DocsBoot+ information

DocsBoot+ description

DocsBoot+ functions

Where DocsBoot+ installs

Notes about operating systems

Notes about other boot managers

Notes about disc compression

Some screen shots

DocsBoot+ description

DocsBoot+ is a boot manager. DocsBoot+ intercepts the boot process, displays a menu of available partitions to boot, then boots the one chosen.

DocsBoot+ allows as many operating systems as you can have partitions, and since it does not occupy a partition itself, DocsBoot+ does not reduce the available number of partitions. DocsBoot+ supports booting operating systems from any drive or class of partition they support (OS/2, for example, supports booting from extended partitions, and some unixes support booting from the secondary hard disc).

DocsBoot+ does not support multiple operating systems on a single partition, as this situation can be quite dangerous. This is because in order to change which operating system is to be booted, files must be moved around in the boot process (if anything happens at this time, more than one operating system can be rendered useless). Aside from this concern, there is the problem of filesystem enhancements, like the OS/2 extended attributes or the Win95 longnames, which can (and in many cases do) cause problems with each other. There are no plans to support this function at this time.

DocsBoot+ functions

DocsBoot+ intercepts the boot process, and performs several functions before it resumes the boot process. Among these functions are :

Verify its own integrity
Each time it loads, DocsBoot+ performs a complete self-test to be certain all of its code and data are intact. If DocsBoot+ detects any problems during this phase, it will display a message and request the system be booted from a floppy disc. DocsBoot+ does not proceed to boot the hard disc, because whatever corrupted it may have corrupted certain system areas of the hard disc, and you may need to run some drive testing or recovery software.
Check for a boot sector or MBR virus
DocsBoot+ checks for anything which appears to be a boot sector virus (if it was booted from a floppy disc) or an MBR virus (if it was booted from a hard disc). DocsBoot+ uses a simple heuristic algorithm which should detect any virus which takes over the disc service request. If DocsBoot+ finds such a virus, it will attempt to remove the virus, and restart the system. DocsBoot+ does not protect against such a virus after the boot process, so you should remain cautious about any possibility of such a virus. This function can be disabled through the DocsBoot+ configuration program.
Load extensions
DocsBoot+ supports an extension system which allows it to have additional functionality installed by merely copying files to a partition on your primary hard disc. Extensions can be just about anything, from something which asks for a password before it allows the system to boot, to a replacement menu for DocsBoot+, to a disc BIOS emulator for a SCSI host which does not have a ROM on it, to whatever else can be written so it complies with the extension interface. DocsBoot+ will load any extensions after it has tested itself and checked for a virus. This function can be disabled through the DocsBoot+ configuration program.
Provide an extension API
DocsBoot+ provides an API to extensions which allows for enhanced console I/O, limited filesystem I/O, and several other functions, including the replacement of or addition to functions included with DocsBoot+. The information about the extension API is now available to registered users.
Display a menu
DocsBoot+ displays a menu listing all the available partitions on your system, then allow you to choose one to boot. The default DocsBoot+ menu (the menu can be replaced by an extension) is a fairly simple menu which uses the arrow keys to move a light-bar cursor to select the partition to boot, then the enter key to boot a partition. The default menu also supports automatically booting after a defined period of time. Many characteristics of the default menu can be changed through the DocsBoot+ configuration program, or the menu function can be disabled completely through the DocsBoot+ configuration program.

DocsBoot+ installation

DocsBoot+ replaces your system's MBR if it is installed on a hard disc, and therefore occupies no normally used space, though an RLL or newer drive with 26 sectors or more per track is highly recommended. DocsBoot+ will still work on older MFM and other 17 sector per track drives, but there is no guarantee this will remain the case for long.

The hard disc location was chosen for several reasons. Among these : no partition is needed for DocsBoot+, and DocsBoot+ is not dependent upon having any particular type of partition on the system, and repartitioning does not require reinstallation; DocsBoot+ does not take away from usable filesystem space; DocsBoot+ does not intercept the boot at some late point, so it does not have to keep files around with old boot sectors &c; DocsBoot+ can be easily purged in an emergency (should it become corrupted or some other problem occur). The hard disc location simplified the floppy disc code.

