Pros: Comprehensive and complete; relevant; great examples; outstanding command reference section.
The Bottom Line: Comprehensive and complete Peter Norton's Complete Guide to DOS 6.22 has earned its place on my book shelve of must have computer reference material.
I know what you're thinking: what is he (The Bard) doing writing a review about an outdated Operating System (OS) that has long since disappeared from the computing scene? But, you see, MS-DOS (Microsoft Disk Operating System) may be a quaint notion in todays world filled with millions of Windows 98/2000/XP graphics intensive desktops, but the workhorse DOS with its black and white interface, is far from dead, far from irrelevant. If fact, portions of it are still very necessary from a Systems Administration standpoint even under Windows 98/2000/XP where the MS-DOS kernel has been vanquished; well almost.
Under Windows 98/2000/XP, a DOS virtual window (Command Prompt or Windows) can be opened and some pretty powerful and necessary DOS commands can be executed. For example, there is probably no more powerful (free) tool for coping large numbers of files than XCOPY, which can be initiated from a Windows 98/2000/XP DOS virtual machine. Add to that COPY FDISK, EDIT, MEM, MORE, and FORMAT, all DOS commands that can be carried out under Windows 98/2000/XP.
And I still heavily utilize my Windows 98 boot disk; it is an essential part of my trouble-shooting arsenal, I wouldnt troubleshoot a PC without one. It may be labeled Windows 98 Boot Disk, but its underpinnings are all MS-DOS 6.22. If I run across a PC that is running Windows 95, or 98 and I want to either rebuild the machine, I have to have a DOS (Windows 98) boot disk in order to reload Windows.
And one last nugget: TCP/IP is now the default networking protocol, and almost all of its commands such as IPCONFIG, PING, GOPHER, and TELNET, must be executed in a DOS, or UNIX/Linux command environment.
So you see MS-DOS 6.22, that last full blown incarnation of DOS is still very relevant in today's graphical environment. And it helps to remain knowledgeable on the OS and its myriad of commands; that is where Peter Norton's Complete Guide to DOS 6.22 comes into the picture. Checking in at a mammoth 1,150 pages Peter Norton's Complete Guide to DOS 6.22 6th Editionpublished in 1994, is one of the most, if not the most comprehensive guide to MS-DOS 6.22 available today. I have turned to it time and time again to look up those DOS commands I do not use on a daily basis any more.
Peter Norton's Complete Guide to DOS 6.22 is divided into the following sections:
Part 1 Getting Acquainted Part 2 DOS Shell Part 3 DOS Commands Part 4 Managing Your System Part 5 Advanced DOS Part 6 Command Reference
In the front of Peter Norton's Complete Guide to DOS 6.22 is a very useful Procedure Quick Reference Guide, a how to guide for carrying out the most common DOS commands and functions. The Guide asks a question and then point the reader to the page where the answer can be found; e.g. How to Rename a Directory Tree in DOS Shell; Page 83, or How to Rename Files in DOS Shell; Page 125.
(Part 3, DOS Commands; Chapter 18, Additional Disk Management; Page 287)
Copying Disks with a Single Drive in DOS 6.0 or Earlier
When you copy disks with a single drive, you must swap the source disk and designation disk in the same drive. For a one-drive copy using DOS 6.0 (or earlier), you must swap the source and destination disks several times. DISSKCOPY tells you when to insert each disk.
Try making a copy using only drive A:
1. Write-protect the source disk 2. Enter DISKCOPY A: A: DISKCOPY asks you to Insert SOURCE disk in drive A:, Press any key to continue. 3. Insert the source disk in drive A and press any key. DISKCOPY displays the disks parameters, as in: Copying 80 tracks, 18 sectors per track, 2 side(s)
Reading from source diskette...
DISKCOPY copies as much data as possible from the source disk into memory and displays this message next:
Insert TARGET diskette into drive A:
Press any key to continue...
4. Insert the destination disk in drive A and press any key. DISKCOPY writes the copied data on the destination disk. Then, it asks for the SOURCE disk again
Peter Norton's Complete Guide to DOS 6.22 is filled with great examples such as the one above for carrying out real live DOS commands. This alone makes the book an invaluable resource. Microsoft never did go into great depth about what DOS command do, and what you the end-user can expect as an outcome. There is help function is DOS, which you can get to by typing any DOS command at the command prompt followed by a (?) mark; e.g. DISKCOPY /?, but you had to know how the command worked in order to manipulate it effectively. The DOS help really only helps with syntax, whereas Peter Norton's Complete Guide to DOS 6.22 goes deeper into the command or functions taking great pains to explain what exactly happens and what to expect.
The end of the book (over 200 pages) contains a through Command Reference Section wherein every DOS command is covered starting with the chapter the command can be found under, an explanation of what the command does, followed by the correct syntax(s), parameters and or switches, examples of that syntax(s), and notes if needed. For example, the book lays out the command XCOPY thusly.
Source: Identifies the file(s) you want to copy. Destination: Specifies the location where the copy should be written; the default is the current directory. /A Copies only source files with positive archive attributes; does not change the archive attributes. /M Copies only source files with positive archive attributes; turns off the archive attributes. /D:date Copies only source files created or modified on or after date. /P Prompts you for permission to copy each selected file. /S Extends copying to the entire branch headed by the source directory (See Notes). /E Copies empty subdirectories when copying to the entire branch (see Notes). Before DOS 6.2, you must use /S if you use /E. With DOS 6.2 or higher, /E can be used without /S. /V Verifies each copy. /W Displays a message and waits for you to press a key before beginning to copy files. /Y Overwrites destination files without warning. /-Y Requests permission to overwrite destination files.
When copying multiple files, XCOPY is considerably faster then COPY.
XCOPY copies empty files (unlike COPY) but not system of hidden files.
XCOPY turns on the archive attribute of each of each copy but copies the source files date/time stamps.
When source includes a file name, destination can include a file name, and the two files can be in the same directory. When the source filespec include wildcards and destination is a directory, XCOPY makes a copy of each file matching the filespec. For example, in XCOPY CHAP* .DOC A:, XCOPY copies CHAP1.DOC to A:CHAP1.DOC
End Book Excerpt
And so it goes one with over three full pages of note on XCOPY. And rightly so because XCOPY is one of the most powerful DOS command and one of the least understood, because it has so many switches. But Peter Norton's Complete Guide to DOS 6.22 covers all of the bases very nicely; after reading the all four pages on XCOPY the average system administrator should come away with a better then average understanding of the command and it functionality. And as I stated above XCOPY can and isat least by meused under Windows 98/2000/XP environments.
For me Peter Norton's Complete Guide to DOS 6.22 is an indispensable guide to all things DOS, and in my (humble) opinion is a must have for any system administrator, or anyone who just want to know more about DOS. Comprehensive and complete Peter Norton's Complete Guide to DOS 6.22 has earned its place on my book shelve of must have computer reference material.
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About the reviewer
Vincent Martin (vemartin)
I am an IT Professional and have worked in the industry for over 20 years. I may be a computer geek, but I also like reading, writing, cooking, music, current events and regretfully, politics.
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This classic bestseller continues in the tradition of Peter Norton's other helpful guides. His clear, friendly style solves the mystery of DOS so you can get your work done quickly. For those new to DOS, his introductions to the DOS shell and DOS commands get you up and running with ease. And if you already know DOS, advanced tips will help you take DOS to a new level of expertise.