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Laaca(R)

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Czech republic,
26.04.2008, 20:40
 

Dream computer for DOS system (Users)

Let try to specify the best PC configuration for DOS. "Best" means as fast as possible and as compatible as possible (working sound, VESA video, etc.)

I know that DOS machines usually don't need some very fast PC, but imagine that you want to play let's say Domm Legacy in 1600x1200 resolution or something like that.
Any ideas?

---
DOS-u-akbar!

Rugxulo(R)

Homepage

Usono,
26.04.2008, 21:18

@ Laaca

Dream computer for DOS system

> Let try to specify the best PC configuration for DOS. "Best" means as fast
> as possible and as compatible as possible (working sound, VESA video,
> etc.)
>
> I know that DOS machines usually don't need some very fast PC, but imagine
> that you want to play let's say Domm Legacy in 1600x1200 resolution or
> something like that.
> Any ideas?

How fast do you really need it? My P166 is plenty fast enough unless I'm doing something really tedious like searching for tons of files, compiling something big via "-O2", or UPXing "--ultra-brute" on DJGPP stuff (72 passes, meh). So, there's always ways to speed it up without upgrading the processor (e.g. UDMA driver). In my mind, upgrading hardware is easy, but speeding up programs is hard (but more worthwhile).

BTW, don't forget that faster sometimes means more heat / energy use, so higher electricity bill, lower battery life, louder fan, etc. That's why some cpus (e.g. VIA) are low-power (and sorta "low" speed compared to today's behemoths). Heck, some cpus (Geode??) don't even need a fan!! But remember that lots of DOS programs run too fast on modern processors (e.g. TP7's runtime 200 timing bug). So, they have to be slowed down, which is a pain (MOSLO, Throttle, Slow_DOS, Slowdown) and doesn't always work.

Also, some people want ultra-portable, which would mean something like Atari Portfolio, Poquet DOS, or PocketDOS on modern handhelds. So, it depends on what you want it to do.

If it's a gaming machine, you have various things to consider: VESA 2 (required by Quake?) as well as a fast / pipelined FPU (also for Quake ... although I don't think most common apps use it). Then again, who tailors their cpu to one specific app? And you can always in theory recompile (thanks to DJGPP) or use UNIVBE TSR (or similar) to temporarily upgrade to VBE2. Of course, ideally, you'd have a fair amount of VRAM too (8 MB??). At least my AWE64 has drivers to allow sound to fully work (no MIDI otherwise but normal .WAV-ish sound output always works). So, obviously, we don't want something like SB Live! without very good drivers.

What is the biggest amount of space you'd recommend for a DOS partition? (Win2k and WinXP limit creation of FAT32 to 32 GB b/c it supposedly is unbearable doing file ops with larger sizes. I read that FAT32 is more space efficient than FAT16 but slower.) Obviously, FAT16 was very common (or unintentionally forced as standard, due to MS-DOS < 7 limitations) and well-supported, but that maxes out at 2 GB. I always hear plenty of people using FreeDOS' FAT32 on their ultra huge HDs, but I can't imagine needing tons and tons of space, personally. Then again, if you download tons and tons of stuff (everything you see), you could probably fill it up quite easily. ;-) But otherwise, just keep it .ZIP'd (or .7Z, preferably) until you need it. And you could always save archives of stuff to CD. ;-) BTW, I think 6-12x would be a good CD-ROM speed (just guessing since some games require a "fast" CD drive).

My P166 w/ 32 MB seems to be plenty good enough for 80% of stuff. There are exceptions, however (PAQ8o8 or GCC 4.2.3 using "-O2"). Swapping is nice in a pinch but too slow for real-world use. As mentioned before, my PAQ8o8z compile can use SSE2 (but MMX is just as fast, at least in this example). I don't know of anybody trying to write any "long mode" x86-64 stuff for DOS (yet??). Most DOS apps don't need anything beyond a Pentium 1 (although DUGL also uses MMX).

So, in short, I'd guess that a decent config would be at least a Pentium 2 (or similar) w/ 64 MB RAM, VBE2, 8 GB HD, etc. (Wow, sounds a lot like the original XBox. Yeah, that was/is a decent gaming machine running a stripped Win2k capable of only one task but max. three threads, I think.)

