Configuring RISC OS Adjust
With RISC OS Adjust, the system for configuring your computer has changed somewhat. In this short series we'll explain each component in turn.
RISC OS Adjust has a comprehensive configuration system contained within the !Boot application. You will find !Boot in the root directory of your hard drive. The configuration program is run by double-clicking on !Boot, a Window will then open similar to the one shown.
The configure window that appears on your machine may differ slightly and have one or more additional icons as the system has been designed to that third party add-ons can integrate their configuration system into the main one.
It is most unlikely that anything you do using this panel could damage your computer, but you could do something that would prevent it from starting up properly, make your hard drive or CD-ROM icon vanish, or scramble the display. Whatever you do with a RISC OS computer it is normally possible to get it to work, even in a restricted way, so that you can sort out the problem.
The configuration of RISC OS is stored in two places; some within the !Boot application but the more fundamental ones are stored within CMOS RAM. This is a small amount of memory that does not lose its data when the computer is switched off, because a small battery maintains its power.
If some parts of CMOS RAM become corrupted the computer may not be able to start up properly. To make sure that this can never completely cripple your machine you can reset CMOS RAM to the factory defaults. To do this switch off the computer and then switch on again while holding down the Delete key. Keep the key held for about 5 seconds before releasing it. This should ensure that the computer will at least start up and display a desktop. (On VirtualAcorn you can run the CMOS Restore program on the VirtualAcorn CD to put the CMOS back to factory settings - ED)
If you alter something that holds its settings inside !Boot then this can be more complex to sort out. One way to get things back to a working state is to switch on the computer while holding down either Shift key. This will start up RISC OS but will not run !Boot, so avoiding the error stopping the computer from running normally.
Having described how to get out of trouble if you do manage to scramble your computer's setup we will now describe briefly what each of the icons in the Configure window does.
This lets you control what applications are run or set up for use when the computer starts up. Click on the Boot icon in the Configure window and the window shown will appear.
Add to Apps is the first item. Click on this and the window shown below will open. If you have any applications on your hard drive that you want to appear in the Apps folder on the icon bar just drag the application icon to this window and their name will appear on the list.
The Settings menu allows you to specify whether the applications being added should be available to just the current user or to all users. If you have, for example, an accounts package that needs to be available to just one user then click Single otherwise click All Users.
When you have finished click on Set. The next time your computer starts up you will find that the applications are accessible from Apps.
Note that this does not move or alter the original application in any way - it just creates a shortcut to it. This is particularly useful if the application is not in one of the more easily accessible folders on your hard drive.
If you want to remove an application just select it in this window in the usual way, click the Menu button and select 'Selection', 'Remove'. This does not change the application itself, it just removes the shortcut to it in Apps.
As with the following two Boot functions it is important only to do this with programs that are on your hard drive. Don't try it with programs that are on a floppy drive or other removable media or you will get errors when the computer starts up as it won't be able to find the applications unless the removable media is in the computer at the time.
Also if you move the application on your hard drive or otherwise change its location in any way you will need to remove it from this list and then replace it.
Install is used to install updated components into !Boot. This may be necessary from time to time. Just click on the icon and follow the instructions in the window that will open.
The third item, Look at, will open a window that is almost identical to the Add to Apps window and which is used in exactly the same way. Applications placed into this window will have their own !Boot files run by the filer when the computer starts up. What this does is to set up any Run Alias for the program, that is, ensuring that if you double-click on one of the application's own files then the application will launch; and will also ensure that any files associated with the program are shown by the filer with their correct sprites and not just as a blank box.
You do not need to do this with any program placed in the Apps folder or which is to be run at startup.
The final icon, Run, launches another window using a similar pattern. As you might expect anything appearing here will be Run at startup and will be installed onto the icon bar ready to use. You may want to do this with your favourite text editor or other programs that you use each time you start the computer such as !Printers.
