(This is a guest post by Antoni Sawicki aka Tenox)
I certainly can’t claim to be the first as this has already been done by our friends at OS/2 Museum. However with low vanilla VGA resolution and no networking the results were unsatisfactory. Having so much success with 86Box I decided to try to do a little better.
I bought my UnixWare 1.0 media kit years ago on eBay. Unlike the tape set owned by OS/2 Museum mine had CDROM as install media. Unfortunately despite many many tries with different types of cdrom/bus/ide/scsi card I could never get the OS to see it. The cdrom/iso image is just a typical set of sysv packages. As such I wanted to see if it would be possible to convert it to a set of floppy disk images and install this way. Attached the iso image in UnixWare 7.1.4 VM and did a pkgtrans like so:
pkgtrans -s cdrom1 diskette1
From there I created a bunch of floppy disk images, which I later used for installation. Thanks to Plamen I was also able to get TCP/IP disks which I added to the install set.
Update: thanks to ArtiomWin I also got a BusLogic HBA driver disk, which allowed me to see the cdrom attached over SCSI. As such I decided to remaster the original iso image with added TCP/IP set, Update package and bash+gzip. The iso image is here.
Upon first boot after install from CDROM you get prompted to choose a NIC driver:
Unfortunately none of them really worked in 86Box for some reason. They get detected and you can see the MAC Address but not much after that. 3C503 and NE2K freeze the system, WD works bit better but you can’t really communicate with anything. Maybe it’s just my PCap configuration.
After installation I mounted the cdrom again and added TCP/IP set:
One of main issues bugging me was lack of proper resolution. UnixWare 1.0 has a high resolution mode for Tseng ET4000 card which is supported in 86Box. You can change the resolution using /usr/X/adm/setvgamode as root. It worked perfectly, except for fonts, which required some surgery in /usr/X/defaults/Xwinfont. This is how it looks like fixed up:
UnixWare comes with Merge DOS emulator. It can even run graphical applications in windowed mode for CGA and HGC. VGA is only possible in full screen mode.
All this cool stuff before Linux was even born!
DOS Menu is invoked by Scroll Lock. You can switch consoles between text and X11 by pressing CTRL+ALT+SYSRQ and ‘p’. I have also added bash and gzip binaries.
The ready to run 86Box image is here. Virtual Box OVA here. Install media here. Login with user/user, root/root.
(This is a guest post by Antoni Sawicki aka Tenox)
In a few recent projects such as QNX 1.2 (and demo disk), Interactive Unix (also older post ) and Caldera (and older post) I have tried the 86Box emulator. Unlike others, now I could utilize an emulated video and network cards of wide variety. As everything I did simply worked out of the box I instantly fell in love. Truly awesome 86Box is now my daily drive for running old PC operating systems. As such I have decided to revisit some of previously half assed posts with the new weapon.
I have virtualized Dell Unix back in 2012 using Bochs and QEMU. Even with community support we have struggled to get a decent video resolution and had to use SLIP for networking. Today let me present Dell Unix more properly, with 1024×768, 256 colors video and proper networking using emulated VGA and NIC.
I started with allsoft.img which is Dell Unix and all packages installed from the tape on Bochs. I have disabled a few services in /etc/rc2.d namely mouse daemon (mse), sendmail, uucp, lp, etc.
For X Window I have edited /usr/lib/X11/Xconfig, enabled serial mouse (Microsoft) and 1024×768 mode. I have used Tseng ET4000AX VGA which is detected by Xmach server. This allowed X / xinit to run correctly. However for startx to work you need to edit /usr/lib/X11/xinit/xserverrc as it seems to be using slightly different configuration. For graphical login you can probably add x:3:respawn:/usr/bin/X11/xdm -nodaemon to /etc/inittab. However I have noticed that when ran from init, xdm seem not to pick up the Dell customized config files. Perhaps rc startup script should be created instead.
