A freeware (GPL) boot manager

Want to boot multiple versions of Windows 9x, DOS, NT, Linux, and BeOS on the same machine? (Hey, there’s use for that 40-gig drive after all!) Potentially, you can use XOSL to do that. The screenshots look really slick–this could be a System Commander killer.
I’ll have to put a fresh drive in a machine and experiment with it this weekend. Use at your own risk–the version numbers suggest it’s stable, but I only point it out because it sounds interesting, not because I’ve tried it. (I usually try things out before posting links, but this seems too cool to keep to myself, and I’m short of time.)

Optimizing Windows startup

Mail. More Windows optimization questions.

From: ChiefZeke
Subject: Re: Items to consider
To: Dave Farquhar


Would things be a bit faster if the user opted to start programs via the ‘RUN’ function of the Registry rather than via the Startup folder? I have seen this option mentioned in a couple of magazine articles.


I imagine they would be slightly faster, since the file and path names, etc. would be stored in registry keys all in one place as opposed to individual icons, one per program, scattered all over the place.

You might also use run= strings in win.ini instead–I suspect that technique would be faster still, being a flat text file rather than a convoluted database.

Now, whether doing this would make any noticeable difference on a modern PC is another question. We may be talking shaving fractions of a second off your boot time. I imagine the difference would be more noticeable on marginal machines (though I’m not very eager to re-commission my 486SX/20 to try it). I just saw a 486DX4/75 laptop today that takes 1.5 minutes to boot Windows even without any items in any of the startup places and a fully optimized msdos.sys–a decked-out modern system similarly configured could boot in about 15 seconds. I can’t imagine your system needing much more than 20 seconds to go from POST to desktop (I’m not familiar with modern Western Digital drives like you have but I imagine their performance must be comparable to the Quantums and Maxtors I use).

This trick dates back to the Win3.1 days, and it was a really good idea way back then–the startup group actually consumed system resources, plus valuable entries in the Windows directory, so eliminating startup and placing items in win.ini could seriously improve a system’s performance back then. Today, Win9x has much better resource management, hard drives and CPUs are much faster, so you don’t hear about it as much anymore.

Very little else for today. I found my copy of the Lost Treasures of Infocom (both volumes) this week, including Bureaucracy, a text adventure I was never able to beat. I found a walk-through that got me past the part that had me stuck.

It’s a whole lot faster on my PC than it was on my Commodore 128 (which was the machine I originally bought it for, what, 11 years ago?). Amazing how much fun a 12K executable paired up with a 240K data file can provide… (And I’m running this on a dual-processor machine with 96 MB RAM and an 8.4-gig hard drive, both due to be upgraded? Something’s wrong here…)

Forcing Windows 9x to a certain refresh rate

Tuesday, 4/18/00
Manually setting the Win9x refresh rate. Write this down or bookmark it or print it or otherwise save it somehow. Occasionally a monitor will go goofy on you when Windows decides to use a weird refresh rate that the monitor won’t support. Sometimes Windows (especially Windows 95) just flat refuses to work with a really old VGA monitor because it insists on using something other than 60 Hz. Or maybe Win9x just isn’t using the highest rate your monitor supports. In NT, you can manually set the refresh rate. In 9x, you have to go spelunking. Boot in safe mode (which uses boring but safe 640×480, 60 Hz), set the resolution to something you know works, then open Regedit and navigate to HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\Class\Display.

Many installations will have multiple forks at Display, starting at 0000. The highest number is the active video card. Select it and navigate to Default\RefreshRate. It will probably be set either to -1 or 0. Change that value to 60 to get a safe 60 Hz rate.

To improve your display, change it to a rate your monitor supports–at your desired resolution. Remember, refresh rate comes at the expense of resolution. Some monitors advertise obscenely high rates, but those will generally only work at 640×480. Most monitors top out at 85 Hz (at best) at usable resolutions. Check your documentation that came with your monitor if you’re not certain.

Be careful–overdriving your monitor or your video card can seriously damage one or the other, and I can’t take any responsibility for that.

I used this trick to get Windows to work with a number of really early VGA monitors. For the software I was wanting to run, they were perfectly adequate.

The Uwe Sieber Utilities. German programmer Uwe Sieber has assembled a great collection of DOS and Windows 9x utilities. I know I’ve mentioned them before, but they warrant another mention. If you need mouse and CD-ROM drivers that occupy as little memory as possible, if you need to wipe a hard disk totally clean and your disk manufacturer doesn’t provide such a utility, or if you need to analyze Windows’ bootlogs, Uwe’s place is the place to go.