For the options in any of these windows to take effect you must first click on Set.
Date and Time
This lets you set the system date and time. Note that on machines running Virtual RPC-Adjust you may find errors in the date and time provided by RISC OS Adjust. If you alter the default values you should find that the machine keeps up with the new settings. Click on the icon and the window shown will open.
At the top of this window is the current time. You can alter the hour value using the arrows to the left of the field, the minute value using the arrows to the right of the field. To update the Day, Month and Year values again make use of the arrows provided to the right of each corresponding field.
The Timezone field allows you to specify whereabouts you are in the world. If you are in France, for example, this could be +01:00. The DST tickbox allows you to specify that you are currently running in Daylight Savings Time.
If you click the Network button this window will open.
RISC OS Adjust allows you to pick up the network time from your currently active network connection. Given that most local broadband connections have a standard Internet time available, this will guarantee that RISC OS is giving the correct information.
In the Host field give the location of your network timeserver. To synchronise via the Internet, refer to http://tf.nist.gov/service/its.htm which gives details of various Network Time Protocol servers.
From the three tick-boxes below select either Use UDP, Use NTP/SNTP (to synchronise with a reliable Internet-based clock) or Get Network Time on Boot.
Again, to confirm these settings you'll need to click Set.
This lets you set the configuration for disc drives (be they floppy, optical (CD/DVD) or RAM) within RISC OS. Click on the icon and the window shown will open.
The first icon, ADFS discs, is used to configure drives physically attached to your computers motherboard. Click this icon to open the window shown.
The Floppy discs value allows you to select how many disc drives are attached to the internal ADFS interface on your computer. It's unusual to come across a RISC OS computer with more than one floppy drive, but there are always exceptions. To increase or decrease the value, use the up and down arrows to the right of the icon.
The Hard discs value is the number of drives attached to your computers built-in IDE interface. Some machines may have third-party IDE interfaces and these will have their own system for configuring the number of drives. This option should only be used for drives connected to the motherboard. If you have a second drive installed in your machine, you should increase this number.
Directly underneath these icons are two further options - ADFS Folder Cache and ADFS Buffers.
The ADFS Folder Cache is the amount of memory reserved for 'remembering' the information about a folder. This speeds up the opening of a directory viewer. Below this is ADFS Buffers, which can again speed up certain aspects of data transfer, especially when copying files to a floppy disc. Both are normally given suitable default values depending upon how much memory is fitted to your computer.
The next icon, CD-ROMs, is used to configure the number of optical drives directly plugged into your motherboard. Whether it's a DVD or CD drive, reader or writer, you configure it from here. Click on the CD-ROMs icon to open this window.
To increase the number of CD drives available to RISC OS, use the arrows next to the CD Drives field and increase the value as necessary. This should not be used for any devices plugged into third-party IDE or SCSI interfaces and you should instead use the software supplied with those devices.
The CDFS Buffers value specifies the amount of memory used as a temporary storage for data being transferred from a CD-ROM. This needs to be set to an appropriately high value as if it's set too low then loading or copying large data files from a CD-ROM will be slowed. The CDFS Buffer needs one of a series of certain values, so use the arrows to select the value most appropriate to your system setup.
The Disc Check option allows you to check the status of the hard disc after a power failure or reboot during data operations. If activated this option performs a verify of the hard drive to identify any potential issues with locations on your hard disc; then will provide a report as to any issues identified. This can be useful in some circumstances, but if you regularly reset your machine at a moment's notice will potentially be more of a hindrance.
The RAM Disc option allows you to have temporary file storage on your icon bar at all times. Being in memory, this is the fastest storage available to RISC OS but should only be used for 'work in progress' as it is all too easy to forget to save your data at the end of a session and if the computer crashed while working on your file you will lose it.
To confirm any values within this section, make sure you click the 'Set' button.
We'll continue our exploration of the RISC OS Adjust configuration system in the next issue of RISC World.