VOGONS

Common searches


First post, by ppgrainbow

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member

Does anyone run Fifth Generation Systems Direct Access on a PC emulator (such as DOSBox, Qemu, Virtual PC, etc) or on a real PC running plan DOS?

For me, I'm using it under Virtual PC 2007 for more than a week now after getting fed up with Microsoft MS-DOS Shell.

Direct Access is a popular DOS menuing programme that is capable of handling up to 26 menus (A to Z) and up to 6 sub-menu levels for a maximum total of 308,915,776 menu entries (26^6).

Direct Access is capable of handling links to software installed and the use of custom application parameters that are required for certain command-line executables.

The only drawback is that when you press F2 for the Info and F1 for the Hardware Info, Direct Access doesn't properly detect the amount of extended memory larger than 32,767 KB. If you have more than 32 MB of system memory installed, the amount of memory will end up displaying a negative number. As for processors, Direct Access 5.1 can't properly detect processors later than a 80386 (in later versions, 80486) and the BIOS date is NOT Year 2000 compliant either.

Here's a screenshot of what the main menu looks like so far:

DA51.png
Filename
DA51.png
File size
17.67 KiB
Views
1888 views
File comment
Direct Access 5.1 Main Menu
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception

All 26 menus have been filled up with more sub-menu entries being added in the near future.

On the main menu, typing A brings me to the 4DOS-based command prompt, B takes me to Microsoft Windows 3.1, C through T are sub-menu entries, U is the Library Utility supplied by Direct Access, V has the Direct Access Readme, W has the Microsoft Diagnostics, X has the MS-DOS Help Command Reference. Selecting Y reboots the virtual machine and Z shuts down the virtual machine session.

If you use Direct Access, what software do you have installed on your real PC or virtual machine? 😁

Reply 2 of 12, by Jorpho

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++

I'm surprised how little I hear about this program. It seemed quite ubiquitous when I was younger.

ppgrainbow wrote:

For me, I'm using it under Virtual PC 2007 for more than a week now after getting fed up with Microsoft MS-DOS Shell.

...What was wrong with it? I guess it does take up a little bit of extra RAM, but doesn't DA5 do that as well? (Norton Menu was definitely useful in that regard.)

Reply 3 of 12, by ppgrainbow

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member
Jorpho wrote:

I'm surprised how little I hear about this program. It seemed quite ubiquitous when I was younger.

ppgrainbow wrote:

For me, I'm using it under Virtual PC 2007 for more than a week now after getting fed up with Microsoft MS-DOS Shell.

...What was wrong with it? I guess it does take up a little bit of extra RAM, but doesn't DA5 do that as well? (Norton Menu was definitely useful in that regard.)

I had several hundred megabytes (containing several thousand files) of software installed across three hard disk images. Unfortunately, when attempting to view a complete list of files, MS-DOS Shell wouldn't it and would throw a "Not enough memory. Operation cannot be completed." warning message.

Also, the DOSSHELL.INI file got large enough that the virtual machine would lock up when trying to edit the advanced options of the menu entries! I have the DOSSHELL.INI file backed up on my hard disk incase I need to switch to another menu driven programme in the near future.

That's why I got fed up with the MS-DOS Shell.

Reply 4 of 12, by Jorpho

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++
ppgrainbow wrote:

Also, the DOSSHELL.INI file got large enough that the virtual machine would lock up when trying to edit the advanced options of the menu entries! I have the DOSSHELL.INI file backed up on my hard disk incase I need to switch to another menu driven programme in the near future.

I see.

Back in the day I can recall using a somewhat-convoluted "multi-user" scheme which involved using .bat files to swap out different versions of DOSSHELL.INI, but that was a rather ugly kludge.

Reply 5 of 12, by ppgrainbow

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member
Jorpho wrote:
ppgrainbow wrote:

Also, the DOSSHELL.INI file got large enough that the virtual machine would lock up when trying to edit the advanced options of the menu entries! I have the DOSSHELL.INI file backed up on my hard disk incase I need to switch to another menu driven programme in the near future.

I see.

Back in the day I can recall using a somewhat-convoluted "multi-user" scheme which involved using .bat files to swap out different versions of DOSSHELL.INI, but that was a rather ugly kludge.

Not only ugly, but swapping out different versions of DOSSHELL.INI can be a mess as well.

Reply 7 of 12, by SquallStrife

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

I use DA51 on all my DOS systems. I love it.

Good to see it getting some love.

VogonsDrivers.com | Link | News Thread
[retro swim] | Link | Release Thread
Regular silliness on Twitch!! http://www.twitch.tv/RetroSwim (8PM Mon, Wed, Sat AEST)

Reply 10 of 12, by leileilol

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++

I also used Automenu around the time 😀

but even before that I used some .bas file that made a .com file of an ascii menu screen to be used in conjunction with bat files

apsosig.png
long live PCem

Reply 11 of 12, by ppgrainbow

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member
leileilol wrote:

I also used Automenu around the time 😀

but even before that I used some .bas file that made a .com file of an ascii menu screen to be used in conjunction with bat files

Wow! Automenu 4.7 is one of those menu programmes released in late 1990. I never used it though. It was Direct Access all the way for me! 😁

Reply 12 of 12, by Highwinder

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie

Joined just to respond to this. 😀 I don't think I've heard this product even mentioned since Windows 95 was released.

Used Direct Access 5.1 for DOS for many years, great menu system. I even customized all the colors, etc. Used it for everything, greatest product ever for DOS, secondary only to XTree Gold. When Windows 3.x became popular, Fifth Generation Systems released Direct Access for Windows, which replaced explorer.exe with a similar menuing system as DOS version but with far more option (still have the discs). I don't think the Windows version sold well at all, however. I think it was because it was convoluted to configure and there was no way to truly secure an app, Windows just provided too many ways to work around it. It actually made Windows annoying to use.

A far more graphical and impressive DOS menu system that I was very impressed with was QuickMenu 3. Outstanding, but not nearly as easy to use as DA. DA was just pure, quick, and lightweight. Used it in combination with QEMM memory manager and System Commander 3 for easy multi-boot and config swapping.

Used DA for years until I shifted over to using OS/2 2.1 and 3.0 for all my needs, which had vastly superior memory management and bulletproof multitasking of DOS apps simultaneously, a revolutionary technology at the time (sorry, but crash-happy DesqView royally sucked). I mean, OS/2 was like UNIX when it came to perfect multitasking of DOS apps. Windows couldn't come even remotely close to what OS/2 could do until Windows 9x came along, and even then it was very limited. By this time, Direct Access was already dinosaurware and on its way out the door.

However to this day, DA and XTree Gold are the default menu systems that MUST be on any DOS VM I set up (which is almost never for the last 20 years).

Fun to see DA get some love after all these decades. 😁