FreeDOS as a everyday/common-use system; Pros of making FreeDOS and Windows3 more compatible

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FreeDOS as a everyday/common-use system; Pros of making FreeDOS and Windows3 more compatible

Paolo Vincenzo Olivo
Hello there FreeDOS community,
I've been a FreeDOS user for 3 years so far, and I'd like to thank the developers for their effort and their amazing job.
The reason I first looked out for a free/open source version of DOS, was that, being a retrogamer, I had grown up tired of dosbox and wanted to have a real DOS system to run all my games and possibly, the old programs I owned back in the 90s when I was a child and had a pc with MS-DOS 5.0 atop of it (as well as, later on, another pc with Windows ME).  

Anyway, as clearly stated on FreeDOS home page, the purposes for ever installing it are in fact legacy softwares, dos-games, and embedded systems. I'm sure this comes from some sort of survey carried out among FreeDOS users. In light of that, I bet as well that the idea of making a "modern version" of a MS-DOS\Dr-DOS\CP/M-86 like system (maybe 32 bit, multitasking, real-mode, with modern software compatibility), was dropped after having seen what people really needed, which was a true old-school dos, running on newer hardware, being able to be burnt on a USB flash-drive and to be installed even without a floppy disk.
So, since there's plenty of good modern and even free OSes out there, the only reason for FreeDOS to be still developed is to one thing and do it well: to be a powerful DOS with many enhancements, an active community and a good support.  

I can confirm that, I would never exchange FreeDOS with MS-DOS, whereas there would be too many things I'd miss: starting from FAT32 support, passing through the FreedDOS additions (the drivers, jemm, wcd, shsucd*,xfdisk, ntfs, fdapm, nnansi, unzip, foxtype, devload, dos /32a, swsubst, and many others)to all the UNIX-like utilities (dosfsck, touch, tar, sleep, wget, du, lynx, the ports/repository system, clamav, the syslinux bootloader, freemacs, alpine, grep,etc).

The reason that brought me about to start that thread is to discuss about another possible employment of FreeDOS: a pocket, portable system for everyday use; and that's mostly what I've been using it for in the latter year. I'm a Medicine student, and personally I like carrying my own system with me wherever I go, especially in case I decided not to brig my laptop with me. It's good to have all of your files on a USB bootable drive, so that you can boot in your operating system, with all the programs you feel comfortable with, a system you can feel free to mess with, without (mostly) worrying about the machine you're currently running it on (and that's all the more true with University's computers, libraries' and internet points' ones, computers of relatives and friends that contain important work and files).
There are many other portable OSes available for that purpose on the Web, many of which I tried out throughout years: TinyCoreLinux, PicoBSD, DamnSmallLinux, PuppyLinux, KolibriOS, Minix and others. KolibriOS is in the best in terms of stability, system requirements, speed, boot time, space occupied (insanely small); however, it's a lone standing system, which means you have to accept it the way it is, with anything aside from the few softwares provided. Hence I'd say Tiny Core Linux is best, and it's the one I used almost always, if not for PicoBSD before it died out.

As I mentioned I recently started adopting FreeDOS as my portable OS. The reasons why I ended up choosing it include the possibility to bring my dos-games with me, the fact I'm really fond of FreeDOS, its reliability and speedy boot. I guess people who commonly use Windows, and don't feel comfortable with Unix/Gnu-Linux, and people who used to work with MS-DOS, would benefit from trying FreeDOS as a pocket system. On youtube videos talking about FreeDOS, FreeDOS reviews online, I saw many comments of people trying to use it as everyday OS. Many argued about the lack of good GUI and criticized the fact OpenGem was no more installed by default (it's a one minute work though). Others looked disappointed after failing at making their optical drive available (I had a similar problem with a sata drive,though I worked it out loading gcdrom.sys and setting Native IDE mode on bios; I guess for most of those people it is just a matter of switching between AHCI and IDE mode, and letting UDVD2 do the rest of the job).  
Undoubtedly it would have been great if FreeDOS were a more modern, up to date, 2017 reimplementation of DOS; however as we discussed above, this unlikely ever to happen, as if that's was the case, FreeDOS would lose  its very reason of development, and, nonetheless, as Eric Auer told me, its simplicity and retro-compatibility would be gone, alongside its speed.

I think that using windows 3.1 or 3.11 in enhanced mode would be enough to make FreeDOS more user-friendly and more likely to be a very good choice when dealing with everyday task involving a computer (see below why). It's true that windows 3 is not freeware nor shareware, but it's arguably the most easy to find not freeware operating system (environment) on the web. You can find it everywhere and many people, like me, still own their own copy.  It is that old that I do not think microsoft would ever blame anyone for using it, but I recon as well that this is the most important con of making FreeDOS more compatible with it (would it be against FreeDOS policies?).
When I speak of making FreeDOS and Windows more compatible, I'm talking of allowing the user to run windows in enhanced mode. It's commonly known in fact that FreeDOS is unable to run win /3, since Windows would ask for Himem.sys and EMM386.exe to be loaded first, and those two not only are prorietary but fail to load on FreeDOS, because they recognize it as a "not correct MS-DOS version" (damn Microsoft). Unfortunately this is not an issue limited to Windows: I discovered that some softwares that require expanded memory (some games like Colonization, Master of Orion, some media programs like Quickviewer) only look for EMM386 and completely ignore another memory expander, resulting in JEMM386.exe and HIMEMX.exe to be useless in those cases. I imagine, but I could be wrong, that a large part of the current FreeDOS community doesn't even use JEMM386 because the Legacy software they need doesn't require expanded memory (perhaps that's untrue for embedded systems?) and they prefer, as opposite, not to load it and have the maximum conventional memory available for a better performance.  
Hopefully the only thing (maybe too hard?) to do is to make JEMM386 more retrocompatible with it predecessor EMM.

Windows3 is a very good GUI for DOS (although sometimes I prefer GEM). It is highly customizable, multitasking, and I like its tile window manager stile and its file manager more than explorer and start button of the later windows releases. It has many interesting and useful programs inside, all written in the new executable format. It can use the Microsoft network client and the NDIS drivers (many are available still now, I use one for my broadcom 57xx, and e1000.dos for my intel card on a another, 1 year old, desktop), whereas all the browsers for DOS only look for a packet driver to be loaded (and this makes internet on FreeDOS less versatile, unless you buy a old external network card).
Moreover, with the svga patch (available online on various sites), you can run it with 1024x768 resolution, 256 colors and small fonts, on any monitor supporting it (almost any), with no effort. As opposite any windows 9.x, if used as a portable OS, on any modern computer, would boot in 640x400, or something like that and 16 colors, due to the lack of a proper video card driver. Many linux distros as well lack a proper driver and fail sometimes to reach the display (sometimes the vesa driver does not work, sometimes they detect a wrong card and load a wrong driver, like the nouveau driver for the latest Nvidia cards).
One would argue why someone would ever need windows 3 to run in enhanced mode on FreeDOS, here I say why I personally would:
- win32 extension allows the user to run early 32 bit applications. These include some win 95 programs, but, on top of all, the microsoft office 97 freeviewer for windows 3. One major problem having to deal with DOS is reading doc files, and MS-WORD has a WORD97 compatibility option when saving the document (sadly not a Word6 compatibility option). It's true that you can export your doc (or odf or others) files as txt, with dos compatibility, but this trick applies only to English-speaking users; I need to read instead documents full of accented letters which are lost and replaced by symbols during the conversion from UTF-8 to ASCII. FreeDOS adds foxtype (thank you very much for this, it was really appreciated) which resolves the issue, but, as a text displayer, doesn't allow any modification of the file.
- AbdobeReader 3, runs in enhanced mode, and is able to easily open pdf files if previously saved in legacy compatibility mode (one thing Adobe reader 1 cannot do). This saves huge time if you really want to open the pdf in DOS (otherwise you would have had to convert each page to an image, or use dospdf, which automates the process, but is  just able to correctly show a file no longer than 9 pages).  
- Internet Explorer 5 and the java extension for windows 3 also need it to be run in enhanced mode. Internet explorer is faster, more user-friendly, better-looking than Arachne or Dillo, and above all, can rely on a ndis2 driver.
- Many other useful software require enhanced mode: calmira project, media player 5, irfan view, winzip, catfish, winbench, totalcommander, visualbasic, and others
- There are many nice games designed for windows 3 and most of the run in enhanced mode by default: enhanced version of Civilization 1 for windows, enhanced version of Quake, GTA I, DarkSeeds 2, Chessmaster turbo 4000, Pirates, Blade oF Exile, Outpost, Warcraft 2

