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11.19 Additional programs for MagiC

On the MagiC floppy there are also a number of programs for various purposes. In detail:

Program Meaning
ADDMEM Corresponds to FOLDR100 required for TOS, and makes additional memory available to the system for internal management of the data. The installation of this program is not mandatory, but whould be undertaken if the message 'Out of internal memory' appears.
APPLICAT This program is, to some extent, an offloaded function of the MagXDesk desktop and hence should only be called by the latter; in particular it is not suited for direct launching with a double-click on the program icon. It enables the allocation of icons to files, as well as the installation of applications for certain file-types.
FLP_PAR With this pair of programs one can configure parallel operation of the floppy drive. The following apply:
FLP_PAR0 = Switch off parallel operation
FLP_PAR1 = Switch on parallel operation


(No longer included with MagiC 5 onwards.)
HARDCOPY The internal hardcopy routine for 9-pin Epson printers has been thrown out of the BIOS. Instead of the [Alt]-[Help] routine, Scrdmp and Prtblk, only dummy routines remain.

The included HARDCOPY.PRG program installs the hardcopy functions previously integrated in the BIOS. The program can be launched only under MagiC. Warning: It has no inquiry function for the MagiC version and may not be launched under MagiC Version 2.0 or older 3.0 versions.
MAGXBOOT The program is included in two versions (magxboot.prg and magxboot32.prg). The version of the program suitable for your system is copied to the AUTO folder and launches or installs MagiC at booting; hence it should lie as early as possible in the AUTO folder, so that all other programs are informed that MagiC is running. In addition booting then goes faster, as after a cold start magxboot then performs an additional warm start.

The difference between the two launch programs is that magxboot32 loads the file 'magic.ram' into memory in such a way that it can be protected with Outside.prg (a virtual memory management application), magx2rom etc. from being overwritten by any programs that may run amok. However, this works only on computers with a 68030 and up processor and PMMU, such as the TT030 and Falcon030 series.
MAGXCONF The CPX module or desk accessory permits the configuration of several features of MagiC. In detail:
Fastload
This switches on fast reading of floppy disks; as it does not affect writing, it can really be left switched on permanently.
TOS-compatibility
Due to the fact that MagiC can allow several programs to run simultaneously, one has to take strict safety precautions. Unfortunately there are still programs that make faulty system calls, which can give rise to problems during multitasking in some circumstances. On the other hand some programs rely on errors in TOS and so do not run correctly if they were launched under MagiC. Thus some of these safety precautions may be switched off to persuade such programs to cooperate - as this naturally compromises operational safety, such programs should be swapped as quickly as possible for compliant newer versions or alternatives.
Smart redraw
(De-)activates the faster screen buildup under MagiC. Some (mostly older) programs rely on certain properties of TOS during window redraws, that (because they are unnecessary or faulty) no longer exist under MagiC. To persuade such programs to cooperate, the more elegant Smart redraw mechanism of MagiC can be switched off.
Grow- and Shrink Boxes
This can switch on or off the growing and shrinking rectangles that appear in some programs before the opening/closing of windows and dialogs. Switching them off can lead to small speed gains on some computers, but has no other repercussions.
Floppy Background DMA
With this switch the background operation of the floppy drive can be switched on or off. When switched on, you can perform other tasks while using read, write or format operations on the floppy. STs and Falcon030s need a suitable hard disk driver (such as HDDRIVER) with this capability.
Pulldown menus
If this switch is active then the menus only drop down after being clicked on with the mouse, so no longer open undesirably when brushed accidentally with the mouse pointer, say during movement of a window. This behaviour is known from the Apple Macintosh, for instance.
MGCOPY This program is, to some extent, an offloaded function of the MagXDesk desktop and hence should only be called by the latter; in particular it is not suited for direct launching with a double-click on the program icon. The program takes on the copying and moving of files and folders; the makeup of the command line or the format of the sent messages is not documented, and hence can alter at any time.
MGFORMAT With this program one can format floppy disks, and do this without blocking the computer while this is done. For the creation of the boot sector, incidentally, Protobt is not used any more; for 720k floppies an MSDOS format having 730,112 bytes free is created.
MGSEARCH This program is, to some extent, an offloaded function of the MagXDesk desktop and hence should only be called by the latter; in particular it is not suited for direct launching with a double-click on the program icon. The tool represents a file searcher, somewhat like the one that is built into the TOS 2.06 desktop. This module too is not, or only conditionally, suited for direct launch with a double-click on the program icon, as the drives to be searched through are set in the desktop and with a direct launch only the current drive will be searched.
SHUTDOWN This is the program normally called from the desktop when you select the Shutdown menu entry (or activate the key combination [Alternate]-[Control]-[Delete]), which ensures that all applications still running save their data and then terminate.

