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Amiga 1200: Installing AmigaOS 3.9

After having Amiga OS 3.1 on the 1200 for a while, I'd decided it was time to upgrade to Amiga OS 3.9. I had instantly realised there was a problem with this; the installation media is on a CD! There was no way I was going digging for an accelerator card with SCSI, or a PCMCIA CD Drive, so I resorted to emulation to get the OS installed. Therefore, henceforth are the steps required to build a compactflash card with a real OS for use on real hardware. Godspeed.

Please note, a lot of this was gleamed from watching How to add a 8 GB Compact Flash hard drive to your Amiga 1200 (works with 4 GB too) and I want to thank Alex Rosato for providing this video. Please watch it if you have any issues with the steps here.

I also need to thank GothicKane for his video Upgrading Workbench 3.1 to Amiga OS 3.9. Both videos combined were required to get my A1200 up to AmigaOS 3.9.

Finally, the requirements are as follows: An Amiga 1200 with Kickstart 3.1, an 8gb CF Card + adapter and an accelerator card or memory expansion of at least 4mb. The base 2mb in the Amiga 1200 is not enough to run Amiga OS 3.9 successfully!

Choosing a CF Card

There's no real requirement here. Most posts will indicate that your card needs to be no bigger than 4gig. This tutorial will expect that your card is 8gig. I bought the smallest card available from a local camera shop (seems to be the only retail shops left with stock!) and 8gig was the minimum. I therefore had to go to extra lengths to get the partitions created. But it's now working perfectly.

Next you'll need a CF Card Reader for your ('non-amiga') computer. I've got a crappy USB all-in-one and it works fine.


Off-the-shelf CF cards will come with FAT partitions on them. On Windows 10, drop to command prompt (Start, cmd) and then type diskpart. You'll get UAC prompt, accept it. You'll now need to be VERY CAREFUL. Type list disk and work out the number of your CF Card.

Microsoft DiskPart version 10.0.10586

Copyright (C) 1999-2013 Microsoft Corporation.
On computer: WHITEBOARD-PC

DISKPART> list disk

  Disk ###  Status         Size     Free     Dyn  Gpt
  --------  -------------  -------  -------  ---  ---
  Disk 0    Online          465 GB      0 B
  Disk 1    Online         1863 GB      0 B
  Disk 2    Online         1863 GB   879 GB
  Disk 3    No Media           0 B      0 B
  Disk 4    Online         7847 MB      0 B
  Disk 5    No Media           0 B      0 B
  Disk 6    No Media           0 B      0 B


As you can see, the all-in-one reader provides too many disks to choose from. Either way, I know I have an 8gig card in the slot, so it's Disk 4 that we're after. Therefore, type select disk 4. From here we need to view the partitions, so type list partition.

DISKPART> select disk 1

Disk 1 is now the selected disk.

DISKPART> list partition

  Partition ###  Type              Size     Offset
  -------------  ----------------  -------  -------
  Partition 1    Primary           7847 MB      0 B


Once you're sure that you've got the right disk, and that you see the correct list of partitions to remove, you can either delete them one-by-one or use the command clean. I actually take objection to Microsoft indicating that 'clean' should clear all partitions. It sounds quite innocent when, in fact, it is obliterating all your data!

Either way, the goal is to end up with zero partitions on your CF card.

Installing and Configuring WinUAE

Our emulator-of-choice for the Amiga is WinUAE. Download it from here. Once installed, you'll need to always open it via Run As Administrator. WinUAE will need higher system privileges to access the low-level area of your CF Card, so don't forget to always run it in this manner. If you don't, then chances are you'll see "Access Denied" next to the CF card in the list further on.

Here's the fun part... to get WinUAE booted, you'll need the following items:

  1. Kickstart ROM 3.1
  2. Workbench 3.1 Disks (ADF)
  3. AmigaOS 3.9 CD

I.. won't tell you how to get them... but it's not hard... any of those terms, with the relevant verbs appended, when typed into google, should get you the binary 1s and 0s that you seek.

