Downloading and Dearchiving
This information is intended for new users who may be unfamiliar with the
process of downloading files or getting them into a usable form. Experienced
users will probably know all of this already.
This advice is naturally biased towards users of Acorn machines. To handle
archive files on PC machines, use
To manipulate Spark archive files on Unix machines and some others, use
To download the file simply use your browser to download it to your
local machine. How to do this will depend on which browser you are
using, although you should be able to do so by simply clicking on the
file's icon or name (you may need to hold down Shift while
clicking on the icon). In almost all browsers, a standard file save
box will appear from which you can save the file to disc.
If your Acorn machine is not directly connected to the Internet then you will
need to get the file onto it via another medium. The best way of doing this
is to copy it from your Internet machine onto a DOS-format floppy disc. It is
important that the file gets downloaded and transferred without any changes
whatosever; some points to watch are:
- If you download the file onto a PC in order to copy it to a DOS-format
floppy disc, then take care with the DOS copy
command. Always use File Manager or Explorer from within Windows,
or use the copy command with the /B switch.
- If you have to move the file around via FTP then ensure that it is set to
- Certain versions of Netscape seem
to have trouble downloading binary files. If you just click on the link then
the browser will try to display the file on the screen (in a completely
unintelligible form, of course): PC versions will try to convert line
endings in the process, which will destroy the archive.
To download an archive file using Netscape (whether you are using a PC or
workstation version), first try simply clicking on the link. If all is well
you should be presented with a file save dialogue which you can use in the
normal way. If the browser starts to display unintelligible text, then abort
the transfer and then force it to save the the file to disc by either
pressing Shift while clicking on the original link or by using the
Save Link As... function on the popup menu.
Once you have got the archive file onto your Acorn computer then you will
need to use a dearchiving program to extract the individual directories and
files within it. There are a number of these available:
After you have installed and run a dearchiving program, the downloaded
archive file should appear with an appropriate icon (looking like this
if you are using SparkFS or SparkPlug, or
for ArcFS). If this is not the case then
set its file type to DDC (for SparkFS or SparkPlug) or
3FB (for ArcFS).
Then simply double-click on the file, which should open a directory
display showing the contents of the archive. Select all of the items (in the
same way as in a normal Filer window) and drag them to another directory
display: this will copy them out of the archive, decompressing them in the
process. When this has finished there will be a copy of the application on
disc, which you can then run in the normal way.
- SparkFS is (in my humble opinion) the best. As well as standard
archive files it can handle many other formats including PKZIP (as used in
the PC world); ARCFS and PACKDIR (rival Acorn formats); UUENCODE, GZIP, TAR
and COMPRESS (from Unix); STUFFIT (probably the only standard Macintosh
format) as well as other exotic formats such as ZOO, LZH and ARJ.
SparkFS is a commercial product from
costing about £23 and worth every penny.
- SparkPlug is a restricted (extract-only) version of SparkFS,
which costs nothing and can be freely distributed. You can find a copy on the
Acorn User #2 CD (and probably most others as well), or
download it from here.
- ArcFS is the other full-featured archive program. It doesn't
attempt to handle all of the file formats that SparkFS does: it uses its own
archive file format and file type, which is really annoying to users of
SparkFS and makes using the two applications together very frustrating.
ArcFS can read SparkFS archives (and vice versa). Some people think that it's
faster than SparkFS, although I don't think the difference is really
The full version of ArcFS (also sometimes called ArcFS 2 or ArcFSr/w) is
a commercial product by
- An extract-only version of ArcFS (which may be freely
distributed) can be found on most magazine discs and CDs, or
downloaded from here.
All of the information on this page regarding the various archive
programs is my personal opinion only. It should not be taken as
authority on the facilities or features offered, distribution
conditions, price or availability of any product.