XETEC LT. KERNAL HARD DRIVE


For the Commodore 64 & 128 Computers

Written by eBay's 94Bravo





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SYSGEN and DOS Software


SYSGEN:

SYSGEN is the process by which Lt. Kernal DOS software is installed onto the hard drive. Fiscal Information designed a simple, but very powerful Disk Operating System software package for the Lt. Kernal. The processor-based set of Basic and ML programs and overlays were individually tailored to perform specific tasks. Each Command program handles a different function from mapping and activating a hard drive Logical Unit to copying files from one place to another. Their design also includes fastload routines for an external floppy drive (1541, 1571 or 1581), which is used to Backup and Restore user software.

NOTE:  If you are new to Lt. Kernal and only have PC or Mac experience when it comes to Hard Drives, you are going to get an education of how hard drive access was done before ASIC-based controllers!  That is, installing DOS software is only Step 1 in a three-step process.  After installing DOS, you must manually partition (sorta) the drive and then write the partition data to the drive.  These two later step are called "Configuration" and "Activation".  The other section under SYSGEN explain these steps.

The innovative software also includes a means of checking itself and, if necessary, updating images (copies) of DOS on any previously installed Logical Unit (LU). Lt. Kernal DOS can perform read/write tests on any LU and even perform 65 hardware diagnostic tests on the Host Adapter. As Xetec made hardware changes and other Commodore software was used on the Lt. Kernal, Fiscal continually modified the LK DOS to its last 7.2 version.

There are nearly 60 individual DOS Commands; some of which are exclusively for the Commodore 128 and CP/M mode. You can refer to the Manual for a complete listing of all Commands, their syntax and examples. These DOS Command definitions are also available for download in the FILES section.

DOS on a single Floppy Disk:

The Disk Operation System software is contained on both sides of a standard 360K DSDD diskette. Providing the DOS on floppy made it easier for Xetec to modify, update and distribute to the User. The modular design meant you could also download updates, patches and utilities from their BBS. Unfortunately, both Fiscal and Xetec BBS systems closed a long time ago.  However, all patches and updates are included in the latest version of SYSGEN software (7.2) and SYSGEN plus other utilities can be found in the FILES section.

The first file on the 'A' side of the disk is loaded ("b" for boot) and starts a prompt-driven process that installs all DOS software on the hard drive. Once this software is installed, the Floppy disk is not needed and should be stored in a safe place. Doing a 'SYSGEN' (System Generation) is easy to perform, takes about 10 to 15 minutes and includes a 'Read Me' help file. During a SYSGEN, all DOS files are installed but not the utility programs on the 'B' side of the disk (version 7.1 & 7.2).

If you were one of the first to buy a Fiscal-designed Lt. Kernal, the early versions of LK DOS (e.g., v 5.1) also provided a fully functional hard drive system for the Commodore, although the visual feedback was a little vague. The last DOS version of 7.2 clearly added some great new features. One oddity, however, is that if you received the December-1990 version of LK DOS (called Custom 0), you couldn't install this DOS disk unless you had a working copy of version 7.1 software diskette!

The reason you couldn't install the 'Custom 0' disk was because this disk was a Patch to version 7.1, which upgraded it to version 7.2. To install the 'Custom 0' Patch, you loaded and ran the file named 'customize' on the 'B' side of the 'Custom 0' disk. This program instructed you to remove the disk and insert your working DOS version 7.1 diskette into the floppy drive. Next, this customizing program read you Serial Number and Hard Drive Parameters from your existing (working) disk. Once this data was read, you reinsert the 'Custom 0' disk, which then wrote your Serial Number and drive parameters onto the Custom 0 disk making it a fully functional version 7.2 of DOS. You can study the code of this 'customize' program as you will see a renamed version again in the FILES section (LTKEDIT).

Providing this 'Custom 0' whole-disk upgrade was discontinued by Xetec. From 1990 to the end of product sales, the only way you could receive a copy of version 7.2 DOS was to buy it with a complete new system. Apparently, this was Xetecs' unfortunate response to several attempts to pirate the Lt. Kernal design.

As described in the Hard Drive section, the LTK SYSGEN DOS disk needs to contain the correct hard drive parameters prior to installing the software. If you purchased both the SYSGEN DOS disk and hard drive from Xetec, they modified the SYSGEN disk for you to ensure these two components matched. However, if you want to change the hard drive with anything other than the exact same drive type, you need to edit the SYSGEN disk (again, covered in the Hard Drive section).








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