Hope those consideration are kind of help, I would be glad to hear others' opinions about any of the things I said and the experiences of other users who commonly use FreeDOS. It would be nice if there's anyone who tried to run windows 3 in enhanced mode. Finally I hope to hear the point of view of any developer, explaining why my proposition is whether a viable option or not.

I'll keep enjoying FreeDOS meanwhile, thanks again for your attention (I know it's a long mail)
Cheers

Ps: if anyone plays at Supertuxkart on Linux, don't forget adding blinky among karts :)  

--
Paolo Vincenzo Olivo <[hidden email]>
Sent from Sylpheed
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Re: FreeDOS as a everyday/common-use system; Pros of making FreeDOS and Windows3 more compatible

Eric Auer-3

Hi Paolo,

(sorry everybody about the long answer... The short
answer is "would be nice to have a Wiki page about
situations where WfW 3.11 can be made to run, but I
still think that this has mostly novelty value only)

> I guess people who commonly use Windows,
> and don't feel comfortable with Unix/Gnu-Linux,
> and people who used to work with MS-DOS, would benefit

You cannot surf the modern web or use modern Office
in any version of DOS and you do not have to type any
command to do that in any version of Linux either...

You can install Win95 style Look and Feel in Linux,
as well as tiled GUI and nice retro file managers.

GUI is not a feature of DOS at all, so you cannot re-
implement that. You can only make DOS compatible to
run ancient GUI for DOS and run ancient GUI apps ;-)

This would not hurt DOS app compatibility but it will
not bring new DOS GUI apps into existence. Plenty of
good free GUI apps exist for Linux and for Windows.

Interesting that you mention Calmira (Win95 looks for
Win3?) while preferring Win3 looks with app icons and
without start menu tree anyway?

Windows 3.1 and WfW 3.11 have a hard time to run on a
modern system even with MS DOS (no LBA, crashes above
256 MB by default and above 1 GB RAM even tweaked...).
Very few EMM386 provide GEMMIS, as only Windows needs
that, but Windows afaik also ships with MS EMM386 ;-)
Or use HIMEM-only configurations and avoid EMM386. Or
try whether DPMIONE, 386SWAT and others can help you.

The easiest way to run Win3 games today is to tell
Wine in Linux to simulate Win3 instead of newer Win.

A fun but exotic way would be to install HX RT in DOS
and run a few Win3 GUI apps directly in DOS without
having Win3 itself. DOSEMU2 on GITHUB has a discussion
whether they should bundle HX by default, which is a
powerful DOS extender which even implements Win3 API.

It would of course be nice to have an up to date Wiki
page about how to get Windows to work in 32-bit modes.
Our kernel AARD compatibility should be default now.

It surprises me that new hardware still ships with NDIS
drivers. When in doubt, NDIS and package drivers can be
wrapped into each other for use in plain DOS.

Having XGA 8-bit graphics is not exactly a feature even
if Win9x safe mode is even worse (VGA 4-bit). I basically
never see Linux fail to use VESA as fallback, at most I
had to tell it not to use experimental 3d drivers if it
would otherwise crash those :-p VESA today is true color.

Nice that Office 97 Win3 viewers exist or ancient Adobe
viewers or MSIE. Yet Office 97 format is rarely used, a
plain TXT file in arbitrary encoding can be handled by
FoxType and similar with some effort and a GhostScript
based PS / PDF viewer today is probably better than old
Adobe tools. Pity that you prefer MSIE 5 over Dillo ;-)

There are also nicer DOS media players than Win3 ones,
same for image viewers. Dunno for catfish & VisualBasic.

A GUI ZIP or Totalcommander might be nice, but DOS file
managers with GUI and ZIP also exist in many versions.

> - There are many nice games designed for windows 3

Some may work in HX ;-)

Cheers, Eric

PS: There is a Blinky FreeDOS thing for Super Tux Cart?
For Linux? Sounds interesting! Where did it come from?


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Re: FreeDOS as a everyday/common-use system; Pros of making FreeDOS and Windows3 more compatible

Rugxulo
Hi,

On Thu, Jul 27, 2017 at 10:30 AM, Eric Auer <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> (sorry everybody about the long answer... The short
> answer is "would be nice to have a Wiki page about
> situations where WfW 3.11 can be made to run, but I
> still think that this has mostly novelty value only)

There's nothing stopping someone from fixing any remaining
compatibility issues with FreeDOS, but overall it's not been a
priority for most developers. It's just too old (and non-free,
proprietary, buggy, wimpy, etc).

You can probably only find it on MSDN (Subscriber Downloads or
whatever) or eBay. But it's very niche, very obscure these days. I
wouldn't bother (without a very good reason, too much other stuff to
do!).

I'm told that DOSBox can run Win 3.x, but I never tried.

>> I guess people who commonly use Windows,
>> and don't feel comfortable with Unix/Gnu-Linux,
>> and people who used to work with MS-DOS, would benefit
>
> You cannot surf the modern web or use modern Office
> in any version of DOS and you do not have to type any
> command to do that in any version of Linux either...

No Javascript support is one obvious omission. But "modern" web (HTML
5, etc) practically demands Firefox or Chrome anyways. Just get a
cheap Chromebook, that's probably your simplest answer, if you need
all these modern niceties.

> You can install Win95 style Look and Feel in Linux,
> as well as tiled GUI and nice retro file managers.
>
> GUI is not a feature of DOS at all, so you cannot re-
> implement that. You can only make DOS compatible to
> run ancient GUI for DOS and run ancient GUI apps ;-)

If anything, I'd say GUI is worthless, it doesn't (usually) add any
power or any extra features at all. So you don't really "need" it. But
I guess it looks nice and is simpler to use:

* http://www.mevis-research.de/~ritter/awakeideas/desktop.html
* https://sourceforge.net/projects/fltk-dos/?source=navbar

> This would not hurt DOS app compatibility but it will
> not bring new DOS GUI apps into existence. Plenty of
> good free GUI apps exist for Linux and for Windows.

There's nothing wrong with good ol' "cmdline" apps (if you can find
them). As long as they do the job, who cares about a flashy interface?

> The easiest way to run Win3 games today is to tell
> Wine in Linux to simulate Win3 instead of newer Win.

I honestly don't know if Chromebooks intend to support such emulation.
There are kludges (chroot?), but I'm not sure of the details. Though
that would help tremendously if you could easily install such things
(and QEMU, etc).

> A fun but exotic way would be to install HX RT in DOS
> and run a few Win3 GUI apps directly in DOS without
> having Win3 itself. DOSEMU2 on GITHUB has a discussion
> whether they should bundle HX by default, which is a
> powerful DOS extender which even implements Win3 API.

I seriously hope they don't include it. It's not "free/libre", and I
thought they were intending to "fix" the "old" DOSEMU issue of things
like that. But maybe it's too much work to fix.   :-(    Good luck
getting any Linux distros on board, they are extremely picky.
(Honestly, we need to do a better job of using "Free" tools overall.)

