Jim Lemon wrote:

diskette drive now. What I am wondering is if FreeDOS has developed the capability to write to NTFS filesystems so that I could run the tests under FreeDOS on the CD-ROM but write the data to an NTFS filesystem.

NTFS is not directly supported by FreeDOS (nor any DOS that I'm aware of), but there are a few 3rd party tools to allow reading (usually for free) and some support writing (when purchased). The best examples are NTFSDOS from sysinternals which provides a drive letter to access to the partition or I believe its NTFS4DOS (forget from who) which is similar (not sure if it has write support).

NTFS support is tricky especially under DOS, largely because Microsoft has not publicly published its specification (and it was not designed for the memory limits of DOS). The Linux/Unix community has largely documented it, so adding read support to [Free]DOS is not out of the question, but not write support [from my understanding overwriting is pretty safe, and perhaps since I've checked even creating files could be safer now].

Also, I'm not sure if M$ has any other filesystems that I might need to consider. Apple seems to do this with their HFS - every time open source HFS tools appear, they change the spec.

FAT and NTFS are the only major filesystems you need to be concerned with when dealing with nearly all MS systems (HPFS, logical volumes, and other 3rd party filesystems could be in use on a given system).

Standard FAT is well documented and supported {by all major DOSes}. [I believe the Xbox uses a variant of FAT, but you should never encounter it normally.] Microsoft does revise NTFS, but I think they only do so to add features, so new revisions appear only with new releases of Windows (or possibly service packs); either way the documentation they make available is probably under NDA and costs a small fortune.


Unfortunately there is no easy solution to your problem, but floppy drives won't disappear for good while, cd-writers are more common (so for some applications it may be possible to save data to a RAMdisk/other and then save to a CD), with the right drivers [and some experimenting] many USB disks are supported, and who knows what the future holds.

For applications which are best run from pure DOS, but the user has only NTFS (and Windows), and the max data stored is known ahead of time, a possible solution involves creating the file ahead of time (in Windows) and then in DOS either using a special driver to treat the file as a virtual drive or in the application specially supporting it. The file itself could be an app specific format (where a Windows program/GUI reads it and displays the information to/interacts with the user) or simply a disk image so a program like VFD makes it a virtual drive to Windows as well. Although not currently supported, it should even be possible to boot FreeDOS (possibly from the same disk image data stored to) from the NTFS partition. I am aware of one company that used an approach similar to this (where the user interacted with a Windows program, and the computer rebooted into DOS to run the tests, and then back into Windows for processing/displaying the results).


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