Using the Emergency Disk II

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This page contains some small tutorials which explains how to use the Emergency Disk II. First you can read about what needs to be done before you start using the floppy, then some info about what exactly happens when the disk is booted, and then finally 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, this was done on a emulated Amiga 1200 with a 32 color Workbench.

Have in mind that even though the boot disk is called Emergency Disk II, the real volume name of the floppy is E-Disk-II. You should not change this!


And here is how to use the Emergency Disk II:


Booting the disk
Using the menus
Starting programs

Using the Workbench
Booting with no Startup-Sequence
Misc information



Before you can start using the Emergency Disk II, you must first figure out a way for your Amiga to access the AmigaOS 3.9 CD (or other media). If you have manually created the boot disk in Amiga911 Maker, you should have already made sure that it contains everything that is needed for mounting the CD/media. If you want to use one of the ready-made Emergency Disk II floppies instead, you should also read the Configuring the Emergency Disk and Adding CD-ROM support sections of the Ready-made Emergency Disk II page.

If you don't have a CD-ROM drive attached to your Amiga, you may be interested in reading the Alternatives to the AmigaOS 3.9 CD tutorial, since it among other things provides instructions for creating an AmigaOS 3.9 CF card or USB pendrive by using WinUAE.

What you basically need is a device called either AmigaOS3.9 or AmigaOS39, which contains ALL files from the AmigaOS 3.9 CD. This device must be able to be mounted upon booting the Emergency Disk, either automatically, or by using the drivers present on the boot disk.

It is also possible to mount an AmigaOS 3.9 ISO image upon booting the Emergency Disk II. But this does however require that you edit the Startup-Sequence of the floppy, so open it in your favourite text editor and do the following:  First you must find the line that starts with "Set ImageFile" and edit the path and name of the ISO image to be used. For an USB storage device, the path should start with UMSD:, and for a CF card + CF-PCMCIA combo, it should start with CF0:. Next, you must enable the "Execute" line under by removing the semi-colon at the start. Here's an example of how it can look like:
Set ImageFile "UMSD:AmigaOS3.9.iso"
Execute >NIL: S:MountISOImage

But if the boot disk was created with Amiga911 Maker 1.62, things are a bit different. Here it is possible to mount an AmigaOS 3.9 HDF image in addition to ISO, and although the old method with setting the ImageFile variable should still work, the line in Startup-Sequence can now look like one of these two examples instead:
Execute >NIL: S:MountISOImage "UMSD:AmigaOS3.9.iso"
Execute >NIL: S:MountISOImage "UMSD:AmigaOS3.9.hdf"


Booting the disk
When the above is done, insert the Emergency Disk II floppy + the AmigaOS 3.9 CD/media and fire up your Amiga!

The E-Disk-II floppy should include the following archives:

System0.lzx - Contains various patch files that requires a reboot upon booting the floppy.
System1.lzx - Contains everything required for mounting various devices (like CD-ROM drives).
System2.lzx - Contains system files used by Workbench + various files that's required by the programs included on the disk (like libraries and stuff).
Programs.lzx - All programs on the disk is included in this archive.

Upon booting, the startup-sequence will first extract the System0.lzx archive to the Ram disk, and then the "AmigaOS ROM Update" patch + any other patches that requires a reboot will be applied to the system. Next, the Amiga will reboot and System0.lzx will be extracted one more time.

Now the contents of System1.lzx will be extracted to the Ram disk, and all files in the C, Devs, L, Libs, Classes and S directories on the floppy will be copied to the Ram disk as well. Then some assigns leading to dirs on Ram: will be created, before various devices will be mounted.  If the boot disk contains the Poseidon USB stack, it can be started here as well.

The startup-sequence may now run a script called WaitForDisk, which checks if either AmigaOS3.9: or AmigaOS39: exists.  If none of them is currently present, the script can wait up to 35 seconds for any of the two names to be available, where it will check for their existence with 5 second intervals. This is done because certain devices may need a few seconds to get properly initialized. When the time limit is reached, and neither AmigaOS3.9: or AmigaOS39: is present, the following message will appear:

If this happens, you can try to eject the media and insert it again, and then press the Return key to see if it helps (only if it's safe to do so). This especially goes for CF card to PCMCIA solutions on the A1200 and USB CD-ROM drives (both happens with my Amigas). Otherwise, you will have to figure out for yourself why things doesn't work like they should.
You may also notice that when certain error messages appears, you will hear one or more beeps as well. This is done to help all those with an Amiga that has video output from a graphics card only, since they basically will be staring at a black screen when error messages pops up. This way they can at least hear that something is wrong. Below you can see what the combinations of beeps mean, where each B indicates one single beep. Just have in mind that currently the last three is only relevant to mounting ISO and HDF image files.