> It surprises me that new hardware still ships with NDIS
> drivers. When in doubt, NDIS and package drivers can be
> wrapped into each other for use in plain DOS.

If you use VBox or QEMU (atop Linux), you don't have to look far to
find a working packet driver.

> Nice that Office 97 Win3 viewers exist or ancient Adobe
> viewers or MSIE. Yet Office 97 format is rarely used, a
> plain TXT file in arbitrary encoding can be handled by
> FoxType and similar with some effort and a GhostScript
> based PS / PDF viewer today is probably better than old
> Adobe tools. Pity that you prefer MSIE 5 over Dillo ;-)

There are several ways to view PDFs in DOS, but none is perfect.

Not to take the cheap way out, but honestly I think PDF is
overengineered and uselessly complex. Honestly, people shouldn't rely
so heavily on it and should focus on simpler formats.

> There are also nicer DOS media players than Win3 ones,
> same for image viewers. Dunno for catfish & VisualBasic.

Yes, various tools exist (Dugl Viewer, SEE, DISP, QuickView, Mpxplay),
but again nothing is perfect.

> A GUI ZIP or Totalcommander might be nice, but DOS file
> managers with GUI and ZIP also exist in many versions.

DOS Navigator? Doszip?

> PS: There is a Blinky FreeDOS thing for Super Tux Cart?
> For Linux? Sounds interesting! Where did it come from?

I doubt it's there already. He probably wants us to add it.

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Re: FreeDOS as a everyday/common-use system; Pros of making FreeDOS and Windows3 more compatible

Rugxulo
In reply to this post by Paolo Vincenzo Olivo
Hi,

Just to add (more) $0.02 ....

On Thu, Jul 27, 2017 at 9:20 AM, Paolo Vincenzo Olivo <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Hello there FreeDOS community,
> I've been a FreeDOS user for 3 years so far, and I'd like to thank the developers
> for their effort and their amazing job.

They've accomplished very very much, and it works very very well.
Indeed I'm grateful, but there's still tons more to do.

We can't rest on our laurels. We need to be open to obvious
improvements. (But I'm not talking about stupid multimedia stuff or
anything overkill like that. I'm thinking much more reasonable goals.)

> Anyway, as clearly stated on FreeDOS home page, the purposes for ever installing it are in fact
> legacy softwares, dos-games, and embedded systems. I'm sure this comes from some sort of
> survey carried out among FreeDOS users. In light of that, I bet as well that the idea of making
> a "modern version" of a MS-DOS\Dr-DOS\CP/M-86 like system (maybe 32 bit, multitasking,
> real-mode, with modern software compatibility), was dropped after having seen what people
> really needed, which was a true old-school dos, running on newer hardware, being able to be
> burnt on a USB flash-drive and to be installed even without a floppy disk.

There are not enough active developers to make such big changes.
Multitasking might be nice, but in light of things like DOSEMU, it's
unnecessary. Also, 32-bit isn't necessary in light of things like
(CWS)DPMI. Now, that doesn't mean the kernel couldn't (somehow) be
massaged to build with GCC (as 386+ real-mode), but it "probably"
wouldn't gain much in speed. The only reason to do that would be to
remove the dependency on OpenWatcom (which is disliked in the Linux
and GNU communities).

> So, since there's plenty of good modern and even free OSes out there, the only reason for
> FreeDOS to be still developed is to one thing and do it well: to be a powerful DOS with many
> enhancements, an active community and a good support.

It can overlap, it doesn't have to be unique. Rust, Haskell, C++, Java
aren't all needed by every single developer, but people still use
them.

Obviously the two big advantages to FreeDOS are freedom and compatibility.

> I can confirm that, I would never exchange FreeDOS with MS-DOS, whereas there would be too
> many things I'd miss: starting from FAT32 support,

Win95 (aka, MS-DOS 7.1) had FAT32 support.

> passing through the FreedDOS additions (the drivers, jemm, wcd, shsucd*,xfdisk, ntfs, fdapm,
> nnansi, unzip, foxtype, devload, dos /32a, swsubst, and many others)to all the UNIX-like utilities
> (dosfsck, touch, tar, sleep, wget, du, lynx, the ports/repository system, clamav, the syslinux
> bootloader, freemacs, alpine, grep,etc).

Most (or all) of these are not FreeDOS specific. AFAIK, they will also
run on any compatible DOS. But yes, many of them came from (erstwhile)
FreeDOS developers. But I don't think many of them are actively
maintained either.

> The reason that brought me about to start that thread is to discuss about another possible
> employment of FreeDOS: a pocket, portable system for everyday use; and that's mostly what
> I've been using it for in the latter year. I'm a Medicine student, and personally I like carrying
> my own system with me wherever I go, especially in case I decided not to brig my laptop with
> me. It's good to have all of your files on a USB bootable drive, so that you can boot in your
> operating system, with all the programs you feel comfortable with, a system you can feel free
> to mess with, without (mostly) worrying about the machine you're currently running it on (and
> that's all the more true with University's computers, libraries' and internet points' ones,
> computers of relatives and friends that contain important work and files).

Do you mean licensing or just simplicity? For the latter, the easiest
way is virtual machines / images.

> There are many other portable OSes available for that purpose on the Web, many of which I tried
> out throughout years: TinyCoreLinux, PicoBSD, DamnSmallLinux, PuppyLinux, KolibriOS, Minix
> and others. KolibriOS is in the best in terms of stability, system requirements, speed, boot time,
> space occupied (insanely small); however, it's a lone standing system, which means you have to
> accept it the way it is, with anything aside from the few softwares provided. Hence I'd say Tiny
> Core Linux is best, and it's the one I used almost always, if not for PicoBSD before it died out.

Small size is good, but better is compatibility, which Kolibri
somewhat lacks. Better are systems
that allow you to download / install (or better still, rebuild)
various third-party apps.

> As I mentioned I recently started adopting FreeDOS as my portable OS. The reasons why I
> ended up choosing it include the possibility to bring my dos-games with me, the fact I'm really
> fond of FreeDOS, its reliability and speedy boot. I guess people who commonly use Windows,
> and don't feel comfortable with Unix/Gnu-Linux, and people who used to work with MS-DOS,
> would benefit from trying FreeDOS as a pocket system. On youtube videos talking about
> FreeDOS, FreeDOS reviews online, I saw many comments of people trying to use it as
> everyday OS. Many argued about the lack of good GUI and criticized the fact OpenGem was
> no more installed by default (it's a one minute work though).

GUI is irrelevant. It may be somewhat more convenient, but it improves
almost nothing else (e.g. raw functionality).

> Others looked disappointed after failing at making their optical drive available (I had a similar
> problem with a sata drive,though I worked it out loading gcdrom.sys and setting Native IDE
> mode on bios; I guess for most of those people it is just a matter of switching between AHCI
> and IDE mode, and letting UDVD2 do the rest of the job).

Hardware support is always a nightmare for any niche OS. Worse is that
OEMs have no excuse as they are used to developing for DOS. But they
just pretend to not care anymore, so we can't even leverage the
decades of work they already did in the past. (Sigh.)

> Undoubtedly it would have been great if FreeDOS were a more modern, up to date, 2017
> reimplementation of DOS; however as we discussed above, this unlikely ever to happen,
> as if that's was the case, FreeDOS would lose  its very reason of development, and,
> nonetheless, as Eric Auer told me, its simplicity and retro-compatibility would be gone,
> alongside its speed.

I disagree. Honestly, much could be done to improve it. Heck, it's got
free sources! But most people aren't developers, and most developers
are too busy with other priorities (or just too lazy) to care about
"old" DOS.