Next are some supporting files to allow greater-than-4gb disks to be useful. Create a folder somewhere on your disk and call it work. Download and extract (you can use 7-zip for this) the following to this directory:

Once you have the required loot then you can configure the rest of WinUAE to get a bootable emulator.

1. Quickstart: Select the A1200
2. ROM: Load your Kickstart ROM
3. Configure the FastRAM to 8mb
4. Load the first 4 floppies
5. Add Hard Drive (from CD/HD Panel)
6. Add Diretory Or Archive (from CD/HD Panel)
7. Select ISO Image and Add SCSI/IDE CD Drive
8. Save your configuration
9. Hit Start

Creating Amiga Partitions

Start the emulator with its new configuration... patience will be required throughout the rest of this process. You should end up at the workbench desktop with a crap-tonne of floppies mounted. Firsly we'll drill into the work folder, where we have our after-market goodies, and partition the new disk.

workbench hdinsttools disklist

At this point, I'm going to assume you extracted the goodies into this folder, if you haven't, then go do so now! Browse to work and open the HDInstTools drawer (that's what they're called on Workbench) and then the HDInstTools application. There should be one item listed here: the CF Disk as 0 0 0 with manufacturer of UAE-IDE.

filesystem-sel filesystem-custom filesystem-done

Select this disk, make sure it's highlighted, and then press the File System button. At this stage there shouldn't be any filesystems listed, so choose Add... and select: work:Smartfilesystem/AmigaOS3.x/L/SmartFilesystem. Once selected, change the DOSType to SFS\0 (PRESSING ENTER AFTER CHANGING THE VALUE!.) Now press the Use button and you'll return to the FileSystem list. Press Use again to return to the main HDInstTools menu.

From here, since we now have a new filesystem declared, we can create partitions under it. Select Partition drive... and then hit Add Partition. A partition the full size of the disk will be created, but we don't want this. So hit Edit partition... so we can configure it further.

add-part-1 add-part-2 part-complete

Drag the size slider to somewhere below 4gig. I would actually recommend below 2gig. Here I chose 1gig for this first partition. Set the File System to Custom and then manually type in SFS\0 for the DOSType. Press ENTER after typing in the new code whilst the text cursor is still in the text field! The cursor will move to the next field when enter is pressed. This way you'll be sure that the value has been applied. Next, change MaxTransfer to 0x001FE00 and Buffers to 100. Hit enter after entering each value! Then press the Use button to confirm changes to your first partition.

At this point, add as many other partitions as you want using the exact same method as above. They can be any size after this, but make sure that, if you're ever going to boot on an older Kickstart (pre v3.1) or older OS that you keep them at sane values. 2gig is a good theoretical maximum. There's also no harm in multiple 2gig drives for games, utilities, videos, mods, mp3s, downloads, etc...


Once you've got your partitions configured, hit Use and then Save changes to drive. At this point you'll be told that you need to restart. Hit F12 to get to WinUAE's configuration and save your settings. Finally, press the restart button in the bottom-left of the WinUAE control panel.

If all goes well, you'll be back at workbench with a DH0:NDOS on the desktop also. If this isn't visible then you'll need to go back to the start and open HDInstTool and see what configuration has stuck and what hasn't. Work out the gaps and run through the process again.

If you can see DH0:NDOS, then it's time to format it. Open up the Workbench3.1 disk, browse to System and then open the Shell. Browse to the smartfilesystem folder (cd work:SmartFileSystem) and then format the disk with the following command: sfsformat drive DH0: name OS. You can call the partition anything you want here.

If OS then appears on your desktop then you're set to install your operating system!

