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CluelessInSeattl(R)

Seattle, USA,
23.04.2014, 17:17
 

Switch from MS-DOS 6.21 to Windows DOS Box? (Users)

Hi again! Some of you reading this might remember me as the old guy with worsening disabling health problems who is still running MS-DOS 6.21 on an old laptop with a floppy drive.

That old laptop ain't getting any younger (and neither am I for that matter) and I'm worried that when it finally dies on me, I'll be left without my favorite computing platform. So I guess it's finally time for me to bite the bullet and try to figure out how to migrate my ancient DOS software over to a Windows environment before I lose my old laptop once and for all.

I'd be grateful for your help as I try to think through how to go about this project.

My health continues to decline, so I don't have that much time or energy each day to devote to this project. Most of my time each day is taken up by the most basic tasks of daily living, so a key factor will be keeping the transition process as simple and streamlined as possible.

Since I already know MS-DOS 6.21, as well as the early versions of Windows, (I used to have a version of Win 95 that came on a set of floppies!), it seems like the simplest way to proceed would be to find the most stable version of Windows with a DOS box that's most compatible with my old DOS 6.21 batch files.

So I guess that's my first question: "If you were trying to import your DOS 6.21 software, batch files and its config file into a Windows environment, which version of Windows would you choose?"

I'm pretty sure that some, or perhaps even most of you reading this will want to urge me to abandon MS-DOS and Windows altogether and make the jump to a current iteration of DOS. I'd be interested in what you might have to say, but have to warn you that I'm so old now, and suffer such cognitive impairment, that learning new skills has become very difficult for me. And as I probably don't have that much time left to me, I think that what little time I have left would be better spent on wrapping up my old computing projects that I started back in my CP/M days, rather than trying to learn a new system.

I'm eager to learn what you think of my proposal,

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

RayeR(R)

Homepage

CZ,
23.04.2014, 19:04

@ CluelessInSeattl

Switch from MS-DOS 6.21 to Windows DOS Box?

I don't understand why not to continue using MS-DOS on new laptop? You will have serious troubles if you'll try to install Win95/98/Me on new laptop but DOS should still run well. Reasonable alternatives are Win2000 or XP that have a lot of limitations for DOS programs, esp. that use direct HW or video access. But batch files should work. I'm not sure how much NTVDM/cmd.exe differs from MSDOS, it add some new commands for batch files and I don't know if something is missing. Also you can buy some older laptop on ebay just for a few $, maybe someone give some old for free...

---
DOS gives me freedom to unlimited HW access.

ron(R)

Homepage E-mail

Australia,
24.04.2014, 03:44

@ CluelessInSeattl

Switch from MS-DOS 6.21 to Windows DOS Box?

> So I guess that's my first question: "If you were trying to import your
> DOS 6.21 software, batch files and its config file into a Windows
> environment, which version of Windows would you choose?"

I would NOT import a working DOS system onto a Windows computer !!!
Ever !!!

If I had an ailing laptop, I would just copy all my DOS stuff onto a
different machine. I have done this several times already, and will do
it again if it becomes necessary.

I assume you have a good reason for moving into a Windows environment ?
Or do you ?

> I'm pretty sure that some, or perhaps even most of you reading this will
> want to urge me to abandon MS-DOS and Windows altogether and make the jump
> to a current iteration of DOS.

Why ? If it works, why change it ?
Surely it must be easier to obtain another machine with clean HDs, than to
attempt inserting a working system into a dubious Windows DOS-POX.

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

Doug(R)

E-mail

24.04.2014, 07:49

@ ron

Switch from MS-DOS 6.21 to Windows DOS Box?

My 2 cents....

I agree with RayeR and ron -- why not just get a new system and copy over the entire hard drive.

But there's the rub -- copying the files might be tedious and error-prone using diskettes.

You might possibly be able to use a flash drive to copy the original hard drive, but DOS can only use a 2gb or less disk partition (depending on the DOS version... i dunno about 6.x limits). And i have found DOS USB drivers to be "flakey" and inconsistent between systems and flash drives. (Sometimes an external USB hub makes USB devices more compatible.)

My preferred solution would be to use a "null modem" cable (serial port - slower transfer) or a "null printer" cable (parallel port - faster transfer). These are specially-made cables used only for this purpose. (You can NOT use regular serial or parallel cables.) Then get a file-transfer program (need to install a copy on both source and target systems). I used to use ZIP.COM by Eric Meyer (latest version 2.22 2006-Apr-25) to do just this:

https://sites.google.com/site/vdeeditor/Home/vde-files

If you are set on Windows anyway, i'd suggest 98SE -- the last version to "play nice" with DOS... and the last MS product to include a "fully functional", stand-alone, real DOS (MS-DOS 7.1). Unless you set it up on an older system, though, you'll have tons of driver (and other) headaches.

