2.1 The Master/Slave Principle
As you may have already realised, the SYSTEMS server program works on
the "Master/Slave" disc principle. From hereon in this manual the
disc containing the SYSTEMS operating programs and datafiles will be
referred to as the MASTER disc, and the discs containing all your own
programs such as games, utilities, text files etc. (ie. the programs
and files you wish to organise through the SYSTEMS program) will be
referred to as SLAVE discs. The illustration below might help to
explain the principle in more detail ...
(containing SYSTEMS server program)
! ! ! ! ! ! ! )
! ! ! ! ! )
Games1 ! Games2 ! ViewFiles ! Utils1 )--SLAVE DISCS
! ! ! )
Utils2 Misc1 Interword )
2.2 Preparing a Master Disc
Preparing a Master disc for use with SYSTEMS server is very
straightforward. All you need to do is freshly format a blank disc
and copy the following files into the root directory ...
SERVER1 SERVER2 SERVER3 SERVER9 !boot
It is advisable that you keep the original disc as a backup which can
be referred to in the event of a future disc error. Once all the
above files have been successfully copied, you should now proceed to
COMPACT the disc by using the DFS or ADFS *COMPACT command or
equivalent. This helps maximise disc space in order to get the best
operation from the program. Your master disc has now been prepared
and is ready for use.
2.3 Preparing your Slave Discs
As already mentioned, when I talk about SLAVE discs I am referring to
your own discs containing your own programs (ie. games, Utilities).
These discs need no computer preparation at all, as the SYSTEMS server
will never write to a slave disc. However at this point you must
develop a sensible and reliable referencing system for your slave
discs, which will enable you to locate your required program in a fast
and efficient way in the future. You should reference every disc you
intend to use with the SYSTEMS program. A suggested way of
referencing follows ....
GAMES DISCS UTILITIES DISCS MUSIC DISCS MISCELLANEOUS
GAME01 UTIL01 MUSIC01 MISC01
GAME02 UTIL02 MUSIC02 MISC02
GAME03 etc ... UTIL03 etc ... MUSIC03 etc ... MISC03 etc ...
Once you have decided on your referencing system, you should proceed
to mark all of your discs with sticky labels so that the reference
names/numbers are easily visable and are in some form of logical
order. The referencing system detailed above is only a suggestion.
You can use any referencing system you like - you could just number
your discs from 001 upwards if you prefer. However it is important
that you do reference your discs sensibly as the SYSTEMS program will
refer to these references when directing you towards a particular
If you have many slave discs (and most people have), then you might
like to reference just one or two of your slave discs to start with in
order to get the hang of how the SYSTEMS program works before you
commit yourself to putting details of all your slave discs on the
database. Once you have referenced one or more of your slave discs,
you may now proceed to create a database using the SYSTEMS program.
2.4 Program Databases
Before we create a new database, it is worthwhile explaining exactly
how the database system works. The SYSTEMS server uses the Master
Disc to store information about your slave discs under a unique
database name. This name is user-defined and can be anything you like
(ie. GAMES). Before you are allowed general access to the SYSTEMS
program, you must first "sign-on" an existing database by entering
it's name. By doing this you are telling SYSTEMS server which
database you would like access to which means that the relevant
information can be loaded and presented accordingly. Many databases
may be held on the same master disc thus providing you with the extra
flexibility of "classifying" your slave discs into separate groups.
This is especially useful if you have a mountain of slave discs to
enter onto the SYSTEMS program. The illustration below shows how the
database structure works ...
SYSTEMS Server program
! ! ! ! ) --DATABASES
GAMES UTILITIES TEXT AMPLE )
Please be warned though that multiple databases will work totally
independently from one another and information contained on multiple
databases cannot be cross referenced with one-another when using the
SYSTEMS server program.
It is quite safe though (and recommended) to use multiple databases so
long as you give them sensible and non-conflicting names. For
example:- if you do NOT want to store information about your GAMES and
UTILITIES slave discs on the same database, the method you would use
is to create one database under the name of GAMES, and another
separate database on the SAME master disc under the name UTILITIES.
