Friday, April 2, 2021

AmiKit XE 11.5 on Raspberry Pi 4 and Pi 400

Today I am going to take a look at the new AmiKit XE 11.5 for Raspberry Pi 4, both on the Raspberry Pi 4B and also the newly released Raspberry Pi 400. 

I am testing here AmiKit XE 11.5 Release Candidate 7, which was provided to me by the author of AmiKit XE to beta test, and there will be some minor changes before final release, which will be available for purchase when you read this post. 

I have also tested all the earlier and later AmiKit XE 11.5 versions and also the final release version, and functionally the final release version is the same as the RC7 version tried here. The idea is to give you a taster of what to expect for the installation process, and how AmiKit XE 11.5 runs on Raspberry Pi 4 and Pi 400.

As readers here would know, I loaded PiMiga onto my Raspberry Pi 4 last year, but I am excited to try out this new AmiKit XE 11.5 on it! Previously I have covered AmiKit XE on this blog for Vampire accelerators on Classic Amigas, and also AmiKit XE running under Windows, MacOS and Linux.

There has been a lot of excitement recently around the Raspberry Pi 4 and Pi 400 (all in one system built into the keyboard), as they can run emulated Amiga systems using the latest builds of Amiberry at full speed for the first time on a Pi. 

Given the cheap price of a Raspberry Pi 4, this makes it a very exciting platform for people to have a nostalgic look back at Classic Amiga systems in an inexpensive way.

I had a read through the AmiKit XE 11.5 for Raspberry Pi 4 setup instructions to familiarise myself what what I need to get it installed:

So the first thing I noticed (and the author mentioned it to me anyway), is the need to install a fan and heatsink on the Raspberry Pi 4. This is because the AmiKit XE 11.5 setup overclocks the CPU in the Pi 4 to achieve the fastest speed possible. The good news is that there is an official Raspberry Pi fan add on for the standard Pi 4 case I bought with the Raspberry Pi 4. I also bought three heatsinks sold by a local Raspberry Pi distributor in Australia called Core Electronics, with the total cost of these extra bits being AUD$10.

Here is the case fan and heat sinks, and included instructions for the GPIO connector pin outs when they arrived:

In reality, the installation of these bits is very straightforward and not complicated. The GPIO Pinout info is nice, but not needed for the installation.

I opened up my Raspberry Pi 4, ready to install the fan:

The fan comes already installed in a plastic casing designed to attached to the Raspberry Pi 4 official case top cover:

Here it is now installed and attached to the top cover - it clicks into place with no screws needed:

Next is to connect the Fan power connector pins and controller pin (for adjusting the speed of the fan or to turn it off) to the GPIO port on the Raspberry Pi 4:

The illustration on the side of the Pi 4 case fan shows exactly where to connect the pins. Easy!

With that done, I now turned my attention to the heat sinks. Now the Pi 4 case fan included a single wide heat sink, designed to sit on the CPU. However, it was suggested to me to cover the other chips as well, so I bought the Pi 4 three heatsink pack for this purpose:

Peel off the sticker on the back of each Heatsink and attach:

I attached the remaining heat sinks as below. The chip closest to the Ethernet port I couldn't put the heat sink on because the chip was too small, and the case cover can't close with a heat sink on that chip.

I then put the cover back on and it all sealed perfectly, good to go!

So, next up, let's download the Raspberry Pi Imager application. In my case, since I use a Mac Pro running MacOS Big Sur, so I downloaded the MacOS version:

You can also download it for Windows and Ubuntu as well.

Once downloaded, I open the DMG file and dragged the application into the Applications shortcut to complete the installation:

On launch, the Raspberry Pi Imager application is a simple interface to navigate:
As per the AmiKit instructions, I select Use Custom under Operating System:
I then selected the AmiKit XE 11.5 image for Raspberry Pi I downloaded earlier.