Forever a senior

My sister’s in town, and we were out shopping (she tells me what I need, and I go buy it–what was that I said about bachelorhood?) and she suddenly bolted. “Huh?” says I. “Johnson,” she pops her head around the corner again, then bolts.
Suddenly I hear a vaguely familiar voice behind me. “You!” I turn around, and one of my sister’s ex-boyfriends is standing there. He points where he expects to see my sister, “And You!” But she’s nowhere to be found. He shrugs.

“What are you doing here?” he asks.

“I live just up the street,” I say. He gives me a shocked look. My family moved out of St. Louis five years ago, and I was the only one to come back. Evidently no one told him. No biggie. We were always civil, but hey, we ran in different crowds and he was dating my sister and they didn’t part on the best terms.

We got to talking a bit. He finished high school, but none of his brothers did. Some of his friends did, some didn’t. They all got jobs that paid what looked like good money straight off–and still looks like good money, but good money at 22 is very different from good money at 35. We talked a bit about what we were each doing. In his case: “Stuff, here and there.” I was able to infer from other things he said later that he’s working mostly as a mechanic but not holding down any job for very long. He went to a junior college, ended up on academic probation, and got kicked out. (I’m pretty sure I could just show up for the finals for any given class at that particular junior college and stay off academic probation, but that’s just me.)

He asked about me. “Bachelor’s of journalism, 1997, working fixing computers, writing books at night.” He asked if I liked it. I was honest. Books yes, computers no. But once I have two books in print and selling I can ditch the day job. That impressed him–“At least you’ve got a plan to get what you want.”

My sister came out of it a bit shaken. He still looks exactly how he did at 18. But his looks are about all he’s got. Looks and a fast life, dating strippers and Hooters girls and going to strip clubs every other weekend, but it’s no different or better than senior year of high school–except the drinking and strip clubs are legal for him to do now. You know how they say, “forever a senior” when someone dies tragically a few weeks or months before graduation? He’s living that. A life forever looking back, because there’s not much worth looking forward to. And once the looks go…

I can’t say I’m jealous. I told my sister she shouldn’t be either.

Windows NT profile weirdness: A cure?

From: Malcolm James
Subject: NT switches between local and roaming profiles [comment on View 10]
To: dfarq@swbell.net
I just saw your question “Anyone ever seen NT switch between local and roaming profiles?” in View 10.

This used to happen to me too, about once every two months on average, but sometimes twice in the same week.. Using NT4.0J SP4 on a peer-to-peer NT workstation domain with no NT servers, NT occasionally created a new profile when I logged on. The old profile got renamed to username.bak, just as your analyst reported. Renaming the old profile and reconnecting shares puts everything back to normal.

We couldn’t find a documented solution, but one suspect was the size of the profile — 320MB, including an Outlook Express mailstore in its default location within the profile. Eventually I relocated the mailstore to a different partition and the not-recognizing-the-profile problem seems to have gone away. We still have no proof that the size of the profile was the cause..

Another suspect was that at one stage we’d had NT setup with the local profile pathname explicitly named in the profile section of the user manager. We later deleted it when we realized the pathname was only needed for remote profiles, but it may have left the registry confused at some point.




Overclocking Pentium-75s

I had an overclocking conversation at work today. A coworker wanting to overclock a laptop. I told him I didn’t think that was a good idea. Then this was waiting for me at home:

From: Curtis Horn
Subject: Pentium-75

Hello, I’m one of your readers and I check your view for the tips you sometimes put up. I’m working on a compaq pentium 75 also and maybe you can do what I did. Overclock the chip to 90Mhz. the way I did this is by changing the bus speed to 60Mhz, from 50. this has speed it up significantly I think because the memory is also speed up. You’ll also get a laugh out of this, it’s a Compaq 972 and it has 8MB of memory — ON the Mother board!! I could not believe it. but it’s there. Luckily this leaves 4 simm slots open, so i can add 4 8MB SIMMs. (16MB SIMMs are way to expensive and I have some 8MB laying around and can buy some more for 10$ each) I convinced the person to buy a 5Gig quantum drive, so they have something they can use when they upgrade. Well hope the P75 you’re working on OCs as easily as the one I have here.



Compaq used to put a fair bit of memory on the motherboard itself. My Presario 660 (a 486/66) has 4 MB on the board. There are a couple of Compaqs from the 900 series still floating around at work that have 8 MB on the motherboard as well. But it’s not a common practice anymore, and I don’t recall any other manufacturer who did that regularly–I remember Compaq doing it because I used to sell Compaqs by the truckload and frequently I ended up adding upgrades to them.

