part 2 FAQ

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Archive-name: csas-faq/part2


  1. Some layout differ from original text version due to wiki formatting limitation.
  2. The hardware and software vendors mentioned in this FAQ may no longer be selling Atari products. The vendor information are outdated.

Welcome to! Please read this FAQ before posting a question to, since a lot of common questions are answered here.

Thanks to David Paschall-Zimbel ( for compiling most of this FAQ.

Entries are dated by the last change. ??.??.?? means they were last changed before the dates were added.

Welcome to (93.06.11)

This newsgroup is devoted to discussion about 16 and 32 bit Atari micros. At present that includes the Atari 520ST, 1040ST, Mega ST, STe, STacy, Mega STe, TT, and Falcon. There are also emulators for the Apple Macintosh and IBM PC/XT/AT available.

Most of the people who read this newsgroup are technically oriented. The newsgroup serves as a resource for Atari users ... feel free to contribute to the discussions.

Associated newsgroups include:

  • ! uuencoded binary programs
  •  ! technical programming/hardware topics
  •  ! uuencoded/shar sources

How do I deal with Archived files (.ZOO, .ARC, .LZH)? (93.06.11)

Files ending with suffixes .ZOO, .ARC, .ZIP and .LZH are archive files. They are binary files which may contain one or more other files in a compressed format. Archive files usually take up less disk space, and for this reason have become quite popular for transferring large files via modem.

In order to extract the files from an archive file, one must use an archive program. Here are the correspondences:


A few hints for first-time users:

  • Most archivers will give a short summary of commands if invoked with no arguments.
  • If in doubt, to extract a file, copy the archiver to the directory that the file is in, and run the archiver with the arguments 'x [filename]'.
  • If you have TOS 1.4 or higher, and/or a CLI, you can avoid copying the archiver by just changing the current directory to where the file is. See TIPS for a tip on how to do this from the desktop on TOS 1.4 or higher.
  • Read the documentation for the archivers you use, they will almost certainly answer all your questions. Documentation is usually included in both the source and binary distributions (such as zoo21bin.zoo).

ARCHIVERS These programs are all available via FTP from the atari.archive server, in the /atari/archivers directory. Recommended files are:

  1. arc602.ttp
    • version 6.02 of ARC, includes features to archive subdirectories and also include comments with files.
  2. arc602.arc
    • contains documentation. UnArc using arc602.ttp.
  3. arc521e.arc
    • older version of ARC. Used mostly by those who want speed, better compression, and don't care about archiving subdirectories. UnArc using arc602.ttp.
  4. lharc.ttp
    • version 2.0 of LHARC.
  5. lzh201i.lzh
    • Thomas Questors lzh utility. German documentation.UnArc using lharc.ttp
  6. stzip22.lzh
    • STZip, with GUI interface
  7. unzip41.lzh
    • Old version of unzip
  8. zoo21.ttp
    • version 2.1 of ZOO
  9. zoo21bin.zoo
    • ZOO archive includes documentation. UnArc using zoo21.ttp.

Some info on Magic Shadow Archiver (93.06.11)

(This was provided by Chris Herborth)

MSA Archives

The Magic Shadow Archiver (MSA) is a disk archiving program that allows an entire disk to be compressed into one file for transmission. The Magic Shadow Archiver (in shadow.[arc?|lzh?|zoo?] on in ~/Archivers) creates .MSA files, which are often compressed using a normal archiver, such as zoo or lharc.

Magic Shadow is notoriously bad when used on a 1/2 meg ST and only one floppy drive. Its disk access and memory use are very badly thought out, and could result in over 160 disk swaps when unpacking an 80 track, double-sided disk.

Due to the fact that it was the _only_ disk image archiver around for quite a long time, Magic Shadow is the de-facto standard for creating disk images of computer demos and other pieces of software that cannot be easily compressed as files.

Because MSA files are disk images, they can only be used to recreate a floppy disk. There is (currently, see below) no way to extract the files from an MSA archive without writing it to a floppy disk.

Magic Shadow works perfectly with any legal TOS floppy format, even high density disks found in modified STs and most MegaSTes and TTs.

Chris Herborth ( at work, at home, C.HERBORTH on GEnie) is writing a much more efficient MSA extractor, called UnMSA. UnMSA will minimize the number of disk swaps, and speed decompression considerably.

Daryl Richards (no email address, yet) is working on an MSA-Mounter, which will allow someone to unpack an MSA archive to RAM or a file on a hard disk. This uncompressed disk image will then be added to the system as a logical drive (much the same way a RAMdisk adds a drive to the system). MountImage on the Mac is an example of the way MSA-Mounter will eventually work (MountImage is so good, you can install new versions of the Mac OS using floppy disk images stored on your hard drive).

