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Atmospheric optical communication systems that use optical preamplifiers and diversity reception are addressed. The particular diversity techniques that are investigated include aperture averaging, linear combining, and adaptive optics. On-off keying and binary pulse position modulation are considered. The effects of atmospheric turbulence, background light, source extinction ratio, amplified spontaneous emission, and receiver thermal noise are studied in the context of a semiclassical photon-counting approach. Numerical results are presented using a conditional Gaussian approximation method. By this method, we can measure the power penalty incurred under various operating conditions as well as the link margin improvement due to optical preamplification and diversity reception.