VOGONS


First post, by mattrock1988

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I recently stumbled across my old copy of Datalight ROM-DOS 7.1 from back in the day when it was given away as a free download (nowadays, acquiring a copy requires a payment of about $60 to attain a single user license for personal use, which I think is a bit silly).

I've been playing with it some on my Pentium III retro build, and it has some neat features going for it, namely:

1. Built-in support for long file names, or LFNs, at the kernel level with no driver necessary.
2. FAT32 and LBA support are native to ROM-DOS 7.1.
3. Included DOS utilities have a very reasonable memory footprint.
4. Offers a TCP/IP stack that can be used to attain access to a local network, Internet resources, etc.
5. Said to offer virtually 100% compatibility with software titles written for MS-DOS.

So far, I do like how well put this particular flavor of DOS is. However, one sticking point has to be the EMM386 driver they pack with ROM-DOS. It doesn't seem to behave the same as the version provided with MS-DOS and PC-DOS. Free UMBs aren't as copious in my initial tests, and EMS memory generated after defining a frame doesn't appear to work at all, causing games that rely on EMS to bomb out.

Does anyone have experience with ROM-DOS? It seems rather promising in a lot of ways, but the memory situation is rather perplexing. If I can't figure this out, I may switch either to MS-DOS 7.1 (CDU) or FreeDOS.

Also, Vetusware appears to have the last known free-as-in-beer release of ROM-DOS, both in version 6.22 and 7.1 flavors if anyone is curious about downloading a copy to try.

Retro PC: Intel Pentium III @ 1 GHz, Intel SE440BX-2, 32 GB IDE DOM, 384 MB SDRAM, DVD-ROM, 1.44 MB floppy, Nvidia GeForce 4 Ti 4600 AGP, Creative SoundBlaster AWE64 Gold, Aureal Vortex 2, DreamBlaster S2

Reply 1 of 10, by keropi

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does this actually run from a boot rom ?

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Reply 2 of 10, by mattrock1988

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keropi wrote:

does this actually run from a boot rom ?

When ROM-DOS originally was designed and developed, this was indeed the case, and still is if you execute on a special licensing agreement with Datalight. The Single User Version I'm talking about here was limited to usage as a normal DOS on a standard disk.

https://www.datalight.com/products/rom-dos/ro … le-user-version

Retro PC: Intel Pentium III @ 1 GHz, Intel SE440BX-2, 32 GB IDE DOM, 384 MB SDRAM, DVD-ROM, 1.44 MB floppy, Nvidia GeForce 4 Ti 4600 AGP, Creative SoundBlaster AWE64 Gold, Aureal Vortex 2, DreamBlaster S2

Reply 3 of 10, by LSS10999

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I recall having tried that before and it apparently wasn't easy to install it to a fixed disk. Also, the floppy disk has to be made using its own utilities from Windows (after installing it), as opposed to floppy image files.

I also remember back then the SUNA (Single User Network Addon) was also freely available, though I didn't figure out how to include it.

As for its own EMM386, not sure about the compatibility... but you may always try using some other utilities, such as UMBPCI/JEMM386 to see how well these works. Still, the fact that it's the only DOS with built-in LFN support is a good plus.

Reply 4 of 10, by mattrock1988

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I had no problem installing the latest build of ROM-DOS. It's as simple as formatting your volume, then passing the following command...

SYS C:

After the initial boot files and COMMAND.COM transferred over, my hard disk started up ROM-DOS just fine. Other files not included in the initial transfer can be copied to a DOS folder and then subsequently added to your PATH.

Retro PC: Intel Pentium III @ 1 GHz, Intel SE440BX-2, 32 GB IDE DOM, 384 MB SDRAM, DVD-ROM, 1.44 MB floppy, Nvidia GeForce 4 Ti 4600 AGP, Creative SoundBlaster AWE64 Gold, Aureal Vortex 2, DreamBlaster S2

Reply 5 of 10, by nutsbox

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You can also use QEMU or VirtualBox for this. The latter is easier to setup with networking for DOS in my experience . I'm also wondering, does any of you still have a copy of its SDK or SDKT (as they call it)?

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Reply 6 of 10, by Warlord

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At one time before they got aquired they were giving away single user for free if you registered on the site. I still have the 7.1 main disk but I cannot find the sockets or SDK disk for the life of me and I know for a fact I had both.

Maybe If someone could tell me the file name of the 2nd disk it would help me look. Or if anyone knows what the file names were of the package. I had used win image to archive the main OS though.

I'm pretty sure registering came with a license for 6.22 and I have that somewhere also unless I lost that too.

Reply 8 of 10, by nutsbox

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One good thing about ROM-DOS is it includes the TCP/IP stack and they have the API and Tools in developing with it, hence it's good to have the SDK, as it includes all the necessary documentations : if one is planning to do an embedded systems programming with networking capability (but some say the SDK is very expensive--the price for ROM-DOS SDK is not even on their website). Nevertheless, I believe this can be done too with FreeDOS and avaliable TCP/IP stacks for DOS in the internet, but the documentations are sparse and scattered.

Hi @Warlord, I belive you might have both the SUNA and the SOCKETS, their on separate disks. The SDK though is sold separately and the OS itself is just bundled with it.

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Reply 9 of 10, by LSS10999

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maxtherabbit wrote on 2021-04-09, 15:01:

maybe I'm missing something, but unless you are running this from a physical PROM chip, why bother? use PC or MS DOS

This is currently the only functional DOS that could access long filenames without the need of DOSLFN, though it's interesting how it managed to incorporate that functionality in its kernel.

As for running this on a physical PROM chip... if you have an actively supported motherboard then coreboot/SeaBIOS might be an attractive idea as it supports booting embedded floppy images from firmware, and you're not limited to ROM-DOS that way.

Still, I'm interested to know if Tuxera (that acquired Datalight) is still maintaining/updating ROM-DOS and other stuffs... I recall when I looked at the buy page before Tuxera's acquisition, the version number it mentioned was pretty much the same one offered when it was freely available (which I think was the build 1594).

Reply 10 of 10, by mattrock1988

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I sent a message to Tuxera about any possible updates. If nothing else, they are probably going to at *least* update the binaries to reflect the new ownership. 😀

Retro PC: Intel Pentium III @ 1 GHz, Intel SE440BX-2, 32 GB IDE DOM, 384 MB SDRAM, DVD-ROM, 1.44 MB floppy, Nvidia GeForce 4 Ti 4600 AGP, Creative SoundBlaster AWE64 Gold, Aureal Vortex 2, DreamBlaster S2