As a final note on X, the system has virtual consoles, like other SVR4 you access them by pressing SYSRQ and F keys. F1 is a text mode console, F2 is Xserver. This is my Dell Unix hero shot:
Networking was even easier. Dell Unix supports WD8003 and 3C503 NICs. I wanted to first try the WD one. In /etc/conf/pack.d/wdn/space.c you can find the predefined hardware probes. I have picked one of supported modes and the card was detected on subsequent reboot. That’s it. No need for kernel rebuild or any configuration. I have not tried 3C503 but if you want the driver for it is named ie6. For TCP/IP configuration you set your IP address in /etc/hosts and gateway in /etc/inet/rc.inet file.
I was able to quickly compile Mosaic, which curiously had Makefile settings for Dell Unix, and take it for a spin on the web with help of WRP:
One could probably want to compile more recent version of Mosaic with PNG support or maybe some more recent browser all together.
The system comes with a bunch of open source software in /usr/dell however as there was no bash or even gzip I have compiled some essentials. They are available here and as a /usr/local tarball.
For the lazy, as usual you can get a complete os image for 86Box here. Make sure to attach pcap to your local network interface and set IP address / gateway / dns server accordingly.
If you port some cool software or find any interesting gems in Dell Unix please comment!
Have fun with virtualization!
Update: I have been looking at contents of various distribution media for Dell Unix that have surfaced here and there. On a DAT tape I bought on eBay a few years back I found this file:
Whoa! Of course I want to install all of it! This is how FrameMaker 3.0 looks on Dell Unix:
I have updated the disk image for 86Box to have this included. You can run demo mode of FrameMaker by executing /usr/frame/bin/demomaker. I also imagine that this can be installed on pretty much any x86 SVR4 and above, maybe even Linux. If anyone has a license code / serial number please let me know!
(This is a guest post by Antoni Sawicki aka Tenox)
This is a continuation of the vintage DOS/Windows hypervisors and emulators for Unix series. So far I have covered things like Merge, MergePro and Wabi. This time I’m taking a closer look at VP/ix. This early DOS hypervisor was developed by Interactive Systems Incorporated (ISC). Initially released and included with their INTERACTIVE UNIX System V/386 operating system it was also available for SCO Xenix 386, Sun 386i, AT&T WGS as Simul-Task 386. The last two versions were significantly enhanced to allow DOS/Windows graphical apps run in windowed mode, which unfortunately is not the case with IX and Xenix, where graphical apps can only run on the console. VP/ix was released around the same time as Merge in 1987 and it was its main competitor. Both products are early hypervisors, they use Virtual 8086 mode and require 386+ to run on. This is in contrast to SoftPC which is a full x86 emulator that can run on different CPU/architecture hosts.
VP/ix comes with ISC INTERACTIVE UNIX that is covered in my previous article. The product was installed as part of the 50 floppy disk set. You run it with an icon in Looking Glass environment or invoke from terminal or console via “vpix” command.
VP/ix comes with it’s own custom version of MS-DOS 3.30. It allows a variety of cross unix/dos enhancements such as shared disks, automatic dos/unix file format conversion, listing unix attributes from dos as well as running unix commands from dos and vice versa. One of super cool features is that you can pipe output of DOS commands to Unix command, for example:
C:\> dir | wc -l
…will do a DOS dir and pipe it to Unix wc command. You can map Unix paths to DOS drives:
VP/ix has an interactive Menu invoked by SYSRQ + ‘m’ key:
You can load floppy disks, turn sound on/off, restart/quit or run unix shell.
As for running normal text mode apps it’s business as usual:
Multiple instances of DOS can be launched and files shared between them. Also if you are a different user on different terminal or connected remotely. Remote terminal also supports mapping dos line characters to ASCII.
The same however cannot be said about graphical DOS or Windows apps. Under INTERACTIVE UNIX and Xenix you need to run them from the text mode console:
One day I will probably want to look at VP/ix on Sun 386i or AT&T WGS as they solved this problem. Newer versions of Interactive Unix (4.x) and VP/IX also need to be investigated.
According to the documentation, you can run Windows 3.x in real mode using win /r however I did not have patience to install this.
