CopyDisk is a program for copying entire disk packs. It will copy from
one drive to another on the same machine, or between drives on separate
machines via a network.
The first Alto CopyDisk was called Quick and was written by Gene
McDaniel in 1973. During the summer of 1975 Graeme Williams wrote a
new CopyDisk adding the ability to copy disks over the network. During
the summer of 1976 David Boggs redesigned the network protocol and
added the ability to copy Trident disks. In the spring of 1980 the
network protocol was extended to speak to CopyDisk servers in Interim
File Systems (and eventually Tape servers). The CopyDisk network
protocol is specified in
2. Concepts and Terminology
In a disk copy operation, the information on a 'Source' disk is copied
to a 'Destination' disk, destroying any previous information on the
destination. A copy operation usually consists of two steps:
[Copy] Step one copies bit-for-bit the information from the
source disk to the destination disk.
[Check] Step two reads the destination disk and checks that
it is indentical with the source disk. This step can be
omitted at the user's peril.
Copying a disk from one machine (or 'host') to another over a network
requires the active cooperation of programs on both machines. In a
typical scenario, a human user invokes a program called a 'CopyDisk
User' and directs it to establish contact with a 'CopyDisk Server' on
another machine. Once contact has been established, the CopyDisk User
initiates requests and supplies parameters for the actual copy
operation which the User and Server carry out together. The User and
Server roles differ in that the CopyDisk User interacts with a human
user (usually through some keyboard interpreter) and takes the
initiative in User/Server interactions, whereas the CopyDisk Server
plays a comparatively passive role. The question of which machine is
the CopyDisk User and which is the CopyDisk Server is independent of
the direction in which data moves.
The Alto CopyDisk subsystem contains both a CopyDisk User and a
CopyDisk Server, running as independent processes. Therefore to copy a
disk from one machine to another you should start up the CopyDisk
Copyright Xerox Corporation 1980
CopyDisk November 12, 1980 2
subsystem on both machines and then type commands to one of them, which
becomes the CopyDisk User. Subsequent operations are controlled
entirely from the User end, with no human intervention required at the
Server machine. This arrangement is similar to the way the Alto FTP
subsystem works, and different from the way the older CopyDisk worked.
3. Calling CopyDisk
CopyDisk can be run in two modes: interactive mode in which commands
come from the keyboard, and non-interactive mode in which commands come
from the command line (Com.cm). The general form of the command line
to invoke CopyDisk looks like:
CopyDisk [ [/ ] [from] [to] ]
The square brackets denote portions of the command line that are
optional and may be omitted. If you just type "CopyDisk" the program
goes into interactive mode, otherwise the remainder of the command line
must be a complete description of the desired operation.
3.1. Option Switches
Each option switch has a default value which is used if the switch is
not explicitly set. To set a switch to 'false' proceed it with a
'minus' sign (thus CopyDisk/-C means 'no checking'). To set a switch
to 'true' just mention the switch.
Switch Default Function
/4 false [Model44] tells CopyDisk to copy an entire Diablo
model 44, without asking for confirmation.
/C true [Check] tells CopyDisk whether to check the copy
operation. CopyDisk/-C, which omits the check step,
is faster but more risky.
/W true [WriteProtect] prevents the CopyDisk network Server
from writing on a local disk. So unless you say
CopyDisk/W or issue the WRITEPROTECT command,
someone can make a copy of your disk over the
network, but no one can (maliciously or
accidentally) overwrite it.
/R true [Ram] tells CopyDisk to attempt to load the ram with
some microcode which speeds things up considerably.
CopyDisk will still work, though more slowly if it
can't load the ram.
/D false [Debug] enables extra printout that should be
interesting only to CopyDisk maintainers.
/A false [AllocatorDebug] enables extra consistancy checks in
the free storage allocator.