We don't necessarily need major improvements, just lots of minor
refinements. Still, the lack of urge for this from most people is very
disappointing.

> I think that using windows 3.1 or 3.11 in enhanced mode would be enough to make FreeDOS
> more user-friendly and more likely to be a very good choice when dealing with everyday task
> involving a computer (see below why). It's true that windows 3 is not freeware nor shareware,
> but it's arguably the most easy to find not freeware operating system (environment) on the web.
> You can find it everywhere and many people, like me, still own their own copy.  It is that old
> that I do not think microsoft would ever blame anyone for using it, but I recon as well that this
> is the most important con of making FreeDOS more compatible with it (would it be against FreeDOS policies?).

Yes, it's against FreeDOS policies (which prefers freedom, aka
free/libre). You can always suggest more focus on compatibility,
that's fine, but frankly it'll never happen. Most people don't care
anymore.

As for Microsoft and copyright, it hasn't expired and probably won't
for several more decades (!), so no, I don't think they will ever let
us redistribute it or download it without their permission. They'd
most likely prefer that you subscribe to MSDN if you care about old
software like that.

> When I speak of making FreeDOS and Windows more compatible, I'm talking of allowing the
> user to run windows in enhanced mode. It's commonly known in fact that FreeDOS is unable
> to run win /3, since Windows would ask for Himem.sys and EMM386.exe to be loaded first,
> and those two not only are prorietary but fail to load on FreeDOS, because they recognize it
> as a "not correct MS-DOS version" (damn Microsoft).

It was using undocumented calls. DR-DOS somehow worked around it fine
(reverse engineering), but they never fully published their changes
(or at least I'm not aware of any obvious mentions, and they're long
abandoned anyways).

> Unfortunately this is not an issue limited to Windows: I discovered that some softwares that
> require expanded memory (some games like Colonization, Master of Orion, some media
> programs like Quickviewer) only look for EMM386 and completely ignore another memory
> expander, resulting in JEMM386.exe and HIMEMX.exe to be useless in those cases. I imagine,
> but I could be wrong, that a large part of the current FreeDOS community doesn't even use
> JEMM386 because the Legacy software they need doesn't require expanded memory (perhaps
> that's untrue for embedded systems?) and they prefer, as opposite, not to load it and have the
> maximum conventional memory available for a better performance.

No, I don't use it (much) because I don't need it. Most software
doesn't need EMS, e.g. DJGPP stuff is DPMI only.

> Hopefully the only thing (maybe too hard?) to do is to make JEMM386 more retrocompatible
> with it predecessor EMM.

It's no longer actively maintained, so that hope is unrealistic.

> Windows3 is a very good GUI for DOS (although sometimes I prefer GEM). It is highly
> customizable, multitasking, and I like its tile window manager stile and its file manager
> more than explorer and start button of the later windows releases. It has many interesting
> and useful programs inside, all written in the new executable format. It can use the Microsoft
> network client and the NDIS drivers (many are available still now, I use one for my broadcom
> 57xx, and e1000.dos for my intel card on a another, 1 year old, desktop), whereas all the
> browsers for DOS only look for a packet driver to be loaded (and this makes internet on
> FreeDOS less versatile, unless you buy a old external network card).

Emulation / virtualization allows packet drivers to work without
problems. Granted, I'm not denying that modern hardware is heavily
underrepresented in DOS, but there's not much we can do about it.

> Moreover, with the svga patch (available online on various sites), you can run it with
> 1024x768 resolution, 256 colors and small fonts, on any monitor supporting it (almost
> any), with no effort. As opposite any windows 9.x, if used as a portable OS, on any
> modern computer, would boot in 640x400, or something like that and 16 colors, due to
> the lack of a proper video card driver. Many linux distros as well lack a proper driver
> and fail sometimes to reach the display (sometimes the vesa driver does not work,
> sometimes they detect a wrong card and load a wrong driver, like the nouveau driver for
> the latest Nvidia cards).

Modern Linux halfway expects modern hardware. If anything, hardware is
cheap, and software is expensive, so it's considered (for good or bad)
"reasonable" to upgrade hardware more frequently than in years past.
So they probably just expect you to buy a cheap box (or Chromebook or
RasPi), etc.

> One would argue why someone would ever need windows 3 to run in enhanced mode
> on FreeDOS, here I say why I personally would:
>
> - win32 extension allows the user to run early 32 bit applications. These include some
> win 95 programs, but, on top of all, the microsoft office 97 freeviewer for windows 3.
> One major problem having to deal with DOS is reading doc files, and MS-WORD has
> a WORD97 compatibility option when saving the document (sadly not a Word6
> compatibility option). It's true that you can export your doc (or odf or others) files as txt,
> with dos compatibility, but this trick applies only to English-speaking users; I need to
> read instead documents full of accented letters which are lost and replaced by symbols
> during the conversion from UTF-8 to ASCII.

MS Word has a billion different formats, so it's a crapshoot on what
format you'll need to support. I haven't tried all the various DOS
converters, but surely some can handle some things appropriately. I
don't think relying on old, proprietary Win16 is the answer here.
Surely it depends on the situation, but there's many workarounds
(allegedly, as I don't do a lot of work in that area, no need).

> FreeDOS adds foxtype (thank you very much for this, it was really appreciated) which
> resolves the issue, but, as a text displayer, doesn't allow any modification of the file.

Presumably you want Blocek (editor) if you want to edit Unicode in
DOS. (Or maybe Mined or GNU Emacs.)

> - AbobeReader 3, runs in enhanced mode, and is able to easily open pdf files if previously
> saved in legacy compatibility mode (one thing Adobe reader 1 cannot do). This saves huge
> time if you really want to open the pdf in DOS (otherwise you would have had to convert
> each page to an image, or use dospdf, which automates the process, but is  just able to
> correctly show a file no longer than 9 pages).

XPDF will convert to text. And there are some GUI viewers that will
jump to page. I don't know if any is truly perfect, but at least we
(barely) have "some" support.

I know it's cheap to keep saying, but hardware is so cheap these days
(and Linux so mature) that you will get derisive looks if you attempt
to use DOS with (bloated, incompatible, overkill) PDFs. "Just get a
Chromebook!" is probably the simplest solution.

> - Internet Explorer 5 and the java extension for windows 3 also need it to be run in enhanced
> mode. Internet explorer is faster, more user-friendly, better-looking than Arachne or Dillo,
> and above all, can rely on a ndis2 driver.

Unless you're running an old 486, then you "probably" can handle Linux
(although I'll admit that anything other than Firefox or Chrome is far
from perfect, and those two can eat lots of RAM if you're not
careful).

> - Many other useful software require enhanced mode: calmira project, media player 5,
> irfan view, winzip, catfish, winbench, totalcommander, visualbasic, and others

Okay, but at some point you (as an end user) should want to remove
proprietary dependencies and rely instead on Free tools. If not for
their own sake, then for the sake of simplicity and better support.
E.g. there's very little reason to use old VB outside of extreme niche
corner cases or just plain curiosity / fun / insanity.   ;-)

I'm just saying, don't intentionally make things harder for yourself.
The days of demanding binary compatibility (for all OSes and all
programs) are (mostly) gone.

> - There are many nice games designed for windows 3 and most of the run in enhanced
> mode by default: enhanced version of Civilization 1 for windows, enhanced version of
> Quake, GTA I, DarkSeeds 2, Chessmaster turbo 4000, Pirates, Blade oF Exile,
> Outpost, Warcraft 2

Old Quake 1 was DOS (DJGPP) even back in 1996. Hexen2 (Hammer of
Thyrion) is based upon it as well, and that's well-maintained these
days. (Someone even ported Quake 2, but I never tried it.)

