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How to emulate the Amiga

Amiga emulation has been in development for many years and the good news is that it is now very advanced and will run most Amiga software perfectly. MostAmiga emulation is based on the project called UAE (Universal Amiga Emulator,  or Unix Amiga Emulator). UAE has been ported to many different platforms including Windows, Linux, Mac and even the Amiga itself. Versions also exist for many games consoles including the Xbox and the Sony PSP.

The most popular and compatible Amiga emulator is the Windows emulator WinUAE. It is WinUAE that we will be looking at here, but the basic requirements are the same for all Amiga emulators. Further articles will follow that focus directly on other Amiga emulators.

What you need to emulate an Amiga

To emulate the Amiga you will need the following three items.

1, An Amiga emulator

2, Kickstart rom images

3, Amiga Software as ADF files.

Where to get these items.

1, An Amiga Emulator.

Amiga emulators for most platforms are normally free to download and use. You can download the latest WinUAE Amiga emulator for the PC from {mosbookmarks:bm=1} . The emulator is available for download as either an installer or a zip-archive. Both work the same, but the installer will install the emulator and give you an uninstall option, whereas you can extract the zip archive version wherever you like.

Once you have the emulator on your system you can move on to the next stage.

2, Kickstart rom images.

The Amiga required some special rom chips to work called the Kickstart roms. These contain the core of the Amiga system and without them the Amiga will not work. Amiga emulators require a rom file containing the data from these kickstart roms to work and you require the correct version of each kickstart romto emulate each of the different Amiga models. So for the A500 you will require an A500 kickstart 1.3 rom, and for the A1200 you would require an A1200 kickstart 3.1 rom file. If you wish to emulate more than one model of Amiga you will need the kickstart roms for each.

The kickstart rom files are the hardest files to find when trying to emulate an Amiga. This is because the Kickstart roms are the only part of the Amiga still under copyright so it is illegal to distribute them or legally provide them for download.

If you have a real Amiga you can make your own kickstart rom file. An Amiga DOS utility is included with WinUAE for doing this and it will be covered in more detail in its own article.

If you don't have a real Amiga you can legally obtain a copy of all of the different versions of the kickstart roms from the commercial package Amiga Forever from Cloanto. The Amiga Forever package is based on the WinUAE emulator and includes a set of fully licenced Amiga kickstart rom files.

3, Amiga software as ADF files.

Once you have the emulator and the kickstart files you can emulate an Amiga, but without any software to run you will just be able to see the Amiga's boot screen asking for a disk.




But you cannot use original Amiga floppy disks with an emulator because only Amiga floppy drives can read Amiga formatted disks. To get software you will need to get a copy of the software in the file format ADF. This stands for Amiga Disk Format and these files contain an exact image of the original Amiga disk it was made from. These are loaded by the emulator just like a real disk would be in a real Amiga.

There are many places you can get Amiga ADF files from. Remember though that many commercial games and software is still under copyright so you can only legally download and use games and software you own the original Amiga versions of.

If you are looking for ADF files, doing a Google search will normally give you many sites to use. If you are stuck looking for a specific ADF then please visit our forums and ask us. We can normally help you find most adfs.

Setting up and running WinUAE

Now that you have the three items required to emulate the Amiga we can setup the emulator and run it for the first time.

First we need to run WinUAE for the first time. When you launch WinUAE you will see it's properties window where you can set it up and change any of it's settings.

winuae properties window

First you need to tell WinUAE where the kickstart rom files are so it can emulate the Amiga correctly. To do this click on the Paths option under the settings list on the left. You will then need to add the location of your kickstart roms into the top "System ROMs" entry. Click on the "..." icon to the right of the first field to navigate to your roms.


winuae paths properties


Now the emulator is ready to emulate the Amiga. Now click on the Quickstart option under the settings links. This page is a quick way to setup most common Amiga model setups and is all that is required to get most software running, so you don't have to worry about all the settings under the Hardware and Host sections of the settings menu for the moment.

To setup WInUAE to run first you need to select the Model of Amiga you wish to emulate from the top Model dropdown box. This will only show the models you can emulate based on the kickstart roms WinUAE found in the path you gave it.

winuae model properties



Next you need to set the configuration for the model of Amiga. For most games, setting it to run as an Amiga 500 with the Configuration "KS 1.3, OCS Agnus, 0.5M Chip + 0.5M Slow" Configuration and it should work.


winuae configuration


Now all you need to do is add an ADF file into the Floppy drive DF0: entry and you can start the emulator. To do this go down to the Emulated Floppy Drives section of the same page and click on "Select disk image" next to the "Floppy drive DF0: entry.


winuae adf selection


Select the ADF file you wish to run and it will be shown in the entry under DF0:


winuae df0 entry


Now you can start the emulator and run your adf. Click on Start and the emulator will start. If all is setup correctly you will see the emulator boot the Amiga and then start booting from the ADF floppy disk image. Have fun. :)




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Article Id: 3 - Version: 14 - Created: 15-09-2006 - Last Updated: 14-09-2006 - Hits: 44017 
Categories: Amiga Emulation

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