"MAN FOUND DEAD IN GRAVEYARD."
ST UTILITY REVIEW: XBOOT III BY TEN SOFTWARE DESIGN
(Which also shows its (dis)advantages over "Superboot")
by Richard Karsmakers
For about three years now I have been a faithful user of Gordon
Moore's "Superboot" in its various versions. Although at one
stage someone tried to convert me to using "XBoot" (I believe it
was my good friend Jurie "Relayer" Hornemann, and "XBoot" was at
the moment at version 1 or something), I never quite wanted to
leave "Superboot" behind. Although it wasn't mouse-driven, it was
very powerful and, well, I knew how to work with it. Old habits
don't die, which is also the reason why I still find myself
working with "1st Word Plus" most of the time no matter how
powerful programs like "Protext" and "Le Redacteur" are.
I recently got the chance to review "XBoot III". The program has
gone through some reincarnations and has obviously grown a lot
better. I tried it for a couple of days, to find myself hooked in
the end. I think it suffices to say that I have in the mean time,
to put it rather bluntly, trashed "Superboot".
But let me first tell you how I got that far.
It has to be said, firstly, that the disk that has "XBoot III"
on it contains nothing else. No shareware/PD freebies or
anything, just a couple of files taking up slightly less than 70
Kb. Maybe it's their way of emphasizing that "XBoot III" is
really a very powerful package that you don't need any other
things with, but I do tend to like little extras the likes of
which you get on "Turbo ST", "Warp 9" and other current-day
But that's not really important.
Installation and principle
Installing "XBoot III" couldn't be easier. A program supplied on
the disk does all of it for you - which basically means that it
puts the main "XBoot III" program as the first file in the AUTO
folder on the partition you designate. "XBoot III" needs to be
the first program in the AUTO folder for it to be able to
manipulate all following AUTO folder programs, desk accessories
and CPX modules.
The principle "XBoot III" uses is really simple. For AUTO folder
programs to be loaded they need to have the "PRG" extension.
Likewise, accessories need to end with "ACC" and Extended Control
Panel modules need to close off with "CPX". "XBoot III" allows
you to disable/enable these files by renaming them either to
"PRX", "ACX" or "CPZ" respectively or by renaming them to their
proper extensions. This can be done manually as well, but takes
quite a bit of time and tends to be a hassle when you have more
than one or two different setups you regularly use.
"XBoot III" allows you to define sets of AUTO folder programs,
desk accessories and CPX modules that you would want to use
together in a specific environment. You can give such a set a
name and the details can be saved to (hard) disk. By double-
clicking on the name of such a set (for example "Wordplus Mono"
for your ideal word processing setup for a monochrome monitor)
the appropriate files will be enabled and others disabled. Of
course you can also select one of a library of automatically
starting GEM programs, DESKTOP.INF (or NEWDESK.INF) files and
ASSIGN.SYS files. All of this is done quickly and faultlessly.
I mentioned 'double clicking' just now, didn't I?
This shows one of the prime advantages of "XBoot III" over its
main competitor, "Superboot": It has a totally GEM-like
environment that does not merely allow you to use keys but that
also allows you to use the mouse. This is quite a feat and
probably proves that author Tassilo Nitz put a lot of effort in
the program, for the ST's built-in GEM routines cannot be used by
AUTO folder programs - and "XBoot III" is one of those.
The good bits
With the simple yet powerful principle of extension changing at
your hands, the thing that makes a program like "XBoot III" stand
out from its competition is the knobs it has on. Don't get me
wrong - "Superboot" has plenty of knobs on, as a matter of fact
quite a staggering amount of knobs, half of which aren't really
needed. "XBoot III" has just about the same knobs, which the
needless ones taken away. On top of that it has some stuff that
is unique and which makes it truly better.
1) For starters it's all in one. No separate construction set
program is needed to determine the sets. All of this is done from
within the main program. Even an AUTO folder directory order
sorter is built in. Especially for people who don't have "Neodesk
3" (which can reorder items in a directory as well) this is
2) "XBoot III" allows file links: If you select a specific AUTO
folder program you can specify another one to be enabled or
disabled together with it. This is highly useful with control
panel modules that for example allow you to configure "Let 'Em
Fly" or "NVDI", or for an accessory that allow likewise with
3) You can switch the display to "show active files only". This
is especially useful as otherwise you may have to scroll a lot
through the display windows if you have a lot of AUTO folder
programs, accessories and CPX modules.
4) It allows you to specify a series of batch commands for each
set. Batch commands include COPY, NAME, CHEXT (change extension),
KILL, MKDIR, RMDIR, CHKEMP (check if empty) and even EXEC. These
allow for incredible power and flexibility.
5) You can define up to 100 sets, even though only the first 20
may be selectable with keyboard shortcuts. "Superboot" only
allows 30 to be defined, although it needs to be mentioned
that these all have keyboard shortcuts.
6) You can turn on/off (Mega STe) cache and the blitter chip for
each set individually.
7) It has a built-in file selector that allows you to do some
basic disk operations from within "XBoot III". These operations
include delete, copy, show info, new folder and show free space.
8) There are an enormous amount of keyboard shortcuts for every
9) A mouse-speeder is built in in "XBoot III" - although it only
affects the mouse speed as long as you're in "XBoot III", and not
that of GEM once you've finished booting.
10) On top of that it also has the straight-forward options any
program like this would need to have.
Version 3.01 improvements
Version 3.01 has a few noteworthy improvements over 3.00. You
can now, for example, switch off the 6-accessory-limit, which is
no longer needed when using "MultiGEM" or "MultiTOS".
Additionally, non-existing files are removed from any sets
containing them when no longer found.
"XBoot III" comes with a manual that isexactly like the sort of
manual you would want. It's well written, clearly illustrated,
rarely ambiguous, extensive, and it has an index. It's perfectly
understandable for the layman and not irritatingly so for the
more accomplished user.
At a file size of less than 60 Kb, "XBoot III" certainly
features a lot. Comparing, the actual "Superboot" AUTO folder
program might be smaller, but it does not allow use of the mouse,
it has no construction set built in (which on its own is already
bigger than all the files on "XBoot III" put together) and needs
a separate program to change the directory order of AUTO folder
programs. Although "Superboot" offers more extensive
possibilities for other files, one often never needs them -
likewise, "Superboot" offers a load of knobs no serious user
really needs in the form of welcome messages, samples and
"XBoot III" had one serious drawback, however: Its price. At
£34.95 it had better be a lot better than any shareware
competitor! I would probably still be using "Superboot" if I
hadn't had the opportunity of reviewing its commercial
competitor. Although I have no knowledge of possible commercial
validations for HiSoft's current "XBoot III" price policy (which
might be the ST's death, high piracy rates, its author wanting a
lot of money, any of these or others), I think it would be a lot
easier for people to opt for "XBoot III" if it would have been
available at around 20 bob, which I reckon is a much more
affordable and certainly more realistic price - especially if the
main competitor only wants you to register by sending a mere
Apart from this financial drawback, "XBoot III" is more friendly
to use and, with the added bits such as the possibility of batch
commands and file links, more flexible and powerful than its
"XBoot III" is distributed in the UK by HiSoft at £34.95. The
program is originally German but unfortunately I know of no
German distributor's address. Should you know it, please jot down
the details and we'll mention it in a future issue!
The Old School
Bedford MK45 5DE
Tel. 0525 718181
Plentiful thanks go to HiSoft's Mr. David Link for making this
review (and my mouse-driven boot configuration future) possible!
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.