Classic Computer Magazine Archive START VOL. 3 NO. 2 / SPECIAL ISSUE #4


An ST Software Reset (Served Cold)

by Tom Hudson
START Contributing Editor

As great as the ST is compared to the IB PC, Big Blue's boxes still have some features tbe ST lacks. Fortunately, we've been busy getting rid of those discrepancies. We asked Tom Hudson to write a utility to give ST owners a convenience that IBM owners have enjoyed for years: the ability to reset your computer with a few keystrokes. Mega owners rejoice!

Get a cold start with RESTART! File RESTART.ARC on your START disk.

Resetting your ST or Mega seems like a simple task--just reach around behind the computer and press the reset button, right? Wrong. This is a warm start, which means that all resident programs are thrown away (except for specially-written utilities such as some "resetproof" RAMdisks). A warm start leaves all sorts of garbage in memory--some of which you might not want to keep around. To really get a clean slate, you have to do a cold start, which sets your computer to the way it was when you first turned it on.

You'd think that turning off the power would take care of the problem--after all, if you turn off the power and then turn it back on, you'll get a cold start, right? Well, maybe. When you turn your computer off, memory starts to decay, and may take several seconds to totally blank out. If you turn your computer off and then on again too quickly, the memory may not decay completely, and the system thinks it's doing a warm start!

With the introduction of the Megas came a new problem. The Megas have a detachable keyboard that can be several feet away from the computer and it has the reset button and power switch several feet further away! If you're like me, your desk is cluttered with manuals and magazines, monitors and modems not to mention the manuals and magazines I usually have on my lap. Reaching around these piles and fumbling blindly behind the Mega CPU can seem like an almost Herculean task. By the time you've found the switch you're looking for, you've got manuals on the floor, junk knocked over on your desk, and a strained back for your trouble.


Never fear, ST owners. RESTART is here to save you from system reset-itis. With a simple keystroke combination, the system will cold start--as if you had powered off the system, waited several seconds, and powered it back on again. The reset button retains normal operation--pressing it will give you a simple warm start, keeping those reset-proof RAMdisks safe.

The program is on your START Disk in the archive file RESTART.ARC. UnARC this file, following the instructions found elsewhere in this issue. To use RESTART, simply place RESTART.PRG the AUTO folder of your boot disk and reboot the system by turning the power off and on or by pressing the system reset button. (This may be the last time you touch the accursed thing.)

When the system starts up, you will see RESTART's installation message appear on your screen. Once your GEM Desktop appears, you're ready to roll. Press and hold the Control and Alternate keys on the left side of the keyboard. With these keys held down, press the Delete key. (We've borrowed this key combination from the IBM PC world, where PC owners use it to reset their systems.) Your ST system should instantly reset to its power-up state. Amazing. If, for some reason, you want to do a warm start, press the reset button as you normally would.


You can use RESTART with virtually every program that runs on the ST, although some programs which disable the normal ST operating system will render RESTART inactive. I have personally tested RESTART with dozens of commercial software packages and terminate-and-stay-resident utilities (such as the START File Selector) and it has worked flawlessly with them all. You should have very little trouble in most situations.

Because it is a software utility which depends on the proper operation of the ST's operating system, RESTART is vulnerable to serious system crashes. If one of your programs bombs and you can't hear a keyclick from your monitor when you press keys, RESTART has probably been killed, and you'll have to resort to (ugh!) pressing the system reset button manually or repowering up.

In order to work properly, RESTART changes a special flag inside dhe ST which causes the system to return the status of the Control, Shift and Alternate keys when a key is pressed. Some programs may be sensitive to this special condition and may react differently than normal, but most are unaffected.

If you're interested in seeing how the program works, read the file BREAKDWN.TXT in the RESTART.ARC file. The MADMAC assembly language source code is also on your START disk. The technique RESTART uses of splicing special code into the ST's trap handlers is useful for many applications. You can easily intercept calls to the system routines and substitute your own code. The RESTART code shows how to make certain keystrokes do things you want to do.

Like help you say "goodbye" to the reset-button blues.

Tom Hudson is a Contributing Editor with START, and the author of DEGAS, DEGAS Elite, CAD-3D, Cyber Sculpt, Cyber VCR and The Antialiaser. His most recent program for START was Creation!, START's fractal landscape generator in the Summer, 1988 issue.