Anyone in need of bash?

I found this post the other day, and thought it was interesting.

Date: 13 Apr 91 18:17:44 GMT
Organization: University of Helsinki
Lines: 18

I've recently ported bash to minix-386 (nice, but takes about 300kB of
RAM). It's been "tested" by me using it all the time (good editing and
history - couldn't live without it any more), but I won't make any
guarantees. If anybody is interested in cdiffs against bash-1.05, please
mail me (I'll post if there is enough interest).

The port definitely needs GCC, and 386-minix. ST-minix will probably
work as well (I've sent it to one ST-minixer), after changeing a #define
LITTLE_ENDIAN to BIG_ENDIAN. If the port already has been done by
someone else - just ignore this message.

Linus Torvalds

PS. I've hacked the kernel to accept gcc-compiled programs directly
without going through gcc2minix, but I haven't tested it very much yet
(bash works though, so most things probably will). Changes are trivial,
mail me if interested. (And yes - it accepts old minix format too - you
don't have to recompile everything :-)

Naturally it’s about the impending birth of Linux.  First he needed to get GCC running under Minix 386, but I didn’t know at the time that he had patches floating around to allow Minix to directly run the GCC A.OUT format executables.

Scary to think that if Minix had allowed submissions and ‘bloat’ that Linux would have never been.

On the other hand, much like 386BSD the backpressure of having some kind of free BSD/UNIX system which did take in submissions was overwhelming, with the false start of 386BSD going the route of Minix and in that first critical year not pulling in any of the additional patches, while Linux grew by leaps and bounds.  By the time the AT&T vs BSDi lawsuit hit, well the game was already in Linux’s favour, even with it’s already fragmented distro base.

2ine the OS/2 emulator

So this is really super cool! Ryan C. Gordon has written a Wine like program to run OS/2 programs!

Using 32bit Linux, and some native libraries, 2ine can load up an LX (32bit) executable and try to run it under Linux, much in the same way that Wine can run Windows programs.  And yes it’ll run EMX built stuff.  Although keep in mind the original Microsoft based languages, programs and tools is all 16bit.  After the whole Windows 3.0 thing and the split of Microsoft from the OS/2 project all their tools are either 16 bit, or 32bit LE format, which IBM had dumped for the LX format once OS/2 2.0 had shipped.

You can read about his incredible progress, and all the trials and tribulations of running OS/2 programs, along with the craziness that is thunking back and forth to the 16bit space for the old VIO calls that had never were updated to 32bit in that transition phase where a good chunk of OS/2 never was updated from 16bit, over on his patreon page here.

Attempting to run anything 16bit or LE will give you:

./lx_loader CL.EXE
not an OS/2 LX module

But let’s try my crazy Win32 hosted EMX 0.8h cross compiler!

C:\emx\demo\dhry>gcc -v dhyrstone.c -o dhyrstone.exe
gcc version 2.5.8
cpp -lang-c -v -undef -D__GNUC__=2 -D__GNUC_MINOR__=5 -D__32BIT__ -D__EMX__ -Di386 -D__32BIT__ -D__EMX__ -D__i386__ -D__32BIT__ -D__EMX__ -D__i386 -Asystem(unix) -Asystem(emx) -Acpu(i386) -Amachine(i386) dhyrstone.c C:\Temp/cca13032
GNU CPP version 2.5.8 (80386, BSD syntax)
#include “…” search starts here:
#include <…> search starts here:
End of search list.
cc1 C:\Temp/cca13032 -quiet -dumpbase dhyrstone.c -version -o C:\Temp/ccb13032
GNU C version 2.5.8 (80386, BSD syntax) compiled by GNU C version 5.1.0.
as -o C:\Temp/ccc13032 C:\Temp/ccb13032
ld -o dhyrstone.exe /emx/lib/crt0.o -L/emx/lib C:\Temp/ccc13032 -lgcc -lc -lgcc -lemxst -los2 -lemx2

And now running that on Linux…

root@alpharacks:/usr/src/2ine-4a8318f4056f# file dhyrstone.exe
dhyrstone.exe: MS-DOS executable, LX for OS/2 (console) i80386, emx 0.8c
root@alpharacks:/usr/src/2ine-4a8318f4056f# ./lx_loader dhyrstone.exe
Dhrystone(1.1) time for 5000000 passes = 3
This machine benchmarks at 1666666 dhrystones/second

You’d never know that this was an OS/2 program, if I didn’t tell you.