Bus speed isn’t nearly as important in the Pentium Pro/II/III/Celeron and AMD Athlon arena, but in Socket 7 and earlier, you’re right, it makes a huge difference. Remember, the bus speed determines the speed at which the CPU can access the memory and the cache, and as the Mendocino Celeron illustrated, cache speed is more important than CPU speed or cache size. In the early days of Tom’s Hardware Guide, Tom Pabst revealed that a Pentium-150 running at 75 MHzx2 outran a Pentium-166, and a Pentium-166 running at 83MHzx2 outran a P200. So what was the point of buying a P200 if you weren’t going to overclock it, right? Ah, the good old days…. This, of course, was one reason Intel decided to start locking CPU multipliers.

The speed of the PCI bus was also tied to the bus speed. A good Pentium-100 could outrun a Pentium-120 because the Pentium-100 had a full 33 MHz PCI bus while the Pentium 120’s PCI bus ran at 30 MHz. The Pentium 75’s PCI bus ran at a pokey 25 MHz. Nobody wants to slow down their video and disk performance by 10 percent, let alone 25 percent.

Overclocking P75s is risky business though. Intel never intended to make a P75. The problem was, they had terrible yields initially on their P90s, but they found a good percentage of the bad chips would run reliably at 75, so they created the P75 and phased out the P60 and P66. (The P66 was actually a better performer because of the bus speed.) The P75 sold like crazy, and Intel wasn’t going to can a best-seller, so once they got over the yield problems, they still marketed P75s. I’ve heard of people going as high as 133 MHz with P75s. I experimented once with a P75 and took it as high as 120 MHz, but couldn’t get 133 (I suspect people getting to that level may have been increasing the voltage). It didn’t run reliably at 120 MHz for long, though I know of people who swear up and down they got 75’s running at that speed reliably with no special tricks.

Overclocking an old chip like that is fine, as long as you’re aware of the risks and willing to live with them. I’d definitely put a heavy-duty CPU fan on it (like a PC Power and Cooling fan for a high-end K6-2). In my case, I’m more interested in having a PC that’s as reliable as possible. Her life’s plenty complicated enough without having and overclocked P75 to deal with.

And we now have better ways to measure overclocking’s effects. Microsoft doesn’t have a dog in this fight but they see the weirdness.

But thanks for the idea, and for the stroll down memory lane, definitely.

Macintosh buying advice

What’s up with someone asking me for Mac advice? Yeah, Dan Bowman is in the process of selling his soul to (or at least buying a computer from) some egotist in Cupertino.

From: “Bowman, Dan”
Subject: Macs
To: Dave Farquhar
Dead serious request:

We keep getting hammered by graphic artists and printers; the Mac is ubiquitous in this arena locally. I’ve proposed we purchase a Mac for the GM to use (he’s a passable artist and knows what he wants and is not afraid to do it his way).

What configuration (for that matter, what machine) should I look to price this. We’re bidding another contract and the cost of the machine would likely be saved twice over by the artist fees and the GM’s time (time he could spend just doing it).

Any bets on programs?

Networking issues?

Thanks. Not my idea of fun; but in this case the right tool for the job if he can make it work.


I can’t recommend packages, they’ve gotta be what he’s comfortable working with. Rent some time at Kinko’s if need be to determine that. I definitely suggest avoiding Adobe PageMaker, because they’re abandoning the thing. Let me take back what I just said. If you can avoid using Adobe products, do it, because the company’s policies… Umm, just take every bad thing I’ve ever said about Microsoft, multiply it by about 10, and you’ve got Adobe. You may not be able to avoid Photoshop, but avoid the rest of it if you can. Macromedia and Quark, between the two of them, make just about everything you need.

If he wants to use a jillion fonts, you need a font management program, because the self-styled King of Desktop Publishing can’t juggle more than 254 fonts, I believe. I’m not certain on the number. Extensis Suitcase will do the job.

Get AlSoft Disk Warrior, Micromat Tech Tool Pro, and Symantec Norton Utilities. Once a month (or whenever you have problems), run Apple’s Disk First Aid (comes with the system), then Disk Warrior, Tech Tool Pro, and Norton Disk Doctor, in that order. Fix all problems. They’ll find a bunch. Also get Font Agent, from Insider Software, and run it once a month. It’ll want to delete any bitmapped fonts over 12 point. Don’t do that, but let it do everything else it wants. That helps a ton.