The file SHUTDOWN.INF serves as the configuration file for this program, and, besides comments (introduced with the character '#') contains the following commands:
  • ignore : For uncritical old programs. These are not warned by SHUTDOWN, so that a rundown of the system is possible nevertheless. Caution: Programs such as these do not save their data, so it can be sensible to terminate them manually in individual cases (before the system is closed down).
  • terminate : Special case for XCONTROL. Programs itemized in this way will be 'force terminated'; for data safety the same applies as for ignore above.
  • timeout Maximum reaction time for modern programs. A value of 0 means 'wait for ever'.
TSLICE With this CPX module one can first of all switch off the preemptive multitasking, after which the system operates in cooperative multitasking (when tasks are switched only when the currently running program makes a system call). Secondly, one can set here the timeslice length as well as the background priority.

To visualise preemptive multitasking, imagine a clock with its clock-face divided into a number of equally-sized pie-slices, which are then distributed amongst the running programs. The parameter Timeslice length then determines the size of the pie-slices; if one selects a small value, changes will take place more frequently, which of course costs time but divides the allocated CPU-time more evenly; if one selects a large value, then the calculating process is interrupted less often, but the individual programs also must wait longer before they are re-allocated a pie-slice, which in extreme cases can cause judder in scrolling, for instance.

The parameter Background priority determines how many more pie-slices the program owning the topped window receives, since this is manifestly the one currently in use and so should react faster than any of the programs running in the background.

In practice a timeslice length of 5-10ms (milliseconds) and a background priority of 1:20 to 1:32 have proved to be suitable. Incidentally, these values can also be set with the '#_TSL' entry directly in the MAGX.INF file.
VFATCONF With this program one can determine on which hard drive partitions long filenames in the VFAT format of Windows95 should be supported. The program works from MagiC Version 4.02 of 16.02.96 onwards. Further details about VFATCONF can be obtained from the original MagiC documentation.
WBDAEMON The writeback-demon is a program that delays the write accesses of all running applications to hard or floppy disks until the CPU is not being used intensively; further changes of data do not have to be written to disk but can be read directly from the (much faster) volatile memory cache in the computer. Only if no further changes are being made for a certain time will the disk be updated in one go, so noticeably speeding up the system. To install, copy the WBDAEMON.PRG into the \GEMSYS\MAGUC\START folder and reboot the system.

Using the writeback-demon is now safe in principle, since it can no longer be frozen. Previously the launch of a single-tasking application always resulted in the WBDAEMON being frozen and until it was unfrozen the cache was not written back. Just make sure not to eject floppy disk or interchangeable hard drive media before writing has been completed (normally 2 seconds after the last access), and always use the SHUTDOWN procedure rather than simply switching off the computer when you finish your work.

In contrast to Ataris where this program is only optional, its use on a Macintosh is explicitly recommended; this is because on this platform it increases both the speed and data safety of the filesystem.
WDIALOG This program is a system extension making MagiC-compatible AES extensions (such as window- and print- dialogs, list boxes, font selection available under some older operating systems as well. The program is installed by copying WDIALOG.PRG into the AUTO folder and re-booting the system. From experience it is recommended that the AUTO folder has WDIALOG lying before NVDI.
XMEN_MGR This program arose for compatibility to the extended menu functions of MultiTOS and hence need only be used when required. It installs the following functions:

The function appl_getinfo returns the value TRUE for the relevant subfunctions when this program is installed.

See also: MagiC   GEM   Style guidelines


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