INTERACTIVE UNIX 3.0 with VP/ix preinstalled can be downloaded here for 86Box or VBox OVA, however the later does not have networking and resolution is only 800×600. Login as root/root. When importing OVA in Vbox you may need to disable import as VDI. For 86Box version please read readme on how to circumvent licensing error.
(This is a guest post by Antoni Sawicki aka Tenox)
In a recent post about OpenServer and Merge I covered OpenServer 5 and Merge 5.3. Thanks to a comment from Uli I have learned about MergePro which looks like is a rebranded Win4Lin. Intrigued I wanted to try it especially that you can download it from SCO ftp server as Uli pointed.
I’m going to be using VMware Fusion on Mac, which is now free for personal use. They call it Fusion Player, however unlike Workstation and Player, it has exactly same features as non-free Fusion version. For the OS I’m going to use Xinuos OpenServer 6 Definitive, however you can easily download OpenServer 6.0.0Ni from the ftp. I also have copies in my archive.
Installation is straightforward. You can skip licensing and use evaluation license, however for convenience you can use following keys:
If you are installing 6.0.0Ni you will also need MP4 update. 6D2M1 is already patched.
To install MergePro you need to copy this package to the host os and install like so:
# pkgadd -d /tmp/MergePro-6.3.0-04f_pkgadd.stream
In the following step, mount Windows 2000 or XP SP1 or SP2 ISO and run:
Once Windows is loaded you need to install it as a non-root user using:
After it’s installed, to run you type:
Unfortunately I have failed to install Windows XP with variety of errors and blue screens. Windows 2000 works fine, however it feels bit sluggish and mouse click doesn’t always register. It looks like there are some sort of Windows Guest Additions being injected in to the OS so one would expect this to work just fine.
During startup I have noticed that MergePro installs and uses KQEMU kernel module. Also this screen looks suspiciously familiar… where did I see this before?
The BIOS and VGABios look definitely stolen from Bochs. HDD controllers look like Win4Lin. I’m not going to go in to deeper analysis of what MergePro is made of at this time. Looks like a topic for another article or even better – your comments 🙂
Also if you want to license the copy of Merge use following key:
MergePro 6.3.0f: SCO138318 / bhtecusg
Finally for the lazy here is fully installed OVA, password is root/root and tenox/tenox for the regular user.
In the previous post about SCO Merge I briefly mentioned WABI, which is a Windows ABI emulator for Unix. Initially released by Sun Microsystem, it’s believed that it came with acquisition of Interactive Systems Corp (ISC) and Interactive UNIX. It was available for SPARC and x86 Solaris as well as AIX on PowerPC. Around 1997 it was released for x86 Linux by Caldera. This article will focus on Caldera’s version specifically.
Although entirely possible to install WABI on another RPM based distribution such as Red Hat, I’m a purist and wanted to try it on Caldera Open Linux. The install is pretty straightforward you mount the iso file and run install script. In a next step you need to install an update to version 2.2D. This is done by replacing /opt/wabi/bin/wabiprog with extracted version of this file. Thanks to readers of this blog post for sharing these.
When launched for the first time, you will be prompted to provide copy of Windows 3.1. This the main difference with WINE which specifically does not require copy of windows to run apps. I have noticed that WABI is rather picky about lower vs uppercase when installing software. There is an utility called wabimakelower to help there. You can also add an icon to one of Caldera Linux / Looking Glass program groups.
Once you run it, it’s Windows 3.1 as usual:
WABI was designed for running productivity apps such as Office:
You can even run Visual Studio:
Curiously WABI is not a MS-DOS emulator. In order to run DOS apps you need to install such and configure it in WABI Control Panel:
For the lazy, a readily preinstalled version is available as OVA and 86box. Root password is “caldera”.
Way back in the late 90’s from the University of Utah there was this fantastic project that promised to bring Operating System construction to mere mortals but taking existing PC operating systems, Linux, NetBSD, FreeBSD and break them down to their best components, and then interlink them using COM allowing you to glue the best parts together like lego.
And the project was called OSKit.
