The Commodore Amiga is a great machine to emulate. It has a massive catalogue of fantastic games and applications that you can run at full speed on pretty much any PC.
But there were a large number of models produced, each with their own version of the Kickstart ROM and Workbench desktop with multiple permutations of memory, processor and storage setups. All of this makes it harder to get a working system that matches with the software you want to run.
So in this tutorial I’ll walk you through a really easy way to get everything set up and ready to run any of the games or applications you want to try out.
For this project will use the FS-UAE Amiga emulator.
This is a variation on the popular WIN-UAE emulator but it comes with a very handy launcher application that does all the hard work of configuring your Amiga to match the software you want to run. It’s also available for Windows, Linux and Apple Mac machines.
To install the emulator you simply need to download the emulator and launcher zip files and extract the folders contained in those into a new folder on your hard drive. Inside the launcher folder you’ll need to drill down into your operating system folder and then a machine folder to find the launcher executable file. Running this file will open up the launcher application.
To make life easier you can create a shortcut to this file on your desktop.
The Commodore Amiga used a BIOS system called Kickstart. As they make a system developed in the 1980s and 1990s various Kickstart versions were released to match various Amiga models. To make our emulation as hassle free as possible we need to make sure that we get a full set of Kickstart ROMs so we can emulate all the models.
The easiest, and legal, way to get hold of these files is through the Amiga Forever website. The Kickstart and Workbench downloads from this site are fully licensed so you can use them in your emulator packages. My advice is to buy their Plus Addition which has all the files you need. The Value Addition only contains files for a limited range of Amiga models.
If you want to keep the cost down then you can easily find the Kickstart ROMs on the Internet. Archive.org is a great place to start looking. If you’re having problems getting hold of a download package then try looking at some of the emulator BIOS bundles for systems such as Batocera, RetroPie or RetroArch. These BIOS bundles tend to have all the firmware you need for a full range of retro emulation devices. So you’ll probably find a full set of Amiga Kickstart ROMs buried somewhere in the download.
Amiga games will come in a range of formats.
.adf files are actual images of the floppy disks that the original Amiga software was distributed on. Each file is a dump of the data on a single floppy disk. Quite often Amiga software came on multiple floppy disks so you need to make sure that you get a full set to be able to play a game.
The Amiga emulation community has developed a way to package Amiga software to make the whole process a lot easier. This is the WHDload system. Basically, enthusiasts are able to package up a complete software installation into a single hard drive image which can then be attached to your emulator. The image can also specify what Amiga model and set up it requires to run correctly. The upshot of this is that if your emulator supports these packages you simply load the game and it will automatically configure itself to emulate the correct Amiga model.
I find the best place to download these files is from
The files tend to be in .lha or .zip format which will work perfectly with our FS-UAE emulator.
Once you’ve got the emulator installed and all the files you need downloaded we simply need to connect everything together to get our Amiga emulation running.
First we need to import the Kickstart ROMs into the emulator. Clicking the menu icon in the top left corner of the FS-UAE launcher application you can then select the Import Kickstart ROMs option.
You then simply need to either select the folder where you downloaded your individual Kickstart ROMs, or specify the folder where you installed your Amiga Forever software to. When you then click the import button FS-UAE will scan through your folders to find the Kickstart ROMs.
At the end of this process you should find some green tick marks beside the Amiga models that you are now able to emulate. Again, if you’ve bought the full Amiga Forever package you should have a full set of Amiga models available for emulation.
It is important to try to get as full a set of Amiga models as possible. Whilst it is possible to run most software on most models the power of the WHDload system is that it can automatically select the correct Amiga set up for you to avoid any incompatibility.
To import your games you need to use the Update Files Database option in the main menu in the launcher application. This will bring up a dialogue box listing the folders where the emulator expects to find the various files it needs. Simply click the plus button and select the folder where you’ve downloaded your game files. When you then click the scan button it will analyse the files and create a games list for you.
That’s it! Your Amiga emulation system is now ready to go.