Questions about FreeDOS 1.1 and 1.2

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Questions about FreeDOS 1.1 and 1.2

Dallas Cox
Hello.  My name is Dallas, a 15 year old Operating System enthusiast.  I have been using FreeDOS occasionally since 2014.  Since I couldn't find an email address to submit questions to, I'll assume it's okay to send then to this address.

First of all, I have an IBM ThinkCentre from 2005.  It runs Windows XP, and I am planning on splitting my partition to allow 2 GB for FreeDOS.  I have a 40 GB Maxtor 6N040T0, a Pentium 4 2.8 GHZ processor, 1 GB of DDR RAM 400mhz, a generic integrated Intel AC'97 Audio Controller, and an Intel 82865G Graphics Controller.

So here is my question.  Is it possible to run Windows 3.1 with sound and displaying at least 640x480x256, preferably 1024x768x256?  I am not worried about the internet connection, I just need to get these two things to work.  I have been able to run Windows 3.1 successfully in FreeDOS 1.1, but with no sound and at only 640x480x16.  If it won't work in FreeDOS 1.1, is there a chance it will work in FreeDOS 1.2?  If all fails, I am planning on buying old parts to build a retro computer, but it would still be nice if this would work.

Thank you.

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Re: Windows 3 and sound was: Questions about FreeDOS 1.1 and 1.2

Eric Auer-3

Hi Dallas in Canada ;-)

> FreeDOS.  I have a 40 GB Maxtor 6N040T0, a Pentium 4 2.8 GHZ
> processor, 1 GB of DDR RAM 400mhz, a generic integrated Intel AC'97
> Audio Controller, and an Intel 82865G Graphics Controller.
>
> So here is my question.  Is it possible to run Windows 3.1 with sound
> and displaying at least 640x480x256, preferably 1024x768x256?

As far as I can tell, you will not really get sound on a Pentium 4
with AC97. Only very few DOS programs support AC97 and I doubt that
Windows 3 drivers exist. Of course a Pentium 4 would be fast enough
to simulate a complete computer with classic (ISA) SoundBlaster to
install Windows. Having only 1 GB RAM should be no problem. Actually
Windows 3 already gets confused if you have more than 64 MB RAM in
a way visible for Windows.

* use VirtualHDIrq=OFF in the 386Enh section of system.ini
* use 32BitDiskAccess=OFF
* remove device=vshare.386 as it supports no FAT32
* use PageOverCommit=1 to limit SWAP size and let Win work > 256 MB RAM
* try WIN /D:SFVCX to disable breakpoints, 32 bit I/O, virtual IRQ, UMB

In general, it is very tricky to run Windows for Workgroups 3.11 in
FreeDOS at all. So I hope you mean the classic normal Windows 3.1,
which you can always run in STANDARD mode if the 386Enh mode fails
to work with FreeDOS or any of your drivers.

There should be SVGA or VESA drivers which work okay at 256 colors,
although often only at low resolutions and only 4:3, not 16:9 ones.

Some PCI soundcards also came with DOS support drivers, but whether
they include Windows 3 support varies. Examples: SoundBlaster Live
and SoundBlaster PCI, which came with protected mode drivers which
simulate ISA SoundBlaster for many DOS games. Other PCI sound cards
implement a limited amount of SoundBlaster compatibility in hardware
which requires a mainboard which at least still "remembers" ISA to
exist. I failed to get those to work with my games on AMD Athlon or
newer CPU, for example...

The most DOS game compatible would of course be a real ISA sound
card, on a mainboard with ISA and slow enough CPU, max Pentium III.

On more modern computers, it is probably a lot easier to simulate
older hardware and install things there. You also have complete
simulations of DOS (DOSBOX) and Windows (Wine) for Windows and/or
Linux available as free open source. The DOSEMU software simulates
only some old hardware, allowing you to install FreeDOS in there.

Cheers, Eric

PS: FreeDOS fans in Europe :-) I have some PCI soundcards which do
hardware attempts at ISA SoundBlaster compatibility. For example
one with ForteMedia FM801 chipset donated by MartinS. As said, it
seems that this requires older mainboards to work. Anybody in need?

PPS: Apart from old BIOS only seeing 120-ish GB, there is no reason
to use ancient (expired?) harddisks with FreeDOS. Up to 2 TB work.


------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Developer Access Program for Intel Xeon Phi Processors
Access to Intel Xeon Phi processor-based developer platforms.
With one year of Intel Parallel Studio XE.
Training and support from Colfax.
Order your platform today. http://sdm.link/xeonphi
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