How to make an Amithlon Laptop


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!

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17 responses to “How to make an Amithlon Laptop

  1. Hi1

    Great mod!…I’m also working on my old laptop (Presario 700) to be usable again under Amithlon….but have issues with the USB ports….how did you set-up the USB on the Amiga side? Programs/versions used?

    • I thought I had responded earlier. Sorry about that. I used ArakAttack, found on aminet.net. I did have to reset some setting on it every time I started up, else the port seemed to disappear while using it. Very strange.

  2. How did you get the Audio to work?I have the same laptop but i cant get the sound to work, I have AHI 6 installed along with the VIA Ac97 driver?

    • Did you run pciinsmod in S:user-startup? That’s how mine got recognized. Then, in the AHI prefs, make sure that there is an entry for Amithlon and play the test beep.

  3. Great article, I grabbed a Dell C610 of eBay and set it up thank to your article. I then found a Dell Inspiron 5150 which has a bit more grunt that runs Amithlon even better 🙂 3.06 ghz PIV, 15″ screen.

    Both models have a mini-pci slot you can use a wireless card in. This one “IBM T30 802.11b Wireless Modem Card Intel M3AWEB56GA” (also picked up off eBay) works with the Prism2.v2 drivers available on Aminet.

    Audio, wired ethernet and USB all work on this one as well with Kernel 3.10.
    Video is vesa, unaccelerated but I get 1280x1024x32bit still.

  4. I cant get the onboard USB on my Dell610 to work. I installed Poseidon 3.8 along with ArakAttack, but it won`t recognize any USB Controller.I choose Amithlon.Usb.device, but it cant be activate. Waht am I doing wrong??

    • First, did you test the USB with another OS like Windows or linux? When installing the ArakAttack driver, did you choose the Amithlon version (assuming you did). In Poseidon, I think you need to add just one or two instances. If it says offline and can’t be activated, then either the USB controller is disabled in the BIOS or there is a hardware issue. Check the BIOS settings for USB / Legacy hardware. Also, you can try reinstalling ArakAttack using OpenPCI driver, although for this laptop, I’d think the other has a better chance.

  5. Hi my friend.
    Your Article inspired me to buy a almost like new C640 and then added an P4 m 2.4ghz with 2X 512MB 333mhz RAM. This Laptop made me again to compose tracks with digibooster pro with excelent compatibility.
    I want to ask a question.
    How can i get to work the Fn keys with Vol up down ?
    Its a pain in the ass to have a fixed volume all the time.

    Thanks in advance
    Billy

    • Hi, I’m not sure about the C640 laptop. Not sure about software control of the FN/Vol keys. Is controlling the output via the AHI prefs not an option? Look for a program called ac97mixer. It controls output for AHI output (more than just ac97 codecs). One thing you might try is to see if you can set up a commodity keypress combo to perform audio controls. I think this is possible in the Amiga OS and if it can detect the FN and VOL keys in general, you may be able to rig it to do this. Just a thought. If I figure it out, I’ll comment here on it.

      • Thanks for the reply.
        I will try that and i will comment.
        C640 is similar to c610 but diffrrs on cpu. Mine is equipped with a pentium 4M 2.4ghz and it really flies 🙂
        I’m alsi trying to figure out if the parallel port works on this laptop.

  6. Thanks for your help. All working now, but sound its disturbed and very bad. Its any trick on this dell c610?
    Thanks for all.

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