On Thu, Jul 27, 2017 at 8:12 PM, Paolo Vincenzo Olivo <pv...@outlook.it> wrote:
>> We can't rest on our laurels. We need to be open to obvious
>> improvements.
> This is a high-minded, wise way of talking I hadn't heard in a while. One
> point to you, deserved

There's always more to do.

FreeDOS really does work extremely well, and I'm very happy with it.
So it's not like I demand much or expect a miracle. If anything, I
just wonder what else I personally can get done with it (which often
means recompiling). "What can I do with it? What will it let me do?
What can I bend into shape? What can I fix or improve?"

So far, it does quite a lot. But that doesn't mean it can't do more.

I know I've said this before, and it's cliche but it's true:  "A poor
carpenter blames his tools".

> (But I'm not talking about stupid multimedia stuff or
>> anything overkill like that. I'm thinking much more reasonable goals.)
> I know that there many more important things to care about, and that there
> aren't neither many developers, nor much free time to develop anything for
> anyone. I suspected it to be a bit childish or, at least secondary to any
> project regarding any way to improve FreeDOS in what it currently does and
> does not, so I was prepared to receive such an answer.

It's neither childish nor bad to discuss things, dream even, about
future improvements. But we're probably not going to get a 64-bit
UTF-8 SMP rewrite!!

Though minor upgrades and cleanups are reasonable, I think. (Porting
most basic things to "Free" tools would be nice.)

> Anyway It was just an idea I wanted to share about what I thought FreeDOS to
> be missing. There are indeed many other ideas and projects to carry out, but
> I saw that those things were somehow a work in progress, while I felt dthose
> aspect were being left behind..now I know why, thank you for this

Well, as mentioned, Win 16-bit is just too old and buggy ... and
abandoned and proprietary. It's not the worst idea to fix any
remaining bugs, but it's not easy work (at least for me). Personally,
I have zero interest in Win16. I don't even actively use WINE on my
(ancient, Lucid) Puppy Linux. WINE is cool, but I have zero apps that
I want to run. I would be hard-pressed to even find one. (Well, I
could think of a very very few, but clearly DOS is my passion, and I
have enough minor things to do there!!)

>>> Multitasking might be nice ....disliked in the Linux
> and GNU communities)>>.
> As I said, I agree that these are not viable options

Well, I'm not an engineer, and low-level stuff can be insanely complex
(ahem, USB). I'm lucky just to be able to rebuild the FD kernel, but I
have little clue on how to improve it. If anything, I'm more
comfortable (if only barely) in userland. Even that can get quite

>> Win95 (aka, MS-DOS 7.1) had FAT32 support.
> I know, but its really easier to find a working copy of FreeDOS than one of
> Win95 or  simple MS-DOS 7.1.  I do not own any of these and albeit being
> likely available on some legacy software site, like winworld pc, they would
> be, for experience, only for  50% of likelihood working.

Windows (e.g. 7, which I still use) would still let you make a "system
floppy". Even RUFUS will optionally use the (MS-DOS 8) image embedded
in DISKCOPY.DLL. But I hear rumors that Win10 doesn't have that
support anymore. (Not a huge surprise, just saying, that's a minor
flaw to me.) Granted, it's extremely minimal, almost useless by
default, and you can't default install (SYS) it at all (probably to
avoid tech support headaches about borked Windows).

You can still find various others DOSes online, but FreeDOS works fine
(thanks to a lot of work by various people over the years). There are
maybe a few very minor flaws, but overall it works great. I'm not
complaining, it's too good. Granted, it takes a lot of imagination
(and tinkering) to work in DOS. Some people just don't have the
passion. (For God's sake, it survived for decades, had thousands of
software products written for it, and runs on more x86 [BIOS] machines
than any other OS.)

>> Do you mean licensing or just simplicity? For the latter, the easiest
>> way is virtual machines / images.
> I was talking of both indeed :). However I was speaking of installing a
> pocket system on a USB drive (not burning the installer, but installing the
> system itself and make it bootable) and boot it on every machine you use and
> you actually do not own. Or even boot it using your own computer if you do
> not want to have a dedicated partition for that OS.

Yes, I still use bootable USBs sometimes (among other methods).
Running natively is much faster than pure software emulation (but
hardware virtualization / VT-X is very fast and convenient).

> Using Virtual Machines would require the host computer to have a virtual
> Machine installed (and there aren't many), and, in addition you'de be forced
> to use a reduced resolution if guest additions were not available for that
> OS, and to bring all the iso you need to mount (with all files and programs)
> with you.

Your VM can be as big or small as you make it. It can even be a small
floppy image. In fact, my efforts recently have been on such an image
that uses packet driver (and FTP or WGET) to grab further software to
RAM disk (if needed), for experimentation. But it's also equally easy
to install to .VHD (or similar) virtual hard disk. So you don't need
everything pre-installed, only a way to download it later.

Guest additions are not usually available (e.g. VBox), but one guy did
write some for VMware (VMSMOUNT). Though that's more for accessing
shared folders than supporting graphical resolutions.

>> Small size is good, but better is compatibility, which Kolibri
>> somewhat lacks. Better are systems
>> that allow you to download / install (or better still, rebuild)
>> various third-party apps.
> Agreed, at the end, a good OS, is most of times an OS with the least
> compatibility issues.

I'm starting to honestly wonder whether something like Gentoo (or
Minix) would be a good idea for inspiration. But it's harder than it
sounds (though not impossible).

>> GUI is irrelevant. It may be somewhat more convenient, but it improves
>> almost nothing else (e.g. raw functionality).
> Speaking of DOS, I agree with you. The fact I was talking about a GUI in
> DOS, was due to the possibility of adding the softwares I mentioned (after
> having read  and understood those replies, I admit they're not worth the
> struggle), as well as the important advantage of making it more
> user-friendly

There's nothing wrong with being user-friendly, having good docs, help
commands, good error reporting, etc.

Having said that, clicking on an icon isn't really much more
convenient than just typing "edit.exe". And FD Edit does have a TUI,
at least. And you can effectively use the mouse in non-GUI apps, even
in DOS.

> I didn't want to steal any precious time on that mailing list and I apologize 
> for that.

Don't apologize, you didn't waste anybody's time. It's okay to discuss things.

> I know there's better software out there, but it was just a matter of 
> fancying out
> workarounds for people who are really determined to run DOS for those purpose
> in 2017,

There are several PDF viewers for DOS, some are fairly good, but it's
just not perfect by any stretch. It's a minor miracle, almost, that
anything works at all.

I'm just saying that PDF is somewhat bloated and lazy and overkill. If
the author wants to be compatible, he can (also) use a different
(preferably better!) format. Using bloated PDFs almost demands a
bloated, billion-dollar OS. It's a self-made problem (which can be

I know that's a bit lazy and cynical, but I'm just trying to be
somewhat fair to DOS here. Supporting PDF is an insanely huge task.

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