Directions for setting up Stacker 2.0 on Ultralite

Eli Brian Goldberg (eg1n+@andrew.cmu.edu)
Wed, 29 Jul 1992 14:32:01 -0400 (EDT)

Stacker for the NEC Ultralite



7/28/92


I. Blatant Disclaimer.


[I sat down for 45 minutes and wrote this down from memory. There may be

errors; if anything doesn't work, please contact me and I'll check it out.

Or, preferably, post it on the UL list so I can try to pass the buck as

innocently as possible and let someone else do my job... ;-)]


II. Introduction to Stacker and why you want to shell out $100 for it.


Stacker 2.0, from STAC Electronics, is a software-based disk compression

program that, for 100K of space on your Silicon disk, will you give you

an additional 1-1.5 megabytes of drive space! After installation, Stacker is

completely transparant and the only effect you will notice is 45K of

RAM missing and extra activity every time the computer boots up. I, personally

haven't noticed any significant performance reduction, and in some cases,

have even noticed programs loading slightly quicker since Stacker's compression

routines can sometimes outperform the silicon drive!


Stacker, as STAC claims, is failure-proof enough that it will crash a

hard drive less often than the hard drive will have an actual physical failure.

For a $99 utility, it is an outstanding value. I believe that Egghead, in the

near future, will be having a "Get Stacker for $49 with the purchase of any

other program"! At this price, and with these customized UltraLite instructions

to save you hours of head-beating, Stacker is an outstanding value and a

undebateable necessity for _every_ Ultralite owner! (Right now, I have a 3.0

Meg ram drive thanks to Stacker's 1.7x compression --- this is with _no_ text

files and all my EXE and COM files PKlited!)


III. How Stacker works and why its installation program sucks eggs.


While Stacker runs extremely smoothly, the folks at STAC Electronics

never considered that people might be using Stacker on a 2 meg RAM drive.

As a result, Stacker's "smart" installation program is infuriatingly painful

to use on an UltraLite. Why? Stacker's installation program requires that it

fills up almost half of your silicon drive with 700K of worthless junk before

it will let you configure Stacker. On a 40 Meg HD, this is not a major problem,

since it would be taking up less than 1.5% of the hard drive. However, on a

tiny little 2 Meg Ultralite, having Stacker use 800K of the silicon drive sucks

up enough hard drive space that Stacker becomes a worthless program! But

we're going to solve tht program, right?


Stacker works by having a "STACVOL.xxx" file that contains the

stacker "drive" that the computer creates to contain your information.

For example, drive C would contain DOS, Stacker's boot files, and a huge

"STACVOL.DSK" file which contains all of the information on drive E: ---

the "stacker drive" that you'd use to contain all of your files

(There is a program called SSWAP.EXE included with Stacker to swap the two

drives, making drive E: the boot drive and drive C: the Stacker drive that you'd

actually use as your "real" everyday drive, which we'll get to a bit later.)


IV. How to get around Stacker's egg-sucking installation program.


Our goal, obviously, is to get as much space as we can on our HD. Thus,

to make our Stacker drive as large as we can, we want to make drive C: contain

as few useless files as we can. That way, we can make as large of a

STACVOL.DSK file as possible, and as a result, as large of a Stacker drive as

possible. Simple enough, right? It should be --- however, the installation

program won't let you do it! It demands that you fill up your silicon drive

with nonsense like a full-screen editor, 100K of files to use/test the hardware

compression cards, 50+K for DOS 5 support, a 50K README file, etc, etc. (NOT!)

But in the pursuit of Large Partitions and happiness, we will defeat STAC's

braindead scheming! Here's how to do it:


V. How to install Stacker on your sexy UltraLite


(1) Back up your Silicon drive. You're about to erase it; backing it up

won't hurt.