- Doug B.

marcov(R)

24.04.2014, 11:13

@ Doug

Switch from MS-DOS 6.21 to Windows DOS Box?

> My preferred solution would be to use a "null modem" cable (serial port -
> slower transfer) or a "null printer" cable (parallel port - faster
> transfer). These are specially-made cables used only for this purpose.
> (You can NOT use regular serial or parallel cables.) Then get a
> file-transfer program (need to install a copy on both source and target
> systems). I used to use ZIP.COM by Eric Meyer (latest version 2.22
> 2006-Apr-25) to do just this:

If the HD is standard 2.5" IDE, just get/borrow a converter and put it in a somewhat recent PC. Take an image and burn it on DVDs for long term saving, then try to copy the contents to a newer HD. (I used Linux because at that time it allowed to somehow specify to mount the volume without LFN, your local LUG might be able to help you there), and then make it bootable using a bootflop and sys c:

If the new hardware supports LBA, there is not that much risk with swapping HDDs.

I maintained a bunch of terminals connected to a trunk weighing installation for a while.

> If you are set on Windows anyway, i'd suggest 98SE -- the last version to
> "play nice" with DOS... and the last MS product to include a "fully
> functional", stand-alone, real DOS (MS-DOS 7.1). Unless you set it up on
> an older system, though, you'll have tons of driver (and other) headaches.

In the long run, you want to find out what the exact status of your installation is, and what can be migrated to a somewhat up to date system, and what must go into an emulation.

alexfru(R)

USA,
24.04.2014, 13:02

@ marcov

Switch from MS-DOS 6.21 to Windows DOS Box?

> Take an image and burn it on DVDs for long term saving,

I've had a few CDs and DVDs rotted in a few years of just sitting on a bookshelf.

I guess, backups need to be copied to new media every 6-12 months.

Doug(R)

E-mail

25.04.2014, 20:03

@ Doug

Switch from MS-DOS 6.21 to Windows DOS Box?

Oops -- i have to amend my previous post, and it's too late to edit.

I should have said: FAT16 can only use a 2gb or less disk partition, and DOS 6.x is limited to FAT16. (But there may be other limits as well -- can't remember, as i haven't used 6.x in over 20 years!).

MS-DOS 7.1, IBM PC-DOS 7.1, and FreeDOS all support larger partitions using FAT32.

- Doug B.

marcov(R)

26.04.2014, 14:53

@ alexfru

Switch from MS-DOS 6.21 to Windows DOS Box?

> > Take an image and burn it on DVDs for long term saving,
>
> I've had a few CDs and DVDs rotted in a few years of just sitting on a
> bookshelf.

Good quality optical media stored in good conditions should last 10 years easily, longer than the avg HDD.

Of course the cheapest media kept in a sunny place last shorter.

> I guess, backups need to be copied to new media every 6-12 months.

I think that is overkill. For crucial stuff, better make an extra backup on a media of a different brand to avoid the bad luck of running into a monday morning medium.

One needs more than one backup of critical stuff anyway, offsite. With the current media prices, there is no excuse of not having the more critical data also in the house of a family member in case your house burns down.

(It happened to the inlaws of a good friend, and they were partially lucky when one wall of the house collapsed to the outside, attached to it a shelf with a share of the family fotoalbums)

RayeR(R)

Homepage

CZ,
26.04.2014, 17:25

@ marcov

Switch from MS-DOS 6.21 to Windows DOS Box?

> Good quality optical media stored in good conditions should last 10 years
> easily, longer than the avg HDD.
> Of course the cheapest media kept in a sunny place last shorter.

I have serious doubts about it. Maybe problem is to buy what you call "quality optical media" because there are lot of counterfeits of e.g. Verbatim media. China guys can also make false ATIP so you cannot normally recognize it when you buy it. It simply last shorter but it's late then...
I didn't have dead DVD yet because I moved to DVDs quite late, maybe 5 yers ago but I had a lot of died CD medias that was 5-10 years old. I always buy better media that costed higher price and burned them on slow speeds and I keep them in the dark at room temp, low humidity. But nothing helps against internal chemical degradation. I think that quality of medias decayed during years. My first CD-R is golden TDK burned in 1997 and it's still perfectly readable. It costed ~30x more than common CD-R nowdays...
I don't belive CD/DVD more, I also keep backup of all disc on HDD mirror-RAID and some important data aslo on DVD-RAM.

---
DOS gives me freedom to unlimited HW access.

glennmcc(R)

Homepage E-mail

North Jackson, Ohio (USA),
01.05.2014, 04:01

@ CluelessInSeattl

Switch from MS-DOS 6.21 to Windows DOS Box?

>
> So I guess that's my first question: "If you were trying to import your
> DOS 6.21 software, batch files and its config file into a Windows
> environment, which version of Windows would you choose?"
>

In the immortal words of Buddy Holly...

"That'll be the day when I die." ;-)

---
--
http://glennmcc.org/

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