Sorry for delay, not sure if this is what you wanted to hear or not, oh well!

On Thu, Jan 3, 2013 at 12:24 AM, Andrew Robins <arob...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
> Coincidentally I've been reading older posts of yours on other
> threads/forums re memory management (DOS/32a) and your involvement with
> the "Stone Soup" dungeon crawler, amongst other things - many thanks for
> your encouragement, but this is not an experiment I will give up so
> easily, please rest assured.

N.B. Stone Soup hasn't been compiled for DOS (that I know of) in
almost three years, and they never mirrored my (barely hacked) 0.6.0
build [DJDEV 2.04, G++ 4.2.3], which was the first one with (untested
for DOS, hence broken) "new" build process. (Though at least magic
worked, and I didn't need to fix it!) No idea if newer ones would
build, haven't tried. Depends on how gnarly their setup is and if they
require Unicode in console builds nowadays (doubt it but who knows).
There are plenty of other roguelikes, though ....

> I really think the jury is still out on whether the modern netbooks and
> RAM architecture etc, while 'cheap' - will be shown to be as durable and
> thus sustainable as the laptops of the last technological epoch (i.e.,
> noughties)

Dunno, I heard ASUS won't even be making any netbooks this year. My
aunt still enjoys hers (not ASUS, but I forget the brand) for
lightweight use.


> - so I give my preference to Win95-era "reject" machines over
> a new box of gimmicks any day (nod to the OP).

Older hardware was better documented. These days, there are so many
competing "new" technologies that you're lucky is any OS supports it.
Not a lot of stability.   :-/

> Alas no - BIOS permits boot from FDD and HDD only, though rather than
> your kind suggestion of Smart Boot Manager, I've used a "grubflop" image
> boot floppy I found on the Puppy Linux forums with great success.

There's also PLoP Boot Manager, but I'm not sure how much extra help
it will be here. (For instance, a year or two back I was using it via
floppy to USB boot to Puppy Linux on my older P4.) Even SlitaZ Linux
was (last I checked) indirectly using this for their boot floppy!


>  I've yet to do the brain transplant back into the old machine, but will
>  do so shortly as many old dos games generally complain about the lack
>  of Soundblaster16-era hardware.

There's no good answer there. Hopefully you can live without sound (as
it's not crucial to most games) or live with PC speaker (if
supported)!   ;-)

> So, I guess all I need spoon-feeding with now is an "Absolute Dummy's
> Guide to understanding modern solutions to DOS memory management" (i.e.,
> JEMM/JEMMEX, HX, DOS4GW, DOS/32a, XMS, UMBs etc etc ) - which FreeDOS
> startup choice is best (1, 2 or 3) and can additional memory management
> parameters (e.g., full cache utilization for certain game requirements -
> whatever is meant by 'cache' in this instance) be co-opted within the
> "Access" GUI configurations for specific games. Or, whether a better
> workaround is provision of a new batch file to call up specific memory
> requirements, per game. Doing my research - but any sources that
> illustrate DOS memory management in a graphical form would be
> appreciated, if any are to hand,

Err, graphical form? Heheh, sorry, no flow charts here.

DOS memory isn't that tricky, but different apps support different
types (if anything beyond typical conventional 640k). So it really
just depends what the app supports, what works best, and what your
target computer can support.

FDCONFIG.SYS should probably?? always have "DOS=HIGH, UMB" and
"DOSDATA=HIGH,UMB". Similarly always use a good shell like FreeCOM
0.84-pre2 XMS_Swap or 4DOS, as those are able to not need the kludges
to swap out upon each command (VSPAWN or KSSF). But you need at least
a 286 for XMS. HIMEMX is popular, but I personally like XMGR [by Jack
Ellis, e.g. in UIDE "drivers" download] for no other reason than it
seems to work fine. (Both of those are XMSv3 only and 386+, so you'll
have to use FDXMS286 for old 286s, which I doubt your using here.)

While there are lots of EMS apps, most people don't have any "real"
physical EMS RAM. Jim Leonard's 8088 has 2 MB (and a Sound Blaster and
hard disk and ...), but most "classic" (16-bit) computers won't be
able to use EMS outside of various unofficial TSRs like EMM286 or
EMSMAGIC. For 386+ machines, the common answer is EMM386 (or, in our
case, preferably JEMM386). If you always want to run EMS, you can use
JEMMEX, which is basically HIMEMX + JEMM386 combined, but it lacks
some flexibility (and won't load if other XMS server is already
loaded). "JEMM386 X=TEST I=TEST" is probably a safe default. There are
other options, but it shouldn't matter. Though honestly, unless you
always need EMS or UMBs (and can't use UMBPCI), I'd just not enable it
and "LOAD" and "UNLOAD" it at cmdline when needed. Most good apps
don't "exclusively" need EMS (outside of a few rare ones). That's just
my opinion, though, it "usually" can't hurt to leave EMS enabled all
the time except in very rare cases (in my experience).

The rest of the mess is dealing with different extenders and DPMI,
which almost always (in 95% of cases) means 386+. CWSDPMI is very
popular mostly for DJGPP-related stuff (GCC, FBC, FPC), but it's only
"pure" DPMI, no 16-bit, no int 21h extensions, and hence it's not
meant for Watcom-based apps. (DPMIONE is the only "full" DPMI 1.0, now
GPL'd, and nice for comparison.) For Watcom (extended, not "pure"
DPMI) stuff, you have a plethora of choices:  Causeway, DOS/32A,
PMODE/W, D3X, WDOSX, ZRDX, DOS/4GW, etc. etc. Though the easiest
answer (for 386+) to mixing DJGPP + Watcom is to just use Japheth's
HDPMI32, which comes with his HX, and it supports pretty much
everything (oops, assuming you don't need virtual memory!). Most of
the others are old and have tradeoffs. But it's still sometimes useful
to test various ones.

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