VOGONS


First post, by Deksor

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

I've created a nice little NAS with a raspberry pi on my retro PCs network. It also serves as a router to the internet and also allows PCs capable of PXe boot to boot from an image from the raspberry pi

But I think that it would be very neat if I could launch a few DOS programs that are stored on the raspberry pi. I've tried many different solutions, but it doesn't really work well ... The best one that works for now is this one http://www.netbootdisk.com/
But sadly, while I can start norton ghost (which is pretty neat when it comes to hdd cloning), I can't run for example the install.exe from windows ... which is what I wanted the most to be able to do (not having to use CDs or floppy disks anymore to install the OS is really great IMO). I think that it requires an earlier version of MS-DOS in order to do that

I also tried this : http://www.windowsnetworking.com/j_helmig/dosclflp.htm but it only works with netbeui or ipx while the raspberry pi requires TCP/IP to communicate. I think that using a 2.88 floppy image instead of 1.44 floppy image to install microsoft network client 3 with TCP/IP could work, but I can't create it because I don't have 2.88" drives or 2.88" floppy disks (well I have the drives now, but I still don't own any floppy of that size nor computer that uses the interface that my drives have)
The network card that I'm using is a 3com 3c905b-tx

Do you think that this would be feasable ?
I also tried to boot from a windows 98 CD image from the network, but it never ever worked sadly ... (I tried many solutions too)

Trying to identify old hardware ? Visit Ultimate Hardware 2019 - Project's thread The Ultimate Hardware 2019 (UH19) project- a stason.org/TH99
alternative

Reply 1 of 22, by Jorpho

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++
Deksor wrote:

I can't run for example the install.exe from windows ... which is what I wanted the most to be able to do (not having to use CDs or floppy disks anymore to install the OS is really great IMO). I think that it requires an earlier version of MS-DOS in order to do that

Doesn't Windows use setup.exe..? What happens when you try to run it, and what makes you think "it requires an earlier version of MS-DOS" ?

I think that using a 2.88 floppy image instead of 1.44 floppy image to install microsoft network client 3 with TCP/IP could work, but I can't create it because I don't have 2.88" drives or 2.88" floppy disks (well I have the drives now, but I still don't own any floppy of that size nor computer that uses the interface that my drives have)

If you need to make a 2.88 MB floppy (note that they are 3.25"), can't you use WinImage or Virtual Floppy Drive?

Reply 2 of 22, by Deksor

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

Uhm yes I meant setup.exe 😦
For the error, I remember it said that I had not enough memory (probably the network stack taking too munch), but I asked to other people and they told me that DOS 8 is a bit too new to install for example windows 3 or windows 95 for example (and I think that windows network client 3, while it still takes a "lot" of ram doesn't take enough of it to make setup.exe unable to start)

And no I can't use winimage because at some point, I need to boot on that floppy disk and install windows network client 3 directly to the floppy, so no possibility of emulating a floppy disk I think

Trying to identify old hardware ? Visit Ultimate Hardware 2019 - Project's thread The Ultimate Hardware 2019 (UH19) project- a stason.org/TH99
alternative

Reply 3 of 22, by Jorpho

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++
Deksor wrote:

For the error, I remember it said that I had not enough memory (probably the network stack taking too munch), but I asked to other people and they told me that DOS 8 is a bit too new to install for example windows 3 or windows 95 for example (and I think that windows network client 3, while it still takes a "lot" of ram doesn't take enough of it to make setup.exe unable to start)

The amount of free memory would probably be a problem, but the DOS version would not necessarily be a concern as far as installation goes. Many DOS programs (including setup.exe) require a certain amount of "conventional memory" that may easily be consumed by the network client.

And no I can't use winimage because at some point, I need to boot on that floppy disk and install windows network client 3 directly to the floppy, so no possibility of emulating a floppy disk I think

I've never tried to install a network client directly to a floppy, but if all else fails you can probably use the floppy image with VMware.

Reply 4 of 22, by chinny22

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

Very interested in this as got a similar project on my to do list.....very low down on the list but it is listed.
So just throwing out idea's

Why cant you use a earlier DOS version? Not sure if this will casue problems, say if you boot from Dos 6 and try installing Win95, but your more likely to be able to upgrade then downgrade, like your kind of trying to do now.

I would guess you can strip a lot away from the default disk like drivers your not using, programs you don't need. most of it will be available on the network once its up anyway so maybe even reference a network drive with extra things like CD-ROM drivers (just as an example)

Reply 5 of 22, by Deksor

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

Well that's what I'd like to have ^^. But even by doing that, and by compressing the floppy, there doesn't seem to have enough room for Microsoft Network Client 3's TCP/IP ... (this method is basically what you said http://www.windowsnetworking.com/j_helmig/dosclflp.htm ^^. It could work, but I need a bigger floppy)

I'm also trying to build an RPL server out of a raspberry pi. It seems to work, however the configuration is very difficult (you have to specify which address the image will load, the address the computer will boot from, etc ...) but yeah I didn't manage to make anything bootable with that ... It would be very nice though, it would allow me to start stuff prior to the pentium era on the network too. And apparently, I could even do what I originally wanted with RPL booting : the manual of my 3com trirom tells that you can boot from an image of a windows 95 installation.