I tried the old 87 Infocom interpreter, and it’ll run great too!

root@alpharacks:/usr/src/2ine-4a8318f4056f# file infocom.exe
infocom.exe: MS-DOS executable, LX for OS/2 (console) i80386, emx 0.8c

root@alpharacks:/usr/src/2ine-4a8318f4056f# ./lx_loader infocom.exe advent.z3

At End Of Road Score: 36/0
Welcome to Adventure! Do you need instructions? (y/n) >n

A Modern Classic
Based on Adventure by Willie Crowther and Don Woods (1977)
And prior adaptations by David M. Baggett (1993), Graham Nelson (1994), and
Adapted once more by Jesse McGrew (2015)
Release 1 / Serial number 151001 / ZILF 0.7 lib J3

At End Of Road
You are standing at the end of a road before a small brick building. Around you
is a forest. A small stream flows out of the building and down a gully.

At End Of Road Score: 36/0

Again it’s works so well it’s amazing!

You can find the 2ine source over on here.  I had to tweek the heck out of the CmakeList.txt to get it to build, and since I was interested in the command line, I ended up disabling all the SDL / PM stuff, and make sure I had the ‘wide/unicode’ version of ncurses installed.

I don’t think there really was any killer 32 bit OS/2 applications, but with clean room versions of:

  • doscalls.dll
  • kbdcalls.dll
  • msg.dll
  • nls.dll
  • quecalls.dll
  • sesmgr.dll
  • tcpip32.dll
  • viocalls.dll

Not to mention being able to call into Linux DLL’s and using ‘clean’ OS/2 DLL’s would let you embrace and extend OS/2.. Or maybe even let you build the proverbial fantasy of both RISC & 64 bit OS/2. …..

Links 386 Pro

Out on the course

Links 386 is one of those programs that is very easy to love to hate.  It was 1992, and PC’s were mostly being used for business, and high powered 32-bit machines were still insanely expensive.  And then Links 386 happened.  Before there was DooM, Links 386 was the ‘must have’ executive ball clacking device.  And the specs that you needed to run this game were really over the top.  At it’s heart was the Phar Lap 386 Dos extender, along with the virtual memory module.. Which most people would have to rely on.  Links 386 really needs over 8MB of RAM to run.  Yes, that is correct, in 1992 you were recommended to get 8MB (which should have been about $400-800 USD) So you can golf at your desk.  But as the name implies you also needed a 386 classed computer, although ideally you would have one of those new 486’s!  Links 386 also pushed the edge by wanting a VESA capable SVGA card that could use mode 101, 103, or 105.  Although the higher resolutions modes just ended up with logos everywhere, it really didn’t take enough advantage of the higher resolution modes.

Another interesting thing is not only does Links 386 have sound drivers (which means you need a sound card!) but it’ll do voice through the AdLib card.  Also it has a driver model, the WLZ, which I don’t know if they ever published or if people wrote additional sound drivers.

Links 386 installer

The installer is kind of cute, in that it’s flat shading is so old it’s now modern.  How’s that for crazy?

Installation is a snap, at only four diskettes.  They sold additional courses, and I only have one additional course, although oddly enough finding others online is pretty trivial.  However I had far less luck finding the program.  One nice tip to Infocom is that the courses include a score card, like the ones you would get on actual courses.  It really tied the package together.

Don’t copy that floppy!

Although for me, I really bought it for the manual.

Pebble Beach

And I have to admit it, Access Software did a great job.  Even all these years later, it looks great.  But no doubt scaling and placing all the textures is SLOW.  Incredibly slow.

