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Plex86 Runs DOS 151

Adam Bertil was one of a number of people who've written about the recent announcement from www.plex86.org that Plex86 will now run DOS applications. Kevin Lawton apparently did the work and a screenshot is on Plex86 [?] .org.
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Plex86 Runs DOS

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  • You're thinking of Shapeshifter (Which was very useful when i owned an Amiga.)

    Basilisk II is by the same guy (Can't remember his name. Sorry...) who wrote Shapeshifter (And Frodo, the C64 emulator), but is far more advanced, and has a Motorola 68k emulator for use on non Motorola platforms.
  • All I see are someone's machine running dos and a link to a software project. Zuh? Give us some meaningful links and helpful information next time you post an article, foo.

    Written with abrasen and sadness,
    Bongo
    Lover of Luigi

  • I thought you all sad some problems with gif files for some reason or another???
  • "Fools and bairns shouldna' see a thing half done"
  • Microsoft's drivers work pretty well, although there's no software to go with them other than an SMB client. (They're on every NT4 CD in the clients directory. Rumor had it MS used to have a DOS telnet and FTP program, but I've looked and can't find it. )

    Arachne was bought and renamed to something else by Caldera's DR-DOS side and more development was done. You might want to try it again - it seemed fairly stable to me, although slow. It sits on NetWare ODI drivers, IIRC.
    --
  • DOS (or what's left of it) will be removed in Whistler

    Ya know, I've got this bridge in New York, and I'm having a hard time keeping up the maintenence. So I'll tell ya what, I'll sell it to ya for, oh, five hundred bucks. It's the one connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn.
    Steven E. Ehrbar
  • by spoonyfork ( 23307 ) <spoonyfork AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @06:36AM (#886002) Journal
    How soon until this gets added to the Mozilla project so I can run Word for DOS in my web browser that has been customized to have a Word 2000 GUI interface?
  • Most new motherboards aren't cool enough to completely drop the ISA slots. If you're cool enough not to need the ISA slots and cool enough to have a motherboard that doesn't have ISA slots, chances are you're cool enough not to need a dial-up modem. My theory is that if you're going to seriously use and rely on your modem, you'd damn well better get a good one. If you need a modem, don't want to spend money on an external modem, and don't have any free ISA slots, at least get a real PCI modem. It's, what, $20 more than a WinModem? It's worth it, man.

    As for modems being a waste of a serial port: my motherboard has two of them, and I've never needed more than two at any one time. They're there so you might as well make use of them. I have, however, run out of both PCI and ISA slots on several motherboards several times; I'd rather save them for something more important than a modem.

    --
  • You're right, it doesn't point to "nothing useful". It points, in fact, to something very interesting and quite useful. What better way to reverse engineer software/drivers is there?

    Moron. Go back to school. Learn to write proper English.

  • If you had really read the information, you would realise that plex86 and bochs ARE being combined and the guy that wrote bochs is now working on plex86.
  • Point taken, however you are talking about hardware and microcode emulator/optimizing software on the chip itself, I was talking about software.

    Supporting realtime optimizations with optimized hardware is an eventual goal, however, if you look at the HP dynamo, a real world product, it's a piece of plain old software - optimizing (amongst other things) native code to run faster that directly natively.

    --EMN
  • Modems are a waste of an expansion slot, especially a PCI slot. PCI slots are something like 135Mbps, right? The order goes external modems, ISA internals, PCI real modems, then that's it. PCI WinModems have no place.

    Wow, how terribly insightful. External modems are great, but they cost considerably more than their internal counterparts (for obvious reasons). And what if I were to tell you that external modems are a waste of a serial port?

    There's no advantage of an ISA modem over a PCI modem, except that motherboards have a limited number of PCI slots and you may have more free ISA slots than PCI slots. Keep in mind that many newer motherboards have only one ISA slot, some have none at all, and the PC 2001 specification [pcdesguide.org] calls for no ISA slots or devices. This is a Good Thing(tm), as including an ISA bus increases system complexity and reduces efficiency for the whole motherboard.

    Saying that a putting a modem on a PCI slot is a waste is a bit like saying running a file server on a K6-2 is a waste, since a 486 would do just fine. Except that you can't buy new 486s (and the motherboards, RAM, etc., although oddly enough AT cases and keyboards seem to still be available).

