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Need some help to get going with pocketDOS

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marko Page Icon Posted 2021-10-07 7:20 AM
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Finally after a bit of battling, I was able to get pocketdos to run with DOS6.22

Created a C drive, sadly too small (I didn't realize 20 mb was not enough; dang), but I got the gist of how to set it up, so that was good (thanks for the great guide Stingraze!)

Now my next step is to figure out how to use it with the software I am planning to put on, and trying to understand the best setup for getting the most speed out of it.

1) What are the best C, Basic, C++ and Pascal IDE for 6.22 running on pocketdos?
2) Do I need to use the CPU extensions? If so should I go for the 486 extension or the MMU extension? From what I read, you can't have both.
3) What about memory settings? There are different tabs for memory, and from what I remember, DOS use everything above 1 MB as extended memory; but if I allocate 2 MB of extended memory, when I use mem command it show that all the memory is used except the base one.
4) Tried to run ELKS following the tutorial, but I can't get the floppy image to boot; is there another image that would work with pocketdos?

I want to use the dos partition mostly for development and to have a more familiar console environment; and use the standard CE for everything else; the best of both worlds Too bad that pocketdos require a license, but to be honest, the 15 seconds screen nagging does not bother me much. I've been using for a decade winrar without register, so got quite used to see nagging screens
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C:Amie Page Icon Posted 2021-10-07 3:26 PM
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I think it really should depend on what architectural requirements your compiler needs, shouldn't it? If you want to use 486 instructions or need extended Memory Management Unit support, the chances are you'll need it as the task dictates. It's not really for us to say what you need.
DOS: First 640KB = conventional memory, 641 - 1024KB = Upper Memory, 1025 - 1088KB = High Memory, 1089KB+ Extended Memory

In practice if you want to use anything over 640K, you'll need memory management support e.g. himem.sys, emm366.exe et al.

I encourage you to buy Pocket DOS when and if practical to do so.
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marko Page Icon Posted 2021-10-07 4:33 PM
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Thanks; Indeed that's why I wanted to get the config straight; and instead of starting from what my compiler needs; I wanted to go the other way around: use a configuration that someone already built and that works; so I can replicate it.

I do not have strong opinions on any of the compilers; in the old days I used the Borland ones; so I would go for that; but anything works for Pascal, basic or C.
I assume that using 486 emulation opens up to more software (since some require 286 or above, like norton utilities for example); but the base software does not go beyond 186; so that's why I got that DLL. Also I would expect some speed improvements during compiling with a 486; I am running mostly base DOS environment; not planning to use windows 3 at all.

For the MPU I don't even know if that helps with compilers; I am not going to use math software nor 3d software nor games that use 3d, so probably that's something I may not need. Can't say since I am not a DOS expert, so I rely on what others suggest.

For the memory, I used 2048 in the extended memory, but it did show as used memory, not in the available memory; so either there is something I am doing wrong or DOS consider all memory as used and free it when needed? In regard to hymem.sys and emm366.exe, those are on Windows right? I don't recall to see them in the DOS folder or in the root of my C drive, after installing Dos6.22

I would not mind to buy pocketdos if I can actually use it; I think it hasn't been updated for more than 10 years, so not sure how many bugs are still in it (got a couple of times a white screen while using it and had to restart the Jornada); and I can't even see a way to purchase it (the register section mention to send an email to buy the license; which was good 20 years ago maybe, but not today). I am glad I can try it out to see if it works; so far I was able to get quite a lot of steps done, although now the interesting part is to see if it is usable for development
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timob0 Page Icon Posted 2021-10-07 5:44 PM
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Hi Marko,

I've done coding with the Borland products in the early days with Turbo Pascal (version 3.x on up to 5.5) on a real PC-XT (Commdore PC10 w. green-on-black CRT) and I'd suggest to go that route with PocketDOS as well. Those products ran just fine on the XT and did have very low HW requirements, i.e. 8086, FPU optional. The Borland IDE is the same for Pascal, C, Basic and they even had Prolog (explore that if you want to see how an early AI language was), so once you know one you know them all ;-)

For sure, as C:Amie mentioned, it totally depends on what you're looking to do. If you're into console applications that fit in 640k memory - most really do - then I think you'll be happy.

