Icaros Desktop is a pre-configured AROS desktop environment for the PC platform, distributed on a bootable live media. The AROS Research Operating System is a open source lightweight, efficient and flexible desktop operating system, aiming at being compatible with AmigaOS 3.1 at the API level, while improving on it in many areas.

Icaros Desktop 1.5.2

A new, improved version of Icaros Desktop is now available for download.

Enhanced integration of 68K applications

Would you believe they are old Amiga 68K applications running on a common PC? Well, they are! Discover the new AmiBridge integration mode which does not need original Amiga ROMs and OS anymore!

Play Hurrican and other classics

Linux format said "Icaros Desktop is the best OS to frag productivity". Why? Because you can play thousands of old classics and dozens of great remakes. And every game Amiga had.

Patch 02 for Icaros Desktop 1.4.5

People who, for any reason, still run Icaros Desktop 1.4.5, do not forget to apply this patch! It brings many little and big enhancements here and there...

After 15 months of hard work, it's now time to announce the next "major release" of your beloved distribution. That's right! Icaros Desktop 2.0 is next to come on a PC near you, and it will change forever the way you look at AROS. Based on the brand new "ABI v0 on Trunk" backport effort from Krzysztof Smiechovicz and other brave AROS developers, Icaros Desktop 2.0 brings to mainstream the new AROS' TLSF memory manager by Michal Schulz, a completely renewed SDK, a superb support for M68K applications and a greatly improved user experience with DirectoryOpus 5 Magellan, which has been configured to offer a full power file managing GUI. Now you can voice-read text files, convert file formats, create thumbnails for images, copy and move files, pack and unpack compressed archives with the ease of a single mouse clic. In the next days we will progressively unveil all features of Icaros Desktop 2.0, but if you wish to read a full preview, please buy issue 110 of Amiga Future (available both in German and English). Icaros Desktop 2.0 release date is set for fall 2014: don't miss it!

write 'em all, and you'll be fine!
Since my work on "Icaros Settings" (the applet that inherits old preferences scripts like "services" and "AmiBridge") is almost finished, I turned my attention back on another side of user experience: the GUI. Magellan is now in a good shape, with toolbars and menus including the most common options users are expected to... well... use, but now that they are almost OK, it's time to set keyboard shortcuts. Well, this is exactly the kind of tasks that I've always underextimated. Setting two or three cutom keystrokes for a few options in a program is a fair easy task, just choose cosy ones and you're OK. Taking a decision for about 50 different operations, however, is a completely different matter. First of all, you have different modifier keys you can use: lAros, rAros, lalt, ralt, shift and ctrl. Then, your options will act on different targets: there will be options that just open or modify listers, others that will make modifications to files, other again that will work on folders, and you immediately realize that some sort of coherence about keys is needed. First of all, there are Wanderer shortcuts what must be replicated, and they are a good starting point. Then, there are Windows, Mac or Linux common hotkeys that new users simply expect to work on Icaros too. In the end, there are a few default Magellan ones some people (actually a few people) might be accustomed to, but - sorry - these are the one I immediately sacrified. In the end, there are new ones I chose to make all hotkeys somehow coherent and consistent. Just look at the photo, and you'll figure out the work I'm doing. Some of them will be defined for listers, others for toolbars, other again will be global hotkeys, but in the end the most difficult part is... not using the same hotkeys for more options, and deal with FKey and AmiStart ones as well!

Our new, enhanced "Services" application.
Every journey begins with a little step and, well, I believe I just made one of those little steps. When I was younger than today (much younger, I was actually a child) I could find on the shelves a lot of magazines full of BASIC programs for Commodore's and other 8-bit computers that users were expected to type back on the keyboard, save on tape and run. Like almost everybody else at the time, in the beginning I couldn't really figure out what those cryptic commands, written in a language I didn't speak, could do. But when you're young you're plenty of time and will, so I started experimenting: cutting parts of the scripts to understand what they did, make little changes to notice the differences at run time... months later, I had mastered BASIC enough to adapt programs I was interested in and port them, from instace, from the Commodore 64 to my really unluck Commodore 16. For many reasons, however, in the meanwhile I stopped coding (and learning to) because I had less time, then I started a work, I joint a family and so on. But this is not the interesting part.

The interesting news is that I finally had a little spare time, and I decided to look at "Services" LUA script. Services is the programs in /Prefs which allows to configure things Icaros will launch at startup, like Opaque, VNC and FTP servers, AmiBridge and so on. I needed to modify it to support multiple GUIs (Wanderer and Magellan) and automatic shell (a feature I've been required to add by Magorium, which will run the AROS shell at startup), but I didn't want to bug Yannick for modifications that should be really trivial for a Lua expert (and somehow compelling for a beginner like me). So I gave a look myself and incredibly discovered that I was actually able to follow the program logic even without knowing anything about the language. So I started copying parts of code and modify them, comment out unwanted things and... well, the result is depicted in the upper screenshot. Now we can choose GUI and enable/disable shell without that ugly "GUI Choice" script (which was also severely bugged, as Neil Cafferkey reported to me...). Since "Services" is going to manage more settings in the future, I guess its name has to change somehow. I will run a little survey on Icaros' Facebook page for that, se please follow us if haven't yet!

