Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 129 / MAY 1991 / PAGE 116

Dr DOS. (software) (evaluation)
by Tony Roberts

This product is a giant step toward what a disk operating system ought to be. On the surface, DR DOS handles like any old DOS you're used to, but if you want more power, or more features, DR DOS provides options galore.

The functional equivalent of MSDOS 3.3, DR DOS lets you use all the normal DOS commands you'd expect without learning anything new. Or you can use command extensions like XDEL, which allows deletion of files in multiple subdirectories and removal of empty subdirectories, or XDIR, which adds a handful of options to the normal DIR command.

DR DOS outshines the current competing DOS versions in its memory-management abilities. It can install itself, device drivers, and certain applications into unused areas of high memory. Imagine having nearly 600K of memory free for programs after DOS loads.

Deciding how to set up your memory is made much easier by installation and setup programs that write and modify your AUTOEXEC .BAT and CONFIG.SYS files. Just answer questions about how you want your system set up, and the proper commands will be saved for you.

This feature is perfect for those who dread tampering with AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS and is pleasantly palatable for untrusting souls like me who normally won't let any installation program near my system startup files. DR DOS is considerate, making its AUTOEXEC.BAT modifications in a restricted area so that your personal setup is never affected.

DR DOS also improves on MSDOS by providing online help for all external commands and by keeping a command history, so recently used commands can be repeated or edited and reused without retyping. A full-screen text editor, which replaces the difficult-to-use EDLIN line editor, uses control commands similar to those of WordStar.

DR DOS also includes a diskcache program, a password command that allows you to password-protect files and subdirectories, and a file-link program that can be used in unattended file transfers between computers.

One really exciting feature of DR DOS is its ability to accept user input during execution of the CONFIG.SYS file. Just place a question mark before any normal CONFIG.SYS command, and on boot-up, DR DOS will ask you whether you want that command executed.

For anyone who desperately wants a graphical user interface but has neither the megahertz nor the megabytes to support it, DR DOS provides ViewMAX, which allows you to use mouse clicks to launch applications and handle some rudimentary file-management chores. For more complex operations, however, it requires you to drop out to a DOS command line. Despite these shortcomings, ViewMAX, which resembles GEM (also a product from Digital Research), may be all the GUI a lot of computers and users need.

The operating system comes packaged with a thorough manual of nearly 500 pages. In addition to the normal sections on DOS commands, there's a range of information for all users including introductory material and glossaries for the uninitiated and chapters on memory-management theory and troubleshooting for old hands.

Microsoft's impending MS-DOS 5.0 is expected to have some of the same memory-management features as DR DOS 5.0. There's no need to wait. Digital Research has a good program here with a lot of extras that can help wring every drop of power out of your machine.

IBM PC and compabbles, 256K RAM



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