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TanruNomad
August 3rd, 2010, 10:21 PM
I have a compaq portable and 2 HDDs. I can only have one hooked up at a time and until tonight, both worked great. I think I may have deleted some critical file or something on one of them because now the computer wont start up. It says "Incorrect DOS version" and then "Bad or missing command interpreter" Im guessing it doesnt know which version of dos to load to or maybe my autoexec.bat file is dos 3.2 and the computer needs dos 3.1 or something. Anyway, how can I get that HDD to load? I dont own any setup disk, but since I can access my other HDD i figure any files I need I can copy from there and put them on a floppy.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

EddieDX4
August 3rd, 2010, 11:25 PM
I have a compaq portable and 2 HDDs. I can only have one hooked up at a time and until tonight, both worked great. I think I may have deleted some critical file or something on one of them because now the computer wont start up. It says "Incorrect DOS version" and then "Bad or missing command interpreter" Im guessing it doesnt know which version of dos to load to or maybe my autoexec.bat file is dos 3.2 and the computer needs dos 3.1 or something. Anyway, how can I get that HDD to load? I dont own any setup disk, but since I can access my other HDD i figure any files I need I can copy from there and put them on a floppy.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

This is likely due to the HDD having been SYS'd with one version of DOS, but containing the files for a different version (e.g. FORMAT /S or SYS A: C: was performed using, say, DOS 3.3, but then content of the drive having DOS 5.0 system files).

What you can do is create a bootable floppy by booting from the working HDD (FORMAT A: /S, or SYS C: A:), and make sure COMMAND.COM resides in the root directory of the floppy disk. Copy FORMAT.COM and SYS.COM from the good HDD's \DOS directory onto the floppy disk, as well.

Swap HDD's and place the floppy you created into the A: drive. Once booted up to an A: prompt, do a quick assessment of the HDD's state. You may want to backup the content of C:\DOS, etc, just in case. To make the HDD bootable, use the same SYS command, but this time A: C: (transfers the system from A: to C:).

The one thing I don't remember is whether SYS requires that the target volume is empty and/or has an empty root directory. You may receive an error to that effect if such is the case. If you don't care about what's in the drive, you could always do a FORMAT /S on it from the floppy and then spend a few hours transferring stuff back to it, little by little.

TanruNomad
August 4th, 2010, 07:29 AM
I was able to make the boot-up disk, (with command.com, sys.com and format.com on the floppy) but when i try booting up with that disk, it says "incorrect dos version" it says this regardless of which HDD I have put in if I boot from that disk which I thought was strange. Any thoughts?

Chuck(G)
August 4th, 2010, 07:41 AM
What happens if no hard disk is attached to the system? Do you still get the message? If so, exactly when do you get it?

TanruNomad
August 4th, 2010, 08:30 AM
Hey,

Actually I was able to get the floppy to load! I did the command as you mentioned "a: /s" but this time thats all I did. The first time in addition to formatting the disk with /s I also had manually copied sys.com and format.com from the good HDD and I guess thats what confused it. But anyways I was able to boot up and access all the files in my HDD. (Unfornately I had to run to work before I could determine which version of dos it has and which files I need to remove to get the HDD to boot up on its own)/

Thank you so much for getting me this far.

TanruNomad
August 4th, 2010, 09:52 AM
So even though im able to access the C drive after using the bootup floppy, how do I make the HDD boot up on its own? When I use the Sys commands it says "Incorrect Dos version"

It looks like what I did last night was transfer all of my dos 3.2 system files to the new HDDs c: directory which had contained DOS 3.1 files, now its all confused.

Dave Farquhar
August 4th, 2010, 10:17 AM
It looks like what I did last night was transfer all of my dos 3.2 system files to the new HDDs c: directory which had contained DOS 3.1 files, now its all confused.

It sounds like that's precisely what you did. Short of tracking down a bootable DOS 3.1 floppy, I don't know how to undo that. It may be possible; I just don't know. But the easiest solution is to get your hands on a DOS 3.1 bootable floppy, boot off that, and SYS the 3.1 HDD with it.

The other option is to upgrade the other HDD to DOS 3.2 by copying over the C:\DOS directory to it. The question is whether you wanted both a DOS 3.1 and DOS 3.2 HDDs.

TanruNomad
August 4th, 2010, 10:21 AM
I'm fine upgrading this HDD with 3.2 instead of 3.1. Im now sure how i go about upgrading it though. I already copied all the DOS 3.2 files to this new HDD's c: and thats what caused the issue. Do i simply need to erase every file on the C: drive and copy all the DOS 3.2 files over? I dont have to delete any of my programs do I?