There is yet another MSA archiver now, called MSA II, by Phillip Lang.

What Command Line Interpreters are available?

There are a large number of Command Line Interpreters for the Atari ST. Some of the more popular ones include:

gulam	  the 'classic' cli, somewhat UNIX in flavor
BASH	  GNU Bourne Again Shell
ksh	  Korn Shell - available under MINT
gemini    MUPFEL is the shell used by the gemini environment  master    MS-DOS/Unix mixture, shareware.
okami	  a German shell with many useful utilities built in pcommand  an MS-DOS-like shell
csh	  C-shell, standard on Unix
tcsh	  Enchanced C-shell - available under MiNT

Check atari.archive under /atari/cli or /atari/mint, or check one of the other FTP sites for files.

What do the bombs on my screen mean?

The information below was written, in part, by Darryl May, and posted on GEnie in January (of ????) by John Townsend. The original also appeared in the June 1988 issue of _Current Notes_ (122 N. Johnson Rd., Sterling, VA 22170). It has since found its way to me, and is being posted to as a service to readers.

Alan Pratt wrote to tell me that the basic information may be correct, but that it cannot be dubbed "official" unless it originates, on paper, from Atari. This makes sense, as electronic communications are easily modified, even accidentally.

Roland Waldi provided information regarding the difference between TOS and GEM return codes which appears to be correct. The tables have been modified to reflect his information.

The following is an unofficial list of the errors that can appear while you are operating your ST computer.

         Error description         return code      alert box #
            OK (no error)....................0
            Fundamental error...............-1
            Drive not ready.................-2
            Unknown command.................-3
            CRC error.......................-4
            Bad request.....................-5
            Seek error......................-6
            Unknown media...................-7
            Sector not found................-8
            No paper........................-9
            Write fault....................-10
            Read fault.....................-11
            General error..................-12
            Write protect..................-13
            Media change...................-14
            Unknown device.................-15
            Bad sectors on format..........-16
            Insert other disk..............-17
            Invalid function number........-32............1
            File not found.................-33............2
            Path not found.................-34............3
            No handles left................-35............4
            Access denied..................-36............5
            Invalid handle.................-37............6
            Insufficient memory............-39............8
            Invalid memory block address...-40............9
            Invalid drive specified........-46...........15
            No more files..................-49...........18
            Range error....................-64...........33
            Internal error.................-65...........34
            Invalid program load format....-66...........35

The last code is the infamous "TOS error 35"!

Also, some unofficial information via Alan Pratt:

Notably, you should add -48: ENSAME (not the same drive, occurs when you call Frename and the two names you give aren't on the same drive), and -67: EGSBF: you can't use Mshrink to GROW a block of memory.

Those bombs that appear on your screen are error messages from the 68000 micro-processor.

         Description                     of bombs
            Reset: Initial PC2...............1
            Bus Error........................2
            Address Error....................3
            Illegal Instruction..............4
            Zero Divide......................5
            CHK Instruction..................6
            TRAPV Instruction................7
            Privilege Violation..............8
            Line 1010 Emulator..............10
            Line 1111 Emulator..............11
            [unassigned, reserved]..........12
            [unassigned, reserved]..........13
            Format Error....................14
            Uninitialized Interrupt Vector..15
            [unassigned, reserved].......16-23
            Spurious Interrupt..............24
            Level 1 Interrupt Autovector....25
            Level 2 Interrupt Autovector....26
            Level 3 Interrupt Autovector....27
            Level 4 Interrupt Autovector....28
            Level 5 Interrupt Autovector....29
            Level 6 Interrupt Autovector....30
            Level 7 Interrupt Autovector....31
            Trap Instruction Vectors.....32-47
            [unassigned, reserved].......48-63
            User Interrupt Vectors......64-255

What is GDOS, and where can I get it? (93.05.05)

GDOS stands for Graphic Device Output System (at least that's what my copy of STart, volume 1 number 1 said...)

There is a newer version, called SpeedoGDOS, which should be available commercially from Atari. It is currently included with AtariWorks, and some Falcon packages. SpeedoGDOS uses scaleable fonts - you do not need to create a font file for every point size. There are desk accessories which allow you to manipulate available fonts, and also CPX programs for the newer Atari Control Panel. For those who only have limited memory, a newer version of GDOS is also included with the distribution. For those with investments in older bit-mapped GDOS fonts, they may be used with the new version of GDOS or used as bit-mapped (ie. non-scaleable) fonts within SpeedoGDOS.

