Cranker by The Electronic Knights
Cranker is an Amiga executable and data cruncher and decruncher.
Executables decrunch while loading and decrunching requires no
additional memory. Cranker is by far the fastest way to run large
executables from disk on old, unexpanded Amigas.
You can choose from different executable headers: plain/standard,
minimal, with text progress or graphical progress display.
All source codes are included, including cruncher, executable and
data decrunchers. You can specify a modified decruncher in the
commandline and produce custom executables, for example showing
a logo of your group, or run an OS-legal effect while loading.
As of version 0.51, only an Amiga executable of the cruncher is
included. See download section for other platforms, and src/INSTALL
on how to build Cranker yourself and using it on different platforms.
Large OCS demos (onefilers) often reserve most available memory in
their executable sections. This is best practice and recommended.
Crunching them with most crunchers like Imploder or Powerpacker is
not an option, because all crunched data plus all sections must fit
into memory at the same time, so the demo will fail to run in the
minimal configuration (typically 512k+512k).
Titanics cruncher was 30 years ahead of its time in that it includes
a decruncher that loads from an overlay hunk, which requires no (or
little) additional memory. Unfortunately the Titanics decruncher is
very slow (it probably does not really load and decrunch at the same
time, but alternates between loading and decrunching), and its crunch
ratio is bad. Another issue found with Titanics is that if a program
disables multitasking, the disk motor can keep spinning for the whole
time it is running.
Cranker addresses all this, and more. It certainly does load and
decrunch at the same time, it uses no additional memory, it has a
solid crunch ratio, and it is blazingly fast. Since version 0.40
Cranker also addresses the disk motor issue.
Rebels Retrodentro, crunched size:
Original : 499768 Bytes
Titanics : 236388 Bytes
Cranker : 217548 Bytes
Imploder : 213332 Bytes - does not work with 1mb
Shrinkler: 179472 Bytes
Starting time, Kick 1.3:
Cranker : 20s
Imploder : 28s - does not work with 1mb
Titanics : 35s
Original : 41s
Starting time, Kick 2.04:
Cranker : 14s
Imploder : 24s - does not work with 1mb
Original : 33s
Titanics : 46s
$ cranker -h
-f FROM input file
-o TO output file
-mo MAXOVH/N max. overhead (else store hunk, or error)
-q QUIET/S quiet operation
-cd CDATA/S crunch raw data
-dd DDATA/S decrunch raw data
-eo ENCOVH/S encode overhead into first header byte
-m MERGE/S merge hunks (dangerous)
-s STORE/S do not crunch, store all hunks
-a APPEND/K userdata file to append to executable
-t TEXT/K text line to display while loading
-tf TEXTFILE/K text file to display while loading
-p PICTURE/K IFF ILBM picture to show while loading
-st SHOWTIME/N min. number of seconds to display picture
-b BLACK/S black screen (same as '-d black')
-d DECRANKER name of an internal decranker to use
-ld LISTDEC/S list available internal decrankers
-ed EXTDEC/K use external decranker from this file
A 'decranker' is an executable header with certain features.
You can specify an internal decranker using the -d option:
default can show text
progress can show text and shows progress
minimal silent, read-ahead disabled
cinema shows a progress bar on a black screen
picture shows a picture while loading
black black screen while loading
All decrankers are fully conformant to the operating system. The
executables should run on all real Amigas, all OS versions and from
all filesystems and devices.
About the decrankers 'cinema', 'picture', and 'black': These
decrankers obscure the shell or Workbench with a screen until the
executable exits. They make little sense if they are not used to run
fullscreen applications, games or demos. Don't worry: This is a
regular Intuition screen, and it will be opened after all memory
for the program has been allocated, so if the system runs out of
memory, the screen will not open, but the executable is started
About the 'picture' decranker: Supports IFF pictures with up to 32
colors, plus EHB and HAM. On v36 or later tries to enforce a PAL
screen. Better do not use freaked-out image dimensions, it is
recommended to stick with 320x256 (or less).
Regarding the APPEND option: This allows extra data to be added to
the executable. Your program, when started, can load the extra data
from e.g. BPTR filehandle = FindTask(NULL)->tc_UserData . This must
be commented in in decranker.asm, it is not available by default.
Expect bugs and problems. In any case, keep your original binaries.
Feedback is welcome.
Cranker does not allocate memory. All allocations are made by the OS
loader. Hence it is decided right at the beginning if the executable
fits into memory and will be loaded at all. It uses a combination of
techniques, hunk overlay, asynchronous and buffered I/O, and in-place
decrunching with one of the fastest decrunchers in existence. Relocs
are packed into 1, 2, and 4 bytes entities.