P.S. I would strongly recommend a floppy drive (cheap but useful, IMO) because USB just is never going to probably ever get done for DOS (although there are some hacks, but they sound unreliable, so I don't bother). I don't prefer a mouse, but some people like 'em (and some gamers are much better with them than keyboards). And CTmouse supports the wheel (at least in GVFM and Mpxplay), so having a wheeled one could be useful in the future.

Laaca(R)

Homepage

Czech republic,
26.04.2008, 21:42

@ Rugxulo

Dream computer for DOS system

I didn't want such posts. Don't ask why to use a fast computer. You just have the task: specify as fast and DOS compatible system as possible.
(f.e. is better to use Quad core in lower frequency or Pentium4 on high frequency?, which motherboard?,...)

---
DOS-u-akbar!

marcov(R)

27.04.2008, 00:15

@ Laaca

Dream computer for DOS system

> Let try to specify the best PC configuration for DOS. "Best" means as fast
> as possible and as compatible as possible (working sound, VESA video,
> etc.)
>
> I know that DOS machines usually don't need some very fast PC, but imagine
> that you want to play let's say Domm Legacy in 1600x1200 resolution or
> something like that.
> Any ideas?

Well, the videocard is easy. Afaik the earlier voodoo series are the only 3D cards that support dos. I've saved a 3DFX voodoo-1 mainly to play descent II.

The rest is as fast and as big as possible. Maybe compromise a bit to avoid noise/heat. OTOH I do like when a compile finishes fast.

marcov(R)

27.04.2008, 00:21

@ Laaca

Dream computer for DOS system

> I didn't want such posts. Don't ask why to use a fast computer. You just
> have the task: specify as fast and DOS compatible system as possible.
> (f.e. is better to use Quad core in lower frequency or Pentium4 on high
> frequency?, which motherboard?,...)

Is there any SMP support in DOS? Afaik not, so more than one core is useless. Fastest CPU is generally a fast (3GHz+) Core2.

What is the highest amount of memory an extender can use?

P4 has higher frequencies, but Core2 (and Athlon too) still beats it.

Note that I see a lot of "not compatible with win9x" on modern mainboards' boxes, even though they still have an IDE interface. I don't know exactly what the limitation there is, but it might also apply to dos.

OTOH a lot of modern machines come with Dos. A lot of mobo driver CDs are FreeDOS bootable.

Rugxulo(R)

Homepage

Usono,
27.04.2008, 05:54

@ marcov

Dream computer for DOS system

> I didn't want such posts. Don't ask why to use a fast computer.

Sorry!! I just meant that it isn't necessarily as compatible if you get too fast. Plus, the tangible disadvantage is more heat generated. I'm not saying speed isn't good, just hey ... we survived all those years ago, so it obviously wasn't that bad! (They landed on the moon with much less than we have today.)

> Is there any SMP support in DOS? Afaik not, so more than one core is
> useless. Fastest CPU is generally a fast (3GHz+) Core2.

Well, even if that's true (which is, AFAIK), it may not be true forever.

> What is the highest amount of memory an extender can use?

CWSDPMI r6 "testing" can supposedly use > 512 MB of RAM. DOS/32A and HDPMI32 can use as much also.

> P4 has higher frequencies, but Core2 (and Athlon too) still beats it.

P4 is pretty much considered "crap", too slow, runs too hot (esp. "Prescott"), needs a big fan. The only saving grace for that was the high clock speeds, and even that tapped out at around 3.8 Ghz (unlike the 10 Ghz Intel originally projected). After that, they went back to the drawing board and extended from PIII to form Core and now Core 2. The latest Core 2 revisions are reportedly even 30% faster than before!

Personally, I'd rather have one with minimal heat / power issues, one that runs as cool as possible with as long a battery life as possible (if laptop).

> Note that I see a lot of "not compatible with win9x" on modern mainboards'
> boxes, even though they still have an IDE interface. I don't know exactly
> what the limitation there is, but it might also apply to dos.

