by Kev Beardsworth
Due to an oversight on Atari's part, TOS does not directly support CD-ROM drives. Atari compatible CDs containing everything from pictures to PD are being released everyday. There are also many CDs from other platforms that can be used on our beloved Atari. With this in mind how are we, as Atari users, supposed to access them?
Obviously you first need a CD-ROM drive. Connecting it to the hard drive port on your Atari will get you nowhere fast. You also need to obtain some CD-ROM driver software.
In the early days of Atari CD-ROM use, access was only available by using an Atari provided driver called MetaDOS. According to the MetaDOS documentation however it only works with the TT. Later, Atari released a driver to be used with MultiTOS. Needless to say this wasn't a popular solution either.
Anodyne Software, realising there was a nasty gap in the market developed ExtenDOS, soon to be transformed into ExtenDOS Pro.
ExtenDOS Pro is available from System Solutions. It comes packaged in an A5 plastic envelope containing one double sided disk and a 30 page manual.
The fear of an over complicated installation - popular with other CD-ROM driver software - is quickly quashed. With ExtenDOS Pro you should be accessing all your favourite CDs in minutes. I say should as there will always be the odd device that ExtenDOS Pro will not recognise. These should be few and far between though.
To install simply double click on install.app. ExtenDOS Pro will then display some very user friendly dialog boxes. The hardest part is in choosing a letter to assign to your CD-ROM drive. 'P' usually works, it's that simple. The installation program can also be used to update a current configuration should you add too or change your CD-ROM device.
The driver software is compatible with all versions of TOS. It can also be used with MultiTOS v1.04, Geneva v1.02, Magic v 2.0 or versions above these. The Readme file does point out a small problem with Magic Desk 4. Easily overcome though by using a replacement desktop. This will be fixed in future versions.
ExtenDOS Pro supports three CD-ROM functions. Obviously normal data access, like reading from a hard drive. Single or Multi session PhotoCD access and Audio from music CDs. An Audio player is provided on the disk and will actually be installed to your boot drive.
For the more advanced user there is a section in the manual on configuring ExtenDOS Pro by hand. A full explanation is given on the files that can be edited should you wish to do so. For the majority of users however this will be a pointless exercise. Once the drivers are installed the system works very well. After a great deal of use on my system it has proved to be very reliable.
Everything is configurable from inside the installation program. You can increase the memory buffer size. This will speed up CD access times but reduce available RAM. The software sets sensible defaults though, so no worries there. You can even tell ExtenDOS Pro to pause after boot up in case there's a problem. You might have forgotten to switch your CD-ROM drive on, this feature will certainly help you remember.
The CD Audio player is provided in both accessory and program versions. If you haven't got a multi-tasking operating system simply use the accessory version. This way you can play your favourite tunes while writing that letter to the bank manager. The CD Audio player can also record music from your CD onto your hard drive. You do need a device that supports this function however, the manual lists drives capable of this. In typical System Solutions style this is a quality product. Well presented and fairly priced. The manual is a good read, covering the topic of CD-ROMs in a clear understandable manner. The software itself, once installed is easily forgotten, there can be no better compliment then that. On the memory side it only takes a mere 68k if left in its default configuration.
Products of this type often need good support and you'll certainly get that. Should ExtenDOS Pro fail to install correctly a solution is provided. Using a utility found on the disk you can easily create a text file containing current system and ExtenDOS Pro information. Once printed out a simple phone call to the supplier with this information in hand should cure all your problems.
You don't have to use the Audio CD player provided. The excellent shareware CD-Player written be Alexander Clauss has been included.
|Contact:||System Solutions on 01753 832212|