I've been working for months, in my spare time, on DirectoryOpus 5 integration in Icaros Desktop. It's a great file manager, which allows every kind of operation on files. But the best part of Dopus 5 (or Magellan as we prefer to call it) is workbench replacement mode. In many aspects it might look old age: it uses Intuition and not MUI or Zune, it lacks grid-bounded icon ordering (Wanderer looks more polite with its automatically ordered windows), but it has many surprising customization strengths, even after all these years. In a few words, you can do with files wathever you like. This brought me to some simple, yet effective, philosophical considerations. In the age of iOS and Android phones, computing slightly turned from file-centric to App-centric habits: how would you open a document on your computer and your phone? I'd bet you're double clicking a file icon on the former, and run the required app on the latter. And that's natural: phones and tablets operating systems place applications icons on the same "desktop" where Windows, Linux and MacOS X generally leave you the freedom to place whatever you want, which normally means the most used/accessed files, or just the new ones when still work-in-progress. Or, at least, these were the 'habits' before Windows 8, and recent "we hate Microsoft but we follow her whatever unpleasant decision they may take" Linux distributions were released, after someone @Redmond thought turning PCs into bigger smart phones would have been cool. Well, here at Icaros Desktop we strongly believe that computers are computers and mobile devices are mobile devices. It does not matter how much portable a laptop is, it would be still used like a computer and not like a phone. Including Magellan in the distribution gave us a way to break these "new rules", placing back focus on files management: you can still use Icaros like you ever did with former releases (and AmigaOS or clones in general), but you will be also able to manage your files - when running Icaros with Magellan as workbench replacement - in a whole new way. Fellow Amiga users might find these lines quite obvious, but people who never used Dopus 5, or just grew up with Windows Explorer, will experience what a file-management oriented GUI means for personal productivity. Sure, lesser than a bunch of great applications, but isn't wasting time trying to figure out where files are, or how to do things with that "push the big fat red button" simplified GUI, simply irritating? Follow us, and in the next episodes we will explain how Magellan will save your nerves. For now, just open the screenshot: it will give you some hints...

Strangely enough, there was a (quite, relatively) simple task that was still impossible to perform under AROS: creating ZIP archives. You could extract files from them, even when password protected, but you couldn't easily create one. Well, let's write a big "THANK YOU!" to our friend Serk118uk, as his upcoming tool Arzip is fixing this issue once forever! He has also written a wonderful ZIP archives extractor called Anzip, and you'll obviously find both in next Icaros Desktop.

Now that Magellan is in a quite good shape (yes, I'd need to add some more filetypes and maybe give Icaros' configuration more love, but I guess it can be done later), it's time to look after the rest of the distribution. One of the key features of Icaros Desktop is, obviously, AmiBridge (the ensemble of core components that allow M68K emulation and old Amiga applications support). Everyone who downloaded WIP5 already know I changed the way AmiBridge presents itself: by default, it no more tries to integrate old programs in the AROS desktop, but opens a new emulation screen and run them over there. This was, obviously, the beginning of major changes I was already planning for a while but, for a motivation or another, I couldn't ever turn into real code.

If you carefully looked in the AmiBridge:AmigaApps directory, you could find a very old script called "ADD_PROGRAM" which, in the beginnings of AmiBridge life, allowed users to create a shortcut to a 68K application. It practically created a launch script in the same directory that would just call Janus-UAE, add a "RUN this:application/for/amiga" line in guest S drawer, and let the guest OS (which was AmigaOS 3.x, strictly taken from Amiga Forever) run just that program, without the overhead of Workbench and other possible applications launched at boot time. A quite good beginning for 68K support, but obviously not a ideal one since it opened a whole Janus-UAE session for every program, easily running out of host memory. The ADD_PROGRAM script became obsolete when Janus-UAE gained integration support, so we could run just a single session of the emulator and hide it to user eyes, showing just the portion of the screen used by Amiga programs.

ADD_PROGRAM, however, was not deleted from Icaros. It was just hidden removing its icon. It has been always there and, obviously, it continued to work if you just executed it. I was sure some day it would have been useful again and that day has come. Since we now have both AROS and AmigaOS available as possible guest operating systems, with many possible integration levels like fullscreen, windowed, with or without workbench/wanderer and so on, it just would have been nice to give users a way to run a single application like they wanted, without opening the screen, running workbench, going to the right path and so on. Just create a shortcut in AmiBridge menu et voilĂ , you're ready to work.

The new script will be called ADD_SHORTCUT and is a direct evolution of its parent one. It will handle running applications inside AROS 68K or, if your have integrated AmigaOS 3.X through Amiga Forever, inside AmigaOS. Let's see how it will work in next Icaros release:

1. First of all, it will appear in the usual menu with its own new icon:

2. Once run, you have to choose an Amiga M68K application. Let's choose Ignition...

3. The following question will appear only if you have integrated AmigaOS from Cloanto's Amiga Forever. Otherwise, it won't ask anything and it will default to AROS M68K.

4. Look at the menu: it's changed! Not only it has added Ignition to the options, but it has also taken its original icon for faster reference. 

5. Run it and the application will open, following settings for AmiBridge you've set using the usual AmiBridge script in /Prefs.

But what is the best part of shortcuts? They use a custom .uaerc configuration file instead of the default one (actually, it gets copied from the default one at the moment of shortcut creation), so you can change it whenever you want. Are you dealing with an application that needs a faster processor, a different screen handling, a better audio or joystick support, but you don't want to mess with the default configurations? Here's the solution! Just press Ctrl+Alt+J and modify the settings for this application only!