B Device/Volume is not mounted!
B B No disk in drive!
B B B Object not found! (can either be ImageFile variable not set/empty or ISO/HDF image could not be found)
B - B B   Object not found, but AmigaOS3.9: or AmigaOS39: seems to be present anyway. Boot from there instead? (Yes/No)

If on the other hand AmigaOS3.9: or AmigaOS39: actually is present, the booting will then proceed. Now some system assigns will be made to the AmigaOS 3.9 CD/media, and the contents of System2.lzx will be extracted to the Ram disk. Then the Amiga will continue to boot from the AmigaOS 3.9 CD/media by executing the Startup-Sequence file included there.

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


Using the menus
For the Emergency Disk II floppy 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, STools, 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 Emergency Disk.

Here is an explenation of the menus:


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 was added to the Emergency Disk II when it was created.

Shell VNC - opens a new ViNCEd based Shell window which allows you to enter commands, it is a bit more powerful than standard Shell. 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. (this goes for standard Shell as well).

Shell - opens a new standard Shell window which allows you to enter commands.

EditPad - the standard text editor in AmigaOS 3.9. If you click a text file before selecting EditPad from the menu, it will try to open this file. The same also goes for Ed + any text editor present in the Programs menu as well.

Ed - the very simplistic "better than nothing" text editor that is included with AmigaOS.

Unarc - the standard tool in AmigaOS3.9 for extracting file archives. Uses xadmaster only.

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 further down below for more information.

Resources - allows you to extraxt the System0.lzx, 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 Emergency Disk - CD0: & CF0: as well.

Prefs - here you can select ScreenMode (for choosing the screenmode to be used by Workbench), Font (for choosing the fonts to be used by the system), Input (for editing the keymap to be used), Time (for setting date & time) and WBPattern (for changing workbench & windows background).  The Font Presets and WBPat Presets menu items allows you to choose between some pre-configured presets.


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

Calculator - the calculator included with AmigaOS 3.9.

Mounter - may help with mounting devices that doesn't auto-mount  (not to be confused with the Mounter script on the Amiga911 disk).

Find - allows you to search for files on your Amiga, it can also search inside files as well.

ShowConfig - displays some information about your Amiga.

MultiView - allows you to view various types of files like 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 it.


The first item in this menu is included on the AmigaOS 3.9 CD.  As for the rest that's listed below, they will only appear in the menu if the programs were added to the Emergency Disk II when it was created.

AWeb-II  - old demo version of the web browser (included with AOS 3.9).
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.


Emergency Disk II 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.

AmigaOS 3.9 Manual - allows you to read the html based manual that's included on the AmigaOS 3.9 CD. It will open in the AWeb-II browser.

AmigaOS 3.9 Install - select this if you want to install AmigaOS 3.9 to the harddisk of your Amiga.

AmigaOS 3.9 Install-Emu - select this if you want to install AmigaOS 3.9 to the harddisk of your emulated Amiga.

Fix Protection bits - after a fresh AmigaOS 3.9 installation, you can use this to fix the protection bits of the copied files. This can be useful if the installation was done from a device that doesn't correctly preserve the standard Amiga specific file attributes.

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.

Export Files - by selecting this, you can extract and copy all files from the E-Disk-II floppy to your harddisk. This can be useful for copying essential files to a fresh AmigaOS 3.9 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 from the Ram disk (thus freeing up some memory), but be careful with this if you are about to install AmigaOS 3.9 to your harddisk.

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Starting Programs
There are two ways for starting programs included on the Emergency Disk II:  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. You should no longer have to specify the path to the script (S:).

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

This will first check if both Redit & 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.