Back in the 90’s I had a lowly support job, and I’d get flown all over the country to help out with issues, and it’d never fail that the regional director would have ‘issues at home’ and amazingly they’d always ask about running Links 386 Pro.  No doubt a lot of people upgraded machines, and got to brag to their buddies on how fast Links would now load.  Running at actual 386 speeds will take nearly a minute to render the screen between shots.

The DOS Extender was forever very touchy.  It took a bit of work to get around it’s issues, with the continuous conflicts with TSR’s, drivers, sound cards, video cards.. It was a nightmare of compatibility issues.  Not to mention that although Phar Lap 4.1 was DPMI compatible, it really didn’t play that nice with OS/2 or Windows.  Microsoft would later come to the rescue for this costed gamer market in the form of buying Links away from Access software, and putting out Microsoft Golf.  And much like SimCity, being able to run this under Windows make it immensely popular in the workplace, as all you needed to find were Windows drivers for your hardware, which vendors did actually support, unlike games.

It’s amazing how companies like Phar Lap, or Rational never did try to make an actual gaming platform for their extenders, leaving it all up to individuals.  My older self says that Microsoft’s rise to prominence in the 90’s was mostly due to their competitors incompetence, rather than their brilliance.

Although DOS Extenders like Phar Lap have been around since the introduction of the 80386, Links 386 Pro is the oldest one I know of.  If you like programs that try their best to bend the limits of what you can or should do, certainly check out Links 386 Pro!

Citrix Multiuser 2.0

Back before selling auto insurance

Citrix Multuser 2.0

Nothing like a little vintage advertising to try to re-capture the feel.  But don’t let the colorful lizard fool you, this certainly was a dark time for Citrix.  Firs they had tooled a product around the future of the PC market, OS/2 to only have Microsoft pull out of active development just as they were launching Multiuser 1.0.  And to be fair it wasn’t just Citrix, the whole industry including Microsoft was in turmoil as people were pulling away from IBM and selecting Windows on MS-DOS of all things!

Citrix, like a lot of vars were caught in this lurch between OS/2 and the forthcoming NT OS/2 3.0, which of course ended up becoming Windows NT.  During this time even Microsoft had to keep selling it’s SQL server on OS/2, along with it’s LanManager file & print server.  Although they had a solution for the end user in the form of Windows they didn’t have any server platform.  That left Citrix chasing the tail end of the application wave again as although they could now finally use OS/2 2.0, with it’s 32bit/16bit hybrid kernel, there remote user solution was still terminal based.

IBM OS/2 ad

As IBM & Microsoft had split up the direction of the OS/2 project, IBM was running with version 2 as a platform for running DOS & Windows applications.  Which ultimately lead to the major problem that OS/2 ran Windows apps better than native Windows thanks to it’s ability to run isolated Windows VM’s using paravirutalized graphic drivers.  It wasn’t until Windows NT 3.5 could Microsoft meet this feat with it’s new platform.  Suddenly Citrix had access to tonnes of MS-DOS based applications, much to my surprise there is even a DPMI driver on the disks I have, meaning that Windows 3.0 standard mode can run, along with DooM!  But for Citrix this would be another one of those ‘not good enough’ moments where PC Servers were just high end workstations that could easily be maxed by one user, commodity multiprocessor machines were years off, and of course everyone was jumping to Windows 3.0.

But this did at least you run MS-DOS applications remotely, over dialup.

Citrix multiuser 2.0 boot

Installing Citrix Multiuser 2.00 starts looking very much like one of the 1.x versions of OS/2 with a far more busier screen featuring the Citrix tree.  However from this point onward it feels a LOT more like IBM OS/2 2.00.  Citrix interestingly enough has two disk 1’s, one that features newer LADDR drivers, and another with the older 1.x drivers.  Although under bochs, the older driver disk crashes out.  The entire OS fits on 8 high density 5 1/4″ diskettes.  As teased before this post, I saw this on eBay, ordered it immediately to only discover that I don’t have the needed drive, and had to order one from pc-rath_de, and I wanted to give a shout out, as he made sure that I had the proper floppy ribbon cable, so I could go ahead with this fun project.

