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The Center assumes that students who will be using our dialogs will usually have minimal or no experience in using computer systems, so we prefer not to make any technical demands of them. To this end, the dialogues are packaged and released in a form that takes care of itself as much as possible, and places the least possible demands on the student to deal with the equipment - no disc changes, no use of numbered function keys, no contact with or special knowledge of the operating system.
The Center likewise assumes that runtime equipment and environments available to many students will frequently be the most economical they can manage, and also often a mix of fairly new with quite old. We therefore try to avoid, where possible, machine requirements that are either expensive to fulfill, or depend on recent equipment or software.
As the above implies, the form of the Center's packaging is intended to be usable on the broadest possible range (or at least reasonably so) of host machines, avoiding features specialised to only a few machines.
From the early 1980's until at least 1989, the (formerly U.C.S.D.) p-System has been the delivery operating system. In 1990, the need to make releases using DOS first arose (apart from one exceptional project in 1986). Component arrangements for both are described.
The particular form that has been used for several years is this:
To avoid requiring students to replace one disc in the machine with another (the mechanics of which vary among machines), the Center places all materials needed by the running programs, their support library, and the runtime operating system components, on a single floppy disc. Both 3.5'' and 5.25'' formats are used.