(2) I am assuming that you're not going to bother going from 4K to 1K

disk clusters; you'll save about 50K if you do so with Stacker. It

may be worth it to you for ~2% more space, but it's not for me. So,

the instructions for getting it done aren't included. So, to get your

drive ready, just type:


d: (*Switch to drive d: *)

idisk c: (*Initialize drive d:. It may be unnecessary to do. *)

format c: /s (*Format drive c: and copy the system files to it *)

copy command.com c: (*Copy Command.com to C:. Unfortunately, Stacker 2.0

hasn't liked it when I've tried to have it use the

command.com file on drive d:. *)

copy config.sys c: (*Stacker won't let you install if you're missing a

config.sys file. *)



(3) Make an autoexec.bat file for drive c:. INSTALL will bitch at you if you

don't. I don't _think_ it's absolutely necessary, but you're gonna have

an autoexec.bat anyway, so put it there now!


(4) Put your Stacker disk in drive A: and type:


a:

install


(5) Go along with the menu items; you want to modify your autoexec.bat.

Let it copy all of its files onto your HD in the "C:\Stacker\" directory.


(6) When it's done, tell it through the menus that you want to create a

Stacker volume. You want to make a _new_ drive, you don't want to stack

an existing drive. Make it of any size you feel like it; you'll be nukeing

it in 5 minutes anyway! Yes, this may sound a bit stupid, but it's the

only way I've learned to get Stacker to let you install it! When you're

done, exit the install program properly & reset the computer.


(7) Congradulations! You're halfway done! Ideally, you should have only

spent ten minutes to get to this point. If you've spent more than that,

just realize that I spent nearly 3 hours and you should feel happier

immediately... ;-)


(8) Go into your C:\Stacker directory. Type "dir" and then look at how

sick all those Stacker files are. Delete every one of them except for

STACKER.COM and SCHECK.EXE; they're mostly useless, and besides, you can

put them in your stacker drive later since you'll want one or two of

them.


(9) Type:


A:

sremove e: (* This will remove your stacker drive; you didn't really want it. *)

screate e: /s=1.8 (* This will create a new drive E with 1.8 Megs free. SCREATE

is really meant for removeable media, but this is the way

Stacker works...Go figure. *)


c:


(10) At this point, you need to load your favorite editor and load up the

config.sys file for your drive c: There will be a line saying

something like:


DEVICE=[blah,blah]STACVOL.xxx


xxx is probably 000 or 001. You want to change the STACVOL.xxx to

STACVOL.DSK to tell the machine not to use your old Stacker drive that

you created when you set it up before, but rather to use the new one.


(11) Reset the computer and pray that the disk of fate wasn't stacked against

your favor. (sorry...)


(12) Recopy your files and directory structure back onto your drive E: which

is your Stacker drive. At this point, if you want to fool with the

"Grow And Shrink" utility that can be run under STAC on your Stacker

floppy and other utilities, you can do some rather neat stuff such as

sorting your ram drives' files by date/name/etc. But I'll assume you're

getting tired already and you want to go to sleep (like me), so I'll

skip it. Thanks for your consideration.


(13) If you don't have a "utilities" or "misc" directory, make one now.

Now that you all have one, go into it and copy SDIR.EXE and SSWAP.COM

from the Stacker floppy disk into your utilities directory. SDIR

is a program which will let you do a DOS dir, but will report individual

file and directory compression information. SSWAP will let you switch

two drives so, for example, drive e: can be called drive c: and vice-versa.

(PKlite users: SSWAP can be pklited, SDIR can't be PKlited. Most

Stacker software barfs with PKlite and it's best to avoid using it

on the programs on the Stacker disk. SSWAP doesn't seem to be having

any problems.)


(14) I assume you want your drive containing all your information to be called

drive C: again, right? This is where SSWAP comes in. In your

autoexec.bat file, put in a "SSWAP c: e:" command at the top. NOTE:

Since the drives are getting swapped in the batch file, you need to

keep it on both drive c: and drive e: or it'll get confused in the middle

and decide that the batch file disappeared! There might be an easier way

to do this, but I figured that it wasn't worth the hassle to figure it

out. Since you have a PATH statement in your autoexec.bat file, you really

want to be sure it occurs before the SSWAP line or you'll have to go in

and replace all your C:'s and E:'s. If you don't know what a PATH

statement is, trust me, you _WANT_ to know. It'll make your UltraLite

much more convenient to use.


(15) You're done! Enjoy the benefits of Stacker!