MyDOS 4.50, SpartaDOS 3.2D / Operating Systems / pd, commercial

From: Michael Current (aa700@cleveland.Freenet.Edu)
Date: 12/02/91-03:30:43 PM Z

From: aa700@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Michael Current)
Subject: MyDOS 4.50, SpartaDOS 3.2D / Operating Systems / pd, commercial
Date: Mon Dec  2 15:30:43 1991

Reprinted from Current Notes, Vol. 11, No. 7, September 1991
MyDOS 4.50 versus SpartaDOS 3.2D
8-Bit DOS Heavyweight Bout
by Charles A. Cole
     Like a Saturday afternoon ringside fight beginning with the 
featherweights flailing their skinny arms and ending with the big 
bruisers crunching bones under hammer blows, my article "DOS Inventory" 
in the July _CN_ was a warmup for the main event in the squareoff 
between 8-bit disk-based DOS's: MyDOS versus SpartaDOS.  While perhaps 
lacking the hype of the "Thrillah in Manila," comparing these two DOS's 
is still very much a contest between heavyweights.
     With the recent release of MyDOS 4.50 into the public domain by our 
Atari 8-bit SYSOP on CompuServe, Bob Puff, now is the perfect time to 
switch to that DOS if you are still using Atari DOS 2.0 or 2.5.  For the 
benefit of those who may be contemplating just such a changeover to a 
different DOS, let's throw MyDOS 4.50 into the ring with ICD's SpartaDOS 
3.2D and see what happens when these two titans start mixing it up.
The Local Favorite
     Without meaning to scare off any ringsiders, let me point out that 
changing to SpartaDOS might require a near-total switchover, whereas 
changing to MyDOS is fairly painless since it's basically an upgraded, 
highly improved Atari DOS 2.0.  The SpartaDOS disk format (and SpartaDOS 
itself) isn't totally compatible with Atari DOS, so you could still have 
to revert to Atari DOS or MyDOS to read previously acquired software.
     During this discussion, in order to keep things relatively simple, 
I'll make two assumptions: (1) You are already familiar with Atari DOS 
2.0/2.5, and (2) you have more than one disk drive.  If you don't have 
multiple drives, it probably won't be worthwhile for you to make a 
     The first time you boot up MyDOS 4.50, the most noticeable 
difference in the screen menu will be additional options from which to 
choose, and an indicator at the top of the screen showing how many disk 
drives are on line and whether each is single or double density.  If you 
have just acquired MyDOS, these will be set to default values which must 
be changed to your particular configuration.  Menu choices A through N 
are the same as Atari DOS 2.0/2.5.  Choices O and P have been changed 
from those on Atari DOS 2.5, and choices Q and R have been added.
     Your first task is to select option O and get MyDOS configured to 
your hardware.  You run through a menu of choices that let you configure 
hard drives, floppy drives, and RAMdisks.  MyDOS can recognize hard 
drives configured at up to 65,535 sectors (16 megabytes).  A 32-megabyte 
hard drive would, therefore, have to be partitioned as two separate 
drives.  You will need to run through this menu for each drive you want 
to configure, up to nine drives if at least one is a ramdisk.  Option P 
is used to select the density of the drive you're preparing to format--
if it's adjustable.
     Option I from the main menu, as with Atari DOS, is the FORMAT DISK 
command.  If you don't immediately format a disk and save your 
reconfigured MyDOS to it, you'll have to invoke this routine every time 
you boot up.  If you have a ramdisk configured, you must write MyDOS to 
your newly formatted disk with menu option H, copy the RAMBOOT.AUT file 
from the original MyDOS disk to it, rename it AUTORUN.SYS, and then re-
boot your computer in order to activate that ramdisk.  This module 
copies DOS.SYS and DUP.SYS to your ramdisk automatically upon bootup.  
With a 130XE, you should still have 387 free sectors in your ramdisk.  
You can delete DOS.SYS and DUP.SYS from the ramdisk to gain more usable 
sectors.  Once you've gone through these setup procedures and saved a 
copy of your customized MyDOS, your system will automatically configure 
itself every time you boot up.  If you then use your modified MyDOS to 
format more disks, they will also carry the new configuration.
