For those that know me, they know that I enjoy playing with retro computers and the occassional alternate Operating System. I would hazard to guess that most of them don’t understand my fascination.
While I do enjoy playing with the more common offenders such as the Commodore 64, various models in the Amiga range and others, my main hobby OS of choice is Amiga OS4. Don’t bother with the criticisms since there is a good chance I have already heard most of them already and before you ask, yes you can use an Amiga for useful tasks. I typed this blog entry up on a Sam440 running Amiga OS4.1 update 3.
This post is not out there to extol the virtues of a particular Alternate OS over another but more on something I have pondered on now and then, and that is how to spread the name of your Alternate OS of choice. Mine just happens to be Amiga OS4 and so I will use that as the example.
By their nature, most alternate Operating Systems are labours of love, even those that do have a more commercial bent since but they will not be bringing in the big bucks like Apple of Microsoft. This translates to the fact that not much money will exists to throw around, especially to advertise your precise baby.
This is true for the various Amiga OS’s out there, including Amiga OS4. Yes, there is a small amount of advertising out there but what little does exist, is usually in publications which Amiga owners will already be subscribing to, not in areas where potential new blood could come from. A lack of new enthusiests in your hobby of choice tends to greatly limit the growth of it which in turn causes other knock on problems. With an Operating System this means less users, so people being less willing to create programmes for the platform and all the other problems people talk about when the topic of new Operating Systems/computer systems arise.
There is one strength I have noticed with Amiga OS4 and that is it has a core of enthusiests willing and able to port open source applications and games to the Amiga OS4 platform and do a good job of this! This is where we can start to advertise the platform.
If your a developer or a skilled porter and manage to port an application or game to the Amiga and it is of a decent standard such that the original programmer would be happy with the result, why not inform the original developers of the fact and provide them with a link to the Amiga port, along with some information and ask them to link to the Amiga version from their website for all to see. The basic premise is to get the Amiga name seen by a wider audience than it currently is being seen by. Also, one of the biggest complaints platforms receive by people who may or may not be interested in them is the comment on the lack of software available. If people start to trip over the Amiga name more and more often, then the name stays fresh in their minds as well as re-enforce the notion that the platform does have software being written for it.
Believe it or not, there are people out there who are interested in trying new computer platforms as a hobby and seeing an alternate platform being supported in various locations and getting ports of software which also exists for Linux, Windows and Macintosh computers helps to strengthen this idea. The ironic part is that I have come across Open Source products which I didn’t know existed until they were ported to the Amiga and went on to also use them via main stream Operating Systems. Some recent examples are The Mana World and a new game being developed called Flare which is looking promising.
To take it a step further, Amiga OS4 has also recently received ports of commercial independant software titles. Generally, a native Amiga executable is created which uses the data files of the game in question, so if you have purchase the title, you can then play it on your Amiga which can be a bit of a kick. For example I have been enjoying Aquaria and Gish on my Amiga. I doubt it will provide a massive amount of revenue for the developers but again, approaching the developers and asking them about the possibility of having them link to the Amiga version of the executable with a small blurb on their site about it would be a good thing for them and the Amiga community.
What ever your alternative Operating System of choice is, enjoy and good luck with getting the rest of the world to recognise its obvious greatness 😉