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I am interested to do a clean install of MS-DOS 6.2 on my old PC with Pentium III (32-bit) processor. Just for fun.

I obtained a copy of MS-DOS from Microsoft download Site.

Is that the correct installer that i should use? Please give me a step-by-step guide on installing MS-DOS.

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4  
OMG! Can't believe someone still wants to install MS-DOS in 2009, and "just for fun" on top of that! –  Zoran Dec 4 '09 at 4:24
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Ya. Maybe get bored of graphic interface. –  yihangho Dec 4 '09 at 8:08
    
Zoran: I do that monthly. (I prefer installing Windows though) –  grawity Dec 5 '09 at 13:13
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Some people just need to play Gorilla Basic. –  music2myear Feb 10 '12 at 18:26
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Some people just need to play Gorilla Basic @music2myear, I prefer Nibbles. –  Synetech Jun 13 '12 at 17:58
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6 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

You may have a much easier time installing FreeDOS.

In terms of commands, it is compatible. However, some of the graphics were not 100% when I tested it out in 2003. For instance an old version of MS Flight Simulator had a little trouble with graphics. But most things work very well in FreeDOS with a lot less hassle.

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Just curious. Is FreeDOS really 100% compatible with MS-DOS (in terms of Command, compatibility of programs...)? –  yihangho Dec 4 '09 at 8:10
    
as far as commands go, it is. However some of the graphics were not 100% when I tested it out in 2003. For instance an old version of MS Flight Simulator had a little trouble with graphics. But most things work very well in FreeDOS with a lot less hassle. –  jweede Dec 4 '09 at 15:04
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I have MS-DOS 6.22 installed in a VM with networking, et al.

It also features 32 Bit extension, lots of archivers, a web browser, etc.

Those are my VM settings: VBox Manager

And here are some screenshots:

This is my boot menu: MS DOS 6.22 boot options

This is when the system is booted: Command prompt

This is the current thread as seen from Arachne (DOS Browser): Arachne web browser for DOS The browser is actually graphical, but it only supports a very old version of HTML and CSS. The latest version is from 2008, I think it's a bit of a shame, that it doesn't see any further development.

I suggest installing DOS in a VM beforehand, and testing things like networking, etc. wget for instance, makes it way easier to get stuff onto that machine, as USB sticks etc, aren't that well supported. For quickly dumping data back and forth, I use netcat (nc).

You can install Windows 3.11 over it. It works reasonably well, with networking, etc. I've had IE 5.0 installed for a time, but it was inconceivably unstable, and so I got rid of it, eventually.

Drivers

The networking stuff is by far the most complicated, I suggest you take a look at mTCP, it'll help a lot.

There are a number of setup.txt's, so configuring should be somewhat doable, but in case someone needs help, I can post my config files elsewhere.

I suggest you install a mouse driver. You probably won't need it too often, but there are some programs, like Arachne, that work quite well with mouse support. I use CuteMouse. The installation etc. is quite easy.

Since you're going to install it on a machine, rather a VM, you probably need CD-ROM support. You can get all the drivers you need from computerhope.com.

Now, I assume your computer has more RAM, than remotely possible back in the days of MS-DOS 6.22, DOS wasn't designed to manage large ammounts of RAM. I suggest you install drivers for it. I use CWSDPMI. Installation is a bit - well, DOS-like - but certainly manageable. It's a nice open source driver, with lots of documentation.

HX DOS Extender let's you run (most/some) Win32 applications in DOS 6.22. It's not guaranteed to work, but I'd certainly suggest it. Works well with things like command line archivers, etc.

It is a pain in the butt to install, but I suggest you get a copy of Trumpet. It's a generic TCP/IP stack, that some programs need (TSR).

The SoundBlaster 16 driver, works surprisingly fine in my VM, only thing that doesn't work, is MIDI support. I can live without it, though. There is a run.bat, which can be merged with your autoexec.bat, but I rather activate sound manually, whenever I need it.

Tools

Most network tools, like ping, wget, nc, etc. come with mTCP. I suggest, however, that you add things like Arachne (scroll up).

Now, you're gonna edit a lot of text file for configuration, etc. To do that, you can install an editor like vi for DOS, but that one is actually pretty heavy and mostly overkill. I suggest you get the latest version of edit.com (as weird as that sounds). Mine is version 2.0.026 from 1995 (so it was used in Windows 95 days). I simply copied mine over from Windows XP! edit.com 2.0.026

Now, as "fun" as command.com is, you just might wanna take a look at an alternative command interpreter. I suggest using 4DOS. If you're used to cmd.exe or even a UNIXoidal shell, you'll be more comfortable.

OK, now this is something, I couldn't do without: compression and archiving tools. I have quite many of them from various places all over the internet. Once you've got wget it's way easier to put stuff on that machine, and since most of that stuff is archived/compressed, you need tools for that. Those are my archivers: directory with archivers The most important are: pkzip.exe, pkunzip.exe, tar.exe, unrar.exe, 7za.exe, among others.