MyDOS Warmup: Sparring with Atari
     Atari DOS is, at best, only a sparring partner for MyDOS.  One area 
where MyDOS would knock the socks off AtariDOS is the use of 
subdirectories.  AtariDOS and MyDOS disk directories are limited to 64 
entries, which means you can only store 64 files on a diskette before it 
is "full."  There might still be a lot of room left on the disk, 
however.  MyDOS's ability to create subdirectories allows you to 
overcome the 64-file limitation.
     Let's suppose, for example, that you've just formatted a disk in 
double-sided, double-density format, which gives you over 1,400 free 
sectors.  You have 100 small files you want to store on this disk.  By 
creating subdirectories in which to store these files, you can store for 
more than 64, because each subdirectory can hold 64 entries, and the 
main directory can hold 64 entries, including subdirectories.  You can 
even have subdirectories inside subdirectories.  So, for our example, we 
could use option Q to CREATE SUBDIRECTORIES called BASIC, BINARY, 
ACTION, and MAC65, and then store up to 64 files in each of these 
subdirectories.  You can, of course, give them any names you want.  
Using subdirectories also permits directory listings to load much 
faster: you drive only has to read the contents of a subdirectory 
instead of the entire disk.
     MyDOS has improved on Option A, DISK DIRECTORY, by allowing you to 
simply type the drive number (1-9) instead of using Option A.  If you 
prefer to go through the Option A routine, you can copy the directory 
listing to a text file or dump it to a printer as it is read.
     Option C, COPY FILE, has been improved with the use of some 
additional options (/Q for query before copying, /S to skip all files 
with extenders of SYS, and /X, which prompts for disk swaps) and 
allowing drive specifiers to be skipped if you want to do your copying 
from or to the default disk.
     Option E, RENAME FILE, works the same as AtariDOS except you can 
specify subdirectories and paths as part of the filenames.  Option J, 
DUPLICATE DISK, allows an entire disk or only specified sectors to be 
copied.  Formatting of the destination disk can be turned on or off.  
All the other menu selections-- B, D, F, G, H, K, L, M, and N are very 
similar or identical to their AtariDOS counterparts.
     Are there any other advantages to MyDOS?  If you have CSS's Ultra 
Speed Plus OS chip in your computer, an XF551 or US Doubler-equipped 
1050 disk drive will read and write much faster (a 3-fold increase in 
speed).  If you have CSS's 3-1/2' drive upgrade to the XF551, you gain 
even more read/write speed (possibly a 7-fold gain).  I have both 
modifications, and the I/O speed approaches that of a Happy enhanced 
     Does MyDOS have any shortcomings?  I have encountered two.  If 
you're running a program from a subdirectory that accesses the disk to 
get add-on modules, such as a high score routine or a different type 
font, MyDOS looks outside the working subdirectory (back in the main 
directory) for those files.  If they are inside the subdirectory, this 
can cause an ERROR 170 (FILE NOT FOUND) message.  Another problem, at 
least for me, is the 64-file-per-directory or subdirectory limit.  With 
Daisy Dots III, in particular, I have over 64 fonts to store.  If I try 
to create subdirectories for these files within the Daisy Dots 
subdirectory on my hard drive, I get error messages because there is no 
way to tell Daisy Dots III to look in more than one subdirectory for the 
fonts.  SpartaDOS overcomes this problem by allowing more files per 
directory and subdirectory; the problem should be easy to correct in any 
future revisions of MyDOS.
SpartaDOS Weighs In
     So now let's have a look at the challenger, ICD's SpartaDOS.  First 
of all, you don't have a FORMAT command like Atari DOS or MyDOS.  When 
you boot SpartaDOS, you'll see your version and copyright notice appear 
across the top two screen lines, followed by a simple "D1:" prompt.
     SpartaDOS is a Command Line Interface DOS, very similar to MS-DOS 
for those familiar with it.  In order to format a disk, you must call up 
the format module with the command XINIT.  There are other commands used 
with version 1, written for 400/800 machines, and version 2, used with 
XL/XE machines, but I will confine this discussion only to Version 3.2D, 
which is more powerful than version 2 and also more compatible with 
     XINIT will load from the disk and display format options on the 
screen.  You can select the drive to format, the SpartaDOS version to 
use (NODOS, 1, 2, or 3), the number of tracks on a disk, the number of 
sides, the density, and whether or not to use high speed sector skew.  
