Amiga utilities

Last changed 5 February 1998.

NB. Currently very much in a state of flux - quite a few things are on my list as a reminder to myself to put in a link and to say something about them. Also, I suppose, to let people know that they don't need to suggest them for inclusion because they're already planned :-)

This list is getting longer than I'd originally intended it to. I'm not sure what to do about this just yet. Please note that non-inclusion in this list doesn't mean I think something is bad - on the whole I'm trying to mention a way to achieve a given thing, not all possible ways of doing it. And except where noted, I'm talking about the programs I use - there may well be others of equal or better quality that I don't know about, or cases where there's no point using more than one of a given program and I've chosen one for my own purposes.

There are other utilities (ARP, Imploder, ...) that I used to use many years ago, but anything that won't work on my 68060 machine with kickstart 3.1 is not eligible for inclusion, and neither is stuff that was useful/necessary in the old days but largely irrelevant now.

Since I no longer have a 1.3 or 2.x system, I don't know which modern utilities would work on one. I'm also assuming you have at least, oh, 4 megs of memory and some kind of hard disk. A floppy-only system or one with 1-2 megs of memory really doesn't want most of this stuff.

I don't know anything about graphics, video titling or 3d modelling.

Basic use of the Amiga is explained on another page.

When I switched from using mainframe terminals to doing stuff from home it took me quite a while to work out what was going on.

Here are some of the things I've found most useful from Aminet and elsewhere:

This is probably the first thing you will need. Please note that the file you'll get by clicking on this link is not LHA itself, it's a self-extracting archive containing LHA and some documentation. Put LHA itself in c:. This is the only self-extracting archive I remember seeing for the Amiga. Almost everything available for Amigas is distributed in .lha form. type lha x file.lha to unpack file.lha or just lha to see the other options available. LHA also comes with a detailed manual, most of the contents of which you will never need.

Another absolute must-have. It's an official Commodore program that was released on aminet. A lot of install scripts rely on this program being somewhere in the command path. c: is as good a place as any.

Absolutely the loveliest editor I have seen for the Amiga. I have tried lots, but until I found GoldED I had somehow never felt the urge to setenv editor to anything other than memacs... The docs suggest that you need a relatively advanced machine to run it, but even on my old 3 meg 68000 system it worked wonderfully. You probably want at least a meg of chip ram, though. Stop press: (Early Feb 1998) The author of Golded says his site will be down for a while and will have a new home when it re-appears. You should be able to find Golded material on Aminet in text/print. There's a lot of it, so I won't put links in.

Very handy library that is needed by all sorts of stuff. The rexxreqtools add-on makes it fairly easy to add requesters to scripts, too.

Very impressive suite of compression utilities and programs that treat the compressed files as normal ones. I used to use powerpacker on all my data files, but I now use xpk's NUKE. It's much faster than crunch and has a similar compression ratio.

Set of add-on libraries and so on used by a lot of other software to provide graphical user interfaces. You will almost certainly need this sooner or later.

Another collection of graphical user interface libraries needed by some programs.

The best text reader I know of. Fullview is very nice as well, but can't read XPK files.

Beatifully easy to use and install TCP/IP suite. (I'm not saying there's anything wrong with any of the others. This is just the one I happen to have.

Bloody magic. Allows you to use normal terminal programs to do telnet, assuming it's possible to change the serial device they use. This means you can do zmodem downloads etc. over telnet connections. Yay!

set _pchar "|"
set _mchar "\"
in s:shell-startup to turn on "proper" pipes. This allows you to use unix-style nameless pipes in your shell.
list | sort in: out: | muchmore opens a muchmore screen with a sorted list of files, for instance, and list #?.txt lformat="copy to" | execute in: copies the foo icon to all your .txt files. More than anything else, I use this feature to create some very handy aliases in my shell-startup (well, I used to... actually after a HD crash last year I seem not to have reinstated them), though even simple things like dir | muchmore are a big help.

Commodity which turns cycle gadgets into pop-up menus. I didn't think it sounded that great until I tried it. It uses a tiny amount of memory and can make life a lot easier. MCP also offers this feature but I've not tried doing it that way yet.

Another official Commodore program. You'll need this to read amigaguide format files unless you have kickstart 3.x. Xpkguide on aminet is a good replacement.

