Effects of Not Using /P
If you do not use the /P switch with the SHELL command in the
CONFIG.SYS file, the following problems may occur:
• The AUTOEXEC.BAT file is not processed.
• The EXIT command is not disabled and causes the system to stop
responding ("hang") in MS-DOS 2.x through 5.0.
• In MS-DOS 6.0 and later the EXIT command causes the following error
• SET, PATH, PROMPT, and other environment variable-related commands
• A "Required parameter missing" message is displayed if the /MSG
switch is in the SHELL command in CONFIG.SYS (MS-DOS 4.x and 5.0
• Other system instabilities appear.
Microsoft does not recommend using SHELL without the /P switch to load
COMMAND.COM. The following SHELL command demonstrates correct usage of
the /P switch:
shell=c:\command.com c:\ /p
If you use the /K switch on the SHELL= line, you should also use the
/P switch to prevent COMMAND.COM from being unloaded.
Effects of Not Using /P with Windows 95:
If you are using Windows 95 and you do not use the /P switch on the SHELL=
line, Windows 95 boots only to a command prompt, with the error message
"File creation error." You can start Windows 95 by typing win
receive the error message.
Disabling AUTOEXEC.BAT by Removing /P
When using some disk-compression configurations, you cannot always
disable the AUTOEXEC.BAT file by renaming it. In such cases, you can
cause MS-DOS to boot without processing AUTOEXEC.BAT by modifying the
SHELL command in the CONFIG.SYS file. For example, change the line
shell=c:\dos\command.com c:\dos /p /e:1024
NOTE: If you are using Stacker version 2.0 or later, see "Stacker 2.0
and /SYNC Switch" below.
When Is Renaming the AUTOEXEC.BAT File Not Possible?
Disk-compression utilities such as Stacker and SuperStor can be
configured to create a compressed drive, which is then swapped with
the actual drive C. In these cases, the AUTOEXEC.BAT file is not
actually stored on drive C.
Booting from a standard MS-DOS floppy disk allows access to the real
hard disk, but not to the compressed drive. Booting from the hard disk
while loading COMMAND.COM without the /P switch will disable
AUTOEXEC.BAT processing so that you can boot from the hard disk and
troubleshoot the AUTOEXEC.BAT file. If the CONFIG.SYS file includes a
SHELL= command, remove the /P switch. If no editor is available,
echo shell=c:\command.com c:\ >> config.sys
appends the line
to the end of the CONFIG.SYS file, overriding any SHELL= commands
elsewhere in the CONFIG.SYS file.
Stacker 2.0 and /SYNC Switch
Beginning with Stacker version 2.0, the drive-swapping utility SSWAP
includes a /SYNC switch. The /SYNC switch causes SSWAP to attempt to
synchronize the AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS files on the real drive
with those on the compressed drive. If you are using Stacker version
2.0, do the following:
• Verify that the /SYNC switch is enabled in the CONFIG.SYS file
• Make modifications to the AUTOEXEC.BAT file on the real drive
(including renaming it if necessary)
• Allow SSWAP to synchronize the changes between the drives. By
default, it copies the file with the later date/time stamp over
the earlier version of the file.
Background Information on SHELL and /P
The SHELL command tells the system what command interpreter to load
during startup. (The term "shell" is taken from UNIX to describe the
user's operating environment; it is not related to MS-DOS Shell.) The
purpose of SHELL is to allow you to use an alternative to the MS-DOS
default COMMAND.COM (for example, JP Software's 4DOS), or to tailor
how COMMAND.COM loads. If no SHELL command exists, \COMMAND.COM /P is
invoked on startup.
The /P switch tells COMMAND.COM that this copy of COMMAND.COM is
permanent; thus, EXIT is disabled and the environment space is
initialized. Finally, if the AUTOEXEC.BAT file exists, it is
processed; if not, COMMAND.COM executes TIME and DATE before
presenting the drive C command prompt.