> Hope those consideration are kind of help, I would be glad to hear others' opinions about
> any of the things I said and the experiences of other users who commonly use FreeDOS.
> It would be nice if there's anyone who tried to run windows 3 in enhanced mode. Finally
> I hope to hear the point of view of any developer, explaining why my proposition is whether
> a viable option or not.

Compatibility is always important, but there's just not enough impetus
for anyone around here to fix that (that I know of). There's too many
fish to fry already, too many loose ends.

> I'll keep enjoying FreeDOS meanwhile, thanks again for your attention (I know it's a long mail)

It's hard to suggest or even dream because some people don't like
change. Some just can't see the forest for the trees.

Personally, I've got my own little projects, so I keep chipping away
at the stone, hoping that it helps somebody with something eventually.
So while I agree with some of what you said (and would like to suggest
various other enhancements), I don't want to burden anyone else
without having done some of the legwork myself.

I guess that means "stay tuned!" (but don't get your hopes up ... at
all). "Patches welcome!"  :-)

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Re: FreeDOS as a everyday/common-use system; Pros of making FreeDOS and Windows3 more compatible

Paolo Vincenzo Olivo
This post was updated on .
In reply to this post by Rugxulo
Thank you for your answer Ruxgulo but I think I've been misunderstood in some parts, where I admit I may not have made myself clear

> No Javascript support is one obvious omission. But "modern" web (HTML
> 5, etc) practically demands Firefox or Chrome anyways. Just get a
> cheap Chromebook, that's probably your simplest answer, if you need
> all these modern niceties.

As I mentioned, I personally do not "need" all those niceties, but I was stating that it would have been better if they were available; I know what Windows and Linux are capable of, and I've already seen what a Chromebook can do.  I'm not demanding from FreeDOS to be Windows or Linux, but I just wanted to share my experience with FreeDOS (as I have some more spare time in those summer days), and possibly give some good hints and feedback :).

> If anything, I'd say GUI is worthless, it doesn't (usually) add any
> power or any extra features at all. So you don't really "need" it. But
>I  guess it looks nice and is simpler to use

I prefer command line, and use it every time I can. On FreeDOS I mostly do not launch a GUI. If I do it is windows, and it is to launch windows' exes. Someimes I set OpenGEM in autoexec.bat, because I want to save a little time with by pointing and clicking.
I use FreeBSD on my desktop and on a old laptop, alongside FreeDOS, Archlinux on another laptop, and installed Slackware on my father's one. In none of those cases GUI is enabled by default and I prefer to run Xorg or Wayland at need. However there are obvious things a command Line will never replace a GUI for and there's nothing to argue about that. The day I would be able to open youtube or see a movie with mplayer from a zsh shell, I believe I'll never install a desktop environment again.

One reason for which I spoke about windows3 is that its not just a GUI for DOS.
The other is that I feel that many people are not eager to try FreeDOS because they're have never seen a CLI and are somehow scared of it. I believe that one of the main goal of a free software is to reach the largest community possible, obviously trying to avoid to distance itself too much from its native structure, targets and guidelines. Provided I were to write a free software, I would be proud if more people had installed it, or if anyone would have made a new, different use of it, without altering my own work. Keeping my target in mind, i would have written it in a way it would affect the largest audience possible.
In that way, It's a pity that some people buy a pc with FreeDOS installed and prefer to delete that 1 Gb partition, because they do not know what they could do with it, they do not know how to set a dual-boot, and, what's more, they have to look on youtube to be told how to select a boot device on their UEFI because "FreeDOS has ruined their optical drive and now their pc is unable to read window's installation disk".
Currently all free OSes and software that are worth an hardware installation (thus excluding for me Haiku, ReactOS, Darwin, Syllable, FreeOS etc..) are Unix-like systems and most of them is whether Linux or Android. This means If I want something free it is Unix or nothing. Do not take me wrong, I love Unix and Linux, and I would go with it forever. But I imagine that someone might not like it as I do, and that's when  other things like FreeDOS come in handy.  
So my post was mainly focused on possible solutions for other people who are willing to try a freesystem and want to break out of the Linux environment. My goal was to argue whether FreeDOS would fare well or not as a portable desktop, everyday-use, system, without the need of moving it away from its roots. I'm not here to say if Linux can replace every single thing it does, and if can do it better.
So many people just ask GUI and some basical applications to do their work.

>* http://www.mevis-research.de/~ritter/awakeideas/desktop.html
>* https://sourceforge.net/projects/fltk-dos/?source=navbar

Thanks very much for the two links provided. I knew Desktop2 but thought it to be not available in English. I think I've both of them a try ;)


> If you use VBox or QEMU (atop Linux), you don't have to look far to
> find a working packet driver.

I don't doubt it, but I don't see the point of using internet in QEMU, atop Linux. If you booted linux, then you just need to open links, epiphany, or firefox.

> I doubt it's there already. He probably wants us to add it.

As I said, Blinky is available in supertuxkart  among characters.  All characters (and subsequently karts) in the games are inspired to a free/open source project's mascotte. You can find Blinky among the addons (simply clicking on the addons panel within the game to download it, or you can download it from official web site, and put it in a folder in the game addons subdirectory, under the name 'Blinky').the destination folder is for me (on FreeBSD): ~/.local/share/supertuxkart/addons/karts
I usually invite two friends to come to my place, and play with them on LAN, but if you know someone's nickname you can add it and invite him assuming he's online

Cheers, Paolo

'I have a wish. It as a fear as well - that in my end will be my beginning'. [Ernesto Guevara]
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Re: FreeDOS as a everyday/common-use system; Pros of making FreeDOS and Windows3 more compatible

Paolo Vincenzo Olivo
In reply to this post by Rugxulo

> We can't rest on our laurels. We need to be open to obvious
> improvements.

This is a high-minded, wise way of talking I hadn't heard in a while. One point to you, deserved

(But I'm not talking about stupid multimedia stuff or
> anything overkill like that. I'm thinking much more reasonable goals.)

I know that there many more important things to care about, and that there aren't neither many developers, nor much free time to develop anything for anyone. I suspected it to be a bit childish or, at least secondary to any project regarding any way to improve FreeDOS in what it currently does and does not, so I was prepared to receive such an answer.
Anyway It was just an idea I wanted to share about what I thought FreeDOS to be missing. There are indeed many other ideas and projects to carry out, but I saw that those things were somehow a work in progress, while I felt dthose aspect were being left behind..now I know why, thank you for this

>> Multitasking might be nice ....disliked in the Linux
and GNU communities)>>.

As I said, I agree that these are not viable options

 
> Win95 (aka, MS-DOS 7.1) had FAT32 support.
I know, but its really easier to find a working copy of FreeDOS than one of Win95 or  simple MS-DOS 7.1.  I do not own any of these and albeit being likely available on some legacy software site, like winworld pc, they would be, for experience, only for  50% of likelihood working.

> Do you mean licensing or just simplicity? For the latter, the easiest
> way is virtual machines / images.

I was talking of both indeed :). However I was speaking of installing a pocket system on a USB drive (not burning the installer, but installing the system itself and make it bootable) and boot it on every machine you use and you actually do not own. Or even boot it using your own computer if you do not want to have a dedicated partition for that OS.
Using Virtual Machines would require the host computer to have a virtual Machine installed (and there aren't many), and, in addition you'de be forced to use a reduced resolution if guest additions were not available for that OS, and to bring all the iso you need to mount (with all files and programs) with you.

> Small size is good, but better is compatibility, which Kolibri
> somewhat lacks. Better are systems
> that allow you to download / install (or better still, rebuild)
> various third-party apps.

Agreed, at the end, a good OS, is most of times an OS with the least compatibility issues.

