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Thread: Best DOS version for XT clone?

  1. #1

    Default Best DOS version for XT clone?

    I have an XT clone which I am resurrecting. While I am missing the case, I have the mainboard, and plan to get an XTIDE and install a 40M hard drive.

    The question is, which version of DOS is best to run? I used to use 3.3, but I also have 4 and 6.22. The other option is FreeDOS, which probably would be my preference. How does FreeDOS run on older machines?

    I have tried FreeDOS on a fairly new system, and found disk access to be quite slow.

  2. #2
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    What do you mean by 'best'

    Most authentic or fastest ?

    Dos 2 for purely authentic, 3.3 for most likely to have actually been used in it.
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  3. #3

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    It might depend on what it's equipped with and what you want to run. I had a Turbo XT with 20MB HD with DOS 3.1/3.3. When DOS 5 and 6 came out, it ran that too. So I don't think it really matters. It's pretty much up to you. It would be hard to run anything too big without a hard drive, since most came with 360k floppy drives. But since most had hard drives by then, it's probably the most versatile early PC which alot people used.

    I'm not too familiar with FreeDOS, but I don't know what you are measuring by to consider it slow. If there is something you are trying to do, try with whatever it is you have and if there is an issue, you could just ask around here.

  4. #4

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    "Most authentic" - if it's actually a brand-name XT clone, it might have had an OEM release of MS-DOS sold with it.

    "Best" - I guess there's a trade-off between conventional memory footprint and features. DOS 3.3 probably hits the sweet spot, but PC-DOS 2000 is more modern and very well-optimized as well.

    DOS 4 has its issues, and it's a big memory hog to boot; FreeDOS isn't really developed with XTs as a target, so it's not really optimized for them. Neither would be a real good pick in this case, I think.
    FreeDOS does come with a whole bunch of useful utilities, butmost of them don't really seem to mind running on whatever DOS you have lying around.
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    I don’t have first hand knowledge to say either way, but my vague understanding is that at least some mainline builds of FreeDOS won’t run on 8088 machines. It’ll probably be fine with a V20 CPU upgrade. But unless you also add, say, memory expansion so you can use upper memory blocks, etc, I’m not sure you really gain much in exchange for a significantly higher memory footprint than DOS 3.x.
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  6. #6
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    DOS 3.3 runs fine on a XT, but it can only handle 32Mb or lower partitions if it's not the Compaq version. You would have to partition your hard disk.
    Depending on the onboard memory DOS 6.* would handle a 32Mb+ disk in one single partition. MS DOS 5 would do it too, and leave a bit more memory.

    I managed to run Freedos on my XT (640kb RAM, 256 Mb CF card) but it was some special disk I have downloaded and booted from a Gotek. The standard distro would boot too but eventually freeze.

    I finally run DR-DOS 6. Without a network stack it leaves a bit more of 550 k for applications and games.

    I wrote two blog posts about this machine, but I plan to report about it somewhere here (IIRC I said I would).

    BTW, another disk operating system, but not DOS that runs on a XT is CPM-86. There are many apps for it, but I haven't explored this way for now.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eudimorphodon View Post
    ... Iím not sure you really gain much in exchange for a significantly higher memory footprint than DOS 3.x.
    FAT32 long filename support is what seals the deal for me. Makes it a heck of a lot more convenient to interoperate with the unix boxen. Larger partition sizes also.
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    Quote Originally Posted by boraxman View Post
    The question is, which version of DOS is best to run?
    What are your goals for the machine?
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    Quote Originally Posted by dorje View Post
    BTW, another disk operating system, but not DOS that runs on a XT is CPM-86. There are many apps for it, but I haven't explored this way for now.
    Also Concurrent DOS and Concurrent CP/M.

  10. #10

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    I like to use MS-DOS 5.0 for everything pre-386. For me, it has the best balance between memory usage, features, and compatibility.

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