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Common AmigaDOS commands

The Amiga had a command line, or CLI. It was a rather powerful CLI, especially for its time. But there are a number of differences between AmigaDOS and other operating systems you may be familiar with. These are the common AmigaDOS commands and their equivalents from other operating systems like DOS, Windows, Unix or Linux.

I’ve never seen a primer that relates or cross-references Amiga commands to Windows and Unix. So I wrote one. I hope it helps you understand your Amiga better. Because Amiga is sometimes like Windows and sometimes it’s like Unix, I think it might. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll learn something you didn’t know about Windows or Unix too.

Why Amigas are different

The Amiga's CLI looks a lot like everyone else's. A lot of the commands are similar too.

The Amiga’s command line looks a little different from everyone else’s, yet somewhat similar. You’ll find the same is true of most of its commands.

Amigas are maddeningly different because they inherited their commands from an operating system called TRIPOS. TRIPOS was a multiuser, multitasking operating system from the 1970s. Like Digital Equipment Corporation‘s VMS, it competed with Unix. But like VMS, it had its own command set and way of addressing peripherals. Commodore didn’t rip off TRIPOS; it licensed it fair and square. Coincidentally, TRIPOS’ design and overall philosophy was very similar to what Commodore was doing with the Amiga. Using it to help get the Amiga to market a bit faster made sense.

Like DOS and Windows, it uses device names that end in a colon. Like Unix, it uses a forward slash (/) as a delimiter between directories.

Amiga commands accept the ? parameter, which works like the /? parameter in DOS or –help in Linux or Unix. Amigas have a system path much like Windows or Unix/Unix-like machines, so you can get a list of commands your Amiga recognizes with the command dir c:. No, Amigas don’t have a C drive like DOS or Windows. C: is an alias for the Amiga’s system path.

Between these two cheatsheets, you should be able to find your way around an Amiga command line without much issue.

Amiga commands cheat sheet

CommandPurposeMicrosoft equivalentUnix/Linux equivalent
DISKCOPYCopy a diskdiskcopy
FORMATFormat a new diskformatmkfs
INSTALLMake a disk bootablesys
RELABELRename a disklabel
INFOGet information about a file systemdu or df, mount
DIRLook at a disk directorydir /bls
DIR OPT ALook at all of the files on a diskdir /sls -lr
LISTGet information about filesdirls -l
CDChange the current directorycdcd
MAKEDIRCreate a new directorymdmkdir
ASSIGNTell AmigaDOS where to look for thingsset
COPYCopy filescopycp
DELETEDelete a filedelrm
PROTECTPrevent a file from being deletedattrib +r
RENAMERename a filerenmv
TYPEType a text file to the screentypecat
DATESet the date and timedatedate
ECHOOutput the given textechoecho
NEWCLIOpen a new CLI windowstart cmd
ENDCLIClose an existing CLI windowexitexit
SEARCHsearch files for contentsfindstrgrep
<and>Redirect the input< and >< and >

The cd command deserves a note. The cd .. command does nothing on an Amiga. The command to move up a directory is cd /, which is very different from Microsoft or Unix operating systems.

Amiga devices cheatsheet

Amigas also have a number of devices and aliases. Here they are, with their closest Windows or Unix/Linux equivalents.

Amiga deviceMicrosoft equivalentUnix equivalent
L: and LIBS:no perfect equivalent, since Windows doesn’t separate DLLs and EXEs/lib/
S:the default location for batch files. No perfect equivalent same
T:temp files. %temp%, %tmp%, /tmp//tmp/
prt:prn: or lpt1:

A cheat for users of other operating systems

I will admit that when I started using other types of computers, I put scripts in place to translate some of these Amiga commands to their native equivalents. As I got more comfortable with other systems, I also aliased some DOS and Unix commands to Amiga equivalents on my Amiga. So I’ll share one last command, alias. It’s not one of the most common AmigaDOS commands, but these examples may make it one of the more useful ones.

alias md makedir
alias del delete

The examples above make Amiga more Windows-like. If you prefer your Amiga to be a bit more Unix-like, try these:

alias mkdir makedir
alias rm delete

The Amiga’s alias command can help the Amiga feel a little less alien to you.

An Amiga primer

The DOS commands aren’t the only things about Amigas that lead to questions. Amiga memory is a little different from other computers too. And while it wasn’t supplied with the operating system, if you’re going to do Amiga command-line stuff, you want to know about LHA, the most common Amiga file compressor.

Those are the most common AmigaDOS commands, and what you need to know in order to use them. Enjoy your Amiga!

One more thing: If you’re interested in Amigas, maybe you like C-64s too. Here’s a list of common C-64 commands.

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