I believe under Pocketdos there is one caveat which has to do with the way it emulates the system timer on which at least Turbo Pascal relies to calibrate a delay loop. Now that time is too slow in PD and you'd wait quite a time for the IDE to start. However I think there's a patch for that available.

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C:Amie Page Icon Posted 2021-10-07 6:21 PM
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You leave those hymem alone you!

himem.sys and emm386.sys/emm386.exe are part of MS-DOS 5 or higher. I do not know, but I would assume that 486 emulation requires the presence of a MMU, so I suspect it is incorporate in the BOCHS extension.

On CE, you will probably find that using the 486 driver is slower than the 086/186/286 or 386 equivalents on everything apart from the 400MHz XScale systems.

If you search the forum, there have been recent discussion r.e. purchasing it. Some positive, some negative. If you PM PocketDOS here you might get a direct response.
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ntware Page Icon Posted 2021-10-07 9:37 PM
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Particularly on my Jornada, the 486 BOCHS plugin was at least 10x slower than the 80186 emulation. It is expected, since a 486 is a much more complex CPU than the 186 (16-bit vs 32-bit, no-MMU vs MMU, etc) which requires much more effort from the emulator to go through everything. One side note is that apparently the BOCHS plugin will not work with the latest PocketDOS. I have an old thread, probably from 10 years ago, where I discuss this. At the time I was trying to run Win3.1 under PocketDOS. You can find the discussion here: https://www.hpcfactor.com/forums/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=15103&po...
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C:Amie Page Icon Posted 2021-10-08 9:50 AM
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ntware Page Icon Posted 2021-10-08 12:29 PM
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I believe I tried BOCHS back in the day, but it was some levels of magnitude slower than PocketDOS, pretty much unusable. Using an earlier version of PocketDOS though I was able to load the BOCHS 486 plug-in and Win3.1 ran just fine, extremely slow, but fine
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marko Page Icon Posted 2021-10-09 3:30 AM
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Thanks for the info! So I can safely install any of the Borland IDE without the need of the FPU or 486 plugin?

I am planning to make console applications only (not targeting windows at all; I may fancy to try to make something with a DOS UI; which from my understanding is still text, right?)
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marko Page Icon Posted 2021-10-09 3:33 AM
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Thanks, so the BOCHS plugin is not really useful then. I assumed it was improving performances, not reducing them

BTW How do you use the 286 mode? The info on the PocketDOS site say that it emulate 086/186 only

I may consider the purchase; just need to figure out if it is worth or not for what I need to do. I wish there were more updates; so buying it would be more enticing...


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C:Amie - 2021-10-07 6:21 PM

You leave those hymem alone you!

himem.sys and emm386.sys/emm386.exe are part of MS-DOS 5 or higher. I do not know, but I would assume that 486 emulation requires the presence of a MMU, so I suspect it is incorporate in the BOCHS extension.

On CE, you will probably find that using the 486 driver is slower than the 086/186/286 or 386 equivalents on everything apart from the 400MHz XScale systems.

If you search the forum, there have been recent discussion r.e. purchasing it. Some positive, some negative. If you PM PocketDOS here you might get a direct response.
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marko Page Icon Posted 2021-10-09 3:36 AM
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I am using the latest version of PocketDOS and the BOCHS 486 plugin and it is working; as long as I don't use any memory beside the basic 640k. I tried to change the memory allocation for XMS and the program hang and had to reset it. Then it would not boot the app anymore and would just crash after loading the disks, until I removed the plugin from the PocketDOS folder.

To be honest I have no desire to use W3.1 For me would be either CE or DOS; as long as it does what I need.