Very very interesting stuff, but I'm still stuck on a config file ... And this is only to make an image from a windows 98 floppy bootable X)

Trying to identify old hardware ? Visit Ultimate Hardware 2019 - Project's thread The Ultimate Hardware 2019 (UH19) project- a stason.org/TH99
alternative

Reply 6 of 22, by Jorpho

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++
Deksor wrote:

Well that's what I'd like to have ^^. But even by doing that, and by compressing the floppy, there doesn't seem to have enough room for Microsoft Network Client 3's TCP/IP ... (this method is basically what you said http://www.windowsnetworking.com/j_helmig/dosclflp.htm ^^. It could work, but I need a bigger floppy)

The solution on Microsoft's own bootdisk is to compress the files and then expand them onto a ramdrive.

I'm really kind of surprised someone hasn't put something like this together already. Have you already tried Googling for <boot floppy with network support> ?

Reply 7 of 22, by Deksor

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

Yes, but that's the two only ones that seemed to work 😒

But your idea is interesting. I don't really know how to create a ramdrive, but I'll look into that. Let's hope it would fit !

Trying to identify old hardware ? Visit Ultimate Hardware 2019 - Project's thread The Ultimate Hardware 2019 (UH19) project- a stason.org/TH99
alternative

Reply 8 of 22, by jakethompson1

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

Hey Deksor,

I can't tell your DOS experience just from reading these posts, so you may already be familiar with this, but in regard to free memory, you know about HIMEM.SYS and EMM386.EXE, loading DOS high, UMBs/LH, etc. and have already tried that stuff to make more room? If you don't already have a copy of DOS 6.22, the built in hypertext HELP command in it is great, and even better is the book "Running MS-DOS".

For the ramdrive suggestion (RAMDRIVE.SYS built into DOS), my immediate intuition is to put the network drivers into a self-extracting zip file and extract them on boot. Info-ZIP unzipsfx could be the way to go there.

I assume you are trying all this with a real floppy first before introducing the complication of PXE too?

Reply 9 of 22, by gdjacobs

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++

Also, you may be interested in replacements for HIMEM and EMM386 to lower their memory footprint. Look for HIMEMX and JEMM386. They work perfectly as substitutes with the exception of some esoteric features such as port trapping, so you need to stay with the real thing (for EMM386) when running SoftMPU.

All hail the Great Capacitor Brand Finder

Reply 10 of 22, by Jorpho

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++
Deksor wrote:

Yes, but that's the two only ones that seemed to work 😒

But your idea is interesting. I don't really know how to create a ramdrive, but I'll look into that. Let's hope it would fit !

This is getting more complicated than it should be.

Everything you need is already right there in http://www.netbootdisk.com/ , which you linked to before, including rdisk.com (which creates a RAM disk), a suitable compressor, and a blank 2.88Mb floppy Image. All you really need to do is modify it so that there is enough free conventional memory to run Windows setup. It doesn't seem to have been updated for six years; as Mr. Gdjacobs suggested, it might simply be a matter of using a different memory manager.

Reply 11 of 22, by gdjacobs

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++

You're presumably using the PXELinux boot framework. If so, there's no reason to not use a larger disk image. 5 or 10 MB wouldn't be unreasonable.
http://failverse.com/creating-a-non-standard- … e-for-pxe-boot/

All hail the Great Capacitor Brand Finder

Reply 12 of 22, by Deksor

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t
gdjacobs wrote:

You're presumably using the PXELinux boot framework. If so, there's no reason to not use a larger disk image. 5 or 10 MB wouldn't be unreasonable.
http://failverse.com/creating-a-non-standard- … e-for-pxe-boot/

Okay so I tried that, but it doesn't seem to work, it keeps saying me that the disk is invalid ...

Trying to identify old hardware ? Visit Ultimate Hardware 2019 - Project's thread The Ultimate Hardware 2019 (UH19) project- a stason.org/TH99
alternative

Reply 13 of 22, by gdjacobs

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++

After the PXElinux menu?

If so, test that you can mount the image on loopback in Linux. Also, try removing the geometry information in the PXElinux config file. The floppy keyword must remain, however.

Last edited by gdjacobs on 2016-11-23, 20:50. Edited 1 time in total.

All hail the Great Capacitor Brand Finder

Reply 14 of 22, by Deksor

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

Yes, I choose the label that I did, it displays a few things as it always does and then it boots. But here it boots and it displays an error 😒

Trying to identify old hardware ? Visit Ultimate Hardware 2019 - Project's thread The Ultimate Hardware 2019 (UH19) project- a stason.org/TH99
alternative

Reply 15 of 22, by Gopher666

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie

Although this project looks promising there are some issues with this network client:

Windows-XP-Professiona-2021-02-26-19-11-28.png

As others in the thread noted the network client sucks up the memory so you can't even run basic installers.

