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I am going to install MS DOS 6.22 and Windows 3.11 on my new Lenovo IdeaPad U410 laptop just for fun and just to prove myself I can do it.

I want to ask if I can expect some problems? And if so then which ones? The only think I care about is not to harm my hardware and not to harm other partitions. I am not expecting MS-DOS to take advantages of using of my big RAM and I am not going to access my other partitions from MS DOS.

Will the MS DOS be kind to other unknown partitions and to new hardware?

I simulated it using VirtualBox and everyhing was ok. Now I am about to try it with real hardware. Is everything going to be the same as virtualized?

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Only point to watch is the size of the partition, you would be advise keeping under 32gb. – Ian Mar 17 '13 at 20:08
You need to have a MBR partition table and have to install it inside a primary partition. – FSMaxB Mar 18 '13 at 16:44

3 Answers 3

Yes, you might run into some issues.

Your BIOS might need to support IDE emulation for SATA drives (hard disk and CD), otherwise DOS might not see the drives as well. Even if thats the case, there still is a chance it wont work with modern hardware. Even, if it does work, the hard drive, FAT16 will limit volumes to 2GB.

If your Lenovo IdeaPad U410 has any "funky" hardware, especially core components, you might not be able to install DOS as there wont be any drivers for it. For example, your keyboard and mouse might not work. If this is the case, you could use a USB keyboard, as long as your BIOS supports legacy USB support (all I have seen do).

But the real question is: Will 16 bit code, which DOS and Windows is written in, run natively on a 64 bit processor? Im not sure about that.

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Yes, the x64 instruction set is fully backwards compatible with its 32- and 16-bit predecessors. – Marcks Thomas Mar 17 '13 at 23:29
@MarcksThomas Or more accurately, x86-64 CPUs implement Intel's 16- and 32-bit instruction sets as well. Actually, I'd be surprised if even modern UEFI POST implementations aren't done in 16-bit code (although other parts of the UEFI firmware might not be). – Michael Kjörling Apr 8 '13 at 14:52

You tagged the question with virtualbox. If you are using a type 2 hypervisor like that, there will be no effect on your host operating system. The MS-DOS virtual machine will not even be aware of the host machine.

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he said he simulated it in virtualbox, he is going to install it directly on the laptop. – Keltari Mar 17 '13 at 21:14
That edit came after my answer. – Patrick S. Mar 17 '13 at 23:42

DOS is pretty kind to unknown partitions, since there are proggies (like Novell Netware), that use DOS as a boot block, and then mount an unknown partition. It certainly lives quite happily beside things like BOOTMGR, HPFS and NTFS.

DOS pretty much expects to find an IDE layout, with disks of up to four primaries.

DR-DOS does not booting from partitions other than 1. You can't create two primary partitions, and install drdos on the second one. But PC-DOS and MS-DOS don't seem to mind. You can't start dos from an extended partition either.

It's best to install DOS on a partition less than 120 MB, because the way Win9x works, it will try to convert the partition into a fat32 partition.

Some versions of DOS will bork, if there are several primary partitions, and the first partition on the extended partition is not a fat16 one.

Some of the more recent computer hardware uses different kinds of setup, which not only affects DOS, but even later operating systems like WinXP. You might see if you can see your dos partition from a dos boot diskette, before doing drastic things.

Otherwise, it's back to the virtual machines for DOS.

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