    --

  • by EMN13 ( 11493 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @06:50AM (#886009) Homepage
    I think that the success they have had to date is truly not to be derided. But I also here see another Open Source project that could be breaking more interesting ground - as, unfortunately, many.

    I'm sure there are enough people around here that have differing opinions about open source, but to head off discussion in that direction, it's merely an impression I have and I'm possibly wrong. I've never contributed a line of code - something I hope to change.

    I think the whole concept of emulation/VM is something to be embraced and which could _really_ revolutionize the computing model. So as opposed to encapsulating already native code to sneakily let it think it's running as a base system, go ahead and really change it, emulate it - don't just "bracket" it.

    Why? Currently, we're essentially writing compilers for a non-existing platform. The x86 platform as originally seen has long been "dead", what we're seeing now is chips that convert this "universal" language into their own microops and then execute them. The internal structure of a P3 / Athlon has a large section dedicated to this very task. But what if we could throw all that away, and make a chip that simply crunches numbers as good as current technology allows? We have the making of a darn fast chip. If I had to make a completely uninformed guess, we could well stuff two "Athlons" (if we can still call them that) on the same die if the whole x86 ISA is dropped.

    In comes the virtual machine... we simply convert the bytecode into native code and run. Sort of like java does it - but better, as we have a chip that can run faster and possibly more efficiently.

    Guess what? Sun is already doing just that with MAJC [sun.com]. The point is, Plex86 should not try to run code natively at all. It simply happens to have a bytecode that's identical to the native code. This gives us an architechture that is far longer-lived than something that can run legacy x86 systems on x86 systems. This might be portable to newer things as well.

    Proof that this sort of thing is possible is incarnate in the Transmeta Crusoe chip. Of course, they chose to have a chip that is really power efficient, but imagine a a chip that is to speed what Crusoe is to power - Yummy.

    I've heard objections that speed gains in the architecture might be outweighed by speed losses in the transformation. This is not true. The optimizations that a run-time VM can do are quite astounding - it can not only decide to unroll loops when necessary, but to expand a frequent multiplication by a memory adress into constant bitshifts, it could dynamically choose what to place into registers far more wisely that a traditional compiler can, look ahead and do IO access before the program needs to... I am no expert, but there's obvious potential here.

    And here again, there are some innovative people at work, just look at HP's Dynamo [hp.com] - which takes native code and does real time optimizations (actually it does more than this, and is an interesting read. Transmeta wasn't the first. One of the interesting things is that actual optimized native code can still run faster under dynamo than simply natively. Obviously, this isn't the case for all programs, but its certainly not the case that Emulation/VM-ing is by definition slower than native execution. And realize, we're talking about an architecture (originally PA-RISC but porting activities are ongoing I believe) that wasn't even designed for this sort of activity. A CPU with this in mind could well do even better.

    So my conclusion is that we shouldn't emulate VMware, we should, well emulate. Weird as it may sound, emulation is the future.

    --EMN

  • There are so many complaints about the duplication of effort that goes on in the open source community but everyone is ready to get behind projects like this and that open source windows project.

    Yes I see the benifits of "emulating" a complete machine (yes, i am speaking english.) I have used VMware, I've used Softwin. It has a use... but it's been done.

    The entire point that I'm trying to make is that we need to move on.

    I've simply been offering an opinion and I'm not alone... This paper [edge.org] about computing form a Yale professor.

    I realise that most people in this community are passionate abou tnearly everything and this too. However we are holding ourselves back.

  • by tchuladdiass ( 174342 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @05:02AM (#886011) Homepage
    You guys are all missing the point (why DOS? what DOS apps?)... the point of Plex86 (which used to be called FreeMWare, but was renamed), is to provide a Free VMware work-alike. It's goals are to be able to run ANY os under Linux (and possibly other OS's), but getting something simple like DOS to boot is the first step.

    Personally, I think they've come pretty far in only a few months. BTW, this project grew out of the BOCHS project (which provides an Intel platform emulator under Unix), the difference is, Plex86 doesn't emulate an x86 CPU, it runs x86 code natively and traps privlidged instructions (and also pulls some other tricks to trap non-trapple privlidged instructions) so that it can run an alternate OS under Linux at near-native performance (about 80 - 90% of the native hardware). This is so you don't have to dual boot. Also, unlike Wine, Plex86 will allow you to boot any support OS under under it (just like VMWare).