CopyDisk November 12, 1980 3
3.2. Source and Destination Syntax
The general form of a source or destination disk name is:
for example "[Boggs]DP0". Ordinarily 'host name' can be a string,
e.g., "Boggs". Most Altos have names which are registered in Name
Lookup Servers. So long as a name lookup server is available, CopyDisk
is able to obtain the information necessary to translate a host name to
an inter-network address (which is what the underlying network
mechanism uses). You may omit the host name for disks attached to the
If the host name of the Server machine is not known, you may specify an
inter-network address in its place. The general form of an inter-
network address is:
where each of the three fields is an octal number. The
number designates the network to which the Server host is connected
(which may be different from the one to which the User host is
connected); this (along with the "#" that follows it) may be omitted if
the Server and User are known to be connected to the same network. The
number designates the Server host's address on . The
number designates the actual Server process on that host;
ordinarily it should be omitted, since the default is the regular
CopyDisk server socket. Hence to specify a CopyDisk server running in
Alto host number 241 on the directly connected network, you should say
"241#" (the trailing "#" is required).
The 'disk-name' is interpreted by the CopyDisk program on the host
where the disk is. This program knows how to copy two types of disks,
which should be referred to by the following names:
DPn Diablo disk unit 'n'. Most Altos have one
Diablo disk called 'DP0'.
TPn Trident disk unit 'n'. The unit number must be
in the range 0-7.
In addition, you may tell CopyDisk to copy an entire Alto file system
by referring to it by the name 'BFS', (for Basic File System, which is
the name of the software package that implements it). If you use this
name rather than 'DP0' or whatever, you won't have to answer questions
such as whether the disk is a model 31 or a model 44. Best of all,
CopyDisk can detect that its a double-disk file system, and it will
copy both disks automatically.
When you are copying through the network to another random Alto (as
opposed to say, an IFS or a Tape server), you are presumably talking to
another instance of this program, so you use the above syntax when
referring to its disks.
When you are copying to an IFS, which keeps disk images in files, the
disk-name is an IFS file name, and must conform to IFS's conventions.
If you copy a double disk filesystem referring to it as 'BFS', then
CopyDisk will create one file containing both disk images.
CopyDisk November 12, 1980 4
Fine point for Dorado and D0 users: 'DP0' and 'DP1' refer to units 0
and 1 in the current partition. 'DP10' and 'DP11' refer to units 0 and
1 in partition 1 regardless of the current default partition; and
similarly for 'DP20' and 'DP21'. 'BFS' and 'BFS0' refer to the Alto
filesystem in the current partition; 'BFS1' to the filesystem in
partition 1, etc.
4. The CopyDisk display
CopyDisk displays a title line about one inch from the top of the
screen, and below that the main display window, which consumes about
half of the screen. The main window is shared by the User and Server
processes, only one of which is active at any time. The process which
currently owns the window identifies itself at the right side of the
title line. The title also shows the release date of the program and
the Alto's name. When a copy operation is in progress, the current
disk address is displayed in the area above the title line.
When CopyDisk is started, the User is listening for commands from the
keyboard and the Server is listening for connections from the network.
If you start typing commands, the User takes over control of the main
window ('User' appears near the right end of the title line), and your
commands and their responses are displayed there. The Server refuses
network connections while the User is active. If another CopyDisk
program connects to the Server, the Server takes over control of the
main window ('Server' appears near the right end of the title line),
and the Server logs its activity there. The User ignores type-in
(flashing the screen if any keys are typed) while the Server is active.
5. Keyboard Command Syntax
CopyDisk's interactive command interpreter presents a user interface
very similar to that of the Alto FTP subsystem. The standard editing
characters, command recognition features, and help facility (via "?")
5.1. Keyboard Commands
Starts a dialog to gather the information for copying a disk.
