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Tutorial: utilization and configuration of Amiga911 Maker 1.54
(Article written by David Massot - July 2011, updated September 2012)


1. Amiga911 Maker description

Classic Amiga owners usually need to start their machine by passing the hard disk drive installation (for repair purposes for instance). A boot disk would be welcomed when trying to make the first installation on an empty drive (Hard disk or Compact Flash card)!

AmigaOS 3.5 and 3.9 owners have this possibility by using the emergency disk tool provided by the system. But users having an older operating system are obliged to use the Workbench disks that have not all the precious latest drivers (for CD-ROM access, FAT Compact Flash cards ...) which ease file transfers from PC or personalize an installation.

A simple but limited workaround is to modify a Workbench disk copy, removing unnecessary files and copying interesting drivers, libraries or programs. Unfortunately, it is impossible to share theses floppy disks due to patent rights. This leads to "reinvent the wheel" each time, collecting information from forums or Obligement site. ;-)

Amiga911 Maker has been created by Roger E. Håseth in 2010-2011. This program permits to create a personalized boot floppy disk without the patent rights issue as all the softwares having rights must be furnished by Amiga911 Maker user.

Present version of Amiga911 Maker is 1.54 and has been delivered in July 2012.

2. Minimum configuration requirements

Amiga911 Maker is built like a project manager for creating boot disks. The projects will contain all the drivers or programs chosen by the end users. Projects can be saved and modified at will.

The following actions are operated or proposed:
  • Configuration and features choice.
  • Software list proposal.
  • User customization.
  • System fils copy and chosen sofware installation.
  • Archives creation.
  • Boot floppy disk formatting and creation.
Amiga911 Maker needs the following minimum requirements:
  • AmigaOS version 3.0.
  • A 68020 Motorola processor (due to LZX limitations).
  • 4 MB of random access memory.
  • Workbench disk is required during the use.
Amiga911 floppy usage needs the following minimum requirements:
  • AmigaOS version 2.0.
  • A 68000 Motorola processor.
  • 1 MB of random access memory in "low memory" mode.
  • 2 MB of random access memory in "normal" mode.
The following softwares are copied by default:
  • Fat95 - filesystem compliant with Windows 95 FAT filesystem.
  • GetString - keyboard input interface from shell script.
  • LhA 1.38 - compression utility.
  • mARK - simple graphical user interface (GUI) for archives extraction.
  • MiniXpkGuide - similar to Multiview.
  • NCD - folder change interface from script shell.
  • reqtools.library - quick GUI builder library.
  • ScreenMode - screen display resolution manager.
  • ShowConfig - display Amiga hardware.
  • ToolsDaemon - enrich Workbench menu with installed programs.
  • UnLZX 2.16 - uncompress LZX archives.
  • RequestFile - RequestFile free version.
  • MSys 1.2 - additionnal AmigaDOS commands.
These are optionnal:
  • AmiCDFS - CD-ROM filesystem.
  • Anaiis - USB stack.
  • CFD - PCMCIA Compact Flash cards support.
  • FFS - Commodore FastFileSystem filesystem.
  • HDToolBox - hard disk drive partitionning tool.
  • IDEfix - IDE driver patch.
  • LoadModule - system patch.
  • NSDPatch - system patch "New Style Device".
  • Poseidon - another USB stack.
  • PrepCard - PCMCIA cards settings for storage.
  • PFS - another filesystem (ProfesionalFileSystem).
  • scsi.device - updated scsi.device driver.
  • SFS - another filesystem (SmartFileSystem).
  • toBack&Front - additionnal windows management.
  • XPK - compression utility.
  • ZShell - alternative shell.
New tools from 1.54 version:
  • PFSDoctor & PFSFormat - PFS filesystem tools.
Amiga911 floppy disks can also contain the following softwares:
  • DiskMaster 2 - file manager.
  • DiskSalv 2 - floppy repair tool.
  • FileMaster 3 - file manager.
  • HDInstTools - hard disk drive partitionning tool.
  • JanoEditor - text editor.
  • Ordering - file manager.
  • SysInfo - information system tool.
  • TransADF - read/write ADF/ADZ images.
  • Check4GB - verify if the hard disk drive settings permit 4 GB.
  • DiskImage - permit to mount disk images (like DaemonTools).
  • HJSplit - file split tool.
  • WhichAmiga - same as ShowConfig.
New from version 1.54:
  • SnoopDos - software monitoring.
  • TurboText - text editor.
Optionnal programs must be dowloaded separately; it is also possible to customize the Amiga911 disk with our own softwares.

Since 1.46 version, all the files provided with "Extras" and "Install" are directly copied from ExtInst.lha archive. So, only the Workbench disk is required.

