On Wed, Jan 9, 2013 at 1:32 AM, Michael Robinson
<plu...@robinson-west.com> wrote:
> There are some programs that require Windows 3.1 or 3.11 which can run
> on top of Freedos, but more work on compatibility would not hurt.

While I agree in theory, there just aren't enough skilled developers
for that. Besides, Win16 is very old by now (and non-free in any
sense). Just getting it to work on semi-modern machines would probably
be a chore as it probably chokes on big RAM, etc. I'm not sure there
is any advantage there. I guess it depends on how important certain
old Win16 apps are to you (or others). Personally, I think it makes
more sense to recompile stuff from scratch (via OpenWatcom or DJGPP)
or use Japheth's HX, if possible, but YMMV.

BTW, both DOSEMU (presumably using MS-DOS or DR-DOS) and the DOSBox
emulator claim the ability to run Win16 fully.

> ReactOS may fill the niche of Windows replacement eventually, but not
> for a while most likely.  Worse, for Windows programs that expect there
> to be dos underneath, enough said.

Dunno. It used to support some minor bits of DOS calls, but I'm not
sure if they nowadays have transitioned totally to using DOSBox
emulator or not (which is what I vaguely heard).

> A protected mode dos like the one under Windows 9x and Windows ME
> could be interesting and would justifiably deserve a different name
> like Freedos-32.  The problem with a dos environment is that there
> isn't an operating system taking care of all the hardware and
> providing standard calls to use it.  Most sound card support
> involved adding to your program in most likely a spaghetti fashion
> calls to a third party driver, closed source of course.

Still, having support for OSS or ALSA or similar could be good for
certain apps if recompiled, at least in theory. Yes, legacy apps would
have to be patched or disassembled / rebuilt from scratch, but that's
unavoidable. Better to just setup a good foundation for the future
than worry about the impossible. (Though obviously DOSEMU and DOSBox
work without any of that manual headache.)

> For low power embedded processors that are say only 8 bit, freedos may be very
> useful.  A hypervisor that can run dosbox and make modern hardware work
> with old dos programs anyone?  How about dosbox running on a Pentium 133
> or a Pentium 166 machine with 16 megs of ram?

Most embedded processors (that are still actively produced) are
32-bit. Anyways, I don't think FreeDOS qualifies, at least not for
8-bit (AVR??) ones.

DOSBox is an emulator (using SDL), not a hypervisor, as it runs atop
various host cpus that are not x86 compatible. Even on x86, you don't
need VT-X, but you do need a relatively fast cpu as it's fairly slow
as molasses just to get native 486 speeds. DOSEMU (on 386) uses V86
mode, hence it's much faster.

DOSBox could probably technically run on a P166, but it'd be way way
way too slow. Actually, the default setup of DOSBox uses 16 MB of
emulated RAM, so I don't see how running it on a machine with only 16
MB would work well. (And don't forget the overhyped adage: RAM is
cheap. So you'll not find lots of machines with that low amount
anymore.) It would probably swap to death unless you were running very
simple things. Same with BOCHS or QEMU, might work (with swap) but
would be incredibly slow.

FreeBSD's upcoming 10.0 release is working on their own hypervisor
(for now, FreeBSD host and target only) called bhyve, so that might
prove interesting, if curious (though it assumes advance Intel-only
VT-X, e.g. EPT, for now):   http://www.bhyve.org/

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