Wednesday, April 25, 2012

How to install MS-DOS 6.22 under VMWare ESX

This post is a time machine. It will take you back to more or less fifteen years ago, when MS-DOS was the most popular operating system. In this post I will in fact describe how to configure and run a basic MS-DOS 6.22 installation in a VMWare ESX environment. Maybe in a later post I will explain you how to configure networking and upgrade to Windows 3.1.

First of all you have to set up a new VM configured for instance as follow:

 - memory: 64 MB
 - 1 proc (if you have slow performance, check this out)
 - 1 hdd with let's say 512 MB
 - set the OS to Windows 3.1

Once your VM is ready, you have to find the images of the three MS-DOS floppy disks. And I can tell you this is not easily done. Once you have downloaded them (in .imz, .img, or .ima extension), you have to convert them to flp files (.flp) with WinImage.

At this point upload them with your sftp client to a datastore on the ESX and map your floppy drive to the first file (ie dos6.22_disk1.flp). Power on the VM and follow the instructions as shown in the following snapshots.
Start setup:

Allocate all disk space to MS-DOS:

Reboot the virtual machine to effectively start the installation:

Set your regional settings (date, time, country and keyboard layout):

Select the install location:

Insert disk 2 and 3 when asked for (unmap the flp image and mount the next one):

Unmap the third floppy disk image and press Enter to restart:

Confirm dismounting the last floppy image:

Press Enter to restart:

There we are! MS-DOS is up and running. Issuing the 'ver' command will tell us that we are using MS-DOS version 6.22. The 'mem' command will output the quantity of RAM we have installed (64 megs in our case):

An important thing to know is that no VMWare tools exist for MS-DOS guests. As a consequence, you must always use the Ctrl+Alt key combination to release the mouse from a MS-DOS 6.22

Now here's a list of the MS-DOS main commands, for your first day with this OS:
  • ATTRIB: displays or changes file attributes
  • CHDIR or CD: displays the name of the current directory or changes the current directory
  • CHKDSK: checks the status of a disk and displays a status report; it can also fix disk errors
  • CLS: clears the screen
  • COPY: copies one or more files to a destination you specify
  • DEL: deletes the files you specify
  • DELTREE: deletes a directory and all the files and subdirectories that are in it
  • DIR: displays the files and subdirectories that are in the directory you specify
  • DISKCOPY: copies the entire contents of one floppy disk to another floppy disk. It writes over the existing contents of the destination disk as it copies the new information on it.
  • ECHO: displays or hides the text in batch programs when the program is running.
  • EDIT: starts MS-DOS Editor, a text editor you can use to create and edit ASCII text files.
  • DEL or ERASE: deletes the files you specify
  • EXIT: quits the MS-DOS command interpreter and returns to the program that started it, if one exists.
  • FASTHELP: displays a list of all MS-DOS 6 commands and gives a short explanation of each.
  • FIND: searches for a specific string of text in a file or files
  • FORMAT: formats a disk for use with MS-DOS
  • HELP: starts MS-DOS Help
  • MKDIR or MD: creates a directory
  • MEM: displays the amount of used and free memory on your computer
  • MORE: displays one screen of output at a time
  • MOVE: moves one or more files to the location you specify
  • MSBACKUP: backs up or restores one or more files from one disk onto another
  • MSD: Provides technical information about your computer
  • PRINT: prints a text file while you are using other MS-DOS commands
  • QBASIC: starts MS-DOS Qbasic
  • RD or RMDIR: deletes a directory
  • REN: changes the name of the file or files you specify
  • RMDIR or RD: deletes a directory
  • SCANDISK: starts a disk analysis and repair tool that checks a drive for errors and corrects any problems that it finds.
  • TREE: graphicaly displays the structure of a directory
  • UNDELETE: restores files that were deleted previously by using the DEL command
  • VER: displays the MS-DOS version number
  • XCOPY: copies directories , their subdirectories, and files except hidden and system files.
For instance, the MSD command will show you a nice informational interface:

I hope this post helped all the people who are looking for information about the possibility of running MS-DOS in a virtualized environment. Please comment if you have found some help.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the tutorial, but I have an issue. With ESXi 5, I am able to start the installation but when it asks for the second disk there seems to be nothing I can do to get the system to recognize it. I have disconnected the floppy through the VMs settings, used the client mode, everything. Is there a setting I'm missing?




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