[SATLUG] A challenge for all seasoned experts :-)

Alan Lesmerises alesmerises at satx.rr.com
Wed Jan 29 22:47:11 CST 2014

I remember there was a standard that came out called "RLL" that 
effectively increased hard-drive capacity by about 50% over MFM.  I 
believe the IDE and Enhanced IDE (EIDE) formats came next and pre-dated 
the modern ATA interface standards.  In fact, it looks like even the 
EIDE format didn't come out until a few years after your system was 

I also seem to recall DOS having trouble dealing with primary hard-drive 
partitions over 2 GB & needed the rest to be designated as an "extended" 
partition (or something like that).  I think it had to do with the 
maximum number of sectors the DOS formatting could keep track of in the 
FAT.  There were some aftermarket drivers that would allow accessing 
more capacity, but I don't think they were standardized.  I don't know 
if it applies to your computer, but I also recall that older BIOS needed 
to have specifics for number of cylinders, heads, tracks, etc. entered 
in manually (i.e., there was no auto-detect capability).

Someone else mentioned that networking required using a Novell driver, 
and I seem to recall the same.

You might want to contact Art Hall -- with all the old PC's that he's 
gotten over the years, he may have some of that older software (I even 
gave him some myself a few years back).

Al Lesmerises

On 1/29/2014 10:16 AM, Borries Demeler wrote:
> Hi Al,
> I do have a null-modem and considered this as a fall-back option if I
> cannot get TCP/IP to work.
> I have a few other options, upgrading to DOS 6.22 and installing win3.1,
> for example.
> It would be nice if I could locate an ISA-16 dual PATA controller,
> additional/bigger ram sticks, and a couple of harddrives in case
> my current one fails. This system only has a single PATA controller,
> but I am not even sure if this is PATA, even though the connector
> looks the same as a standard PATA, the current drive is not recognized
> by any other more modern mobo that has on-board PATA. I'm wondering, was
> there another standard between MFM and PATA?
> -b.
>> I had done quite a bit with DOS back in the day, but I hadn't messed
>> with networking until Win 3.1.  And since that was more than 15 years
>> ago now, I wouldn't remember how to do it any more anyway.  I do still
>> have an old Windows 98 CD, if that would help.
>> Had you thought of using a null modem cable & direct connect to another
>> PC?  As I recall, that's not all that difficult and is fully supported
>> right in DOS.  It's just a matter of configuring the communication
>> settings and directing the output to the right COM port, if I remember
>> correctly.
>> Al Lesmerises
>> On 1/26/2014 10:07 PM, Borries Demeler wrote:
>>> Daniel,
>>> thanks for the offer, but I found another 3.5 floppy that works and
>>> can just copy stuff off using the floppy drive. But I still am interested
>>> in getting the network to work on this.
>>> I had another idea: some supersmall linux with 3c509 modules that runs in
>>> 4 MB or RAM and has some basic utils to mount FAT16 fs and maybe netcat to
>>> dump stuff out? Alternatively, it would be nice if I could just get some sort
>>> of tcpip network to work on this DOS system. The PXE boot emulator sounds nice
>>> if I can find a copy of this win2003 server program...
>>> -b.
>>> On Sun, Jan 26, 2014 at 09:51:05PM -0500, Daniel Villarreal wrote:
>>>> Borries,
>>>> Have you considered using an old parallel-port Iomega zip drive? I
>>>> have a spare one I can loan you, if you need it... if you don't mind
>>>> shipping back to NY.
>>>> regards,
>>>> Daniel Villarreal
>>>> http://youcanlinux.org/
>>>> On Sun, Jan 26, 2014 at 5:14 PM, Borries Demeler
>>>> <demeler at biochem.uthscsa.edu> wrote:
>>>>> THis sounds like a great way to do it - however, I cannot find rbfg.exe on
>>>>> any of my windows systems. I looked at win2k, XP and 7. Is there a place
>>>>> where I can get a copy or is there an alternative? I did get the floppy
>>>>> driver replaced and it is working now. I also tried to read the harddrive
>>>>> with my USB adapter, but it must be pre-PATA because it is not recognized.
>>>>> In the BIOS it is listed as "TYPE 40". When hooked up directly to the PATA bus
>>>>> on another computer the drive isn't recognized.
>>>>> So, I guess I could copy everything off the drive via floppy now, or
>>>>> try to get the rbfg.exe file somewhere...
>>>>> Thanks for the tip!
>>>>> -b.
>>>>> On Sun, Jan 26, 2014 at 01:57:20PM -0600, Joe wrote:
>>>>>> Definately,  PXE!   Fix that floppy drive. Then you can use a pxe emulator (
>>>>>> http://www.lockergnome.com/windows/2006/03/22/create-a-pxe-emulator-boot-floppy/).
>>>>>> You still then need a pxe service provider.  You could use a Vm, maybe