Too much RAM, lack of soundcard drivers?

Hail to himemX.exe to allow run Win98SE on 2GB RAM machine!

> OTOH a lot of modern machines come with Dos. A lot of mobo driver CDs are
> FreeDOS bootable.

Yeah, but my recently new laptop even flashes the BIOS via Windows (unlike this P4 cpu I'm using right now, which needs DOS).

Dell PCs Featuring FreeDOS

My vote would maybe be something small and simple like the ASUS EEE, which is getting lots of buzz lately. Pure power / speed may sound good, but it's probably not needed for ordinary (non-military, non-academic) use.

http://eeepc.asus.com/global/
http://www.osnews.com/story/19684/Review_Roundup:_Asus_Eee_PC_900
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asus_eee

Laaca(R)

Homepage

Czech republic,
27.04.2008, 07:07

@ marcov

Dream computer for DOS system

Yes, the videocard is the easiest. I think the best choice is to use two cards. One videocard for 2D which is has VESA 3 support, Allegro driver and is supported in Vidix (for MPlayer) and QuickView. - nVidia Riva TNT2 ?

And separate 3DFX Voodoo 1 into own slot for games like Tomb raider 1, Quake 3DFX, Carmageddon, etc.

---
DOS-u-akbar!

RayeR(R)

Homepage

CZ,
27.04.2008, 13:45

@ Laaca

Dream computer for DOS system

> Let try to specify the best PC configuration for DOS. "Best" means as fast
> as possible and as compatible as possible (working sound, VESA video,
> etc.)

I think that my PC, before I upgraded to intel Core 2 Duo platform, was exactly you asked.

MB: Abit BX133 Raid - up to 768MB RAM, up to 1.4GHz CPU, 8*IDE, 2*USB, 1 ISA slot for snd card, AGP 2x.

CPU: intel Celeron Tualatin 1100@1466 (best you can get is PIII-S 1.4GHz). Some progs in BP has runtime error 200 on such fast CPU but it can be patched.

Sound: SB-Live 1024 PCI and SB-AWE64 ISA (i used ESS1868 with 1MB WT bank)

VGA: nVidia GeForce4 MX440 64MB - it's passive cooled, no excessive heat, full support of VBE 3.0 (including refresh rate CRTC pgm - this is problem on 5xxx and newer series) but you can put much powerfull GF4 4200 or 4600TI in that AGP slot.

I ran many of DOS games and demos on this machine without problems.

If you ask really for max. performance you need to get some industrial S478 mobo for P4 with ISA slot based on intel 8xx & ICH<=6 (very hard to buy in Czech Rep.). I saw such 845, 865 and 875 mobos. But any of them don't support C2D. But I don't like P4 arch because it's crippled. Several tests proved that PIII Tualatin CPUs can beat P4 at higher clock rates. And P4 Prescott dissipate a lot of heat... On some P4 mobos was possible to run Pentium-M in S479->S478 adapter.

Warning! Don't try to get some MB with later chipset than ICH6. It has ommited some necessary lines for ISA DMA via PCI2ISA bridge and ISA soundcards don't work there. It's my bad experience (I wrote it here before).

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

RayeR(R)

Homepage

CZ,
27.04.2008, 13:58

@ Laaca

Dream computer for DOS system

> Yes, the videocard is the easiest. I think the best choice is to use two
> cards. One videocard for 2D which is has VESA 3 support, Allegro driver
> and is supported in Vidix (for MPlayer) and QuickView. - nVidia Riva TNT2
> ?
>
> And separate 3DFX Voodoo 1 into own slot for games like Tomb raider 1,
> Quake 3DFX, Carmageddon, etc.

Yeah, I forgot voodoo :) But I didn't used it last years. I don't much reccomend combined Banshee but nVidia Riva/GF + Voodoo 1/2 is good combination.

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

marcov(R)

27.04.2008, 15:43

@ RayeR

Dream computer for DOS system

> VGA: nVidia GeForce4 MX440 64MB - it's passive cooled, no excessive heat,
> full support of VBE 3.0 (including refresh rate CRTC pgm - this is problem
> on 5xxx and newer series) but you can put much powerfull GF4 4200 or 4600TI
> in that AGP slot.