EddieDX4
August 4th, 2010, 10:22 AM
So even though im able to access the C drive after using the bootup floppy, how do I make the HDD boot up on its own? When I use the Sys commands it says "Incorrect Dos version"

It looks like what I did last night was transfer all of my dos 3.2 system files to the new HDDs c: directory which had contained DOS 3.1 files, now its all confused.

When you successfully boot with the floppy you made, type VER and see what version the floppy's system really is. Once you confirm that post it here so myself or anyone here can try and track down the correct version of SYS.COM for you to use.

EDIT:

I wanted to add that you should make sure you invoke this command(s) while still on the disk you booted from. If another copy of SYS.COM resides on the target disk, and you invoke it from there, that might be the reason for your problems.

TanruNomad
August 4th, 2010, 10:24 AM
The floppys version is 3.2, the HDD is currently 3.1

EddieDX4
August 4th, 2010, 10:27 AM
The floppys version is 3.2, the HDD is currently 3.1

A few questions for you...

1. What disk format is this? (360k, 720k, 1.2M, 1.44M)?
2. If these are 360k/1.2M floppies, do you have a modern machine nearby where you can temporarily install a drive from the DOS machine?
3. If the answer to #2 is Yes, would you like me to send you DOS floppy images?

TanruNomad
August 4th, 2010, 10:31 AM
A few questions for you...

1. What disk format is this? (360k, 720k, 1.2M, 1.44M)?
2. If these are 360k/1.2M floppies, do you have a modern machine nearby where you can temporarily install a drive from the DOS machine?
3. If the answer to #2 is Yes, would you like me to send you DOS floppy images?

They're 360K floppies. I dont have any modern machine that is compatible with floppy disks. Were you going to send a copy of DOS 3.1? I may be able to get one from someone I know, hopefully. So I can't do anything with my Dos 3.2 disks to get this HDD to bootup on its own? In lamens terms, what is the solution to my problem? Do I delete all my current sys files and replace them with DOs 3.1 or 3.2 system files?

MikeS
August 4th, 2010, 11:20 AM
They're 360K floppies. I dont have any modern machine that is compatible with floppy disks. Were you going to send a copy of DOS 3.1? I may be able to get one from someone I know, hopefully. So I can't do anything with my Dos 3.2 disks to get this HDD to bootup on its own? In lamens terms, what is the solution to my problem? Do I delete all my current sys files and replace them with DOs 3.1 or 3.2 system files?A lot of confusion and a little misinformation...

I've lost track of what files of which DOS version are on which hard disk and where...

You only need 3 files to make a disk bootable: IO.SYS, MSDOS.SYS and COMMAND.COM (although entries in the CONFIG.SYS or AUTOEXEC.BAT files can confuse things).

The version of the SYS command in 3.1 and 3.2 is not important, what is important is that the 3 system files are the same version. In DOS versions prior to 5.00 the SYS command did NOT copy the COMMAND.COM file, so if you SYS'ed to a 3.1 disk from a 3.2 disk you almost certainly created an incompatibility between the new .SYS files and the old COMMAND.COM.

Compare the versions of the 3 system files on the diskette to those on the hard disk (dir /a); if I followed what you did correctly then you will probably have to copy command.com from the floppy to the hard disk. That should make it bootable; I gather you've already updated all the auxiliary DOS files on the hard disk to 3.2.

TanruNomad
August 4th, 2010, 11:44 AM
Thank you so much Mike, that fixed it! The only thing that doesnt work now is the format command. Oh well.

Floppies_only
August 5th, 2010, 11:37 AM
Thank you so much Mike, that fixed it! The only thing that doesnt work now is the format command. Oh well.

The file dates should tell you if you've got the right format.com file. If it's different than the date of the command.com, that might be a problem. Maybe someone on here can put the right file on a disk for you.

You could always buy a copy of DOS 3.3 of off ebay and install that. They come up often.

Sean

james1095
August 6th, 2010, 03:52 PM
If the C:\DOS directory is in your path, it will often try to run the file in there instead of the one on the floppy. Try booting from the floppy and then type a:\sys.com c: and see if that works. Failing that, you can make a boot disk with setver installed (call it from the config.sys) and then use the setver command to tell DOS what version of itself to report to specific programs. Usually DOS utilities will run just fine on the wrong version of DOS if you fake it like that.

MikeS
August 6th, 2010, 05:14 PM
...Try booting from the floppy and then type a:\sys.com c: and see if that works...Just a reminder (again): if the version of DOS on the hard disk is different from that on the floppy, this will almost certainly make the hard disk unbootable!

