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ScuzzBlog: Diaries March 2020

Entry 23rd March 2020: Post 01: Getting LhA onto your Amiga.

Getting LhA onto your Amiga.

So someone asked the question just how do I decompress an LhA file
on the Amiga. Most of the download files on Aminet are LhA files.
This is the preferred archiving format for the Amiga and I would
be surprised if anyone using an Amiga will not need it at some time.
The LhA tool sits in the 'C' drawer of your Workbench volume. It is
called into action by the 'Shell' as a command line or by using
shortcuts as with one of the DOpus buttons. You can also use GUI
software such as DFace to extract files.

In this example I assume you have the file on your PC and you need
to get LhA up and running on the Amiga. The example uses the Aminet
game 'Fireflies' as a way of showing the extraction process at work.
Please note that in normal circumstances I would simply click the
respective button on DOpusIV and the file will auto extract.

I use DOpusIV as opposed to the Amiga windows system. Just imagine
that the left and right panes of DOpus are your active windows and
the buttons are simply menu options for file management. I gave up
with the Amigas traditional pointy 'clicky' Workbench window system
almost the day I got the Amiga. Cus it's truly dreadful to use.

Anyway.. here we go.

Getting LhA onto your Amiga.

This is an 'old skool' guide so I do
things like I did in the early days.

For this we need a PC floppy disk and
a working floppy drive. How you get the
files to the Amiga is up to you but this
is what I do.

To fool the Amiga into thinking the disk
is a DD disk just stick a label over the
left slot. This assumes you do not have
a HD floppy drive on the Amiga. The A4000
generally has one.

I will discuss CrossDOS later and the
problems doing this pre Release 2.0.

OK get a cheap old Win98 laptop or
Win95 PC off Ebay and use to create
and transfer files. Sounds extreme.
I'm just telling you what I do.

The older Win based machines have
floppy drives and can format disks
at the lower capacity i.e. 720KB.

This capacity disk can be read by any Amiga.

And cus it's a Windows based machine
will be able to copy your internet
files over to your Amiga.

I am assuming you are using a post 1.3
machine or you are truly stuffed. The
reason being that 1.3 has 'no' show all
files facility and you cannot see the
files without icons on the screen.

So you should have in your DEVS/DOSDrivers
drawer in Workbench the PC0 and PC1 tools
that are found in your storage drawer. Just
go look.... Note that anything in this
drawer will be activated on boot. So your
Amiga will check for normal Amiga disks
and PC based disks at the same time.

The tool assumes you have the CrossDOSFileSystem
in your 'L' drawer. Very important that.

If you are using DOpus, and you should,
when you insert the 720K PC disk it
will ask which pane you want the disk
to be shown in. The contents should
show the PC style of files. Note how
file names are constrained to 8 and 3.
This can be overcome but I wont go into
that now. The important files are the
Fireflies.LhA file and the LHA.RUN file.

The PC0 disk icon is an .info file and
breaks the PC format. Just ignore for now.

I always work in 'T' of RAM. It may
be easier to just keep using hard drive
space but for those of us that grew
up with limited hard drive capacity and
didn't want to clutter up the hd we used
RAM a lot. So I tend to work in 'T'. After
all that is what it's there for.

Once in 'T' you can click the Aminet file
LHA.RUN which will extract into different
versions designed for differing processor
speeds. I just use the LhA_68k. The file is
a self extracting file.

The aim here is to get LhA onto the system.

So just rename the LhA_68K.

And copy it to your Workbench:C drawer.

Next I create a drawer on the Work
volume for games/fireflies. Cus the
game is to be used from the hard drive.
To this end I place the 'fireflies.LhA'
file there cus I never know when I will
need it again.

I then fire up the 'Shell' which I always
have left out on the Workbench and type
in the line ...

LhA x work:games/fireflies/fireflies ram:t/

Shell knows that LhA is in C and the x actions
an unarchiving process from the file in Work:
games/fireflies.. called fireflies and de-crunches
it into RAM:T. Remember that RAM as a Volume
needs the colon as do all drives/volumes.

All done.

I can now move the RAM:T contents
to the games drawer I created for the
game. Move not copy.

This game assumes a floppy based system
and will not run from the hard drive
without an ASSIGN.

So open your text editor... I use CED.

Now open your 'user-startup' that resides
in the 'S' drawer of Worknbench and add
the line ....
assign fireflies: work:games/fireflies/fireflies

Save and close and reboot the computer. All
that was in RAM will be lost.

Sadly the game didn't like the A1200 very
much or my GVP Turbo 030 cus the screen
went into melt down. So I moved to the
A500 and copied the contents to a DD floppy
and named it 'fireflies'.

Sorry for the poor pictures. The one icon
opens in a full screen and the other in
a window. That's where my A1200 struggled.

I make no comment about the game.

Other than use on your 1200 at your peril.

PS the head of the Workbench screen should
not be in the middle of the screen.

Anyway the game worked. So that was that.

OK just a comment on CrossDOS prior to
version 7.0. Don't bother.

It is possible to mount a MS-DOS disk
on a 1.3 system ... but because 1.3
has no show all files facility and the
Shell doesn't see the volume it is
pretty useless. I am sure there is a
way round this. Best get a ROM switcher
and get 2.0 as soon as you can. That is
where the Amiga became usable as a
modern computer. And not before.

And there is nothing you can do to
simply create a drawer from the menu.
A truly dreadful OS. Makes me blue.

So it's back to 3.0 and a more black
white and grey interpretation of the
CrossDOS disk that I showed you.

And so I mount the DI0 as suggested.

I have two PC disks on the screen
cus my A1200 auto mounts from the PC0
and they look identical. They are not.

Note two identical disks DI0 and PC0.

The difference being that early versions
of CrossDOS used MSDOSFileSystem and ..

... the later and current use the actual

The later will show all files from the getgo.

The other only shows a fraction of
files and you need the show all files
which 1.3 does not have. Which is why
I stay 2.0 side when it comes to disk
management, albeit I do use the disks
on the A500. But then the A500 has the
switch on the back to flip ROMs.

The trick is use the PC0 tool and the

~o o ~

That last bit was a bit of a diversion
but it is worth noting that many current
Amiga users have come to this time from
differing histories. For those that grew
up with the Amiga, there was no PC to
trouble them in the beginning. So we only
used the Amiga. So file management and
disks were all common to the Amiga.
For those that travelled that path they
already have the tools, kit and disks that
let them do the file management without
the need to keep transferring stuff all
the time.

For others though they come to the Amiga
from the current end of the stick where
the PC is the starting point and there is
a need to get all this stuff from the
internet and transfer across. And that is
where the old chicken egg can be a real
issue. Like how do you install the archiver
without first using the archiver to unarchive
the archive needed for the archive...
and round and round.

The solution for me was to work from the
Amiga to the PC and not the other way around.
So use the Amiga as a computer and learn it's
functions and enjoy the platform for what it
is and not simply as an extension of the PC.
After all the PC is inferior to the Amiga.

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Last updated 23rd March 2020

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