High speed skew is valid for XF551 and US doubler modified 1050 drives.  
You are then prompted for a volume name for your disk.  You can enter up 
to 8 characters.  The format will then proceed, and SpartaDOS will be 
written to the disk.  There is a NODOS option for data disks, which will 
allow more free sectors per disk.  SpartaDOS is fully compatible with 
hard drives, and has the same 16 megabyte per partition limit as MyDOS.  
A disk's name can be changed at any time by typing CHVOL <newname> at 
the command line prompt.
     Subdirectories are fully supported in SpartaDOS, as are batch 
files.  If you have a RAMdisk to initialize upon bootup, you'll have to 
copy the RD.COM file from the main SpartaDOS disk and write a batch file 
to initialize it.  Batch files are commands written with a word 
processor or the COPY command that instruct SpartaDOS to perform certain 
actions without use input.  In order to initialize a RAMdisk, you need a 
single-line batch file reading "RD Dx" with x denoting the drive number 
for your RAMdisk.  Name this file STARTUP.BAT, and it will be 
automatically executed every time you boot SpartaDOS.  RD.COM will not 
erase the contents of a previously initialized ramdisk.  With a 130XE, 
you will have a 1042 sector, double density ramdisk.  Batch files give 
SpartaDOS considerable power, since many types of functions can be 
automated through them.
     If you want to copy files to your newly formatted disk, put the 
original SpartaDOS disk back in your drive and type XCOPY.  A special 
file copy menu screen, which is quite versatile, will be loaded.  From 
this screen, you can tag files to be copied, untag files, change disk 
drives, and select subdirectories.  XCOPY can be used with single or 
dual drives, in single or double density, and to or from both AtariDOS 
and SpartaDOS disks.  If you prefer, a simple command line of COPY 
Dx:<filename.ext> Dx:<filename.ext> can be used instead of the XCOPY 
utility.  This is the fastest way to copy single files.
     To view a disk directory, you type DIR at the command line prompt.  
To change to a different drive, type that drive's number first, then 
DIR.  For example, if D1: is your default, but you want to see the 
directory of drive 2, first type D2: to change the default , and then 
DIR.  An alternative, which will keep D1: as your default drive, is to 
type DIR D2:.  This will also show the directory of drive 2.
     SpartaDOS directories can hold up to 128 files, and subdirectories 
can also hold 128 files each.  Subdirectories are created with the 
CREDIR command, and deleted with DELDIR.  A directory can't be deleted 
if it contains files.  CWD (change working directory), followed by anew 
directory name, will change the default directory.  Including a drive 
number allows you to change to a new default directory on a different 
drive.  TREE will display the directory tree (directories and their 
subdirectories) for the specified drive.
     Instead of having a RUN CARTRIDGE option, with SpartaDOS you just 
type CAR at the command line prompt to activate an external cartridge, 
or type BASIC ON to activate internal BASIC in an XL or XE machine.  
Typing DOS will reboot SpartaDOS and turn off the internal BASIC or 
external cartridge.  A batch file can be used to automatically go to 
BASIC or an external cartridge upon bootup.
     File manipulations in SpartaDOS are nicely implemented.  The COPY 
command can be used to copy single or multiple files (wild cards are 
acceptable) between two or more drives.  Single drive copies require the 
use of a slightly different utility called XCOPY.  Files can be deleted 
from a disk by typing ERASE <filename.ext>.  The use of wildcards is 
permitted to automatically erase all files meeting certain criteria.  If 
you erase the wrong file by mistake, UNERASE will recover it as long as 
you have not written over it with another file.  SpartaDOS permits you 
to rename files by just typing RENAME <oldname.ext> <newname.ext> at the 
command line.  Individual disk files can be PROTECTed or UNPROTECTed.  
Entire disks can be LOCKed or UNLOCKed.
     If you have a lot of binary games that you would like to combine on 
a single disk and have a menu from which to select files, SpartaDOS has 
a special LOGOMENU program for this purpose.  This menu allows you to 
run binary files with a single keypress.