From thereon when you wanted to search for and load a particular game,
you would use the GAMES database to search for your game without
having to waste time searching through all the information held on the
UTILITIES database. Likewise if you wanted to locate a utility you
would search the UTILITIES database for this purpose.
The above is a good example on how to classify "whole databases" as
the difference between GAMES and UTILITIES is very distinct (ie. you
would never mistake a game for a utility). However you must take care
not to make your database names too broad. For example it is NOT
recommended that you create one database called PDPROGS (public domain
programs) and another called EDUCATION as there are many PUBLIC DOMAIN
EDUCATIONAL programs floating around the BBC world, and you would end
up being stuck as to the database under which to store them.
2.5 Running SYSTEMS server
Having prepared your master disc by following the procedures in
section 2.2 of this manual, you should now run SYSTEMS server by
performing an automatic boot using the usual <Shift> + <Break> method.
If nothing happens then check that the OPTION command is correctly set
by entering *OPT 4,3 and then trying again. If this still fails to
work then the program can be loaded and run by using one of the
following alternative methods ....
PAGE=&1900 (important - page MUST be &1900 or higher)
*FX 255, 15 (optional - speeds up disc drive read/write head)
CHAIN"SERVER1" (loads and runs SYSTEMS server)
*EXEC !boot <return>.
Having booted the main program you will shortly be confronted with the
sign on screen and the computer will prompt you for a USERNAME. This
is the point where you would normally "sign-on" your database and
proceed into the main program. If you are using SYSTEMS server for
the first time then you will have no database to sign on, and must
therefore create a new one as follows.
2.6 Creating New Databases
Decide on a database name bearing in mind all that has been said in
section 2.4 of this manual. To recap on this the following points to
consider are listed below ...
1. Are you going to store everything on one database?
If YES then you may ignore the rest of these steps.
2. Decide on how you are to classify your separate databases taking
care not to make the names too vague. It is not recommended you
create and use more than 5 databases overall.
3. Is there any way that a program held on one of your slave discs
could fall into more than one of your chosen database
classifications? If YES then rethink your classifications.
Enter your chosen database name (or the first on your list if creating
more than one database) at the USERNAME prompt and press <return>.
REMEMBER that your database name must not be greater than 7 characters
long if using DFS or 10 characters long if using ADFS. The computer
will pause briefly before you will see a screen similar to the
USERNAME <database name> ie. GAMES
Your chosen database name will automatically be entered into the
USERNAME field. You must now complete the rest of the screen so that
your database can be successfully created. Each database you create
will cause 3 datafiles to be saved onto the master disc. The first of
these files will be the USERNAME you have just entered. Two more
filenames need to be defined, the first being a FILENAME for your
database, and the second being a NOTEFILE name. These names can be
anything you like, but it is recommended that you make them similar
(but not identical) to the USERNAME. For example if you create a
database under the username GAMES, then it is recommended that the
FILENAME and NOTEFILE fields are entered as GAMES1 and GAMES2
For example if I was to call my database UTILS, then it would be
prudent to call my Filename UTILS1 and my Notefile UTILS2. There is
no real importance as to what you enter into the Filename and Notefile
fields, as you will never be referring to them directly again as they
will be exclusively used by the SYSTEMS program for the storage and
retrieval of data. The only points to bear in mind when completing
the Filename and Notefile fields are ...
1. Make sure you keep the length of the fields within current filing
system limits. ie. 7 characters maximum for DFS and 10
characters maximum for ADFS systems.
2. Do not include any punctuation.
3. Do not route name to another directory. ie. GAMES1 and GAMES2 are
acceptable, but $.BBC.GAMES1 or L.GAMES1 are not.
