I started playing with AROS about three weeks ago, although I just decided to start blogging about it a couple of days ago. So I’ll start with a short recap of what I’ve tried and learned so far.
AROS can run either “natively” or “hosted” (their wording, in both cases). “Natively” means running directly on supported hardware, as most operating systems would run. “Hosted” means running “inside” another operating system. Think of it sort of like running an OS inside a virtual machine such as VMWare or Parallels, except the VM software isn’t required. AROS itself abstracts the hardware away from the OS. In a way, the OS does not know or care what hardware it is running on, as long as the hardware is supported by the abstraction layer. AROS is, I suppose, both the virtual machine and the operating system. The possible combinations are amazing. And, for me at least, still confusing. 🙂
I started by running AROS from a “live CD”, meaning that I could start AROS and play in it without actually installing it. I tried a few different distributions, and I’ll probably cover my thoughts on those in another post. But my distribution of choice is Icaros Desktop. That is probably because Icaros Desktop is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, custom distribution, has the most polish, and the people involved have been part of the AROS community for a very long time. Feel free to play with others, I did and still will when they come around. But my recommendation is Icaros Desktop.
Now, it took a few installs to figure out how I wanted to have AROS configured. But that was not an issue at all because AROS has an extremely lightweight footprint. AmigaOS was originally designed to run in 512K, I believe. One of the best things about using AROS is how quickly everything just works. Typically if I see any kind of delay, it is more likely a bug and an application, driver, or network connection is about to crash. 😉 So keep in mind that this is still a very young operating system in that there are many things that are still not implemented and many bugs that have not been found or corrected. If that is something that would frustrate you, I recommend that you look elsewhere for your Amiga experience.
But if being part of the bleeding edge (so to speak) excites you, then check AROS out. If hacking around on an extremely cool, lightweight, ultra-fast, pre-emptive multitasking, multi-media operating system is right up your alley, then come along. Introduce yourself over at AROS EXEC, the official AROS community. From there, you can find links to the Wiki and hundreds, if not thousands, of community sites that support Amiga and AmigaOS, most of which applies to AROS.