The Virtual Amiga


*************  WORK IN PROGRESS   ********************

*******************  27/02/18 *****************

As much as we would all love to own a mint condition Amiga, its a challenge to do so. Be it time constraints, money or other, I’ve never managed to end up with a fully working Amiga in the last 20 years. They always required repairs etc and being a father/husband/friend/son etc, I just didn’t get the time to sit down and get something sorted.

So, I sold my Amiga’s and recently started down the emulation path again. (I’d tinkered with UAE on and off over the years)

Being a PC engineer by trade (and a huge Amiga fan back in the day obviously), getting WinUAE up and running was straight forward and I now have a decent virtual Amiga all going. But since joining the Commodore Amiga group on Facebook, I’ve realized that there is no “one stop shop” site/guide on how to get WinUAE setup with a virtual hard drive and how to use ADF’s etc, along with WHDload and other resources that Amiga users should have by default.

There’s lots of sites that concentrate on a single part, but then you’re left scratching your head about another part and have to hunt down a suitable site to assist – and quite often, the sites are either a) Not up to date  b) Written in code (An Amiga newbie wouldnt have a clue).

There are “OOBE” packages, however I find with these, you can be limited what can be run, and are rarely updated, which can cause issues if you hit a bug/problem.

So, my challenge for this year, is to put together a step by step “one stop shop” guide on how to get a complete virtual Amiga solution up and running, including things such as WinUAE, WHDload, a decent Directory Opus configuration for file management etc, and other handy hints and tips – all in plain English for the complete newbie to emulating the Amiga.

Please note that this is just to get the bones up and running and able to play your favorite games. I am not going to go into configuring screen modes, Magic WB, MUI etc – I’d need to give up my day job to do that!

So, lets get the show on the road.


Although I’m running a Windows based system, these instructions should work perfectly on any version of UAE, be it Windows, Linux, Mac etc.

To run a virtual Amiga, you require a few files to get going. But first, a quick glossary so you don’t go “what the heck is an ADF ?”.

  • Kickstart ROM – Think of this as the software engine for an Amiga. Without it, its not going to start.
  • Workbench – The “Windows” of the Amiga (I hate saying that). Its the GUI for accessing your Amiga files etc
  • ADF – Amiga Disk Format – these are Amiga floppy disks converted to a format usable by most Amiga emulators.
  • WHDLoad – a system that allows you to make many Amiga discs hard drive installed. This speeds things up hugely and is highly recommended for games.


This is the main emulation program – without this, you aren’t going anywhere.

Kickstart ROM

These ROM files are required by WinUAE to know which version of Amiga Operating System you will be emulating. There are a variety of versions but the following are the most common.

  • 1.3 – One of the most common and earlier versions released on the A500’s etc in the early days.
  • 2.0 – Released for the Amiga 500+ and A600 – does have some compatibility issues with older software (eg: Some just wont run)
  • 3.0 – Released for the A1200, A4000 and CD32 – again, some compatibility issues with older software. Supports the AGA chipset.
  • 3.1 – Essentially an “across the board” upgrade for all Amiga’s to take advantage of some of the newer functions introduced in 3.0. Does NOT require AGA.

The catch is, that these ROM files are still copyrighted, and you need to either create your own software copies from a real Amiga that you own, or purchase Amiga Forever which comes with legal copies of the ROM files.

Tip  – You can obtain the ROM files legally and cheaply by purchasing Amiga Forever from the Google Play Store.

There are other “questionable” ways of obtaining the ROM files, but this is up to you, I’m not disclosing anywhere else.


The Amiga Workbench is the primary GUI of the Amiga system. To take full advantage of your virtual Amiga, and this guide, you will require the matching Workbench to your Kickstart you are wanting to run.

Workbench is backwards compatiable, but would mean limtiing the functionality of the system.

So Workbench 1.3, 2.0 will run on a Kickstart 3.0 based system but you’ll miss all the great things Workbench 3.0 offers.

Workbench can be installed from a single floppy disk, but ideally you will want the full package, which for version 2.0+ is 3-5 disks. This will cover all the basic needs your system will need.

Personally I run Kickstart 3.1 and Workbench 3.1 and will be using these for this guide.

These disks can be obtained reasonably easily in ADF format from most good Amiga support/fan sites.