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First post, by ultranothing

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Basically, I'm looking to bring the exoDOS collection into a native DOS system and create a bootable GUI menu system for it. I'm currently using a 500gb drive split into four equal partitions, but it's messy and I'd like to hopefully get it on one drive.

The plan is to build a late 90's system that can run all of the DOS games (something like PhilsComputerLab's 4-in-1 setup) but I'm wondering what I should be considering for hardware and/or software that will allow for an HDD of that size.

Reply 1 of 6, by DosFreak

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Well this isn't an exodos support site since we don't support so called "abandonware" here but:

You'd need:
A LBA48 controller that can use hard drives beyond 137GB. IIRC exodos is 500GB compressed.
Windows 95B or any DOS that supports FAT32 and LFN
FAT32 if for some reason you want the entire collection on the hard drive on one partition instead of copying off the network
LFN since the .zips are named with LFN and there are LFN files within each zip (You wouldn't need those but unknown how a non LFN zip utility would handle those).You could of course rename the zips as long as you are tracking what the name of the game is if you didn't want to use LFN.

FAT32 has a max file size of 4GB so that would prevent copying those zips.
Some games are in bin/cue ,iso , clonecd and possibly other formats.
Some games need to be reinstalled to work properly if used on a different system.
Depending on the speed of the system decompressing the zips may take awhile.
It's likely that the games were configured on the assumption that DOSBox was used and so depending on your hardware setup you may need to reconfigure the game.
There is some redundancy of MT-32 ROMS spread around in games so that will eat up space when it shouldn't.
There is duplication of game data for scummvm that will take up additional space.
There are modifcations made to games which may increase the system requirements of the games.
I'm assuming the games have already been cracked so you may encounter issues there.
It's possible if you uncompressed everything that you could run into a filesystem max files issue but I doubt it. At the very least fragmentation would be a concern.
Thinking 32KB cluster size so not sure how much wasted space that would be.
There may be issues with using scandisk on such a large partition

The above does not mention all of the other issues when running DOS games on real hardware and OS.

DOSBox Compilation Guides
DosBox Feature Request Thread
PC Game Compatibility List
How To Ask Questions The Smart Way
Running DRM games offline

Reply 3 of 6, by Jo22

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There are also NTFS and HPFS filesystem "drivers" for DOS.
I'm not sure which limitations they have inherent, though. 🙁

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

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Reply 4 of 6, by megatron-uk

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... then you need to write something to parse all those games, build a GUI interface for them (Dos/VGA based or Win9x based?) And build the the logic to run them.

Unless those games have metadata files already included with them then even getting just game names from zip files or directory names is going to be a monumental task.

See my thread on a graphical game interface and launcher: VESA mode programming from real mode

Reply 5 of 6, by VileR

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Total DOS Launcher was written exactly for this use case. Needs a modern machine for the preliminary setup/indexing step, but it does all the gruntwork for you, and once it's ready you move it over and it will run on just about any DOS machine with some mass storage (depending on how many games you shove into it, of course).

However, I suppose it'll work best not with Ex0dos (for the reasons cited by DosFreak), but rather with a different collection which shares the first two words of this launcher's name...

[ WEB ] - [ BLOG ] - [ TUBE ] - [ CODE ]

Reply 6 of 6, by megatron-uk

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VileR wrote on 2021-02-14, 18:30:

Total DOS Launcher was written exactly for this use case. Needs a modern machine for the preliminary setup/indexing step, but it does all the gruntwork for you, and once it's ready you move it over and it will run on just about any DOS machine with some mass storage (depending on how many games you shove into it, of course).

However, I suppose it'll work best not with Ex0dos (for the reasons cited by DosFreak), but rather with a different collection which shares the first two words of this launcher's name...

That's neat. I may have to steal the 'Favourites' tagging idea for my own.