Hi Dan,

> I love FreeDOS and have taken to fooling around with an installation on one
> of my primary partitions. I've done some research about compatible sound
> hardware for the current kernel, and (please correct me if I'm wrong) it
> seems to me that PCI sound cards simply will not work with FreeDOS. I
> recently came across items like  this...

There are a few PCI soundcard chipsets with "SoundBlaster compatibility"
features, e.g. ForteMedia FM801. However, with my current mainboard, no
card in my "collection" does proper IRQ and/or DMA handling anymore. It
seems that even on PCI, they need mainboards which still "know what ISA
was" to a greater extend than modern chipsets do. I guess you are unable
to use actual classic ISA soundcards in your computer. You can go in the
opposite direction and simulate SoundBlaster in software: Either with a
"SoundBlaster PCI" or "SoundBlaster Live" which in fact are not hardware
compatible (they are actually AC97 with extensions?) but come with DOS
drivers to make a virtual SoundBlaster. Or with a completely virtual PC
or something geared more towards DOS: Dosbox, Dosemu, VirtualBox, Bochs,
VMWare, you name it. Although "completely virtual PC" may have flaws in
being compatible with DOS as well. After all, it is not target audience
stuff for software meant to run server farms. Even people who only want
to run one OS inside another are more likely to have Windows or Linux,
not DOS, inside their virtual computers...

If you have a mainboard from the time of Pentium III or AMD K6 or such,
chances are quite okay that PCI soundcards with some sort of hardware
SoundBlaster 16 compatibility can do something useful for you, but it
is hard to predict which will work and which CMOS settings and/or game
driver settings will give reasonable results for which combinations.

For significantly newer mainboards, I would recommend the more virtual
methods, in particular Dosbox in Windows and Dosemu in Linux, as those
are optimized for DOS, as you can guess from their names :-) Dosemu is
a bit faster (can actually be bad for old games) and Dosbox is a bit
more fake (but okay for games). The latter is also available on Linux.

> seem to indicate that there are SB16 PCI sound cards out there. Is FreeDOS
> actually compatible with sound cards like this, or does the fact that
> they're PCI foreclose that possibility?

Actually FreeDOS or MS DOS or similar do not have any opinion about any
sound things themselves. Only your DOS games do. And they often have a
small set of old built-in drivers, often SoundBlaster 16 and a few more
but almost never anything new like AC97 or HDA. You cannot normally add
any newer drivers to your old games. Only new software like MPXPLAY or
similar DOS media players are likely to have drivers for AC97 or HDA.

The "driver" for "SB Live" or "SB PCI" creates a bit of a "virtual PC"
style illusion of having a SoundBlaster 16, which can then in turn be
used by the drivers built into your games, if all goes well. This only
works with real mode games and games with "normal" DOS extenders, as a
"weird" DOS extender will often conflict with the "illusion" drivers.

Regards, Eric

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