Having done this you now move onto the RESERVE field. This field
controls the number of records to be reserved for the entering of
subsequent program information. For example if you enter 50 then the
computer will create 50 blank or "dummy" records on the master disc in
order to reserve the necessary room. Any value from 1 to 999 is
permitted, and pressing <return> without entering a value will cause a
default value of 50 to be assumed. If you are using an ADFS system
then it is not important if you consequently run out of space as the
facility to "expand" your database is provided from within the
However, if you are using DFS then it is strongly recommended that you
reserve the maximum number that disc space will allow, as you will not
be able to "expand" your database later due to the limitations imposed
by a DFS system. If at all possible, you should use ADFS format
When you have finished entering all your new database information you
should have a screen similar to the following ...
Finally you will be asked to CONFIRM you entries. If you are happy
that all information has been entered correctly, then you should
confirm your entries by entering YES and pressing <return>.
After confirming you will see some screen activity whilst the computer
sets up your database and reserves the necessary number of records.
This can take anything from seconds to minutes depending on how many
records you decided to reserve. If the computer generates a SYSTEM
ERROR of "Disc Full" or "Can't Extend", then you have tried to reserve
more records than disc space will allow, and you should <break> the
program, reformat your master disc, re-copy the system files and start
again, this time entering a lesser amount in the RESERVE field.
Having created your database successfully, the computer will return
you to the "sign-on" screen and ask you for a USERNAME. Provided you
haven't already used up all available disc space creating your first
datafile, then you may wish to create another database at this point
by following the instructions in section 2.6 again. Be sure however
not to enter the same USERNAME, FILENAME or NOTEFILE as in existing
databases as you will end up overwriting these and losing a lot of
information. If you are learning to use SYSTEMS server for the first
time, it is recommended you work with one database for the time being.
Now you have created your database(s), you may now go on to use the
SYSTEMS server program proper. The rest of this manual gives step by
step instructions on how to do this, and also includes usefull do's
and don'ts when using the program. It is recommended you read through
the whole manual at least once so that all important points that need
to be mentioned are understood clearly.
3.1 "Signing-on" Your Database(s)
Whether you have just created a new database, or have just booted the
SYSTEMS server program, you will always be requested to "sign-on" a
database by entering an appropriate USERNAME before being granted
access to the main program. This procedure is very simple and just
involves typing your database name at the prompt (ie. GAMES) and
pressing <return>. Provided the username you have entered exists, the
computer will load and run the main SYSTEMS program. If the computer
displays a screen headed "NEW", then the username you have entered
does not exist, and the computer is prompting you to create a new
database (see section 2.6).
3.2 SYSTEMS server MAIN MENU
Provided you entered a valid username, the corresponding database will
be installed into memory and the main menu will be presented, rather
like the following illustration ...
Compact Current Database
Install Program Database
Add New Program Record
Extend ADFS Database
Close SYSTEMS Server
No RECORDS 50 SERIAL No F9U
No ACTIVE 0 DATABASE GAMES
No DELETE 0 VERSION 6a
No SPARE 50 SUBTYPE COM
This screen is the "main menu" screen and it is to here that you will
be returned after performing each function or command. Before we go
into the use of SYSTEMS server in detail, a very brief explanation of
each command will follow ...
Loading Gateway: This command provides the user with the facility to
load and run a chosen program from the database,
without having to exit SYSTEMS server and manually
run the program from BASIC. All common types of
loading programs are supported including LOAD, CHAIN,
*RUN, *LOAD, *LIST, *TYPE etc.
Browsing Facilities: This option allows the user to enter the database
record system at any point desired and browse
backwards and forwards through the database.
Full database lists can also be obtained from
within this option on either screen or printer.
Revising Facilities: As browsing facilities, except the option is
provided to Amend record information, directory
paths (if applicable) and program notes.
Deleting Facilities: Provides the opportunity to remove entire
databases, or mark selected records for removal
at a later time. The process of deleting records
is quite involved and will not be explained at
this point in the manual.
Searching Facilities: Very powerful group of facilities with
user-definable searching patterns. Full screen
and printer options provided along with the
"almost exact" or "fuzzy" search options
included as standard.
Compact Current Database: Used in conjunction with Deleting Facilities
in order to remove records "marked" or
"flagged" for removal.
Install Program Database: This option will "sign-off" the current
database and provides the option for a
different database to be installed and run.
