DR-DOS under Virtual PC

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DR-DOS is yet another DOS distribution, and one with a rather twisted history.  To quote The DR-DOS/OpenDOS Enhancement Project (http://www.drdosprojects.de):

"DR-DOS is a popular PC operating system that was originally created and developed up to version 6.0 by Digital Research. After the demise of Digital Research, it was acquired by Novell who released version 7.0 as Novell DOS 7. Despite being a commercial success, Novell lost their interest in the further development of DR-DOS and in 1996 sold it to Caldera, who changed the name to Caldera OpenDOS 7.01 and released the source code of the kernel under an Open Source license. Subsequent versions were named DR-DOS again, but unfortunately, the development model was changed back to Closed Source. Caldera Thinclients, a subsidiary of Caldera which later renamed itself to Lineo, continued the development of DR-DOS as an OS for embedded systems, before they abandoned its development in favour of Linux. The current owners of DR-DOS, Devicelogics, acquired it in November 2002 and promised to produce an 8.0 version of DR-DOS for the embedded systems market, which was released in March 2004."

Hmmm...  Yeah.  Anyway - you can buy DR-DOS from here: http://www.drdos.com/index.htm, or you can download an evaluation version from here: http://public.planetmirror.com/pub/drdos/DR-DOS.703/dr703.exe

The real question - of course - is how does it run under Virtual PC?

Well - the install runs perfectly but on first boot you will get a hideous error message about EMM386.EXE crashing.  The reason that this happens is because the version of EMM386.EXE that ships with DR-DOS tries to directly map over the top of memory that is being used by some of our emulated hardware.

To get around this you will need to hold the shift key down while booting the virtual machine - and then type in 'edit config.sys' at the C: prompt. You should then add 'EXCLUDE=E000-EFFF' to the end of the first line in the config.sys file.

After this you should be able to reboot without any problems.

DR-DOS is one of my favorite versions of DOS as it has a lot of cool tools and options.


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  • DR-DOS really was a cool operating system. It's basically what sparked my interest in programming and IT in general - I was messing around and 'accidentally' attrib +p'ed the autoexec.bat, which caused it to prevent it from booting (+p added password protection to files).

    Of course, I had to reinstall, and the rest, as they say - is history :-)
  • Also note that you might not have to buy a license as you might already have one. Some software that comes with "Rescue Floppies" or stuff like that already include a DR-DOS license. I've seen that in Norton Ghost and Powerquest's Partition Magic.

    And thanks for the 'EXCLUDE' hint! That's what prevented me from using it for fun. :)
  • ShadowChaser -

    Heh :-) Reminds of the first time I installed Linux ('95) and used CHMOD to recursively grant everyone read/write access to every file on my system. Yeah - it didn't boot after doing that...

  • I did some tests and noticed that VMADD386.SYS and FSHARE.EXE cause EMM386 to crash. Replacing it with HIMEM.SYS doesn't work either, because it get some A20 error. Anyway, time to kick it off the harddisk. :)
  • About the OS/2 one... I get a trap 000D error.. what do I do?
  • also I know trap 000d means something stepped on another applications memory so it crashes... but why?
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DR-DOS under Virtual PC