> GUI is irrelevant. It may be somewhat more convenient, but it improves
> almost nothing else (e.g. raw functionality).

Speaking of DOS, I agree with you. The fact I was talking about a GUI in DOS, was due to the possibility of adding the softwares I mentioned (after having read  and understood those replies, I admit they're not worth the struggle), as well as the important advantage of making it more user-friendly



> I disagree. Honestly, much could be done to improve it. Heck, it's got
> free sources! But most people aren't developers, and most developers
> are too busy with other priorities (or just too lazy) to care about
>"old" DOS.

Glad to hear that XD


>MS Word has a billion different formats, so it's a crapshoot on what
> format you'll need to support. I haven't tried all the various DOS
> converters, but surely some can handle some things appropriately. I
> don't think relying on old, proprietary Win16 is the answer here.
> Surely it depends on the situation, but there's many workarounds

> Presumably you want Blocek (editor) if you want to edit Unicode in >
> DOS. (Or maybe Mined or GNU Emacs.)


> XPDF will convert to text. And there are some GUI viewers that will
> jump to page. I don't know if any is truly perfect, but at least we
> (barely) have "some" support.

Thanks for those tips


> I know it's cheap to keep saying, but hardware is so cheap these days
> (and Linux so mature) that you will get derisive looks if you attempt
> to use DOS with (bloated, incompatible, overkill) PDFs. "Just get a
> Chromebook!" is probably the simplest solution.

> Unless you're running an old 486, then you "probably" can handle Linux
> (although I'll admit that anything other than Firefox or Chrome is far
> from perfect, and those two can eat lots of RAM if you're not
> careful).

I've been a Linux user for a very long time, and I'm very satisfied of it. Here i was posting some others Ideas I had gathered with the passing of time, since apart from music and sports my next favorite hobby is to have fun and mess with my computer during spare time (and sometimes beat about the bush on forums like I'm doing now). I didn't want to steal any precious time on that mailing list and I apologize for that. I know there's better software out there, but it was just a matter of fancying out workarounds for people who are really determined to run DOS for those purpose in 2017, instead of waiting for free software that is never going to be  developed.

> Old Quake 1 was DOS (DJGPP) even back in 1999.
yeah but Once I had a CDrom and I remembered there were inside both launchers for DOS and windows. Guess I'm wrong

> It's hard to suggest or even dream because some people don't like
> change. Some just can't see the forest for the trees.

> Personally, I've got my own little projects, so I keep chipping away
> at the stone, hoping that it helps somebody with something eventually.
> So while I agree with some of what you said (and would like to suggest
> various other enhancements), I don't want to burden anyone else
> without having done some of the legwork myself.

Thanks for your answer, it' been a surprise to read such a detailed reply. I'm sure you'll be able to work out your projects and see them come to light.
best Regards,
Paolo

I guess that means "stay tuned!" (but don't get your hopes up ... at
all). "Patches welcome!"  :-)

'I have a wish. It as a fear as well - that in my end will be my beginning'. [Ernesto Guevara]
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Re: FreeDOS as a everyday/common-use system; Pros of making FreeDOS and Windows3 more compatible

Louis Santillan
In reply to this post by Rugxulo
On Thu, Jul 27, 2017 at 2:53 PM, Rugxulo <[hidden email]> wrote:
[SNIP]
> On Thu, Jul 27, 2017 at 9:20 AM, Paolo Vincenzo Olivo <[hidden email]> wrote:
[SNIP]

>> Anyway, as clearly stated on FreeDOS home page, the purposes for ever installing it are in fact
>> legacy softwares, dos-games, and embedded systems. I'm sure this comes from some sort of
>> survey carried out among FreeDOS users. In light of that, I bet as well that the idea of making
>> a "modern version" of a MS-DOS\Dr-DOS\CP/M-86 like system (maybe 32 bit, multitasking,
>> real-mode, with modern software compatibility), was dropped after having seen what people
>> really needed, which was a true old-school dos, running on newer hardware, being able to be
>> burnt on a USB flash-drive and to be installed even without a floppy disk.
>
> There are not enough active developers to make such big changes.
> Multitasking might be nice, but in light of things like DOSEMU, it's
> unnecessary. Also, 32-bit isn't necessary in light of things like
> (CWS)DPMI. Now, that doesn't mean the kernel couldn't (somehow) be
> massaged to build with GCC (as 386+ real-mode), but it "probably"
> wouldn't gain much in speed. The only reason to do that would be to
> remove the dependency on OpenWatcom (which is disliked in the Linux
> and GNU communities).
[SNIP]

It's more possible than ever [0] to compile the kernel with GCC.
Skeeto/Chris Wells posted [1][2] an example of compiling 16-bit code
with djgpp/GCC, including a linker script for linking 386+ real mode
code into a 64KB COM.  Chris may have used a pre-4.9.x gcc [3] and/or
pre-binutils-2.18 [4].  It now appears gas is also able to speak
i8086, i186, i286 and can even generate correct, pure 16-bit mode
instructions (no i386 opcode prefixes) [5] if given the correct
directives (which appears to be `.code16gcc` in gas and the argument
`-m16` to gcc).

Yes, it would be a large under taking but maybe a long term worthwhile
goal as OW has seem to lost a bit of steam.


[0] http://www.delorie.com/djgpp/16bit/
[1] http://nullprogram.com/blog/2014/12/09/
[2] https://github.com/skeeto/dosdefender-ld31
[3] https://gcc.gnu.org/onlinedocs/gcc-4.9.4/gcc/i386-and-x86-64-Options.html#i386-and-x86-64-Options
[4] https://sourceware.org/binutils/docs-2.18/as/i386_002dOptions.html#i386_002dOptions
[5] https://sourceware.org/binutils/docs-2.18/as/i386_002d16bit.html

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Re: FreeDOS as a everyday/common-use system; Pros of making FreeDOS and Windows3 more compatible

Rugxulo
In reply to this post by Paolo Vincenzo Olivo
Hi,

On Thu, Jul 27, 2017 at 7:02 PM, Paolo Vincenzo Olivo <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Thank you for your answer Ruxgulo but I think I've been misunderstood in some
> parts, where I admit I may not have made myself clear
>
>> Just get a cheap Chromebook, if you need all these modern niceties.
>
> As I mentioned, I personally do not "need" all those niceties, but I was
> stating that it would have been better if they were available; I know what
> Windows and Linux are capable of, and I've already seen what a Chromebook
> can do.  I'm not demanding from FreeDOS to be Windows or Linux, but I just
> wanted to share my experience with FreeDOS (as I have some more spare time
> in those summer days), and possibly give some good hints and feedback :).

I just meant that "modern" software (Windows or POSIX [Linux or OS X])
isn't minimal in its dependencies, and it doesn't try to support niche
or "legacy" OSes anymore. Heck, a P4 is considered bare minimum these
days, and many people want to drop IA-32 kernels entirely.

So you're expected to buy a "cheap" Chromebook and exclusively use
only "modern" software, if at all possible. So, if anything, the
hardware lives shorter than the software these days, but at least it's
cheaper to buy than ever. (But talk is cheap, and forcing someone to
upgrade perfectly-working hardware just for software reasons is
considered insincere and annoying.)

I'm just saying, in this spoiled world, you'll get no sympathy for
running DOS and only barely any sympathy for running virtualized under
a "modern" OS. (Developers / geeks are just not sympathetic to old
tech.)

It doesn't mean we few here can't try to improve things, even with a
thousand little paper cuts, but it's tough to survive when nobody
sympathizes or tests or writes patches.

"Just use Linux!!!1" (whether you like it or not, resistance is futile!!)

> The day I would be able to open youtube or see a movie with mplayer from a zsh shell,
> I believe I'll never install a desktop environment again.

