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X11 / SVGA X Server / PicassoII

Thanks to Jeff at for documenting this process! See the original thread.

The default install of Amiga UNIX, even with the capabilities of ECS, allows only a black and white X display without additional hardware, whether that hardware is a NIC providing for use of X over the network or a graphics card such as the ridiculously hard to find A2410 “Lowell” graphics card.

Amiga A2410 "Lowell" Board

This board is supported by Amix, during install reply 'yes' when it asks if you have a graphics board and select A2410.

Following commands are from the “UNIX System V Release 4 Amiga Version 2.0 Addendum” to start OpenLook in A2410 modes:

For 1024×768 mode: olinit – -tiga

For 800×600 mode: olinit – -tiga -tm 3

The A2410 is also emulated by WinUAE.

What else is there?

With the use of drivers from the Gateway UNIX CD, certain other graphics cards are supported which may be easier to find (see the hardware page or the readme in the archive for a complete list). Among them is the Picasso II/PicassoII+, both of which are relatively easy to find on eBay and the like — especially compared to the A2410. Before Jeff's attempt however, no current installations were known.

Some history (source): These archives are a donation from Klaus Burckert. Klaus currently works at Village Tronic, at was, is and will be responsible for the hardware design of the graphic boards “Domino”, “Picasso II”, “Mac Picasso” and “Picasso IV”. Also he worked a lot on the Ethernet-Board “Ariadne”. Since long his hobby was AMIX. Having an A2000 with a GVP Series II SCSI adaptor, he wrote support for this adaptor for AMIX. Also, he wrote about a dozen of very sophisticated X Servers for several graphic boards. Having intented to release this stuff for years, he finally found a place to distribute it on the Gateway! Vol. 2.

This has only been tested with a Picasso II+ board using a fully patched 2.1p2a installation. Other supported boards should use the same or very similar procedure.

In order to complete the installation you will need the following:

  • Supported Amiga UNIX Hardware
  • Fully patched Amiga UNIX 2.1p2a installation (not tested on unpatched and/or HD hack installations)
  • Picasso II or PicassoII+ RTG card

These actions must be performed as the root user.

1. Install your Picasso II or supported graphics card. Look in the archive documents to see a complete list of supported boards.

2. Start with a working patched Amiga Unix 2.1p2a installation; uname -a should return UNIX_System_V amix 4.0 2.1c 0800430 Amiga (Unlimited) m68k

3. Run olinit and xinit to make sure they are set up on your machine and working. You should be able to bring up the hideous black and white display. Do this also for other user accounts that you wish to be able to use X later (or copy the config files into that user's home directory later).

4. Download the Gateway's UNIX CD's Amix files, gunzip the file X11R5_bin.tar.gz (using gzip -d X11R5_bin.tar.gz) to end up with a file named X11R5_bin.tar. Write this file to an empty tape on your A3070, don't forget to retension/zero out if necessary (see this page for more info on working with tape in AMIX): dd if=X11R5_bin.tar bs=512 of=/dev/rmt/4h

5. Copy the file install.svga from the drivers archive to the AMIX machine (put it in your home directory or /tmp) and run it: sh install.svga You can use an MS-DOS formatted 720k floppy to copy the file. On AMIX insert the disk and execute the command mcopy A:INSTALL.SVG /destinationdirectory/install.svga

6. This should have left 3 files in /var/tmp. These will be deleted later so copy them to /home or somewhere else if you want to save them. The only file you will need at this point is named installR5. This needs a quick edit with vi to comment out (or delete) the command on the 5th line that reads mt fsf. The tar command will not find the file on your tape if you do not do this. The modified file should look like this:


cd /usr
mt rew
#mt fsf <-- COMMENTED OUT
tar xf /dev/rmt/4h 2>/dev/null

ln -s X11R5 X

cd /usr/include
ln -s /usr/X11R5/includeX11 X11
cd /usr/bin
ln -s /usr/X11R5/bin X11
cd /usr/lib
ln -s /usr/X11R5/lib X11

ln -s X11/
ln -s X11/
ln -s X11/
ln -s X11/
ln -s X11/
ln -s X11/
ln -s X11/

cd /usr/X/bin
rm X
ln -s Xsvga X

echo "Edit XsvgaConfig in your home directory for approriate ViewMode!
Make sure /usr/bin/X11 is in your path or the X-Server could not be found."