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Using the Workbench
The AmigaOS 3.9 CD/media contains a full version of the operating system, this makes using the Workbench a bit easier and more powerful than with the Amiga911 boot disk. All you have to do is open the Emergency-Boot drawer by clicking it's icon on the screen, and then you will have access to all system files. In case this icon for some reason doesn't show up on the Workbench screen, you can also find the drawer in the root directory of the AmigaOS 3.9 media. Now you can start doing whatever you want to do by using the software in this drawer. Have in mind that some of the stuff can also be started by using the extra Workbench menus as well.

As for the Programs included on the boot disk, you either have to use the StartProgram script or the WB menu for launching them since no programs are extracted during boot-up, the required program files will then be extracted to a Programs dir on the Ram disk.  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.

You may also want to customize the Workbench a little, so here are some examples of what you can do:  If you're not satisfied with the default screenmode used, just select "System > Prefs > ScreenMode" from the WB menu and change to the mode you prefer.  You may also want to change the keymap used by the system, and to do this just select "System > Prefs > Input" from the menu, then choose your country from the list to the right.

The Workbench will by default use Helvetica as the Icon and Screen font, and even though it somewhat is an OK font, the text on the Workbench screen may be a bit hard to read on "not exactly crystal clear" monitors. This is why the proportional version of the Topaz font is included as standard on the Emergency Disk II.  If you want to check it out, the easiest way is to select "System > Prefs > Font Presets" from the WB menu. This allows you to choose between three presets, where the first is the default settings (with Helvetica), the second one uses Topaz_prop 11, and the third uses Topaz_prop 8.  If you take a look at the screengrab above, you will the see the second preset in use (Topaz_prop 11 & Topaz 11).

Another thing you can do, is changing the background image used by Workbench. By default it uses a picture with a size of 1024 x 768 pixels, the main problem with this is the amount of Chip Ram it uses + the time it takes to scale the image (in order to fit the WB screen). This is why it might be a good idea to use something else. The easiest way to do this, is by selecting "System > Prefs > WBPat Presets" from the Workbench menu, which brings up the requester to the right.  

Here you can choose between 6 different presets, where the first one is the default. Preset 2 - 4 uses some smaller images (128 x 128 pixels) that's included on the AmigaOS 3.9 CD, they will be tiled on the WB screen and uses around 200KB less Ram than the default. Preset 5 & 6 uses tiled patterns instead of images, and the amount of memory saved here when compared to the default is ca. 210 KB.

Below you can see a preview of how the six different presets may look like on the Workbench screen:

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Booting with no Startup-Sequence
If you ever need to boot the Emergency Disk II 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 Emergency Disk II, 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 boot disk, but it might give you a better understanding of why things are exactly like they are.

The main system assigns
Upon booting the Emergency Disk II, the target for the main system assigns (C:, Devs:, Libs: etc.) will be changed to the appropriate dirs on the AmigaOS 3.9 CD/media after it has been mounted. Then some additinal system assigns will be made to the directories in Ram:System.  This means that when something is looking for a file in Libs: for example, it will first look for it on the CD, and if it can't be found there, it will look in the Ram disk as well.

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 further below), but if the saving should be done to say S: (which is assigned to AmigaOS3.9:Emergency-Boot/S), it may fail since the CD can't be written to. So here you must first try to save it to Ram:System/S instead, and then copy the settings file to the "S" dir on the floppy disk.  For more information regarding this, take a look at the Saving the settings tutorial.

Some other assigns
There are also a couple of other assigns involved with the Emergency Disk II as well, and they are/can be:
Name   Target
AmigaOS3.9:   AmigaOS39:
SYS:   AmigaOS3.9:Emergency-Boot/
EBOOT:   AmigaOS3.9:Emergency-Boot/
Emergency-Disk:   Ram Disk:System/
EDISK:   Ram Disk:System/
ZEDISK:   E-Disk-II:
The Emergency-Disk: assign is a bit special, look further below for more info.

Env: & Envarc:
There are two "Env-Archive" directories included on the Emergency Disk II, one is located in the System1.lzx archive, and the other is located directly on the disk (E-Disk-II: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 "E-Disk-II: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 "E-Disk-II:Prefs/Env-Archive" dir.

