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How the Friend project started

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Hey guys and gals. I thought I'd use this opportunity to write a little bit about the story of Friend and how it came to be. It is a long story, but I will try to compress it a little bit. Anyway, the story is a big part of my life as a programmer and as a guy who is passionate about computing. I will write this in parts, so please forgive me if you'll have to wait in between the posts. And I hope you will enjoy reading.

I started out programming computers when I was six. It was back in 1986 - I am an 80s child, and back then, most kids who had computers tried to program at least once. Back then, computers came with basic programmers' manuals in addition to the "how to get started" chapters. From high to low, the book I got covered the basics as well as the deeper aspects of how the computer could be operated. The computer operating systems back then was "Ready." to read code at boot. Because of this, it was very easy to get pulled into typing commands. And because the Commodore User's Guide offered me everything but the kitchen sink, I kindof assumed that I would learn fast. Obviously it took me longer than I expected, but after having written my first short lines of code, I was hooked. And I still am.

Until I got my Amiga 500, I learned as much as I could about the Commodore 64. Being just a kid, I didn't have the brains to understand how the computer worked. But as the years went by, I not only learned how to code, I learned how to paint, make music, make 3D models, do my homework, open and clean the inside of my computer and surf the Internet. Those were the days!

Fast forward to 1996. Commodore had collapsed and Commodore UK was finally laid to rest. Most of my computer skills were tied to the Amiga line of computers, and my only other choice was Microsoft Windows 95. I held on to my "big box" Amiga 4000 until 1999, when I got a Windows PC. This new computer lived a short life as a Microsoft asset until I installed Linux on it. I had acquired some Linux experience over the years, and I soon started to like the freedom of using a non-Microsoft PC.

But Linux is not an easy to use system. The Amiga was made for kids, artists and hackers. Demo Sceners. Rebels. Windows was hard for me to get used to. But Linux wasn't much easier, I have to admit - even though it was hard in a completely different way. Something was missing for me. I felt like I had been transferred from a progressive rock opera into a laboratory. Everything was beta quality and experimental. But at the same time, Linux was stable as a system - which was a new experience for me, coming from the Amiga OS and (for a short time) Windows. So I grew my patience and decided to stay for the long haul.

For a while, I started looking beyond Linux. I installed BeOS, and I kept using it for many years. And I explored Mac - even just for a short amount of time. I was aware that Microsoft had a monopoly at this point, but I had hope that something else would come along. To change the future and make sure we wouldn't all be toiling around in "C:\Program files", backward slashes and System32.

Because of the Internet, I had already become part of a large community online in 1997. Developers, users and other computer enthusiasts spent their nights in IRC chatrooms. We explored and had long discussions - sometimes we stayed up the whole night. And - sometimes - we would meet somewhere in RealLife and talk about stuff. This is where I was finally convinced, after a few years, to get involved with AROS - the Amiga Research Operating System. With AROS, I could continue to live in the Amiga saga using PC hardware. The future looked bright!


End of Part 1.

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AROS is an interesting beast. It is essentially a "rewrite from scratch" of Amiga OS for X86 hardware. In the beginning, this was the only target. We used to call it X86 Amiga. But later, 64-bit hardware was supported. Then other architectures, and now, even old 68k machines are supported. 68k was the Motorola 68000 series of 32-bit processors used by old Macs and Amigas. But before you think this architecture is entirely obsolete, the Vampire "68080" machines have emerged in the retro computing scene. These are new breed computers based on the old 68k architecture, and they are counting on AROS as a main OS. Vampires are new Amiga compatible machines that run very fast, with entirely new capabilities. If you're into retro computing, you should definately check them out.

AROS had the same limitations as the old Amiga OS. No memory protection. Could easily crash your computer. It had outdated software. And a very outdated user interface. But it also had Amiga OS' strengths. It offered supreme speed, easy of use, beautiful system design and a very modular operating system layout. I felt right at home there, and I installed AROS on many of my older PCs that were laying around in my house.

AROS had a great and dedicated development team. The platform grew quickly in the early years of the 2000s. And the knowledge that the developers posessed was inspiring. I learned an immense amount while contributing to the Wanderer desktop environment. I even developed some applications, like Lunapaint.

Image result for lunapaint aros

But the enthusiasm wasn't to last. Personally, I wished that AROS would target end users - the system was almost complete in 2004/5. But many operating system projects are there for the developers, not the users. And the R in AROS was too pronounced. The user base didn't really grow. And many developers left ship.

In 2006 and 2007, a group of developers from the AROS project broke out and started developing a new derivative using components of Linux. The inspiration came from the quite successful Mac OS X and the original ideas from NeXT. Anubis OS was born, and as part and initiator of that group, I started writing the first snippets of code.

After a while, it became apparent to me that Anubis was not going anywhere. It was hard, as a team, to agree on design decisions, and soon the project went into a dormant state. I left the project behind and started focusing entirely on my dayjob - which was developing software and programs for companies.

AROS was a big deal - and still is where it is utilized. But it never got past its envelope - running on single machines, delivering apps that had been developed decades before. Nowdays, the platform has come quite far - and credit where credit is due, I think AROS has a great future; both on the Vampire cards as well as on Raspberry PIs. AROS is now running on ARM computers.

After many years spent as a software and web developer, I quit my job and started Idéverket, an interactive bureau, with some partners. We focused on developing content management and customer relations management software for customers. We had quite a diverse collection of customers within many fields of business. But one day, I got a chance to create a mockup prototype of a web desktop. Using ideas and personal code from Anubis OS, I presented a Single Sign-On desktop environment written in Javascript and running on a Linux server. The customer was intrigued and became my first investor in Friend Software Labs. The Friend Project had started.

Image result for "friendup"

End of Part 2.

Edited by m0ns00n
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"For a while, I started looking beyond Linux. I installed BeOS, and I kept using it for many years." 

Yes, the BeBox was awesome. I was 16 when I ordered it from America, I hoped so much that Apple would take over the operating system, but unfortunately I was disappointed and then sold the box again later and became a fan of iMac. As a self-taught, I started with C64 when I was 10 years old. Basic, assembler from Data Becker, later when I was 20 years old C, C ++, PHP, Perl. Today, at the age of 48, I have unfortunately forgotten a lot and am learning Javascript, HTML and CSS again, because the integration of x libraries in C ++ gets on my nerves. Javascript, Node.js and Electron are the future.



M.K. Trading


Edited by Guest

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