Next I need to choose my SD Card to write the image to. For Raspberry Pi 4 / Pi 400 this is a MicroSD card, but will still work fine with this program:
I selected a brand new 128GB MicroSD card I bought as the destination:

Ok, so now ready to write the AmiKit XE 11.5 image to the MicroSD card:

I hit the Write button, and accept it deleting the contents of the MicroSD card. Please make sure you select the correct MicroSD card to write to!
The AmiKit XE image for Raspberry Pi 4 is then written to the MicroSD card:

The write completed in a few minutes:

I took out the MicroSD card and put it in the Raspberry Pi 4 and turned on. It quickly booted into the Manjaro Linux environment running 1920x1080 screen resolution:

The stuff you need to get things going have been nicely arranged on the Desktop to make things easy to locate. The STARTHERE RequiredFiles draws your attention straight away.

There is also a Web browser, File Manager, Terminal and Downloads link to make things easier to navigate the Linux functions needed:

As mentioned in the installation guide, you can move the mouse to the bottom of the screen to reveal the taskbar. You can access the Manjaro menu to launch Linux programs and access settings.

One thing I did straight away was go to the Manjaro Settings Manager (Under Settings in the menu shown below) to change the timezone: 

Click on Time and Date section to change the timezone. You can also change the Locale settings in the Manjaro Settings Manager application:

I changed the Timezone to Adelaide, Australia. It is set to Slovakia by default:

Following the instructions, I opened the START HERE RequiredFiles shortcut on the desktop, which opens File Manager into that folder. 

There is Install Instructions PDF and also a Install Video to show you exactly how to get AmiKit up and running. The video is especially handy and well worth watching first:

Following the install instructions, next we need to run the GParted shortcut. Authorise the GParted as it needs root access:

The MicroSD Card partition setup is then shown as below:

I select the /dev/mmcblk0p2 partition, and then went to the Partition menu and select Resize/Move:

This is of course to get the AmiKit partition to use all the available space on the MicroSD card, in this case 128GB:

I drag the partition to the right side using the left mouse button to resize it - you can also enter the numbers yourself if you want:

That done, I now need to click on the Apply all operations button (Check/Tick icon) to apply the change:

It asks to make sure I am ok with the change and then gets on with it:

It is worth setting up the internet access from your Pi at this point as you will most likely use it to download some extra files during the AmiKit XE 11.5 installation process.

Now, for the AmiKit XE 11.5 installation it is recommended to drop the Amiga Forever ISO file into the Required Files folder. This is needed so that AmiKit can install the required copyrighted AmigaOS files and other pieces it needs as it builds the system.

Amiga Forever is sold by Cloanto. I already have Amiga Forever on my Windows 10 computer, but as most people would know, the download version is not supplied in an ISO format, but as an msi.

To get an ISO file needed for AmiKit, we need to generate the ISO file for Amiga Forever from within the Amiga Forever software. Within Amiga Forever, you can do this from the Tools Menu > Build Image... option as below:

Amiga Forever then prompts are below on what you want to include in the ISO. I stuck with the defaults as below:

I then clicked Build and it then built the required ISO file and saved it to my Windows hard disk:

From Windows 10, I then copied the ISO via USB stick to transfer to my Required Files folder on the Raspberry Pi 4. (using the File Manager on the AmiKit Linux desktop)

The next thing I did was adjust my display under Settings in Linux to ensure the desktop runs at 1080p at 60hz. It defaulted to 4K as my display is 4K. In my case the 1080p resolution and frequency is important for the timing under the Amiga emulation, so I needed to make sure it is set to 60Hz. I am running my HDMI output from the Pi 4 through the Elgato HD60S+ (for live streaming), which is why the display shows that below:

At this point, if you have any USB joysticks attached to the Pi, make sure they are disconnected. Once the installation is done you can plug them back in again. (otherwise Amiberry detects the Joystick before the mouse and puts it as the mouse!)

