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How to have large partitions beyond TOS limits?


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#1 6BQ5 ONLINE  

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Posted Wed Feb 13, 2019 2:09 PM

I read that TOS has limits on partition size that seem very small in today's world. For example, TOS 2.06 limits partition size to 512 MB and only allows letters A - P for accessing drives. Considering letters C - P are used for hard drives we can 14 partitions of 512 MB.

 

Can we go beyond the 512 MB limit? If so, how?

 

I hear there is a program called BigDOS but I am unsure how it works. Do I put it on a TOS partition within TOS size limits and running enables TOS to see bigger partitions? Is there a way to go beyond letter P?

 

I don't have something like UltraSatan so I can't experiment personally.

 

Thanks! :)

 

 



#2 ParanoidLittleMan OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Feb 14, 2019 4:05 AM

BigDOS needs to be run from AUTO folder. It can handle DOS type FAT16 partitions up to 2 GB. I'm not sure can it handle partitions over letter P.  But it's all written in it's manual, for sure.

Now, what does not stay in manual:  it needs extra RAM - not only for it's code, but for buffers. Many SW will not work when BigDOS is installed. 

 

Atari ST was made when hard disks were rare and expensive birds, and small capacity. Even Falcon was equipped in 1992 with 60 MB hard disk, what now sounds as really small.

Working with very large partitions is not recommended, because it will be slower. I think that 512 MB limit is not that bad. There are other, worse things with TOS and it's work with hard disks, but they are not so obvious and it needs some knowledge to understand them.

 

I made some fixes, improvements of TOS hard disk code:  http://atari.8bitchi...fo/tosimav.html

That's much better than using BigDOS and uses even less RAM than regular TOS.

I did not go on supporting over 1 GB, because really don't see the point, + that would work slower. Better to use more partitions instead one-two very large ones. 30 x 1GB is more than enough for all possible Atari ST SW.



#3 6BQ5 ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Feb 14, 2019 2:32 PM

ParanoidLittleMan,

 

Wow, you did a lot of good work! I congratulate you!! :)

 

So, you recommend using more partitions that are smaller vs. fewer partitions that are bigger. That would work well with your updated TOS because your TOS increases the number of available drives. With 30 partitions * 512 MB I can have total storage of 15 GB. Yes, that is a lot for our Atari machines. 

 

You say there is a performance penalty when using large partitions. Maybe this is OK in some instance. For example, backup and mass storage of media files like digital music and images. Those partitions could be big. Boot partitions, gaming/demo partitions, etc could be smaller for quicker access. What do you think?

 

Your webpage inspired me to Google search other TOS and GEMDOS solutions, like Magic 6.2 (http://atari.8bitchi...fo/magic62.html). There are other alternatives. This is good! :) I think users today are building the Atari they wanted in the past. A Super ST. Or, maybe we can say this is the ST machine Atari should have (would have?) built next. I am still happy with my TOS 2.06 installation. TOS 2.06 with Blitter was the ST I wanted back in the 80's and 90's when I had a TOS 1.02 with my 520 ST FM. You could say I am living my dream come true. It took almost 30 years but it happened! :D

 

Maybe I will try alternatives when I outgrow my nostalgia or add UltraSatan to my system. I can try booting those alternatives from a floppy or from my mass storage device. Then perhaps I will install a TOS switching module. Something that could contain original TOS 2.06 plus 2 - 4 alternatives could be fun to have. I wonder how well the TOS alternatives work with Uwe Seimet's HDDRIVER software.

 

 



#4 ParanoidLittleMan OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Feb 16, 2019 4:10 AM

Actually, partition size limit is 1 GB - so you can have 30 x 1 GB - and that's more than enough for Atari ST(E) SW. And actually may not fit on some typical 32 GB SD card - because their capacity is never full 32 GB, but rather about 29 .

Surely, for storage purposes lower speed is not problem. But I think that should not store relevant data on hard disks or Flash cards which using regularly with now 30+ years old Ataris. Reliability is lower because age, and if very unlucky, some data damage may happen. Prices of SD cards are now really low, so buying 2-3 of them is not problem.

 

MagiC is great TOS alternative, which works reasonably fast on ST(E). SW compatibility is not too good, and in my case that's what is important. In case of Mint there is slowness on ST, and much lower SW compatibility.

What I wanted and finally done is original Atari TOS with some flaws fixed (work with mass storage) + useful new features making work more comfortable. Work without floppies, state saves and so on.

Somehow for me it is more important than some accelerator in ST(E) - it will be never much fast (and I can speed up well Steem on PC :) ) , not to mention diverse problems with SW at faster CPU clocks.