I believe some already do this, even in DOS!

>> If you use VBox or QEMU (atop Linux), you don't have to look far to
>> find a working packet driver.
>
> I don't doubt it, but I don't see the point of using internet in QEMU, atop
> Linux. If you booted linux, then you just need to open links, epiphany, or
> firefox.

The point is that you *must* use emulation to support a packet driver
if modern hardware (overwhelmingly) isn't supported. There are some
drivers that work natively, but overall DOS is abandoned and
unsupported.

Sure, Linux has lots of ports, but that doesn't mean you can use (or
write) DOS versions instead. It's a starting point, an unavoidable
obstacle, not necessarily an end goal.

>> I doubt it's there already. He probably wants us to add it.
>
> As I said, Blinky is available among supertuxkart among characters.

Cool, that's good to know.

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Re: FreeDOS as a everyday/common-use system; Pros of making FreeDOS and Windows3 more compatible

Rugxulo
In reply to this post by Paolo Vincenzo Olivo
Hi,

On Thu, Jul 27, 2017 at 8:12 PM, Paolo Vincenzo Olivo <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>> We can't rest on our laurels. We need to be open to obvious
>> improvements.
>
> This is a high-minded, wise way of talking I hadn't heard in a while. One
> point to you, deserved

There's always more to do.

FreeDOS really does work extremely well, and I'm very happy with it.
So it's not like I demand much or expect a miracle. If anything, I
just wonder what else I personally can get done with it (which often
means recompiling). "What can I do with it? What will it let me do?
What can I bend into shape? What can I fix or improve?"

So far, it does quite a lot. But that doesn't mean it can't do more.

I know I've said this before, and it's cliche but it's true:  "A poor
carpenter blames his tools".

> (But I'm not talking about stupid multimedia stuff or
>> anything overkill like that. I'm thinking much more reasonable goals.)
>
> I know that there many more important things to care about, and that there
> aren't neither many developers, nor much free time to develop anything for
> anyone. I suspected it to be a bit childish or, at least secondary to any
> project regarding any way to improve FreeDOS in what it currently does and
> does not, so I was prepared to receive such an answer.

It's neither childish nor bad to discuss things, dream even, about
future improvements. But we're probably not going to get a 64-bit
UTF-8 SMP rewrite!!

Though minor upgrades and cleanups are reasonable, I think. (Porting
most basic things to "Free" tools would be nice.)

> Anyway It was just an idea I wanted to share about what I thought FreeDOS to
> be missing. There are indeed many other ideas and projects to carry out, but
> I saw that those things were somehow a work in progress, while I felt dthose
> aspect were being left behind..now I know why, thank you for this

Well, as mentioned, Win 16-bit is just too old and buggy ... and
abandoned and proprietary. It's not the worst idea to fix any
remaining bugs, but it's not easy work (at least for me). Personally,
I have zero interest in Win16. I don't even actively use WINE on my
(ancient, Lucid) Puppy Linux. WINE is cool, but I have zero apps that
I want to run. I would be hard-pressed to even find one. (Well, I
could think of a very very few, but clearly DOS is my passion, and I
have enough minor things to do there!!)

>>> Multitasking might be nice ....disliked in the Linux
> and GNU communities)>>.
>
> As I said, I agree that these are not viable options

Well, I'm not an engineer, and low-level stuff can be insanely complex
(ahem, USB). I'm lucky just to be able to rebuild the FD kernel, but I
have little clue on how to improve it. If anything, I'm more
comfortable (if only barely) in userland. Even that can get quite
complex!

>> Win95 (aka, MS-DOS 7.1) had FAT32 support.
> I know, but its really easier to find a working copy of FreeDOS than one of
> Win95 or  simple MS-DOS 7.1.  I do not own any of these and albeit being
> likely available on some legacy software site, like winworld pc, they would
> be, for experience, only for  50% of likelihood working.

Windows (e.g. 7, which I still use) would still let you make a "system
floppy". Even RUFUS will optionally use the (MS-DOS 8) image embedded
in DISKCOPY.DLL. But I hear rumors that Win10 doesn't have that
support anymore. (Not a huge surprise, just saying, that's a minor
flaw to me.) Granted, it's extremely minimal, almost useless by
default, and you can't default install (SYS) it at all (probably to
avoid tech support headaches about borked Windows).

You can still find various others DOSes online, but FreeDOS works fine
(thanks to a lot of work by various people over the years). There are
maybe a few very minor flaws, but overall it works great. I'm not
complaining, it's too good. Granted, it takes a lot of imagination
(and tinkering) to work in DOS. Some people just don't have the
passion. (For God's sake, it survived for decades, had thousands of
software products written for it, and runs on more x86 [BIOS] machines
than any other OS.)

>> Do you mean licensing or just simplicity? For the latter, the easiest
>> way is virtual machines / images.
>
> I was talking of both indeed :). However I was speaking of installing a
> pocket system on a USB drive (not burning the installer, but installing the
> system itself and make it bootable) and boot it on every machine you use and
> you actually do not own. Or even boot it using your own computer if you do
> not want to have a dedicated partition for that OS.

Yes, I still use bootable USBs sometimes (among other methods).
Running natively is much faster than pure software emulation (but
hardware virtualization / VT-X is very fast and convenient).

> Using Virtual Machines would require the host computer to have a virtual
> Machine installed (and there aren't many), and, in addition you'de be forced
> to use a reduced resolution if guest additions were not available for that
> OS, and to bring all the iso you need to mount (with all files and programs)
> with you.

Your VM can be as big or small as you make it. It can even be a small
floppy image. In fact, my efforts recently have been on such an image
that uses packet driver (and FTP or WGET) to grab further software to
RAM disk (if needed), for experimentation. But it's also equally easy
to install to .VHD (or similar) virtual hard disk. So you don't need
everything pre-installed, only a way to download it later.

Guest additions are not usually available (e.g. VBox), but one guy did
write some for VMware (VMSMOUNT). Though that's more for accessing
shared folders than supporting graphical resolutions.

>> Small size is good, but better is compatibility, which Kolibri
>> somewhat lacks. Better are systems
>> that allow you to download / install (or better still, rebuild)
>> various third-party apps.
>
> Agreed, at the end, a good OS, is most of times an OS with the least
> compatibility issues.

I'm starting to honestly wonder whether something like Gentoo (or
Minix) would be a good idea for inspiration. But it's harder than it
sounds (though not impossible).

>> GUI is irrelevant. It may be somewhat more convenient, but it improves
>> almost nothing else (e.g. raw functionality).
>
> Speaking of DOS, I agree with you. The fact I was talking about a GUI in
> DOS, was due to the possibility of adding the softwares I mentioned (after
> having read  and understood those replies, I admit they're not worth the
> struggle), as well as the important advantage of making it more
> user-friendly

There's nothing wrong with being user-friendly, having good docs, help
commands, good error reporting, etc.

Having said that, clicking on an icon isn't really much more
convenient than just typing "edit.exe". And FD Edit does have a TUI,
at least. And you can effectively use the mouse in non-GUI apps, even
in DOS.

> I didn't want to steal any precious time on that mailing list and I apologize for that.

Don't apologize, you didn't waste anybody's time. It's okay to discuss things.

> I know there's better software out there, but it was just a matter of fancying out
> workarounds for people who are really determined to run DOS for those purpose
> in 2017,

There are several PDF viewers for DOS, some are fairly good, but it's
just not perfect by any stretch. It's a minor miracle, almost, that
anything works at all.

I'm just saying that PDF is somewhat bloated and lazy and overkill. If
the author wants to be compatible, he can (also) use a different
(preferably better!) format. Using bloated PDFs almost demands a
bloated, billion-dollar OS. It's a self-made problem (which can be
avoided).

