Introduction, DOS 5/6

Get the most out of your PCIs this booklet for you'

This is not a normal beginners book; it is more a supplement to the many beginners books that are already available. The contents are of varying degrees of difficulty. You will get the most out of this book if you are running DOS 5 or above. It includes a separate section on DOS 6. I do not deal with Windows 95 very much. However, a lot of things in this booklet are still relevant, when you use Windows 95.

My purpose

One of the aims of this project is to publish and distribute KnowWare booklets in as many countries as possible, thereby helping as many people as possible to use their PCs. If you would like to support the project, please tell others about the guide and/or make suggestions to improve the text.

Important

I have tried to keep the contents as up to date as possible. Remember that the first edition was written in the beginning of 1993. Even though everything happens very fast in the computer world, most of us continue using programs longer than their developers would wish. Therefore, things are not happening quite as fast as many would like us to believe. We decide how fast things develop, because we users pay the bills. Remember that!!

The KnowWare philosophy

Is to pass on relevant and easy-to-understand information for a reasonable price.

My main motive is to pass on what I know about PCs to as many people as possible ' as cheaply as possible. Computer books are generally too expensive (or rather, were. The publication of KnowWare books has forced prices down to a more reasonable level in Denmark). Users want information and knowledge that makes their lives easier. Whether this comes from a fine book with a four-color cover or from a booklet like this is unimportant. How much it costs is important.

I was born 1952, speak Danish, English and German. Between 1970 and 1980, I studied sociology and psychology at the University of Copenhagen, and also spent some years in Germany. I have worked with PCs since 1986. From 1988 to 1991, I worked with a mainframe computer. Since 1993 I run KnowWare, publishing and sharing knowledge and help as much as possible.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me and taught me many different things. Heartfelt and grateful thanks to my other guides. I hope that this booklet will bring you a greater understanding of your PC, insight into its secrets and more pleasure when you work with it.

Important

Something I must point out: everything you try using ideas or suggestions given in this text is your own responsibility. That's my disclaimer to avoid any litigation!!

My primary experience with PCs comes from so-called "clones," i.e. imitations of the IBM PC. 

If you are impatient and want to edit your CONFIG.SYS right away, then please remember to have a boot diskette that works. Put a formatted disk in the disk drive and type

C:\>SYS A:

and also read Boot disks

My advice is to read all text in the order it appears, including the "references" (which admittedly force you to jump around a little).

This applies especially to CONFIG.SYS if you have DOS 5, where you can easily write something that makes you unable to start your computer from the hard disk, i.e. it locks your PC. Now you have been warned. This problem does not exist with DOS 6.

If you are experienced at editing startup files, you may begin with CPU and memory on p. *. This chapter contains something new and relevant for most readers.

If you don't understand much in these chapters, just make the suggested changes in your startup files ' or have someone else do it for you. As we go on, I'll try to point out what is technical, what is advanced and so on. I assume that you have installed DOS in the directory C:\DOS. References to Windows refer to version 3.1.

Jargon

The PC world is filled with jargon. I will try and explain some of these expressions.

If I write "type in DOS" or "type,", it means do so at the DOS prompt (C:\>), i.e. you are "in DOS" and can enter DOS commands. Some programs can temporarily jump to DOS and then return when you type EXIT.

When you are "in" a directory, (you should be in C:\EXTRA) it means that the directory is active and on your screen, i.e. the DOS prompt in this case appears as C:\>EXTRA and DOS commands (without further specification) will be carried out on files in this directory.

Default is a very good concept or word, although difficult to understand if you haven't met it before. In a computer context, it refers to that which is chosen automatically unless something else is specified. A couple of examples: if you are in a directory and type DIR, DOS says: "As you are not telling me which directory you want details of, I'll choose the default for you" ' and default here is the actual directory you are in. When you are at the DOS level, you are always in a directory and on a drive. I'll explain directory later.

Within programs, you will come across default settings. When you start with an empty document, such things as left and right margins, choice of font, line spacing, and so on are set at default values. When you want to load or save a document in your word-processor, a default directory is used unless changed. Usually, the user can alter most or all of these defaults. I hope that you have an idea now about the meaning of default.

The root means the root directory, the "first" directory on a disk. In this text, I shall be referring frequently to the root directory on the hard disk, which is C:\

File names are usually written like this: HIMEM.SYS

Directory names are written like this: C:\DOS

(A) begins a paragraph, or several, of what I would consider advanced text.

All references to the "manual" mean the Microsoft MS-DOS 5.0 manual. DOS 6 is treated in its own section.

Please read this

First, a word of comfort: this chapter does not contain any technical material. So please read it!

Over the past few years, I have helped many friends and have seen how much time one spends learning to use the PC and its programs. If you run into difficulties, it can take a really long time to solve them ' and not everybody wants, or can afford, to pay others to help with a problem. I hope to be able to reduce this time for you, but you have to be willing to invest some hours in the first place. It will pay you dividends in the long run.

If you are a beginner, don't be nervous. Millions have learned it before you, but it takes time. In the beginning, you might only get something from a few chapters but later on you can investigate the others. Not so many years ago I didn't understand a single word of what I write about today. As we all know, the best way to learn is to teach others.

A comforting thought: the later you've started in the PC jungle, the faster you'll be able to understand and use your PC. Programs and their on-line help are getting better, and there are more and more books.

There are certain basic things that must function before your PC works well. In the long run ' if you don't have it already ' you'll probably have to adopt a sense of order and discipline if you really want to gain a lot from your computer.

It is a sad paradox of this computer age that books, magazines and people's brains contain a wealth of information ' but nobody knows exactly where it is or how to find it quickly. The enormous amount of information as opposed to relevant, useful knowledge is really a problem. Nobody can know everything in this business because it all happens so fast, the market is very big and new products are arriving in an ever-rising flood.

One reason this guide has become necessary is the inferior manual supplied by Microsoft. There isn't a single example of the all-important startup files AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS in 600 pages.

The more I wrote about the technical aspects of my subject, the more the text dwelled on the theme of optimization, i.e. tuning, trimming, getting the most out of the computer. Some sections of this booklet have become more advanced than I originally intended but those who understand how to use the advice will be pleased with it and, I hope, will help their friends a little.

The start files are not the most exciting part of a PC, but they areone of the most important things to know about, which most computer developers conveniently forget.

One of my aims when I started to write in September 1992 was to write the book I wanted, the book I wished I'd had when I had problems on my PC.

Because the text is of varying difficulty, it has not lent itself to a presentation in easily graded sections, designed for reading through once only. You may miss a "yellow brick road" to follow. If you are an experienced PC user, you may sometimes find yourself in the middle of a beginner's course.

Some readers may find that they have to browse through to orientate themselves, and then start again at the beginning. For those of you who want to use the book as a reference in the future, there is an index at the back. A term is defined, as far as possible, the first time it occurs.

I have written on other subjects before but I have to admit that it has been hard to structure a PC book in which the subject can alternate between simple and very difficult. It isn't always easy to find the right balance between theory and practice.

I assume that you are ready to do some donkey work: in other words, you want to think for yourself! You can find - and solve - thousands of specific problems on a PC. I have tried to pass on theoretical knowledge illustrated with relevant specific examples that I hope will also give you enough knowledge to be able to solve problems other than those described in this text.

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