Dec 102017
Compendium of information about cd-rom drives and drivers.
File INFOPACK.ZIP from The Programmer’s Corner in
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Compendium of information about cd-rom drives and drivers.
File Name File Size Zip Size Zip Type
BLKTEST.BAT 1670 389 deflated
CDROMIFY.RTF 12675 4697 deflated
CDROMIFY.TXT 10314 3991 deflated
CDTEST.BAT 2186 559 deflated
CHARTMKR.XLM 6593 2461 deflated
DEVICE.RTF 60140 14294 deflated
DEVICE.TXT 45248 12765 deflated
DOSSPEED.EXE 30260 19761 deflated
DOSSPEED.RTF 43424 8692 deflated
DOSSPEED.TXT 12895 4549 deflated
EXAMPLE.RTF 7183 2606 deflated
EXAMPLE.TXT 5093 1945 deflated
INSGUIDE.RTF 28194 5230 deflated
INSGUIDE.TXT 12683 4045 deflated
INSTALL.RTF 8349 3060 deflated
INSTALL.TXT 7100 2646 deflated
KANJI.RTF 2887 1204 deflated
KANJI.TXT 1525 729 deflated
MCTRL.RTF 26313 6311 deflated
MCTRL.TXT 20010 5468 deflated
MSDOSIFY.RTF 13397 4453 deflated
MSDOSIFY.TXT 10461 3785 deflated
NETINFO.RTF 6555 2501 deflated
NETINFO.TXT 5423 2097 deflated
OVERVIEW.RTF 15189 4492 deflated
OVERVIEW.TXT 10914 3790 deflated
QNA.RTF 37650 12761 deflated
QNA.TXT 34877 11889 deflated
SAMPLE.OUT 5773 803 deflated
SPEED.RTF 6327 2435 deflated
SPEED.TXT 4344 1770 deflated
TESTDRV.EXE 40775 21458 deflated
TESTDRV.PRO 955 452 deflated
TESTDRV.RTF 8579 3105 deflated
TESTDRV.TXT 5932 2442 deflated
TPCREAD.ME 199 165 deflated
WINSPEED.EXE 7824 4160 deflated

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Contents of the CDROMIFY.TXT file

Microsoft MS-DOS CD-ROM Extensions
CD-ROMifying Your Software
29 March 1989

CD-ROM is the first of what will probably be several alien file structures that will start appearing in the MS-DOS world primarily with the introduction of installable file systems under newer versions of DOS. The following will attempt to outline some guidelines for writing software that will help in porting your software to these new file systems and for CD-ROM specifically.

- Choice of filename characters

On the first Microsoft Test CD-ROM disc, the Codeview demo failed because certain filename characters that were legal on MS-DOS were not allowed according to the High Sierra file format. When the software looked for file '[email protected]@@', it wasn't found because the character '@' is illegal for High Sierra filenames and during High Sierra premastering, the file was renamed 'S1'.

Valid High Sierra filename characters are the letters 'A' through 'Z', the digits '0' through '9', and the underscore character '_'. All other characters are invalid. Note that the letters 'a' through 'z' are not included so that High Sierra file names are not case sensitive. Under DOS, filenames are mapped to upper case before they are looked up so this is typically not a problem. When choosing file name characters, keep in mind the restrictions of the file structure format and the operating systems your media may be targeted towards.

- Depth of path

The High Sierra format allows for pathnames to be up to 8 levels deep. It's possible to create a path on MS-DOS that is deeper than that but you won't be able to transfer it to a CD-ROM.

\one\two\three\four\five\six\seven\eight\file.txt/* Ok*/
\one\two\three\four\five\six\seven\eight\nine\file.txt/* Illegal*/

- Length of path

The High Sierra format allows for the entire pathname to be a maximum of 255 characters. Since MS-DOS imposes a limit far lower than this, this should not present a problem. The MS-DOS call to connect to a sub-directory is limited to a directory string of 64 characters. The length of path restriction is more a concern for Xenix/Unix than MS-DOS.

Amusingly enough, for MS-DOS versions 2.X and 3.X, the MS-DOS call to create a sub-directory allows a directory string greater than 64 characters which allows you to create sub-directories that you cannot connect to.

Unfortunately, a CD-ROM may potentially contain a pathname that is much larger than 64 characters long. This is not a concern here but is discussed in a related memo - "MS-DOSifying your CD-ROM". As a rule, try to keep the length of your longest path less than 64 characters and you should be pretty safe.

- Read-only

Even though most people understand that CD-ROM discs are read-only, there's still a lot of software written by these same people that assumes the current disk is always writable. For example, the Microsoft Multiplan Demo assumes that it can create and write temporary files to the presently connected drive.

In order to avoid this problem, try to provide another means of letting the user specify where temporary files can be created. Many applications check the environment for the variables TMP or TEMP which contain the pathname to use when creating temp files. Most people understand this convention now (or should anyway) and an added benefit will be the speed improvement that will be recognized if the temp directory is located on a ram-drive. If the environment variable is not set, then the application can fall back on the assumption that the media is writable or ask where temporary files should be kept.

