Visit Atarimax Store

Free-Net Logo
The Atari SIG Historical Archive
Created and hosted by:

Article #62 (74 is last):
From: aa700@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Michael Current)
Subject: DOS XE / Operating System / public domain
Posted-By: xx004 (aa700 - Michael Current)
Reply-To: aa700@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Michael Current)
Date: Fri Jun  5 22:27:06 1992

Reprinted from Usenet.

    DOS XE review, by Paul Allton.

       DOS 2.5 was probably one of the most simple, user-friendly disk
  operating systems ever written. Which explains, in a nutshell, why it is so
  popular. But it certainly had its limitations - it was not terribly advanced,
  and made no provision for future technology and enhancements.

       Fear not, because Atari's latest - DOS XE - is at last available in the
  UK. It works very well with any drive, but for despairing XF-551 owners (like
  myself) its arrival is a Godsend. At last, a DOS enabling full use of the XF,
  with double-sided, double-density formats - a total of 360K on a single disk.
  Also supported are the 810, 1050, and modified 1050s (with true
  double-density - 180K each side of the disk).

       Into the drive with the disk, power on. As normal, the disk loads and
  you are thrown into Basic, with the familiar "READY" prompt. Then the first
  suprise - you type DOS and expect the drive to burst into life, but it does
  not. Instead, the DOS menu instantly appears on the screen - no more loading
  from a disk is necessary.

       This is because DOS XE uses the familiar bank switching technique. This
  disk utility package is hidden under the operating system, and is simply
  switched into memory when required. This still leaves you 32274 bytes free in
  Basic. Any Basic program is kept intact while accessing DOS, without the need
  for a MEM.SAV.

       The only disadvantage of this, is that software using the same area of
  memory as DOS XE will not work. Unfortunately, Turbo-Basic is one of these
  programs - a pity. But, I know for a fact that some people only use Turbo
  because they can't be bothered to go through all that loading and
  disk-swapping involved with going to DOS. For obvious reasons, DOS XE would
  be very suitable for them.

       The next suprise - instead of the usual cramped-up screen, you are
  presented with a main menu with four options: File access menu, Machine
  language access menu, System function menu, and of course the obligatory Exit
  to Basic/cartridge (except when Basic is disabled).

       File access is precisely what it sounds like. All the usual commands are
  there (directory, lock, unlock, delete, copy, rename, format, etc.), plus a
  few others such as appending and viewing.

       DOS XE also allows sub-directories (with up to 360K on a disk, you'll
  soon see why!) So, options to delete, make, and choose the working directory
  are also included.

       Moving on to Machine language access. This is another area where DOS XE
  scores highly over its predecessor. As in DOS 2.5 you can run/save binary
  files, and go to a machine language prog. (i.e. run at address), you may also
  append to a binary file, and load a binary file into memory without running
  it. The latter is particularly interesting because you can then display (and
  change) selected areas of memory. Each address is displayed in ATASCII and
  hex, rather like a disk sector editor. It does not really mean a lot to a
  novice like me, but I am sure more advanced users would find it very useful
  and interesting.

       The system function menu has just a few options, as well as directory
  and working directory (available in all menus). There is also an "allow DOS
  2.x access" option. When selected a small file is loaded and run. This allows
  access to DOS 2.x disks by using A: as a prefix, rather than D:. It is not a
  convertor program as such, you have to copy each file in turn via the DOS
  COPY option, from your DOS 2.x disk to a DOS XE disk, which is painfully
  slow. Some people would prefer a convertor program I am sure, but the menu
  says "allow DOS 2.x access" and that's exactly what it means. You can read a
  text file, run binary files, etc., without having to convert them first,
  which I personally consider to be more use.

       For those of you unfortunate enough to have been using DOS 3, there is a
  program on the disk to convert files to DOS XE format.

       At the moment DOS XE has no documentation files. The program itself is
  Public Domain, but the manual is copyrighted and cannot be copied freely. But
  it's not really needed - DOS XE is very easy to use. After ten minutes
  playing around you won't have any problems. Because all the commands have
  been changed (E.g. directory=files listing, delete=erase) you may be confused
  for a bit. This is because to choose an option you type the first letter and
  press return. But once you've learnt the new names, it's easy - a joy to use,
  and a great improvement over the old system. You can select what you want
  without having to look up at the screen, or re-printing the menu.

       There are a couple more flashy features not mentioned yet, such as batch
  processing. You can type in a series of commands on one line, then the
  computer carries them out, answering all the prompts, etc. If you find
  yourself repeating certain tasks just too frequently, you can store them on
  disk and run them as required with the "run batch file" on the system menu.

       Even the directory has been changed, meaning "less sector counts" have
  been done away with. The size of a file is now displayed in bytes. This seems
  odd at first, but is a great idea. DOS XE is also capable of date stamping
  files, another nice touch, fairly useful and a good way of showing off!

       Overall, there's not much more I can say - DOS XE is excellent, streets
  ahead of DOS 2.5. If it had been more readily available a few years ago, with
  everyone using it now, it would have earned the Atari 8-bit a great deal of
  respect. Sadly, though, DOS XE will never replace DOS 2.5. Software support
  is virtually non-existant (although it might be better in the States). The
  only software I know of that directly supports it, is Diamond GOS (the two of
  which, I am told, makes a very powerful combination).

       Admittadly, it's not SpartaDOS, but it's not 50 pound either (that's
  assuming you can get it now Frontier has deserted us). Myself, I quite simply
  refuse to pay 50 pound for a disk operating system. Anyway, DOS XE does all I
  need it to. It's the next best thing to Sparta. If you have an XF-551 you
  HAVE to get DOS XE. But whatever drive you own, it comes highly recommended.

       At the very least it will give your lovable old Atari a facelift (don't
  you just get fed up of that boring old DOS 2.5 menu?), but investigating
  further will uncover a highly efficeint means of file management.

       One of the best 2 pounds I have spent for ages. Eternal thanks to Dean
  Garraghty for making it available over here.


    Thanks to Paul Allton for this article. Hope the new hand was reasonably
  priced, Paul!
 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:{interbit} / Cleveland Free-Net: aa700

Visit Atarimax Store