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In this introduction

Who Should Read This Book?

What Hardware Do You Need?

What Versions Are Covered?

What Is Not Covered?

How Is This Book Organized?

Conventions Used in This Book

After its introduction in 1981, MS-DOS was the most widely used operating system in the world. Hundreds of thousands of programs have been written for MS-DOS.

Special Edition Using MS-DOS 6.22, Third Edition represents Que Corporation's continuing commitment to provide the best computer books in the industry. Over the years, this book has evolved as DOS has evolved, culminating in what you are reading right now. Keeping pace with technology and explaining it clearly, simply, and completely has been Que's goal. This book, which is a comprehensive learning tool and reference volume for users of MS-DOS, reflects the maturity of DOS and the far-reaching impact that DOS has had on the computing industry. Even the most popular operating system today, Windows 95/98/ME, is still based on an upgraded version of DOS.

Special Edition Using MS-DOS 6.22, Third Edition offers DOS users a comprehensive source of information that can help them organize their work with the PC more effectively and make their hardware respond more efficiently.

Who Should Read This Book?

This book is written and organized to meet the needs of a large group of readers. It is suited for readers who have a basic familiarity with DOS but need more information to increase their knowledge and sharpen their skills. Special Edition Using MS-DOS 6.22, Third Edition is also a comprehensive reference on DOS for the more advanced user.

Maybe you have just learned to use your PC and are looking to move beyond the basics. Perhaps you have upgraded your hardware to a more powerful PC, with more memory and disk capacity. Or maybe you have upgraded your version of DOS and want to take advantage of its new or expanded features. If you find that you fit into any of these categories, this comprehensive edition is a “must have” volume.

What Hardware Do You Need?

This book applies to the family of personal computers with Intel x86-based processors. There are literally thousands of manufacturers today making PCs, too numerous to list here. MS-DOS will run on virtually any model available today, although you might encounter problems locating drivers for newer hardware components, such as sound and network cards.

What Versions Are Covered?

We have discovered that the vast majority of readers are using MS-DOS version 6.x. This book is focused on DOS version 6.22, although limited information is available for those using an older DOS version. (The best advice we can offer is that you upgrade your system. If you are using a version of DOS older than 6.0, upgrade right away; you will find it well worth the time and effort.) Throughout this book, specific versions of DOS are indicated.

When a particular reference applies to both DOS 6.0 and 6.22, however, the more generic DOS 6 designation is used.

What Is Not Covered?

This book does not include the DEBUG or LINK commands, nor does it include a technical reference to the applications programming interface that DOS provides for programmers.

For information on how to install or upgrade your version of DOS, you should refer to a separate book—your MS-DOS manual. Special Edition Using MS-DOS 6.22, Third Edition assumes that you already have DOS installed and are using it.

Also not included in this book are computer-specific setup or configuration commands. Although these commands often are distributed with the same disks as DOS, they are too variable to be covered adequately here. Your computer-supplied manual and your PC dealer are the best sources of information about these machine-specific features.

How Is This Book Organized?

You can flip quickly through this book to get a feeling for its organization. Special Edition Using MS-DOS 6.22, Third Edition approaches DOS in a logical, functionally defined way. The material in this book is arranged in four main parts and a set of appendixes that include a Command Reference, and a glossary.

Part I: DOS Fundamentals

Part I, “DOS Fundamentals,” is devoted to explaining the fundamental role of DOS in a working PC:

  • Chapter 1, “DOS and the Personal Computer,” looks at today's PCs. The chapter explores the major components of the PC and addresses the use of system and peripheral hardware. In this chapter, you get a feel not only for your system but also for systems with different keyboards, displays, and peripherals. You also learn the role of DOS in relation to your system.

  • Chapter 2, “Starting DOS,” steps through the process of booting DOS and explains important concepts along the way. You also learn how you can control the booting process through setting up multiple configurations.

  • Chapter 3, “Using DOS Commands,” introduces and explains how to use DOS commands. You learn the concepts behind issuing commands at the DOS command line. The chapter explains syntax, parameters, and switches in an easy-to-learn fashion. Important keys and various examples of the DOS command are also covered, along with information on how to access the DOS built-in help system.

  • Chapter 4, “Using the DOS Shell,” gets you up and running with the DOS Shell. This chapter explores the DOS Shell screen and discusses aspects of the Shell common to all its commands.