CopyDisk first asks for the name of the source disk by displaying
"Copy from". If the disk is local, it makes sure it is ready; if
the disk is on another machine, it opens a connection and asks the
remote machine if the disk is ready. If you want to abort the
connection attempt, hit the middle unmarked ('Chat') key. If the
source disk is ready, CopyDisk prompts you for the destination
disk by displaying "Copy to", and then checks that that disk is
ready also. Next, it verifies that the disks are compatible, and
depending on the disk type, may ask some questions about things
peculiar to that disk (such as "Do all of the model 44?"). Then
CopyDisk asks you to confirm your intention to overwrite the
destination disk. If you change your mind, type 'N' or .
CopyDisk November 12, 1980 5
If you respond yes, CopyDisk will pause for a few seconds,
ignoring the keyboard, and then ask you to confirm once again.
Type-ahead does not work for this second confirmation. This is
your last chance to look at the disks and make sure that you are
not overwriting the wrong one. It happens! This feature was in
the original CopyDisk, was left out of the second version, and is
back in this third version by popular demand from the many people
who made that fatal mistake.
Terminates CopyDisk. One of three things happens:
The Alto Exec is restarted if DP0 is ready, and has not
been written on, and if CopyDisk was not booted from the
DP0 is booted if it is ready but has been written on or
if CopyDisk was booted from the net.
NetExec is booted from the net if DP0 is not ready.
All of this is attempting to leave the Alto running something
useful. If the disk in DP0 does not have an operating system on
it when CopyDisk quits, the disk boot (option 2, above) will fail.
This will not hurt the disk, but you will have to boot manually.
Displays a rather terse summary of how to use the program.
Supplies any login parameters required by the remote server before
it will permit copy operations. CopyDisk will use the user name
and password in the Operating System if they are there (they won't
be if CopyDisk is booted from the net). Logging into CopyDisk
will set the user name and password in the OS (in the same manner
as the Alto Executive's "Login" command. This command is only
meaningful when copying to or from an IFS; the Alto CopyDisk
server ignores login parameters.
When you issue the LOGIN command, CopyDisk will first display the
existing user name known to the OS. If you now type a space,
CopyDisk will prompt you for a password, whereas if you want to
provide a different user name, you should first type that name
(which will replace the previous one) followed by a space. The
command may be terminated by a carriage return after entering the
user name to omit entering a password.
Ther parameters are not immediately checked for legality, but
rather are sent to the server for checking when the next copy
command is issued. If a command is refused by the server because
the name or password is incorrect, CopyDisk will prompt you as if
you had issued the LOGIN command and then retry the command.
Requests the remote CopyDisk server to 'connect' you to the
specified directory on the remote system, i.e., to give you owner-
like access to it. The password may be omitted by typing carriage
return after the directory name. As with LOGIN, these parameters
are not verified until the next transfer command is issued. This
CopyDisk November 12, 1980 6
command is only meaningful when copying to or from an IFS; the
Alto CopyDisk server ignores connect requests.
This command is only available on D0s and Dorados. It prompts you
for a partition number (for D0s in the range 1-2 for Dorados in
the range 1-5), and sets the default partition. It supplies as a
default the current partition number, so you can find out where
you are by saying 'Partition' and then typing carriage return.
Toggles the switch which controls whether a disk is checked after
copying. CopyDisk displays "on" if checking is now enabled, and
"off" if it is now disabled.
Toggles the switch which controls the display of debugging
information. The performance data presented at the end of this
document is part of the debugging information; the network
protocol interactions are displayed when this switch is set also.
Toggles the switch which allows the network Server to write on
local disks. The default is that people can't overwrite your
Toggles the switch which suppresses the transmission and checking
of the data records of free pages. This can significantly speed
up network copies and reduce the size of disk images stored on
IFSs. The default is to compress.
Compares two disks. The dialog is very similar to the COPY
command. Neither disk is ever written. This is useful to verify
the health of your disk drive (but remember that it does not check
the write logic).
