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How to use German keyboard layout with FreeDOS?

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How to use German keyboard layout with FreeDOS?

Kai Schaetzl
I've been trying for the last two hours or so to find out how to use a
German keyboard with FreeDOS. There is enough information, but some of the
files cannot be downloaded anywhere. I'm running in circles. Or I'm
missing something obvious.

What I found out: I have to use keyb with a command line GR,,GR GR.KL /E
at runtime. And you need the corresponding .KL file. Fine.
Information from: http://help.fdos.org/de/hhstndrd/base/keyb.htm (German)
This page also says one can download the KL files from the links below on
that page.
Unfortunately, you can't. So, getting at the .KL files is a dead end.

Another page says that the .KL files are part of the KPDOS package. Which
is available. There are two packages (kp301s and kp301x), but no word
which explains what they contain. The s package contains the .key files
and the x package four keyboard.sys files. No idea what the difference is,
it's explained nowhere. Anyway, the s package contains the key files and
another page explains that you can use kc to compile the key file to a KL
file. Don't know if you need anything else for that. But: you cannot get
the kc package anywhere. Either there are no download links or it points
back to
http://www.ibiblio.org/pub/micro/pc-stuff/freedos/files/dos/keyb/kblayout/
or
http://www.ibiblio.org/pub/micro/pc-stuff/freedos/files/dos/keyb/

Yet another page mentions cpidos. But that contains only some ega.sys
files and I'm not sure what they are for. Video driver?

This is frustrating. Where can I get this kc package or the KL files?

Or, if there is an easier way, how can I use a German keyboard layout with
FreeDOS? I'm using FreeDOS 1.0/1.1.

Thanks!



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Re: How to use German keyboard layout with FreeDOS?

Eric Auer-3

Hi Kai,

> I've been trying for the last two hours or so to find out how to use a
> German keyboard with FreeDOS. There is enough information, but some...

The easiest driver is probably MKEYB:

http://www.freedos.org/software/?prog=mkeyb

It does not need extra files and has several popular layouts built-in:

http://help.fdos.org/de/hhstndrd/base/mkeyb.htm

However, if you want more choice, KEYB is indeed an option:

http://www.freedos.org/software/?prog=keyb

The KEYB layouts can be found here:

http://www.freedos.org/software/?prog=kpdos

Viel Spass! Eric



PS: You can also load European and other special fonts with:

http://www.freedos.org/software/?prog=cpidos
http://www.freedos.org/software/?prog=display
http://www.freedos.org/software/?prog=mode

They give you some additional accented chars like the Euro sign.
BIOS has https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_page_437 already.



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Re: How to use German keyboard layout with FreeDOS?

Kai Schaetzl
Eric Auer wrote on Sun, 14 Aug 2016 17:50:31 +0200:

Hi Eric,

thanks for the quick reply. In the meantime I found out that I can load a
German layout with just "keyb gr", just not the layout file itself or the
/E switch that is mentioned in that article. I assume the gr.kl is
embedded in the keyboard.sys file.
That's good enough for me. I don't need the Euro sign. I use FreeDOS
mainly on a USB stick for flashing bios and controller cards on rack
machines and my own workstations. And it drives me crazy if I have to
input some special characters like - _ / which commonly occur. Each time I
have to go by trial and error. And it seems you cannot type a ~ (tilde) at
all on a German keyboard under an en-us layout.
Now I can :-)
There is one thing still with keyb, though, that makes me wonder.
Shouldn't I be able to run it from autoexec.bat? I added "keyb gr" to it,
but it isn't executed (or it doesn't work at this stage). I have to run it
manually at the prompt. I'm also running keybw.com in autoexec.bat, right
before that. I don't know what that does. I just have it in there and
don't know if I added it some time ago or if it came with the first
FreeDOS configuration. Should I remove it?

> The KEYB layouts can be found here:
>
> http://www.freedos.org/software/?prog=kpdos

That's the point where the circle starts (and ends). There are no plain
keyboard layout files (.kl) in there, only the .key files. But these need
kc for compiling to a .kl file. And there's nowhere you can get kc from.
I don't need it now anymore it seems. But still wondering if it's really
not available from anywhere.