Low-mem boot mode
The minimum requirements for AmigaOS 3.9 is 6MB RAM, and it's this limit I have based my version of the Emergency Disk on. But I couldn't resist trying to make it work with less memory, and the result of this is that upon booting the disk, the currently free RAM of the Amiga will be checked, and if it's less then a certain amount, various steps will be taken in order to free up some memory. One of the things is that it will delete files from the Ram disk that really isn't needed (any longer), but have in mind that this might lead to a few minor problems if you intend to install AmigaOS 3.9 to your harddisk.

Two other steps that might be taken in order to save some memory, is that Workbench will use a simple grey background instead of the default AmigaOS 3.9 picture, and that AmiDock will be forced to use a much simpler configuration (see right image).  It would of course have been best to prevent AmiDock from starting in the first place, but unfortunately there is no easy way to achive this. Have in mind that if you have saved the WBPattern and AmiDock settings to the boot floppy, these config files will override the simpler low-mem ones.

Differences between the original and new Emergency Disk
Apart from providing alternative methods for installing AmigaOS 3.9, and using lzx compression in order to fit more stuff on the floppy, here are the biggest differences between the original Emergency Disk and the newer Emergency Disk II:

T: assign in Startup-Sequence:  Upon booting the original Emergency Disk, an "insert disk in any drive" requester will appear if the AmigaOS 3.9 CD isn't currently mounted.  Then if AmigaOS3.9: suddenly becomes available, the requester will automatically disappear and the booting will continue. This effect is achived by not declaring a T: assign in the Startup-Sequence. If this assign was present and the CD wasn't mounted, it would have lead to a loop where the same Startup-Sequence on the floppy would have been executed over and over again.
This type of functionality had to be dropped on the Emergency Disk II, since the T: assign for various reasons has to be included in the Startup-Sequence. One reason is that the Poseidon USB stack requires it to be started, another is that certain scripts requires it as well (especially the ones using the Skip & Lab commands). The alternative method used in case of non-mounted volumes/devices is explained in the Booting the disk section.

The AmigaOS39: assign:  When the original Emergency Disk is booted, it will look for AmigaOS3.9:, which usuallly is the volume name of the CD. Since I wanted the new E.Disk to support booting from other devices in addition to the original CD, a small workaround was added, where the disk will look for AmigaOS39: as well. The reason for this is to allow FAT formatted storage devices (like USB pendrives or Compact Flash cards) to be used instead of the CD. Because FAT partitions doesn't allow dots to be used in the volume name, the device has to be called AmigaOS39 instead of AmigaOS3.9.

Volume name of the floppy:  The original boot disk is called "Emergency-Disk", while the the newer version has "E-Disk-II" as volume name. Apart for making it possible to distinguish between the two, there is also another reason for the different names. When the E-Disk-II floppy is booted, all three SystemX.lzx archives will be extracted to the Ram disk, and some other files will be copied to there as well. After this is done, a System drawer will be present on the Ram disk. Now an Emergency-Disk: assign will be made, which points to the Ram:System directory. The reason for this is to "trick" the AmigaOS 3.9 installer into beliving that the Amiga has booted from Ram:System. During installation, some files will be copied from this location since the installer belives that it actually is the Emergency Disk.

The icons used: Unlike the original boot disk, the Emergency Disk II floppy doesn't waste valuable disk space on fancy icons. Instead it uses the same boring 4 color icons as the Amiga911 boot disk. This leads to around 16KB space saved when compared to the original Emergency Disk.

Here you can read about various issues that may occur when using the Emergency Disk II floppy.

The ToolsDaemon problem: Emergency Disk II contains a few workarounds, where one example is the way ToolsDaemon is launched upon startup. Normally, the correct place for this executable would be in the WBStartup drawer present on the system drive, where it automatically will be started when the LoadWB command is run. On the E-Disk-II floppy however, it has to be started manually after LoadWB is run. The reason why is because ToolsDaemon cannot be added to WBStartup on the AmigaOS 3.9 CD, since it's write protected.
The problem with doing things this way, is that you may get an error message from ToolsDaemon if it's launched before the Workbench screen has opened.  If this happens to you, open the Startup-Sequence of the E-Disk-II in a text editor and scroll down to the bottom, where you will find a "Wait 2" line right before the ToBack&Front stuff. Just replace 2 with a higher number, save the file and reboot to see if this helps. So far, the only situation where I have experienced this problem, is by using WinUAE emulated Amigas. This is also the reason why the "Wait 2" line was added to the Startup-Sequence in the first place.

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