 

TOS switch is best solution now, I think. Because there is no TOS v. or alternative what is best for all SW, for all situations.



#5 6BQ5 ONLINE  

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Posted Sat Feb 16, 2019 12:30 PM

Actually, partition size limit is 1 GB - so you can have 30 x 1 GB - and that's more than enough for Atari ST(E) SW. And actually may not fit on some typical 32 GB SD card - because their capacity is never full 32 GB, but rather about 29 .

Surely, for storage purposes lower speed is not problem. But I think that should not store relevant data on hard disks or Flash cards which using regularly with now 30+ years old Ataris. Reliability is lower because age, and if very unlucky, some data damage may happen. Prices of SD cards are now really low, so buying 2-3 of them is not problem.

 

MagiC is great TOS alternative, which works reasonably fast on ST(E). SW compatibility is not too good, and in my case that's what is important. In case of Mint there is slowness on ST, and much lower SW compatibility.

What I wanted and finally done is original Atari TOS with some flaws fixed (work with mass storage) + useful new features making work more comfortable. Work without floppies, state saves and so on.

Somehow for me it is more important than some accelerator in ST(E) - it will be never much fast (and I can speed up well Steem on PC :) ) , not to mention diverse problems with SW at faster CPU clocks.

 

TOS switch is best solution now, I think. Because there is no TOS v. or alternative what is best for all SW, for all situations.

 

I read your Improved TOS Manual showing how to partition SD card. It looks like the SD card will need to be partitioned in Windows 10 and I need a special driver, called CFAdisk. If I install this driver, format SD card, and create partitions in Windows 10 then I will see the partitions on my ST with UltraSatan? Then, to transfer files between PC and ST I simply move the SD card to Windows, copy my files, and then reinsert the SD card? To do all of this requires using your integrated hard disk driver. This would not work with other drivers.

 

I know it is simple and silly question but I don't have an UltraSatan so I must imagine the process in my head. :)



#6 ParanoidLittleMan OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Feb 17, 2019 2:42 AM

 

I read your Improved TOS Manual showing how to partition SD card. It looks like the SD card will need to be partitioned in Windows 10 and I need a special driver, called CFAdisk. If I install this driver, format SD card, and create partitions in Windows 10 then I will see the partitions on my ST with UltraSatan? Then, to transfer files between PC and ST I simply move the SD card to Windows, copy my files, and then reinsert the SD card? To do all of this requires using your integrated hard disk driver. This would not work with other drivers.

 

I know it is simple and silly question but I don't have an UltraSatan so I must imagine the process in my head. :)

Doing it in Windows is only temporary solution - until I finish my new partitioner SW + driver, what will be easier to use . Current one can max 14 partitions of max 512 MB. Because that's are regular TOS limits.

The point is not so much in driver SW but in TOS self. TOS can not deal with DOS type partitions (which are some kind of standard, and supported in modern OS-es) . Solution was TOS/DOS compatible partitions, which are basically DOS partitions, with special parameters, so could be handled by TOS as TOS (AHDI) type.  But TOS (AHDI) type FAT16 is not so good as DOS type - say me, who is old Atarian. Atari's solution was dictated most likely by used C compiler limitations when it is created.  And that's  what I corrected, and that was hardest part in this TOS improving.

Large DOS partitions - over 512 MB can actually work with some existing drivers, for instance with my very old ACSI driver. But it has diverse limitations, and was intended for usage with BigDOS . That SW works well, but needs extra RAM, + has SW compatibility problems.  Much better is when TOS alone can handle it. And nicest thing is that all it can be done without using any extra RAM - because DOS type FAT16 needs smaller buffers, and they are already set there, by TOS (2 KB is assigned for floppy buffers, and that's enough for hard disk buffers too with improved FAT16) . But then code must be in ROM - so it will not take RAM. And part of it is already in ROM - for Virtual Floppy and statesaves. 

All it may be hard to follow and understand. What is relevant for users is:

Integrated driver is optional - normally it works not - need to set it to be active, on used hard disk or Flash card. If not set, regular driver autoboot way will be used, and usual drivers will work.

Integrated driver works only with DOS type partitions, which may be DOS/TOS compatible too. Well, I tested with mine. Should work with Hddriver (Seimet) ones too, but did not test it so far.

Creating DOS partitions is possible with diverse PC SW.

Integrated driver has some limitations too: max 24 partitions C: - Z: - in compare to 30 with special driver (so far I have only test version). There is no hot-swap support for UltraSatan. But both slots are supported.

Limitations are because very little RAM usage of it .

Soon, there will be regular autoboot driver, with max 30 partitions etc. That will use some extra RAM, of course - but it may be very little 2-4 KB only. 

