A weird EBay interlude on the way to Extending DOS.

I’ve always been fascinated with DOS Extenders, as they are such an ingenious method of breaking the rules of an environment by cheating the system. The first one I, like many others I imagine was using was DOSX that is the heart of Windows 3.0 on the 286. An incredibly tiny program but it let Windows run in protected mode, unlocking the potential of the machine. Great!

But as an aspiring programmer things were a quite a bit different. While QuickC for Windows did give you Microsoft C 5 hosted inside of Windows, effectively making the $99 for Windows and $99 for QuickC for Windows the cheapest DOS Extender dev kit of the time, it was of course limited to the 286. The 386 stuff although being the genesis of the DOS Extender was far more expensive.

But then with the advent of EMX for OS/2 and DJGPP for MS-DOS, both of them included DOS Extenders, and even better they were gratis! But of course they were GCC focused, and me being a kid saw the incredible 1MB++ size of CC1.EXE was thinking it’s insanely bloated, and of course slow. I don’t think many people were using 80386sx-16’s but I was.

Then there was this incredible offer from Watcom, who’d just become an internet (yes on usenet!) darling for being the compiler used to port DooM from NeXT to MS-DOS and it was available to students for a whopping $99. Neat!

Watcom C/C++ 10.0 retail packaging

Being in collage this was great. Another big plus of Watcom is that it was able to host on MS-DOS, Windows NT, and OS/2. And target far more!

So much included in the box!

Back then there was such incredible platform diversity in the PC space. Servers could be NetWare, Unix, OS/2 and that new fangled and often delayed Windows NT. Watcom was uniquely positioned to support so many of them, all from the same compiler set.

And of course most famously was DOS/4GW included in the box!

Despite having this, I’d always wanted Phar Lap TNT, as it brought insane features of Windows NT to MS-DOS, like DLL’s, and threads! But it was expensive, and I couldn’t justify it.

And this is where the story gets weird as I was also looking for their 286 product, and I found a copy on Ebay, and even better I easily won!

I can’t get a higher resolution image as the auction has expired out. But take note of the thumbnail.

PBI

And this happened. I was all happy expecting it to arrive when out of the blue the order was cancelled and refunded. I contacted the seller as I was totally wanting to get this, and to see if there had been some screwup in shipping, and they had told me that they didn’t know either has they had been refunded the sale price+shipping. So there we both were, me without my 286 Extender, and the seller with no disks to try to sell back again. And then this happened:

Phar Lap 286 magically reappears!

The disks showed up again for sale. We were both dumbfounded, how did this happen? Somehow someone intercepted the sale, and refunded us both, and then is trying to sell it on their own? Interestingly they won’t ship it to me, almost as if they are trying to block me from it.

Sketchy as hell as they say they are reselling from 3rd parties. Is there some kind of hustle going on where someone at a combined overseas shipping centre grabs random items, they can issue a refund for both parties so we don’t care, and then use a proxy sales site to sell them again?

Interestingly they know the disks read fine, as I know that too as I’d asked the seller to image them for me incase anything happened in shipping. I just never imagined it’d have been intercepted and resold. Maybe it’s common place, but I’ve been using Ebay since 1998 or so and well it’s the first time I’d ever seen something like this. Naturally bringing it up with Ebay is a total waste of time.

I’ll have to continue this with a deeper look into Phar Lap 286|DOS-Extender 2.5 as this is already far too much of a diversion from where I was going. But I thought I should point out this thing so buyer beware about the current listing.

**EDIT

Well seems I had the opposite effect I was looking for:

SOLD!

Wlink-ing for fun & … profit?

well rounding out the experiment is of course the hidden OS/2 2ine. And how does it respond to the various linkers?

Operating System/2 LX (Linear Executable) Linker
Version 2.00.000 Mar 20 1992
Copyright (C) IBM Corporation 1988-1991.
Copyright (C) Microsoft Corp. 1988-1991.
All rights reserved.

If you remember this is from the Limited Edition or Citrix Multiuser 2.0 version:

$ ./lx_loader /mnt/c/msos2/test/mt.exe
mmap((nil), 8192, RW-, ANON|PRIVATE|FIXED, -1, 0) failed (1): Operation not permitted
$

What about the OS/2 2.0 GA linker?

[<ohestwo>-C:\TEMP]\os2\link386 mt.obj

Operating System/2 Linear Executable Linker
Version 2.01.005 Mar 16 1993
Copyright (C) IBM Corporation 1988-1993.
Copyright (C) Microsoft Corp. 1988-1993.
 All rights reserved.

Run File [mt.exe]:
List File [nul.map]:
Libraries [.lib]:
Definitions File [nul.def]:
LINK386 :  warning L4071: application type not specified; assuming WINDOWCOMPAT

[<ohestwo>-C:\TEMP]mt
hi

[<ohestwo>-C:\TEMP]

and on 2ine?

$ ./lx_loader /mnt/c/msos2/test/mt.exe
not an OS/2 module
$

Well this all sucks. But how about a 3rd party linker? Watcom?!

