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CluelessInSeattl(R)

Seattle, USA,
12.07.2012, 20:35
 

Old DOS Newbie Seeks Advice (Miscellaneous)

Hi!

I'm an old guy disabled by chronic illness that keeps me pretty much housebound, (and sometimes pretty much bed bound).

Years ago I had a laptop on which I ran MS-DOS 6.21 and had a lot of fun writing batch files for it. I used to use that laptop as a notepad for jotting down ideas. But that laptop died years ago, and my DOS disks have been in storage ever since.

I recently was given an old laptop with a floppy drive, so I dug out all my old floppies, and am trying get my old DOS system working again on this "new" hand-me-down computer.

I'm afraid that with the passage of the years, and the cognitive deficits from my illness, I'm having quite a difficult time remembering how my old system worked. But, I am making progress, albeit very slowly, and am very close to having my (overly complicated) note-taking system up and running again.

My goal is to first get myself up-to-speed on my old MS-DOS 6.21 system, and then try to transfer it over to a more up-to-date version of DOS that I can run on a modern laptop.

I'm hoping that I'll be able to get some advice on this project here in this forum.

I wasn't sure which category to post in, so I figured that "Miscellaneous" was probably the best place to start.

Will in Seattle
a.k.a. "Clueless"

ron(R)

Homepage E-mail

Australia,
13.07.2012, 07:52

@ Rugxulo

New DOS Oldbie Seeks Advice

Welcome back to DOS. :)

Our numbers are getting smaller, but DOS is far from dead.


> I'm managing pretty well so far. I've got MS-DOS 6.21 installed on the
> "new" laptop and I am simplifying my config.sys and autoexed.bat files.

And I use MS-DOS 6.20 for 95 % of my computing time.

If you have been away from DOS for some years, then you may be surprised
by how many newer applications have been ported to, or written for, DOS.

---
AUSREG Consultancy http://www.ausreg.com
Tadpole Tunes http://www.tadpoletunes.com
Sna Keo Il http://www.tadpoletunes.com/sna_keo_il/

Rugxulo(R)

Homepage

Usono,
13.07.2012, 06:48

@ CluelessInSeattl

New DOS Oldbie Seeks Advice

> Thanks Rugxulo, for welcoming me to the forum, and for your willingness to
> help me get back into the saddle again with MS-DOS.

No sweat, and I'm far from the only DOS user you'll find here and elsewhere. There are many helpful people, though our numbers overall are much smaller than other, more mainstream OSes.

> > Do you just need a refresher on the common DOS commands or how to
> install
> > or ... ?
>
> I'm managing pretty well so far. I've got MS-DOS 6.21 installed on the
> "new" laptop and I am simplifying my config.sys and autoexed.bat files.
>
> The one limitation I'd like to find a way around is the 8.3 filename
> limitation in DOS. I understand that if I were to run DOS in a DOS box
> under Windows I would be able to use long filenames.

Only if the software supported it (using Win95 int 21h, 71xxh API). So it would have to have such support explicitly or else in its libc or whatever. E.g. DJGPP v2 stuff can work with LFNs, but most others aren't as automatic.

> But I would prefer to
> avoid Windows if at all possible. I much prefer the elegance and
> transparency of pure MS-DOS.

As do many of us.

> So I'm wondering if any of the alternative versions of DOS allow longer
> filenames.

For Win95 LFN support in pure DOS, try this TSR (with appropriate software, e.g. DJGPP v2):

http://www.ibiblio.org/pub/micro/pc-stuff/freedos/files/util/system/doslfn/0.41/doslfn041b.zip

You could also use a few similar TSRs (LFNDOS, StarLFN) or perhaps even "freeware" ROM-DOS 7 (just to mention it for completeness), but I don't really recommend that.

> > http://help.fdos.org/en/index.htm
> >
> Thanks for those references! I'm sure they will come in handy as I advance
> with this project.
>
> If I were to switch to an alternate DOS, such as FreeDOS, for example,
> would my MS-DOS batch files, autoexec.bat and config.sys files be
> transferable without too much tweaking?

CONFIG.SYS menus are a bit different (as also are DR-DOS, for example), but other stuff should 99% be the same, e.g. common .BAT files should all work fine with FreeDOS' shell, FreeCOM. (4DOS is freely available nowadays too.)

http://sourceforge.net/projects/freedos/files/

http://www.ibiblio.org/pub/micro/pc-stuff/freedos/files/util/user/4dos/

You can check CONFIG.SYS syntax up above at the mentioned "help" URL. There also should be a CONFIG.TXT or similar somewhere (kernel .ZIP, IIRC). Never mind, found it:

http://www.freedos.org/kernel/config.txt

> > Feel free to ask or discuss anything DOS-related.
>
> Thanks again for your offer of help. It means a great deal to me to know
> that there are still folks out there who appreciate this "old fashioned"
> style of computing.