> Viel Spass!

Gleichfalls, von Berlin nach Berlin :-)

Kai

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Re: How to use German keyboard layout with FreeDOS?

tom ehlert
Kai,

an amazing amount of effort to get a german keyboard driver :<<


> Hi Eric,

> thanks for the quick reply. In the meantime I found out that I can load a
> German layout with just "keyb gr", just not the layout file itself or the
> /E switch that is mentioned in that article. I assume the gr.kl is
> embedded in the keyboard.sys file.
> That's good enough for me. I don't need the Euro sign. I use FreeDOS
> mainly on a USB stick for flashing bios and controller cards on rack
> machines and my own workstations. And it drives me crazy if I have to
> input some special characters like - _ / which commonly occur. Each time I
> have to go by trial and error. And it seems you cannot type a ~ (tilde) at
> all on a German keyboard under an en-us layout.
> Now I can :-)
> There is one thing still with keyb, though, that makes me wonder.
> Shouldn't I be able to run it from autoexec.bat? I added "keyb gr" to it,
> but it isn't executed (or it doesn't work at this stage). I have to run it
> manually at the prompt. I'm also running keybw.com in autoexec.bat, right
> before that. I don't know what that does. I just have it in there and
> don't know if I added it some time ago or if it came with the first
> FreeDOS configuration. Should I remove it?

>> The KEYB layouts can be found here:
>>
>> http://www.freedos.org/software/?prog=kpdos

> That's the point where the circle starts (and ends). There are no plain
> keyboard layout files (.kl) in there, only the .key files. But these need
> kc for compiling to a .kl file. And there's nowhere you can get kc from.

in that case, KPDOS does not qualify as open source, and I recommend to
remove KPDOS from future releases of FreeDOS


> I don't need it now anymore it seems. But still wondering if it's really
> not available from anywhere.

>> Viel Spass!

> Gleichfalls, von Berlin nach Berlin :-)

> Kai


instead I recommend

http://www.ibiblio.org/pub/micro/pc-stuff/freedos/files/dos/keyb/mkeyb/mkeyb041.zip

and a command line

  KEYB GR

(note: I'm the author)



Mit freundlichen Grüßen/Kind regards
Tom Ehlert
+49-241-79886


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Re: How to use German keyboard layout with FreeDOS?

Rugxulo
Hi,

On Mon, Aug 15, 2016 at 9:00 AM, Tom Ehlert <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>>> The KEYB layouts can be found here:
>>>
>>> http://www.freedos.org/software/?prog=kpdos
>
>> That's the point where the circle starts (and ends). There are no plain
>> keyboard layout files (.kl) in there, only the .key files. But these need
>> kc for compiling to a .kl file. And there's nowhere you can get kc from.

Assuming you have the "full" (official) FD 1.1 install, do you not
find KC.EXE anywhere?

Booting up "FreeDOS 1.1 final" under VBox ... "dir /s/a-d/b \kc.exe" shows this:

c:\fdos\bin\kc.exe

Of course, you can also just do "kc /?" or "which kc".

> in that case, KPDOS does not qualify as open source, and I recommend to
> remove KPDOS from future releases of FreeDOS

Let's not overreact.

I haven't messed with this stuff much, esp. recently, so I don't
remember the details. (And obviously I'm not the maintainer anyways.)

But isn't this what you're actually looking for (although you don't
direly need it, AFAIK)??

http://www.ibiblio.org/pub/micro/pc-stuff/freedos/files/dos/keyb/2.0/kc200x.zip
(That has KC.EXE, KEYCODE.EXE, and KLIB.EXE . Plus, sources in
kc200s.zip also exist.)

>> I don't need it now anymore it seems. But still wondering if it's really
>> not available from anywhere.

Just for comparison, I looked here, and apparently in FD 1.0 (2006) it
was bundled inside KEYB[XS].ZIP:

http://www.ibiblio.org/pub/micro/pc-stuff/freedos/files/distributions/1.0/pkgs/

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Re: How to use German keyboard layout with FreeDOS?

Rugxulo
In reply to this post by Kai Schaetzl
Hi,

On Sun, Aug 14, 2016 at 10:00 AM, Kai Schaetzl <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> Yet another page mentions cpidos. But that contains only some ega.sys
> files and I'm not sure what they are for. Video driver?

