Hi Michael :-)

> - classic DOS games

Yes - but even with a good PCI soundcard such as one with
Fortemedia FM801 chipset (similar to cmedia, low price but
nice compatibility) SB16 compatibility is broken if your
mainboard is too new... So a SB16 simulating card such as
the SBLive or SBPCI is the next choice. Note that cmedia
has pretty bad SB16 compatibility in my experience. If all
else fails, you can still use Linux and DOSEMU to have a
virtual SB16 without much overhead. Running more complete
virtual PC just for the sake of virtual SB16 usually is a
waste of CPU speed / CPU time, but DOSEMU is just right.

> - legacy applications

Yes... For example old point of sale terminal software :-)
Also old database systems and stuff. Custom-made software.
People typically can run all those in a window in Linux
or Windows, so the "host" OS can help out with drivers for
modern network (hardware and protocols) and printers etc.

> - nostalgia

Sure... I think that trying to keep ancient PC alive is too
much nostalgia, but running old DOS software on that oldish
PC which always annoyed you because it is too slow for Linux
or Windows is certainly a nice reason for nostalgic computing.

My personal recommendation for a DOS PC: Minimum 386 with a
few MB RAM, better something like an early Pentium with a few
10 MB RAM which can also do all games and maybe run Arachne
and MPXPLAY. For the latter I must say that a pocket size mp3
player takes only a fraction of the space and electricity :-p.
A perfect DOS PC is something like a Pentium III or Socket7+
with a few 100 MHz, AGP graphics and ISA sound, fast enough
for everything (incl. dual boot) but not TOO fast for games.

> - interesting for programmers

Indeed - DOS is small, and you are directly in touch with it.
Writing a small app or driver for DOS can really be fun :-).

> - easy hardware access

True, I myself once used DOS for realtime data collection.
While the kernel is no realtime OS, DOS does not eat CPU
time for itself, so as long as you do not access files etc
you often have all CPU and all hardware for yourself.

> - very lightweight, starts very fast

Yes :-). Some DOS users also like the "hotboot" way of
rebooting for that reason, as DOS boots faster than their
BIOS init stuff (in particular for SCSI controllers). The
hotboot thing just reloads DOS without redoing the BIOS
bootup stuff, but it only works if your DOS drivers all
are happy with such a "shallow" reboot...

> - special purpose (backup, scan virus...)

Quite popular purposes seem to be disk image backup and
restore (ghost, drive snapshot, ...) and installation
of, ironically Windows. The latter is because Linux has
more support for network/unattended install and can boot
from more types of media, so few people need DOS as a
helper to install Linux while many use it to install a
modern Windows. Other solutions like WinPE/BartPE which
lets you install Windows on CD/DVD or solutions which
let you boot/install Windows over network involve extra
complications or nonfree software like a special server.

> Some BIOS are stupid like mine. It has really no legacy emulation

How old is it? But you are right - if your hardware has
PS/2 sockets, better connect keyboard/mouse there in the
first place... Almost all modern keyboard/mouse models
still seem to support those USB PS/2 adapter plugs. Dunno
if EFI involves any plans to support "legacy" OS like DOS!
If your hardware is so new that it does NOT have PS/2
sockets, it very often WILL have USB PS/2 BIOS support.

> My graphic card (Nvida Geforce FX) has VGA and VESA. There
> are not DOS drivers from Nvida.

You do not need drivers - DOS games use VGA and VESA :-).
This is also why UNIVBE / FREEVBE do not work, the VBE is
already in your VGA BIOS so nobody made separate drivers.

> If I do some stress test like scitech display doctor it will crash.

What is "it"? The graphics card? Overheating maybe?

> Also  the benchmark is very slow (only 5-15 frames per second).

Depends on what the benchmark does. DOS games typically do
not use hardware-assisted 3d that often, but a fast VESA
framebuffer (VBE 2.0) would be good.

> The web browser arachne runs with 1024*768 with 2 MB VESA very slow.

You may want to use a ramdisk and lots of RAM for Arachne.
But this browser is not that fast anyway, I believe. Sorry.
A graphics card with only 2 MB RAM is also quite old by now.

> When I start some classic game like [1] the graphic is pretty messed up.
> [1] http://www.abandonia.com/en/games/574/International+Karate.html

Can you explain "messed up" some more? You should try if it
makes a difference whether you load EMM386 and some others.

> Other games also look messed up. Some games are working
> (perhaps the better programmed ones) well.

You should make a list which games look messed up in what way
and which games work.

> Also other strange behavior. The system hangs or applications
> crash randomly. I am not sure if this is only related to the
> graphic board or  what...

Try with fewer drivers, in particular without emm386 and without
"fancy" complex drivers like USB and network drivers... Also DOS
might confuse simple power supplies by having too little CPU load.

> But if I look on google I find that most people recommend
> dosbox or dosemu for legacy applications. Very much don't

Who are "most people"?

> recommend to mess with DOS on new hardware.
> DOS compatible hardware is recommend.

DOSBox is extremely popular for DOS games in Windows: It simulates
a complete classic DOS PC with soundblaster and everything. And it
is easy to setup. You do not even have to know how DOS works, no
drivers to load, nothing. Main problem is that it is too virtual.
This makes it a bit slow even on new PC, and a bit unrealistic. On
the other hand, ancient games sometimes crash on new hardware just
because it is too fast! For more serious DOS projects I still think
that real hardware or things like DOSEmu or a fully virtual PC like
Bochs Qemu VMWare can be good choices. The latter because they are
more realistic than DOSBox (you really install a DOS in those :-p)
but still real hardware is faster than virtual hardware.

> Yes, sound is one of the biggest issues currently. My AC97 is not
> even detected in quickview.

Is it really AC97? Or is it HDA? Does MPXPLAY support it already?

> What a shame, it was a nice imagination not to boot a full windows
> just to watch some media.

I think some nVidia boards had a tiny Linux in the BIOS for that.

> www.bttr-software.de/forum/board_entry.php?id=3174&page=0&order=time&category=all
> Yes, I did read the whole thread. Interesting. But doesn`t seam like
> something is really happening at this time. :|

Well, if people post new posts in this thread, new things can happen.
Main problem is that "virtual SB16 real AC97 via JLM driver" is a very
un-trivial driver to write. People may be able to write components,
but to combine them, you need lowlevel/system programmers who speak
both Asm and C and are sufficiently motivated...

> >> Virtual Sound Blaster is here:
> >>> zap.eltrast.ru/en/dldos.html
> >>> cs.ozerki.net/zap/pub/vsb/

> Also interesting one. Not sb2.0 but might be still useful for someone.
> To bad this only works if you have already *any* recognized soundcard.

Which soundcards are recognized? I thought VSB would also support
non-soundcard output such as Covox (DAC connected to printer port)
and internal speaker...? If not, we could add it :-).


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