Using the Amiga911 disk

 
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Introduction.
This page contains some small tutorials which explains how to use the Amiga911 boot disk. First you can read some info about what exactly happens when the disk is booted, and then there is some information about the software that might be included on the disk and how to use this stuff. There are also some screenshots which was taken after the disk was booted.

Have in mind that an OS3.1 version of the Amiga911 disk was used here, but things should more or less be the same for boot disks with older versions of the operating system as well (2.0 & 2.1).

PS!  All tutorials on this page should now be up to date, and some of them includes a couple of new screenshots as well!

 

And here is how to use the Amiga911 disk:

 
 
Contents:
 
Booting the disk
Using the menus
Starting programs & mounting devices

Using the Workbench
Booting with no Startup-Sequence
Misc information

 



 

Booting the disk
 
So you want to check out the Amiga911 boot disk? Well, insert the floppy and fire up your Amiga then!


The Amiga911 floppy should include the following archives:

System0.lzx - Contains various patch files that requires a reboot upon booting the floppy *
 
System1.lzx - Contains the main system files, everything that is needed upon booting the disk is included here **
 
System2.lzx - Contains secondary files that are not really needed on startup, examples of this includes filesystems, device drivers and files that are required by the programs you have added to your disk (like libraries and stuff).
 
Programs.lzx - All programs that you have added to your disk is included in this archive.

*  This archive is somewhat optional.
** If the disk is configured to be a Low-Mem disk, the majority of commands & libraries are in the C & Libs dir on the Amiga911 disk instead of the System1.lzx archive. Most of these files might be XPK crunched if this was done upon creating the disk, otherwise they are not compressed in any way!


Upon booting, the startup-sequence will first check if a System0.lzx archive exists on the disk, and if it does, it will be extracted to the Ram disk. Since the presence of System0.lzx usually means that some patch(es) which require reboot is involved, the system might then be patched and your Amiga will reboot. Then System0.lzx will be extracted one more time.

Now the contents of System1.lzx will be extracted to the Ram disk, then some assigns leading to dirs on Ram: will be created, and then Workbench will be loaded.

You may remember reading about the Low-Mem disk type in the "Creating the Amiga911 disk" tutorial, but in addition to this there is a Low-Mem boot mode as well (yes I know this might sound a bit confusing).

What happens next depends upon how much free RAM your Amiga has left, if it's 1.5 MB or more, the contents of System2.lzx will be extracted to Ram: as well (Normal boot mode). If the free RAM is lower than 1.5 MB, System2.lzx will not be extracted and some files which are only needed during startup (like Setpatch & LoadWB) will be deleted from the Ram disk - thus freeing up some memory (Low-Mem boot mode). Files from Programs.lzx will by default only be extracted when they are needed.

You might think that booting up this disk is incredible slow, but in my experience it boots up in ca. 45 - 60 seconds!


When the booting is done, the following Workbench screen should appear:

 





 

Using the menus
 
For the Amiga911 boot disk to be really easy to use, there are some extra menus added to the standard Workbench menus. This allows the user to quickly access tools, programs and stuff simply by selecting them from the menus.  
 

 

This is handled by ToolsDaemon which will give you a System, Programs and Misc menu in addition to the standard ones. These menus are partially customized for your disk - meaning that they will only contain the stuff that were selected when you created the Amiga911 boot disk.

Here is an explenation of the menus:


  System

Please note that only the standard menu entries are listed below, the System menu on your Workbench may also have some other options as well. This depends upon what you added to the Amiga911 disk when it was created.

Shell - opens a new Shell window which allows you to enter commands. If you single-click an icon before selecting this menu item, the path of the Shell will be set to the one used by the icon.

Ed - the very simplistic "better than nothing" text editor that is included with AmigaOS. If you click a text file before selecting Ed from the menu, it will try to open this file. The same goes for any text editor present in the Programs menu as well.

mARK - a very simple but functional small tool for extracting file archives.

Clean up RAM - in this sub-menu you can select various things that can free up some memory in case you are running low on free RAM. See below for more information.

Resources - allows you to extraxt the System0.lzx (if present), System1.lzx, System2.lzx or Programs.lzx archives to the ram disk. You can also extract FastFileSystem, SmartFileSystem and ProfessionalFileSystem if they are included on the disk as well.

Mount - in this sub-menu you can mount various devices like PC0: & PC1: (for PC formatted floppy disks), and if they were selected when creating the Amiga911 disk - CD0: & CF0: as well.

Prefs - here you can select ScreenMode (for choosing the screenmode to be used by Workbench) and Select Font (for choosing the font(s) to be used by the system).  If all standard keymaps are present on the Amiga911 disk, there is also a Select Keymap entry here (for choosing the keymap to be used).

HDToolBox - the standard tool for managing harddisks on the Amiga.