6. Command Line Syntax
CopyDisk can also be controlled from the command line. If there is
anything in the command line except "CopyDisk" and global switches, the
command line interpreter is started instead of the interactive keyboard
interpreter. Its operation is most easily explained by examples:
6.1. Command line examples
To copy DP0 to DP1:
CopyDisk from DP0 to DP1
Note that 'from' and 'to' are optional (though stongly recommended for
clarity), and one or both may be omitted or abbreviated:
CopyDisk DP0 t DP1
CopyDisk November 12, 1980 7
is equivalent, though less obvious.
To copy the Basic non-programmer's disk from host 'Boggs' (which is
running CopyDisk) onto a disk in your own machine:
CopyDisk from [Boggs]DP0 to DP0
CopyDisk from [3'#241'#]DP0 to DP0
The single quotes are necessary to keep the #s out of the clutches of
the Alto Exec. The quotes are not needed when typing to the keyboard
interpreter. Note that no spaces are allowed between the host name and
the device name.
If the command line interpreter runs into trouble, it displays an error
message and then starts the interactive interpreter.
7. Disk Errors
Disk errors are termed 'soft' or 'hard' depending on whether retrying
the operation corrects the difficulty. If CopyDisk is still having
trouble after many retries, it displays a message of the form "Hard
error at DPn: cyl xxx hd y sec zz" in the main window and moves on.
Soft errors are not reported unless the debug switch is true, so as not
to alarm users. Their frequency depends on several factors. Copying
over the network will cause more soft errors then copying between two
disks on the same machine. Alto IIs get many more errors then Alto Is.
During the Check pass, in addition to soft and hard errors, 'data
compare' errors are also possible. A data compare error means that the
corresponding sections of the source and destination disks are not
identical. If any hard errors have been reported, then data compare
errors are likely, otherwise getting data compare errors means that
something is very wrong. You should suspect the Alto.
Hard errors and data compare errors are serious, and you should not
trust the copied pack if any are reported. If the errors are on the
source disk, try Scavenging it. Bear in mind that there is some
variance in alignment among disk drives, and that a pack which reads
fine on one drive may have trouble on another. Is the source disk in a
different drive than where it is normally used? Before allowing the
Scavenger to rewrite sectors, consider that the pack may be OK, but the
drive it is in may be out of alignment. In this case, allowing the
scavenger to rewrite the sectors is a bad idea. If the errors are on
the destination disk, try the copy again, and then suspect the pack or
the disk drive itself. If the destination pack was much colder than
the temperature inside the drive, sectors written early in the copy
pass may read incorrectly during the check pass. It's a good idea to
wait a few minutes for the pack to reach normal operating temperature
before using it.
CopyDisk November 12, 1980 8
8. Creating a new disk
Suppose you want to make a new disk by copying one of the 'Basic'
disks. There are three major ways to do this:
Put a blank disk in your Alto, and copy the basic disk from
an IFS. This is called the 'IFS copy' method.
Find an Alto with two disk drives and put a basic disk in one
drive and a blank disk in the other. This is called the
'double disk copy' method.
Find two Altos, each with one drive, that are connected by a
network and put a basic disk in one Alto and a blank disk in
the other. This is called the 'network copy' method.
Having decided on one of the above methods, you must now get CopyDisk
running on the Alto(s). There are two major ways to do this:
Start CopyDisk from a disk which has 'CopyDisk.run' on it.
Boot CopyDisk over the network from a 'Boot Server'.
8.1. Starting CopyDisk from another Disk
If you do not have access to a Boot Server, you must start CopyDisk
from a disk that has it on it. Put a disk with CopyDisk on it into the
Alto and type "CopyDisk ". Then switch disks. BE CAREFUL!!
People sometimes forget to switch disks at this point and accidentally
copy the wrong one. This is why CopyDisk asks you to confirm your
intentions so many times.