     For you hopeless menu addicts, SpartaDOS includes a menu utility 
that bears only a rough similarity to AtariDOS and MyDOS but is more 
powerful.  You type MENU at the Dx: prompt in the command processor to 
load the menu.  Rather than display DOS functions onscreen in 
alphabetized order a la MyDOS or AtariDOS, the Sparta menu displays a 
partial list of filenames in a neat box with a SELECT arrow (it will 
handle up to 100 filenames).  Along the bottom of the menu screen is a 
bank of five boxes containing your DOS function selections.  There are 
five such banks (accessed by pressing the number keys 1-5) for a total 
of 25 menu-selectable functions.  By manipulating the arrow keys and the 
spacebar, you can select what function you want and which files are 
operated upon by that function.  Most, but not all, of the DOS functions 
available in command processor mode are accessible from the menu.
     For example, to PROTect a bunch of files on your disk, you can 
cycle through the function banks using the 1-2-3-4 number keys until you 
find the one containing PROT (it's Bank 4), then use the LEFT ARROW or 
RIGHT ARROW keys to illuminate the PROT box.  You then use the SPACE bar 
to "tag" the files you want to write-protect (the tagged files are 
converted to inverse video), and hit RETURN.  The SELECT arrow 
automatically moves from tagged file to tagged file, adds the "*" to 
indicate a protected file, and changes each filename back to normal 
video upon completion.  The process is wonderfully efficient.
     A feature unique to SpartaDOS is time/date support.  You can 
initialize a time/date line at the top of your screen through a batch 
file.  If you have the R-Time 8 cartridge from ICD, the time and date 
will automatically be set for you.  If you don't have the R-Time 8, 
you'll be prompted to enter the time and date when you boot SpartaDOS; 
the Atari's internal jiffy clock will then be used.  Every time you save 
a file with SpartaDOS, the time and date are also saved as part of the 
directory entry.  When a file is copied with XCOPY or the COPY command, 
its original date/time entry is retained.  You can change the date/time 
stamp from the command line with CHTD <filename.ext>.  Wild cards are 
supported, allowing you to change the time/date stamp on multiple files.  
If you haven't set your computer's internal clock upon bootup and don't 
have the R-Time 8 cartridge, the time/date stamp will default to 3:59:00 
pm on 1/1/84.
     SpartaDOS rounds out its utility complement with driver modules for 
several communications devices, including ATR8000 and RS232 routines.  
There's also a 32 character type-ahead keyboard buffer module with an 
increased key repeat rate and an RPM utility for adjusting disk drive 
speed.  Similar to MS-DOS, there are MEMLO and MEM commands to reset 
memory boundaries; the number of file buffers can be set with a BUFS 
     Finally, an entire disk can be checked by typing CHKDSK.  This 
command will show you the disk's title and a randomly-generated 4 digit 
hex ID number, the number of bytes per sector of its format, the total 
bytes available on the disk, the number of free bytes, and the disk's 
write lock status.
And the Winner Is...
     OK, so which is the best DOS to use?  I'm not about to stick my 
neck out and say you should switch to MyDOS or SpartaDOS.  They're both 
outstanding products that do exactly what they were designed to do, and 
do it well.  I recommend you give both of them a try, and then decide.  
You might end up using both of them.  I do.
     If I really had a choice, I'd like to combine the two by either 
giving SpartaDOS the high speed disk I/O routine that's in MyDOS, or 
give MyDOS the directory capacity of SpartaDOS.  As it is, when I run 
across a file not compatible with SpartaDOS, I use MyDOS.  But since I'm 
running two hard drives, I use SpartaDOS whenever possible because of 
its greater directory capacity.  If MyDOS's directory weren't limited to 
64 files, I would probably use it on my hard drive.
     We've rung the bell on the final round of our heavyweight DOS 
slugfest, and the judges have just announced the winner.  By unanimous 
decision, the winner is YOU--if you're lucky enough to own an Atari 8-
 Michael Current, Cleveland Free-Net 8-bit Atari SIGOp   -->>  go atari8  <<--
   The Cleveland Free-Net Atari SIG is the Central Atari Information Network
      Internet: / UUCP: ...!umn-cs!ccnfld!currentm
      BITNET: / Cleveland Free-Net: aa700

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