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Commodore Amiga Unix Implementation (AMIX)

Commodore Amiga Unix logo

Updated 01 April 2022

Amiga Unix, also known as Amix, was the official Commodore port of Unix to the Commodore Amiga. Amix only ever achieved a minor share of the market and lacked a cost advantage or killer app to see it to success. Our page is dedicated to the information that comes to light over time of this Unix workstation.

Commodore Amiga Unix Installation Tape
image Commodore Amiga Unix Installation Tape. Source, Wikimedia

Introduction

The Commodore Amiga was a system that utilized the Motorola 68000 series microprocessor with a customer chipset. Given the strength of the 68000 for multi-tasking, it seems only natural that a Unix flavour should be ported to the Amiga, lovingly referred to as Amix. Original installation disks for Amix are extremely rare and it is unusual to see these come up for sale.

Amiga Unix - informally known as AMIX, this Amiga Unix port was one of the first M68k ports of SVR4. There were two UNIX machines released by Commodore, the Commodore Amiga 2500UX and the Commodore Amiga 3000UX. A really interesting competitor to the Atari TT030. Take a look at the Commodore Amiga A3000UX review in UnixWorld (1991). There are also manuals written by Commodore on Learning Amiga Unix (wayback).

Modern versions of Unix/Linux have had three decades of development since the release of Commodore Amiga Amix. By all reports, AMIX is a very rough version and has extremely limited driver support. I am also not aware of any relevant software that has been released exclusively on the AMIX system. However, I am interested in finding further information about the system and where is sits in the family of Commodore International products. This journal page is a general interest page that sits somewhere between the dry Wikipedia booknote and the hardcore enthusiast pages. Even the hardcore pages suggest that AMIX was very basic and it's not for the faint of heart and has its own caveats such as a completely broken package system.

There are also reports of enthusiasts porting Linux to high-end A1200/A3000 architectures.

Amix Systems Specification

Commodore Amix Competitors

The market for the Unix operating system was fierce at the time of Commodore's introduction of Amix. We mention a few Unix flavours that may appeal to the retro fan base.

  • A/UX - Official Apple Macintosh release
  • Atari TT030 - Official Atari ST release

Amix Workstation Usage

I have never personally seen a real-life Amix system in operation. When people say rare, then multiply that rarity by ten and you get an idea about how rare Amix equipment is. We do however have an idea on how to use this wonderful system. We would use an Amix Workstation to control one of the last remaining Pixar Image Computer graphics workstations. No, we wouldn't recreate some random animation movie. We'd fire up all of those transistors to go retro-mining Bitcoins.

If you are looking for technical details on the installation and usage of the AMIX system, then I recommends becoming familiar with two Commodore Amiga specialist pages. Please take a look at the German Amiga Unix site (wayback), and the Amiga Unix Wiki (wayback).

Recently discovered Commodore Amiga Unix Installation Tapes
image Recently discovered Commodore AMIX tapes. Source: Commodore International Historical Society

Could AMIX have been an entry-level SUN workstation?

There is commentary around the net that Commodore was in negotiations with SUN microsystems to develop AMIX into an entry level SUN Unix workstation. This was an amazing missed milestone in the development of Unix systems and may have revolutionised the high-end multimedia market. Hardware developments that the Commodore engineers developed for Sun would have trickled down to the consumer market. Sadly, it was reported that Commodore was demanding too much money and SUN walked away from the deal.

Commodore Amiga 3000UX
image Marketing photo for the Commodore Amiga 3000UX

Amix Performance

Original magazine reviews were positive on the Commodore Amix system. This may have been true at the time but limited technical tests were performed. History has not been kind to the Amix. The Unix implementation was never fully developed and optimized. Amix is not a mature product.

The Commodore Amix system is extremely rare. The Unix implementation requires an advanced level of systems knowledge and configuration. The best resource that I have found on this topic is detailed in AmigaUnix.com. This site describes the performance of Amix as Overall, performance is… really poor. This is a sad fact and doesn't sit comfortably with my experience of the Amiga. One has to remember that this Unix implementation is very immature. The Commodore systems team was never given enough time and resources to fully utilise the hardware that made the Amiga special.

Commodore Amiga Unix desktop screenhot
image Amix desktop screenshot

AMIX is not for the faint of heart and has its own caveats such as a completely broken package system

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