8.2. Booting Copydisk from the net
The best way to start CopyDisk is to boot it from the network. That
way you are more likely to get the latest version, and you avoid the
pitfall mentioned above. Of course, you must have network access to a
Boot Server. Most Gateways have Boot Servers. If this method doesn't
seem to work, you will have to fall back to starting CopyDisk from
Hold down the and
keys while pressing the boot button on
the Alto. You must continue to hold down
(but let go
of the boot button!) until a small square appears in the middle of the
screen. This can take up to 30 seconds, but usually happens in less
than 5 seconds. You are now taking to the NetExec (see the
documentation in the Subsystems manual if you are curious), and you
should type "CopyDisk
". The screen will go blank, the little
square will appear again (you don't have to hold down any keys this
time), and soon CopyDisk should appear on the screen.
8.3. The IFS Copy Method
Put a blank disk in DP0. Type "Copy ", and when it says "from"
type a name of the form: [IFS-name]File-name, where 'IFS-name' is the
CopyDisk November 12, 1980 9
name of your local IFS (such as 'Ivy', which is the name of my IFS),
and 'File-name' is the name of the file on which the basic disk is
kept. This may be installation-dependent; here at Parc the basic non-
programmers disk is called ' NonProg.disk', so to get a copy
of that disk I would type "[Ivy] NonProg.disk". When
CopyDisk says "Copy to" type "DP0 ". Then type each
time it asks for confirmation. Some numbers will appear in the top
center of the screen. When they disappear, CopyDisk is done. Type
"Quit ". It will boot the disk, and you should find yourself
talking to the Alto Exec.
8.4. The Double-Disk Copy Method
Put the basic disk in DP0 and put your disk in DP1. Type
"Copy ", and when it says "from" type DP0 . When it says
"Copy to", type "DP1 ". Then type each time it asks
for confirmation. Some numbers will appear in the top center of the
screen. When they disappear, CopyDisk is done. Type "Quit ".
Put the basic disk back where it belongs, and take your disk with you.
8.5. The Network Copy Method
It doesn't matter which Alto you type commands to. Assume that the
basic disk is in the Alto called "Tape-Controller", your disk is in the
Alto called "Myrddin" and you are going to type commands to Tape-
Controller. Type "Copy ", and when it says "from" type
"DP0 ". When it says "Copy to", type "[Myrddin]DP0 ".
Then type each time it asks for confirmation. Some numbers
will appear in the top center of the screen. When they disappear,
CopyDisk is done. Type "Quit ", and put the basic disk back in
the rack. Go to Myrddin and type "Quit ". It will boot the
disk, and you should find yourself talking to the Alto Exec.
This section calculates the times to copy disks under different
conditions. CopyDisk times its operations and displays the results if
the debug switch is set, so you can compare the numbers derived here
First, we calculate TSweep, the time to read or write a disk assuming
that we can consume or produce data faster than the disk. This best
possible case is the sum of two terms. The first term is the time
necessary to sweep an active read/write head over every sector on the
Rot * nCyl * nHds.
The second term is the time lost while seeking to the next cylinder.
We assume that these seeks take less than one rotation but that a whole
rotation is lost:
Rot * nCyl.
CopyDisk November 12, 1980 10
Combining, we get:
TSweep = Rot * nCyl * (nHds+1).
where: Rot is the rotation time of the disk in seconds
nCyl is the number of cylinders, and
nHds is the number of heads.
9.2. Disk-To-Disk Copy
By disk-to-disk copy we mean copying from one disk to another on the
same machine, using a single controller and not overlapping seeks. The
fastest way to do this is to read the entire source disk into memory,
switch to the destination disk, and then write it all. The switch from
the source to the destination disk, will lose on the average half a
revolution while waiting for the right sector on the new disk to come
under a head. Neglecting the switch time which is small compared to
the other two terms, the best possible disk-to-disk copy time is 2 *
With limited memory, the best we can do is fill all available memory
buffers reading the source disk, switch disks, write them onto the
destination disk, and then switch back to the source disk for another
load. In this case we can't ignore the switch time, which is the total
number of sectors on the disk divided by the number of sector buffers
times the rotation time of the disk:
Rot * (nCyl * nHds * nSec)/nBuf
where nSec is the number of sectors per track, and
nBuf is the number of memory buffers.