ShowConfig - displays some information about your Amiga.

View Txt/Guide - allows you to view text and amigaguide files. If you select a file by single-clicking it and then select this menu item, the viewer will automatically try to open the file.


  Programs

This menu will only appear if you selected any Programs to be included on the Amiga911 disk when you first created it, and then one or more of the following will be included in the menu:

Check4GB  - check if your HD setup is 4GB-ready.
DiskImage  - mount any disk image file as a DOS device.
DiskMaster2  - small, fast and compatible dir utility.
DiskSalv2  - disk salvage program by Dave Haynie.
DiskSalv4  - disk salvage program by Dave Haynie
FileMaster3  - very powerful file manager.
HDInstTools  - harddisk installation tool.
HJSplit  - split large files into smaller ones.
ImageMount  - mount ADF, ISO and HDF disk images
JanoEditor  - simple and efficient text editor.
MaxTransTest  - tests the MaxTransfer value of a partition
Ordering  - powerful directory utility.
PFSDoctor  - repair and recovery tool for PFS volumes
PFSSalv2  - save files from damaged PFS partitions
Redit  - small, fast and compatible text editor
SFSSalv  - recover files from damaged SFS partitions
SnoopDos  - well known system and application monitor
SysInfo  - gives comprehensive system information.
TransADF  - reads & writes ADF/ADZ disk images.
TurboText  - fast and highly customisable text editor
VirusChecker II  - anti virus program. v2.5 (Brain v3.0)
WhichAmiga  - ShowConfig kind of tool. V1.3.3.


  Misc

Amiga911 Disk Info - opens a window with information about what version of Amiga911 Maker the disk was created with + some info about what AmigaOS version & processor type the disk is intended for.

HD Setup Tips - opens a text file which provides various hints that might be useful when setting up a harddisk on the Amiga. Examples of this includes what DosType and MaxTransfer values to use.

Assign To System - this allows you to create some additional system assigns that can point to the system dirs on your Workbench partition (or backup of), this may allow you to use some of the software that is present there.

HD Icon To Disk - this menu entry will only appear if HDToolBox and/or HDInstTools are present on the Amiga911 disk. If the icon tooltypes of either of them needs to be edited, just do this and save the changes. Now select this menu item, and the icon will be copied to the Amiga911 disk. This new icon will then have priority over the one present in the lzx archive.

Export Files - by selecting this, you can extract, copy and decrunch all files from the Amiga911 disk to your harddisk. This can be useful for copying essential files to a fresh Workbench installation. For more info you can read the Exporting the boot disk tutorial.

Reboot Amiga - allows you to reboot your Amiga, a requester will pop up asking you whether or not you want to reboot. Clicking the "Reboot Clear" button will remove reset-resident programs from memory before rebooting.


Some notes about the "Clean up RAM" sub menu.
Here you can select various things that can free up some memory in case you are running low on free RAM. You can choose between the following:
Avail Flush - free up memory by flushing no longer needed libraries and stuff from RAM.
Delete files in T: - this will delete files that are present in the "T" dir on the Ram disk. Sometimes programs have to create small temporary files in order to do their stuff, and usually these files gets created in T:. When they are no longer needed the programs should automatically delete the files, but this does not always happen - leading to unnecessary files being present. So you can select this in order to clean up the T dir, but be careful - use it as a last resort only!
Delete startup files - this will delete certain files that are only needed during startup (like Setpatch & LoadWB) from the Ram disk (thus freeing up some memory), if the Amiga911 disk has booted up in Low-Mem boot mode, this should already have been done.
Delete directory icons - free up some memory by deleting all directory icons inside the "System" dir on the Ram disk, this might make it a bit more ackward to navigate the System dir, but you will get a few more KB of free RAM.


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Starting programs & mounting devices
 
There are two ways a program can be started: Either via the Workbench menu or by running a script file called "StartProgram" from Shell. When the script is run, it will first check if all required files exists on the Ram disk, and if not it will extract them before launching the program.

As an example you can enter the following in Shell:
 
  StartProgram  Redit

This will first check if both Redit & Redit.info exists in the Ram:Programs directory, if they don't exist, they will be extracted from the Programs.lzx archive. Then the script will try to start Redit.


If you want to check out what other stuff that can be started with this script, just enter the following in Shell:
 
  StartProgram  Info

And you will get some info about it's usage.


 



 
Mounting devices works in the same way, you run a script called "Mounter" from either Shell or the Workbench menu (see screenshot above), and it will first extract all required but non-existing files before it will try to mount the device.

If you for example have a Compact Flash memory card attached to the PCMCIA port via an adapter that you want mounted, the script will first check if "Sys:L/Fat95" exists, and if not it will be extracted from System2.lzx to the Ram disk. The same thing will happen with "Sys:Devs/compactflash.device" as well. Finally the script will try to mount CF0:.
 
