Kickstart v1.4 - A New Beginning?

Written: September 20, 1989

ORLANDO of Brainstorm presents to you a test of the new Kickstart v1.4 (pre-release). It was, of course, written by me (Orlando). First published in the magaZINE by BRAINSTORM. Enjoy...

Preface

First some important notes from the author: This is the first review of the new Kickstart v1.4. No one before me has written a test of the new Kickstart. (I wrote my article on September 20, 1989!). Except for a magazine which published the messages from Commodore. But they hadn't the chance to test it themselves. It's possible that I forgot some things but I think the most important things are included in this article.

Official news from Commodore

So here are the official messages from Commodore about the new Kickstart and Workbench v1.4:

  1. The famous 'Guru Meditation' is dead. Instead of a nice Guru you get a system-message without a system-crash.
  2. The batch language ARexx will be included.
  3. Some artists are designing a new Workbench. It should have a professional touch.
  4. The screen structures will be enhanced.
  5. There will be a new library for standard requesters.
  6. There will also be real multitasking on Workbench. For example, if you choose the menu item 'Rename' you can also work somewhere else. So the ZZZ (sleeping) mousepointer will never be seen anymore.
  7. Some font enhancements.

First impressions

And now here's my review about the new Kickstart v1.4 without Workbench v1.4 (because I don't have a pre-release). My first impression is that someone made a joke, because Workbench hand diasappeared and instead a big Amiga sign on the left side appeared (also on my Amiga 1000 on the left side of the console). The colors of the sign are made with the copper. The background is now almost black with a little violet touch (something like $0303). On the right side of the screen is a floppy drive, which looks like an external A2000 drive. And under the drive is a disk which moves into the floppy drive and then moves out again and so on.

The floppy speed test

Now I put a disk into the drive and the Amiga begins to load. But not as boring or lame as in the older versions. Now a Fast File System is included. Here are the results of some speed tests I have made with a colleague of mine: THE OUTLAW. We used the "Performance" program from a FISH disk:

   Kickstart 1.2   Kickstart 1.4 
   ----------------------------- 
1: 42 entries/sec  61 entries/sec   1: Directory scan 
2: 17 seeks/sec    22 seeks/sec     2: Seek/read test 
3: 12245 bytes/s  14093 bytes/s     3: Reading speed (Buffer=512) 
4: 12977 bytes/s  16282 bytes/s     4: Reading speed (Buffer=8129)
5:  5221 bytes/s   7665 bytes/s     5: Writing speed (Buffer=512) 
6:  5388 bytes/s   8295 bytes/s     6: Writing speed (Buffer=8192) 

Some other disk improvements

Under Kickstart v1.2 it took a while until the Amiga checked the disk in the other drives. And now you only hear a short scratch and the Amiga continues to boot. If you had a disk under Kickstart v1.2 in a drive and wanted to load something from it and the Amiga didn't check it until this moment, then the 'No disk in drive' message appeared. This bug is now removed.

No more Guru Meditations?

The thing I really wanted to know was whether there really are no system-crashes. I caused a system crash and then... the screen changed colors as usual when the Amiga reset, and then... no guru appeared, but an alert with the same meaning was displayed at the usual place of the Guru. The message read:

Software Failure - Press left mouse button to continue.
Error: 8000 0003  Task : 00ae24.

That means the system crashes are (in this Alpha Version) still not removed. But I hope they will be in the final version.

A new Shell?

After this 'Guru' test I played a bit with the mouse while using Xoper and I accidently pressed the left mouse button twice, and what happened? A second cursor appeared at this position. Now you can mark some text somewhere in your window and print it out at the currently position of the normal cursor. You do this with the right mouse button. I don't know for what this should be good for (do you?).

Workbench v1.4

Now I wanted to load Workbench to see whether something is new or better. But after I typed 'LoadWB' a requester appeared with the following text:

"Could not find device or library
(this requester will get better)"

So I think in the new version Workbench won't be in the Kickstart, but on disk. That means that the things which are important for Workbench will be loaded from disk. The name of this library is "workbench.library". But I've also found some other things like information that (some) coprocessor(s) from Motorola will be supported (perhaps the 68881 and the 68882). I've also found some other things but I'm not sure what they are for, so I won't spread any rumours which aren't true.

Booting from external drives

Now I wanted to try out if you can also boot from external drives. I inserted a disk in DF1: and... the Amiga booted from this drive. But drive DF1: rests DF1: and not like some other programs, which make DF1: to DF0:. For example if you booted from DF1: and want to look at the contents of the disk you must type: 'dir DF1:' and not 'dir DF0:'.

Compatibility

System programs, which are programmed well (that means no jumps to absolute addresses) run under Kickstart v1.4 perfectly. But games, for example, often crash. Also some demos don't run. Most of the programs which load directly from the bootblock, don't work and cause a (not a Guru). For example: I wanted to copy a disk and loaded 'XCOPY v2.0' the screen got black and nothing happened... then I pressed the left mouse button and the XCOPY user screen appeared. XCOPY worked, but the intro before didn't (it was only a scroll). So a message to all programmers: Don't use absolute jumps into the Kickstart, because if you do this under Kickstart v1.2 it will work, but under Kickstart v1.3 and v1.4 it won't because the things could be at some other addresses! USE ONLY RELATIVE JUMPS!

Viruses under Kickstart v1.4

No more problems with viruses under Kickstart v1.4, because in this pre-release, all vectors are set to zero after a reset. (I think only in the pre-release, because if all vectors are cleared after each reset, you can't use reset resident programs (ramdisks, utilities...). And resident programs are sometimes very useful, so I hope Commodore will solve this problem.

The last words

I hope now you know a bit more about the new Kickstart v1.4. It will appear somewhere in the next two years. (1991!!) Special greetings go to all those happy happy Amiga 1000 owners, who can test pre-releases of new Kickstart and who can use use Antivirus Kickstarts.

Orlando/BRS