CD-ROMs For QL Compatibles

CD-ROM Drive

Updated: 21.07.2005

QL/E Distribution | Q40 Linux CD | QL-PD-CDR CD | CD-ROM access software | DJ's QL CDs | Quo Vadis Design

Although there are not many of them around at the time of writing this page, it is certainly possible to get and create CD-ROMs of software for some QL compatible systems. Gerhard Plavec in Austria has released the QL PD-CDR, while Q-Celt Computing in Ireland have released several CD-ROMs, and Urs Konig in Switzerland has released the QL/E Distribution CD. On this page, I hope to convey information to help those interested create their own QL CDs and give information on those QL CD-ROMs already available.

Only some QL compatible systems can read CD-ROMs. The original QL with a Qubide, for example, cannot read CD-ROMs as the author of the Qubide firmware ran out of room to hold code to enable CDs to be read. Qubide version 2 units did contain some routines to allow software authors to access CD-ROMs and a trial version of Discover software was released with this in mind at one stage. Emulators can access suitably formatted CD-Rs though subject to the capability of the host computer. This is changing, however, with Thierry Godefroy's ATAPICD Thing and associated programs from Wolfgang Lenerz (QXLWIN) and Duncan Neithercutt (QCDEZE) you can now access CD-ROMs for QLs on more platforms than you used to be able to - Qubide and Q40/Q60 users can all now have greater access to CDs with this software. Another useful little utility to assist with your QXL.WINs is Qwirc from Per Witte. All four programs are available from my software download site.

You need to take account of how the host computer reads files from hard disks and CD-ROMs. If your emulator reads its hard disk files from a QXL.WIN file (e.g. QXL, QPC1, QPC2 use this exclusively, while recent versions of uQLx and QemuLator have the capability to read from QXL.WIN files as well as native file access). Determine whether a QXL.WIN file is required to hold the QDOS/SMSQ files, or if you need to create a 'dual' type CD with files held inside a QXL.WIN file on the CD and copies outside the QXL.WIN file for native file access purposes, i.e. so that systems which cannot read QXL.WIN files stand a chance of being able to read the files. This is the best option perhaps, but be aware of some potential difficulties:

Some SMSQ systems such as the QXL only allow for one QXL.WIN file per drive, so you should not try to put multiple QXL.WIN files on one CD in different directories unless you are only aiming to reach QPC users for example, or if the intention is for the required QXL.WIN to be copied to the user's hard drive before use - e.g. a multilingual CD where the user could choose to copy a German, French, Dutch or English QXL.WIN file from the CD for their use. A workaround is possible to some extent using the SUBST command from DOS which is a SUBSTitution command, which allows assocation of a DOS path with a drive name letter, but seems not to work on some systems for CD-ROMs, only for hard drives. For example, the QXL sees drive J: as WIN8_ so you could try to put a second QXL.WIN in a separate directory on your hard drive (I have used the SMSQ drive names as DOS directory names to do this in the past just for convenience).


so that when you do DIR WIN8_ on the QXL, it looks for WIN8_ (DOS drive J:) as the QXL.WIN in directory WIN8 on drive C: - this is similar in some ways to use of the DEV_USE command on QL systems. It is easy to tie yourself up in knots with this and best avoided if possible. Incidentally, SUBST J: /D will delete that redefinition of drive J: and if you want more information on SUBST type in HELP SUBST in DOS or SUBST /? in the DOS box in Windows. Also, be careful in case the QXL.WIN file copied from CD is labelled as Read Only by DOS/Windows in which case QXL/QPC etc will not be able to save files to it until the write protect flag is cleared from DOS/Windows.

You will need to give some thought as to what filing system format you use to actually create the CD in the first place. There are a relatively small number of QLers who use each type of compatible system, but overall the total numbers of all systems combined make it worthwhile giving thought to using a "lowest common denominator" format that your CD creation software and the target systems can all use. If your CD is aimed at one specific group you may be able to use a specific format which gives advantages such as long file names or deep nesting of directories. When I created my first QL CD-ROM I realised I'd have to use the ISO-9660 format which is rather limiting in that

There is such a format as ISO-9660 level 2 (not too sure of the exact differences) which relaxes some of these restrictions. But of course it relies on the target system understanding level 2, so for our purposes rather defeats the object of a 'lowest common denominator'.

