How to make PCtoAmiga work reliably with WinXP? (by Greg)
I am using PCtoAmiga via the parallel ports to move data, it's a bit slow but speed didn't bother me, reliability is what I wanted, that way I could leave it moving files overnight. Win 95/98 are fine, but XP is a pain for this, but I have a total fix detailed here.
I have done a lot of lengthy messing around to finally get this working reliably with XP and are happy to document it here, especially if it saves anyone else doing loads of leg work. I can confirm that it now works seamlessly, reliably and accurately.
First up, it WILL work with WinXP (contrary to popular belief), admittedly XP causes problems because it puts a software layer between the port and DOS to kind of 'protect' them, and that has to be broken through. Software hacks like GiveIO and UserPort (search Google) can open the ports but it really isn't necessary to go to that much trouble for PCtoAmiga to work, after installation on both machines just do the following:
On the PC side use ONLY the executable called PCtoAmiga.exe, don't use any other of the other myriad of options installed.
Double click it once and it will through up an empty DOS window and won't work, but don't worry, simply double click it again to run the executable a second time, this time it WILL work and show some dialogue to confirm. Then you can close the first window (end task) and leave the second window active (or minimised if you prefer)
Over to the Amiga now, run the appropriate program there (MountPC4KS3 for Kickstart 3 users, MountPC4KS2 for Kickstart 2 users), after a few seconds an icon will appear on the Amiga Workbench called PCDISK, double clicking this will reveal all the drives in the PC ready for you to access and shove files to and from.
Now although you have a connection, it is still not perfect, because on the Amiga side it will occasionally throw up a dialogue box saying something about can't move data for too long time (?), and it will have a Retry icon to click, clicking the re-try icon will re-establish the connection and no data will be lost, but this is hardly ideal, because you have to be there to click it every few minutes! And I personally wanted to leave it moving files reliably whilst I busied myself with other things. But never fear, this is fixable too! Read on.
After installation on the Amiga, go to Workbench:Storage/DOSDrivers/ and in there will be a icon simply called 'PC' (you'll need 'Show all' active on the window), right click it and open it with a text editor (like EditPad in WB3.5), scroll down until you see the text 'Surfaces = 10' and change this number to 2. Now scroll further down until the end where you should see text 'HighCyl = 20' change this number to '1'. Now save the file overwriting the original. You have now altered the timeout and mount functions, don't worry too much about the technicalities, it'll work.
Now you will find that PCtoAmiga will no longer throw up error boxes or Retry requesters, it will just keep on moving the data without complaint! For hours at a time! Cool! We're getting there, but there's more (sorry).
As it stands at the moment it will work, but it won't recognise long file names which both Amiga and XP are capable of, this is because PCtoAmiga doesn't recognise how XP's DOS handles it, coz it's different to 95/98, so all files will resort to the irritating 8.3 format (8 character name plus 3 character extension after the dot), but this is also fixable! Read on…..
To fix this, you need to dig into XP on the PC, but don't worry, if you follow the guide it should be quite safe:
Go into My Computer and get into 'Windows' (ignoring all the "No! You mustn't!" nags) and find the config.sys file, it'll be here:
Now open the CONFIG.NT file with a suitable text editor and add the following line right at the end of all the text (use cut n' paste if you prefer):
And save the file, overwriting the original
Nearly there, not quite finished yet. Now click the Windows 'Start' button and select 'Run' and type in cmd.exe in the requester, this will throw up a DOS box with a cursor prompt.
At the cursor prompt write the following (use cut n' paste if you prefer):
setver.exe PC2AMIGA.EXE 7.10 [Return]
Once it's done it's stuff, close the requester.
* Now re-boot both machines to make all the changes effective *
Run the 'PC2Amiga' executable on the PC twice as explained above, close the first empty DOS window, leave the second one active (you'll see two lines of text in it, one confirming the PC ↔ Amiga link and the other confirming the use of long file names), Now turn to the Amiga and run MountPC4KS3 (or 2) and an icon will appear on Workbench as before showing all the PC drives.
Now you can move files as much as you like using Opus or whatever, it should be totally reliable and all long file names will be supported seamlessly.
I have personally tested all these changes on my own machines and assuming you carry out EVERY change I have explained above then I can confirm it's total reliability, it has just finished moving over 80Mb of data for me whilst I slept!
I really hope this post saves anyone else having problems, and speeds up the set-up of PCtoAmiga using XP for anyone reading.
Incidentally, the software and the appropriate specially wired parallel cable are available together from where I got mine, at: http://www.butterfly-media.co.uk
Cheers for reading,
Greg (A total Amiga obsessive!)