Okay, when do you a search on Google for “best laptop for Amithlon”, it’s really hard to find anything concrete.
Many people, if they wanted a laptop with an Amiga-OS on it, would probably just put some version of Windows on it, and then load up WinUAE. While that would work and would provide drivers for the underlying hardware, it’s just hard to feel like an Amiga, even if you do hide the telltale signs of Windows loading up and running.
Amithlon is a great choice as it just feels like real, classic (but fast) hardware. It boots up super fast as well.
Amithlon is an amazing bit of software, written in the early 2000’s that was an attempt to push AmigaOS more towards an x86 solution, long before AROS was in the working state it is today. A really smart and talented guy by the name of Bernie (who is responsible for the JIT- Just in Time compiler for WinUAE), decided to make this software.
His thinking was that if he just took the absolute, minimal Linux 2.4 Kernel, and put in a JIT 68k CPU emulator, plus some amiga-side interfaces to x86 drivers, he could do it. He did not build in full custom chipset emulation, as his logic said that it would mostly be game players that wanted that, and those game players probably had real Amiga hardware. This freed him up quite a bit to focus on OS compatibility.
Unfortunately, he made a deal with H&P to publish this along with their QNX+UAE emulator, right before a major legal battle ensued, causing him to drop the project and leave the Amiga community altogether.
However, he left behind enough so that others took up maintenance, with the most recent update to version 4 coming in 2010.
So, how do we use this to make a great Amiga/Amithlon laptop? Well, I spotted a few videos on youtube of someone who had taken a Dell C610 laptop and turned it into a great Amithlon laptop. It turns out that the video, audio, IDE, USB and ethernet hardware is fully supported in newer versions of Amithlon software.
You can routinely find these machines on Ebay for under $100USD. There are two main configurations, go for the better one: 14″ monitor and 1.2Ghz PIII CPU. Don’t go over 1GB of RAM, as Amithlon has a problem with that. The one I have is at 768MB of RAM to be safe. Don’t worry, for OS 3.9 (built into Amithlon), this is plenty!
So, get your Amithlon CD (they haven’t been sold in years, so don’t ask me how to get it), and then go to this thread to see the setup guide: http://eab.abime.net/showthread.php?t=31613 It’s a long thread but VERY helpful. You can see the evolution this guide went through over the years.
I ended up not needing the latest version 4 of Amithlon kernel and drivers by Milanca. I found that version 3.10 by Gary Colville was just perfect!
My configuration ended up having 3 partitions: 1) 5GB for WindowsXP (needed for wireless setup, as well as other utilities barely needed anymore, and the Grub launcher, 2) a small Linux parition ( less than 500MB ) where the Amithlon basic kernel files are located (grub launches thes), 3) and the Amiga parition.
On the WindowsXP partition, beside the GRUB launcher, I have a utility (either Norton or Acronis) that allowed me to set the Amiga partition to type 0x76. I then used WinUAE to format that parition so that the Amithlon boot parition could see it. I then followed the Amithlon setup guide to get everyone installed and set up right.
Install Poseidon from Aminet, as well as ARAKAttack to get the USB ports working. Install all the boing bag updates, 1-4, and you’ll be ready to go. The Amithlon setup guide
Then, to get wireless working on the laptop, see my previous post about the Vonets cheap wirless bridge. I’ve installed the free version of Miami for TCP access, although the one that comes with AmigaOS3.9 should be adequate too. If I ever take the laptop somewhere to a different wifi network, I can reboot into WinXP, run the Vonets configuration utility, then reboot back into AmigaOS.
Here are a few pictures of my finished laptop, running Amiga OS3.9 with BB1&2: (click each for larger image)
Picture 1: Case closed with Amiga Boing Ball sticker (from Zazzle), fits perfectly over the old Dell label
Picture 2 & 3: The GRUB boot options (WinXP, normal Amithlon install, emergency Amithlon boot)
Picture 4: Workbench loaded up, more CPU speed, RTG speed, faster response and higher memory than any real Amiga classic hardware than I’ve ever had before:
Hope you have as much fun making a powerful, portable and inexpensive Amithlon laptop!