Although I had been expecting this to be inline with the never released Microsoft OS/2 2.00, it clearly has a lot of IBM vestige, even though the OS/2 source code license agreement was between Citrix and Microsoft.

Indeed, even checking the OS level:

IBM OS/2 Base Operating System
Standard Edition 2.00     Component ID 560109001
Current CSD level: XR00000
Prior   CSD level: XR00000

Compare this to the OS/2 2.00 GA:

IBM OS/2 Base Operating System
Version 2.00 Component ID 562107701
Type 0
Current CSD level: XR02000
Prior CSD level: XR00000

So clearly this is not in sync with the General availability of OS/2.  What this is closer to sync with is the OS/2 LA – Limited Availability release.

IBM OS/2 Base Operating System
Standard Edition 2.00 Component ID 560109001
Current CSD level: XR00000
Prior CSD level: XR00000

Well isn’t that interesting?

Having had the misfortune of crashing all three we can look at the internal revisions:

Citrix Internal revision 2.053 6.177H base

LA Internal revision 6.167 91-10-08

GA Internal revision 6.307 92-03-01

So this make the BOS (Base Operating System in IBM speak) newer than the OS/2 LA (Limited Availability) kernel, however quite a few revisions behind the GA (General Availability).  This of course means that Citrix Multiuser 2.0 is basically incompatible with any 32bit OS/2 software.  I was unable to run anything EMX based, nor could I run the vast majority of the 32bit TCP/IP stack for OS/2 2.00.  The best I could do was have it load the drivers, to where I could setup and ping the loopback, but the route command crashes the system, and any of the commands simply refuse to run.  Not being able to run 32bit OS/2 applications greatly reduces the usability of the system, and falls further to the OS/2 trap that it really just excels at running MS-DOS apps.

It was a bit of a surprise to find out that even though Citrix had their source license through Microsoft, the 2.0 components turned out to be the upstream components from IBM.  Just as the included Qbasic is the IBM version, along with the other components.  The terminal support is naturally more robust than version 1, although I think the larger problem I had trying to run OS/2 programs it that many terminals are hard coded for 24 lines, and I don’t think you can change that in Citrix.  And it does mention that if you do try to run on a 24 line terminal that DOS won’t run.

Much like 1.0, all the administration is done via text tools.  It feels weird at first as even on the console there doesn’t seem to be any mouse integration, although the installer does ask if you do have a mouse on the system.

And like 1.0 there is no Presentation Manager, so no graphics on the console.  HOWEVER you can run MS-DOS graphical stuff on the console. Although today I have no real need for it, but I went ahead and setup the included Windows support.

Windows for OS/2

What is interesting is that you are expected to supply your own retail version of Windows 3.00, and Citrix has some updated drivers, along with OS2K286.EXE, and updated program manager, control panel, and print manager.  While IBM included a full copy of Windows 3.00 at this point, this feels like the beginning of OS/2 for Windows – AKA the Borg.

Going Multiuser

First I just setup a COM port on Bochs to Listen on port 8880.  Unfortunately this isn’t resilient, as Bochs will wait for a connect before actually starting, and if you drop off, it won’t let you connect back in.

com1: enabled=1, mode=socket-server, dev=localhost:8880

And then it’s a matter of running CFGTERM, and adding in the Async module.

Citrix add in Async

With the module added you then just have to assign a port.

ICA profile

I didnt’ do anything special other than telling Citrix that there is no modem, it’s a direct connect, and to use the ICA terminal profile.

Using the Citrix MultiLink program, and DOSBox I was able to add an ICA terminal.  On DOSBox I had to specify a modem with an IRQ in the config like this:

serial2=modem irq3 listenport:5001

CML modem settings

In the modem settings I had to set this to Forced connect, otherwise it’ll never see the server.

CML dialup profile

And here is how I ‘called’ the Bochs VM.  And then after ‘dialing’ in Bochs will start up the Citrix VM, and then you’ll get the simple Login prompt.  Login and you’ll get pselect.

