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Supplementary Information

System requirements



CPU (microprocessor): ALES will run on any processor of the Intel 8086 family (i.e., the processors found in the IBM PC/XT and its successors and compatibles) or functionally-equivalent processors (e.g, from Cyrix or AMD). For reasonable performance we recommend at least a 12MHz 80286. No special features of the 80386 or 80486 processors are used by ALES even if these chips are present.

Coprocessor: A math coprocessor is not required nor used even if installed. MUMPS uses exact-decimal arithmetic.


RAM & Disk

Conventional (DOS) memory: ALES requires a minimum 384Kbytes of free RAM, but will run faster with more free memory up to the DOS limit of 640Kb, since the MUMPS system will use the extra space for more disk buffers.

Expanded and extended memory: ALES does not need nor use these types of memory.

Hard disk: ALES runs only on hard-disk systems. It uses a minimum 3.5Mb of hard-disk space as installed for the MUMPS system, the ALES program and support files, and a database sufficient for about five evaluations. As additional evaluations are added, hard disk space is increased by 0.5Mb at each expansion. A fast hard disk and/or a disk-caching program which uses extended or expanded memory (e.g., Microsoft's SmartDrive) can dramatically speed up ALES.



Video: ALES writes to the monochrome (MDA or Hercules) or color (CGA or better) video screen, depending on which is selected in DOS. A graphics adapter (video card) is not required to run ALES, which uses only text mode video. If a color graphics adapter is installed, ALES can display its windows in various user-selected color schemes.

Printer: A printer is not required to run ALES, only to obtain printed results. ALES does not use any special printer features, so any text printer can be used.

Pointing device: ALES does not respond to a mouse or other pointing device.


Operating System

Operating system: ALES requires a computer capable of directly running or emulating one of the Microsoft operating systems MS-DOS or PC-DOS, V2.3 or higher. Other operating systems can emulates MS-DOS either directly (e.g., Novell's DOS) or in a 'compatibility' mode (e.g., OS/2, Windows NT or the 'vpix' program running on Unix/386).

Multitasking operating systems: ALES can run under several multitasking operating systems, such as OS/2 2.1 or OS/2 V3 ("Warp") or V4 ("Merlin"), DesqView V2.3 and MS-Windows V3.1, V3.11 ("Windows for Workgroups"), and Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows NT, and Windows 2000 but it is not written to take advantage of them (i.e. it does not use their windowing systems or multitasking). It probably does not run under Windows Vista or Windows 7, although perhaps a DOS emulator such as DOSBox might work. It runs under Mac OS/X and probably other Unix derivatives using DOSBox.


Network OS

ALES is written as a single-user program. It may be installed on a network server, but as distributed can only be accessed by one user at a time (this is because the database is single-user). DTM-PC will run on any network server that runs MS-DOS programs, including Novell Netware.

It is possible to install one copy of the ALES program on a server with multiple single-user databases, e.g. for a teaching laboratory. Each user has their own evaluation models, but all users share the same program code & system texts. See the technical note for details.

It would be possible to convert ALES into a multi-user network program if there would be demand.



MUMPS language and database system: ALES is written in the ISO Standard M (a.k.a. MUMPS). programming language, and requires Version 4 of the DataTree MUMPS language and database system in order to run. Version 4.3 of DataTree MUMPS is supplied with ALES licenses after October 1992. With your ALES license you have also purchased a license for DTM-PC V4.3 from InterSystems Corp. of Cambridge, who purchased DataTree in 1993. The Paper Key certificate explains this license. Since you purchased DataTree MUMPS through Cornell University, any questions about MUMPS or DataTree should be directed to the ALES project, not to InterSystems Corp.

Obtaining ALES

The program and manuals are distributed in digital form via the ALES FTP Server. Look at the file 00index.txt for further instructions.

This is both for new users and for updating pre-V4.65 systems.

If you do not have a PaperKey from InterSystems (for the DTM-PC runtime system), you can install ALES but you do not have a license to use the underlying DTM-PC system (which is bundled with ALES). Until 2009 Cornell sold the PaperKey for InterSystems; now you can use the sample PaperKey supplied with ALES or contact the author for an unused key. If you don't have a key, the program will still start up after bout a minute's delay.

If you have your own license for one of InterSystem's DataTree MUMPS products, such as DT-MAX or DTM-PC PC, you should be to install and run ALES. However, you will have to follow instructions in your system manager's guide to configure the database. ALES will not run under DT-Windows or on other MUMPS platforms, because it writes directly to the DOS video.

Dowloading the ALES V4.65 User's Manual

The ALES V4.65 User's Manual is available in PDF (Adobe Acrobat) format (1,104Kb); click on this link to view with your browser's Acrobat Reader add-in; then you can save it to disk or print it from your browser.

The Spanish-language manual (translated and adapted by Antonio Jiménez) is a bit outdated, but still useful, also in PDF format.

  1. Portada (17Kb)
  2. Breve introducción al ALES (44Kb)
  3. Guías de Instrucción (404Kb)
  4. Construcción de Modelos (189Kb)

Changing the licensee name

If you downloaded the ALES update from the ALES FTP server , and installed or updated, you will notice that the opening screen and license information say that you have Serial Number 0, and that the licensee is 'Cornell FTP Site'.

