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totalizator(R)

22.05.2014, 23:36
 

Diskless DOS via PXE (netboot) - need help (Users)

Hi there,

Having a working PXE server with a couple of diskless Linux systems I decided to deploy a diskless DOS for easier tinkering among all the retro machines I have. The problem is that I don't know how to make it behave like an ordinary installation - with rw partition.

Most of the tutorials over the Internet suggest using MEMDISK that will allow you boot a disk image, mainly for BIOS upgrades.

Can you point me in the direction how to build such a setup?

--
t.

totalizator(R)

30.05.2014, 19:43

@ totalizator

Diskless DOS via PXE (netboot) - need help

OK. Got it working. Problem solved. Apparently the only way to have diskless DOS with writable drive is PXE booting a prebuilt DOS image and then mounting a network share via SMB or NFS. I have tested both solutions and both are quite satisfying and yet have similar flaws.

For NFS booting I took one of rugxulo floppy images (https://sites.google.com/site/rugxulo/) and added packet driver for a client NIC and DOS NFS client. To my surprise, back in the days there were quite a few such applications like:

- Tsoft's NFS Client http://www.rawbandwidth.com/software/ (you can download it from the company website, it's a time trial and believe me or not - you can still buy license for it) .

-InterDrive included in PC/TCP from "FTP Software, Inc." (another commercial application, 10 disks install PCTCP41.ZIP)

-XFS by Robert Juhasz (it is easy to find and download, well documented and it was distributed as shareware)

For the reasons mentioned above I picked XFS. Latest version seems to be xfs191.zip (there was also 8088 version named xt-191.zip but it's nowhere to be found). It requires a packet driver to work and let's you mount NFS shares as local drives. No additional configuration for system files is needed (except LASTDRIVE=Z). The only struggle was that one of the binaries XFSTOOL.EXE suffered from Borland Pascal "Runtime Error 200" (division by zero if your PC is faster than Pentium Pro 180MHz). What you need then is TPPATCH.EXE to patch the binary (http://www.merlyn.demon.co.uk/pas-r200.htm#tppatch).

Using XFS is easy as all the configuration can be saved in an init scripts and invoking xfs.bat results in NFS share being mounted for example as a local C:\ drive. Using this method I ended up booting DOS floppy image via PXE, mounting NFS share and running XFDOS (https://code.google.com/p/nanox-microwindows-nxlib-fltk-for-dos/wiki/XFDOS) graphical desktop SLWM entirely from LAN.

The second approach I have tried was creating boot floppy with MSCLIENT (Microsoft Network Client ftp://ftp.microsoft.com/bussys/Clients/MSCLIENT/) to access and mount Samba shares as local drives. It's even easier and like above it all fits on a single 1,44MB floppy. You need to strip the installed MSCLIENT from few unnecessary files - look here https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/comp.protocols.smb/da0b9WpgJaM or here http://www.windowsnetworking.com/articles-tutorials/windows-nt/dosclflp.html (look at the end - no need for compression!).

The flaws I have mentioned earlier are a long file names. Both XFS and MSCLIENT goes wild when file name is longer than original DOS 8.3 format. Listing directory including long file names:

- MSCLIENT maps long files and directories as random (?) names (fortunately it preserves files extensions and lowercase names).

-XFS makes even proper DOS names (and short but lowercase) messed by adding a tilde plus two random characters ...and replacing extension to something random like THISI~FG.~HJ too, making the files unusable. Solution to this is adding "map=upper" to XFSTOOL.EXE mount command so the files that are lowercase are not mapped at all but the valid DOS names are showing up OK.

I don't know which side (server/client) is responsible for this and if it's an original behavior of the applications like back in the days). Assuming that I want a diskless DOS for using DOS applications I don't need long file names so the issues above are not a big deal for me.

Summing this up - it took me a while to google and figure it all out so maybe someone like me, who wants to waste a bit of his life for similar project gonna save some time after reading this.

--
t.

glennmcc(R)

Homepage E-mail

North Jackson, Ohio (USA),
24.06.2014, 02:08

@ totalizator

Diskless DOS via PXE (netboot) - need help

> Hi there,
>
> Having a working PXE server with a couple of diskless Linux systems I
> decided to deploy a diskless DOS for easier tinkering among all the retro
> machines I have. The problem is that I don't know how to make it behave
> like an ordinary installation - with rw partition.
>
> Most of the tutorials over the Internet suggest using MEMDISK that will
> allow you boot a disk image, mainly for BIOS upgrades.
>
> Can you point me in the direction how to build such a setup?
>
> --
> t.

Query....

Why on earth would you want a diskless Disk Operating System ??? ;-)

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

Oso2k(R)

25.06.2014, 00:47

@ glennmcc

Diskless DOS via PXE (netboot) - need help

> Why on earth would you want a diskless Disk Operating System ??? ;-)

For the same reason a ROM DOS is nice. :D

RayeR(R)

Homepage

CZ,
25.06.2014, 01:54

@ glennmcc

Diskless DOS via PXE (netboot) - need help

> Why on earth would you want a diskless Disk Operating System ??? ;-)

It's idiot proof, back in days on Czech tech. university, that I studied, there was tens of diskless computers connected to Internet for students in 2 computer classrooms.
There was a choice to boot Win98 or Linux via PXE. After login you can access your personal network drive (huh, just only ~20MB) and after logout the computer rebooted in clean state. Also few computers had Iomega 100 ZIP drive where I could download bigger files.

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

glennmcc(R)

Homepage E-mail

North Jackson, Ohio (USA),
25.06.2014, 04:36

@ RayeR

Diskless DOS via PXE (netboot) - need help

> > Why on earth would you want a diskless Disk Operating System ??? ;-)
>
> It's idiot proof, back in days on Czech tech. university, that I studied,
> there was tens of diskless computers connected to Internet for students in
> 2 computer classrooms.
> There was a choice to boot Win98 or Linux via PXE. After login you can
> access your personal network drive (huh, just only ~20MB) and after logout
> the computer rebooted in clean state. Also few computers had Iomega 100 ZIP
> drive where I could download bigger files.

Sorry... I should have been more plain... that post was made in jest
and it was purely a rhetorical question. ;-)

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

totalizator(R)

25.06.2014, 14:56

@ glennmcc

Diskless DOS via PXE (netboot) - need help

>[...]
> Sorry... I should have been more plain... that post was made in jest
> and it was purely a rhetorical question. ;-)

Rhetorical yet provocative.

--
t.

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