Please note!  The Mounter script is not to be confused with the Mounter tool included with AmigaOS 3.9, they are two completely different things.

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Using the Workbench
 
You can also to a certain degree use the Workbench directly to start stuff. All major system files should be present in the "System" directory on the Ram Disk, but you may notice that some files seems to be missing. This will especially be the case if your Amiga911 disk has booted up in Low-Mem mode (meaning that System2.lzx haven't been extracted in order to save memory), then it will be no point in trying to for example manually mount devices like PC0: or CF0: directly since the required files are not yet present on the Ram disk. Instead you will have to mount them by either using the WB menu or by using the "Mounter" script. 

Another example is the ScreenMode prefs program which normally should be present in the Ram:System/Prefs directory. If the disk has booted up in Low-Mem mode, ScreenMode will not be included in this dir, and you will either have to select it from the WB menu or run the StartProgram script by entering "StartProgram ScreenMode" in Shell. Then the program will be extracted and run.

You will also have to use either the StartProgram script or the WB menu for launching programs since no programs are extracted during boot-up, the required program files will then be extracted to a Programs dir on the Ram disk, while other needed files (like libraries) will be extracted to the System dir.
If you intend to use more than one of the programs included on the disk and your Amiga has enough free RAM, you could just simply select "System > Resources > Extract Programs.lzx" from the Workbench menu to extract all of them. This will be much quicker than extracting them one by one.
 





 

Booting with no Startup-Sequence
 
If you ever need to boot the Amiga911 disk without running the standard Startup-Sequence, the problem will be that there's almost no system files you can use since they're all still present in the file archives.  But fortunately I thought of solving this problem as well, since you can then use the alternative DosBoot method instead.

If the boot disk was created with Amiga911 Maker 1.62, all you have to do is to simply press and hold either of the Crtl, Shift, Alt or Amiga keys upon booting, until a "Key pressed" message appears on screen. After a while, a DosBoot Menu will appear, which allows you to do various things like editing the Startup-Sequence, mounting devices, and starting programs.

You can read more about this in The DosBoot method tutorial.

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Misc information
 
This section contains miscellaneous information about the Amiga911 boot disk, this includes more detailed info about how things work and what is included on the disk. It's not necessary to know all this stuff in order to use the Amiga911 disk, but it might give you a better understanding of why things are exactly like they are.


The main system assigns
If you have checked out the Startup-Sequence file present on the Amiga911 disk, you may wonder why the main system dirs are first assigned to dirs on the Ram disk, and then assigned back to the disk again - this with the only difference that the "Add" option is used with the Assign command.
The reason for this is to make sure that the system searches the Ram disk for required files first, and if they can't be found there, it will then search the disk for the files instead. This is done to reduce disk-swapping to a minimum in case you need to access files on other floppy disks, and it will also make the system much faster since it's quicker to access files from the Ram disk than the floppy disk.

But there is however one small problem you may encounter with this method of doing things, and that is if for example a program wants to save it's settings. This won't be an issue if the saving is done to Envarc: (see below), but if the saving is done to say S: (which is assigned to Ram:System/S), the changes will be lost when you reboot or turn off your Amiga. This means that you have to manually copy the file in question from "Ram:System/S" to the "S" dir on the floppy disk.  For more information regarding this, take a look at the Saving the settings tutorial.


Env: & Envarc:
There are two "Env-Archive" directories included on the Amiga911 disk, one is located in the System1.lzx archive, and the other is located directly on the disk (Amiga911:Prefs/Env-Archive). Upon booting, the entire contents of System1.lzx will be extracted, this will also include the Env-Archive dir with all it's contents. Next, Env: will be created and assigned, and then the contents of both Env-Archive dirs will be copied to the newly created "Env" directory, starting with the extracted one first - before continuing with the one directly present on the disk (where it will overwrite any existing files in the process). Finally, Envarc: will be assigned to "Amiga911:Prefs/Env-Archive". 

To sum it up:
 
1. The contents of both "Env-Archive" dirs will be merged together when copied to the "Env" dir.
2. Files in the "Env-Archive" dir present on the disk will have priority over the ones in System1.lzx
3. Env: gets assigned to the "Ram:Env" dir.
4. Envarc: gets assigned to the "Amiga911:Prefs/Env-Archive" dir.


Help: & Locale:
The storage capacity of DSDD floppy disks are limited, and when I started working on the Amiga911 disk I knew that a lot of stuff in AmigaOS had to go. Two of those things were support for help files and localization since I considered this to be non-essential luxury (especially when taking the limited disk space into account). But both the Help: & Locale: assigns will still be created during bootup, the only difference is that both assigns will point to "Ram:T". The reason for this is to avoid "Please insert volume HELP in any drive" type of requesters popping up all the time.

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