There are several "do-everything" commodities. I've tried most of them, and this is the one I've stuck with. There's nothing wrong with the others, of course. Please note that playing around with MCP settings you don't understand can cause big problems. On the whole, though, using MCP is a very good way to take a large number of single-use programs out of Wbstartup

Unix-style task scheduling. Automatically lowers priority of cpu-intensive tasks so that others get fair share of CPU time and the system feels more responsive. Whatever has input focus is excluded from this treatment, as are tasks with positive priority.

Very nice combined mail/news reader. Until I found this, I used elm and tin.

Absolutely magic FTP client. Vapor's other products are all pretty solid too.

Lovely utility which improves menu functionality in a big way.

Patch which stops you from having multiple ?? icons for each floppy drive if you have installed e.g PC and diskspare format floppies as well as normal ones. With mfs installed, you get at most one icon per drive.

Re-jigs the whole icon system so icons use shared pens like everything else. Lovely. Comes with a set of icons, but of course you can replace them with others if you prefer. You could even use magicwb icons using the newicons technique if you wanted, and change your palette as you wished. Also includes deficons, a program which provides a much wider range of default icons for files so that Show All Files in Workbench becomes a more informative experience.

Makes icon tooltypes etc. much easier to work with.

Rather nice toolbar/menu/appicon program.

Makes the Amiga shell even nicer than it already was. Filename completion, scrollbars, etc.

Makes booting faster, by making Workbench open whilst Wbstartup is processed rather than afterwards.

Lovely to have if you use a Blizzard accelerator card. Probably not much use otherwise. (Though aminet will have stuff with names like fastexec to do the same sort of job).

Program which allows you to add extra menus to the Workbench screen. Very handy.

Speeds up booting, and saves memory, by (i) using a hard disk, instead of ram:, for env:, and (ii) only copying things from envarc: to env: if it's actually necessary.

Utterly lovely terminal program. Together with telser, can be used for telnet. Get it from aminet - you need quite a few separate archives to install it.

format double density disks to hold 984k, and high density to twice that, if you can read them at all.

makes the cpu help out the blitter, speeding up graphics operations

makes workbench windows update automatically if icons are created or destoyed by shell operations


allows you to save the values of any or all of the 256 colours you might have in your palette.

tweaks the look of workbench

another 68060-speeder

graphics speeder-upper

graphics editing program. see gfx/conv on aminet.

zip and unzip
Just in case you need to open or create zip files. LHA is available for unix, ms-dos and the Mac, but is not well-known.

vastly improves font requester speed

very nice tool for poking around in the internals of your system

lets you know what is going on. invaluable when trying to find out why something isn't working - if you see that a given program is looking for a particular font, directory or library and not finding it, you know what to do next.

Black's Editor
I've never used this, but I understand it's another very good text editor

another compression program it could be useful to have

compression program you may need to have if you're unlucky enough to have to deal with .dms archives

makes multiassigns work more like you might expect them to

workbench replacement

workbench replacement

a bit like wbstartup+prefs, but works on devs: and sys:storage

TeX implementation for amiga

Geek Gadgets
lots of gnu tools, ported to the amiga

replacement for something called in s:startup-sequence

another blitter helper

generates random numbers for use in scripts

Official canon printer drivers

high-quality printing package

alternative high-quality printing package

postscript viewer/printer

sound player

word processor


web browser

C compilers
Um. I suppose I'll list several of these

icon editor - understands NewIcons

structured drawing program

hisoft basic
nice Basic

NB I will add links to the things that lack them, and make the descriptions more informative, as soon as I can. the newbie page is getting more attention at the moment.

As you will notice, a lot of the above stuff comes from Aminet. This is a family of amiga ftp sites. See the main site for a list of mirrors. It's well worth subscribing to the aminet updates mailing list, so you can maintain your own copy of the Aminet index. There are various programs on aminet which allow you to merge the mailing list messages with your local index file. I use mergerec, but there are plenty of alternatives.

Amftp, mentioned above, has a special aminet download mode in which it only shows you files on aminet which have appeared there since your last visit. This is very handy. There is also a web interface for Aminet.

Other on-line stuff

The Amiga Web Directory is the canonical starting point when looking for amiga stuff on the web. I won't bother listing any other web pages, since the AWD does a better job of it than I could ever hope to manage.

There are a number of amiga newsgroups, mostly in comp.sys.amiga.*

Some programs have their own mailing lists. Check program home pages.