It was fantastic for something unknown at the time for creating so called ‘bare metal programs’ that didn’t have a real operating system, but rather could use operating features like LIBC, or the EXT2 filesystem. It was almost that level of ‘MS-DOS’ like feeling from protected mode, but being able to take more stuff with you.
And of course transforming the ELF into a multiboot executable that GRUB can load:
And now you are ready to boot, on say Qemu?
I was kind of surprised it never really took off, maybe it was too far ahead of it’s time. The most notable project I’ve seen that used it was OSKit-Mach, although they later on abandoned OSKit.. I’m not sure why but I would suspect the lack of updates post 2002 would have something to do with it.
Building this was… Interesting as I recall this being somewhat difficult, and I know I’ve probably made it more difficult, but I thought it would be ‘fun’ using the tools of the time. And 1999 has us at Debian 2.2r0. Which thankfully is on archive.org and is a mere 3 CD-ROMS for the i386 binaries. Installing that into VMWare wasn’t so difficult, and swapping CD images around I was able to get enough installed to start building things. For those of you who don’t want to install Debian, here is my pre-compiled Linux on Linux toolchain: i586-linux2.tar.gz. It’s i386 on i386, so you will need to be able to run i386 ELF exe’s. For OS X users that haven’t installed Catalina, you can try OSX-Linux-2.00-i586-gcc2723.tar.gz
I should point out, that although things have to be patched around for older versions of OSKit, 20020317 does build fine using GCC 2.95.2 (20000220) from Debian 2.2r0. So if you want to build in a VM, then you really don’t need any of this. But I’m strange, and I have my WSL2 Debian 10 to think about. So the easiest way to build GCC 2.x is with GCC 2.x so why not start in Debian?
First let’s prep our destination directory, and populate it like a good little cross compiler:
And now I can build stuff!… I then tar’d if up and copied it to my WSL instance, and now I can cross compile fine (a big plus of WSL2 is that you can install the 32bit support, and run old EXE’s! Take that Apple!)
Now it’s worth noting that a few things need to be edited, the ‘OSKit on UNIX’ thing won’t build cleanly and I didn’t investigate as Qemu is a thing now. So disable it in the modules.x86.pc file. Then run configure like this:
sh configure --host=i586-linux --prefix=/oskit --build=i586-linux --enable-modulefile=modules.x86.pc
Despite using the host, build or target setting it doesn’t pick up prefix of our cross compiler, so you have to manually edit Makeconf
Be sure to change the tool exports to look like this:
And finally remove -fno-strict-aliasing from OSKIT_FFLAGS, and now you can build!
The bonus is that it’ll build well under a minute on a modern machine.
As mentioned above you should now be able to take the hello world example kernel, and transform it to a multiboot, and boot it via grub.
Again this was such an exciting project I’d hate for it to just suddenly die in absolute obscurity. Maybe it’ll inspire others to try “assisted bare metal” programs, there was a DooM OS, among others in the era.
32bit computing arrived to the masses. Although it’s incredibly frail by modern standards, Windows 95 did deliver on the promises of OS/2. Depending on your apps, and drivers of course. Although OS/2 did have int13.sys to pass disk calls to a special v86 machine which then used the disk BIOS to make disk access possible, Microsoft and IBM stopped short there, not going all the way letting OS/2 use MS-DOS device drivers. Windows 95, however could.
This was always the winning strategy of Windows, is that it relied on the incredible OEM driver support for MS-DOS. Of course this would also be a catastrophic weakness. From my personal experience being able to leverage ancient MS-DOS drivers also helped squeeze as much as possible out of existing hardware. Case in point, the NDIS2 drivers for the AT&T Starlan 1mbit cards worked fine under Windows 95, additionally you could lost just the lower level drivers, and 95 could then load it’s protocols on top of that stack allowing you to have a TCP/IP network over that 1mbit Starlan stack letting you telnet into your 3b2 (or setup SAMBA, and doing file/print sharing).