C:\msos2\test>cl386 /c mt.c
Microsoft (R) Microsoft 386 C Compiler. Version 1.00.075
Copyright (c) Microsoft Corp 1984-1989. All rights reserved.

mt.c

C:\msos2\test>wlink d all SYS os2v2 op m op maxe=25 op q op symf @mt.lnk

C:\msos2\test>dir mt.exe
 Volume in drive C has no label.
 Volume Serial Number is 3C41-1D63

 Directory of C:\msos2\test

13/05/2021  01:48 am             5,160 mt.exe
               1 File(s)          5,160 bytes
               0 Dir(s)  646,855,708,672 bytes free

C:\msos2\test>

and on 2ine?

$ ./lx_loader /mnt/c/msos2/test/mt.exe
hi
$

Wow! How about OS/2 2.00 GA?

Sadly a no go.

Obviously this needs more testing on later versions of OS/2. I tried wlink from Watcom C/C++ 10.0 and it won’t run. Once more again the devil is in the linker, and just as last time, it turns out that the ‘portable’ tools are 16bit!

$ ./lx_dump /mnt/c/msos2/bin/orig/CL386.EXE
/mnt/c/msos2/bin/orig/CL386.EXE
NE (16-bit) executable.
Linker version: 5
Linker revision: 2
Entry table offset: 117
Entry table size: 2
CRC32: 0x30E8EA59
Module flags: MULTIPLEDATA
Application type: WINPMCOMPAT

I meant to post earlier but if you want to follow along, project dump is msos2-wlink.7z.

Excellent archive of Watcom C/C++ CD-ROMs on Archive.org

Watcom C/C++ CD-ROM collection!

I found this collection recently by accident, but it’s certainly worth sharing.  I was a SUPER big fan of Watcom C/C++ 10.0 back in the day as it includes not only so many targets, but also host setups making it a really great compiler for the day to target 16-bit MS-DOS, 32bit extended DOS,  OS/2 16bit & 32bit, Win16, Win32, a custom 32bit Windows extender, 32bit Novel NLM’s, Autocad extensions, and no doubt many more I’m forgetting.

Head on over, and just search for Watcom:

https://archive.org/search.php?query=Watcom

Or for the heck of it:

This is great for things like trying to build Duke Nuke’m 3D, and other vintage era stuff.

Wolfenstein 3D for DOS/4GW update

If you remember a while back, I had found the ‘missing link’ of Wolfenstein to Wolfenstein SDL, Wolf4GW.  Well Tobias has cleaned it up somewhat, and now it compiles on the latest builds of OpenWatcom 2.0c!

The first thing you’ll notice if you try to compile it, is that now it’s a single source file, that includes all the other modules.  And it compiles FAST, for me 1 second fast.

From the changes:

  • Compiles with OpenWatcom v2.
  • Keys (for Run, Shot…) are shown.
  • Hang with optimization is fixed.
  • Missing Spear of Destiny SignonScreen added.
  • Inter-procedural optimization (unity build).
  • External assembler routines re-implemented in C.
  • Better interrupt enablement /disablement.
  • Dead Code removed or #ifdefined.

So, if you want to Wolf3d, or SPOD, I’d check out Tobias’s Wolf4GW if you have a 32bit capable machine.  The maps load instantly, and it just feels all around much more smoother than the old 8086 code.

OpenWatcom v2

I know what you are thinking, wouldn’t it be great if you could create MS-DOS executables directly from a Win64 desktop with no MS-DOS needed?

Well, I just found out about this unofficial Open Watcom v2 project that targets the usual suspects, allows you to compile from Win64!

Hello World!

Hello World!

Some of the features of this fork include:

  • New 2-phase build system, OW can be build by platform native C/C++ compiler or by itself
  • Code generator properly initialize pointers by DLL symbol addresses
  • DOS version of tools now support long file names (LFN) if appropriate LFN driver is loaded by DOS
  • OW is ported to 64-bit hosts (WIN64, Linux X64)
  • Librarian support X64 CPU object modules and libraries
  • RDOS 32-bit C run-time compact memory model libraries are fixed
  • Resource compiler and Resource editors support WIN64 executables
  • OW text editor is now self containing, it can be used as standalone tool without any requirements for any additional files or configuration
  • Broken C++ compiler pre-compiled header template support is fixed
  • Many C++ compiler crashes are fixed
  • Debugger has no length limit for any used environment variable

Binaries are available on sourceforge.

So how does it fare?  I thought I’d take the old Wolf4GW, and compile it with this toolset.  The first hurdle I hit was this fun feature:

  • The C++ compiler now treats warning W737, implicit conversion of pointers to integral types of same size, as an error.

Which is an integral part of wl_menu.cpp .  So this was somewhat problematic, until I just commented out that block, and while I was expecting no working keyboard, I’m able to play, and load/save games…. Even the boss key works.

Wolf4GW

Wolf4GW

So with the W737 taken care of, I have to say this thing compiles FAST.  Incredibly FAST.  If for some reason you have to build 16bit or 32bit anything, you should look at a 64bit tool chain, well assuming you have a 64bit computer by now.

If anyone want’s to build their own Wolf4GW with the newer OpenWatcom, my source drop is here.

