Sunday, 5 April 2020

PiMiga v1.2b for Raspberry Pi 4B

This weekend I decided to take a look at the recently released PiMiga V1.2B Lockdown Edition pre-setup Amiga emulation Amiga 1200/4000 build for Raspberry Pi 4.

Sorry for the delay in blog posts, but with the Coronavirus situation, my employers company being taken over by another one this past two weeks, it has meant I have had a lot of other things to do recently that have stopped me playing around with the Amiga's much. 

But I made sure to make time this weekend. I really needed a break from work and virus news to play with something new and fun!

To use PiMiga, I of course needed a Raspberry Pi 4.

I picked mine up locally in AU for $59 from Core Electronics. As a side note they also sell the very cool Gameboy inspired Retroflag GPi case!

I bought the official Pi case, keyboard and mouse too:

I already have experience with Pi systems, most recently with a Raspberry Pi 3, which I was using for IOT projects running Windows 10 IOT, and also Ubuntu Mate for playing around with various stuff.

I hoped the Raspberry Pi 4 would bring the badly needed speed increase the platform needs, and hopefully runs Amiga emulation at full speed! Let's find out!

Here is some close up photos of the Raspberry Pi 4 - this is the model B version with 4GB memory:

It has dual mini-hdmi out, and USB-C power source, alongside the usual USB, ethernet, audio and GPIO port.

Flipping the board over, you can see the MicroSD slot to put OS images into:

The official case is a perfect fit for the Pi 4 and easy to assemble, with no screws needed:

External views of the Pi 4 case with the Pi 4 installed:

The keyboard deserves a mention - the new keyboard has a USB hub built in, which the (extremely short) USB mouse cable is obviously designed to fit into:

I loaded up Debian onto a 64GB MicroSD using my Windows 10 PC and booted up the new Raspberry Pi 4 for the first time.

Having established the system works, I next wrote out the latest v1.2B Raspberry Pi 4 build of PiMiga to a MicroSD card. I did this using my Windows 10 PC as it is less hassle with the 7zip files and large file formats I need to work with.

PiMiga includes the latest AmiBerry Amiga emulation, but setup on an almost ready to run bootable image for the Raspberry Pi 4.

You can get the latest version of PiMiga from the recently setup dedicate Facebook page - just search for PiMiga. The Facebook page includes the link to get the multi-part 7zip archive files (around 16GB worth), and also includes the password needed to extract the files from the archive:

After downloading and extracting the archive, I reviewed the installation instructions included in the PDF in the archive.  

I then got to work writing out the 30GB image file to a 64GB MicroSD card using my Windows 10 PC and Win32 Disk Imager:

Once the image file is written out, the only thing we need to do before putting it in the Raspberry Pi 4 is drop the kickstart roms files into the required partition location, as these can't be included in the distribution for copyright reasons. These steps are included in the PDF in the PiMiga archive. 

As per the instructions, the Image once written out to the MicroSD card results in two partitions, one unreadable under Windows 10, and one readable called KICK, which is where we need to copy our legally obtained kickstart roms.

You can buy them from Cloanto. I got them as part of the Amiga Forever package, so I copied the 3.1 A1200 and A4000 kickstart roms (and the rom.key needed to decrypt) across to the MicroSD card KICK drive:

Once there, I needed to rename the two kickstart files to the convention required by the instructions in the PDF, as below:

Excellent. Now we are ready to try it out on the Raspberry Pi 4! I put the MicroSD card in the Pi4 and powered on. After some quick setup stuff that was invisible it rebooted into the PiMiga environment with a nice splash boot screen and boot sound:

Here is the booted Amiga 1200 Hard disk emulated Workbench 3.1 desktop - looks pretty awesome:

Something I found out though is that I needed to use the Micro HDMI port closest to the USB-C power adapter port on the Pi 4B to hear any audio output.

With that done the mod sounds came through loud and clear and I was very happy indeed!

