Hi Bernd,

If you have the opportunity to test EMM386 before taking a machine into production use.. Michael Devore will appreciate it :)


I did post my findings in earlier posts such as "FreeDOS kicks some serious ass", but I'll summarize here:

First it's important to note that it's not just Michael's EMM386, I also had similar problems with Microsoft's EMM386.

The saga began when I bought a new Dell server with E7520 chipset, SCSI RAID, Boot time USB BIOS emulation and >4Gb RAM. Up until this point I'd been using DOS 6.22 on a wide range of PC hardware and had a reliable boot CD. I transferred the MS-DOS image from the CD to a data stick, booted it, and everything went horribly wrong. I then tried the CD, and it kind-of worked until I tried to use the USB, then it went wrong again - like random characters when typing DIR. I then noticed it wasn't just the USB, I was also getting file system corruption on FAT drives and the CD drive. I took out Microsoft's EMM386, and everything started working, except I could not load my NIC drivers - not enough memory. I then found I was also getting problems on other modern client PC hardware. I was also fed up with Microsoft's limited DOS 6.22 FDISK by then...

At that point, I decided to try FreeDOS. Instantly everything was 100 times better than MS-DOS, except it didn't fix the EMM386 problems (even without VDS and later versions). I was still getting random memory corruption on both server and client machines, but it was much more subtle than under MS-DOS. e.g. you could type DIR and it would work, then type it again and you'd get Greek. I then started to notice all kinds of problems with SCSI, even on other machines (even without VDS) and knew I had to find an alternative.

At first, I thought UMBPCI was a crazy idea, and didn't expect it to work with the latest chipsets and especially the amount of ROMs I had in these things. They've got dozens of controllers all with their own BIOS's. Anyway, I fired it up, and suddenly it's like a dream: Everything is working perfectly on all the latest hardware. The SCSI and RAID is now showing correct drive geometry, data corruption is gone, and I've got more memory than I know what to do with. Also PQMagic.exe isn't giving me a silly warning about running EMM386 anymore.

I made a bootable CD version of that build, and that's what I've been using ever since. The EMM386 problems were just too random and subtle to be able to troubleshoot.

I didn't know LBACACHE would be allowed by Win2000 setup process? Does it still want Smartdrv then?

It seems you can use either, but LBACACHE must be better than Smartdrv because anything that's free and open source is always the best.

Setup process for Win9x is a bit more complex, you need the "SETUP /NM /IS" command instead of "SETUP", and even then you might still get some error.

OK, but who on earth is going to be running Win9x setup from within FreeDOS?! I'm not sure what this achieves? I can answer in the context of Win2000 - let's say you want to build 100 identical client PCs with all the latest service packs, drivers and patches, and you don't want to spend more than one minute at each machine - FreeDOS lets you do that.

Probably WinPE will boot from CD/DVD, then you can dump some preconfigured image file to harddisk, and then finish installation of Vista.

Yes, but as I say it's only available to rich corporations who sign their life over to Microsoft (at least as far as I know). I did notice today, however, there's something call the WAIK? (or similar) "Windows Automated Installation Kit", which is available on MSDN. I'll try to find out more.

true. these filesystems will never be native in DOS. There's not even an opensource SMB client for DOS. UDF is some kind of (read-only? packet writing?) filesystem for DVDs?

Yup, well even a UDF reader would be good. This is where you use a CD-RW like a giant floppy. It _can_ work under DOS, I remember an Adaptec driver some years back.

--
Gerry Hickman (London UK)


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