Logging in to Pselect

Pselect the the text based UI tool to get around your OS/2 sessions.  It’s a little cumbersome at first, but once you get used to it, it’s just like OS/2 1.0 … Or Multiuser 1.0 for that matter, nothing really changed, except you can start MS-DOS Sessions now.

MS-DOS over the serial port

And yes, you can run Qbasic.  But you can’t do anything graphical. Not even DooM.  Although after loading the VDPMI device driver, DooM v1.1 will run, but then it’ll give you this fun error:

No graphics over the serial line

And that is where I’m going to have to leave this adventure for now.


I built an AROS machine out of scrap!

Got to say it’s really cool that it works with hardware 3D acceleration.

I may want to try to do something with it later on, however I’ll need to get it a case.

I have a cold, and yeah sound like crap.  I’ll add specs later as I think my fever is kicking back in.  Sigh.  But yeah basically

  • P4 board / CPU / RAM $150 HKD
  • GTX-460 card $180 HKD
  • Sound Blaster Live! $20 HKD
  • 37GB IDE disk $20 HKD
  • PS/2 Keyboard $20 HKD
  • PS/2 Mouse $10 HKD
  • 700 Watt Power Supply $150 HKD

So yeah ~550 HKD or $70 USD.  Not bad.

So a little closer look at the hardware.  I’m lucky that there is an active used hardware market here in Hong Kong, elsewhere in the world you either have HAM radio events, ‘boot sales’, garage sales, or for the truly desperate, eBay, Yahoo auctions, and AliExpress.  My go to place here is of course the Capital Computer Centre, where they at least will test stuff before selling it.  I know I’m old fashioned but I like buying in person.


Intel P4 Mother Board

I had originally chosen this board to mess around with Darwin.  I wanted something new enough to have a P4, but old enough to still have an older ‘parallel’ EIDE controller port. And the Intel D945GNT, board certainly was up to that task.  Like ancient Darwin, AROS works best with either parallel disks, or SATA disks in older parallel emulation.  The markings on this board are a little hard to read as the bigger numbers are the product testing/radio compliance numbers, and the model number is a bunch of possible models as I guess they like to make so many variations on a single board.

close up of the D945GNT

Here is a close up, and E210882 is *NOT* the mode number.  Nothing like confusion.

The Intel D945GNT motherboards built in NIC, the Intel PRO/100

One of the big reasons for using the Intel board, is that it has an onboard NIC, and Intel of course uses Intel NIC’s so it has the very compatible Intel PRO/100 VE Desktop Adapter.

While you can get these on PCI cards, and use other boards, I figured since I was going to buy a board anyways, and once things get this old the people selling them really don’t care who made the board, but rather that this is an old P4 board, they all sell for the same price.

Another plus about this board is that it is new enough not to have AGP, but rather the new and exciting PCI Express.  This board as the Express x16, which of course is perfect for a ‘large’ GPU.  AROS has a port of the Gallium3D nouveau driver, making this perfect for a super cheap GTX 460.

I shopped around for a while and I found this accelerator, that although has no apparent labeling at least on the flip side it has the identification.  I really don’t know what is the fastest GPU you can get for AROS, but this one seems to work just fine, and it’s what Stephen Jones is using so that is what I went with.

Inno3D GTX-460

And looking under AROS, this is how the PCI resources show up for the video card.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460

This was an old card, and it looked like either the OEM didn’t put any stickers on it, or someone had taken them off.  Either way I don’t care, and it doesn’t matter as it works just fine.  Sure the GTX 1080 is over five times faster, but the open Gallium driver won’t work with it as Nvidia has done their best to break open stuff, and even if it did, you can’t buy a 1080 for less than a pizza.  At least not yet.

For some reason, I had begun collecting older and cheap Sound Blaster cards when I see them.  I wasn’t going to spend more than $50 HKD ($7 USD) for them, so I don’t have an Audigy cards yet, but I did have this Live card.  At the time I didn’t think it was anything special, although the EMU10k chip is desirable, and popular for much older systems.

Sound Blaster Live!