So the disk-to-disk copy time, TDDCopy, is:
TDDCopy = 2 * TSweep + Rot * (nCyl * nHds * nSec)/nBuf
9.3. Net Copy
By net copy we mean copying from a disk on one machine through a
network to a disk on another machine. In this case the disk
controllers can be going in parallel, and the factor of two in the
first term of TDDCopy vanishes. In additon, if the bandwidth of the
network connection is higher than the transfer rate of the disks so
that as soon as a sector is read from the disk it is sent out of the
machine, the memory limitation goes away and the second term of TDDCopy
The CopyDisk network protocol sends a small amount of information along
with each sector which must be factored into the calculation of the
bandwidth needed to run without memory limitation. Note that the
bandwidth we are concerned with here is that perceived by a client of
the network services: user data bits per second, not raw bits per
second through the network hardware.
If the network is slower than the disks, then the time to copy a disk
is the time required to transmit all of the bits on a disk plus the
protocol overhead bits:
TNetCopy = nCyl * nHds * nSec * (sB + sOv)/bwNet
CopyDisk November 12, 1980 11
where sB is the bits of disk information per sector,
sOv is the CopyDisk protocol overhead per sector, and
bwNet is the bandwidth of the network connection.
The bandwidth of the network connection is hard to state, and depends
on a number of factors. Here are a few:
Reduction of the emulator's instruction execution rate due to
interference from the disk and network hardware.
Reduction of the amount of the emulator cycles available to the
network and disk code due to mutual interference.
Reduction of the peak network bandwith due to interference from
other hosts on the network.
The minimum network bandwith required to copy a disk at full speed is:
MinBwNet = 16 * nCyl * nHds * nSec * (sB + sOv)/TSweep.
9.4. The Numbers for Altos
Here are the relevant numbers for the disks which this program can
Diablo-31 Diablo-44 Trident-80 Trident-300
Rot (ms) 40 25 16.66 16.66
nCyl 203 406 815 815
nHds 2 2 5 19
nSec 12 12 9 9
sB 266 266 1036 1036
sOv 2 2 2 2
nBuf 80 80 18 18
Here are the results of plugging the numbers into the equations, and
comparing them against actual measurements. The format is
predicted(measured). NA means not available.
Diablo-31 Diablo-44 Trident-80 Trident-300
TSweep 0:24 0:30 1:21 4:32
TDDCopy 0:51(0:51) 1:04(1:16) 3:18(3:31) 11:20(19:27)
TNetCopy (1:05) (2:16) (26:31) (NA)
bwNet (323 Kb/s) (308 Kb/s) (383 Kb/s) (NA)
MinBwNet 859 Kb/s 1.375 Mb/s 7.520 Mb/s 8.509 Mb/s
10. Revision History
August 7, 1977
CopyDisk November 12, 1980 12
August 28, 1977
Soft errors are only reported if the debug switch is set. Data compare
errors now display the offending disk address. VERIFY and WRITEPROTECT
commands added to keyboard command interpreter. Write protect global
October 16, 1977
More microcode to speed things up
October 27, 1977
December 18, 1977
Fixed a bug which prevented it from copying the second half of a two
disk file system. The network format for Diablo disks changed.
March 22, 1978
CopyDisk will now do the right thing for "[thisHost]device". The
default value of WRITEPROTECT is now TRUE.
October 27, 1978
Internal reorganization -- no external changes.
December 12, 1978
Fix bug in Copying T-300s.
September 10, 1979
Reload with current packages.
April 26, 1980
Network protocol extended to speak to IFSs. Much internal work, but
very little visible change. PARTITION and HELP commands added. VERIFY
command renamed COMPARE
November 12, 1980
BFS protocol extended to handle multiple disk file systems. Referring
to a file system as 'BFS' will cause both disks to be copied
automatically. CopyDisk now works on Shugarts emulating Tridents.