while FreeDOS 1.0 seems to work quite well now, I still
found several glitches. Maybe this list can help to
improve version 1.01...
- isolinux 3.20 hangs on my bios, is it possible to
provide a cdrom with isolinux 2.04 at least for the
fdbasecd, to be able to boot on older computers?
- shsucdx /L:... should display a message, not only
return an errorlevel, if you ask me...
- when booting my existing DOS and then running the
setup,bat on the cdrom, a message about a missing
input file is displayed. it turns out that the NLS
directory cannot be accessed and that PBATCH cannot
work without backgrou.men...
Finally I did the following: Use OMI (or alternatively
my other OS) to copy the ISO image to c:\fdbootcd.iso
and mount that:
now I could run setup,bat properly :-). An alternative
solution would have been to copy fdbootcd.iso to c:\
with help of my other OS, and then use the fdboot.img
boot diskette of FreeDOS 1.0 :-). By the way, shsucdhd
shows a garbled message if you try to open x:\noexist.iso
If I had been able to boot from cdrom, I would have
reached this point without any further work. But I
would suggest to mention the fdbootcd.iso trick on
the download / install page for people who are less
creative with FreeDOS than me...
Now I was in the menu system... pressing ESC seems to
select D: and reboot, respectively, in the second and
third pbatch menu (1 language, 2 drive, 3 prepare:
install / text / format / xfdisk / exit / makebootdisk /
reboot). Cool that the prepare menu autodetects that
my drive already is partitioned and formatted :-). When
I select FORMAT anyway, and then hit N because I do not
actually want to format, the message from FORMAT should
stay on screen for a while before the menu is shown again.
Fourth pbatch menu is "install / mode (base, full, custom) /
english / return to previous menu. In all pbatch menus, I
found that hitting Ctrl-Break exits the menu but does not
make the prompt visible again. I have to use CLS and/or
MODE to return to a normal state of text mode again.
After the four menus (of five, if the mode is changed),
the TEXTINST starts and shows two text pages. The second
of those talks about diskettes and about copying the
cdrom CONTENTS to harddisk. This does not describe how
things work today. Instead, you create at most ONE
diskette and/or copy the cdrom ISO to harddisk, or just
boot from the cdrom :-).
Now a screen shows up which lets me select source and
target directories. While useful values are already the
defaults, there is no way to decide if a value is valid.
Deliberately selecting an invalid target triggers a log
file creation error message later, but I can continue
to "install" to a non-existing drive after that. It would
be better if TEXTINST would directly refuse to continue
if the target directory does not exist and cannot be made.
Similarily, when deliberately selecting an invalid source
directory, the installer seems to use some other source
path which contains the categories of the fullcd...? The
install process then shows an infinite loop of "please
insert disk", because I cannot insert the disk at that
When using correct paths, the install now runs very
smoothly. Very nice :-). However, the installer draws
a white screen before displaying the blue unzip progress
bar screen. Each time. Flicker time! Where are my sun-
SUMMARY: Install works pretty nice now but it is not
very foolproof. And I cannot boot from isolinux 3.20,
which is a showstopper for all inexperienced users.
Testing the installed system... My config / autoexec
are now backupped before they are overwritten, nice!
The config contains too many "!" and the menu item 4
cannot be selected because no line refers to it. Adding
4?ECHO No drivers will be loaded
solves that :-).
Problems with the autoexec: KEYB should be loaded first.
Loading MKEYB instead of KEYB for those ca 15 layouts
supported by MKEYB would save up to 3 kB RAM ;-).
LH is used for one of the MODE lines, not good. DISPLAY
still cannot load high if I have EMS 3.2 support on:
This is because its header reserves space for 5 buffers
outside XMS. If you ask me, it would be much better to
reserve only the minimal 1 buffer. It would save 13 kB
of low memory, because it would make it much easier to
LOADHIGH DISPLAY. The disadvantage of that would be that
if you LH display on a non-XMS system, into a small UMB,
DISPLAY could not allocate more buffers. However, if you
load to bigger UMB, or to low memory, DOS will GIVE
DISPLAY more heap space, and DISPLAY can KEEP more buffers
(note that display will not have to GROW for that - it is
a popular misconception that it would have to... And it
could not grow after becoming a device driver either...).
SHSUCDHD is commented out, and there is no /D:SHSU-CDH
option in the SHSUCDX line. It was a bit tricky for me
to figure out how to activate ISO mounting.
SHSUCDX and MOUSE are even loaded in nodrivers mode.
Here a suggestion for an optimized autoexec:
SET BLASTER=A220 I5 D1 H5 P330
LH MKEYB GR
if "%config%"=="4" goto nodrivers
?LH DISPLAY CON=(EGA,,1)
MODE CON CP PREP=((858) C:\FDOS\cpi\EGA.CPX)
MODE CON CP SEL=858
LH ShsuCDhd /F:C:\FDBOOTCD.ISO
REM LH VIAUDIO
REM LH VIAFMTSR
LH FDAPM APMDOS
if "%config%"=="2" LH SHARE
ShsuCDX /~ /D:?FDCD0002 /D:?FDCD0003 /D:?CDRCACH0 /D:?SHSU-CDH
echo type HELP to get support on commands and navigation
The SHSUCDHD line could be commented out by default, but
on the other hand, showing off with cdrom mounting would
add to the coolness of FreeDOS ;-). The default autoexec
uses far too many /QQ. I use none at all. Until we reach
2.0, we should not suppress status messages. I have been
thinking about whether DOSLFN should also be loaded only
in config option 2. What do you think about that? The ?
prefix for DISPLAY is because I now skip loading it very
often, as it uses so much low DOS RAM.
Talking about size: The installed system consists of more
than 1000 files now (according to DIR /s), 3 MB binaries,
of which 0.5 MB for GRUB and install (are those still in
the base distro? I just installed over the preview one :-)),
2 MB docs, 0.3 MB HELP, 0.3 MB HTMLHELP (why unzipped??),
and less than 0.1 MB each in packages, appinfo and cpi. 10pc
of the DOC dir size are the history.txt of sys/kernel ;-).
The NLS directory is 0.2 MB and contains a Russian edit.hlp:
I seem to remember that there also was a German one, but
where? Or was that a German htmlhelp zipfile? If either of
both shows up again, we could include it in the distro :-).
Bugs in the htmlhelp about lbacache: the summary does not
mention tuns, but the text below does. The DRV and SIZE 0
explanations are wrong.
In short: A very nice FreeDOS 1.0 but that does not mean
that it would not be possible to optimize it further :-).
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