Generally speaking, 1.54 version bring the following features:
  • A911 disk AmigaOS 2.x support (but the floppy disk must always be created under AmigaOS 3.x).
  • New import settings: if the created disk will be used for the same machine, all the system files, drivers, patches will be directly imported to the project.
  • Picasso96 and Mediator cards are supported.
  • For disk space purposes, it is now possible to create an additionnal and optionnal A911Extras floppy disk or drawer (that can be copied on different media).
  • Keyboard languages are supported.
  • AmigaGuide datatypes and libraries are now optionnal.
  • With the menu "Disk Usage Info", it is now possible to have a disk space rating at any time.
  • The A911 disk startup-sequence has been updated in order to add target host information.
  • Cut command has been re-added.
  • For safety reasons, screenmode.prefs is directly stored in the root file system disk.
  • A new archive, containing all the programs that can be added, is proposed on the website.
3. How Amiga911 Maker works?

The main principle of Amiga911 Maker functionning is to compress and archive all the files on the floppy disk. Once the system is booted with the A911 disk, the files are uncompressed into RAM (it is similar to Windows 98/XP rescue disk).

Thanks to its high compression rate, LZX format has been chosen for the archives creation. For low memory projects, XPK compression can be used.

So, A911 floppy disk is a Workbench disk "light" version where the most relevant files have been kept and compressed.

4. Amiga911 Maker installation and usage

The following example will show how to create an A911 floppy disk which permit to boot an Amiga 1200 for system installation (with AmigaOS 3.1 ADF files or physical disks).

This disk will have the following functionalities:
  • PCMCIA Compact Flash with FAT filesystem support.
  • SFS tools.
  • HDToolBox tool for disk partitionning.
  • FileMaster 3 for file manager.
  • DiskImage tool for ADF and HDF image mounting.
The following Amiga will be used:
  • Amiga 1200, ROM 3.1 V40.68.
  • Workbench 3.1.
  • ACA 1230/28 MHz accelerator card, 64 MB of RAM.
  • Compact Flash 4 GBb as hard disk.
Before launching Amiga911 Maker installation, its archive must be downloaded and uncompressed. The author advises not to uncompress all the files into a deeper folder and to copy GUI and GUI4Cli softwares into Workbench C directory.

A new directory, "Amiga911 Maker" is created and must not be renamed as the program uses this name for projects managing.

This directory contains:
  • "A911Maker" program.
  • "Projects" directory where the floppy projects will be stored.
  • The "Resources" folder which contains all the tools and system files that will not be copied from the Workbench disk. All the additionnal programs will have to be copied here.
  • "guide" et "readme" files for help.
Amiga911 Maker

Let's start "A911Maker", the main window is displayed. This is the entry point of the boot disk creation steps.

Amiga911 Maker

Amiga911 Maker

Let's create a new project called "HDD INSTALLATION" clicking on the "New" button. This operation creates a new folder "HDD INSTALLATION" in the projects folder.

Since 1.54 version, a new project is added: the additionnal A911Extras disk creation. Moreover, a new option is added and permits to choose the target operating system.

Amiga911 Maker

Amiga911 Maker

If the Amiga machine has low memory (less than 2 MB), tick the "Use XPK Compression" button in order to free some space.

Once you have finished, click the "OK" button.

A911Extras disk creation is very close to the A911 one. The only difference is that the A911Extras will not be bootable, and its organization is simpler and with no compression. Some options will be grayed as they have to be in the A911 disk (with no sense to be copied in the Extras disk).

The A911Extras disk can also be copied in a directory instead of a floppy disk. This directory can be copied on an USB disk or a Compact Flash card.

The directory or the floppy disk can be used by double clicking on the "Make Assigns" script which will create all the links to the C, Devs, Libs in A911Extras.

Step1: System file configuration

Let's click on the "Configure System" button in order to access to the system configuration settings:
  • ScreenMode: permit to choose screen resolution (among PAL High Res, PAL High Res Laced, NTSC High Res, NTSC High Res Laced or User Defined by manually copying the associated drivers).
  • Processor: permit to choose the Amiga processor for the boot disk.
  • Prop. Font: topaz font for display enhancement.
  • toBack&Front: display a window by double clicking on its title.
  • HDToolBox: HDD partitionning tool.
  • PrepCard: Use a PCMCIA memory card as a storage media.
  • Patch HDToolbox: Compact Flash cards support for HDToolBox.
Amiga911 Maker

Once it is finished, press the next button for the next page:
  • CD0/CD1: CD-ROM drive support if present.
  • Poseidon USB stack: USB stack for storage supports and mouse/keyboard. The driver must be selected for its inclusion in the disk.
  • Anaiis USB stack: experimental USB stack (work only with mouse/keyboard).
Amiga911 Maker

Then press next button:
  • IDEfix: permit to use many IDE peripherals and hard disk whose capacity is greater than 4 GB.
  • scsi.dev: another driver for hard disk whose capacity is greater than 4 GB.
  • SFS: add drivers for SFS file system (SmartFileSystem).
  • FFS: add drivers FFS file system (FastFileSystem).
  • PFS: add drivers PFS file system (ProfesionalFileSystem).
  • NSDPatch: system patch for using hard disk whose capacity is greater than 4 GB.
  • SFS Tools: add SFSCheck et SFSFormat tools.
  • PFS Tools: add PFSFormat et PFSDoctor tools (since 1.54 version)
Amiga911 Maker

Step2: software configuration

Once the system configuration is finished, click on the "Configure Programs" button and select them. In this example, FileMaster 3 and DiskImage will be selected. The archives FileMaster V3.2, DiskImage (Thore Bockelmann version) have to be dowloaded in the "Ressources" folder (or uncompress the provided archive).

