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%% Usenet Review:  AmiCDROM v1.4                        By Dylan McNamee %%
%%                                             (dylan@cs.washington.edu) %%
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PRODUCT NAME

        AmiCDROM version 1.4


BRIEF DESCRIPTION

        This is the first freely distributable CD-ROM filesystem for the
Amiga.  It supports the ISO-9660 standard, the Rockridge extensions, and
Macintosh HFS.  It includes source in C.  It works.

        The program is available on the Aminet ftp sites in the file
/pub/aminet/disk/cdrom/AmiCDROM-1.4.lha.


AUTHOR/COMPANY INFORMATION

        Name:           Frank Munkert
        Address:        Zum Froschbruecklein 5
                        90411 Nuernberg
                        Germany

        E-mail:         ln_fmu@pki-nbg.philips.de


LIST PRICE

        Free.


SPECIAL HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS

        HARDWARE

                Any Amiga with a SCSI host adapter supporting "SCSI Direct."
                A SCSI CD-ROM drive.

        SOFTWARE

                Apparently works with AmigaDOS versions 1.3 through 2.1.
                (I tested it only on version 2.1.)


COPY PROTECTION

        None.


MACHINE USED FOR TESTING

        Amiga 2500/30
        Commodore 2091 SCSI controller
        Apple CD300 CD-ROM drive (see a previous comp.sys.amiga.reviews
                review of this excellent drive)
        Kickstart 2.04, Workbench 2.1

INSTALLATION

        For AmigaDOS versions previous to 2.1, installation consists of
slightly modifying a supplied Mountlist template, adding it to your
DEVS:Mountlist file, and then copying the cdrom-handler file to your L:
directory.

        For DOS version 2.1 and above, installation consists of dragging the
"CD0" icon into the DEVS:DosDrivers drawer, changing the icon's "info" to
specify your CD-ROM's unit number, and copying cdrom-handler to L:.  It would
be nice to have an Installer script, for newer Amiga users; but even as is,
installation is quite easy.


REVIEW

        Once installed, AmiCDROM makes a CD-ROM drive accessible by an
Amiga.  Operation is transparent and fast.  Once you mount the CD device
(e.g., "mount CD0:"), discs inserted into the CD-ROM drive show up on the
Amiga Workbench, accessible just like an ordinary read-only device.  It
works as advertised.  I was able to read the following discs with AmiCDROM:

        Aminet CD-ROM (from Walnut Creek CD-ROM)
        Kodak's PhotoCD sampler (came with Apple CD300)
        Lost Treasures of Infocom 2 CD-ROM
        Lemmings CDTV
        Hypermedia's Fish Collection
        Various Mac HFS CD-ROMS
        Various MS-DOS & Windows CD-ROMS (junk I had lying around)


DOCUMENTATION

        The archive comes with a "README" and a "doc" file.  The doc file is
slightly technical but very readable.  A simple AmigaGuide help file would
have been useful, but this is an excellent first effort.


LIKES AND DISLIKES

        I am amazed by this program.  It has always seemed strange that all
the CD-ROM filesystems for the Amiga were commercial, but the situation has
persisted for years, effectively adding $40 to $90 (US) to any CD-ROM
purchase.  This program eliminates that extra cost for most CD-ROM users.
Even more amazing is that it comes with source code, virtually ensuring a
continuing stream of improvements and support.

        Frank mentions in the documentation that Amiga protection bits are
currently not supported, but will be added in a future version.

        In addition, the program does not support discs with the following
features, simply because the author doesn't have access to discs with these
attributes:

        - Interleaved mode (ISO)
        - Multi-disk volumes (ISO)
        - Multi-volume disks (ISO)
        - Logical blocks other than 2048 bytes (ISO)
        - Deep directory relocation (Rock Ridge)


COMPARISON TO OTHER SIMILAR PRODUCTS

        The only other CD-ROM filesystem I have used is CDROM-FS, from
Canadian Prototype Replicas.  CDROM-FS supports one less filesystem (no HFS
support) and the same set of CD-ROM drives.  It has a bug which caused me to
try AmiCDROM in the first place -- using "lha" to extract large archives
directly from CD-ROM always hangs my Amiga.  I haven't reported this bug to
CPR, because I haven't been able to contact them.  (I wrote a letter over a
year ago, trying to get an updated version of the software, and never
received a reply.  My current version of CDROM-FS was updated by my dealer,
after much hassle.)

        Aside from CPR's CDROM-FS bug, the products are quite similar,
except for the following cosmetic differences:

        o       CDROM-FS displays non-Amiga discs on Workbench with a fancy
                icon.  AmiCDROM displays them with a generic disk icon.

        o       CDROM-FS comes with an Installer script and AmigaGuide
                documentation, and AmiCDROM does not.

        o       CDROM-FS comes with a program to control the playing of
                audio CD's.  This program is much like Jukebox (available on
                the Aminet ftp sites) which I have found to be an excellent
                substitute.  A bug in previous versions of AmiCDROM
                prevented audio CD programs from working, but it has been
                fixed.

        A previous version of AmiCDROM has been compared to other CD-ROM
filesystems, and was found to be slower, due to lack of caching.  The
current version has added caching, but I haven't heard of any more recent
benchmarks.


BUGS

        I found no bugs.  (One net reader reports some Enforcer hits,
but hasn't been able to attribute them to AmiCDROM for sure.)


VENDOR SUPPORT

        You get source code, and Frank's on the internet.  Support just
doesn't come better than that.  In the past couple months, AmiCDROM has had
three updates.


CONCLUSIONS

        I'm amazed by this program.  Out of nowhere, this program reduces
the cost of almost every Amiga CD-ROM drive by $40.  Frank should be thanked
and commended for his efforts (I guess that's what I'm doing here...).
Thanks Frank!

        I give it a hearty two thumbs up.  On a scale of 1 to 5 shiny discs,
I give AmiCDROM a solid 4.9.  If it came with an Installer script and an
AmigaGuide help file, this would raise my rating to 5.