This card is the CT0100 model.  And it works great!


And this is how AROS sees the card

Sound Blaster Live! with EMU10k1 chip

The AROS HCL is a little confusing to me, but it all seems to work.  If it weren’t for the Stephen Jones video I wouldn’t have tried as it implies it won’t work.

I have to admit that it’s impressive.  For anyone interested you can find AROS Icarus Desktop here, and here is Stephen Jones’s video that inspired me to see this run in real life!

PC-MOS/386 v5.01 released under GPL v3.0!

Sources over on github!

I’ve only just received notification of this, and had to post it forward.  All I know is that you’ll need Borland C++ 3.1 along with Borland Brief to re-build the system.  I haven’t tried it just yet, but I most certainly will!

For those unaware, PC-MOS is a multi-user multi-tasking MS-DOS like Operating System.  I looked at this some years ago.. More so interested in seeing if and how various MS-DOS like OS’s could run under modern emulation.

It may be interesting to pit FreeDOS vs PC-MOS/386.

On a personal note, it’s great to see that PC-MOS won’t just end up a minor footnote in wikipedia until it gets pushed off, instead it can live on

Started to re-build my MS-DOS machine


Good news, it actually works!  I was using the version 1.1 WAD, so honestly weird crashes really aren’t unexpected.  I haven’t looked much at what to do with audio, but I was really impressed compared to the Qauake II wars, it was really surprising to not only see DooM run on the first shot in real metal, but the keyboard works as well.  Well enough for me to pick a level, and get killed.

Naturally it doesn’t work under Windows, however it runs fine with MS-DOS mode.

Null DooM, GCC 1.39, GO32 and DPMI


DooM via DJGPP v1 GO32

Around the time of the x68000 port of DooM, I was cutting down the DooM source for a null/portable version.  I never could get it to actually run either using EMX or  DJGPP 1.03, as I couldn’t get it to link to save my life with a constant never ending battle of unresolved symbols. After a while I just used what I had towards the x68000 version and concentrated on getting it up and running, and just shelved the null/portable effort.

Later on I wanted to get it running again as part of messing with another cross compiler, as DooM isn’t a trivial application to port and verify correct operation. And in the process of trying to get the null version to build and run on Windows using TDM GCC, I wanted to make sure it at least kept compiling with GCC v1.x.

Once more again I was able to compile individual files but unable to link.  But this time, I just looked at the diffs for binutils, I thought it should be somewhat easy to get hosted on Windows.  Although versions may point to binutils 1.0, I had to use binutils-1.9.tar.gz even though the diffs are against Mar 24 1991, and the source for 1.9 is dated April 17 1991.

My first effort gave me a linker that would happily link, but go32 would either refuse to run the executable, or just crash.  I was going to give up again, but I found mention in another file that DJGPP actually uses the linker from G++, the C++ compiler which was a separate thing in the late ’80s and early’90’s.  This time it worked, and I could link a trivial hello world style application!

Now that I finally had a cross linker actually working, I didn’t want to compile under emulation, so looking at the other diffs, they didn’t look too extensive. I went ahead ,and took DJGPP v1.06 and patched up the compiler & assembler to get a full cross toolchain.  And in no time, I had a null version of DooM running on MS-DOS well at least tested on DOSBox.

This was fun, and all but I didn’t see any easy way to do fun things like hook interrupts so I could get the keyboard & clock like any good MS-DOS program.  DPMI greatly eased this kind of stuff, so looking at the DJGPP history, DJGPP v1 version 1.10 actually adds preliminary DPMI support!  And in the next version, DPMI was much more better supported, however the binary format had changed from a.out to COFF as part of the move to v1.11. I was able to take the memory, and DPMI portions from the final v1.12 libc, and manually build and run them against the v1.06 library / dev tools.

And much to my surprise, it actually worked!  At least having the wrong format didn’t have any effect on how GO32 worked for me.

