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Quick Survey: What version of Dos for XT machines?

1ST1

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I am using MS-DOS 5.0 Olivetti branded on allmost all of my Olivetti machines. I would use 6.22 on 386+ if I would have a german Olivetti branded version. But I have to stay with DOS 3.20/3.30 on all my Olivetti ETV wordprocessors as the special keyboard/printer driver only works with 3.x.
 

jscipione

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The issue for me at least is running games that require 640k. These games tend to be meant to run on faster machines but will technically run on an XT assuming that you have enough free memory. Two examples are QFG2 and the original Sim City. With DOS 6.22 there isn’t enough memory available to load the game along with mouse driver, which is why I run PC DOS 7 instead for its smaller footprint. CGA and some EGA games like Space Quest 1 & 2 tend to run fine on MS DOS 6.22 and even FreeDOS because they don’t require as much free memory. I’m not sure what benefit you get from running older DOS releases so I don’t run those.
 

vwestlife

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Two examples are QFG2 and the original Sim City. With DOS 6.22 there isn’t enough memory available to load the game along with mouse driver,
The original PC version of Sim City requires DOS 2.1 or higher and 512K of RAM:


I ran it in MS-DOS 2.11 on an original 4.77 MHz Tandy 1000 with 512K of RAM -- or actually slightly less, because the Tandy takes away part of the main system RAM to use as video RAM.

The notes do say it requires 640K for EGA, but if you didn't have that much on an EGA system, you could settle for CGA graphics.
 

rlauzon

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I try to use the DOS that was period correct for my machines.
So for my Sperry Portable, I use DOS 2.11.
For my Compaq Portable III and 386, I use DOS 3.3.
My NuXT is a modern system, so I just use the DOS 6.22 it came with.
 

jafir

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Period correct is a moving target, in my opinion. I had an XT clone in the early 90s, because I was a child with no money, and I convinced my mom to buy me an upgrade copy of MS-DOS 6.22 when it came out. I think this was pretty common for people to upgrade even XT class computers, at least since MS-DOS 5, which was the first retail “upgrade” version.

If my only 8088 was a very early 5150, I certainly wouldn’t want to keep it running PC-DOS 1.0, at least not exclusively.
 

seaken

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Yes, I agree with @jafir. In our case we often upgraded to at least DOS 5.0 even if the system came with 3.x originally. And we never stayed with 2.x. I always think of "period correct" as the lifetime of the machine, not what software came with it when purchased, if any.

Seaken
 

the3dfxdude

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So my Dad's turbo XT clone had to come with DOS 3.x. For some reason he upgraded it to DOS 3.31, almost certainly related to wanting a bigger hard drive, and not wanting to use DOS 4. I don't remember what hard drive he would have been running at the time. The XT originally came with a 20MB Seagate, so perhaps a 40MB drive? Seems about right. When he upgraded, he gave me the XT with the 20MB hard drive, since he didn't need to buy a drive then. I continued to run DOS 3.31 on it, past when DOS 5 was out. I'm trying to remember if I had run later DOS, because I keep getting this feeling that it just didn't give anything new based on what I could run on the XT. I certainly did upgrade DOS when I upgraded the machine later. Of course today, something like PC-DOS 7 will be fine, if you need any of the late features or software. DOS 3.x is also fine though, generally covers anything you'd normally ran on an XT. But like people said, you don't use DOS 4 if you care about having conventional memory -- it was a known problem when it came out... no wonder why it failed pretty hard.
 

jafir

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I think once I started using DOS 5 or later somewhere else, I didn’t want to run an earlier version at home. I certainly didn’t want to keep running edlin once I had experienced edit :)
 

Agent Orange

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I think once I started using DOS 5 or later somewhere else, I didn’t want to run an earlier version at home. I certainly didn’t want to keep running edlin once I had experienced edit :)
Edlin was primitive but worked and to be able to modify your config or autoexec with Edlin you were now the office guru.
 

Eudimorphodon

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I certainly didn’t want to keep running edlin once I had experienced edit :)

QBASIC and EDIT will run okay on DOS 3.x, so I used to copy them over on machines I was still running that on.

Honestly back in the day (in which "day" extends into the mid-90's, when I was still using XTs occasionally or setting them up for other people) I don't think I ever used DOS 5 on them because, as has been said, there really isn't much to be gained unless you were in that fairly rare position of having an XT with a >32MB drive. (Which, really, was *pretty rare*. The Seagate ST-238R was a reasonably common drive on very late XTs (just being an RLL-rated version of the ST-225), but that was, well, 32MB, so even DOS 3.21 or earlier versions that didn't support extended partitions were fine for it. They took up less memory and marginally less disk space, and any support for using upper memory blocks, either software or hardware, on XTs was just nowhere near mainstream. DOS 5 really was kind of pointless.
 

sergey

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I use MS-DOS 6.22 on all my machines. It is not period correct, but works just fine even on the original IBM PC
If you want to be more period correct, PC DOS 2.x / MS-DOS 2.x is the version that was shipped with XT / XT clones and PC DOS 3.x / MS-DOS 3.x is the version that was shipped with AT and AT clones
MS-DOS 6.22 might be a bit more memory demanding, but that's easily mitigated by using UMBs.
It does provide several useful utilities that would require overwise installing 3rd party software: scandisk, defrag, edit, undelete, unformat, drive compression (I don't use that though).
Also, since I don't strive for period correctness, it is easier for me to keep most of my systems at the same OS version
 

1ST1

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I think once I started using DOS 5 or later somewhere else, I didn’t want to run an earlier version at home. I certainly didn’t want to keep running edlin once I had experienced edit :)
If you would have used Olivetti branded MS-DOS 3.x you already would have had a edit.com with that. It's a different one than you know and it's usage is a bit cryptic, but it is ways ahead from edlin.
 

keenerb

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MSDOS 6.22 and/or DRDOS on all my machines regardless of age, because I enjoy pushing old tech to the limits of what it can do, like multitasking with dosshell or taskmgr, HMA/UMB on XT machines, and utilities like ETHERDFS and ETHFLOP.
 

rlauzon

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The problem with using higher versions of DOS on the older machines, though, is getting the boot disks or images.

