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Minker17
August 24th, 2015, 07:52 AM
Firstly, I have very little experience with DOS. I'm 30 and it wasn't something I had the benefit of learning when I was younger, so forgive any ignorance or lack of knowledge.

Background, I work in the food service industry and am looking at changing up our point of sale process. Currently, we are using IBM DOS 5. I'm only just starting to explore this idea and haven't discussed this with my IT department as I've been told this is unlikely to happen to due legacy reasons.

So with that said, and I'm aware this isn't going to be a simple yes/no, can IBM DOS be upgraded to something more capable? We're are operating under graphical and I imagine other restrictions. To me, with my limited knowledge, it would seem like a wiser idea to try to migrate to something more current and I'm wondering if this is an insane idea or something that would seem possible? Depending on the answers I would begin my research and try to lay out a plan to present to my department.

I just don't know where to start.

Thanks guys!

NeXT
August 24th, 2015, 08:06 AM
I've found that some of the strictly "DOS-ism" reliant programs do not behave well in the later command shells of XP and Windows 7 because it's not really DOS. DOSbox or one of the alternatives might be useable for single-user applications but otherwise you're looking at something like a Virtual Machine, again simply running DOS with a few included drivers to allow it to access physical I/O like ethernet or the disk controller.

By IBM DOS 5 I assume you mean IBM's PC-DOS (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_PC_DOS) which saw a final major release in 1998 with PC-DOS 2000. There was an update called 7.1 but it wasn't a publically available update, even though it can be found these days in random places online.

Chuck(G)
August 24th, 2015, 08:07 AM
What would you like your upgrade to do, specifically? A DOS environment can be supported on nearly any of today's hardware and operating systems, so your request is a bit broad.

Traditionally, food-service software has been divided between "front of the house" and "back of the house" areas. Which are you most interested in improving?

Scali
August 24th, 2015, 08:28 AM
The real problem is not the OS, but the applications you run on that OS. Those applications determine how easy/difficult it is to move to another OS.
Given the nature of DOS applications, they are probably closely tied to the hardware. DOS is a not an OS as we know it today. It does not provide much in the way of hardware abstraction, so most applications will access hardware directly. Modern OSes don't allow direct hardware access, so they virtualize some of the hardware to provide a DOS-compatible environment. How well that works with your applications, is hard to say. The only way to find out is to try it.
But it's not something I recommend, because it's a dead end.

The proper solution is to find modern replacement applications which run natively. You always choose your applications first, and your OS choice follows from that.

Minker17
August 24th, 2015, 08:49 AM
By IBM DOS 5 I assume you mean IBM's PC-DOS (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_PC_DOS) which saw a final major release in 1998 with PC-DOS 2000. There was an update called 7.1 but it wasn't a publically available update, even though it can be found these days in random places online.

Yes, IBM PC Dos 5.


What would you like your upgrade to do, specifically? A DOS environment can be supported on nearly any of today's hardware and operating systems, so your request is a bit broad.

Traditionally, food-service software has been divided between "front of the house" and "back of the house" areas. Which are you most interested in improving?

Our front of house ordering system. Currently it's a clunky mess requiring hundreds of menu screens available to call depending on the order. We're limited to screen size, graphics, etc. Higher-ups are wanting a more streamlined ordering system, but they are still using the same one they have forever and I personally don't think there's any room for improvement unless the scrap everything and move on. However, I've been told this won't happen for legacy reasons.

Chuck(G)
August 24th, 2015, 09:25 AM
Realistically, I agree with you that scrapping the current system might be just the ticket (pardon the pun). At some point, it's not worth keeping an aging system running--you didn't mention if you were a single-store operation or a chain/franchise operation, so clearly, the needs will be different.

DOS is brutally simple, but is also quite limited in its ability to exploit resources. Eventually, the available hardware is going to outstrip what DOS can reasonably accommodate. Eventually, you'll be forced into the position of being the curator of an antiquarian system.

Maybe that's some fodder for your arguments.

krebizfan
August 24th, 2015, 09:27 AM
Yes, IBM PC Dos 5.



Our front of house ordering system. Currently it's a clunky mess requiring hundreds of menu screens available to call depending on the order. We're limited to screen size, graphics, etc. Higher-ups are wanting a more streamlined ordering system, but they are still using the same one they have forever and I personally don't think there's any room for improvement unless the scrap everything and move on. However, I've been told this won't happen for legacy reasons.

You could load a modern OS but the applications would be the same and might have to run inside an emulator. Not much point except to allow the higher-ups to browse the web while watching the clunky old screens.

Do you know what environment the application was written in? For example, it was common for such an application created with DBase. A few years ago, you could use Visual FoxPro or Clipper to adapt a DBase application into a Windows application. The same mess of clunky screens would be there but could be scaled and graphics added. FoxPro and Clipper have ceased development so using them now would lead to problems when they prove too old for future OSes.

Rewriting the application is required to add all the features and completely clean up the logic. Can be expensive and often the actual workflows are not documented thus the first new release turns out to be unfit for purpose.