You’ll spend $500 on utilities software, but if you want your bases covered, you need them. Get them, use them, and you won’t have problems. Neglect to get them, and there’ll be no end to your problems, unless he never uses it.

Hardware: Get a 400-MHz G4, 256 MB RAM, IDE disk (poorly threaded, cooperative multitasking OSs don’t know what to do with SCSI). Frequently you can get a better price by getting the smallest disk possible, then buying a Maxtor drive at your local reseller. I know they were charging $150 a month ago to upgrade a 10-gig disk to a 20-gig disk, and you can buy a 20-gig disk for $150. Video, sound, etc aren’t options. If 450 is the slowest you can get, get that. MacOS doesn’t do a good enough job of keeping the CPU busy to warrant the extra bucks for a higher-end CPU. You’ll want the memory because you have to assign each app’s memory usage (it’s not dynamic like Windows), and it’s not a bad idea to assign 64 MB to a killer app. I also hear that G4s are totally unstable with less than 256 megs. I can’t confirm that. We’ve got G4s with more and we’ve got G4s with less, but I haven’t seen both in the hands of a power user yet.

Networking: NT’s Services for Macintosh are worthless. Don’t use NT for a print server for a Mac (it’ll ruin the prints), and don’t use it as a file server if you can help it (it’ll crash all the time). Linux isn’t much better, but it’s better. (It’ll just crash some of the time, but at least you can restart the daemons without rebooting.) I don’t know if MacOS 9 can talk to printers through TCP/IP or if they still have to use AppleTalk. AppleTalk is an ugly, nasty, very chatty protocol–it makes ugly, nasty NetBEUI look beautiful–but it’s what you get. Turn on AppleTalk on one of your network printers and print to it that way. One Mac and one printer won’t kill a small network, though a big enough network of Macs can keep a 10-megabit network totally overwhelmed with worthless chatter. Killer DTP apps don’t like their PostScript to be reinterpreted, and that’s one of the things NT Server does to mung up the jobs. So that’s the only workaround.

Multitasking: Don’t do it. When I use a Mac like an NT box, keeping several apps and several documents open at once, it’ll crash once a day, almost guaranteed. Don’t push your luck. It’s an Amiga wannabe, not a real Amiga. (Boy, I hope I’ve got my asbestos underwear handy.)

Victory over a cantankerous Pentium-75

Yes, the cantankerous Pentium-75 finally realized that resistance is futile, because I have more stamina than most computers. The problems when we started: sound was flaky, CD audio didn’t work, the modem didn’t work, and the system didn’t always boot properly. Once I got my mitts on it, things quickly got worse and the system wouldn’t boot at all except in safe mode, and of course nothing works in safe mode.
After borrowing some hardware from Gatermann (I don’t know where all my AT stuff went but I sure can’t find it) and spending some serious time with it (writing about NFS and flipping back and forth between my writing station and the P75), it works. Very nicely, in fact. It blows away most Pentium-233s I’ve seen. Seriously. It boots in 30 seconds. Word loads in 10-12. That’s hardly a cause for celebration when a system with a K6-2/500 and a modern hard drive boots Windows in 20 seconds and Word 97 in 4, but consider this: This is a 75 MHz Pentium with 256K L2 cache, a SiS 5500 chipset, a mere 32 megs of RAM, a #9 Vision 330 video card (with an S3 764 chipset), an ISA ESS688-based sound card, and a very old 850 MB Maxtor hard disk. Vintage 1995 all around. Cast in that light, this machine kicks some serious butt.

I suspect some of the problems were hardware-related. After reinstalling Windows, I went and grabbed an audio CD (the always-cheerful Still, by Joy Division), dropped it in, and it indicated it was playing. But I didn’t hear anything. So I stopped the CD and checked the hardware. The CD-ROM drive was set up alone on the secondary channel (good), as a slave device (not good). The audio cable looked like it was seated properly but I wasn’t sure. I took the drive out, gave it a once-over, triple-checked all cable connections, and let it go. I powered up, grabbed another CD (Tori Amos’ Little Earthquakes this time), and by the time I got the speakers plugged into the right jack, Tori Amos was asking why we always crucify ourselves. I didn’t have an answer to that question, but I had sound. Good. Either this computer doesn’t like Joy Division, or what I did fixed it.