>>>>>> running Amanda, or some other image management software.  It's a bit of
>>>>>> additional work.  But, once it's done, you can boot any computer on your
>>>>>> network from the nic and backup or restore through the network.
>>>>>> On Sunday, January 26, 2014, Borries Demeler <demeler at biochem.uthscsa.edu>
>>>>>> wrote:
>>>>>>> On Sun, Jan 26, 2014 at 01:20:27PM -0600, Bruce Dubbs wrote:
>>>>>>>> Borries Demeler wrote:
>>>>>>>>> Here is a challenge for all you seasoned experts with previous DOS
>>>>>>>>> experience:
>>>>>>>>> I have recently revived an old but excellent spectrophotometer that was built
>>>>>>>>> on top of a 486 motherboard. Miraculously, the motherboard still works (after
>>>>>>>>> resetting the bios with some jumper surgery), but now I am facing a second
>>>>>>>>> hurdle: The spectrophotometer has a bad 3.5" floppy drive that was used to output
>>>>>>>>> the data. All floppies I have tried fail to be recognized, although
>>>>>>>>> they work fine on some other computer which has a floppy drive.
>>>>>>>> Wow.  DOD-3.3 was released in April, 1987.  The i486 was released in
>>>>>>>> 1989.  The first thing I'd do is try to replace the floppy drive so
>>>>>>>> I could get some sort of input or output.
>>>>>>>>> So forget the floppies - don't want to deal with them anyway. There is an old 3c509
>>>>>>>>> network card (isa) in this spectrophotometer that has a (presumably) 10baseT
>>>>>>>>> cat 5 ethernet connector. The whole system is running MSDOS DOS 3.3.
>>>>>>>>> The software controlling the spec needs DOS (its not a windows program).
>>>>>>>> Any possibility of running the program in a virtual system on a
>>>>>>>> modern machine?  What's the interface to the HW?  Is it a simple
>>>>>>>> serial port or some kind of proprietary connection?
>>>>>>> That's the problem, there are about 6 ISA controller boards in there,
>>>>>>> so I couldn't move the system to a newer hardware where that would be
>>>>>>> an option, as nice as it would be - but then there would be the question
>>>>>>> of making all the interrupts and I/O addresses work as well...anyway,
>>>>>>> I don't know how to get around that.
>>>>>>>>> So, right now everything is stored on an old 40 MB (!) seagate harddrive,
>>>>>>>>> which also miraculously still works. I want to first make a backup of the
>>>>>>>>> whole system and then find some backup hardware that can be retrofitted
>>>>>>>>> onto the old motherboard in case other stuff fails - the spec is really
>>>>>>>>> high quality and I would hate to lose it. The controller boards are all
>>>>>>>>> ISA and so I cannot use a new motherboard.
>>>>>>>> You could remove the HD and put it into a modern system for copying.
>>>>>>>> You can use an ide to sata connector:
>>>>>>>> http://www.amazon.com/IDE-SATA-Adapter/dp/B000RK89M4 if you can't
>>>>>>>> find a system with ide.  My 2005 Dell has an ide for the CD-ROM.
>>>>>>> I could do that, I have one of these devices - good idea, but not a
>>>>>>> permanent solution for transferring files.
>>>>>>>> 00:1f.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corporation 82801FB/FR (ICH6/ICH6R) LPC
>>>>>>>> Interface Bridge (rev 03)
>>>>>>>> 00:1f.1 IDE interface: Intel Corporation 82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6
>>>>>>>> Family) IDE Controller (rev 03)
>>>>>>>>> For now, I would be happy to somehow just get the 3c509 network card to
>>>>>>>>> work under dos 3.3 and hook up an ethernet cable and be able to dump files
>>>>>>>>> out over the network. Now I forgot pretty much anything about DOS networking
>>>>>>>>> and wouldn't know where to get the files. I can probably find an old driver
>>>>>>>>> on the harddrive for the 3c509 card, but maybe there is something else
>>>>>>>>> available? What is the best way to network this old computer, and where
>>>>>>>>> could I find the necessary software?
>>>>>>>>> command line ftp, scp, rsync or similar would be fantastic, am I asking
>>>>>>>>> for too much? What are my options here? The machine has 4 MB of RAM, and
>>>>>>>>> is a 486. I *might* be able to find some more RAM for this if this is
>>>>>>>>> necessary.
>>>>>>>> I'd be interested in how DOS 3.3 addresses 4MB.  Standard DOS was
>>>>>>> Only as a ram drive. It is not until you install a 32 bit OS like win3.1
>>>>>>> that you can actually use the RAM > 640 kb. Question is: How do I get
>>>>>>> a tcp/ip network set up under DOS?
>>>>>>>> only 640K, but there was the ability to swap memory via the eXtended
>>>>>>>> Memory Specification (XMS).  This was in the application of course
>>>>>>>> since DOS was only a program loader, not an operating system.
>>>>>>>> Interesting project.  Good luck.
>>>>>>>>     -- Bruce
>>>>>>>> --
>>>>>>>> --
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