Scali
August 24th, 2015, 09:34 AM
Could you describe the system in some more detail? Is this a single machine? Or is it a system with multiple terminals? Because that may open up a whole new can of worms with outdated DOS-era networking technologies and whatnot.

SomeGuy
August 24th, 2015, 10:09 AM
Well, changing around the version of DOS won't get you much of a functional improvement. With DOS based applications, usually everything you see and interact with is all the direct result of the functionality of that application.

For example if your display is limited to 640*480 16 color graphics, that is a limitation of the application. It is up to the application to add support for different video hardware.

If you want to push for change, what you are going to need to do is spell out every *specific* issue that affects costs, productivity, and risks. Try not to be blind to political motivations keeping things the same, and look at the bigger picture especially where costs are involved.

Do you have someone that maintains this software, either in house or a contractor?

I would imagine that the functionality in this software is quite customized and has been well threshed out over a long period of time. This would make replacing the software with something new quite expensive.

This is not the kind of software you can just go out to the store and buy. You would likely have to contract with a consulting company. Hopefully they would have some existing similar solution that they would then customize to your specific business needs....

And as always, those business needs have never been fully documented. :) The software does everything for you, the people who designed it and understood the original business needs are long gone. Which can mean lots of time reverse engineering the existing software, or dropping some solution in place that loses functionality.

And the contractor will probably want to make it web-based, written in java, with an object oriented XML webscale database [insert more buzzword babble here], with the end result being you want to go back to that nice neat little DOS database. :)

Any rate, if there is some smaller specific issue such as misconfigured hardware, or finding a more efficient way to move data around, perhaps we can be of some assistance. Big corporate IT folks usually aren't clueful in those areas especially where legacy hardware is involved. (Have you been being rebooting your computer? :lol: )

Minker17
August 24th, 2015, 11:06 AM
Thanks for the response. Indeed, we appear to be limited to resolution and graphics. Not that simply increasing that would help, but we are currently limited to what we can supply on screen and the number of colors available.

In addition, I don't think that anyone here really has any ideas as to what we should change, just that change is needed. Without anyone willing to explore or step up to it, it doesn't seem like it's going to happen.

Chuck(G)
August 24th, 2015, 01:31 PM
Things come and go. Remember the Remanco POS setups from the 1980s? Very hot stuff then. When was the last time you saw one?

vwestlife
August 24th, 2015, 01:54 PM
McDonald's used a DOS-based system on their POS terminals up until a few years ago. It used 80x25 text mode with a touch-screen display.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEkaVA7nx5E

McDonald's still uses a text-mode display to show the orders to the kitchen staff, but I don't know what operating system it's running on.

KC9UDX
August 24th, 2015, 02:22 PM
Look at that proprietary LAN port marked COM3.

krebizfan
August 24th, 2015, 02:40 PM
Look at that proprietary LAN port marked COM3.

Probably not. Most likely phone connector to the credit card reader.

KC9UDX
August 24th, 2015, 02:53 PM
Probably not. Most likely phone connector to the credit card reader.

That's what I thought. I don't know why he thought LAN.

griffk
August 24th, 2015, 03:48 PM
Thanks for the response. Indeed, we appear to be limited to resolution and graphics. Not that simply increasing that would help, but we are currently limited to what we can supply on screen and the number of colors available.

In addition, I don't think that anyone here really has any ideas as to what we should change, just that change is needed. Without anyone willing to explore or step up to it, it doesn't seem like it's going to happen.

HI,

First of all, you need to determine WHAT the current system is doing. Then:
1.Find out what programs are used to do what the system does.
2.Let us know what those programs are, and if possible, whether a database is involved.
3.Let us know what hardware is being used (special-like bar code readers, label printers, etc).

With at least that basic knowledge, we might be able to take this further--right now the info is too vague to say much about upgrading...

gwk

paul
August 24th, 2015, 05:51 PM
... and haven't discussed this with my IT department as I've been told this is unlikely to happen to due legacy reasons.

Hmm, the fact that you have an IT department makes me wonder why you are getting involved, unless of course you haven't mentioned that you are actually the big cheese!
If they haven't updated it then either they are incompetent or more likely have a good reason not to. If it ain't broke, etc...

My sister's shop has a system that sounds similar. A DOS-based client issues SQL commands to MS SQL Server 7.0 and renders reports back to the screen. Both the server and client work fine with any Windows version but the functionality obviously isn't any better. But, it's been dead-reliable for the 11 years I've been helping them maintain it.

As noted above there can be lots of problems getting legacy peripherals working with the latest Windows.

griffk
August 24th, 2015, 06:57 PM
Look at that proprietary LAN port marked COM3.

Did I miss something?

What "proprietary LAN port marked COM3"??? Or does this refer to another post??

gwk

krebizfan
August 24th, 2015, 06:58 PM
Did I miss something?

What "proprietary LAN port marked COM3"??? Or does this refer to another post??

gwk

That was a line of dialogue in the video concerning the McDonald's Point of Sale System.