So feeling lazy, I snagged some of the support code from Maraakate’s revamp of DooM, just to make sure of the timer code, and the keyboard code, and again verified that I can build with the keyboard & timer ISR and I’m able to play the v1.9 shareware & commercial levels fine.  I haven’t done a thing to clean up or update the DooM source itself against all the dozens of bugs and issues with Ultimate DooM, or other games like Chex Quest etc.

I’m sure 99% of people wouldn’t care but you can download it here:

Download crossdjgppv1

Although I’m using DPMI to drive realtime events, if I looked further at the GO32 v1.06 environments I could either figure out how it operates it’s timer, or modify the extender directly to drive the PIC timer and keyboard as I need.  But overlooking that, the vintage 1991 software is more than capable of running DooM.

MS-DOS player can now embed executables

So what this means is that now you can make fully standalone Win32/Win64 executables out of CLI based MS-DOS applications.

D:\tcc>msdos\binary\i486_x64\msdos.exe tcc -Iinclude -Llib hi.c
Turbo C++ Version 3.00 Copyright (c) 1992 Borland International
Turbo Link Version 5.0 Copyright (c) 1992 Borland International

Available memory 4215648

D:\tcc>c:msdos\binary\i486_x64\msdos.exe hi

D:\tcc>c:msdos\binary\i486_x64\msdos.exe -c hi.exe
‘new_exec_file.exe’ is successfully created


Isn’t that great?

I’ve had one issue with Turbo C++ 3.00 and that is the embedded executable will run out of memory while linking, but invoking it by calling msdos.exe let’s it run fine. If you compile and link separately it’ll run just fine.

As always you can find the project page here:



MS-DOS 5.00A booting on Neko Project 21

While I’m waiting for my real PC-9821 to arrive, I’ve been playing with various software.  One fun thing was the old DJGPP, as the version 1.x had a customized version of go32 to support the PC-98 hardware.  This is cool, but I’d love to perhaps start down the road of porting something to the PC-98.  There is no VGA adapter, and the I/O is mapped differently so naturally this is why they are only loosely compatible.  So while I was looking for any kind of source code using DJGPP, I found the FCE: Family Computer Emulator (NES).  It includes source code, which is great but it builds against DJGPP 2.x What makes it more interesting is that it has DPMI hooks in place, unlike the old DJGPP 1.x’s DOS extender which is DPMI incompatible.  So how do you magically get a DPMI environment for MS-DOS?  Well one way is to run it under Windows 3.0 or higher.  And certainly with MS-DOS 3.30 that is an option.  However lurking in the disk images of MS-DOS 5.00A was a fun program DPMI.EXE .  Well now that is interesting!

MSDOS 5.00A native memory

MSDOS 5.00A native memory

Using a generic config.sys I have 600kb of low RAM available, and 7MB of extended RAM.

Now the real interesting part is DPMI.INI

network=*vnetbios, *dosnet

As you can see this is pretty much the 386 enhanced portion of Windows 3.0!  So you get all of the DPMI services offered by Windows as part of the OS.

MSDOS 5.00A DPMI activated

MSDOS 5.00A DPMI activated

As you can see, with DPMI running I have access to EMS, and XMS memory now available.  Additionally with paging you can even over commit memory.

My only question, is why was DPMI not an added in feature of the English versions of MS-DOS?  Granted there was a LOT of OEM bundling with new machines so you were forced to purchase a copy of Windows along with MS-DOS on all new computers, regardless of what you were going to do with them, and this would have been a bit more interesting.

This kind of environment was extensively documented in the “Unauthorized Windows 95“, by Andrew Schulman that showed how DOSX.EXE could chain load Win386 + achieving the same thing.  The DPMI environment from MS-DOS 5.00A is dated 11/11/1992, I wonder if he knew about this going into the Windows 95 book.  It’s been too long since I’ve read it to remember, but I don’t recall any details about Japanese PC-98 releases of MS-DOS.  There was also a ‘MSDPMI’ environment created for the beta versions of Microsoft C 7.0, but I’ve been unable to find one to verify.  MSC 7.0 was released in 1992, so it fits in the same timeframe, but the shipping products used QEMM’s DPMI server instead.