I know that's a bit lazy and cynical, but I'm just trying to be
somewhat fair to DOS here. Supporting PDF is an insanely huge task.

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Re: FreeDOS as a everyday/common-use system; Pros of making FreeDOS and Windows3 more compatible

Paolo Vincenzo Olivo
In reply to this post by Eric Auer-3
Hi Eric,
and thank you for all the information you provided! If I have some time to spare I'll give a look to any of the tips you suggested above above.

> PS: There is a Blinky FreeDOS thing for Super Tux Cart?
> For Linux? Sounds interesting! Where did it come from?

If you find yourself doing nothing you can try that game, which is really enjoyable if you have someone to play with (single player nonetheless). All the addons, like maps, and karts (including Blinky) are extremely easy to install, as there's a dedicated menu for that within the game. Do not know which platforms are currently supported (Linux for sure), but If I'm not wrong there's even a macport for Darwin...so I would say, any!
I do not know who added it, but almost everything in that game comes from users, for which I guess it's been a FreeDOS user.


> Having XGA 8-bit graphics is not exactly a feature even
> if Win9x safe mode is even worse (VGA 4-bit). I basically
> never see Linux fail to use VESA as fallback, at most I
> had to tell it not to use experimental 3d drivers if it
> would otherwise crash those :-p VESA today is true color.

Vesa driver is truly the fallback, very versatile and It always works. However,  from time to time friends ask me to put Linux on their computers, especially on older machines they do not use any longer, mostly because they want to try Linux a little bit, or because those pc are freezed, slowed down by viruses etc..
It happened on 2-3 occasions that vesa did not work. One was with a very old toshiba (black screen, kernel panic) the other with an HTC shift (wrong resolution, out of range, made it work editing Xorg.conf and loading another driver, but still brightness was awful)

> The easiest way to run Win3 games today is to tell
> Wine in Linux to simulate Win3 instead of newer Win.
Sounds interesting, thanks !


'I have a wish. It as a fear as well - that in my end will be my beginning'. [Ernesto Guevara]
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Re: FreeDOS as a everyday/common-use system; Pros of making FreeDOS and Windows3 more compatible

Paolo Vincenzo Olivo
In reply to this post by Louis Santillan
Hi Louis, thank you very much for the info.
I was not aware of those projects ongoing underneath, mainly because I didn't have the time to make a deeper research or ask.
Seems very interesting; guess I'll enjoying seeing if and when that kernel will be available in the next releases

Cheers!,
Paolo
'I have a wish. It as a fear as well - that in my end will be my beginning'. [Ernesto Guevara]
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Re: FreeDOS as a everyday/common-use system; Pros of making FreeDOS and Windows3 more compatible

Paolo Vincenzo Olivo
In reply to this post by Rugxulo
Hi Ruxgulo,
I just saw your answer, thanks for having replid so quickly :).

I confess not using wine either, unless I'm forced to, which is to play a very few games, especially on BSD, where Steam is not available. Still, despite having set it, I launch these games very rarely as well, since, owning a windows at my place, I prefer using it when I truly want to play, or to play dos games on freedos on train and other occasions like that. So yes, there's plenty of good software, even free alternatives of professional programs, in Linux and Wine feels like an unneeded redundancy.



> Your VM can be as big or small as you make it. It can even be a small
> floppy image. In fact, my efforts recently have been on such an image
> that uses packet driver (and FTP or WGET) to grab further software to
> RAM disk (if needed), for experimentation. But it's also equally easy
> to install to .VHD (or similar) virtual hard disk. So you don't need
> everything pre-installed, only a way to download it later.

Yeah, in that way one won't encounter any compatibility issue, that are always in ambush with a preconfigured system. I will try doing it your way. I'll forward that hint to my engineering studying friends, who have to run both windows and Suse and find it always hard and risky to have dual boot.


As for pdf, I' ve really come to the point of hating it, heavy, difficult to copy and past, or export in different formats, and above all, not editable. However in my environment, everything is in pdf (books, pamphlets, reviews on scientific magazines, notes). It's true you can easily convert it (with command line apps like pdf to html, doc, txt) but it requires too much time with such an amount of material. I know even someone who paid for a premium version of Adobe Reader.
Personally I'm satisfied with other programs like Xpdf on older pcs and okular on newer ones


Thank you again,
Have a nice day,
 Paolo
'I have a wish. It as a fear as well - that in my end will be my beginning'. [Ernesto Guevara]
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Re: FreeDOS as a everyday/common-use system; Pros of making FreeDOS and Windows3 more compatible

Rugxulo
In reply to this post by Louis Santillan
Hi,

On Thu, Jul 27, 2017 at 11:21 PM, Louis Santillan <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> It's more possible than ever [0] to compile the kernel with GCC.
> Skeeto/Chris Wells posted [1][2] an example of compiling 16-bit code
> with djgpp/GCC, including a linker script for linking 386+ real mode
> code into a 64KB COM.  Chris may have used a pre-4.9.x gcc [3] and/or
> pre-binutils-2.18 [4].  It now appears gas is also able to speak
> i8086, i186, i286 and can even generate correct, pure 16-bit mode
> instructions (no i386 opcode prefixes) [5] if given the correct
> directives (which appears to be `.code16gcc` in gas and the argument
> `-m16` to gcc).

I had some linker script from Martin Stromberg a few years ago (which
he apparently used for FDXMS). It stopped working in BinUtils 2.20 or
such due to some unknown bug. That bug is still there, but you can
successfully link a .COM if you use AT&T syntax instead of Intel:

http://www.delorie.com/archives/browse.cgi?p=djgpp-workers/2016/09/12/16:44:57

(Of course, I'm talking about hand-written code, not generated.)

Another guy (at Sourcery / Mentor) recently did some work on a 16-bit,
GCC-based cross-compiler, but it's not nearly finished yet, only a
preview. It "mostly" works (for small and tiny). It seems fairly well
done, but I'm not getting my hopes up for lots of future releases just
yet.

Perhaps SmallerC could be improved? It's 386+ but at least compiles
itself and supports a few different memory models.

Worst case, just rewrite it all for FPC's i8086-msdos (cross-)target!   ;-)

> Yes, it would be a large under taking but maybe a long term worthwhile goal ...

It's not that impossibly difficult, but it would definitely take a few
weeks (or months or ...). There are definitely several other things
that need attention, too. So it's easy to get distracted (or even
discouraged) by the weight of it all.

> ... as OW has seem to lost a bit of steam.

OW is still updated in Github (Jiri's fork). I don't know the official
status of all of it. They did lose some steam (but also added x64
support, which is a lot to do, obviously). I don't think it's totally
dead, but I also don't know whether it's reasonable to expect a full
release any time soon. (Sybase / SAP probably doesn't care anymore.)

https://github.com/open-watcom/open-watcom-v2

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Re: FreeDOS as a everyday/common-use system; Pros of making FreeDOS and Windows3 more compatible

tom ehlert
In reply to this post by Louis Santillan
> It's more possible than ever [0] to compile the kernel with GCC.
'This part of DJGPP is dedicated to the 16-bit tools that have been developed to assist in using DJGPP.

Note: I lost interest in these projects before I completed them.'


> Yes, it would be a large under taking but maybe a long term worthwhile
Yes, as long as YOU invest YOUR time on this.

> goal as OW has seem to lost a bit of steam.
a reliable, proven compiler is all we need.
we don't need a compiler with steam.

btw, just in case you lived on a different planet for the last 10+ years,
freedos also lost a bit (or all ) of steam,


with the sole and remarkable
exception of etherdfs, where some new, and even useful software was
recently created. no, a new setup every 5 years doesn't count.


> [0] http://www.delorie.com/djgpp/16bit/


Tom


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