With that done, I then launched AmiKit from the icon on the Desktop, which launches AmiBerry, the emulator for AmigaOS under Raspberry Pi Linux. 

Following the instructions, I then mounted the Amiga Forever ISO file under the CD Drive section of AmiBerry:

With that done, I click on Start to Start the Amiga emulation and start the AmiKit XE installation process. I received a message about the ROM which I clicked on on OK to proceed so it uses the AROS rom (as the copyright rom from Amiga Forever are not installed yet):

AmiKit installer will prompt that it needs the Picasso96 graphics drivers. It tells you you can put the archive (if you have it) in the RequiredFiles folder, or it can download it from Aminet for you as long as your internet access is working on the Linux system on the Pi prior to starting this installation.

I let it download it automatically from Aminet and it proceeded with the installation without further prompts for a bit:

It detects the Amiga Forever ISO and installs the required AmigaOS kickstart rom and other files:

The installation is almost done at this point, with a reboot needed and then needing to select the 1080p screen resolution in the Screenmode prefs when prompted after reboot:

I selected the 1080p screen mode as requested after the reboot and click on Save. 

The installation is done, ready for the final reboot:

Here is the initial AmiKit XE 11.5 setup running on the Raspberry Pi 4. On this first boot, it asks if you want to download and install some optional software, which I said Yes (make sure you have internet access available on the Linux setup on the Pi 4):

With that done, we now have a fresh AmiKit XE 11.5 install all up and running on the Raspberry Pi 4:

As per the standard AmiKit XE environment under Windows, MacOS and Linux, the setup is setup with all the software you could want to have in an optimised AmigaOS setup, all pre-configured to work optimally on the Raspberry Pi.

Here is a closer look at the AmiKit drive:

MorpheuZ is still around in AmiKit XE 11.5 on the Pi 4, to assist in the customisation of the AmiKit XE system without you needing to edit configuration files yourself.

Live Update is available here to download and update your AmiKit XE 11.5 install as future updates are released:

There is plenty of customisation options available in MorpheuZ:

There are several web browsers to choose from under AmigaOS - here is AWeb loaded with Aminet:

The good news is thanks to the RabbitHole functionality, you can also launch Linux applications (like modern web browsers that support all the latest websites), which appear on top of the AmiKit XE environment, making it nicely integrated.

The RabbitHole drawer icon gives access to commonly used Linux applications, and also there is a ShowPi icon in the taskbar at the bottom of the AmiKit XE environment to allow you to quickly switch back to the Linux environment as needed.

The settings shortcut via RabbitHole is very handy to quickly access Manjaro settings from within AmiKit XE:

Turning back to AmiKit XE itself, there is a a lot of nice games, demos and applications included with it. Some examples of applications are MUIMapparium:

Delitracker, Eagleplayer, AmigaAmp and a number of other audio applications are also included:

SysInfo is also there, to remind us that the Pi 4 emulation of AmigaOS is much faster than any real Classic Amiga :-)

The effort that has gone into the AmiKit XE environment is considerable, with a lot of work done to make it shine and look very attractive as the ultimate Classic Amiga setup:

There is a lot of help and guides available. An example here is the Toolbar help for the DOpus workbench replacement icon functionality, which is not obvious on first glance which icons do what:

Mystery solved with the guide below - very handy information indeed:

I also fired up a few games that were included with AmiKit XE to try out, which you can launch from iGame, naturally already setup for immediate use:

Open Tyrian and Metal Slug both run well in full screen:

For me, being able to run demos is quite important, and a number of demos are included with AmiKit XE to get you started. Thanks to the performance of the Raspberry Pi 4, I can now run TBL's stunning AGA demos full screen without any slowdown :-)

To maximise the emulation speed, it is recommended to modify the boot/config.txt to enable the overclocking of the Pi 400 (or Pi 4 with the fans attached as shown earlier) to it's maximum safe speed.