Add New Program Record: Option for entering information about your
slave discs into the program. This option
must be used at least once in order to store
some information on the master disc before any
other option becomes valid.
Extend ADFS Database: Provided to reserve more disc space when the
current number of records available is
exhausted. Option will only work reliably using
ADFS system and is liable to crash the program
if using DFS.
Close SYSTEMS server: Will "sign-off" current database, close all
files (Dismount ADFS discs) and exit the
You will also notice that additional information is provided at the
bottom of the screen. This information is constantly updated and will
be altered accordingly every time you make a significant alteration to
your database. A brief explanation of each information field is
provided below ...
No RECORDS Number of records reserved on Database
No ACTIVE Number of records currently holding information
No DELETE Number of records pending removal from the system
No SPARE Number of spare (unused) records available
SERIAL No Identifies you as an individual customer of 8.B.S.
DATABASE The current database name signed onto the system.
VERSION Program version number.
SUBTYPE Version subtype - for 8.B.S. use only.
3.3 Selecting and Entering Commands
SYSTEMS server works on the "menu bar" selection method whenever
possible. Selections are made simply by highlighting the appropraite
option using the UP and DOWN cursor arrow keys and then pressing
RETURN. For example, if you are using the SYSTEMS server for the
first time (having just created a new database), then the first thing
you will want to do is ADD some information onto the system under the
current database name. To do this from the main menu you would press
the DOWN ARROW key until the blue highlight bar was over the "Add New
Program Record" option and then press <Return>.
When data entry is required that cannot be entered using the "menu
bar" method, then a flashing block cursor will appear on the screen
prompting you to enter informaton via the keyboard and press <return>.
Full instructions on how and when to enter information is always
provided in this manual when necessary.
3.4 Information Required for Each Record
If you are intending to use the program seriously, it is essential
obtain as much information as you can on the programs contained on
your "slave discs" in order to have the necessary information to hand
when you start entering information onto the system. The information
required for each record is highlighted as follows ...
PROGRAM NAME .... The full name of your prog. (not the disc filename)
ie. "Strykers Run"
CATEGORY ........ Possible categories are:- GAME
ROM RAM IMAGE
DISC ............ Disc Reference (see section 2.3)
LOADING OPTION .. Possible options are:- CHAIN
SOURCE OF PROGRAM ... Where was the program obtained from
ie. 8-bit Software, Superior Software etc.
FILENAME ............ The disc filename of your program
DFS ADFS ............ Is the program stored on a DFS or ADFS disc?
DIRECTORY ROUTE ..... The Directory route of the program.
ie. $.GAMES.STRATEGY if using ADFS or ...
$ if using DFS
PROGRAM NOTES ....... Finally, 3 lines will be provided for you to
enter any notes on the program in question.
Please do not be alarmed if this seems to be a lot of information for
only one record. Once used to the program the entering of information
can be done quite speedily, and little of the above information is
mandatory as many fields can be "skipped" out if required.
3.5 Adding Records to the Database
To add new information just highligh the "Add New Program Record"
option from the main menu and press <Return>. You will then be
presented with a blank record to complete with the cursor flashing at
the top "PROGRAM" field, rather like the illustration below ...
DFS ADFS !
RECORD No 1
You may now proceed to enter details of one of the programs stored on
your slave discs. To take an example here we will assume that we want
to store details of a game called "Krazy Ladders" onto our database.
Details of how to enter each field of information will now be
explained step by step ...
PROGRAM: Enter the full name of the program and press <return> (not
just the disc filename) - to take our example here we would
enter "Krazy Ladders" and press <return>.
CATEGORY: You will be presented with a "menu bar" selection table at
this point and you are required to highlight the appropriate
option and press <return>. We know in our example that
Krazy Ladders is a GAME so we highlight the GAME option and
DISC: You should have referenced or indexed all your slave discs
into some logical order. You should enter the reference
number of the slave disc containing this program into this
field. In our example we know that Krazy Ladders is on disc
number GAM001 so we enter this and press <return>.