The importance of learning DOS

Computer Q&A

December 10, 1990|By Craig Crossman | Craig Crossman,Knight-Ridder

Q. What is a DOS shell?

A. DOS, which stands for disk operating system, is a program that performs most of the necessary housekeeping functions on your disk. These include organizing, locating, moving, copying, storing and retrieving the information that resides there.

Unfortunately, to get DOS to do these functions, you need to learn what many consider to be cryptic instructions. For example, to get DOS to copy all the files named "myfile" from one disk to another, you might have to type something like this:

COPY C:/SUBD/MYFILE. A:

To run a program, such as a word processor, that is buried in a DOS subdirectory, you might have to type:

CD /SUBD1/SUBD2

WP

For some, Greek might seem easier to learn.

The word "shell" suggests a layer of protection. A DOS shell "protects" the novice user from the cryptic world of DOS. A typical shell will display easy-to-understand instructions from which a user can make a selection.

In the copy example, the user chooses the word "copy" from the shell's selection menu. Next, the shell displays all of the files on a disk. The user picks the files to be copied by highlighting any file or group of files using the arrow keys on his keyboard.

The shell then asks where to place the duplicated files by displaying all disks currently in the computer. Simply use the arrow keys to highlight the destination disk. Running a program is just as simple and done in a similar manner. Shells can make DOS operations intuitively clear.

An excellent DOS shell can be found in a comprehensive collection of utilities called PC Tools Deluxe ($149), available from Central Point Software, (503) 690-8090.

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