Under the hood, This is a Debian linux distribution, running the latest AmiBerry 3.1.3 Amiga emulation distribution. If you press the Function + F12 on the Raspberry Pi keyboard (F12 on a normal full sized keyboard) you get the Amiberry GUI, which allows you to view and change the Amiga emulation configuration, to reset the Amiga emulation, or shutdown the Pi 4 system:

Clicking through the various emulation options, you can see the A1200 configuration used by default is running 68020 AGA system, with 8MB chip and 128MB fast memory:

Being an A1200 emulation, it is using the AGA chipset:

Interesting part next is the hard disk folder setup. This shows that the various folders under linux are mapped to DHx devices under the emulation:

If you hit Quit or if AmiBerry crashes during the emulation for any reason, you can return to the command line login prompt for linux. You will need the username 'pi' and password 'pima' to login. then type 'sudo reboot' to reboot the system back into the PiMiga system environment.

There are two configurations in AmiBerry, one for A1200 and one for A4000. The main differences are the memory (256MB versus 128MB), CPU (020 versus 040) - the drives map to the same folders under linux under either system.

You could create additional configurations for 1.3 based emulations, etc. I might do this later on.

One other thing you do need to do here is configure your USB joystick (if you have one). I have one attached, so I go into the Input settings - by default the emulation is using the keyboard as a joystick:

We can click the down arrow to select the USB joystick:

I then went to the configurations section to save the configuration, so it would remember it every time it boots.

With that done, let's now take a look at the PiMiga pre-staged Workbench 3.1 hard disk environment as provided:

The author of the PiMiga package has gone to a lot of effort to do nice icons, and a logical structure to the program locations:

The prefs icons are unusual - I haven't seen icons like this before!

The backdrops of the windows for each drawer are colourful:

There are icons on the desktop for UAE Control parameters you can change, and also shortcuts to drawers - it is clear this appears to be using ClassicWB distribution which is modified a lot:

There are a number of emulators preinstalled, but I haven't tried these yet:

There is a large number of WHDLoad games preloaded on the PiMiga image, ready to run:

There are a bunch of demos too. Note that some need the A4000 configuration to run, some need the A1200 configuration to run, depending on their CPU requirements.

A close up of the drive icons, modelled on Mac Mini systems of old - but looks pretty cool:

There are a few example movies you can play out of the box on the PiMiga system:

Being a huge fan of modules, I am pleased to see there are a number of modules out of the box to enjoy, although I plan to add my own large collection to this in due course.

iGame is setup on the PiMiga system, and indexed with all the thousands of WHDLoad games ready to run on the system:

I have to admit, I am impressed with the work done on this setup, and grateful it saves me the time to do it myself!

I ran the SysInfo tool, which surprise surprise resulted in a  very fast Amiga, way faster than any real Amiga can run!

Final Writer 68k is also included, and it was nice to use under PiMiga:

The shell is VincEd Shell, which I am glad to see has been setup for tab completion for paths, etc.

There are a number of applications included, like AHX for chip tune composing:

Perfect Paint is installed for your graphic file manipulation needs:

Octamed Sound Studio is also installed:

I shutdown the system and mounted the MicroSD on my separate Linux Mint system, so I could copy my mods, demos, ADF files and more to the card - you can see the Kick drive and rootfs are mounted on:

I copied a number of ADF's into to currently empty /home/pi/pimiga/adf folder on the MicroSD card:

I realise with the WHDLoad games on the HD you probably don't need ADF files, but I prefer to have them handy just in case.

I also put my Amiga 2000 HDF (taken from my real Amiga 2000 hard disk) into the empty HDF folder - I don't plan to set this up right now, but will do so at a later time.

Under the /home/pi/pimiga folder on the MicroSD you can see the various folders mounted as drives under PiMiga (AmiBerry):

I quickly added my favourite modules and demos to these folders:

I unmounted the MicroSD, removed from the Linux PC and inserted back into the Raspberry Pi 4B and booted again.  The backdrop changes on each boot:

I tested some WHDLoad games, such as Agony, which ran well:

Shadow of the Beast also ran well:

The USB Joystick also works perfectly:

I also ran a few demos, as included on the distribution. There seems a small issue with iconx as provided in this image for icon launching of some demos, but apart from that, the demos run fine from the Amiga shell (which is how I normally run them anyway).