Many of the "higher" DOS versions only came on 1.44MB 3.5" formats, making it very difficult to locate boot disks or images to use.

My Sperry Portable only supported the 360K 5.25" format. The Compaq Portables supported 360K, 1.2MB, and 720K.

But which version of DOS you use really goes back to what experience you want. In my case, I want to use the machine as it was when it was new - meaning I want the DOS that it came with.
 

jafir

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Most came with a coupon you could send in to get the less common formats. That’s what I did with MS-DOS 6.22
 

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Eudimorphodon

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Also, since I don't strive for period correctness, it is easier for me to keep most of my systems at the same OS version

Yes, "period correctness" is bunk, really. I was just relating what I did back in the day because, like I said, there was no reason *to* use a newer DOS unless you had hardware basically nobody had. (I mean, sure, apparently upper memory blocks were "known technology" back in the 1980's, but that's only a thing I really found out about in retrospect, and even then they were very hard to utilize. The closest to a "standard" use for upper memory was the "704k" trick, I guess I knew about that, but this was before you could just spend a few bucks on eBay and get a card to do it with.)

Also, some of these machines didn't even have hard disks; lightweight floppy-only word processing was still a use case, like on my Toshiba T1100+. DOS 5 just would have sucked up more space on the floppy in addition to in memory, for zero benefit.

Many of the "higher" DOS versions only came on 1.44MB 3.5" formats, making it very difficult to locate boot disks or images to use.

Lower density versions of it are out there, and if you're determined you can always install on an emulator and make your own disks to "install" it. That's what I did to get PC-DOS 7 off a *CD-ROM* image of it for my Tandy 1000.
 

sergey

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The problem with using higher versions of DOS on the older machines, though, is getting the boot disks or images.
There's no problem of creating a bootable DOS disk (or disk image) for whatever DOS version, either using a real hardware with appropriate floppy drives, or using an emulator.
Once you're able to boot, you can copy the rest of the installation. DOS installer didn't do much other than copying files and maybe creating or modifying AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS
 

DDS

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You're going to find its often a case of "You can't get there from here. You have to go someplace else first."

One thing to look in to is building yourself a "tweener" i.e. a machine that you can equip with various types of floppy drives and copy stuff back and forth from one format floppy to another..

Another possible tool is a Gotek to host various sizes of floppy images and copy them to your vintage hardware.

A great place to find the disk images is here:


but be advised that some of their images are mislabeled.

As a final resort, what a boot floppy has that is unique to a given version of DOS is a boot block, io.sys, msdos.sys, and command.com.

By experimentation, I found that the boot process wasn't all that fussy about the small differences in a floppy boot block from one DOS version to another.

Take a bootable floppy of the format you want, clear the flags on those three files and overwrite them with the new versions of those three files from the the DOS version you want to run. Kind of a "Hail Mary" but it did work for me although I was pretty shocked when the system not only booted off my Frankenstein boot disk but VER said it was the version of the files I copied onto it.

Eventually i got tired of tying myself in knots and equipped my XT with an XTIDE card and built bootable CF "hard drives" for 3.30, 4.01, 5.01, and 6.22.

Now my near stock 5150 (Six Pack Plus and VGA cards added) and my tinkered with 5160 (half height 360k and 720k floppies plus CF holders for C: and D: drives) and I are all happy campers.

Life is good.
 

DDS

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Yes, "period correctness" is bunk, really. I was just relating what I did back in the day because, like I said, there was no reason *to* use a newer DOS unless you had hardware basically nobody had. (I mean, sure, apparently upper memory blocks were "known technology" back in the 1980's, but that's only a thing I really found out about in retrospect, and even then they were very hard to utilize. The closest to a "standard" use for upper memory was the "704k" trick, I guess I knew about that, but this was before you could just spend a few bucks on eBay and get a card to do it with.)

Also, some of these machines didn't even have hard disks; lightweight floppy-only word processing was still a use case, like on my Toshiba T1100+. DOS 5 just would have sucked up more space on the floppy in addition to in memory, for zero benefit.



Lower density versions of it are out there, and if you're determined you can always install on an emulator and make your own disks to "install" it. That's what I did to get PC-DOS 7 off a *CD-ROM* image of it for my Tandy 1000.
Later versions of MSDOS came on higher density (1.2M or 1.44M) media with a post card you could mail off to get the lower density (360K or 720K) media. Some of those images are still available on the web but good luck getting 6.22 images for 360K media. The ones I have come across so far are mislabeled 1.2M images IIRC. For most people these are nit picky things that can be worked around unless you want to use the Microsoft "installation" procedure to install on a HDD or equivalent. You can do all of that expansion and stuff by hand. The scripts are not really necessary.
 
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