If anything the biggest flaw of Windows 95 was not installing TCP/IP by default. However unlike many OS’s of the time, Windows 95 did include LAN and dialup stacks. There was plenty great about OS/2, but it’s refusal to integrate networking into the operating system hamstrung things like named pipes, peer, and larger apps, as you would have to buy and license a stack of stuff to bring OS/2 up to where it should be, while NT and 95 were complete out of the box.
Windows 95 was an excellent bridge OS for the era, until OEMs finally got around to writing drivers for Windows NT. Once the mainstream could finally take that leap, and leave MS-DOS far behind. But that didn’t really happen until Windows XP.
That being said, the favorite thing is to run Windows 95 in a browser. I found https://copy.sh/v86/ the fastest and best, as it loads a short 6MB compressed core image, and you are instantly teleported to the 95 desktop.
From the futon, I thought i’d publish the “Free386” of dos-extender that I had made before to GitHub.
If you want to publish it anyway, NASM and alink also included together and if there is a DOS environment, i thought that anyone can assemble it is out of luck. I found a bug in alink when generating flat mode.exe/.com file. It’s around here that i started to go crazy in a lot of ways(laughs)
Patching alink was done on Linux. I then used TOWNS-gcc to generate alink.exp, but i used the MP header format that TOWNS-gcc generates. We found a bug that the EXP file cannot run on its own. If this is not corrected, it is not possible to distribute including the development environment because it does not usually have the EXP execution environment. When I checked, there was a bug in how to allocate memory, and when the memory capacity started to exceed 8MB, i was allocating memory space that does not exist in the back.
In fact, Free386 at the time was a lot of files that didn’t work properly, and i was worried because it became unstable, it was a mistake in the allocation of memory that is not. However, to examine this, i created a tool to dump memory maps and paging (i.e., it’s included), it was quite a bit of a hassle.
Now, when the memory allocation bug is fixed, almost all DOS generic EXP files and many TOWNS software now work. However, towns-OS’s biggest mystery system is the CoCo/NSD driver around the moss, and the software written in F-BASIC386 does not start. When you come this far, you want to move it.
So we start editing the CoCo/NSD driver. After a little research, I immediately found out the following.
CoCo.EXE resides in DOS memory (real memory).
NSDD resides in extended memory.
This means that CoCo is presumed to load nsd files into extended memory and manage that information. Now the question is how to get that management information. Is there information in coco memory that resides like SYSINIT? I thought.
For now, to check the area, Free386, i attached the ability to dump the register status before and after the int service was executed by hooking up the interrupt. We analyzed \hcopy\deldrv.exp, which has the ability to remove the specified NSD driver, as “we need to find the NSD driver and the structure seems simpler” in the mechanism.
Information like this comes out a lot in turn. If you look at the changes in coco’s residency and other changes in behavior, you can see that int 8eh/AX=Cx0x is a CoCo service. At the same time, log int 8eh and make a resident.com file (included) run386. I also looked at the behavior of the EXE and explored the commonalities of both of them, and i thought, “How would I design the mechanism if I were you?” We looked up coco services from the perspective of “**.
Then we traced to a service that provides driver resident information called int 8eh/AX=C103h. Using this information, the NSD driver in extended memory could be correctly pasted into memory and implemented on the selector. To verify, I ran deldrv.exp using Free386 and was able to uninstall the NSD driver correctly.
…… I wish I had solved it in that way.
TOWNS-OS is an OS of a mysterious structure, and even though there is a BIOS (TBIOS) of 32bit Native mode for graphicprocessing, some services such as timers use the BIOS of FM-R compatible 16-bit operation as it is. It has an incomprehensible structure to use it from the 32bit program side while managing resources, such as a 16-bit timer BIOS.
In terrible cases, each time the processing and interrupt of real-mode resources such as timers and keyboards, switch the CPU to real mode, if during those real-mode BIOS processing, interrupt the PROCESSING of the BIOS, such as FM sound source or VSYNC occurs, it seems to return to protected mode once.
NSD driver called forRBIOS (for Real BIOS) is the intermediary for this incomprehensible structure. Just as DOS-Extender acts as an intermediary for 32-bit programs and MS-DOS, it acts as a real-mode BIOS and a 32bit program intermediary.