I found ISO-9660 level 1 rather restrictive in some ways, but at least it did give me a way of producing CDs for QL systems which could hopefully work on everything which can read ISO-9660 from Amigas to PCs and Macs to Linux systems. If you create CDs using the Joliet extended filing system (e.g. to allow longer filenames), be aware that as I have found to my cost, Amigas and Apple Macs may not be able to read them. For Amigas, the Rockridge system is probably best - better still if your software can make CDs with both Joliet and Rockridge filing systems. Linux users should be able to access both Joliet and Rockridge.

To produce CDs in Rockridge format, I have to resort to using an early version for Windows of a Linux utility called cdrecord (also known as cdrtools) - it works, but it takes a long time to produce a CDs due to the number of hoops you have to jump through. I have found it rather frustrating trying to get hold of affordable software which can do ISO-9660 with both Joliet and Rockridge format extensions.

Q40 users - the Q40 can theoretically have a CD-ROM drive hooked up, but as I don't have a Q40 I don't know if these 'QL CDs' can be used on that system. If anyone knows, please can you email me with the details so I can include the information here. I think it may need some form of software such as QCDEZE for example to make QXL.WIN access easier.

CD-ROMs already available for QL-type systems

Most of these CDs are available from Q-Celt Computing in Ireland (apart from QL/E Distribution and Q40 Linux for example). Some are also available from Quo Vadis Design.


QL/E Distribution CD image

Urs König of CoWo Electronic has released the QL/E Distribution, a CDR with 700MB of programs, data and information. The programs are an updated version of the QL PD CDR collection from Gerhard Plavec (about 600MB) and the CD includes versions of various QL emulators and general information about Sinclair computers. Further information from Urs's website at



Gerhard Plavec and Frank Dibowski have produced the QL PD-CDR, packed with free QL software - quite a lot of work went into this CD I am sure. It includes the Qubbesoft P/D disks, Quasar and other QL group library files and files downloaded from the internet for the QL in a QXL.WIN file. It also includes, in separate directories accessible from DOS/Windows, QL emulators for other machines. The copy which I purchased included software from the Quanta library. I think that software is only available to members, so there may be two versions in circulation, one with and one without the Quanta software library. It includes documentation in several languages (mostly French and German) and there are two versions of the CDR, one with the files split into multiple 95MB QXL.WIN files to allow users with 100MB ZIP drives to copy them to individual zip cartridges. The other contains the whole lot in one giant QXL.WIN file.


Q60 Linux CD

Available from the online shop at the Q40 Web site this CD comprises Linux 68K for the Q40/Q60 and the QDOS Classic operating system for the Q40. Click on the link above to get to the Q40 Web site for further details. This is a version of Linux specially made for the Q40 and Q60 computers thanks to the work of the Graf brothers and Richard Zidlicky.


ZeXcel Emulator CD image This CD-ROM contains The Spectrum Emulator, ZEXCEL, for the Sinclair QL computer, along with a number of sample program files (hundreds actually!). The emulator was produced by Ergon Development in Italy and it allows your QL (it must be a reasonably fst one, ie. gold card or higher) to run most of your old favourite ZX Spectrum games and programs - several hundred are also included on the disk. Emulators for the QL, such as the Miracle Systems QXL card and Marcel Kilgus' QPC software can also easily run ZEXCEL, so you can have an emulator running an emulator!!! The CD-ROM may be freely copied for all interested in the QL as long as you don't make a profit out of it - the intention is to promote and further the QL. The CD is from Q-Celt Computing in Ireland.


Interactive Fantasy CD image This is a CD-ROM containing INFOCOM adventure games. These games originated on the IBM PC, and thanks to a port of the popular INFOCOM Zip interpreter, they are now playable on the QL. The entire collection of games is included in a QXL.WIN file, renamed to INFOCOM.WIN for convenience and to avoid confusion with your own QXL.WIN file which you may have already on your hard drive. This CD is by Phoebus Dokos and available from Q-Celt Computing in Ireland.


I have put together a number of CDs for QL-type systems, such as the QL Documentation CD and QL Emulators CD. These have their own page - click here to enter it.

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