You can get a copy of "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About GDOS (and more)" by Douglas N. Wheeler from the atari.archive server. The file is /atari/programming/gdos.arc.

There is a German version of GDOS available from the atari.archive server. The file is /atari/utilities/amcgdos.arc.

Currently, there are no truly public domain sources for the GDOS system files or font files (at least those supplied by Atari). You can get these files with many commercial programs, such as Degas Elite, WordFlair, etc. You might also want to check your local user group to see if they received a copy of the WordFlair demo program (also available on GEnie). The demo program appears to have the GDO S system and font files.

In the UK The ST Club (2 Broadway, Nottingham, UK NG1 1PS. Tel 0602 410241, Fax 0602 241515) is a licensed GDOS distrubutor: Catalogue No's: GDOS-A Driver + Fonts 9-pin GDOS-B Driver + Fonts 24-pin GDOS-C Installed system for Opus (9 pin) GDOS-D Opus 24-pin GDOS-E FontGDOS + drivers GDOS-F 300dpi printer fonts

Disks 2.95 pounds each.

What GNU software is available for the ST? (93.06.11)

The Free Software Foundation C compiler, commonly known as GNU C (or gcc) is avaiable for the Atari ST. The minimal memory required to do any useful (i.e. beyond 'hello world') programming is 2 megabytes. A 4 megabyte system is recommended.

There is an extensive archive of the latest GNU C programs via anonymous FTP on atari.archive. GNU C is also available at most European FTP sites. The latest version of GCC available for the ST is 2.4.2, this version includes built-in support for C++.

Note that most GNU documentation comes in TeXinfo format. Documentation in this format can be fed into TeX for printing. It can also be processed by Emacs' texinfo to make an info file, which can be viewed on-screen with Emacs' info mode. These two functions can also be performed by the standalone programs 'texinfo' and 'info' (on atari.archive as /atari/tex/ tnxf241b.zoo).

The following can be found in the /atari/gnustuff/tos directory of atari.archive: (Note: all of these have Unixmode and MiNT support)

BASH Bourne-again shell BISON Yet another YACC (Yet Another Compiler Compiler) COMPRESS Compatible with Unix compress DIFF Compares files; PATCH does the inverse EMACS Extreme editor :-) Fileutils Unix file utilities FLEX Lexical analyzer, like Unix lex GAWK AWK report generation language GCC 2.4.2 C, C++ compiler GDB GNU debugger, with source level C support Ghostscript Postscript clone GROFF Text formatting system GREP Regular expression search, like Unix grep MAKE Like Unix make MAKEINFO Stand-alone system to process .info files PATCH Changes files from diffs; DIFF does the inverse PROF Profiles executable code RCS Revision Control System SED Stream editor Smalltalk Smalltalk; object oriented language TAR Tape archiver like Unix tar

Where can I find Ham Radio software for the ST?

Plenty of Ham Radio software is available for the Atari ST:

       Morse code
       Radio Teletype (RTTY)
       Packet Radio (W0RLI BBS and K9AQ TCP/IP)
       Satellite Tracking
       Color Slow Scan TV (SSTV)

For more information contact the Atari Microcomputer Network:

       Newsletter Editor -     Gil Frederick, VE4AG
                               130 Maureen Street
                               Winnipeg, Manitoba
                               R3K 1M2  Canada


       Program Librarian -     John Adams, KC5FW
                               17106 Happy Hollow
                               San Antonio, TX 78232


       Tune into the weekly net Sundays 16:00 UTC on 14.325 MHz.

73, John Langner, WB2OSZ

Public Domain/Shareware languages...(93.10.18)

(This section is getting an overhaul, but I don't have the time to finish the overhaul right now... Sorry, check back next month.)

There are a large number of programming languages available for use with the Atari ST. Programmers seem to flock to the Atari ST, and if you know of a language, you can probably find it, or an equivalent, for the ST.

  • 68000 assembler/disassemblers: a68, turboass,
  • abc
  • APL
  • AWK
  • C
  • C++
  • cross assemblers (z80, 6502, 68xx,8031/80xx)
  • Elan
  • FP
  • Hope
  • ICON
  • LISP
  • Little Smalltalk
  • Modula2
  • OPS5
  • perl
  • SIOD
  • Smalltalk
  • XLisp
  • XProlog
  • XScheme

Check the atari.archive server under /atari/languages. Most other archive sites will have a language directory which you can also check.

Is MINIX available on the Atari ST?

MINIX is a UNIX-like operating system for the IBM PC, XT, AT, 386, and PS/2, as well as the Apple Macintosh, Commodore Amiga, Atari ST, and later in 1991, Sun SPARC. It is available with all the source code for the entire operating system, the libraries, and nearly 200 UNIX-like utilities.

