For Xerox Internal Use Only -- September 7, 1976

For PARC Alto Users September 7, 1976 1

1. PARC Information

1.1. Getting Started

New Alto disks are stored in a cabinet in the Maxc room. Please record
the serial number of any new disk that you take on the log which is
attached to the front to the cabinet..

The BASIC ALTO DISK is in a rack near the Alto in the Maxc room.
Procedures for copying the Basic Alto Disk to your new disk are
described in section 6 of the Operating System Manual and in the
CopyDisk document.

1.2. Alto Directories

The <ALTODOCS> directory contains documentation for the subsystems and
subroutine packages.

The <ALTO> directory contains current versions of all the Alto
programs. Programs are normally kept in executable form; thus the
CopyDisk program appears as <ALTO>CopyDisk.Run. In addition to the
executable file, some programs also have a symbol file on <ALTO>. The
symbol file name has the extension .Syms. This file is useful to the
author when something goes wrong with a subsystem, but it is not
normally needed by users. Subsystems which need more than one file,
either because they have overlays or because they need data files,
should have the individual files stored, together with a command file
which may be run to retrieve each file via FTP. The command file
should have the extension .CM. Definition files have the extension .D.
These files are useful only to programmers.

Subroutine packages are kept on <ALTO> with an extension of .BR.

The <ALTOSOURCE> directory contains the source files for the subsystems
and subroutine packages. It also contains the PUB files for the
documentation which is on <ALTODOCS>.

1.3. Alto Software Releases

The maintainer of a subsystem or subroutine package handles a new or
revised release in the following manner:

A. Copy a dump file with a name of the form subsystemname.DM and the
following contents to <ALTOSOURCE>:

1) The source files from which the subsystem may be created.

2) The command files which are needed to create the subsystem
from the enclosed source. The following are the usual

a) A command file containing statements to compile the
enclosed source. Compiler messages should be written to a
file. For example:

For Xerox Internal Use Only -- September 7, 1976

For PARC Alto Users September 7, 1976 2

The filename should be in the format, COMPILEsubsysname.CM.

b) A command file containing statements to load the files
which were produced in step a. For example:


The filename should be in the format, LOADsubsysname.CM.

If the subsystem is small, the two command files may
be combined into one. The name should be in the
format, CREATEsubsysname.CM. The following example
will create the package for subsystem, FOO.



c) A command file containing statements save all relevant
files in subsysname.DM, e.g. the file DUMPFOO.CM would


B. When you have a change to make to documentation, or wish to
introduce new documentation into the system, the following three steps
are required:

1. Retrieve the relevant .PUB file from <ALTOSOURCE>. The file
name is in the format, sys.PUB, where ’sys’ is the name of the
subsystem or subroutine package. If you are creating brand new
documentation, see the file <ALTOSOURCE>ALTODOCTEMPLATE.PUB for an

2. Edit the pub file. Pass it to PUB-- a .TTY version of the
documentation will be produced.

3. When you are finished, copy the pub file back to <ALTOSOURCE>,
and copy the .TTY version to <ALTODOCS>.

Please be sure to copy the pub files from <ALTOSOURCE> afresh each time
you edit them, because they may have been edited to produce expurgated
versions (for distribution outside PARC), to produce indexes, remedy
formatting problems, etc.

Please try to avoid needless references to PARC or Maxc facilities.
For example, it is frowned upon to mention the <ALTO> directory as a
place to find something. That is assumed for PARC users. Similarly,
avoid needless references to GEARS or EARS.