Amiga911 Maker

Amiga911 Maker

The "Check" button permit to verify if the selected software archives are well downloaded. In that case, Amiga911 Maker indicates it with the message "No files needs to be dowloaded".

Amiga911 Maker

If it is not the case, the following window is opened and indicates download URLs. "Copy" button put the adresses into the clipboard, "Save" button saves them in a text or html file if the button "Save file as HTML" is ticked (in that case, adresses are directly available with hyperlinks).

Amiga911 Maker

Step 3: copy system files and softwares

The project can be saved and files copied by clicking on the "Copy system Files" and "Copy Program Files" buttons:
  • "StripHunk files" option permits to reduce some libraries size by removing debug information.
  • "Overwrite files" option permits to overwrite already existing files during the project update.
Amiga911 Maker

Amiga911 Maker

Amiga911 Maker

Amiga911 Maker

Workbench disk will be required at this step.

Since 1.54 version, it is now possible to have an estimated disk space at any time thanks to the "Disk Usage Info" menu:

Amiga911 Maker

Before going to the next step with archives creation, the project can be customized by copying the files manually. The folder organization in the project directory is the following:
  • Amiga911 - contains all the files that will be on the boot disk.
  • System0 - (optionnal) contains the files or patches requiring a re-init when booting.
  • System1 - contains the needed files for booting.
  • System2 - contains files not required for booting but needed for the added softwares (drivers, file systems...).
  • Programs - contains all the additionnal softwares chosen by the user.
Amiga911 Maker

For customizing the project:
  • 1. Copy the drivers (xx.device) in xxx/System1/Devs folder.
  • 2. Copy the libraries (xx.library) in xxx/System1/Libs.
  • 3. Copy the programs in xxx/System1/C.
  • ...
The additionnal softwares will be installed in the project and usable.

Step 4: archives creation

After project settings, the archives can be created by clicking on the "Create Archives" button. It is possible (but not advised) to untick some archives if they are already present in the project.

Once the generation is finished, the floppy disk space rate is calculated. If the "Free space" number is negative, the created archives will not fit on a disk. It is advised to leave at minimum 10 kb free on the disk.

Amiga911 Maker

Amiga911 Maker

Step 5: Boot disk generation

Insert a disk in the floppy drive and click on the "Create Disk" button. The disk will be formatted automatically (quick format option can be chosen).

The option "International" must be selected if the system language is not english. Finally, select the drive for the operation.

Amiga911 Maker

The boot disk is ready to be used!

5. Boot disk usage

Insert the previoulsy created disk and start the Amiga. After about 60 seconds, this workbench screen will be displayed:

Amiga911 Maker

Thanks to ToolsDaemon, some menus have been added: "System", "Programs" and "Misc" containing tools and softwares defined during project creation.

Menus are organised like this:
  • System
    • Shell
    • Ed
    • mARK
    • Resources
    • Clean up ram
    • Mount (submenus PC0: et PC1: (for MS-DOS disks), CF0:)
    • Tools (ShowConfig, HDToolBox)
    • ScreenMode
    • Select Font
    • View Txt/Guide
  • Programs
    • Only appears if some programs have been included in the project. (in This example, only FileMaster 3 and DiskImage).
  • Misc
    • Info
    • Reboot
Manually added softwares are not included in the menus. A script called "StartProgram" is an alternative to the menu for software launching. Same for drives mounting with "Mounter".

Then, it will be possible to install the system after formatting the HDD with SFSFormat and mount a HDF image.

DiskImage is provided with a simple graphical user interface developped by the author. It is very useful for mounting floppy or hard disk images (IDH0 & IDH1). This tool automatically generates mount files while the previously created HDF file has "block size" set to 512 and "BlocksPerTrack" to 32.

Operations between two images are only possible ot they have the same settings.

Amiga911 Maker

Amiga911 Maker

Amiga911 Maker

...and the files copy with FileMaster.

Amiga911 Maker

6. Conclusion

Amiga911 Maker is an essential tool for any Amiga user: it permits to prepare easily a boot disk with the essential tools, drivers and patches in order to start a system installation or repair. The generated floppy disks will be very helpful to beginners who want to install the operating system without using WinUAE for Compact Flash init.

1.46 version corrects some bugs and brings the DiskImage tool.

The new 1.54 version brings 2.0 and 2.1 operating systems support and strengthen the tool adding new options that ease the floppy disk creation. It also concentrates on the provided software list adding essentials like SnoopDos.

7. Sources

For further information, please visit Amiga911 Maker website: rhz1.com/amiga911maker.


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