As a rule, for both temporary and permanent files, if a file creation error occurs, allow the user to re-specify the pathname used so that he can work around the error. The last thing that should happen is for work to be lost because the user was not allowed to store his output in a valid place.

- Non-DOS formatted disks

Don't depend on the format of data on the disk. CD-ROM's do not have a FAT so don't even bother looking for one. Do not talk to any media at a physical level (reading/writing sectors) unless you expect to be media dependent (such as CHKDSK or FORMAT). MS-DOS INT 21h calls should provide everything you need to get at the file contents and attributes.

- Small directories

For performance reasons, try to keep directory sizes smaller than about 40 or so. Much beyond this and directory files grow beyond one 2048 byte sector. Typically this is not a problem, but if the number of sector buffers chosen when MSCDEX is started is small and the directory files are large, whatever software scanning the directory could potentially thrash badly if every time the directory is searched for the next entry it has to bring earlier directory sectors back into memory from the CD-ROM drive.

For certain pathological programs, such as certain implementations of the Xenix utility find, the penalty is about 1 second per directory sector that you have to scan to get to the next entry. If the directory is large, say 8 sectors, the time for FIND to scan that one directory could potentially take a half hour for something that would take less than a second if all the entries fit in the cache.

The solution for this problem is to make sure that MSCDEX never throws out of the cache what it will need next. This is accomplished by growing the cache (very easy - simply change the parameter to MSCDEX) and to make sure that the largest object that goes through the cache will not clear it out. There is a balance between having too many directories and too many files in a few directories, but the balance is heavily weighted towards many small to medium sized directories. Keep this in mind when laying out your files.

Since the penalty for using a file in the lowest sub-directory instead of the root-directory is virtually nil and as more directories don't cost much, it's a good idea to break up large directories into several smaller ones. This will help avoid problems of flushing the disc sector cache. Try to keep related files close together both in location on the CD-ROM and in the same directories. Close proximity will reduce seek time when accessing related files at the same time and having them in the same directory will help prevent swapping out directory sectors.

- Updating CD-ROM databases and software

Many people are interested in providing updates to files that are contained on a CD-ROM disc. They would like to create a directory on their hard disk will all updated files in them and have the CD-ROM Extensions look there first before searching the CD-ROM. Unfortunately, by the time the Extensions get the request, it is very difficult for it to look for updates on the hard disk so whatever alternative searching that is necessary will have to be done in the application software.

For this reason, it's a good idea to have your path set so that it looks through directories on the hard disk first. Another good strategy is to copy executables to a directory on your hard disk so that they can be updated and will also start up faster. Also, have the application software itself search alternative hard disk directories for updates before it searches the CD-ROM. This way both software updates and updated or commonly used database files can be stored on a hard disk which will both speed performance and allow incremental updating.

- Search Strategies

Try to avoid relying on the operating system to be part of your search strategy. If your database is broken up into a hierarchy and your order is imposed through the file structure by breaking up the database into many files in a tree, then accessing data in the database is typically going to require a lot of directory reading and searching.

Usually the time involved in doing this on a hard disk is not large, but on a CD-ROM the search times can add up. Opening a file can be an expensive operation simply because the directory must be read before the file can be opened. At best, seeking to a location on the CD-ROM can take 10 msec or so; at worst, a seek can run to over a second on some older CD-ROM drives. Some newer drives have worst case seek of about half a second. Whenever this can be avoided you will save time. MSCDEX caches as many directory sectors as it can so that searching the most active directories is very quick, but any operations that search multiple directories once through continually clears out the cache and renders it ineffective.

The strategy used by Microsoft Bookshelf was to lump the entire database into a single file and structure the indexing so that searching used a minimum of seeks. Bookshelf uses packed b-trees with each node holding as many entries as will fit into a single sector and also cache in memory as much of the root of the tree as it can.

Combining databases avoids the extra overhead of repeatedly opening and closing database files. Caching as much of the indexes in memory as possible allows searching of keywords to be completed typically with a single seek.

In general, identify your software bottlenecks and through judicious use of faster storage media (either memory or hard disk) you can both have large storage and respectable performance.

- Portability

One of the advantages of the High Sierra format is data interchangeability with other operating systems. One must take care to chose a subset of the range of High Sierra features that are presently supported across different operating systems to be sure you can read the disc in each of them. The lowest common denominator then (this list is not complete - see also what must be done to target MS-DOS) would need a logical block size of 512 bytes, both type L and M path tables and for all fields, single volume sets, at least one Primary Volume Descriptor and terminator. Be aware that if one of your goals is data portability, you will have to do some additional research to see what restrictions on the High Sierra format other operating systems may impose.
MSCDEX - Microsoft MS-DOS CD-ROM Extensions Version 2.20

CD-ROMifying Your Software - Copyright (C) Microsoft Corp. 1989. All rights reserved - page {page|1}

CD-ROMifying Your Software - Copyright (C) Microsoft Corp. 1989. All rights reserved - page {page|1}

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