C. Copy files needed for the new release to <ALTO>. After updating
files on <ALTO>, you should run the MAXC command file
<ALTO>ALTOMAINT.CMD to delete excess verisons and update
<ALTOSOURCE>MAXLOG, the file used by the UPDATE procedure. For

For Xerox Internal Use Only -- September 7, 1976

For PARC Alto Users September 7, 1976 3


D. Send a message to Alto users describing the changes which will be
effective with this release. The list of Alto users is on the file,
<SECRETARY>ALTOUSERS.MSG. The subject of the message should be the
name of the subsystem or subroutine package. Try to keep the message

Passwords: The password to all Alto-related directories on MAXC is
ISFWGI. Software maintainers are cautioned to alter only files for
which they will take responsibility. Feel free to archive old
versions, but please leave the current version of all files.

1.4. Alto Documentation

Formal documentation is provided in two forms: a "perusal" form, which
can be conveniently typed at a TI or VTS terminal on Maxc or perused
with Bravo on an Alto, and a "notebook" form, which can only be printed
on ears, and may have fancy illustrations or fonts in it. Informal
"message" documentation can be extracted from the <ALTO>MESSAGE.TXT

A. The "perusal" documentation is always stored on <ALTODOCS> under a
file name like sys.TTY, where "sys" is the name of the subystem or
package you are interested in. For example, the documentation for a
subroutine package, FOO, would be found on <ALTODOCS>FOO.TTY. There is
one exception to this rule: for very simple subsystems (e.g., DUMP and
LOAD), the documentation is in <ALTODOCS>SMALLSUBSYSTEMS.TTY.

B. The "notebook" documentation is packaged in larger packages to
reduce storage overhead and to provide more manageable sets of
documentation for printing. Currently, the following files on
<ALTODOCS> may be copied to lpt: for notebook-style documentation:

NPALTO.EARS. "The Non-Programmer’s Guide to the Alto."

GYPSY.EARS. Currently, these subsystems have their own
separate ears documentation.

OS.EARS. Operating System manual.

BCPL.EARS. A new, revised BCPL manual.

SUBSYSTEMS.EARS. Documentation for most Alto subsystems (except
those listed below). These are arranged alphabetically,
with headings to indicate which system is being described.
A directory at the front of the file contains documentation
about very simple subsystems. The last section of this
manual contains special information relating to Altos at
PARC--where to find the software, how to maintain it, etc.

PACKAGES.EARS. This contains documentation for the software
packages available for the Alto.

ALTOHARDWARE.EARS. This is the "hardware" manual for the Alto.
The Trident disk interface is described in TRIDENT.EARS.

These files are formatted, and should therefore be printed with
For Xerox Internal Use Only -- September 7, 1976

For PARC Alto Users September 7, 1976 4

@COPY FOO.x LPT: [confirm] (’x’ is either TTY or EARS)

To print all the short documents on EARS, you can just say


The "notebook" documentation for all the subsystems and subroutine
packages may be obtained by:



C. The file <ALTO>MESSAGE.TXT contains all of the information which has
been sent to Alto users with SNDMSG. Information about recent changes
to a specific subsystem may be selected by using the ’subject string’
option of the MSG subsystem. For example, you may type


Or you can read the entire file by saying


to READMAIL. Every six months this file will be purged and its old
contents left on the next version of OLDMESSAGE.TXT.

1.5. Obscure <ALTO> facilities

In addition to the subsystems, packages, and definition files, the
following occasionally needed (somewhat obscure) files may be found on
the <ALTO> directory:

ALTOMAINT.CMD: a maxc command file to be run each time anything
new is copied onto the <ALTO> directory.

FORM.DM: a dump file containing standard forms in BRAVO format.

NEWDISK.CM: a command file for creating a minimal system on a new
disk. (See the Newdisk procedure, documented in the Alto
Subsystems manual.)

NPDISK.CM: the Non-Programmer’s supplement to NEWDISK.CM.

PDISK.CM: the Programmer’s supplement to NEWDISK.CM.

STATUS.LOG: a file identifying the author, type, and distribution
status of all Alto software.

1.6. Miscellaneous

The Operating System was designed by Butler Lampson and initially
implemented by Gene McDaniel. It is currently being maintained and
extended by Butler Lampson and Bob Sproull.