Furthermore, I suggest another text editor: Terse. It won't win in a beauty contest, but it will be just a good editor, when edit.com doesn't work or something.

In case you installed a sound device driver (see "Driver" section), you might want to get Mpxplay. It's a great audio player, that supports lots of containers and codecs: Mpxplay in action

I could go on, but probably the largest Program you'd want to install on DOS 6.22 (even if it's just for playing around) is Windows 3.11. Not because it is particularly useful, but it is a certain integral part of "back then": Windows 3.11 for Work Groups Kinda feels incomplete without it, doesn't it...

There all sort of things, that I won't list here, like file managers, alternative graphical interfaces, etc. just Google around...

Files

This is probably interesting, when you plan on doing your own boot menu. Sound drivers are activated manually whenever I need them.

Here's my autoexec.bat:

@ECHO OFF
PATH C:\WINDOWS;C:\DOS;c:\trumpet
PROMPT $p$g

SET TEMP=C:\DOS
SET BIND=PCNTND
SET MTCPCFG=C:\NET\TOOLS\TCP.CFG
SET WATTCP.CFG=C:\NET\TOOLS

SET PATH=%PATH%;C:\TERSE
SET PATH=%PATH%;C:\ARCHIVER
SET PATH=%PATH%;C:\HX\BIN
SET PATH=%PATH%;C:\NET\TOOLS
SET PATH=%PATH%;C:\FILEMAST

rem COMMON
C:\NET\NETBIND.COM
LH /L:0;1,3104 /S C:\DOS\CTMOUSE.EXE /R00

goto %config%

:normal
C:\CWSDPMI\BIN\CWSDPMI.EXE -p

call C:\WINDOWS\winpkt.bat C:\WINDOWS\
C:\DOS\SMARTDRV.EXE /X
C:\WINDOWS\MSCDEX.EXE /S /D:MSCD001
C:\DOS\DOSKEY.COM /REINSTALL /BUFSIZE=1024
C:\WINDOWS\net start
C:\WINDOWS\WINPKT 0x60
C:\4DOS\KSTACK.COM

mode con codepage prepare=((437) C:\DOS\EGA.CPI)
mode con codepage select=437
keyb us,437,C:\DOS\KEYBOARD.SYS

:savemem

And here's my config.sys:

DEVICE=C:\DOS\HIMEM.SYS
DEVICE=C:\DOS\EMM386.EXE NOEMS
BUFFERS=30,0
FILES=30
DOS=UMB
LASTDRIVE=Z
FCBS=4,0

; vim: ft=config.sys

[menu]
menuitem=normal;Engage all drivers (Video, CDROM, Windows network, 32bit ext., etc.)
menuitem=savemem;Save memory (only Network, Mouse, 4DOS)
menudefault=normal,3

[normal]
DEVICE=C:\DOS\SETVER.EXE
DEVICE=C:\DOS\DISPLAY.SYS CON=(EGA,,2)
DEVICE=C:\DOS\OAKCDROM.SYS /D:MSCD001
DEVICE=C:\DOS\ANSI.SYS

[savemem]
DOS=HIGH

DEVICE=C:\NET\PROTMAN.DOS /I:\NET
DEVICE=C:\NET\DIS_PKT.DOS
DEVICE=C:\NET\PCNTND.DOS

; DEVICEHIGH=C:\WINDOWS\IFSHLP.SYS
STACKS=9,256

SHELL=C:\4DOS\4DOS.COM C:\4DOS\ /P

I could never envision, this would actually be ever of interest to anybody.

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> I could never envision, this would actually be ever of interest to anybody. Don't be so pessimistic. Years ago I created a similar boot disk that had about a dozen different configurations to let me boot into DOS with CD and/or NET and/or EMS and/or sound and/or etc. Crafting the boot menu was almost as much fun as using it to boot into the perfect DOS environment for whatever I happened to need it for at that moment. I still have hopes of playing some of my old DOS games in pure DOS some day. –  Synetech Jun 13 '12 at 18:07
    
@Synetech Well, to play your old games, you just need FreeDOS. It's largely compatible for those purposes. Even when you Install it on an old computer. FreeDOS comes with networking, which cuts down configuring immensly. –  polemon Jun 14 '12 at 0:23
    
I wasn't being sarcastic about writing the config.sys and autoexec.bat files. –  Synetech Jun 14 '12 at 1:16
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The link you provided goes to a download page for 'step up' files (from MSDOS 6.2 to MSDOS 6.22) not the full MSDOS itself.

In fact MSDOS is a system requirement, so it must be installed first.