Installing Workbench 3.1

This is a pretty straight-forward install. You can save a lot of time by making sure the first 4 disks are already in the drives. You'll want wbench,install,extras and locale in first. Once ready, go to the Install disk and run the English installer.

wb-installer start-install install-release

A lot of the time you'll be hitting Proceed as we'll be using a lot of the default settings. Choose Intermediate Install and then go with the defaults. Make sure that the location is correct. You can see that my default location wasn't correct and that I had to select the proper OS: drive.

intermediate-install options-logging default-location-bad

show-drives select-os installing-wb31

Once that's all out of the way, the installation will proceed. Let it do its thing until it asks for the next disk. This will be the Fonts disk. It'll want the Storage disk after this, so put both in to the df2 and df3 slots. Hit F12 to get to the WinUAE Configuration window and then swap the disks in.

swap-floppies second-floppy-list continuing-install

Let it chug along further until you get the message to restart. Hit F12, eject all of the floppies and then reboot the emulator.

complete installed

Congratulations, Workbench 3.1 is installed.

Other patches

Firstly, add the latest version of Installer to your new WB. This will allow your to install applications that require the newest version. Drag the executable to OS:C/.

installed show-all-files-installer copy-installer

NSD is the 'new style devices' driver. Install this by double-clicking on it.

NSDPatch-install NSDPatch-install-2 NSDPatch-install-3


Now it's time for the next version of WB.

Workbench 3.9

And finally... The latest release for the A1200. This is also very simple. Just make sure you have the 8mb of FastRAM configured and the ISO in the drive. Firstly, we need to set up the CD Drive. So head into WinUAE Configuration and then to the CD/HD tab. Here you need to Add SCSI/IDE CD Drive. Choose the defaults and hit Add CD Drive. Load the ISO into the slot at the bottom of the window. Also make sure that CDFS automount is enabled!

set-up-cd configure-cd-image

Reboot WinUAE and you'll have a CD on your desktop. Find and run the installer.

cd-on-desktop setup-icon

And now... the installation. Very straight-forward... hit Proceed in most circumstances. Just make sure you choose a OS3.9 full installation over OS3.0 or empty HD. Also make sure you get the target disk correct!

os39-install-1 os39-install-2 os39-install-3

os39-install-4 os39-install-5 os39-install-6

os39-install-7 os39-install-8 os39-install-9

os39-install-10 os39-install-11 os39-install-12

os39-install-13 os39-install-14 os39-desktop

Restart and you're there! Browse to OS:Prefs and double-click on ScreeMode to change the screen resolution and color depth.

os39-desktop-2 os39-desktop-3

Boing Bags

These are service packs for the Amiga. Download Boing Bags 1-4 here. Install them in order, started from 1. Make sure you install the ROM update from BB2.

Extra features

The OS3.9 CD has a few goodies on it. Don't forget to browse it and copy anything you might want onto your HDD. It gets painful down the track if you have safely secured your CD Card into your A1200 and then have to fight floppy disks to transfer data across.

I'll post again on OS3.9 when I work out what you can do with it. Learning starts now...


About stevenh

Trains... trains... trains... + Electronics + Japan.
Comments (4) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Awesome ! Easy to follow with great pictures! Thanks Maestro!

  2. excellent writeup, but…

    folowed this guide, using a ssd instead of a cf card
    ssd boots just fine under winuae, but if i put the drive in the amiga, it shows an empty workbench screen, no ram disk or OS harddisk

    Amiga 1200 with ACA1233n accelerator with 128mb ram, 32gb kingspec ssd
    no other mods

    any idea what could be wrong?

    • This usually means that there’s an issue in your StartupSequence or UserStartup.
      Use the information here:

      You’ll then be able to adjust boot options.

      What ROMs do you have installed and what OS are you trying to run?

      • i followed your guide exactly, i have the exact same kickstart 3.1 40.069 rom file
        same settings, same adf install disks and the addons you listed

        everything installs without errors, if i stop right before the Workbench 3.9 install, everything is fine, boots within seconds to the workbench screen, showing OS partition and RAM drive

        that’s on both winuae and amiga itself

        after installing 3.9, in winuae it boots as shown in your pictures
        but when booting the same ssd from the amiga, i only have an empty “workbench screen”, no workbench, no OS or RAM Disk icons, no menu

        havent made any changes to startup-sequence or userstartup
        no boing balls installed yet either

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