In a RUN386 environment, when forRBIOS.NSD is built in, interrupt vectors such as int 8eh are rewritten so that the NSD driver gets the interrupt. **Where is this information? ** That was a mystery that was left behind. However, RUN386 is a . No matter how much the INT log is done until you run EXP, it doesn’t look like it. If you look at the memory of the coco that is resident, there is no information that seems to be it.
If you’re not going to initialize the resident NSD itself. I thought, i patched the entry of the resident forRBIOS, and when the service routine was called, i tried to use the rough business of falling into an infinite loop was bingo.
Finally, you can now run exp files generated by F-BASIC386 and so on. The analysis results are recorded in the doc. By the way, when you run a program that does not require forRBIOS (written in High-C, etc.), the whole process is slower than when you initialize forRBIOS. I really think this is the specs of TOWNS-OS (laughs)
This is the first time in more than a decade since the development was suspended in 2001, and the DOS-Extender, which is compatible with RUN386, was made.
So I was lucky enough to get to Beep before it close, and I picked out a couple of FM Towns titles (and a junker!), and I thought ‘Return to Zork’ would be a good title, something to compare the MacOS & MS-DOS versions against.
Although slightly faded, it does come in this nice box, which reminds me of the NEOGEO… which is probably an apt comparison.
The artwork has faded, although the CD-ROM inside was still sealed, never before opened. I picked this up for an eye watering ¥3,480 but flipping the box over revealed the launch price of an astonishing ¥12,800! I’m not sure what the exchange rate from 1994 was, but even at a generous 100:1 JPY to USD that’s half the price of the old multimedia kits which included the drive, sound card and so many came bundled with Return to Zork.
Another random title I grabbed was even more insane!
¥ 14,800 for Silent Möbius: Case: Titanic!
I need to get a RGB monitor & keyboard to see if this thing even works, meanwhile I fought with UNZ to get it running, and the mouse tracking is totally broken unless you change the DPI scaling, credit to this post in the UNZ ‘BBS’.
One thing is sure, the voice acting in the Japanese version is so terrible.
As people complain about ‘AAA’ games, and paying $60, just look at this! $134 USD for some cartoon boat game thing.. Although I’ve never heard of Silent Möbius or played it, I just saw it was available for the x68000 and PC-98. So I guess it’s one of those Lowest Common Denominator games.
One interesting thing about the FM TOWNS is that they have that ROM DOS with CD-ROM drivers, and their apparently blanket licensing for PharLap 386. Although while I was wasting time looking at cartoon rabbits, someone else scooped but the 386 BASIC kit. Darn.
But in the Return to Zork world, the ‘made.exe’ is in fact a Pharlap 386 EXP, meaning that it runs in 386 protected mode, so you don’t have to struggle with emm386, himem.sys and trying to get a ludercus 580-600kb of conventional memory. Seriously it was such a chore to get this running the manual has a big section on setting up a boot disk. It’s a shame they didn’t license a DOS extender for the US PC platform, although I can see why they chose that route on the FM Towns (and I believe PC98), as there is a RTZ9821 directory there which includes an EXP. Shame it was never relased state side as a patch, as it would have been a GREAT user change. Well that or a Win32 executable.
Back in 1995 I bought this rather expensive, and ambitious book simply called: Developing Your Own 32-Bit Operating
And while it is a LONG read, it really is the embodiment of Apple pie from scratch. Rather than rely on open and available tools, the author Richard Burgess instead goes on to write his own assembler, compiler, and then onward to a simple message passing RTOS.
No doubt the price he paid for eschewing popular GNU tools, and having a non BSD/GPL license for the time is that it was quickly relegated to history as the inevitable rise of Linux took place.
For those wishing to look, not only is the source code and a few patches available on the site ipdatacorp.com, but so is a PDF of the 1st edition of the book.
While MMURTL may not have caught on in the marketplace of ideas, it’s still astounding to look at the volume of work produced, that even though open source tools and starting points were available (The book easily could have been using CMU Mach 3.0) instead it’s all written from scratch by a single person.