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I have certain old DOS-era programs that expect to be able to bang on hardware directly, specifically, the printer port. These cannot be run in an NTVDM under 2K, XP or later, since the NTVDM environment doesn't give the programs direct access to hardware.

An obvious solution would be to use a derelict PC to run DOS 6.22 or Win 95/98, either of which would support direct I/O access. Problem with this being, I don't have any hardware I want to commit to running such an old OS, essentially just to run a couple of 1990's era hardware utilities.

The next most obvious solution would be to temporarily boot a system into an old OS, just on those occasions when the old utilities are needed. I know DOS 6.22 could boot from a floppy, but the problem with that is finding a machine that still has a floppy drive at all, let alone a reliable floppy.

So the idea occurred, what about running Win95 or Win98 from a CD, like a Linux live CD? And that's my question: first, is it even possible to do it, and if so, how does one proceed? Alternately, any way to run these from a flash drive would be welcome as well.

Some light searching only turned up some dubious looking results. I'm not asking to download a free copy of an OS, here, mind you. I already have W95 and W98 install media on hand, I'd just like to know if there's a way to configure a live CD for either of these. (And I assumed the answer for DOS 6.22 is flat out 'no', since DOS didn't even understand CD drives w/o extensions)

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How about running it on a Virtual Machine? – The_aLiEn Feb 19 '12 at 15:11
@The_aLiEn - are there any that allow for direct access to the printer I/O port? I'm not aware of any that do. – JustJeff Feb 19 '12 at 17:38
@JustJeff There are forks of DOSBox that capture the DOS printer calls and redirect to the Windows print system. Check out Using a printer in Dosbox – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Feb 19 '12 at 19:52
Sounds like he needs the paralell port to program some EEPROMS or other stuff. Thing is about the paralell port is that there is no chip in between the port and the register that reads it's status, unlike every other port that has a UART, OHCI/EHCI/UHCI, RAMDAC/I2C EDID, etc. Put so many volts on one of the paralell port wires, a bit in a register goes from one to zero. So it's useful for all sorts of hobbyist electronics things. Anyway, DOS printer redirects won't do anything for this. – LawrenceC Feb 19 '12 at 22:10
@ultrasawblade Then it is a different approach... First four results in searching in google for "how to access parallel port directly in xp" gives enough information about direct I/O usage under NT based systems. – The_aLiEn Feb 20 '12 at 1:47
up vote 4 down vote accepted

It's possible to boot DOS from a CD if the CD is properly burned with the required "El Torito" extensions and the BIOS supports "floppy emulation" and your BIOS is one of the 3 or 4 out of thousands that isn't buggy in this area.

It sounds like a mess, and the one time I tried to get a DOS CD to boot I had problems and don't even remember how to do it. But it is possible.

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I found a Windows 98 "LiveCD" project here:

Based on WinBuilder.

This project creates a bootable image of Windows 98 SE, based on Mindows, with only 23MB.

enter image description here

Perhaps you can make some use of it. :)

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If you have an image of the DOS 6.22 floppy, several boot managers can load floppy images e.g. GRUB4DOS ( and ) or SYSLINUX + MEMDISK ( )

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You can make a bootable DOS USB, and then install Windows 95/98/ME on it.

Download Rufus from here. You can use Rufus without installation. Make a bootable USB using MS-DOS. After making your bootable MS-DOS USB, copy all Windows installation files to the root of your USB. Restart your computer. Make sure that you set the USB as your default boot device. When you boot from USB, type SETUP into the DOS prompt. Install Windows (do not fear, it will NOT overwrite your existing Windows version, because DOS and WIndows 1/2/3/95/98/ME can not read NTFS partitions). If you did it proper, you should boot Windows 95/98/ME from your USB. If you want just DOS, then do not install Windows.

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