TBL's Starstruck demo runs flawlessly on the Pi4 using the A4000 configuration in Amiberry, which is great news!

Other demos, such as this one from Focus Design also ran well in A1200 020 configuration:

For me, the big thing was that AGA 060 demos run perfectly at full speed on the Pi4. I am very happy to see this, and makes the Raspberry Pi 4B a cheap and full speed Amiga emulation platform.

PiMiga is a free distribution to download and use, and is definitely worth trying out on your Raspberry Pi 4 today! (there is also a Raspberry Pi 3 version but I haven't tested that)

Please all keep safe out there!


  1. Hi! I´ve installed this on a Pi3b and ran fine, but I cannot enter the configuration options (pressing F12 and then Quit), because whenever I select QUIT the Raspberry performs a shutdown (just like if I pressed SHUTDOWN). Could you tell me how to access the configuration options?(I need to switch audio from HDMI to Jack). Thank you!

  2. Tried writing this image to a 32gb sdcard, only wind up with the boot partition visible. Tried writing it 2 times to make sure. Kick partition was not visible to me. Pulled and reinserted the card but still get the same thing.

  3. Get the same thing with the 4b version. I did put the sdcard in a unix box and can see the KICK partition and was able to copy the kickstart rom file there but still get no video when booting from the sdcard on either of the pi's. Yes, I did use the different images for the different pi's.

  4. make sure your using 7zip to unzip the image file. its a 2 step process
    the files must be cocantenated once again into a single file. 7Zip can rejoin the pieces, select the first file from within the 7zip gui, and join the files. Then it must be extracted, if you have a good archive, it will prompt you for the password before extracting the files. if its corrupt it may extract, but it won't ask for the password and it wont be a good download. I had to reload part5 as mine was corrupt.

    when booting - at least on raspberry pi3 it takes awhile - probably 25 seconds or so with a blank screen before it boots into Pimiga splash screen. Best to let it wait a minute or so to see if its just configuring itself. you will not have video, but you can see the pi leds lit, as long as you have red and green it should be doing its thing.

  5. for problems with pi3b image. There is a file called cmdline.txt that passes parameters to the kernel, the author set the consoleblank=1 setting so that it is pretty much always blank if you try to use the terminal. You can edit the file and change the value - I made mine consoleblank=361 which gives me 5 minutes before it blanks.
    when you edit the file, you will see it is all on one line even though there are 6 or 7 parameters available, making it a bit difficult to read like a giant runon sentence. Leave it as single line, the kernel wants it to be a single line so it can be parsed properly.
    easiest way. I booted my pi3 with a copy of Raspbian Buster, and put the Pimiga microsd into a usb card reader and plugged it into the usb bus on the Pi3, it asked to mount, and I said okay and then just navigate to the root of the card you should see cmdline.txt.
    Edit it, save it, shutdown, put the Pimiga card back into the pi3 microsd slot and boot it up. You may have to define a hotkey in Amiberry to quit to the shell. I use F11 and it works fine.

  6. Same deal as everyone else. No video output in the Pi 4 after several minutes, no light activity. Archive extracted perfectly. Image just seems to be hosed.

  7. try loading the microsd card with the Pimiga image on it, into a usb cardreader. Boot your pi4 from a known good working distribution like Raspbian Buster, once your system is up to the desktop, insert the usb card reader into a usb port on the pi4. It will ask to mount, mount it and examine the card. you should be able to read the file system. you may need to alter the HDMI values in the config.txt file.
    I had problems like these in the early days of the pi, when using a hdmi/vga adapter before hdmi monitors became so cheap they were everywhere.

    I have downloaded the pi4 image, but I don't yet have a pi4 to run it on. waiting for the corona lockdown to ease up so I can head down to the store and pick one up. I already have a half dozen pi3s and zeros, so I have plenty of pi's to play with, while I wait.

    All I can tell you is to follow, good troubleshooting practices. Try it with another monitor, to see if its a sync/signal issue. try another HDMI cable. I've had problems with hdmi adapters for the zero's not displaying any video, and had to switch adapters and everything worked fine.

