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blog:2020-04-22

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GEOS: More Than A Desktop Environment

GEOS is known for being a fantastic 8-bit desktop environment for your Commodore computer. But, just under the surface, it's one of the best disk utilities available for the C64 and C128 as well.

I've worked with many disk utilities and am always on the lookout for the best one I can find for my Commodore. I've experimented with many from the pages of Loadstar, as well as tried several of the DOS wedges that have been created over the years. But there's always been something that seems to make them all fall short of perfection.

For example, the DOS wedges make it easier to carry out disk operations without having to remember the convoluted syntax of BASIC 2.0's disk commands. But if you're trying to copy files between two (or more) disk drives, you're out of luck. One of the better disk utility apps, DraCopy, handles dual disk drives well, but I've always had a problem using it to copy SEQ files. Also, duplicating an entire disk with it is a very slow process.

Of all the searching I've done for the best disk utility app., I'm always forgetting about GEOS. Yet, I think it's probably the best disk utility/manager out there, for the C64 and C128.

Although you can get more functionality out of disks that you've converted to GEOS formatted disks, the system will work with your standard Commodore formatted disks. GEOS will only run programs and files for the GEOS environment, but for the purposes of disk utility task, it is not an issue.

As with all GUI desktops, the disk commands with GEOS are either executed via the menus, keyboard shortcuts, or by dragging and dropping icons on the desktop. Along with icons representing the files on your floppy disk, you also work with icons for your disk drives, shown in the right-side margin on the screen. To change from one drive to the other, you just click on it with the desktop pointer.

The GEOS Desktop Environment

From the disk menu, you can do all of your disk maintenance type tasks, like formatting a disk, renaming it, validating it, or even simply erasing all files from a disk that's already been formatted. You first have to select the drive you wish to work from, then choose the task from the menu.

You also have the ability to copy a disk from here. If you don't have dual disk drives, GEOS will still copy the disk in Drive A, but you'll have to do a bit of disk swapping to complete the task. However, the amount of time it takes GEOS to copy a disk is not as long as some other disk copier take to finish.

In the screenshot below, notice the shortcut keys you can use to activate these tasks, if you don't wish to select them from the menu.

GEOS Disk Menu

Copying individual files between disks is very easy. From the icon view, you simply click on the file you wish to copy, pause for a second, then click again. The mouse pointer will then have a “ghost” icon of the file attached to it, and you simply move the pointer over to the second disk drive, and click again.

If you wish to copy multiple files, hold down the Commodore Key on your keyboard when you're clicking on the files. When you've clicked on the last of the files you wish to copy, release the Commodore Key and click on the last file you selected one more time. Your pointer will now have a ghost icon that says “Multi Files”, as GEOS has registered that you've selected multiple files. Move the icon over to the disk drive and click again, and your files are copied over to the second disk.

Selecting Files To Copy

Sometimes, you may find it easier to work with the files in a list view, rather than an icon view. To do this, click on the view menu and select the view you want to see. You can then select the files with the pointer as described above.

GEOS View Menu

If you want to speed up the selection process, you can select all the files on the screen or on the disk with one click by going to the select menu and choose either the all pages or page files. When all the files are highlighted (aka selected), click once on any of the files to get the “multi files” ghost icon.

To work with an individual file, click on it once with the pointer, then click on the file menu option. From here, you can perform all of the standard file housekeeping you require, like copying (aka duplicate) renaming or deleting. If it's a GEOS compatible file, you can also open (aka run) it from here, as well.

GEOS File Maintenance

When you're all done with your disk maintenance work, you can then exit back to BASIC and run your programs as usual. The point and click desktop environment of GEOS makes disk file management a much more intuitive and straight forward process than having to deal with BASIC's DOS commands (even though the BASIC 7.0's DOS is much improved over the BASIC 2.0).

GEOS File Maintenance

All This But No SD2IEC Support

Although GEOS functions as a great disk utility application, there's one MAJOR DRAWBACK to it that really disappoints me…. it does not recognize my Retroswitch Flyer as a disk device. If it weren't for this, I wouldn't have any use for another disk utility. But, unfortunately, when ever I want to move software/data between my real Commodores and disk images I've downloaded from the Internet, I need to make use of other SD2IEC-friendly software to do it. It's such a shame. I wish that someone would write a GEOS device driver for the SD2IEC users out there.


This article was written on my C128 using GeoWrite.

blog/2020-04-22.txt · Last modified: 2020/05/31 12:21 by David