Demonstration disks for the IBM PC line and Atari ST are available for free via anonymous FTP for people on the Internet. A Macintosh version will be online soon. (If you can't wait, see below.)

To get a free demo disk and the manual, use ftp to connect to ( and look in pub/minix/demo. The READ_ME file describes the contents of the directory and how to use it. Be sure to fetch and read this first. It contains important information.

If you don't have FTP access, you can buy the demo disk package from Prentice- Hall for $10 by calling (201) 767-5969 or FAX (201) 767-5625. Please DON'T ask me to send it by email. I have quite enough work already thank you. The ordering numbers for Prentice-Hall are:

 - MINIX 1.5 IBM demo disk         (0-13-582768-x)  (in stock now)
 - MINIX 1.5 Atari demo disk       (0-13-582792-2)  (in stock now)
 - MINIX 1.5 Macintosh demo disk   (0-13-582784-1)  (in stock now)

Please note that although the demo disks are available for free on line, MINIX itself is copyrighted software and is not available on line. The demo disks are also copyrighted, but permission is hereby granted to upload and use them for evaluation purposes. The READ_ME file tells how MINIX can be ordered.

AS A COURTESY TO US, PLEASE DO NOT FTP DURING BUSINESS HOURS (EUROPEAN TIME). PLEASE FTP AFTER 11 A.M. EASTERN STANDARD TIME. If you want to follow the MINIX discussion, read the comp.os.minix newsgroup, which is quite active and has almost 50,000 subscribers.

Have fun!

Andy Tanenbaum (

What is MiNT?

MiNT is a free multitasking operating system extension for TOS. It is somewhat like BSD Unix from the programmer's perspective. MiNT can run up to 1 GEM program along with a lot of character-based programs simultaneously. MGR and MW2 can both put multiple terminal windows on screen, and bgacc can put a number of terminal windows on a GEM screen. MiNT and lots of stuff to go with it can be found at

TOSWIN is the new replacement for bgacc: it provides lots of nice features like variable fonts, menus, selectable window gadgets, etc. GEMTERM is a similar package (it's not part of the standard MiNT distribution) modelled after TOSWIN and XTerm.

A somewhat interesting note: MiNT is now the kernel of Atari's multitasking OS, MultiTOS. Originially MiNT stood for 'MiNT is Not TOS', but it's now 'MiNT is Now TOS'. :-)

Is there a version of XWindows for the ST? (93.03.01)

There actually is a port of XWindows to the ST now, although it is pricey. Here's the (slightly hacked up) announcement for it:

X/TOS/window/server and X/TOS/window/server/color
X/software Michael Gehret X/TOS division Marktstrasse 8 W-8944 Groenenbach Germany
TEL: +49 8334 1411 FAX: +49 8334 6245
email: xtosinfo@xsoft.uucp


  • Atari Mega ST, STE, TT
  • 68000 to 68040


  • 2 Mbytes (4 Mbytes recommended)

Operating System:

  • TOS 1.4 or higher


  • Atari mouse


  • X/TOS/window/server:
    • monochrome 640x400x1,
    • monochrome 1280x960x1 (TT, SM194)
  • X/TOS/window/server/color:
    • monochrome 640x400x1,
    • monochrome 1280x960x1 (TT, SM194)
    • color 320x200x4
    • color 640x200x2
    • color 640x480x4
    • color 320x480x8

Ethernet Card:

  • Atari Card (Mega or VME bus)
  • Riebl/Wacker (Mega or VME bus)
  • Biodata BioNet 100 II (DMA port or VME bus)

'Network Software:

  • Atari/Riebl/Wacker ANS TCP/IP
  • Biodata TCP/IP

Disk Space:

  • none (two floppy disks, may load fonts from second disk or font server)


  • full X11 Release 5 implementation
  • Shape, Multi-Buffering, MIT-SUNDRY-NONSTANDARD extensions
  • PEX extension optional
  • support of font server protocol
  • support of X Display Manager Protocol
  • access control support
  • compatible to OSF/Motif and OpenLook
  • high performance (more than 32,000 Xstones on TT)
  • fast cursor tracking
  • backing store and save unders support
  • size of virtual screen limited by memory only, automatic panning
  • X/TOS/window/server/color supports all video modes at the same time, including dynamic visuals
  • loadable key maps (xmodmap format), full support for European keyboard layouts
  • 3-button mouse emulation with Atari 2-button mouse
  • may run parallel to GEM (switching with hot key), configurable multi tasking priorities
  • about 50 fonts supplied

Why won't demo x run on my machine?