Take a look at some of the older threads here to get an idea of what is discussed. You might (hopefully) be pleasantly surprised! :-D

CluelessInSeattl(R)

Seattle, USA,
13.07.2012, 03:31

@ Rugxulo

Old DOS Newbie Seeks Advice

Thanks Rugxulo, for welcoming me to the forum, and for your willingness to help me get back into the saddle again with MS-DOS.

> Do you just need a refresher on the common DOS commands or how to install
> or ... ?

I'm managing pretty well so far. I've got MS-DOS 6.21 installed on the "new" laptop and I am simplifying my config.sys and autoexed.bat files.

Back when I created my MS-DOS writing system I had, and I still have I'm afraid, a crippling tendency to overly complicate things and get side-tracked by the process rather than the goal. So I'm consciously trying to keep that bad habit under control and instead focus on my main goal which is using the laptop for writing -- essentially as a dedicated word processor or glorified typewriter.

The one limitation I'd like to find a way around is the 8.3 filename limitation in DOS. I understand that if I were to run DOS in a DOS box under Windows I would be able to use long filenames. But I would prefer to avoid Windows if at all possible. I much prefer the elegance and transparency of pure MS-DOS.

So I'm wondering if any of the alternative versions of DOS allow longer filenames.

> http://help.fdos.org/en/index.htm
>
> fdisk (create FAT), reboot, format c:, sys c:, xcopy /s a:\*.* c:\dos,
> etc.
>
> Also be aware of FreeDOS' iBiblio mirror (lots of third-party files, not
> counting the FreeDOS kernel, shell, .ISO, etc)

Thanks for those references! I'm sure they will come in handy as I advance with this project. The appeal to me of an operating system like MS-DOS is that it is like working with building blocks, something like playing with LEGOS, so that you can in effect create your own kind of operating system by assembling the commands in different ways.

> Some people swear by MS-DOS' kernel. There's nothing majorly wrong with it,
> depending on what you're actually trying to do. Heck, you can dual boot
> different DOSes (e.g. via MetaKern), but that's probably overkill here.
> Outside of lacking FAT32 and LBA and some minor installation restrictions,
> I think MS-DOS 6.x should be fine.
> this forum.

If I were to switch to an alternate DOS, such as FreeDOS, for example, would my MS-DOS batch files, autoexec.bat and config.sys files be transferable without too much tweaking?

> Feel free to ask or discuss anything DOS-related.

Thanks again for your offer of help. It means a great deal to me to know that there are still folks out there who appreciate this "old fashioned" style of computing.

---
Will in Seattle
a.k.a. "Clueless"
Running MS-DOS 6.21

Rugxulo(R)

Homepage

Usono,
12.07.2012, 21:36

@ CluelessInSeattl

Old DOS Newbie Seeks Advice

> I recently was given an old laptop with a floppy drive, so I dug out all my
> old floppies, and am trying get my old DOS system working again on this
> "new" hand-me-down computer.
>
> I'm afraid that with the passage of the years, and the cognitive deficits
> from my illness, I'm having quite a difficult time remembering how my old
> system worked. But, I am making progress, albeit very slowly, and am very
> close to having my (overly complicated) note-taking system up and running
> again.

Do you just need a refresher on the common DOS commands or how to install or ... ?

http://help.fdos.org/en/index.htm

fdisk (create FAT), reboot, format c:, sys c:, xcopy /s a:\*.* c:\dos, etc.

Also be aware of FreeDOS' iBiblio mirror (lots of third-party files, not counting the FreeDOS kernel, shell, .ISO, etc):

http://www.ibiblio.org/pub/micro/pc-stuff/freedos/files/

> My goal is to first get myself up-to-speed on my old MS-DOS 6.21 system,
> and then try to transfer it over to a more up-to-date version of DOS that I
> can run on a modern laptop.

Some people swear by MS-DOS' kernel. There's nothing majorly wrong with it, depending on what you're actually trying to do. Heck, you can dual boot different DOSes (e.g. via MetaKern), but that's probably overkill here. Outside of lacking FAT32 and LBA and some minor installation restrictions, I think MS-DOS 6.x should be fine.

> I'm hoping that I'll be able to get some advice on this project here in
> this forum.

Yes, of course. Feel free to ask or discuss anything DOS-related.

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