7. Run the modified installR5 script with the command sh installR5. This will copy the files from the 30 meg .tar file that you put on the tape to your hard drive. It will take some time. The binaries will go in a new directory named /usr/X11R5/bin

8. cd /etc and back up your profile (cp profile profile.bak) and use vi to modify the path statements to include /usr/bin/X11:/usr/X11R5/bin. The first path statement is for the root user, the other one for normal users. The modified root path statement should look like this;


9. Change to the directory named /usr/sys and run the command make. This will compile a new kernel with the changes needed to run the linked-in “Xsvga” X-server. The new kernel file will be in the /usr/sys directory and it will be named “relocunix”. Copy the new kernel file to your /stand directory (cp relocunix /stand), change to /stand and run the command make bootpart KERNEL=relocunix. When told so, shutdown and reboot the machine to load the new kernel and all the rest of the changes with shutdown -i6.

10. Edit the file named XsvgaConfig in your home directory (root directory, when using root account) with vi and do a quick edit to select the screenmode that you desire. WARNING: do not choose a frequency or resolution that is higher than the capabilities of your monitor, there will be “no sanity checks”. Something like 640×480 or 800×600 should be safe enough, and at least with OpenLook you'll want something at minimun of 800×600.

11. Type xinit and hope for the best! If it worked, congratulations! Grab a well deserved cup of coffee and start playing around with some of the binaries in the /usr/X11R5/bin directory.

Check out Jeff's screen shots on to see what it looks like. You will find them here and here.

Note from Jeff: A couple of last minute thoughts. The keymap seems to be screwed up now, but only in “X”. The “y and z” keys are swapped, and a “/ is now SHIFT-8”, there are several others. Does anyone know how to fix it so the standard American Amiga keyboard layout is correct? Although I have a strong Amiga backround, I am not a Unix person. Even with the directions provided in the Gateway drivers it took me a couple days to figure this out and get it running. Let me know if you have any comments, or spot any errors. Thanks to Klaus, Failure, and everyone else for providing the files, drivers, and information to get it all running.

Note from editor: the method described above requires a tape drive. If skilled enough, you can figure out what the beginning of the script does (basically copies files from the tar archive to /usr/X11R5) and modify it to copy the files from a local directory, where you have transfered the files by some other method. Hopefully instructions for that will be added here in the future.

X11R5 and OpenLook

OpenLook is a graphical user interface for Unix systems. Originally developed by AT&T and Sun Microsystems in the late 1980's. See more in Open Look at Wikipedia.

Figure 1: X11R5 running OpenLook in color. Desktop background: xearth utility

Thanks to mackbw for describing the fix in X11R5 and OpenLook - the missing font error (thread on English Amiga Boards).

Upgrading to X11R5 with the method described above seems to break OpenLook: it will complain about a missing font d12lucida.snf and won't start. This can be fixed by manually telling where the fonts directory is.

Make sure all the user accounts have path statement correctly set (step 8 above) and that the XsvgaConfig is in every user's home directory.

To change the desktop manager from tvtwm to OpenLook, change your profile's .xinitrc file like this:

  1. comment out or delete tvtwm &
  2. add xset fp+ /usr/X11R5/lib/X11/fonts/Xol
  3. add olwsm

Now xinit will bring up the OpenLook desktop. Go to Workspace / Properties / Color and select a color combination. For the color selection window to fit the screen, you'll need a resolution of at least 1024×768. Or use the shortcut key A to Apply the selection.

Figure 2: OpenLook Color Selection screen with “Factory” color comibation


  • system.twmrc is in /usr/X11R5/lib/X11/twm. Put “RightTitleButton “xlogo11” = f.delete” in there and windows will have a close-button.
x11.txt · Last modified: 2022/04/15 12:48 by wiki_admin