Due to its complexity, the decrunch header is quite large, but the
decrunch header and a few extra bytes to allow in-place decrunching
are the only memory that adds to the required memory of the
executable. It will be freed by the OS at exit, like all other
So why is it tricky? Cranker operates on three data pointers at the
same time, one for loading, one for reading crunched data, one for
writing out the decrunched data. All three pointers wander forwards
in a hunk's memory area and must not overrun each other:
| | : : |
| decrunched | crunched data : yet unloaded : |
^----> ^----> ^----> ^- overhead
destptr srcptr loadptr
The crunched data is aligned towards the end of the hunk.
The overhead (usually only a few bytes) gets calculated for the
particular data and ensures that the destination pointer does not
overrun the source pointer. Loading takes place in DOS packets, which
are requested from the executable's file handler task. When a packet
arrives, the load pointer is updated and the next packet requested.
The decruncher starts immediately with the first packet, but it
suspends waiting for the next packet if and when the source pointer
catches up with the load pointer. Another complexity is imposed by
the reloc tables, because after loading a hunk, for loading them
efficiently, the loader has to switch from asynchronous to buffered
I/O (with a small load buffer on the stack), and back to asynchronous
for the next hunk.
At least when loading from floppy disk the construct should be I/O
bound under all practical circumstances, even if asynchronoucy kicks
in just a little.
Precompiled Linux, Windows, Mac OS X binaries:
Coding by Bifat/TEK <bifat at neoscientists.org>
LZO by Markus Franz Xaver Johannes Oberhumer
Recompiled with vbcc; the executable bit now set in the resulting
executable; also it's faster (20210913)
The picture option was pointless when starting an executable with a
fast CPU from harddisk. Added SHOWTIME argument, the minimum number
of seconds to display the picture. Default: 5. Flickers and glitches
removed from the decrankers black, picture, and cinema.
Added 'picture' decranker (and -p option) for showing an IFF ILBM
picture while loading. Added 'black' decranker (and -b option) that
shows a black screen while loading. Added an 'append' option that
allows to append a file of userdata to the executable (to be loaded
from inside your program - see decranker.asm on how to obtain the
filehandle). In case of an I/O error, the cinema decranker forgot
to close the progress bar screen, corrected.
Errors were not reported when saving the crunched file, corrected.
The crunched format has changed: Now an initial payload of up to
65535 bytes can be passed to hooks. This can be used with the new
TEXTFILE option for displaying large texts (ANSI logos, etc.) - not
just a single line of text. The NOFLASH option has been removed - if
you want a decranker that pokes to the background color register,
assemble one yourself. Major code cleanup; all decrankers are now
built from the same source. Improved source code documentation on
writing custom hooks.
This version can continue loading ahead. (Previous versions loaded
ahead one readsize only.) This allows for faster loading, depending
on the media, CPU and filesystem fragmentation.
The decruncher has been reworked and is faster, too.
Now supports dreloc32 hunks, can now crunch vbcc executables.
Reduced memory consumption for crunching.
Major source code cleanup.
Improved error messages, safe decrunching of defective data.
Added cinema decranker. Added multiple inbuilt decrankers.
Partially uninitialized hunks are now supported.
Debug and symbol hunks are now handled and stripped away.
The merge option appears to be more stable now.
Added -eo option to encode the overhead into the crunched data
header. Suggested by Origo.
The build procedure and sources have been cleaned up. The Linux,
Windows, and Mac OS X binaries have been dropped from this package.
See src/INSTALL on building them yourself.
The Amiga version now works on Kickstart 1.x and on 68000 CPUs,
a FPU is no longer required. Requested by Sachy. Crunching fastmem
hunks is now supported. Added an external example decrunch header.
When an executable was started that disabled multitasking, the disk
motor could keep spinning while the executable was running. Corrected
by synchronizing on an ACTION_FLUSH packet. Found the same issue with
Titanics later, so this is another reason for using Cranker now.
Mac OS X version and Makefile included, supplied by Bonefish. Thanks!
Added options CDATA, DDATA, MAXOVH, MERGE, renamed EXTDECR to
EXTHEAD. Removed former hardcoded limit of 64 bytes maximum overhead.
Fixed a bug in the decrunch header when a load error occurred
Added options for displaying text and to avoid poking to the bgcolor
register. Incompressible hunks are being stored now. The source of
the decrunch header is now included and a custom header can be
specified in the command line. This way you can use Cranker as a
loader system, show a progress bar, or disable crunching in the
commandline and just exploit async I/O to show an effect while