What your computer is doing as it gets ready for you to use it

PETER McWILLIAMS

January 23, 1991|By PETER McWILLIAMS | PETER McWILLIAMS,1991 Universal Press Syndicate

As I was mentioning last week, some things about computing seem needlessly difficult. If you bought your MS-DOS machine from a good store or had a friend tinker with it, you might notice that your computer does not just turn on. It seems to be doing calisthenics before you get your prompt.

When you turn on your computer, the first thing it does is to look at a file called CONFIG.SYS and do what it says to do there.

Some software -- WordPerfect, Microsoft Windows and a number of other popular programs -- have special requirements for your computer to work properly. These requirements are set up during installation into CONFIG.SYS.

What kinds of things are required? Configuration kinds of things, such as telling the computer how many file blocks can be open at one time.

After the computer does what the CONFIG.SYS file says to do, it then looks to see if you have a file called AUTOEXEC.BAT. If so, it does what the AUTOEXEC.BAT file says to do.

Batch files contain a batch of DOS commands, one command per line. The commands are sequentially run in the order they are listed.

You might want to make your own AUTOEXEC.BAT file using your word processor.

What does all this mean? "Echo off" turns off your screen display while AUTOEXEC.BAT is at work.

"Verify on" tells MS-DOS that whenever your computer writes something to disk, you want it to verify that it's been written without any

bad sectors.

"Prompt $P$G" will show you which subdirectory you are in when you are at a prompt. For instance, if I go to my WordPerfect subdirectory, my prompt says "C:/WP51". In my Nutshell subdirectory, I get "C:/nut". Without the command in the AUTOEXEC.BAT file, I would get only a plain "C:/" in any subdirectory. If you don't use subdirectories, you won't need this command.

"Path C:/DOS;/" tells my machine to look in my DOS subdirectory and my root directory for commands typed at " "TC C-prompt.

"WD3" loads WindowDOS version 3 into my computer's resident memory.

"Cursor/bl" is a WordPerfect utility. It turns my cursor into a rectangular block, much easier to see than a little underline.

"Type menu.txt" types to screen my personalized menu.

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