How do you use the 3D part? That's why I chose the voodoo, there are actually dos games that can accelerated for it.

Laaca(R)

Homepage

Czech republic,
27.04.2008, 16:09

@ RayeR

Dream computer for DOS system

> Warning! Don't try to get some MB with later chipset than ICH6. It has
> ommited some necessary lines for ISA DMA via PCI2ISA bridge and ISA
> soundcards don't work there. It's my bad experience (I wrote it here
> before).

And what about ICH7 and SB Live! with legacy emulation? Does it work?

---
DOS-u-akbar!

RayeR(R)

Homepage

CZ,
27.04.2008, 17:24

@ marcov

Dream computer for DOS system

> How do you use the 3D part? That's why I chose the voodoo, there are
> actually dos games that can accelerated for it.

I forgot Voodoo but I had very few DOS games using 3D accel so I didn't count it. One I played accelerated was Terminal Velocity by 3D Realms (kinda fligh simulator) which supported only acceleration by S3 Virge card (if I remember well there wasn't Voodoo support yet). The second I played was Blood with 3D patch on Voodoo. But that blurry textures looks so ugly making pain to my eyes and I rather played it under pure VESA 2.0 1280x1024/8bpp.

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

RayeR(R)

Homepage

CZ,
27.04.2008, 17:47

@ Laaca

Dream computer for DOS system

> And what about ICH7 and SB Live! with legacy emulation? Does it work?

I'm pretty sure it will not work. There's another hardware problem with PCI signal SERR to NMI routing which is needed for emulation SW. Most of mobo manufacturers ommited this link or blocked it by large capacitor which introduce long delay. I tried SB live emulation on 3 different mobos with ICH7(R) and it doesn't work. I searched a lot about this problem and there was plenty of users which had same problem also on 8xx and older ICH chipsets.
I also tried ForteMedia PCI card recommended by Eric Auer but it didn't work.
The only few DOS progs which can play through SB live uses it's own driver - MPXPlay and QuickView.

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

Laaca(R)

Homepage

Czech republic,
27.04.2008, 18:25

@ RayeR

Dream computer for DOS system

OK, so which newest Mainboard hasn't this bug? And what about nForce chipset?

---
DOS-u-akbar!

RayeR(R)

Homepage

CZ,
27.04.2008, 20:11

@ Laaca

Dream computer for DOS system

> OK, so which newest Mainboard hasn't this bug? And what about nForce
> chipset?

AFAIK all 440BX mobos work OK. But I hadn't chance to test any 8xx chipset. Also I don't have any experience with newer non-intel chipsets. Sorry I cannot help you with this. It's hard to get this information nowdays. You need to ask other SB live users...

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

marcov(R)

27.04.2008, 22:49

@ RayeR

Dream computer for DOS system

> > How do you use the 3D part? That's why I chose the voodoo, there are
> > actually dos games that can accelerated for it.
>
> I forgot Voodoo but I had very few DOS games using 3D accel so I didn't
> count it. One I played accelerated was Terminal Velocity by 3D Realms
> (kinda fligh simulator) which supported only acceleration by S3 Virge card
> (if I remember well there wasn't Voodoo support yet). The second I played
> was Blood with 3D patch on Voodoo. But that blurry textures looks so ugly
> making pain to my eyes and I rather played it under pure VESA 2.0
> 1280x1024/8bpp.

Yes, TV was a bit light. I liked Descent II most on Voodoo. I actually bought the voodoo for it. (60 fps, and a crisp screen)

Quake was also great, but I don't know if there was a dos bin for that. Afaik the one I had for glquake made it a windows bin

RayeR(R)

Homepage

CZ,
28.04.2008, 00:28

@ marcov

Dream computer for DOS system

> Yes, TV was a bit light. I liked Descent II most on Voodoo. I actually
> bought the voodoo for it. (60 fps, and a crisp screen)

I didn't know descent supported 3D accel...

> Quake was also great, but I don't know if there was a dos bin for that.

I bought it for Quake II and used my Voodoo most for later windows games. Esp. Unreal which I like much much. Further Unreal patches added support also for generic OpenGL and D3D.