Part II: Files and Directories

Part II, “Files and Directories,” covers everything you need to know about the heart of DOS—working with disks and the files stored on them:

  • Chapter 5, “Understanding Files and Directories,” recognizes the important job DOS performs in managing your files. This chapter defines files and clearly explains file-naming conventions. Also explored is the tree-structured directory system used by DOS to organize your files. You learn how to use commands that create, change, remove, and display directories.

  • Chapter 6, “Understanding Disks and Disk Drives,” provides the framework you need to better understand how DOS stores information on your disk. You discover what disks are, how information is recorded on them, and some of the technological issues related to disks. Additionally, you explore the use of DoubleSpace, the DOS program that enables you to virtually double the amount of information you can store on your disk drives.

  • Chapter 7, “Preparing and Maintaining Disks,” builds on the information presented in Chapter 6. Here, you learn what formatting does and how DOS uses formatted disks to store your files. This chapter describes SMARTDrive, a disk cache that increases the speed with which you can access data on your hard disk, and Microsoft Defrag, a utility that keeps your files in proper order. You also learn how to partition a hard disk into sections that DOS can use as logical disks. Also presented are two DOS commands, CHKDSK and SCANDISK, that analyze disks for damage.

  • Chapter 8, “Managing Your Files,” is devoted to managing your files and illuminating the file-level DOS commands. Here, you learn how to examine directory listings, view the contents of files, and use the INTERLNK program to transfer files between a laptop and your desktop computer. Because you probably spend most of your time with DOS working with files, this chapter also offers an in-depth view of the file-level commands. Each command includes examples that help you appreciate the full power of these important commands.

  • Chapter 9, “Protecting and Recovering Your Data,” covers the important issues involved with safeguarding the most important part of your computer system—your computer data. You learn common-sense solutions to data protection, as well as how to use the backup programs supplied with DOS. This chapter also discusses how you can recover from catastrophic errors or events. You learn how to undelete files, unformat a drive, and recover data on your hard disk. When you find yourself in a situation that requires this information, you'll probably agree that this chapter alone is worth the price of this book. Finally, this chapter also discusses computer viruses and how to protect your computer against them.

Part III: Controlling DOS

Part III, “Controlling DOS,” covers the DOS commands and concepts that enable you to change how DOS does its work. The information covered in Part III lets you use DOS effectively to reflect the way you do your work:

  • Chapter 10, “Working with System Information,” covers the commands that set and retrieve system information in your DOS-based computer. These commands often are neglected, but they key you into the control panel of DOS. These commands are helpful whether you oversee one PC or help other users with their PCs.

  • Chapter 11, “Controlling Your Environment,” discusses how you can set system variables and change the DOS prompt. You also learn how you can use the MODE command to change how DOS displays information on your screen, as well as how you can use DOS to change your disk drive configuration.

  • Chapter 12, “Using Peripherals,” explains device drivers and covers what you need to know to correctly install them. You learn how to set hardware interrupts and what the difference is between hardware and software interrupts.

  • Chapter 13, “Controlling Devices,” explains the DOS commands that control the behavior of logical DOS devices. By using these commands, you can control the way DOS sees your system's drives and directories. You learn how to use your printer while doing other computer work, and you see how to use the DOS pipes and filters effectively.

  • Chapter 14, “Understanding the International Features of DOS,” steps you through the complicated, but sometimes necessary, configuration of a PC to various international language standards.

Part IV: Maximizing DOS

Part IV, “Maximizing DOS,” provides the information you need to tap the expanded power available with DOS. This part of the book helps you use the many features provided with DOS and helps you customize your computer system:

  • Chapter 15, “Using the DOS Editor,” provides a tutorial approach to the built-in text-file editor that comes with DOS. The examples developed in this chapter show you how to use the DOS Editor as a day-to-day utility. With the careful attention given to the Editor's practical use, you learn the skills needed to quickly compose a text file. Practical examples, using the DOS Editor to create memos and batch files, also are presented.

  • Chapter 16, “Understanding Batch Files,” guides you through the process of creating batch files and keystroke macros. The commands related to batch files are explained in a tutorial style. Useful examples make it easier to master the basics of batch files.

  • Chapter 17, “Understanding ANSI.SYS,” shows you how to make DOS screens look colorful and controlled. The details of the ANSI.SYS driver are presented in workshop fashion. You learn how to reassign keys, control the cursor's position onscreen, display the date and time, and more. This chapter also describes the ANSI commands that you can use with the ANSI.SYS device driver provided by DOS. ANSI commands enable you to control how information is displayed on your screen.