'Other' drivers ? I don't think that there is such, what can use all features. Some DOS type Atari drivers may work with partial results.



#7 6BQ5 ONLINE  

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Posted Sun Feb 17, 2019 11:01 AM

Thanks for the insight! I wasn't able to follow everything because I am not familiar with all the low level details of different FAT systems and their technical details ... but your reasoning seems to make sense.

 

The bottom line here is you are trying to leverage the already establish FAT16 structure to enable large partitions >512MB with performance penalty or extra RAM using. You want FAT16 to help move file between Windows system and ST, like downloaded software. This can all be done but requires specialized software and drivers on both ST (in ROM) and Windows (in software) to access the data on the SD cards.

 

It sounds like you like are already thinking of users with legacy configurations who would need to go through migration steps. :)

 

Now I am wondering about 24 or 30 partitions. Can that many icons fit on 640x200 screen?



#8 ParanoidLittleMan OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Feb 17, 2019 12:48 PM

Well, moving SW between Atari and PC is solved already more than 10 years ago. With TOS/DOS compatible partitions, and proper driver SW for Atari. On PC side no need for extra SW. Especially if it is regular hard disk. In case of removable drives, so Flash cards there is stupid limit of Windows that only first partition is accessible - and there is special driver SW (what is not real driver, just some inf file what fools Window that is is not removable) . But in case of Linux you have access to all partitions when it is set for automatic mounting.

The point in improved TOS is more efficient work, and actually it works with less RAM despite larger accessible sizes and count of partitions. That indeed may sound strange, but we need to know that in 1985 support for 68000 CPU was not much good, and Atari's hard disk filesystem has some flaws because of limited C compiler Alcyon.

 

No need to put all drive icons on Desktop. Hardly will need all them in one session.  Bigger problem is that 25th to 30th partition can not have normal letter, because English alphabet is so limited with them :-D



#9 6BQ5 ONLINE  

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Posted Sun Feb 17, 2019 2:05 PM

Oh, I had no idea Linux can partition a flash card and see all the partitions as separate drives. That is good to know. I have been running Ubuntu 18.04 LTS at work. It is a pleasure to use and I have some skills working in a terminal window. The idea of installing Ubuntu on a machine here has been growing and your mention above only fuels the desire. But, I already have enough projects. ;)

Drive letters .. yes, we are limited and enabled at the same time with English letters. Im open to Cyrillic based letters. Lets see if these Russian letters from my iPad come through in the message.

Б:\ДЕСКТОП.ИНФ
З:\КОНТРОЛЬ.АСС

How cool would that be?! Bring it on! :D

#10 ParanoidLittleMan OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Feb 18, 2019 3:34 PM

I made Cyrill v. of TOS 2.06 :

cirtos.png

Of course, some things must remain with latin characters.



#11 pixelmischief OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 19, 2019 7:20 AM

I have to give it to you, man.  You've got some serious skills.



#12 ParanoidLittleMan OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 19, 2019 7:41 AM

I forgot to add: it was in 1992 :)



#13 DarkLord OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 19, 2019 9:10 AM

IIRC though, in Linux the Atari compatibility option has to be compiled into the kernel - if not, you'll have to recompile it.

 

(some distros allow you to check things during installation as well, I think -  under advanced installation

kernel options - can't remember for sure).

 

I usually use mtools here with kubuntu but it's not as elegant a solution as above.



#14 6BQ5 ONLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 19, 2019 9:10 AM

Wow!! ;-)  :)

 

That is very, very cool! How did you get the Cyrillic font in TOS? Did you make it yourself?

 

What would it take to get a Russian version? :party:

 

(From large partitions to extra drive letters to Cyrillic fonts .. I love this thread!)


Edited by 6BQ5, Tue Feb 19, 2019 9:11 AM.


#15 ParanoidLittleMan OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 19, 2019 11:27 AM

How I did it ? Was long time ago ... Cyrillic font is placed in place of special characters (codes 128-255) . I took it from some PC files, I think. Used as base the German TOS 2.06 - because txt. is usually longer in German, so there is space for translated one - and just replaced txt. taking care about formatting and 0 terminator. Normally, it goes with SW for editing RSC, but that needs changes in code too then.

I was somehow sure that there must be Russian v. of TOS 2.06, and yes, it is done:  https://www.atariworld.org/tos-rom/

Well, it works, but usage is not really easy - need to place some extra files, including ACC in root of C: . Otherwise will see garbage instead Russian txt.



#16 6BQ5 ONLINE  

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Posted Tue Feb 19, 2019 7:22 PM

Thanks for posting the link! I’m going to try this in Hatari emulator and see how it works.




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