90% of the time, if a demo does not run on your American ST, you probably need to be in 50Hz mode to use it. Get a program like 50hzboot.prg from atari.archive to allow this.

What is the format for [x] paint program data?

There is a periodic posting of ST Picture Formats, edited by David Baggett. The file is on the atari.archive server under /atari/graphics/picfmts.doc.

Where can I get Public Domain/Shareware software? (93.06.11)

There are FTP sources and a mail server. You can also try the commercial on-line services such as GEnie, CompuServe, Delphi and Bix.

Using FTP, most files should be retrieved in BINARY format (at least those ending with the suffix of .ZIP, .ARC, .LZH, .ZOO, .PRG, .TTP, .TOS)

Mail servers encode files. You will need a program called 'uudecode' in order to change files ending with the suffix .UUE (or .UAB, .UAC, etc.) into their original form.

E-Mail file servers
Spud holds all of the / postings. If you aren't reading these two newsgroups, you should consider doing so. You may obtain uuencoded files as e-mail. You can obtain a help file by mailing a message to, with the main body of the message being the word 'help'.
The atari.archive server is mentioned many times in this article. It contains a multitude of Atari ST PD and shareware programs. If you don't have access via FTP you can obtain many of the files via e-mail. You should first obtain a help file by mailing a message to, with the main body of the message being the word 'help.'. If you are from a uucp site, please enclose this statement also 'path host1!host2!....', where host1!host2!... is your path. Please read the help file completely before you ask questions, and then send any you may have to Any questions about the archive or specific files go to (or,,, or :-)
This is a UK public domain archive, available to sites within the UK via JANET.
This is a german public domain archive. This only has and
Same place as above, but this one carries other software than just and (or uunet!mcsun!hp4nl!ruuinf!mail-server):
send the following message

   send ATARI-ST/index


The path command can be deleted if we receive a valid from address in your message. If this is the first time you use our mail server, we suggest you first issue the request:

   send HELP

Mail messages with the contents HELP will bring you some usage information and GET PROG-A16 FILELIST will provide you with a list of files. Subscriptions to INFO-A16 are also available on this server. INFO-A16 is a digest of messages from

Anonymous FTP servers (93.05.05)

Note: The generally accepted practice for FTP use is as follows:

  1. Limit access times to non-working hours. This is usually 6-8 pm to 8-9 am LOCAL time. LOCAL time means local to the computer you are accessing! For example, 4 P.M. in Minneapolis, Minnesota is 10 P.M. in England, and 10 A.M. in Germany is 4 A.M. in New York.
  1. Once you connect, issue the following commands at your FTP prompt:
    • user anonymous
    • <YOUR e-mail address should be entered at the Password: prompt)
    • ls
    • cd <to the appropriate directory>
  2. Limit downloads, especially across the ocean. Remember, there are other people who are using the same lines as you.

Atari FTP sites (the list is -not- exhaustive)

  • []
  • (available to UK users via JANET)
    • Note: Access is a bit different for this archive site, use the following:
      • user pdsoft
      • pdsoft (at the Password prompt)
  • []
  • []

This site has a mirror of in /computing/systems/atari/umich.

Is TeX/LaTeX available on the Atari ST?

The TeX/LaTeX typesetting programs are available on the Atari ST. Check the atari.archive server under /atari/tex. Fonts and device drivers (including one for the Epson 9-pin printers) are available on the atari.archive server.

The latest version of TeX (3.14) has recently been made available on the atari.archive server. The files are in a subdirectory of their own.

Graham Higgins recently wrote a message in indicating the minimum files needed to get a working TeX/LaTeX system up and running on the Atari ST. He said:

You'll need, at minimum:

The binaries for LaTeX/TeX :StTeXBin
The style files		   :StTeXSty
The font macros            :StTeXTfm
If you want to screen-preview, you'll need screen font files (showdvi)
If you want to print locally, you'll need printer font files (dvifont)
Allow 5Mb.

For a step-by-step article on setting up Tex and LaTeX, send an e-mail request to Be sure to mention 'tex.setup'.

There is also a complete, ready-to-install distribution called CS-TeX. The latest version, 4.0, is available at atari.archive: /atari/tex/cs-tex-4.0. This consists of 8 disks full of TeX stuff, plus an installation program that takes care of the details for you.

Hope you liked the FAQ. If you have comments, suggestions, more material, etc., mail me at

Thanks to David Paschall-Zimbel ( for compiling most of this FAQ.

Later, Steven Ourada -- Steven Ourada --- "can't casts no shadow" -- e. e. cummings

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