  • Chapter 18, “Mastering DOSKEY and Macros,” covers an alternative to batch files. You can use the DOSKEY program to create simple macros that quickly accomplish a series of tasks. You learn how to use DOSKEY to make entering DOS commands easier and faster, as well as how to record commonly used commands as macros.

  • Chapter 19, “Configuring Your Computer,” is a comprehensive collection of DOS commands and directives that can help you get the best performance from your PC. In this chapter, you learn to use Microsoft MemMaker, a utility that automatically and optimally configures the way your PC uses RAM. You also learn how to set up your CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files to provide the best overall system configuration.

  • Chapter 20, “Networking DOS,” discusses the Novell and Microsoft clients for DOS and shows you how to install and configure each. You also learn how to identify and fix various common network problems.

  • Chapter 21, “Connecting to the Internet,” covers your options for connecting to the Internet and explains the fundamentals of shell accounts. You learn how to use Telnet and FTP to download files and how to troubleshoot problems you might encounter with these tools.

  • Chapter 22, “Third-Party Utilities,” covers the basics of freeware, shareware, and demoware and shows you how you can enhance your computer with this class of software. You learn about several powerful shareware utility programs that can help you get the most out of your DOS system.


Special Edition Using MS-DOS 6.22, Third Edition, also includes seven appendixes containing useful information:

  • Appendix A, “Files Supplied with MS-DOS 6.22,” lists the files that are provided with MS-DOS 6.22 and includes a brief description of what each file is used for. The information in this appendix can help you determine whether you can safely remove some of the files installed by DOS.

  • Appendix B, “DOS Environment Variables,” describes the environment variables used by DOS and its utility programs, which you can use to control the way DOS operates on your computer.

  • Appendix C, “DOS Messages,” lists and explains screen messages you might see while you are using DOS.

  • Appendix D, “DOS and DOS Utility Programs' Keyboard Commands,” lists the various keyboard commands available at the DOS prompt or when you are using utility programs such as EDIT and DOSSHELL.

  • Appendix E, “ASCII and Extended ASCII Codes,” This appendix lists the 256 characters defined by the American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) , which is the character set that DOS uses on PC-compatible computers.

  • Appendix F, “Command Reference,” lists in alphabetical order all the commands that DOS provides for use at the DOS prompt or in your CONFIG.SYS file. For each command, the purpose, proper syntax, and notes concerning its use are provided. In many cases, examples and error messages are included to help you use the command correctly. If you are unsure of how to use a particular DOS command, or if you would like to know more about it, check the entry for the command in this section. The “Command Reference” is a complete, easy-to-use, quickly accessed resource on the proper use of DOS commands.

  • This book wraps up with Appendix G, “Glossary” which offers definitions for many of the new terms you were introduced to in this book.

Conventions Used in This Book

Certain conventions are followed in this edition to help you more easily understand the discussions:

  • UPPERCASE letters are used to distinguish filenames and DOS commands. Please note, however, that although uppercase letters are used in the examples, you can type commands in either upper- or lowercase letters.

  • In most cases, keys are represented as they appear on your keyboard, and key combinations are connected by plus signs. For example, Ctrl+Break indicates that you press and hold the Ctrl key while you press the Break key. Other key combinations, such as Ctrl+Z or Alt+F1, are activated in the same manner.

  • Words or phrases defined for the first time appear in italic.

  • Words or phrases that you are asked to type appear in monospace. Screen displays and onscreen messages also appear in a special monospace typeface.

  • Throughout the chapters of this book, syntax lines appear in monospace type and use the conventions shown in the following example:

    dc:pathc\CHKDSK filename.ext /V /F /?

    In any syntax line, not all elements can be represented in a literal manner. For example, filename.ext can represent any filename with any extension. It also can represent any filename with no extension at all. However, command names (such as CHKDSK) and switches (such as /V, /F, and /?) are represented in a literal way.

    To activate the command CHKDSK.EXE, you first must type the command name CHKDSK. Any literal text (text you type letter for letter) in a syntax line appears in UPPERCASE letters. Any variable text (text that acts as a placeholder for other text) is shown in lowercase italic letters.


The conventions used for syntax lines in the “Command Reference” are slightly different from those used in the chapters of this book. Refer to the section “The Conventions Used in This Command Reference” near the beginning of Appendix F for more information on how syntax lines are presented in that section.

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