You can change these messages so that they give the correct serial number and your organization's name. Refer to your original disks or correspondence or contact the ALES project if you can't find your serial number.

To change the serial number and licensee:

  1. cd c:\dtm
    or wherever you have installed ALES
  2. mumps eval LIcense /fm=1
    Make sure to type LIcense just this way!
  3. Answer the questions
    The current version number is 4.65. Your Serial Number and User Name appear on your original PaperKey certificate (not including the 746-) and on the opening screen of your previous version of ALES.

Sample Evaluations

If you want to load other sample evaluations, you must uncompress them by running their self-extracting archive. Just exectute the program EXAMPLES.EXE from the distribution, and you will see a set of .ALS files.

Once you have a model decompressed as a '.ALS' file, you can load it into your list of evaluations with ‹F8›.

Running under various Operating Systems

  1. Question: How do I get ALES to run under the Microsoft Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows ME operating systems?

    Answer: Put the following switch at the end of the second line in the batch files ALES.BAT, EVALUATE.BAT, and CONSULT.BAT:


    This tells MUMPS to use DOS file access. ALES is now distributed with this switch already enabled.

  2. Question: How do I get ALES to run under the Microsoft Windows NT or Windows 2000 operating systems?

    Answer: (information courtesy of M. Sánchez Maranon of the University of Almería, Spain):

    Windows NT isn't based on MS-DOS (as is Win95/98). Instead, NT uses a emulation program to run MS-DOS programs, including DataTree MUMPS (and therefore ALES). The MS-DOS emulation subsystem uses by default two files: C:\WINNT\SYSTEM32\AUTOEXEC.NT and C:\WINNT\SYSTEM32\CONFIG.NT to configure the MS-DOS emulation program in the same way as AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS are used in native MS-DOS. You will probably need at least FILES=25 in the CONFIG.NT file (the default in NT is usually FILES=20 and the maximum is 255) to run ALES.

    You can change all the emulation parameters including the names of configuration files (AUTOEXEC.NT and CONFIG.NT), the size of the MS-DOS windows, etc., independently and directly in each MS-DOS program, using the "properties" option in the "file" menu of the "MyPC" icon, or Windows NT Explorer, or using the right mouse button. This independent configuration only works with ".exe" files but not with ".bat" files.

  3. Question: How do I get ALES to run under the Microsoft Windows Vista or Windows 97 operating systems?

    Answer: I have no experience with this nor information from the field. According to DOSBox, that should run DOS programs under Vista; see the next section for more information.

    Another way is to rescue an old computer, set it up with an older version of Windows which does support DOS programs, or even DOS itself, and network it to your other computers.

  4. Question: How do I get ALES to run under Apple's OS/X operating system?

    Answer: You need a DOS emulator, either just DOS or DOS under an emulator of an older version of Windows, e.g., Windows 3.1.

    I have tried Wine with limited success. If you need to run Windows programs this is a good choice; it also works under various Unix systems, as it needs the X11 windows system.

    I have had success with DOSBox. This was mainly developed for people who like to play old DOS games, but ALES runs well under it. This solution should also work under other varieties of Unix.

    DOSBox requires that you mount virtual drives before using them; this can be automated with the DOSBox preference file; see DOSBox's README file. Another tweak to the preferences is to specify cpu=max, since the default CPU emulation speed is very low.

    The only problem is that ALES asks for the PaperKey on each startup; it doesn't seem to recognize the DTM.KEY file.

Problems and Work-arounds

  1. Question: We get the following message when we want to display the data entry matrix with many map units and land characteristics:
    Program error: Stack overflow
    Error location: FillMatrix+40^Lmuxu

    When using a limited number of MUs this problem does not occur. What do we do?

    Answer: This applies to all Stack overflow errors. Edit the ALES.BAT file. As distributed, it has parameters like


    Try changing the second and/or third parameters (start with the 3rd, which is the variable stack size. The other is the 'string stack'size). Raise it to 16k and see what happens. Try this setting:


    I doubt you will have to reduce the partition (50K) itself.

  2. Question: When we try to compute a large evaluation, we get the following error:

    Program error: Dataset index file filled to maximum page count
    Error location: compSp+11^Le1h

    What do we do?

    Answer: You will have to increase the amount of disk that ALES is allowed to use. In the same directory from which you run ALES, run the batch file UTIL.BAT and choose the menu items for dataset maintenance. Select dataset EVAL-GBL, which contains the user evaluations. Expand the Maximum Data Page and Index page counts, keeping the same ratio of Data to Index pages. See the technical note in ALES Newsletter 6 for more details.


Program Authors

The ALES Program and documentation were designed and written by David G. Rossiter.
Motivation and overall project supervision: Professor Armand Van Wambeke.
French translation by Prof. Charles Schvartz, University of Lille and Ms. Isabel Castel.
Spanish translation by Ing. Agr. Antonio Jimenez and D G Rossiter, at the time employed by Ministerio del Ambiente y de los Recursos Naturales Renovables, República de Venezuela.
Indonesian translation by Dipl. Ing. Ulrike Wood-Sichra and Ir. Marwan Hendrisman, Centre for Soil & Agroclimate Research, Bogor, Indonesia.

Page author: David G. Rossiter

Last modified: Sun Jul 8 14:07:19 CEST 2012

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