    If your checksum for the image matched when you downloaded it, it should be intact and functional image file, you can try writing to another sd card and verifying the write to make sure you're not getting a corrupt image file.

    Pimiga is nicely currated version of Amiberry, running under dietpi.
    you can download DietPi, its small about 300mb if I remember. Put that on a card and test it, by itself. that will make you comfortable that your hardware works with the default DietPi install. You can also ask for help in the DietPi forums.

    I'll let you know how it works out on mine when I get my PI4 probably later this week, or maybe tomorrow if they are open....

  8. Tried everything I could think of and still no go. Image worked fine with 7zip and asked for the password. Both versions go so far and then the activity light stops. Waited 2 or 3 minutes each time after this. Can hit F12 to get to the Amibian configuration screen. Once I make selections or just hit resume to continue after the amibian config screen comes up, it will boot to a login prompt. I can login with the pi/pimiga login and password and run the sudo raspi-config and make changes. I have tried turning on/off the 4k/composite option, tried changing screen resolutions etc. and then rebooting. Get the same thing everytime. It will run for a while and the the activity light stops. Can get back to amibian config by hitting the f12 key. I've done this so very many times but the result is always the same. I've also tried different monitors, same result. Finally have given up.

    The only thing different from what is shown in the instructions is the KICK partition. It is not visible in Windows unless I go into Disk Management. Then I can see it but it is unformatted and will not let me format the partition. If I boot under Linux and pop my card in, the KICK partition is accessible under /media/KICK and I have copied the roms (and renamed them correctly) into the folder this way. I'm really out of ideas at this point.

  9. is it showing your roms in the Amibian(amiberry) configuration screen? If it can't find the roms, it can't emulate, as there is nothing to emulate with.

    Amiberry is included with DietPi distro now, so you might find some support at the DietPi forums, or from AmiBerry developers. I think the roms go somewhere in the user tree

    I think is where the roms are, thought it might be
    but at least you know . the image is good. it does boot and the problem is its not finding the roms. Now all you have to do is figure out where the roms need to be and copy them there and you should have a functioning Pimiga...

    You'll either need to work from a linux system or a Raspbian system and mount the Pimiga card into a usb card reader, so you can transfer your files to where you need them, unless you want to set up SSH and do your file transfers via that method.

    good luck, you are almost there. just a couple more steps

  10. so I checked my working Pi3 Pimiga sd card, the roms are in this path
    I have kick31a1200.rom and kick31a4000.rom and rom.key
    in the directory, so i can emulate an amiga 1200 and an amiga 4000

    my theory is there was supposed to be a script to copy them from the Kick partition to the Amiberry directory, but apparently its not working on your system.

    If Amiberry can find your Kickstart Roms, it should list them in the configuration screen. If it can't find them, you won't see any kickstart roms. no kickstart roms, no amiga...

    if you load your Pimga sd card into a usb reader and plug it into the usb bus on your pi after you have booted from a Raspbian image in the sd slot, it should ask to mount and you can find the Kickstart directory at /media/pi/rootfs/mnt/dietpi_userdata/amiberry/kickstarts

    you can then copy your kickstarts from another usb drive plugged into you usb bus on the pi, or over the network if you have you files networked and your pi connected to your network.

  11. Well, my pimiga pi3 is still running well, can't wait to get my hands on a pi4 and try that one. Thanks for the review and all the beautiful screen shots. It made me want to dig out some of my old mod music floppys. Now I have a new project converting them to adfs.

    it is a really cool build and it gave me a chance to learn about Diet-Pi as well, which is a great distro...

    thanks for taking the time to review Pimiga 1.2b, still hard to find much on the internets about it. This post surely helps.

  12. I picked up a pi4 just for pimiga as I have never used a amiga before and I am just blown away by how awesome the device is, is there a way to setup the networking option under pimiga?

  13. my keborads ( all of them) dont work correctly... when i press eg "2" i get "2p" when i press "x" i get X and Return
    cant find the problem causing that .. any idea ? thx
    Pimiga is awesome