So I was playing with Watcom C/386 8.5 today

This was the first version of Watcom that included the much beloved DOS4/GW dos extender.  Funny enough it doesn’t bind in a stub for running DOS4/GW by itself, you have to do it manually or I guess write the stub for yourself.  Another fun feature of Watcom C/386 8.5 is that it includes the win386 windows extender.

Basically it does to Windows 3.0 what DOS4/GW does to MS-DOS.  Now I’ve never messed around with win386 that much because by the time I did have a 386sx processor with more than 1MB of ram, Win32s & OS/2 2.1 were all the rage.  But in the world of VM’s I thought I’d give it a shot.

The default example is the game of life.  It compiles trivially, but the moment you got to run it you get this fine error:

Ooops!

Ooops!

It turns out that it is a timing loop error, and effects of all things Microsoft FoxPro!  The solution is provided by Microsoft, in the form of IPatchFP.exe. Naturally it is a console Win32 executable.  But with enough of the HX DOS Extender‘s runtime I can run the patch inside of MS-DOS.

With my executable all patched up, I can now run the game of life!

Conway's game of life

Conway’s game of life

Which is all very exciting.

Win386 was very cool for the time, taking the Win16 API and making their own Win32 set out of it. Another cool thing is that there wasn’t a separate runtime to repackage, as Win386 was just bound to the executable. I’m sure it didn’t fall on deaf ears at Redmond with the disillusion of Cruiser, that Win16 could have a brave new future in Win32.

And I should mention I’ve gone over a lot of the Win32s versions here.

Building Descent 1 from source

Descent I

Descent I

I never was good at this game.

As a matter of fact, I was terrible.

Apparently I get lost in 3d worlds like this, and I get dizzy and need to lie down.  Something about these kinds of 3d virtual worlds.  At least it doesn’t pertain to virtual machines.

While browsing around, I came across the source code.  From their notes they built the thing using:

  • Watcom C/C++, version 9.5
  • Microsoft Macro Assembler, version 6.1x
  • Opus Make, version 6.01

 

I was unable to find Opus Make, however with a little bit of tweaking, Microsoft nmake can happily read the makefiles.  The other small snag largely was due to MS-DOS not being able to process massive commandlines, and having to build response files to the librarian and linker in various parts.  But all in all it was thankfully a trivial amount of work to get a working executable.

I only tested it for a few minutes until I was feeling out of it again.  I guess it isn’t surprising, I had issues when it was full screen back in 1994, but in a tiny window in 2013 it is unbearable.

For the two or three people who care, here is my VMDK that I used.  It works fine with Qemu probably other emulators that can read VMDK’s.

 

Public Domain Operating System

So, I came across this project from some random google search on Watcom the other day.  Simply put it is a MS-DOS API that is supported in both a 16bit real mode operating system, and a 32bit operating system.  It is quite sparse but very interesting all the same.  Using the ancient EMX port of GCC you can build 32bit (simple) programs, and run them in the 32bit DOS like Operating System.  What makes this even more interesting is that there is a port to the IBM 370, and 390 based hardware, along with the fictional 380.

Screen Shot 2013-09-16 at 6.40.03 PM

PDOS-16 booting in Qemu 1.6

Screen Shot 2013-09-16 at 6.39.47 PM

PDOS-32 booting in Qemu 1.6

You can download my diskimages, (VMDK & floppy disk) that I’ve used with Qemu to build & boot PDOS both 16bit and 32bit.

The included libc & system libraries are lacking compared to real MS-DOS, but this is public domain code, and with a bit of TLC it could be made into something much more.

Wolfenstein 3D for DOS/4GW!

After reading about the Blake Stone compile fixes, as it was a Wolf3d port, I came across a post on the forum Wolf3d Haven about trying to find the source code to something called wolf4gw.  Now wolf4gw is a port of the Borland C source of Wolfenstein 3d to Open Watcom C++‘s 32bit MS-DOS extender DOS/4GW, done by ‘ripper’.

The project eventually gave way to wolf4sdl, and as they say the rest is history.

Sadly it seems that just about all the source copies of wolf4gw were lost, except I did manage to find an ‘improved’ version simply refered to as wolf3dx.  From the blurb:

Tricob has released the Wolf4GW-based source code of WolfDX. Included is a text file called (Tricob).TXT.

So I have been using Watcom 10.0 for Duke Nukem 3d, however, this version relies on the _asm inline assembler which was introduced in Watcom 11.  However Watcom 11c had issues with some of the assembly forcing me to go even further to OpenWatcom 1.3.  For me the install was easy, I used CrossOver to install OpenWatcom for DOS-DOS32bit only, copied the compiler into DOSBox, and played mostly with the makefiles, and finally got a working exe!

Screen Shot 2013-07-12 at 11.57.24 AM Screen Shot 2013-07-12 at 11.58.00 AM

I know it may not look like much, but really it is running in 32bit protected mode!

Since all of this is open/freeware/shareware I can redistribute OpenWatcom, the source to wolf3dx, and the shareware levels of Wolfenstein.  Naturally I’m using DOSBox to compile and test, but you can use anything that can run MS-DOS 32bit stuff.

Download my archive here.