I did a few more tweaks (OK, a lot more tweaks, because I’m a bloody perfectionist) and soon I had an overachieving P75 sitting atop the now-infamous Tower of Power. I think I’m going to keep an eye on it for one more day, then deliver it.

There are a large number of P233s at work that won’t launch Word in 10 seconds, and they certainly won’t boot Windows in 30.

So, the owner should be happy with it. I’m pretty happy with it. And I’m very glad to have some tangible numbers about what’s possible with the tricks in my book.

If this Pentium-75 is putting your system to shame, you can put an end to that.

Finishing touches: I let RAM Stress Test, by Ultra-X (trust me, you want to go to www.ultra-x.com, not any of the similar addresses–BIG mistake) run for about 20 hours straight. After 100 cycles without a failure, I restarted, booted into Windows, installed Juno (yuck), cleaned up the network settings, then installed Netscape and defragged the drive. The system is still pretty darn fast for what it is.

And, having run RAM Stress Test on the memory (it has commodity memory in it), I have reasonable confidence in the memory, and thanks to SpinRite, I have the utmost confidence in the drive (a Maxtor).

Attempting to optimize Windows with explicit paths

An interesting idea, this. But I’m not sure it’s worth the required time investment to see if it makes a difference for you.

From: ChiefZeke
Subject: Items to consider
To: dfarq@swbell.net


A few more items to consider:

The various *.ini files usually point to files to load as oemfonts.fon=vgaoem.fon. Would it not be better to edit all files so that the full path is used instead; as above:
oemfonts.fon=c:\windows\fonts\vgaoem.fon ?

Also, when Folder Options – File Types – Registered File Types is reviewed many items are listed similar to rundll setup.dll ***. Again, would it not be better for the user to edit the complete listing so that the complete path is used; as above:
c:\windows\rundll.exe c:\windows\system\setup.dll *** ?

While I’m well aware of the tedium involved in doing the necessary editing I would think the end result would be worth it.


Since Windows only looks in \Windows\Fonts for fonts, I don’t see how specifying a pathname there would help matters, and it might hurt. And I believe the ini files look for device drivers and the like in \Windows\System and possibly \Windows\System32 exclusively.

The registered filetypes is an interesting idea. Since Windows traverses the path (normally C:\Windows;C:\Windows\System;C:\Windows\Command) looking for that stuff, theoretically, putting a pathname in front of stuff that’s in C:\Windows\Command or C:\Windows\System would make it find the file slightly faster. How much faster depends on how full those directories are, of course.

I wouldn’t start editing without first making a full backup of the \Windows tree (or at the very least, a backup copy of the registry). I fear it might be an awful lot of work for very little gain. I’m always interested in even small speedups, and I’m sure I’ll end up trying it at some point (when I’m not banging my head against the wall learning NFS, NIS and NDS so I can write about them).

Proceed with caution, but if you try it I’m of course very interested in the results.

From: ChiefZeke
Subject: Re: Items to consider
To: Dave Farquhar

It wasn’t only the .FON files I was talking about. I was also thinking of the .DRV, .ACM. etc files. In fact, I’ve already edited SYSTEM.INI and WIN.INI to add the path in all those places that I’ve determined warrant it.

Also, while it took about three hours. I’ve also edited the entries for registered filetypes and that went smoothly. I feel there is no need to back-up anything, at this time, to accomplish that task. When you’re doing the editing the path and filename are monitored and any errors get a ‘beep’. Further, long-file names are also ‘beeped’ if they are not enclosed in ” “.

Since all operations are subjective as to how fast our computers really are I will confess I noticed no differential in speed during Windows start or program loading.


vestigating that. It’s hard to know what tricks are going to make a difference and which ones won’t. I suspect specifying a path would help really slow systems with extremely crammed system directories more than modern systems with optimized directories.

Ultra-useful Windows and DOS utilities (plus Linux stuff)

There are loads of links in this mail. Explore them; you won’t be disappointed.

Hello. I maintain the Interesting DOS programs website and I was pleasantly surprised when I got an email telling me my site was mentioned in your book as a download reference site for XMSDSK.

While I only provided a link to the XMSDSK file on Simtel, it was still great to see my site which I never thought will ever get mentioned in any book, especially a Windows one 🙂

I got your book and I like it (a lot). However, there were some tools I thought should have gotten mentioned (most are mentioned on my site)


On Page 65, you mentioned FIPS as a tool to resize partitions. While I haven’t tried FIPS, there is another freeware utility which I’ve used several times :

Partition Resizer v1.33 It resizes/moves your FAT16/FAT32 partitions safely without losing the data on it. It doesn’t eliminate the need for FDISK. You use Partition Resizer to resize and rearrange the FAT16/FAT32 partitions to create free space on your drive and then run FDISK to create the partition.


