by George L. Smyth
This column begins a series of articles that will help you deal with the deluge of public domain (PD) software currently available for the ST series of computers. Each month I will examine one or two of the recent releases, letting you know which programs are the best. Those of you who don't have access to the bulletin boards and online services that are the primary distribution channels for these programs will be pleased to know that the programs being reviewed will be included on the magazine's disk version. Without further ado, let's take a look at a program that will surely become an important part of your software collection.
Super Boot V5.0
To put it simply, Super Boot V5.0 is a must for all Atari ST users. Why? One of the problems with the ST is that, at boot time, it doesn't allow the user to configure the current system setup. All accessories on the boot disk are loaded into the desk menu, and all of the programs in the AUTO folder are executed. If the user wishes to load only a specialized group of accessories, a separate disk holding only those accessories must be used to boot the system. DESKTOP.INF files must also be correct for the desired resolution or the system will need reconfiguration. Super Boot V5.0, written by Gordon W. Moore, has solved these and many other problems.
How? The ten function keys are used to determine which setup the user will load. And, with the use of the alternate and control keys, as many as 30 different setup combinations can be designed.
The program used to set up your choices, SUPER__CS.PRG, prompts the user as to which DESKTOP.INF file he/she wishes to use for each configuration. Differing .INF files can be created by modifying the desktop configuration, saving the desktop and renaming the DESKTOP.INF file to a more meaningful name, such as LO_RES.INF, MED_RES.INF or A&D__DRIV.INF. Then, pressing a function key during boot will allow you to load the appropriate desktop setup. Other desktop attributes, such as key click, mouse speed and printer setup, can also be modified, since they are also part of the .INF file information.
All of the commonly used desk accessories can be placed on the boot disk and loaded in preselected combinations by grouping them with SUPER__CS.PRG and assigning the combination to one of the function keys. When you boot your system, you may then choose not only the proper .INF files, but the group of desk accessories you'd like to load as well.
Super Boot V5.0 accomplishes this by changing the extension of the accessories not selected to .ACX. Although the process takes a bit longer than using separate disks, the convenience far outweighs the additional seconds of load time.
This program has other options—some very helpful, others just fun—that can be executed during system boot. One of these is the ability to alter the date and time. For those without a battery backed-up clock, this handy function is invaluable.
If you have a hard drive, a password option that will help protect your valuable files from access by others is provided. This function will be called only if the system has been cold-booted, so that you will not have to re-enter the password if, for some reason, you had to hit the reset button.
If you are running IBM software on a non-Atari drive, a different seek rate may be required. One of the Super Boot V5.0 options automatically adjusts this seek rate to match the value needed by your 5¼-inch drive.
I don't recommend this, but for those who wish to have the speed of their disk write increased, an option has been included in Super Boot V5.0 to disable the write/verify function. Of course, this means that the system will not make sure that the information written to the disk is correct, but it will more than double the write speed of your drive.
One option I'm particularly fond of is the welcome-screen option. The user is given the ability to take a Neochrome, Tiny or DEGAS picture and have it displayed during system boot. As a matter of fact, you may have one of many pictures for display randomly chosen from a folder.
If for some reason you wish to bypass the Super Boot setup routine, this may be done by pressing a "hot key"; a key that is defined during the setup process.
The program comes complete with a 50K instruction manual that takes the user step-by-step through the setup and activation process. Although the program may seem difficult to use the first time, you'll soon become accustomed to Super Boot's setup and implementation.
If your boot disk collection is getting out of hand, or if you want to increase the convenience of your hard drive, check out this month's PD program, Super Boot V5.0.