Explanation of Workbench 1.4 through Workbench 2.04

Generously contributed by former AmigaOS team member, Peter Cherna

When I started at Commodore in the Amiga software group in mid-1989, I got to see the then-current state of the OS, which was approaching beta on 1.4. So much good stuff, and I thought "This should be called 2.0". I was told that "No, 2.0 is the release where we get to break everybody", in other words the hypothetical release where "doing it right" was more important than "making it compatible."

Anyway, we had a beta target date of mid-December 1989 [view the list of known bugs from this December 15, 1989 beta 1 release below]. By that time we had some of the new Preferences editors up, and the GUI style of the gadget toolkit was taking form, but the window borders were pretty much as ever. One Monday we came in and two of the engineers (Dave Berezowski, who had primary responsibility for Workbench, and Steve Beats, who was doing file systems, drivers, and a lot besides) were looking mighty smug, but wouldn't say why. After the whole team straggled in, they showed the first cut of the "new look"—mostly revamped window borders. Their weekend effort made it clear that we could and we should adopt a new look more broadly, which led (among other things) to:

At that point, with the striking visual changes, it was pretty obvious to everyone that we had to call it 2.0 and set aside the notion of saving 2.0 for the "big one."

So really, 2.0 was the final name for the release that was going to be 1.4, but once we had the new look, the new number was just a matter of time.

The A3000 was launched with 2.0, which contained one quite serious bug (I forget what) that was immediately fixed in 2.01. (That was about all 2.01 added).

2.02 was a huge effort internally to fix the worst problems and get stability way up. A lot of people labored incredibly hard to make 2.02 quite solid. Bryce Nesbitt managed the core OS subgroup and did an amazing job at making a very disciplined release. One or two loose screws meant we still needed a 2.03 to fix that up, and 2.04 was another big effort and was very stable and compatible with a huge number of applications that for various reasons good and otherwise did things that were not strictly by the book.

There are a lot of unsung heroes from that period who poured incredible efforts into 2.0x stability. Some like Bryce, and Mike Sinz, worked for Commodore. But we had many external testers, most importantly Bill Hawes (who wrote ARexx), who did an incredible amount of stress-testing of the software, all of which not only made 2.04 extremely stable, but established a culture of stability that lasted as long as I was there (through 3.0), and presumably longer.

Known Bugs - 1.4b1
15 Dec 1989

  1. SetCPU is no longer used for soft-kicking into 1.4. Do NOT attempt to use SetCPU for this purpose. Use KickIt and the special Kick file which ends in ".20" to soft-kick 1.4. KickIt has been enhanced so that the Kick file can be placed in your 2620 or 2630 RAM OR a 1st-slot AutoConfigTM RAM board. SetCPU is still provided for setting cache options, etc.
  2. Alias will not accept multi-word aliases unless you put quotes ("") around the string. See S:Shell-startup for examples. The alias command does not escape the escape characters when listing current aliases.
  3. Alias currently is not supporting redirection ( >NIL: for example) in the alias string. Workaround - use script commands instead. (i.e. place a file containing the complex comand in S:, call the file the command name you wish it to have, and protect the file +s).
  4. The color order has been changed for this release; it probably will change again before final release of 1.4 for compatibility with 1.3 programs.
  5. Keyboard autorepeat is not working in some programs (for example some text editors and terminal packages).
  6. [Item six is missing from the original file; no idea why]
  7. The 1.3 editor "ED" does NOT work under 1.4. It was a bit too intimate with the global vector, even for a BCOL program. A 1.4 version will be available in a later release.
  8. Drag-copying an icon with no associated file is not working (nothing will be copied).
  9. You must NOT specify Filesystem = L:FastFileSystem when mounting FFS partitions under 1.4. There IS no L:FastFileSystem (FFS is in ROM). You must currently use a modified mountlist with the Filesystem line removed or commented out. If you specify the non-existant L:FastFileSystem when mounting a partition under 1.4, you may crash when you access that partition. Use a mountlist modified for 1.4, and make sure your DosType lines are correct.
  10. The graphics for the window gadgets all look alike right now because the final imagery is not installed in this release. This also causes some 1-bit-plane window gadgets to be invisible.
  11. LISTS's "lformat" option is not working properly.
  12. MORE, used from the Shell, is always opening its own window. This may mean that the CLI->CLI_Background variable is non-zero.
  13. Workbench menu selection "Version" makes the version appear on the screen title bar (which may be obscured).
  14. Double-click execution of iconless view-by-name commands (such as Dir) is not working properly. The general 'Execute a CLI command' requester appears instead.
  15. Doing a 'Snapshot' on 'fake' icons does not work.
  16. Do not use the SHOW option in the Commodities Exchange on the FKEYS commodity.