Alternative Windows/DOS command interpreter

Once upon a time, the command-line was the Way of Power. In fact, it was the only way for many personal computer users before the advent of Microsoft Windows. Even then, in the days before Windows 95, it provided power users with the ability to control their systems better, carry out housekeeping and manage disk space and memory. The MS-DOS command interpreter COMMAND.COM provided only basic services to experienced and demanding users, and compared with the control that Unix users had, it was a mean and paltry solution.

Into the fray came alternative command interpreters, with more tools, and more power. 4DOS was one such command interpreter. Released by JP Software in 1989, 4DOS was designed to replace and enhance the Microsoft COMMAND.COM program. The beauty of 4DOS (and it's NT companion, 4NT) is that it contains not just enhanced versions of the standard commands, but additonal commands and facilities, many of which will be familiar to XNIX mavens. As with any alternative CLI you can use this instead of default, by using the COMSPEC command in CONFIG.SYS.

Tab completion, command-line history and editing, and command aliases are a component part of the system, along with an enhanced range of environment variables, access to operating system and hardware information, local environment variables and batch file commands.

It has command-line ftp and sendmail commands, and the file management tools (copy, move, ren etc.) are internet-friendly, in that they can manipulate in ftp and http protocols. The scripting language is so rich that advanced users can write quite complex utilities.

A list of internal commands is shown below:


?           ACTIVATE    ALIAS       ASSOC       ATTRIB      BEEP
BREAK       CALL        CANCEL      CASE        CD          CDD
CHCP        CHDIR       CLS         COLOR       COPY        DATE
DEFAULT     DEL         DELAY       DESCRIBE    DETACH      DIR
DIRHISTORY  DIRS        DO          DRAWBOX     DRAWHLINE   DRAWVLINE
ECHO        ECHOERR     ECHOS       ECHOSERR    ENDLOCAL    ENDSWITCH
ERASE       ESET        EXCEPT      EXIT        FFIND       FOR
FREE        FTYPE       GLOBAL      GOSUB       GOTO        HELP
HISTORY     IF          IFF         IFTP        INKEY       INPUT
KEYBD       KEYS        KEYSTACK    LIST        LOADBTM     LOG
MD          MEMORY      MKDIR       MOVE        MSGBOX      ON
OPTION      PATH        PAUSE       PLAYAVI     PLAYSOUND   POPD
PRINT       PROMPT      PUSHD       QUERYBOX    QUIT        RD
REBOOT      REM         REN         RENAME      RETURN      RMDIR
SCREEN      SCRPUT      SELECT      SENDMAIL    SET         SETDOS
SETLOCAL    SHIFT       SHORTCUT    SHRALIAS    START       SWITCH
TASKEND     TASKLIST    TEE         TEXT        TIME        TIMER
TITLE       TOUCH       TREE        TRUENAME    TYPE        UNALIAS
UNSET       VER         VERIFY      VOL         VSCRPUT     WHICH
WINDOW      Y

Enhanced exit codes provide fine control over batch files, and the command language is powerful enough to create applets which can be compiled using a special software tool. Complete access to internal variables and built-in functions, as well as graphics, keystroke and mouse button capture, and string input add a great deal of control to the mix.

For anyone serious about the DOS command line, this piece of shareware is definitely worth a look. More information is available at http://www.jpsoft.com, and there is a newsgroup at comp.os.msdos.4dos.

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