Hi Kent,

(please switch off HTML mail and use plain text on the list)

as far as I remember, Microsoft is making the virtual graphics
card in DOS boxes worse in newer Windows versions: Win98 maybe
did VESA 2.0 with framebuffer, WinXP maybe did VGA, Vista only
does plain text mode, something like that? Which mode do you
need for your software? Which other things do you need?

You said you print via NET USE on network and USB printers:
I think USB printers can be BIOS supported, so they behave
like parallel port printers for DOS. The MSCLIENT allows you
to use MS Network Shares and printers from DOS, but it takes
a lot of RAM. The MSCLIENT is freeware. Compatibility is, as
far as I know, limited to older protocols. No Active Directory
or anything ;-). There is also a DOS novell netware client.

> HP lists this model as FreeDOS compatible, but
> I haven???t installed it yet pending some suggestions.

Either Dell or HP sometimes ships PCs with FreeDOS included,
but unfortunately, they include very old versions. If you
have one of those, you should get a fresh copy of FreeDOS
first. You get it for diskette (Balder) and cdrom (fdbasecd
and fdfullcd, but do not install everything of full...).

> having ANY changes to their Vista (...) is clearly unacceptable.

Then you have a major misunderstanding here: FreeDOS is an
operating system. It is not anything that you run inside
your Vista to make Vista better. Either you boot into plain
DOS - then you will need to make your Vista partition
smaller, which is easy with a bootable Linux cdrom - or you
will have to run FreeDOS in any type of virtual PC inside
your Vista PC. The latter will probably waste lots of CPU
time because it has to simulate CPU and / or graphics card.

> Having a bunch of special drivers would also be
> a major customer complaint. Installation must be very easy.

I guess the easiest way to get a DOS program to run in Vista
will be to install a virtual PC on Vista and install DOS in
it... For example Bochs and Qemu are free. There are also
VMWare and VirtualBox. Whether and how you can get them to
exchange files with Vista or print to Vista printers varies
a lot between those various virtual computers.

> special  driver to see the Aladdin hardlock key (security dongle).

I know no type of virtual PC that would support that, so if your
dongle connects to anything DOS compatible (like a parallel port
or serial port) then you might consider using real DOS, dual boot.

> Making a new partition for FreeDOS and for my  program
> would be strongly resisted by my customers who may also
> run the risk of  wiping out the Vista OS.

As said, the risk is very limited with modern Linux tools. They
"have to do it all the time" (each time when you install Linux
on a PC which already has Windows but want to keep Windows, too).

> I have heard of DosBox, but I understand it is not free.

It is perfectly free, but it is made for games. Not only hardware
like soundblaster and graphics card is simulated, also the CPU is
simulated (slow, but some old games actually prefer slow) and even
the whole DOS and BIOS are simulated. There is no dongle support
as far as I know. Simulating DOS and BIOS means that compatibility
can be limited (as said, it is meant for games) but on the other
hand, it makes it easy to share directories between Windows and DOS.

Some, mostly non-free, virtual PC things do not fully simulate
the CPU. Instead, they use very lowlevel drivers which allow you
to share the real CPU between the real and the "inside virtual PC"
operating system. In particular on modern CPUs.

> The cost is no problem...

As a good deal of the cost of a PC is for Microsoft, you could
give your users a dedicated DOS PC for only a few 100 bucks.
This will also run fast as heck then :-).

> A Vista reboot to FreeDOS would also meet with a lot of resistance

See above.

> Hopefully, I could set up FreeDOS to make the Vista run my DOS
> program like a XP to maintain all of the Vista security features.

No way, no NT family Windows ever runs a real DOS. They only give
you something which looks like DOS for your apps. And as you move
towards more modern Windows, the something gets very simple and
limited. You cannot install a real DOS inside the something to fix.

> My customers will be more accepting now since FreeDOS is being made
> available from the factory on computer sold by HP and Dell.
> However, I don???t see that these computer have both Vista
> and FreeDOS installed at the factory. Do  they?

No they do not. They just give you a CDROM with FreeDOS, and it
can easily happen that this will be a very old CDROM, too. The
idea is that Microsoft would sue them if they sold computers
without any operating system included, as that "makes people
install stolen Windows". If they were to install DOS or Linux
at the factory, their customers would ask helpdesk questions
about DOS or Linux. Now they only ask questions about Windows.
To be more exact: You CAN get computers with Linux installed at
the factory from Dell or HP now, but thats a very recent change.

> http://probelt.com/download.htm

Eric

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