> Afaik the one I had for glquake made it a windows bin

Yes, GLQuake is only for windows (maybe linux).

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

Rugxulo(R)

Homepage

Usono,
28.04.2008, 20:43

@ marcov

Dream computer for DOS system

> Quake was also great, but I don't know if there was a dos bin for that.
> Afaik the one I had for glquake made it a windows bin

As mentioned, they apparently stopped DOS development after the original Quake. So you either have to use the Win32 .EXE under HX (a la the ZDOOM.EXE available from Japheth) or recompile somehow with DJGPP + Mesa (maybe).

rr(R)

Homepage E-mail

Berlin, Germany,
29.04.2008, 09:08

@ Laaca

Dream computer for DOS system

> Let try to specify the best PC configuration for DOS. "Best" means as fast
> as possible and as compatible as possible (working sound, VESA video,
> etc.)

I expect you don't want to hear "the obvious things", but from my experience with three laptops it should be a low-noise desktop or tower PC with a good keyboard, e.g. Cherry G80-3000 or G81-3000. No laptop, no emulation, no working on bed, ... :-D

In the past I was very productive with such a PC, then I switched to a laptop, because it's easier to carry around, but productivity dropped rapidly. :-|

Now I really miss my "Viper" PC (;-)), but currently there's not enough room to install it again.

rr(R)

Homepage E-mail

Berlin, Germany,
29.04.2008, 09:10

@ Rugxulo

Dream computer for DOS system

> Also, some people want ultra-portable, which would mean something like
> Atari Portfolio, Poquet DOS, or PocketDOS on modern handhelds. So, it
> depends on what you want it to do.

Anyone wants to buy a Portfolio? I'm selling my collection.

> So, in short, I'd guess that a decent config would be at least a
> Pentium 2 (or similar) w/ 64 MB RAM, VBE2, 8 GB HD, etc. (Wow, sounds a
> lot like the original XBox. Yeah, that was/is a decent gaming machine
> running a stripped Win2k capable of only one task but max. three threads,
> I think.)

Original Xbox has a Coppermine-based Mobile Celeron at 733 MHz. A "little" faster than a Pentium II (<= 450 MHz). ;-)

Rugxulo(R)

Homepage

Usono,
01.05.2008, 05:19

@ rr

Dream computer for DOS system

> Anyone wants to buy a Portfolio? I'm selling my collection.

Not me, but I'd imagine it'll be easy to find someone lurking on AtariAge (awesome site). ;-)

> > (Wow, sounds a lot like the original XBox.
>
> Original Xbox has a Coppermine-based Mobile Celeron at 733 MHz. A "little"
> faster than a Pentium II (<= 450 MHz). ;-)

Yes, I know, I was just saying, seems an original XBox should be "good enough", IMO. :-D

DOS386(R)

01.05.2008, 05:24

@ marcov

Dream computer for DOS system

> What is the highest amount of memory an extender can use?

3...4 GiB :-) (LFB can eat away much) PAE might be possible also, experimental hack for DOS/32A exists. :-)

> Note that I see a lot of "not compatible with win9x" on modern mainboards'
> boxes, even though they still have an IDE interface. I don't know exactly
> what the limitation there is, but it might also apply to dos.

If you tested DOS on your various very high end computers and reported results, it would be more useful than just redistributing nebulous fear.

Maybe it's the famous Windaube ME/9x 512 MiB bug than DOS doesn't have :clap:

---
This is a LOGITECH mouse driver, but some software expect here
the following string:*** This is Copyright 1983 Microsoft ***

DOS386(R)

01.05.2008, 05:58

@ Laaca

Dream computer for DOS system

> Let try to specify the best PC configuration for DOS. "Best" means
> as fast as possible

NO. Maybe for video you need as fast as possible ... but otherwise 400 MHz is good enough.

> and as compatible as possible (working sound, VESA video

OK. But I really don't care about "SB emu drivers". Instead natively working MPXPLAY, "officially" documented card/chip, and a working PC speaker.