To do this, quit AmiKit XE (Fn+F12 > Quit), Run Overclock Pi from the Linux Start Menu, or run a Terminal session and put in:

sudo nano boot/config.txt

Then uncomment the lines corresponding to the Pi 400 or Pi 4B (depending on which one you are using)

Here is the changed lines (for the Pi 400) with the comments removed:

That done, then save and Quit (CTRL-O, Enter, CTRL-X) and reboot the Pi.

One limitation to be aware of with the emulation on the Pi 400 / Pi 4B is an Amiberry limitation, which is AHI is not currently supported. It is expected that this will be fixed, but is something to note if trying to run any applications that use AHI - they need to use the Paula audio device for now.

There are more enhancements for AmiKit XE 11.5 to come, and it is planned to make these available via a new paid updates subscription model, which will be explained at the launch time.

One last thing to note is the Boot Mode function. By clicking on it, you can toggle the Pi 400 / Pi 4B to boot automatically into AmiKit XE 11.5 on boot - then it feels much more like an Amiga :-) 

You can do this from the Boot Mode icon on the Linux Desktop or within AmiKit XE 11.5 at any time from the AmiKit menu:

I also received my Raspberry Pi 400 while preparing this post, which is a Raspberry Pi 4 enclosed entirely within the usual raspberry pi keyboard! It took a while to get one due to the demand for this computer, but it eventually arrived in February. 

Here is the box:

Very much like the original Amiga 500 - no wonder it has received so much attention from the Amiga community since it's release! 

I ordered the Raspberry Pi 400 kit, which comes with the Pi 400 computer, a USB-C power supply, mini HDMI to HDMI cable, USB Pi mouse, a getting started book and a 16GB SD Card with NOOBS on it, already inserted into the Pi 400 MicroSD slot.

Here is a closer look at the Raspberry Pi 400 keyboard. It is basically identical to the Raspberry Pi keyboard I got with my Pi 4, except now it has the Pi 4 housed inside it, and the ports are all on the back of the keyboard:

Close up of the ports on the back:

View of the back - note the vent holes in the base of the keyboard to help keep the system cool:

Here it is setup and connected up, ready to power on. I swapped the MicroSD card for a new one I had earlier imaged with the AmiKit XE 11.5 Release Candidate 7 to try it out on the Pi 400:

A great feature on the Pi400 is that it finally includes a power button. This was a constant annoyance with previous Pi systems, which you had to unplug/replug each time you shutdown, in order to boot again.

You can now turn it on by pressing the FN and F10 key. Here is the Pi400 with the AmiKit XE Linux host system load, ready for me to install as I did with Release Candidate 7 on the original Pi 4 system earlier in this post.

With AmiKit XE 11.5 setup on the Pi 400, it works just as fast and as well as on the Pi 4, and no fan upgrades needed! 

This is definitely my new Pi of choice - being able to run it as a dedicated Amiga system under AmiKit XE 11.5, with such an easy setup process and all the hard work done! 

I have since copied a lot of other Amiga demos, whdload games and mods from my Classic Amiga systems to my AmiKit XE 11.5 setup on the Pi (via USB stick). WHDLoad is all preconfigured under AmiKit XE 11.5, so just need to launch the games and demos you want to enjoy and they will work straight away!

The amount of work that has gone into making an optimised Classic Amiga experience, quick to setup ready to run on such a cheap platform as the Pi 4B/Pi 400 is impressive. The amount of configuration that goes into making a Classic Amiga environment function like AmiKit XE 11.5 does is really a lot. I have done many customisations of Classic Amiga Workbench setups over the years and none came anywhere near as awesome as this is, and you don't have to do any of it yourself. Just enjoy it!

I can't include pricing for AmiKit XE 11.5 at this time as it was not released yet when I wrote this blog post, but it will be on the AmiKit website by the time you read this.

In closing, AmiKit XE 11.5 is an excellent product and highly recommended purchase for all Raspberry Pi 4B/400 owners!