Obligement - L'Amiga au maximum

Vendredi 28 avril 2017 - 14:16  

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Interview with Ilkka Lehtoranta
(Interview realized by David Brunet - August 2006)


Note : The version in French is here.

Itix - Hello Ilkka, could you introduce yourself to our readers?

My name is Ilkka Lehtoranta. I live in the small city of Jyväskylä in Finland. I'm 29 years old and still a student, but I hope to graduate from Jyväskylä University of Applied Science at the end of next year. My primary field of study is software engineering, of course :-).

- When and how did you discover the Amiga?

It must have been sometime around 1989 or 1990 when my friend got an Amiga 500. It was simply amazing.

- What did you do on the Amiga before working on MorphOS?

Not much. Before MorphOS I could code only in 68k assembler and development was slow. MagicReader (BBS offline reader), SmartInfo (SFS query/defrag tool) and an AI code for dynAMIte were my most important pre-MorphOS developments. I also wrote Voimariini which is a simple HTML editor with preview feature.

- Which computers / operating systems / consoles do you own and use?

Pegasos II (MorphOS), C64, PS2 and a good old Pentium 90 running Windows 95. The last one is constantly in use because of its ultimate web browsing capabilities... I used to run Linux on Pegasos but I needed more disk space and it had to go.

- When and how did you discover MorphOS?

It was sometime around summer 2002 when Piru (Harry Sintonen, author of BlizKick) was asking for new beta testers. I knew some guys were developing a new MUI-driven PowerPC native operating system with AmigaOS compatibility and I was definitely interested in joining them.

- What is your role inside the MorphOS Team? What have you done for the system until now?

I'm a support guy working on external tools and utilities, sometimes porting stuff on request. Ambient SE in MorphOS 1.42+ was compiled and bugfixed by me and Kiero (Michal Wozniak) and MorphOS 1.5 might include more of my stuff. Certainly I won't touch core components.

- Currently, what are the main parts of MorphOS which need to be developed or created to have a "complete" MorphOS 1.5?

Ralph might ban me for this, but we certainly need a 64 bit filesystem.

- Which things could speed up the development of MorphOS?

I don't know. Money or docs don't help if developers have a family or a job. Developers must also have a life; go to pubs, get drunk, meet girls and watch TV... On the other hand, having more developers doesn't necessarily mean that things are developed faster. New developers can't get access to core modules anyway.

- What are the strong points of MorphOS compared to other OSes?

The shell and MUI.

- What are the weak points of MorphOS compared to other OSes? Compared to AmigaOS 4?

Lack of memory protection and AmigaOS API in general. And lack of a 64 bit filesystem, really.

- Does Bill Buck still have a role in MorphOS?

No.

- You are the developer of OS4Emu. What were your reasons for developing such a program? Could you describe the features of OS4Emu?

It was late summer of 2004. The first OS4 prerelease had appeared only a few months before, and Harry Sintonen was playing with some of the very first OS4 native programs he had downloaded from os4depot. He discovered that MorphOS successfully loaded some executables as PowerUP programs, but they were executed only to crash soon after. He eventually found out what they were trying to do and created a small patch, called OS4Emu, to catch OS4 programs and throw an error message when any of OS4 Exec functions were called. Piru posted a screenshot as proof of concept and I thought it would be cool to run all OS4 programs in MorphOS, if not for anything else but to annoy OS4 users :-). But Harry was not interested in developing this further.

A few weeks passed, with this screenshot still crossing my mind. I knew how Harry implemented his patch, but it required a modified MorphOS kernel and I couldn't use that, obviously, I kept reading the OS4 SDK and source code I found from various places and finally managed to patch MorphOS on the fly to have ExecBase->MainInterface. After one week of coding, I released my own version of OS4Emu to the public with three supported libraries (Exec, DOS and Utility). And it could run exactly one program: List68k. \o/

It was very easy to add new libraries to the package and OS4Emu was updated frequently. I have now developed newlib and Warp3D libraries for OS4Emu with fixes for all known anti-OS4Emu tricks. But the major problem with OS4Emu is that it's becoming boring. ClassAct/Reaction apps look awful in MorphOS, there is no exclusive MUI based development on OS4 and CLI commands are too basic.

- Is there any chance to of seeing OS4Emu inside the MorphOS system?

Nope.

- Some AROS coders are working on a MorphOS wrapper for AROS. Is an AROS wrapper for MorphOS possible or planned?

I've thought about it. I don't know whether it's possible, but it doesn't really make sense - at least without a larger userbase.

- What are the 3 or 4 more important programs you have worked on? Could you give us a description of each of them?

1) dynAMIte. I wrote an AI for it (not quite perfect, but still something) and it was my first #AmigaZeux contribution. Because I participated in the development, I got a dynAMIte CD-ROM for free, with signatures from Matthias Böcker, Torsten Ketelsen and Ingo Musquinier, aka the three wise men. :-)

2) Basilisk II. I suddenly got an urgent lust for the 68k Mac emu and I had to do something about it.

3) SnoopDOS/Snoopium. I read there was an OS4 port in progress - a good reason to be the first and also to learn something new about MorphOS. This was a turning point in my understanding AmigaOS and MorphOS internals better.

- You have created/ported a lot of programs for MorphOS. What do you think about the SDK of MorphOS? Is it a "paradise for developers" or can it be better? In which way?

MorphOS SDK is heaven. When I was younger I didn't understand its beauty (or beauty of GeekGadgets at all), but today I couldn't live without it. It's a very Unix-like environment, making porting jobs easy. It also provides many useful tools like wget and perl to those who are not so interested in coding. It could be better still. C++ fans probably prefer the newer GCC, and some tools should be updated to newer versions and have more ready-to-use link libs by default.

- What are your development priorities for the next few months? When can you fix the "Disable" button in Snoopium? (this last question is from Henes ;-)

The disable button gets fixed when French stop burning cars :-). Hmm... I don't know. I develop sporadically, working on one project today, another project tomorrow, and some projects get never finished. I've got one game porting project to finish and I'm trying to give more time to MorphOS components, but I never know what will be done eventually.

- What is your opinion about AmigaOS 4? About AmigaOne?

Getting OS4 to run on PowerPC took too long. There are interested people doing their best but I sold my BlizzardPPC in 2003. AmigaOne failed from the beginning, but I do like the concept of µA1. With some other northbridge it could be perfect.

- What is your opinion about Amiga Inc? AmigaAnywhere?

An amateur company with AmigaNowhere.

- A last word for our readers?

Have fun and enjoy whatever is your platform of choice !


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