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ntware - 2021-10-07 9:37 PM

Particularly on my Jornada, the 486 BOCHS plugin was at least 10x slower than the 80186 emulation. It is expected, since a 486 is a much more complex CPU than the 186 (16-bit vs 32-bit, no-MMU vs MMU, etc) which requires much more effort from the emulator to go through everything. One side note is that apparently the BOCHS plugin will not work with the latest PocketDOS. I have an old thread, probably from 10 years ago, where I discuss this. At the time I was trying to run Win3.1 under PocketDOS. You can find the discussion here: https://www.hpcfactor.com/forums/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=15103&po...




Edited by marko 2021-10-09 3:37 AM
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C:Amie Page Icon Posted 2021-10-09 10:16 AM
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marko - 2021-10-09 3:30 AM

Thanks for the info! So I can safely install any of the Borland IDE without the need of the FPU or 486 plugin?

I am planning to make console applications only (not targeting windows at all; I may fancy to try to make something with a DOS UI; which from my understanding is still text, right?)
Again, it's not really a question any of us can answer. It's entirely down to the system requirements for the program version that you want to use. It's like asking whether it's okay to leave your front door without an umbrella this morning, without giving anyone a clue about what town, county and country you live in first. The answer can only ever be: who knows?

As the first version of Borland C++ 2.0 was from 1991 and the 80486 was launched in 1989 without looking at the system requirements: may be -> likely.
BCPP 5 from 1997: probably not.
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dl1av Page Icon Posted 2021-10-10 5:58 PM
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The Borland compilers worked all well on my 2MB 286-PC in 1991 so it should work today on PocketDOS (I only tested the TurboPascal recently, worked fine).

You can select a memory model in most Borland compilers (try out the differences) and you can select some target specific libraries in a few Borland products (there were some specifics for 386/286 cpus).

Thats all. The editor/ide should even work on an XT.

The 486plugin in my PocketDos setup made the system very slow so I got rid of it later.
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PocketDOS Page Icon Posted 2021-10-13 6:24 PM
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Some notes:
- Bochs emulator is very slow. A 486 chip is faster than a 186 chip because higher clock rate and better IPC. A 486 emulator is slower than a 186 emulator because it has to do more work.
- DOSBox emulator is faster than Bochs emulator, but still slower than PocketDOS 186 emulator. Also, due to some unresolved issues in the DOSBox plugin, the plugin doesn't work as well as Bochs.
- 1Mb XMS can be provided for 186 emulation because of x86 hardware quirks. A real 186 can't support XMS. XMS is managed extended memory.
- There is an EMS driver, it's going to be faster than paging to disk because it pages to memory. It's going to be slower than XMS because pages must be copied.
- You can purchase a PocketDOS license by making contact via email (and doing a payment via PayPal). There is no automated store that will do the small amount of transactions needed for PocketDOS licenses.
- Unless there is a massive uptick in interest/sales, there won't be any further development on PocketDOS, as the number of sales doesn't warrant it.

Edited by PocketDOS 2021-10-13 6:25 PM
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marko Page Icon Posted 2021-10-24 8:40 PM
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C:Amie - 2021-10-09 10:16 AM

Again, it's not really a question any of us can answer. It's entirely down to the system requirements for the program version that you want to use. It's like asking whether it's okay to leave your front door without an umbrella this morning, without giving anyone a clue about what town, county and country you live in first. The answer can only ever be: who knows?

As the first version of Borland C++ 2.0 was from 1991 and the 80486 was launched in 1989 without looking at the system requirements: may be -> likely.
BCPP 5 from 1997: probably not.


Fair enough; I guess I am able to see how a person totally new to DOS may require X or Y applications and set up based on their needs.
Although if you would buy a programming book in the 90s, they would tell you what pc you need, how much memory and what tools/software you need (if they were not included in the book with a floppy); and the assumption would be that your program would run on similar configurations.

My objective is to make something that can run on DOS for XT PC; I am testing my compiled code on DOSBOX; not sure if that matter.

Thanks for checking on the Borland version; I will need to target software released before 89 then, or that is supporting old XT and not only AT. The documentation about what each version does is quite sparse; so I guess it takes me less time to just try it out
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