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|Here is a small
number of .ADF files which, as far as I know, are
otherwise unavailable on the Web
If you want to make use of these files, but you dont know what to do exactly, read below, or check Peter Wendts page on the subject.
What is an ADF file?
Some older Personal Computers (mostly IBMs) make use of the so-called Micro-channel Architecture (MCA). This consists of an intelligent bus which, among other things, has the ability to query which cards are installed on the system (some kind of plug and play, if you like it).
If you install a new card on such machines, after restarting a Wrong Configuration Error will be detected, and you will be asked to insert the Reference Disk, a bootable disk coming with the machine and containing a configuration utility. After checking the newly installed card, the Set Configuration utility will ask you for the Option Disk for it. As every MCA system has its own Reference Disk, similarly, every MCA card should have its Option Disk (at least, you can be sure that it once had it), supplied by the card manufacturer.
The option disk consists of a number of files containing configuration information for the card. There will be at least one important file, called @xxxx.ADF (where xxxx indicate the adapters ID - see below). Such ADF file contains a lot of information about the card, its name, the resources it requires and the selectable options. Usually, it is a plain ASCII text file, and thus it can be viewed and edited with any text editor.
The problem is that if you don't have the ADF for an MCA card you wish to install, you will not be able to make use of it, as there is no other way to let the configuration utility know which settings and resources the card requires.
Eventually, you will have to remove the card and reconfigure the system without it, or you will get continuos annoying configuration errors every time you restart the machine.
As a matter of fact, an MCA adapter without its configuration files (that is, its Option Disk) is practically unusable.
Also note that while some cards only need their ADF file, some other cards need a somewhat modified setup software, or some special diagnostic files for proper function.
The Adapter card ID
This card ID is a 4-bytes number which can be read by the MCA-bus from the card. As a general rule, the card ID is unique for every particular card (not for every single card here I mean one ID for every model), and it is used by the configuration utility which we mentioned before to identify the card and to look for its configuration files. These four bytes, if converted into the hexadecimal system (i.e. the numerical system making use of the ciphers from 0 to 9 and from A to F, that is 16 ciphers instead of the usual 10), will give some number ranging between 0000 to FFFF (that is 65.536 in the decimal system). This hexadecimal number also appears on the initialization files for the given card. For instance, the IBM Display Adapter 8514/A card has the ID EF7F, and its ADF file is named @EF7F.ADF. Besides the ADF file, this card also requires an Init file which is called CEF7F.ADF.
These four hex digits can be used identify the various MCA-cards (pay attention, however, that in a few cases some newer cards were given the same ID as some totally different cards which were made a few years before, and this might cause some trouble).
Option Disks for many MCA adapters are unavailable nowadays. If you miss the option disk for a card you wish to install, you may proceed as follows:
Please note that these steps in some cases will not be adequate. You will not be able to configure certain cards (planars or processor upgrades especially) if you dont have the entire option disk at your disposal.
Also note that you cant copy the files to the option disk under Windows 95/98/Me/NT/2000. You need to work under OS/2 or MS-DOS (and I mean pure MS-DOS, not a Windows DOS-Prompt!). If you want to use your reference disks or option disks under Windows, you should make sure that the disks are write-protected or they will not work again. Windows writes some extra information on the disks (creation and access date of each file) which is not compatible with the ADF-system. Therefore, if you want to copy some files to your option disks, or to modify these files, you must do it after having restarted the machine in pure DOS-mode (click on the "Start" button, select "End", and then select "Start MS-DOS", or, after switching the machine on, press [F8] when 'Starting Windows 95...' appears on the screen). In sum, PC-DOS, DR-DOS and MS-DOS, up to version 7 (that is, Windows 9x in pure DOS mode) are OK, Windows and DOS-Prompts under Windows (including full-screen DOS Windows!) will make your reference and option disks unuseful.
Installing the card and waiting for the configuration utility to ask you for the option disk is a bad habit. The files will not be copied to the reference disk (even worst, sometimes not all required files are loaded). Similarly, copying the ADF files directly to the reference disk, might also not work.
For a proper installation of an MCA card you should first start the machine with the Reference Disk, select "Copy an option disk" and have the program copy the files from the option disk to the reference disk. Then, of course after switching the machine off, you can install the adapter. When you power the machine back on a configuration error will be displayed. You will need to restart again with the reference diskette, and the you should either run the "Automatic Configuration" or select the Set Configuration utility to complete the installation.
|This file is provided "as is" with no warranties of any kind as to the correctness of these procedures. The author shall have no liability with respect to the infringement of copyrights, trade secrets or any patents by this file or any part thereof. In no event will the author be liable for any lost revenue or profits or other special, indirect and consequential damages. Any trademarks not specifically mentioned are owned by their respective companies.
This page was first published
on the web on Jan. 31, 2001