Proofread copy of the Stacker guide...

Eli Brian Goldberg (eg1n+@andrew.cmu.edu)
Wed, 29 Jul 1992 21:39:41 -0400 (EDT)

I sat down and actually proofread the Stacker guide I wrote for grammar
mistakes and things I forgot to put in. Since I did find a lot of mistakes,
I thought I'd repost it. BTW, sorry 'bout the double spacing --- I forgot
how to get EMACS on UNIX to take my Ultralite DOS documents and kill the
extra spacing; I have it in E-mail, but I don't want to spend 1 hour looking...
;-)

Enjoy!

(Oh, and some of this stuff is blatantly borrowed from Brian Smithson's
posts on Stacker many months back. Send him your thanks...)

Installing Stacker 2.0 on the UltraLite With

Minimal Suffering



7/29/92

(i.e. I actually proofread it this time.)




I. Blatant Disclaimer. (or, Stacking the deck)


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.

I can be reached at eg1n@andrew.cmu.edu. 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... ;-)


Also, if Hell freezes over as a result of your using this guide,

or any other calamities, I'm am _not_ responsible for them. So there.


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 to 1.5 megs of drive space! After installation, Stacker is

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

RAM missing and a 2-3 second longer boot time. I, personally,

haven't noticed any significant performance reduction, and believe it or not,

some programs have been loading slightly quicker since Stacker's compression

routines occasionally 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 that 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

fill 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 waste 800K of the silicon drive

results in Stacker's benefits being nearly worthless! But we're going to solve

that problem, right?


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

stacker "drive" that the computer creates to contain all of 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 newly made "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 and be

in Ultralite nirvanah.


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 Divine En-lite-nment, we will defeat

STAC's braindead scheming! Here's how!


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. Now, to get your

drive ready, just type:


(* Don't enter the stuff in parenthesises, obviously! *)

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; I think it's because it then goes

to the D:\CONFIG.SYS and realizes that it can't be

modified! f *)




(3) Make an AUTOEXEC.BAT file for drive C:. INSTALL will bitch at you if you

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

an AUTOEXEC.BAT eventually 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.

The computer will also give you an option of whether you'd like it reset

itself; trust me, I don't think you do. Unless you're _really_ running a

RAMdisk cache program, that is...


(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, probably the

last one in the file, 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 was stacked in

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 "UTIL" 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) Reset your UltraLite! If you don't get any really bad-looking stuff

when it boots up, you're done! Enjoy the benefits of Stacker!

If you do get bad-looking stuff, you're totally hosed! Tough Luck!!!

(Just kidding; post on the UL mailing list and you'll get helped!)


VI. Now that you're done, here's what you might want to try.


Stacker can do more than just compresing your silicon RAM drive.

I haven't fooled with it to do much else since, quite frankly, I never want

to see that d*mn inst*ll program again! I think it would be fascinating

if someone using Stacker looked into its potential for compressing floppies;

given Stacker's high performance, it could be a very useful way to create

high-speed 3 meg floppy disks! Sound neat to you?


Stacker also has a RAMdisk defragmantation utility (SDEFRAG.EXE,

I believe). It would be fascinating to fragment a silicon drive, check

performance levels, and then see whether or not it makes any major improvement

so the rest of us can know whether or not it's worth doing!


In other words, if this file helped you at all, give your karma

a lift and see if you can find out more about how Stacker can be used

to make the UltraLite a more powerful machine! (And then tell all of us!!!)

(Hmm...I just found 4 typos while uploading it. I think it's a hopeless
cause...I'll leave it at this unless it's really too sloppy for people to
use... ;-)