Herewith, notes on my experiences using the various IBM PC orientated archives of BBC software etc, but using them on Acorn hardware (Archimedes / RISC-PC etc). They may encourage other people who originally thought that sticking with Acorn hardware had precluded using these resources :
There is quite a lot of software for the BBC micro available for download on the Internet generally or from 8BS. The software is usually in one of two archived forms, both to reduce file sizes, and to overcome the problem of Load and Execution addresses of BBC files being lost when handled by non-Acorn filing systems such as DOS / Windows on the IBM PC. Emulators of the BBC micro on the PC are designed to use these archives / disc images as they stand. Emulators on the Acorn 32 bit ranges of computers however are designed to use proper BBC files in their original form. They will not handle the PC orientated archives as they stand.
There is, however, a very easy solution to the problem, courtesy of Darren Salt and his !BeebArc utility, available on the Web from sites such as The BBC Lives ! (http://bbc.nvg.org/) and several others. This deals very well with both of the common archive types. There is also !ImageDFS from Warm Silence Software, which can read the .ssd disc images used by 8BS for its CD-ROMs.
Files that are on, for example, the BBC Lives! site are compressed in the ZIP format, having the .ZIP file extension. When these files are de-compressed (using !SparkFS or !Sparkplug), you find the archive contains the BBC files, and files with the extension .INF which contain the Load and Execution addresses and the file length, one for each BBC file. If you have both !BeebArc and !SparkFS running, just drag the compressed file onto the !BeebArc icon. It then pops up a small Save window, which you drag to any convenient disc. This generates a new directory containing the BBC files, all now with their Load and Execution addresses reinstated. (in passing, this also seems to provide an easy way to alter these file attributes on the 32 bit Acorn computers).
Files from 8BS CD-ROMS are in .ssd or .dsd disc image format (single-sided, or double-sided interleaved) and some related forms. They are not compressed. So you just need !BeebArc loaded on your 32 bit Acorn machine. Drag the .ssd or .dsd image file to !BeebArc. Another Save window pops up for you to drag to any convenient point, and the original BBC files are reconstituted, ready for use on BEEB or on Acorn based BBC Emulator.
Incidentally, !BeeArc can also take BBC files and create .INF files for them, ready for use with an emulator on a PC !ImageDFS can create .ssd disc images (one side of a BBC disc). It can also create an image of a double sided BBC disc, but in the image, the sides follow each other, i.e. all of side 0 then all of side 2. An emulator on the PC such as PcBBC will only read the first half of such a disc image (odd, since the author of PcBBC in his notes states that he prefers this type of disc image, rather than the interleaved .dsd images).
Martin Hodgson (D7X)