short answer is yes, you can use DOS to create a networked
music player on a PC with a modern soundcard, but no, you
cannot get all your wishes implemented for free :-).
> Is it possible to install freedos on a 266 mhz pII ibm thinkpad laptop
> with a wifi network card (pcmcia) and play music over smb or nfs with
> my crystal something sound card? Or is it simply not possible because
> freedos have no multitasking (?) or there are no driver for my sound
> card or wifi card.
Probably the latter. I think somewhere in the WIKI or FAQ there is
a list of three very old PCMCIA WIFI cards which come with DOS
drivers. Ever since then, manufacturers stopped to provide DOS drivers
for their cards, and WIFI is much harder to support than normal LAN.
However, many common "wired" network cards, in particular PCI and
onboard ones, do have DOS drivers, for example on crynwr.com :-).
I have no idea if there are "crystal something" "drivers" for
sound in DOS. Almost all DOS games ONLY support SoundBlaster
compatible sound cards, and it is almost impossible to change
that with external drivers. SoundBlaster PCI / Live does it,
but they create a whole virtual environment for that, and not
all games can stand that. But luckily you only want to play MUSIC
and the modern MPXPLAY media player for DOS does contain built-
in drivers for modern chipsets, including many AC97 compatibles.
Remaining problem is the "network drive letter" one. If your
server would be DOS, too, you could use the network mode of
our SHSUCD driver suite to mount a remote cdrom or cdrom ISO
file with the music. I know no NFS drivers for DOS, but there
are clients for FTP / HTTP / mail / news - probably less useful
for you as you want to have a continuous connection instead of
downloading music from your server to the player from time to
time? You could conceivably also use ancient technology like
INTERLNK or LapLink or the FileMaven link thing, but most of
those either require a DOS server or cannot be used in the
background. As you said, DOS is essentially single-tasking, so
only things which are specifically written as drivers can be
used in the background. The remaining possibility is SMB/NETBIOS,
and as a DOS port of SAMBA is probably not ready yet, you would
have to use the (free but old) MSCLIENT, the microsoft client
for Windows network/shared drives. It uses a lot of DOS RAM but
it seems to work okay in FreeDOS apart from that...
> I could install windows 95 but'll have a much longer boot time...
You could use a light version of Linux, or just disable everything
which is not needed for playing music :-). It will be much easier
to install compared to configuring all the networking and msclient
stuff for DOS, but it might be less cool than using DOS ;-).
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