Monday, February 23, 2015

Review: AmigaOS 3.9 for DraCo from CASH Multimedia/Patric Hofmann


PRODUCT NAME

 DraCo OS3.9


BRIEF DESCRIPTION

 A custom configured AmigaOS 3.9 cdrom for the MacroSystem DraCo.


AUTHOR/COMPANY INFORMATION

 Name:         CASH Multimedia (Patric Hofmann)
 Address:      Wiehagenerstr. 13a 
               42499 H├╝ckeswagen
               USt-IdNr.: DE199686268 
               Germany
 
    Telephone: 02192 / 932095


LIST PRICE

 50.62 euros. But you must be a legal owner of AmigaOS3.9 and 
CyberGraphX v4 to install and use DraCo OS3.9. Either you are required to send a
proof of purchase of these other two cdroms, or you can just buy from them, 
of course, at an additional fee (AmigaOS 3.9 = 45.51 euros & 
CyberGraphX v4.x = 25.05 euros).
 
        Owners of previous DraCo OS3.5 cdrom can upgrade by paying 30.17 euros.
 
 SPECIAL HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS 
 
        A MacroSystem DraCo is of course required. But nothing is so simple: to be 
able to use this customized AmigaOS distribution, 24 MB of ram, about 200 MB of 
HDD space, and an Altais graphics card are required. So unfortunately, DraCos with
Altais Plus, or other graphic cards, are not supported. And if you have less than 
24MB you are certainly asking for trouble.
 
MACHINE USED FOR TESTING

 DraCo Vision (aka DraCo cube), 80 Meg Fast RAM. 
 
INSTALLATION
 
        To begin with, you are assumed to have a working DraCo System installed, 
from which you will have to create a bootable floppy with the contents of the 
BOOTDISK drawer present on the DraCo OS3.9 cdrom.
 
        Afterwards, you will have to boot the DraCo from this floppy, and it will 
start copying a lot of files to ram, to a recoverable boot volume (RAD:). It will 
take quite some time. Afterwards, you will be required to eject the floppy and 
warm reset the DraCo.
 
        The DraCo will now boot from the RAD: volume. Now you will have to 
partition and format the drives. Two partitions are required: "Workbench" for 
system files, and "WORK" for additional application programs.
 
        Later, you will need to copy the WORK and Workbench files to your 
partitions by double clicking on two icons set for those purposes. This will take 
ages to finish. At some point the installation script will prompt you to insert 
the original AmigaOS 3.9 cdrom in order to update the DraCo AmigaOS.
 
        Finally you are asked to remove both floppies and cdroms from the DraCo, and 
coldboot to end the installation. 
 
DOCUMENTATION
 
        To begin with, documentation is scarce and lacking in many areas. The only 
documentation is only available on the cdrom itself, both in german and english, 
but it does not come with any printed information. No hardware requirements are 
mentioned whatsoever, and the english docs are clearly not very well written. 
Also, installation instruction are not so clear and there is no mention of 
hardware requirements.
 
LIKES
 
-Some custom desktop wallpapers with DraCo themes are included.
 
-There are many GlowIcons which are DraCo themed, they look very good.
 
-AmigaOS 3.9 BoingBag #1 is installed by default
 
-There is a nice Amplifier skin
 
-the author included a well layed out, and eye candy L shaped dockbars created with 
Toolmanager
 
DISLIKES

-Resource pig. It requires 24MB of ram when an AmigaOS 3.9 system requires just 6MB. 
This alone is a proof of how unoptimised this setup is.

-CybergraphX v4 is installed but has not been properly updated 
 
-Too much wasted space. About 200 MB of HDD space are required, when AmigaOS 3.9 
only needs about 30 MB. Yes, I know there is additional software that fills that 
space, but nothing worth justifying that much. I consider this, unneeded bloat.
 
-Duplicity of functions in many programs. Why would you put two filemanagers 
(ClassAction and EcoDisk) and two mp3 players (SongPlayer and Amplifier)? 
It does not make sense to me, just pick the better featured program, and 
remove the other.
 
-Some applications have been downgraded for no reason at all. For example, 
Amplifier is at v2.26 instead of v2.34 from BoingBag #2.
 
-ToolManager despite its awesome look, comes configured with many shortcuts of 
commercial software that are non existant in this cdrom, but probably present at 
the author´s machine. Dissapointing at least, and even more when you consider how 
unfriendly Toolmanager is for reconfiguring its docks.

 
-Minor annoyances: Why would you want an icon for the Fonts drawer? An InstallLogs 
drawer, really? Useless additions.

 
-The installation floppy is a torture: You are required to build from the cdrom a 
boot floppy, which should be in either Amiga HD format (1760KB) or HD DraCo format. 
Common Amiga DD floppies (880KB) are not suitable because the author took a 
questionable desition to include too many files, and some of them were clearly not 
needed. In fact, I actually managed to perfectly build an 880KB DD Amiga floppy 
suitable for installing this distribution by removing some useless files.

 
-Installation is awkward and involves swapping cdroms and floppies. It could have 
been much easier and straight thru.

 
-It is not completely the fault of the author, but there are more recent updates of 
the software which is included, and this could bring a lot of enhancements, new 
features and bugfixes. Why the hell didnt he update the operating system to 
AmigaOS 3.9 BoingBag #2, when at the time it was feasible?
 
-There is software which is essentially useless nowadays (StrICQ).

 
-The installation does not contain some DraCo specific commands, and some of the 
DraCo components are not the latest and greatest, but they do certainly work.

-Neither MovieShop, nor AdPro+MorphPlus are included. A DraCo without Movieshop 
is as usefull as a car without wheels. 
 
BUGS
 
-MemIcon commodity doesnt have the DONOTWAIT tooltype enabled.
-Some DefIcons are wrongly configured 

-No support at all from the author, not even in forums.
 
VENDOR SUPPORT AND UPDATES 
 
        Despite you are encouraged to send the author an email to solve your 
doubts, there is clearly no formal support, as the author states he is not even 
a programmer and this is not an officially endorsed distribution. No updates have 
been released and will likely never arrive, as the product seems it is no longer 
for sale and contacting the author seems impossible too. 
 
CONCLUSION 

        If you ignore its numerous shortcomings and complex install, it is a very 
good looking and workable DraCo distribution, which makes it a good addition to 
the scarce DraCo software arsenal. Usualy installing AmigaOS 3.9 on a DraCo is not 
the easiest of tasks, and requires some advanced Amiga & DraCo knowledge, and this 
cdrom seems to have an easier workaround for this. Anyway, I personally find that 
50 euros is too much money for this 3.9 distro, but then if you have a DraCo you 
might probably have the spare cash to spend on it anyway.
 
        I would have probably chosen another path, and tweak a cleanly updated 
AmigaOS 3.9 install for my DraCo but I have to acknlowledge this cdrom is 
definately suited for the average skilled user that cannot do it, or doesnt want 
to take the time to.

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