Dictionary of Terms

From MorphOS Library

Author: Dave Crawford

Dictionary of MorphOS Terminology

Directory: A form of a container object that organizes files and programs. This term is most often used when using the Shell.

Drawer: This is the "official" term used for directories concerning Ambient.

Folder: Directories are more often referred to as folders by most users. Due to this, Ambient has incorporated the images of folders in the place of drawer images in the most recent revisions. The terms directory, drawer, and folder can be used interchangeably.

ALIAS: This term refers to the CLI command, ALIAS, which is used to set up an alias command. For example the command ALIAS could be used to create an alias for the command delete called DEL; thus, the user would only have to use a three letter word to delete a file.

AppIcon: An AppIcon is an "Application Icon," which is often used for drag-and-drop procedures. An example of this is GoldED, which if text file is dropped on it's AppIcon will open the document in the GoldED editor.

Assign: An ASSIGN is similar to ALIAS, except that the command refers to logical drives. For example, the device name T: is commonly assigned to the directory name RAM:T. Some applications like to have a logical drive linked to their PATH.

Path: A PATH is a series of directories leading to a specified file or directory. Example: dh0:foo/bar

Close Gadget: The Close Gadget is usually found in the upper left hand side of a window, and it is used to close the window upon which it is attached.

Command History: The SHELL allows for the use of a history, or the function of recalling previously entered commands, through usage of the arrow keys.

Default Tool: From an icon's information window, a project or file will have a default tool. The default tool is the application that will be used to access the file.

Info: Info is in reference to the extension ".info" which is in effect the icon image data and location information for a given file. This is also used by many texts as a shorthand form of "Information Window."

Keymap: A file that determines the arrangement of characters on the keyboard and determines the meaning of each key. Different languages have different keymaps.

Library: An integrated set of functions and data that can be used by various programs. These can be found in SYS:Libs/

Monospaced Font: A font in which each character is allotted the same amount of space. This is also called a non-proportional font.

Parent: The window in which another window was created or opened. It can also refer to a directory containing the current directory. From the SHELL, a parent directory can be accessed by the slash key, "/".

IFF: IFF means Interchangeable File Format. This is a standardized format that can be used to store image, sound, and other types of data. It is most often thought of as pictures, but the format supports a wide variety of file information (sound, etc).

Partition: A partition is a section of a hard drive that is treated like a separate disc.

Ram Disk: A section of RAM (system memory) that has been set aside to function as if it were a physical drive. Note that any data stored in the Ram Disk will be lost upon a reboot.

Snapshot: A command, usually found in a menu, that stores the location of a window or the icons that it contains. This is not to be confused with a "screenshot," which is a process by which an image file is saved containing the graphical contents of a screen.

Stack: A special area of memory reserved by a given program for temporary storage.

Startup-Sequence: A shell script file that is used to help system setup, this file is executed upon boot.

User-Startup: Similar to the Startup-Sequence, the User-Startup is a script that executes commands upon booting of the MorphOS system.

SYS: The name assigned to the volume that MorphOS searches for system files and directories. Often 68k versions of libraries and other system files can be found here. Note that MorphOS specific PPC versions located in MOSSYS: will be used first.

MOSSYS: MorphOS looks in this assign for system files and directories.

Titlebar: The top portion of a screen that often displays the name of that screen.

Tooltype: Parameters that are used to control various options from an icon's Information window. Those parameters found in parentheses, "()" are disabled.

Wildcard: A wildcard is a symbol used in pattern matching. In the MorphOS shell, a question mark "?" is used to represent a single unknown character and the phrase "#?" is used to represent an unknown string of characters.

Workbench: Workbench was the name of the Commodore Amiga desktop. When installing classic software on MorphOS, items from the Workbench have been moved to Ambient.

Depth Gadget: A depth gadget, sometimes called the "back gadget," is used to send windows to the back or front of a screen, or to switch between screens.

MorphOS Components

As a very modular operating system, MorphOS consists of many components and technologies. A short list of their names with brief description will help understanding MorphOS and MorphOS talks.

Ambient - is the name of MorphOS desktop and file manager. Ambient screen is what user sees after MorphOS boots. The main purposes of Ambient are application launching and file management. It is done via Ambient listers (windows), icons, screenbar menu, panels (docks) and more.

Audio Hardware Interface (AHI) - is a component responsible for audio handling in MorphOS. It contains of soundcards drivers and master library providing consistent programming interface for applications. AHI is responsible for mixing audio coming from applications.

Command Line Interface (CLI) - a traditional, textual way of interaction with the computer. CLI is sometimes called "shell" by analogy to unix-like systems. Any number of CLI windows may be opened from Ambient. MorphOS provides over 100 CLI commands, which may be used interactively or in scripts. The system boot process is controlled with two CLI scripts named Startup-Sequence and User-Startup.

Intuition - is a part of MorphOS responslible for basic GUI elements like windows and gadgets. Intuition handles also user input (mouse, keyboard...) and system themes (skins).

Magic User Interface (MUI) - is a high-level, object oriented library used for building graphical interfaces. MUI provides broad set of classes implementing different types of gadgets (controls). It also provides complete application framework for event-driven programming. For user MUI gives almost total control over application look and behaviour.

Open Firmware - sometimes also referred as "OF". It serves the same role as BIOS in PC computers. Open Firmware initializes the hardware, then loads and boots operating system. Unlike PC BIOS, Open Firmware is controlled with textual commands entered by keyboard. On some systems the OF screen can be seen for some time after powering on the computer. In most cases boot process is automatic, but for example on Pegasos this automatic boot process may be stopped by pressing space while boot delay timer counts down. On Macs the OF prompt is shown if command, alt, o, and f keys are pressed simultaneously at boot. Then OF commands may be entered manually. OF scripts (like boot menus) are programmed in Forth language. Once OF loads and boots MorphOS kernel, it is no longer used for anything.

Quark - a microkernel running MorphOS. It has very basic functionality and it's only purpose is to run MorphOS as its one and only process. Quark handles some very low-level stuff like processor timers, exceptions and memory mapping unit (MMU).

Poseidon - is the name for MorphOS USB stack. Poseidon is responsible for detecting and handling all USB devices connected to a computer. USB device handling is completely automated, on the other hand advanced users are able to configure every detail of configuration.

Trance - is a fast and efficient emulator of M68k family processors. It's purpose is to run legacy Amiga software. Trance uses advanced techniques like just in time (JIT) compilation. Trance is seamlessly integrated into the system. From the user point of view there is no difference between running native PowerPC application and M68k one. Trance allows also for mixing M68k applications with native libraries and vice versa. It should be noted however, Trance does not emulate legacy Amiga chipset, so old Amiga applications banging hardware directly, like most games and scene demos, would not work (they require a complete Amiga emulator).