Tried with

-Win95
-Win98
-Win98SE
-WinME

Same thing. I wonder if someone else put effort into fixing this and can present a solution.

Himem.sys should be a part inside the compressed UMA image because if I put it on the floppy and try to load it from config.sys it says it is already loaded.

Do I need EMM386.EXE to get the extra ram too? It seems to me that 128k K and could not fit on the floppy.

This floppy is actually a masterpiece, the author maxed it out as he could with only 34k free space left.

The thing is it's not that important for me if it's over 1.44mb because I will PXEload this anyway but for playing around purposes it's easier. Like In vmware you cannot attach in a larger floppy image, even if you do it will ignore the rest of the space over 1.44mb.

Reply 16 of 22, by Deksor

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

Oh it's been a while !

I still have that image somewhere but I clearly remember being successful at running installers 😀

I'll check this out later

Trying to identify old hardware ? Visit Ultimate Hardware 2019 - Project's thread The Ultimate Hardware 2019 (UH19) project- a stason.org/TH99
alternative

Reply 17 of 22, by doshea

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie
Gopher666 wrote on 2021-02-26, 20:08:

As others in the thread noted the network client sucks up the memory so you can't even run basic installers.

Back when I was doing this with Windows 95 because it was actually the latest consumer version of Windows, the procedure my boss had me use was to boot from a network boot floppy, FDISK (and then reboot from the floppy again since you have to reboot), FORMAT C: /S /U, then copy all the setup files over the network to e.g. C:\WIN95, reboot from the hard drive (at which point you have no CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT so you should have enough free memory) and run C:\WIN95\SETUP.

I suppose the boot floppy might have to be running DOS from the version of Windows you want to install so that you don't get "Invalid DOS version" or whatever errors you get when you try to mix and match DOS version executables, although I'm not sure.

I've got automation for the FDISK and FORMAT parts which works with MS-DOS 6.22, and I've also got automation of Windows 3.1, 3.11 and 9x installs. What I'm missing currently is gluing those two pieces together by fetching installation files over the network, because so far I've just being using this on VMs where I can inject the files into C: from outside, so I'm interested in a good solution to this problem.

Since I also plan to PXE boot, and I don't plan to try to mount the network drive and install directly from it, but rather just fetch the files over the network and copy them to C:, I'm not convinced that using NetBIOS over TCP/IP using an apparently large client stack from Microsoft is necessary - I could use some other solution like mTCP or Watt-32. They seem to be smaller, at least if I ignore how much space would be taken by a collection of packet drivers. I'd want to recursively fetch the install tree(s), and it looks like wget is too big (807KB for the version distributed with FreeDOS), but I could just use the simpler and smaller htget (Watt-32's is 18K) to fetch a self-extracting archive containing the larger tools and extract them to C:.

Edit: That wasn't very clear, the connection between PXE booting and not using Microsoft's network client, for me, is PXE booting means I'm already using open source TCP/IP tools, so I don't really need to add Microsoft to the mix.

Also, I realise that, as was pointed out, I could use a larger floppy when PXE booting, but I want to try to have a solution that would also support booting from a physical floppy disk, and possibly grab the files from a CD-ROM instead of over the network, so I'd prefer to keep the things on the floppy small.

Reply 18 of 22, by Gopher666

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie

The point for me would be to have an out of the box solution which requires:

1, No additional CD drives
2, No gotek or floppy
3, No secondary HDD

Yeah I already have that running what you mentioned just to PXE boot a regular DOS6.22 floppy which sees the disks then have another IDE HDD formatted to FAT16 with the installer sets ready on it.
Over the years I have made a fairly large (6GB) PXE collection with menus, various DOS floppies, Windows Rescue discs, Linux Live/Installers. Although there was a lot of work with it I just absolutely love it that no need to look for installer sets and tools but everything is instantly available from the network and even for older machines which don't have boot roms I can just stick in a 3Com card and get it going.

Reply 19 of 22, by Deksor

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

Here are the disks I made back in 2017 for my 3Com etherlink XL :
https://www.mediafire.com/file/1cr71hzm7tm432 … DOS622.IMA/file
https://www.mediafire.com/file/4b0mcgcl2q9d2b … BDOS71.IMA/file

One contains MS-DOS 6.22 the other has DOS 7.1. Other than that, they're virtually identical.

What I did is that I installed microsoft network client 3.0 on my hdd, added my NIC's drivers (3Com etherlink XL), installed TCP/IP. Then I stretched the install down to all the files that were absolutely required, changed the drive letter in the config files to A:\ instead of C:\, made a DOS 6/7 boot disk, then saved it with winimage. Then I expanded the image to a 2.88MB floppy disk image and I inserted all the necessary files in the disk.

And this was bootable from PXE and then allowed me to connect to a samba file share and run windows' installer.

Trying to identify old hardware ? Visit Ultimate Hardware 2019 - Project's thread The Ultimate Hardware 2019 (UH19) project- a stason.org/TH99
alternative