If DocsBoot+ is installed to a floppy disc, it must reformat the disc (DocsBoot+ will occupy the first 9KB of the disc, including the boot sector) and will have to reformat the disc to install (this will erase any data already on the disc). Unfortunately, the reformat will render the disc unusable to store files from DOS (OS/2 and several other operating systems which use DOS-format discs can still use it, though!). A floppy disc with DocsBoot+ installed should not be used to store files, for the sake of compatibility with DOS.

Operating systems

DocsBoot+ is compatible with many popular operating systems (many of these are trademarks of their respective owners). DocsBoot+ has been tested with these operating systems :

BSD Unix
DocsBoot+ works properly with FreeBSD and NetBSD. No feedback has been offered so far about how well it works with other BSD variants.
DOS, various versions
There have been no reported problems with DocsBoot+ and DOS, except DOS refuses to boot from any drive other than A or C. A patch for DOS is in the works, but may never come to be, since each version of DOS seems to handle the boot slightly differently (or at least the bootstrap code changes enough to make a generic patch very difficult). An easy way around this is to create two or more primary partitions on the first hard disc, and hide all but one of them, then install the version of DOS for that partition, unhide one of the hidden ones, install, unhide, &c until you are finished. This may seem more difficult than the `several versions of DOS or several different operating systems from a single partition' method that some boot managers use, but it is safer.
DocsBoot+ works properly with Linux. You must install the LiLo program to the boot block of the root partition.
DocsBoot+ is reported to work properly with NeXTstep.
Novell UnixWare
DocsBoot+ supports Novell UnixWare version 1.1 quite well. Newer versions of UnixWare also should be supported now.
OS/2, versions 2.00 forward
OS/2 seems to support the idea of booting from an arbitrary partition, but IBM in their usually egotistical way managed to allow installation only to drives other than C with their boot manager installed, which occupies its own partition. DocsBoot+ includes information to make an OS/2 install set install OS/2 to any desired partition.
SCO unix
DocsBoot+ has been reported to work properly with SCO unix.
SCO UnixWare
DocsBoot+ has been reported to work properly with SCO UnixWare v2.1.2.
Also please see the entry for Novell UnixWare.
SCO xenix
DocsBoot+ has been reported to work properly with SCO xenix.
Windows 9x (95,98,ME)
This is really just a new version of Windows and DOS from MicroSoft, and suffers the same problems as DOS (see the section above on DOS). However, Win95 also introduces some odd behaviour of its own, which may cause problems unless it is the FIRST operating system to be installed. Win95 also (like WinNT) disables DocsBoot+ when it installs, but DocsBoot+ will work properly with Win95 if you reinstall it after you finish installing Win95.
Windows NT (also 2000, 2003, XP)
Windows NT seems to get along with DocsBoot+ quite well, but it may disable DocsBoot+ during its install. If this happens, just reinstall DocsBoot+ and things should work properly if this happens. DocsBoot+ comes with a program which moves the NTBoot program to a different partition, so NT can be booted directly from another drive.
DocsBoot+ should work properly with just about anything else out there, though there may be some exceptions.

DocsBoot+ and other boot managers

DocsBoot+ will coexist with other boot managers which do not install to the MBR.

However, DocsBoot+ may appear to disable bootmanagers, such as IBM's Boot Manager, which install to their own partition. This is because DocsBoot+ normally sets the partition it boots as the bootable partition, implicitly disabling these programs. If you decide to remove DocsBoot+, you will need to set such a partition active before your other boot manager will work again (this can be done easily by booting through the other boot manager immediately before you remove DocsBoot+, or by setting the other boot manager's partition active with an FDISK utility).

Also, certain boot managers, which install to the partition they manage, will not appear if you boot other partitions. An example of this would be the Linux boot manager, LiLo, which if installed to the Linux boot partition will only appear when the Linux partition is booted.

DocsBoot+ and disc compression

DocsBoot+ should have no problem with any standard disc compression routines. This is because DocsBoot+ does not attempt to do anything with the compressed parts of compressed drives.

DocsBoot+ requires any extensions be located in the uncompressed part of the drive, since it is unable to read the compressed parts. DocsBoot+ will not allow extensions any access to the compressed parts of the drive, so all their data and other files must be placed on the uncompressed part.

Disc compressors, while helpful in making your hard disc appear larger, can theoretically prove dangerous under certain conditions (for example, programs which access the disc directly, or a disc that develops bad sectors). Some of the more modern disc compressors take pains attempting to handle these problems, but Murphy always seems to win. We suggest you use disc compressors with full caution, and keep regular backups, whether you use DocsBoot+ or not.

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