Like all other current Geos-based devices, the GeoBook contains a DOS
compatible operating system which handles the bootstrap process and parts of
the file system. Even though the GeoBook has not been specifically designed to
run DOS applications, it can sometimes be useful to disable the Geos UI and
access the underlying file system directly.
To get a DOS prompt, follow these steps:
From the Main Menu, go to the File Manager.
Type Ctrl-U twice (or use the F drive icon) to go the root of
the F: drive.
Double-click on COMMAND.COM.
Now you should see the ROM-DOS command prompt.
While in DOS mode, C: is a small ROM-based boot partition,
D: a 512k RAM drive, which is mostly used for temporary storage,
E: represents a PC memory card (if any), while F:
refers to the built-in 1MB flash disk.
There are a few things to keep in mind while in DOS mode:
To return to Geos, enter the EXIT command.
When you first enter the DOS mode, the video system is still in graphics
mode (a good indication for this is usually the lack of a flashing cursor).
Some DOS applications (e.g. QEdit, my favorite text editor) do not like like
this too much, so it may be necessary to install a utility to switch video
modes from the command line if you want to experiment with using DOS programs.
This here is a small one I wrote just for this
Pressing Ctrl-Alt-Del hangs the system. Don't know why.
Accessing drive E: when there is no PC card inserted gives
you a "write protected" error message which is sometimes quite hard to get rid
of. Try avoiding this drive entirely unless you are using a memory card.
[Brian Walz wrote:] And, if you are into it, the Geobook makes a great
Infocom platform. Downloaded a DOS Infocom interpreter, transfered my games
to the flash disk, and I play those games when I have some free time to burn.
Another way to get to DOS mode (shows just how compatible ROM-DOS tries
to be) is to press F8 a few seconds after the device first beeps at
power-up. This allows you to step through the startup files line by line. You
can confirm ("Y") any line until you come to "geos". A
"no" reply there takes you to DOS mode even before Geos starts. If you screwed
up your system real badly, you can use this to get back in and, for example,
restore a backup copy of the GEOS.INI file (see below).
Again, a lesson to learn from other Geos devices: the key to "serious
customization" as well as to grave unhappiness lies in the GEOS.INI
configuration file, which holds most of the settings made under Preferences,
as well as a lot of options not accessible from there.
The configuration information is stored as an ASCII text file named GEOS.INI
which is located in the \GEOWORKS directory on drive F (built-in Flash). The
format of the file is fairly straightforward and very similar to INI on other
platforms (namely the big "W" thing):
key1 = value1
key2 = value2
The section name usually specifies the application or system module which is
affected by the options listed below it. The order of the various sections in
the file as well as that of the various keys within a section does not matter.
Any line starting with a ";" is considered a comment (that is, ignored).
To edit the GEOS.INI file, you can either install a DOS
mode text editor on the device itself, or you can copy the file to a disk
using the File Manager, edit it on a PC and then copy it back to its original
location. Anyway, you should use the DOS mode command COPY to
load the modified version back onto the device. This makes sure that the
settings are all re-read when Geos starts up after copying and avoids problems
that can result from Geos keeping the file open while it is running.
A few things to keep in mind when experimenting with the GEOS.INI file:
Remember that the GEOS.INI file on the GeoBook is not intended for
end-user modifications, so you will find purely cosmetical settings there
right next to options which may even prevent the device from starting up at
Section headings or keys which are not understood by the system or one of
its applications do not cause any error messages. Instead, they are simply
ignored, so if your changes have no effect, it may simply be a typo.
If a certain key is not present in the GEOS.INI file on drive F, the
system also looks for it in the ROM-based copy on drive C which contains the
As long as you keep a backup of a working version with your personal
settings (or you are ready to copy the ROM version from
C:\GEOWORKS reverting everything to factory
defaults), you can use a recovery procedure to get back
to DOS mode and restore the GEOS.INI file even if you have locked yourself out
Personalizing your GeoBook
If you want to add a "personal touch" to your GeoBook, you can do so by
specifying your own string for the title of the Main Menu screen. This string
is specified by the title key in the [MAIN MENU]
section of the GEOS.INI file.
Invoking the self-running demo
All the machines of the GeoBook series contain a self-running demo which is
intended for presentation in the shops, usually with a colorful display stand
attached to the case.
To start the demo, go to the Main Menu, press Ctrl-D, and sit
The demo can be terminated at any time by pressing F3.