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MS-DOS 6.22. Stepup will update 6.0, 6.2, or 6.21 –  Beaner Dec 4 '09 at 4:43
    
I see... Can it be used to update the CMD in Windows Vista or 7? –  yihangho Dec 4 '09 at 8:09
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No. The "cmd" is a native Windows program, no different from Notepad or Firefox. The only relation it has to DOS is similar syntax. –  grawity Dec 4 '09 at 13:28
    
Can it be used to update the CMD in Windows Vista or 7 @yihang, they are not the same at all. Other than both of them being command-line-interfaces and having some of the same commands, they are worlds apart. Besides, the command-interpreter in even Windows 2000 is much newer than even MS-DOS 7, let alone DOS 6.22; so it would not be an "update", it would be a "down-date". –  Synetech Jun 13 '12 at 18:00
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Does it have to 6.2(2)? If you are only playing around (and even if you are not), then you may as well install MS-DOS 7.1.

A few years ago, a new copy of DOS 7.1 (the version that came with Windows 98) started making the rounds. It is not an official release from Microsoft, but rather a compilation made by DOS enthusiasts of the official MS-DOS 6.22 (the last official release) + the components from MS-DOS 7.1 (from Windows 98—I think ME had "7.11") + several third-party tools.

It has lots of great features:

  • long-filenames
  • better disk-checking for large drives
  • support for sound-cards
  • multiple languages

Best of all, it supported Windows XP in that the installer was able to detect and work-around it so that you could actually (successfully) install MS-DOS 7.1 after having already installed XP, and successfully dual-boot both! It even came on a bootable CD that you could install it from.

The legalities of it are not really known. Technically I suppose it should not be allowed if it uses actual Microsoft files though it says it is free (GPL), but you can find many people arguing and pointing out loop holes and supporting documentation and such that it is okay. Either way it is pretty easy to find a copy. There are plenty of videos showing how to install it.

Splash screen: enter image description here

Initial setup screen: enter image description here

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i remember this, though with a different version number. 8.something –  Journeyman Geek Jun 2 '12 at 15:28
    
> Does it have to 6.2(2)? If you are only playing around (and even if you are not), then you may as well install MS-DOS 7.1. I agree. The DOS 7.1 release is based on the version that came with Windows ME (though in ME, it was buried down deep to prevent you from normally booting into it). So it is the latest possible version of the Microsoft DOS, but comes with numerous third-party enhancements. I have a copy of this installed on my Windows XP drive. (I used to boot into DOS regularly to make backups with PQ DriveImage. Not so much now... I miss DOS.) –  Synetech Jun 13 '12 at 18:04
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I have seen it on Technet and MSDN but had no idea it was free to anyone - I think this is just a upgrade from 6.1 and not full a free download.

For a simple install, you need any Windows machine with a floppy drive and three blank floppys.

Run the file "Setup.bat" and it should guide you through the setup and create the installation disks.

Put the first disk in your Pentium three machine and run setup from the A drive, and it should install.

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Whats that "Setup.bat"? Can give more detailed guide? –  yihangho Dec 4 '09 at 8:08
    
IIRC, the bare minimum for a dos machine is: you boot using floppy, run FDISK to partition the hard drive (DELETES ALL DATA ON HARDDRIVE), format c: /s (DELETES ALL DATA ON HARD DRIVE), then copy command.com io.sys and msdos.sys to the root folder of c:. Your machine should be bootable without the floppy at this point. –  horatio Feb 10 '12 at 18:57
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On the original MS-DOS 6.22 distribution a SETUP.EXE was provided that would go through an installation or upgrade procedure (IIRC, it's been awhile). But, you don't really need it as long as you have an MS-DOS boot floppy that has these utilites on it:

  • FDISK
  • FORMAT
  • SYS
  • COMMAND.COM, IO.SYS, MSDOS.SYS

The procedure would be as follows:

  • Boot the MS-DOS floppy
  • Use FDISK to wipe out all partitions on the "first fixed disk" and create a single bootable partition for MS-DOS.
  • Reboot and boot off the floppy again.
  • Format the newly created C: volume with FORMAT
  • Install the bootsector with SYS C:
  • I believe you do have to copy over MSDOS.SYS and IO.SYS to C:\ (not sure if SYS did that for you), and definitely COMMAND.COM.
  • Now you need to create a basic C:\CONFIG.SYS with the following (Hopefully your boot disk has EDIT on it, if not, you can always use COPY CON: {filename}):

DOS=HIGH,UMB

SHELL=C:\COMMAND.COM /P

LASTDRIVE=Z

  • and a basic C:\AUTOEXEC.BAT with the following:

BREAK OFF

VERIFY OFF

PROMPT $P$G

PATH C:\;C:\DOS

And that's pretty much how you set up a barebones system. Reboot and you should be in the C:\> prompt. (If your hard drive has more space you can FDISK the remaining partitions at this point.) From here you then make a C:\DOS directory and copy all the DOS utilities there from an official disk or other source. The official disk had most of them compressed and you need to use the EXPAND command to extract them IIRC. Then you need to work on getting a CD-ROM driver installed (need to add DEVICEHIGH=line in CONFIG.SYS to load driver and then run MSCDEX in AUTOEXEC.BAT) and HIMEM.SYS so you can use RAM above 1MB.

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