, unless you hold down the RAmiga key. This changes the default behaviour so the parent window always closes. I didn't check if the RAmiga key action leaves them open with this enabled, hopefully it does.

The new listviews (list by name etc mode) in WB are particularly good, with options to separate the type and size and show more descriptive types (so instead of either "drawer" or the file size, you get the file size and "library") I assume the extended name comes from DefIcons, or you can turn this off and just get the basic type "tool", "project" etc. The click-sort header can also be switched on and off. A couple of extra options in the Window menu allow you to display .info files and change the sort order.

There is a new "Advanced" button in TimeZone prefs which has some extra options for setting the TZ environmental variable.

And lastly, the swap partition works incredibly well. Create a swap partition and OS4 will automatically see it with no extra configuration required. Rigo copied nearly 400MB of data to the RAM disk (on a 256MB machine) with very little noticeable slowdown - although deleting took considerably longer than it would have done if the data had been in physical RAM. OS4.1 won't page things out until it needs to, and if you don't want to use a swap partition, simply don't create one and OS4.1 will happily run without it.

There were some other things we didn't see, such as the PTP USB drivers (and rumours of scanners in the works), and JXFS which the SLB unfortunately can't boot from so you can't use it on SYS:

It's not a major upgrade to the OS (but it is 4.1 and not 5.0), but there are a lot of nice features which - for me anyway - make it worth upgrading to. The difference is probably more like the change from 3.5-3.9 or 2.05-2.1 than 1.3-2.04 or 3.0-3.1.

Readers can also see pictures of the AmigaOS 4.1 presentation by visiting the Polish Amiga Portal.

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