And using SETVER to fool DOS about its OWN programs instead of just installing the proper DOS programs in the first place is also asking for trouble.

Ole Juul
August 6th, 2010, 07:47 PM
If the C:\DOS directory is in your path, it will often try to run the file in there instead of the one on the floppy. . . .

DOS will look in your current directory first, then it will go through your path from the beginning and run the first match it finds. If you don't specify, then there is also a hierarchy of extensions. Also, there is absolutely no reason for having a C:\DOS directory unless that is your personal preference.

Dave Farquhar
August 7th, 2010, 09:45 AM
Sean's trick is right. The date and time on DOS files matches. If I remember right, the time stamp matched the version number in those days. So DOS 3.1 files will have a time stamp of 3:10, while 3.2 files will have a stamp of 3:20. That can help you in getting the file versions right if they're mixed up.

TanruNomad
August 7th, 2010, 10:28 AM
Someone on here was kind enough to send me a dos 3.31 setup so that should make everything work right. Regarding the date/time stamps, most of my dos files are 12:00pm so I dont think that tells me much. I'd much rather just install dos 3.31 since thats what the os was before I screwed things up and copied a few dos 3.1 files on there.

Thank you got all your help everyone

Floppies_only
August 7th, 2010, 12:58 PM
DOS will look in your current directory first, then it will go through your path from the beginning and run the first match it finds. If you don't specify, then there is also a hierarchy of extensions. Also, there is absolutely no reason for having a C:\DOS directory unless that is your personal preference.

I can think of a reason to have a DOS directory. If you have a program that accesses the hard drive a lot, moving the DOS commands to a separate directory allows you to set the PATH variable in the autoexec.bat file so that the directories that your program is accessing are searched before the DOS directory. Useful for running Windows, for example.

Sean

Floppies_only
August 7th, 2010, 12:59 PM
I was thinking that the date would be the more useful indicator.

Sean

james1095
August 9th, 2010, 10:14 AM
Just a reminder (again): if the version of DOS on the hard disk is different from that on the floppy, this will almost certainly make the hard disk unbootable!

And using SETVER to fool DOS about its OWN programs instead of just installing the proper DOS programs in the first place is also asking for trouble.


It's not something I'd generally recommend, but it works in a pinch. I've used setver a few times to solve chicken/egg problems where I had setup files to install one version of DOS, but no boot disk with that version. Once you get the thing up and running you can do a proper install of whatever version you like.

Ole Juul
August 9th, 2010, 01:56 PM
I can think of a reason to have a DOS directory. If you have a program that accesses the hard drive a lot, moving the DOS commands to a separate directory allows you to set the PATH variable in the autoexec.bat file so that the directories that your program is accessing are searched before the DOS directory. Useful for running Windows, for example.

I meant that it doesn't have to be "C:" or "DOS". Personally I very rarely use the MS utilities and besides the very useful help command I can't see why anybody would. They serve very little practical purpose since most of them are duplicated in better non-MS versions. My root directory only has two directories, SYS and TMP, and the C: drive is only used for system files. The SYS directory primarily contains "0", "1", "2", "F", and "MS". The 0, 1, and 2 contain the system binaries and the F contains the batch files which are what really define the system. The MS is, of course, the Microsoft files.

One of the reasons that I stayed with DOS and never moved to Win 3.1 was that the file structure was too messy for me and I would have lost control of the system. While still selling DOS, Microsoft hadn't yet figured out how to take control away from the user. The two hidden system files and the (optional) shell (command.com) were so incredibly functional just by themselves that users like me started ignoring their other shenanigans right from the start .

My path statement looks like this: path m:\no\;c:\sys\0;c:\sys\f;c:\sys\1;c:\sys\2;c:\sys\ ms;c:\
And my comspec: shell=c:\sys\ms\command.com c:\sys\ms /e:1024 /p /f

Regarding using the hard drive a lot, I solved that problem by having a carefully chosen selection of the most used utilities put in a hidden directory in one of the ram disks and turning off the HDD which rarely needs to start under normal use.

abpccpba
May 18th, 2011, 01:21 PM
You only need 3 files to make a disk bootable: IO.SYS, MSDOS.SYS and COMMAND.COM

I want to do this and can not see how you get the MBR on the disk.

MikeS
May 18th, 2011, 02:19 PM
I want to do this and can not see how you get the MBR on the disk.To create the bootable disk you also need FORMAT and FDISK (and a system running an appropriate DOS or Windows of course).

Agent Orange
May 18th, 2011, 02:28 PM
I want to do this and can not see how you get the MBR on the disk.

The MBR is a product of the FDISK routine when you partition and format your HD.