Maybe I'm the wrong person to summarize this. I've only lightly
dabbled in i18n for DOS (and not lately), but it's basically this:

You've got a lot of little pieces trying to play nice together to give
you some weak semblance of international support. Normally this is
called (deprecated) "code pages" (although there are editors that let
you convert "on the fly" to more popular encodings, e.g. UTF-8).

So, in a perfect world, if your "country" / language is fully
supported, you'd load COUNTRY.SYS, NLSFUNC, DISPLAY, KEYB,
PRINTER.SYS, use MODE and CHCP, etc. The EGA.CPX (compressed .CPI)
hold the glyphs for redefining the default (presumably US-437) font
for various languages. But the font alone isn't useful unless you can
access it, and that's where KEYB comes in. They're supposed to all
cooperate (in theory), but that doesn't always work or isn't fully
supported.

So you're allowed to have several code pages loaded in memory at once,
even able to switch them (in theory), even from within select apps.
Some apps can even detect your "country" and behave accordingly
(currency, date/time, uppercase, yes/no).

Honestly, it's quite a glorious mess, and sadly most people don't
bother with supporting it.

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Re: How to use German keyboard layout with FreeDOS?

Kai Schaetzl
In reply to this post by Rugxulo
Rugxulo wrote on Mon, 15 Aug 2016 11:35:27 -0500:

> Assuming you have the "full" (official) FD 1.1 install, do you not
> find KC.EXE anywhere?

No, I don't have kc. I'm not running FreeDOS 1.1 iso. I don't remember the
history. I grabbed files for FreeDOS b1.0 and 1.1 some time ago from a zip. It
looks like the "essential" stuff only. VER does not report a DOS version, only a
FreeCOM-0.84 version. I think I'm running 1.1, but only the core. There is no bin
directory.

> http://www.ibiblio.org/pub/micro/pc-stuff/freedos/files/dos/keyb/2.0/kc200x.zip
> (That has KC.EXE, KEYCODE.EXE, and KLIB.EXE . Plus, sources in
> kc200s.zip also exist.)

Ah, ok. There are so many files in the keyb path. I tried the 3.01 files and also
a few others, from bottom to top, but I gave up in the middle.

Anyway, don't need it anymore. Just needed the right parameter for keyb.

Thanks!



Kai

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Re: How to use German keyboard layout with FreeDOS?

Kai Schaetzl
In reply to this post by tom ehlert
Tom Ehlert wrote on Mon, 15 Aug 2016 16:00:55 +0200:

> an amazing amount of effort to get a german keyboard driver

Not really once you know that you don't need the .kl file.
According to
http://help.fdos.org/de/hhstndrd/base/keyb.htm
you have to run (as an example) "keyb GR,,GR GR.KL /E".
You need the .kl file for this.
However "keyb gr" suffices. Just that it's not mentioned anywhere. As I
said I assume the GR layout is embedded in keyboard.sys, anyway.

With that in mind, it's the same as with your driver: download and run
"keyb gr". Anyway, just to see if there's a difference I changed now to
mkeyb. Both keyboard drivers work.

But I have the same problem with it. Adding "keyb gr" to autoexec.bat does
not run it. It seems autoexec.bat isn't executed at all. Shouldn't it run
automatically once DOS is loaded?

Thanks!

Kai

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Re: How to use German keyboard layout with FreeDOS?

tom ehlert
Hallo Herr Kai Schaetzl,

am 18. August 2016 um 15:31 schrieben Sie:

> Tom Ehlert wrote on Mon, 15 Aug 2016 16:00:55 +0200:

>> an amazing amount of effort to get a german keyboard driver

> Not really once you know that you don't need the .kl file.
> According to
> http://help.fdos.org/de/hhstndrd/base/keyb.htm
> you have to run (as an example) "keyb GR,,GR GR.KL /E".
> You need the .kl file for this.
> However "keyb gr" suffices. Just that it's not mentioned anywhere. As I
> said I assume the GR layout is embedded in keyboard.sys, anyway.