The Infozip link at http://www.cdrom.com/pub/infozip is orphaned and is no longer updated. An updated link is at ftp://ftp.info-zip.org/pub/infozip/Info-ZIP.html


On Page 209, you mentioned that internal Zip drives lack DOS drivers, this is not true as I have an internal ZIP drive and I access them from DOS. Perhaps you were trying the older drivers that came with the first Iomega parallel port drive?


FastVid v1.10 Improves video performance on Pentium Pro and Pentium II PCI/AGP systems. I haven’t tested this myself but you may want to check it out.


LFN Tools v1.48 These are DOS commands (as stand alone EXE’s) that can handle long filenames in plain DOS. Supports FAT32

For example there is LCOPY which works like XCOPY under a DOS window (copying the long filenames) but in plain DOS. This is useful for diaster recovery situations when you can’t get into Windows and you need to get files off your Windows drive. Other commands include

LMD – create a long directory name LRD – remove a directory with a long directory name (e.g lrd “Program Files”) LDIR – like the DIR command showing long filenames.

The Tools are released under the GPL so source code is available and it is free.


AVPLite Build 134 Free (yet powerful) command-line antivirus detection and removal program.

The engine is only is only 49K (the antivirus updates are about 1.7MB) but it can scan inside ZIP, TGZ, CAB, mail folders in Netscape and Outlook, DOC files). If there is a virus on a machine, you can have a bootable disk with XMSDSK to create a ramdisk, then have the AVPlite and the antivirus update on separate floppy disks unzipped to the ramdrive and then run AVPlite from the ramdrive.


Some Linux links :

SET’s editor v0.4.41

GREAT text editor with the fimiliar Borland IDE interface with syntax highlighting. This is literally the FIRST app to install after you boot Linux. Editing text files with Joe, Vi and Emacs were ummmmmm….. kinda difficult ;-). Released under GPL.

(SET edit is also available for DOS with a built-in MP3 player 😉 )

The one page linux manual A PDF containing a summary of useful Linux commands You mentioned on your Silicon Underground that you wished there was a command reference for Linux. This one is close

————————————————————————- Since you mentioned Win3.x program manager, thought I’ll mention this

Calmira II v3.02 Freeware Win95 shell/interface for Windows 3.x, including explorer, etc.

Mask for Windows – PRWin98 Gives Win3.x apps the look and feel of Win9x apps


Looking forward to your upcoming Linux book (I agree with your sentiments on Silicon Underground – documentation is the main holdback for Linux)

Dev Teelucksingh
Interesting DOS programs at http://www.opus.co.tt/dave
Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society at http://www.ttcsweb.org

— This email sent with Arachne, the ultimate Internet client —
— http://home.arachne.cz/ —

Wow. Thanks for all the links. That’ll keep my readers busy for ages and ages to come. I did immediately go download SET edit. Very, very nice.

I’m very glad you like my book and look forward to the Linux book. It’s coming along, faster than the Windows book did, but not as quickly as I’d like. I’m not even willing to hazard a guess when it will be finished at this point.

A year from now, there will probably be twice as many Linux books available as there are now. Maybe more. The quality will vary widely. But we need them. The stuff coming out of the Linux Documentation Project is getting better (or maybe I’m just getting smarter) but the stuff available even six months ago very frequently had gaps that a newcomer wouldn’t be able to climb over: missing steps, poor or inaccurate description of output–all kinds of little things that suggest the author didn’t take the time to step through the process one last time. A plethora of available Linux books will help in more ways than one.

Back to DOS and Windows… Although many people deny it, DOS is still an integral part of Windows, and some things just can’t be accomplished without diving into DOS. Even under NT, I always keep a command line open. I can tell you the last day I didn’t use a command line. It was in June of last year. I know because I was in New Mexico, far away from work and from any of my computers.

So Iomega finally got around to releasing Zip drivers that work with the internal IDE and ATAPI models? About time. We bought a big batch of them at work about two years ago, and I needed to access them from DOS, and nothing. The drivers wouldn’t work. We contacted Iomega, and their line was, “These drives require Windows 95 or newer.” A year later, when I was writing that chapter, drivers still hadn’t appeared. But better late than never.

Thanks again.

David L. Farquhar, computer security professional, train hobbyist, and landlord