Also old PC's are important for DOS # :hungry:

---
This is a LOGITECH mouse driver, but some software expect here
the following string:*** This is Copyright 1983 Microsoft ***

Rugxulo(R)

Homepage

Usono,
01.05.2008, 06:02

@ DOS386

Dream computer for DOS system

> > What is the highest amount of memory an extender can use?
>
> 3...4 GiB :-) (LFB can eat away much) PAE might be possible also,
> experimental hack for DOS/32A exists. :-)

Yes, I read (haven't tried) that X32 extender (from Digital Mars) can access 3 GB.

marcov(R)

01.05.2008, 14:16

@ rr

Dream computer for DOS system

> with a good keyboard, e.g. Cherry G80-3000 or G81-3000.

IBM PS/2 kbd. There is no substitute (makes a great melee weapon on computer fairs too btw)

marcov(R)

01.05.2008, 14:17

@ DOS386

Dream computer for DOS system

> > What is the highest amount of memory an extender can use?
>
> 3...4 GiB :-) (LFB can eat away much) PAE might be possible also,
> experimental hack for DOS/32A exists. :-)

So no PAE ? :-)

Steve(R)

Homepage E-mail

US,
01.05.2008, 21:21

@ marcov

Dream computer for DOS system

> IBM PS/2 kbd. There is no substitute (makes a great melee weapon on
> computer fairs too btw)

Only if it's the original fom a PS/2 computer - big and heavy, dangerous when swung with 2 hands.

Rugxulo(R)

Homepage

Usono,
01.05.2008, 22:02

@ Steve

Dream computer for DOS system

> > IBM PS/2 kbd. There is no substitute (makes a great melee weapon on
> > computer fairs too btw)
>
> Only if it's the original fom a PS/2 computer - big and heavy, dangerous
> when swung with 2 hands.

Found a pic of it here.

Rugxulo(R)

Homepage

Usono,
01.05.2008, 22:04

@ marcov

Dream computer for DOS system

> > > What is the highest amount of memory an extender can use?
> >
> > 3...4 GiB :-) (LFB can eat away much) PAE might be possible also,
> > experimental hack for DOS/32A exists. :-)
>
> So no PAE ? :-)

[2007-01-14]: dos32a_PAE_update.zip - by Charles Hyde - updated PAE patch

http://dos32a.narechk.net/content/beta.html
http://dos32a.narechk.net/content/patches/dos32a_PAE_update.zip

rr(R)

Homepage E-mail

Berlin, Germany,
02.05.2008, 16:16

@ Steve

Dream computer for DOS system

> > IBM PS/2 kbd. There is no substitute (makes a great melee weapon on
> > computer fairs too btw)
>
> Only if it's the original fom a PS/2 computer - big and heavy, dangerous
> when swung with 2 hands.

Believe me the Cherry one is also very heavy. Not like these cheap G83-6105 models.

DOS386(R)

02.05.2008, 21:38

@ Rugxulo

Dream computer for DOS system | huge memory

> read (haven't tried) that ww.dosextender.com/X32 (from Digital Mars) can access 3 GB.

Benefits over HDPMI ?

Anyone tested more than 1.5 GiB with HDPMI ?

---
This is a LOGITECH mouse driver, but some software expect here
the following string:*** This is Copyright 1983 Microsoft ***

marcov(R)

08.05.2008, 12:44

@ Steve

Dream computer for DOS system

> > IBM PS/2 kbd. There is no substitute (makes a great melee weapon on
> > computer fairs too btw)
>
> Only if it's the original fom a PS/2 computer - big and heavy, dangerous
> when swung with 2 hands.

There are several editions. They are not all alike in weight. I've several, though I now use them less (besides the missing of the windows key, their bad behaviour with more recent KVMs was a main reason).

The main reason to use them is their nice "feel" (you instictively know if you hit a key right or not) and their indestructability (dirty? Wash in a tub with soap, rinse and leave to dry for few days). We hunted them for years for our university computer club, in the end we had several dozen.

Be careful with the brutal washing btw, some of the later models had different mechanics, and those will suffer from this procedure.

I also had a mainframe variant with 32 function keys (and a very strange connector) at a certain time.

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