> With that in mind, it's the same as with your driver: download and run
> "keyb gr". Anyway, just to see if there's a difference I changed now to
> mkeyb. Both keyboard drivers work.

> But I have the same problem with it. Adding "keyb gr" to autoexec.bat does
> not run it. It seems autoexec.bat isn't executed at all.

if something 'seems', add

   echo HELLO WORLD

to the front of your autoexec.bat


> Shouldn't it run
> automatically once DOS is loaded?

yes.
as our clairvoyant has left us, how about posting CONFIG.SYS?



> Thanks!

> Kai




Mit freundlichen Grüßen/Kind regards
Tom Ehlert
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Re: How to use German keyboard layout with FreeDOS?

Ralf Quint
In reply to this post by Kai Schaetzl
On 8/18/2016 6:31 AM, Kai Schaetzl wrote:
> Tom Ehlert wrote on Mon, 15 Aug 2016 16:00:55 +0200:
>
>> an amazing amount of effort to get a german keyboard driver
> Not really once you know that you don't need the .kl file.
> According to
> http://help.fdos.org/de/hhstndrd/base/keyb.htm
> you have to run (as an example) "keyb GR,,GR GR.KL /E".
Well, no. You "have to" read the instructions properly though.
It clearly states after that example that you need those additional
parameters only if you are encumbered with an enhanced AT keyboard
(101/102keys) as opposed to a standard XT (83keys)/AT keyboard (84
keys)  that isn't recognized as such and the additional keys don't work.
As pretty much all keyboards of the last 20 years are newer versions of
that enhanced AT keyboard type, it is very unlikely that today you would
still have one of those unrecognized ones from 30+ years back on your
system...
> But I have the same problem with it. Adding "keyb gr" to autoexec.bat does
> not run it. It seems autoexec.bat isn't executed at all. Shouldn't it run
> automatically once DOS is loaded?
Unless you made a very fundamental error, it likely is.
Tom posted already one way to verify that, another one would be to put a
PAUSE statement before (and after) the statement in question as well as
making you that the default ECHO mode is on (no ECHO OFF statement at
the top of your autoexec.bat). You should see the command being called
and any error message if there's something wrong with that line...

Ralf

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Re: How to use German keyboard layout with FreeDOS?

Rugxulo
In reply to this post by Kai Schaetzl
Hi,

On Thu, Aug 18, 2016 at 8:31 AM, Kai Schaetzl <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> But I have the same problem with it. Adding "keyb gr" to autoexec.bat does
> not run it. It seems autoexec.bat isn't executed at all. Shouldn't it run
> automatically once DOS is loaded?

Normally (but not always) it is called "autoexec.bat", which is called
from the shell from within "config.sys".

IIRC, some DOSes have different names (sometimes for dual booting,
e.g. DR-DOS: dconfig.sys, autodos7.bat).

For FreeDOS, "fdconfig.sys" is read before "config.sys". And in that
you can specify a different name for the .BAT, e.g. see below for what
I personally use (non-standard!):

!SHELL=\SYSTEM\COMMAND.COM \SYSTEM /E:1024 /MSG /P=\FDAUTO.BAT

You can also technically change the "kernel.sys" file name and use a
switch of SYS to boot a different name, but that's quite obscure.
Sure, normally it's okay to do whatever if you're running a single DOS
alone, but sometimes you want to have multiple paths of execution
(e.g. "BOOT" / MetaKern).

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Re: How to use German keyboard layout with FreeDOS?

Rugxulo
In reply to this post by Kai Schaetzl
Hi,

On Thu, Aug 18, 2016 at 8:31 AM, Kai Schaetzl <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> VER does not report a DOS version, only a
> FreeCOM-0.84 version. I think I'm running 1.1, but only the core. There is no bin
> directory.

Try "ver /r" or check the file date of "kernel.sys" (but neither is
100% guaranteed since any of it can be freely changed). IIRC, FD 1.1
used kernel 2040.

> Anyway, don't need it anymore. Just needed the right parameter for keyb.

There's also a very tiny one from Japheth ("Public Domain" [with
sources, apparently]):

http://web.archive.org/web/20140325234635/http://www.japheth.de/Download/DOS/KEYBGR.zip

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