  • Ah, at last. I'll be able to run att those DOS apps that I haven't been able to use since Win95.

    If Microsoft themselves can't write a DOS emulatior, it's about time someone else did.

  • I believe Plex86 has x86 emulation, so you can run x86 apps even if your box doesn't have an x86 CPU ... which I believe VMWare doesn't have ...

    lots of believe, but I'm a believer :)

  • <troll feeding>

    I dunno about you, but my ISA SB32 is the most compatible thing on my motherboard. It works with everything. That's the reason for ISA.

    The goal of plex86 is not to be able to run DOS. Dosemu works just fine, thank you. The eventual goal is to be able to run Windows (or any other x86 operating system) concurrently with Linux (or BeOS, or anything else it's ported to) in an Open Source fashion. Since when is emulation not a valid area for study?

  • Yep, I use VMWare under Win2k to run Linux quite a bit. (Yes, there are good reasons for this.) Linux performs just fine under VMWare.

    But, then again, I've also been happy with the performance of Win2k running under VMWare for Linux. It's slower than native, but still usable.
  • Though I think that emulation technology is really interesting, I'm concerned that cool OSes like Be, Linux, or BSD will strive for compatibility rather than breaking new ground.

    What does having a emulator application have to do with an OS's innovations? In fact, this kind of emulation allows us to move forward with new OS features (and new OSes) without totally losing all legacy code/data.

  • Just some quick notes on your "dream system":

    1. Interesting. It wouldn't be too difficult to change a filesystem (especially on a system where filesystems are user-land) to get something like this. CVS is a pretty complicated system, though, so I wouldn't want to be the one in charge of reimplementing it :D
    2. Metadata is already on some filesystems (I think XFS even). This isn't exactly what you want because files still have filenames, but it's a start
    3. Ya XML seems to be the format-du-jour. AbiWord uses XML pretty effectively. I'm some others will. Just wait a year or so and I'm sure you'll be seeing XML all over the place (perhaps even coming out of your ears and/or wazoo)
    4. You've just described NeXTStep. Take a look at Cocoa or OpenStep (or GNUstep). Cool stuff. The Berlin windowing system seems to be going down this route, too. GNUstep on Berlin: could it get any better? :)
    5. "Go to my games folder"??! I thought files didn't have names :D
    6. Hey, dude! Crashing is smashing!
  • Amen to that, brother.

    I have yet to see *any* emulator get either one right. I can get further in Ultima 7, though.

    Second Reality probably does some nasty stuff with protected mode (if I know future crew) and also has some severe timing issues. It's incredibly slow on DosEMU, and of course sound doesn't work either.

    Ultima VII does its own memory management, which was annoying even on native DOS; I had a special configuration that rebooted into Ultima VII even back then.

    I'll probably install DOS again on my old P133, *just* so I can run all that stuff correctly again. If anyone finds an x86 emulator that runs these correctly on x86, let me know!
    ---
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [ncsu.edu].
  • Well, now when I feel like emulating an x86 CPU on an X86 computer (yeah, rudundant but useful, kinda), now I can play my old DOS games. Woopee... (kinda)
    Try Bochs [bochs.com] for that. Plex86 is not about emulating the cpu..
  • Wrong!, Plex86 will only feature x86 virtualisation, emulating an x86 on an x86 would be silly. [My emphasis]

    Things aren't that simple... emulation can actually be faster than native code do to real-time optimization possibilities. I already posted a message to this extent so I'll just quote it here, but think about the Crusoe, java (esp the improved JIT in jdk 1.3), and the like - emulation really is possible to do quickly.

    I think the whole concept of emulation/VM is something to be embraced and which could _really_ revolutionize the computing model. So as opposed to encapsulating already native code to sneakily let it think it's running as a base system, go ahead and really change it, emulate it - don't just "bracket" it.

    Why? Currently, we're essentially writing compilers for a non-existing platform. The x86 platform as originally seen has long been "dead", what we're seeing now is chips that convert this "universal" language into their own microops and then execute them. The internal structure of a P3 / Athlon has a large section dedicated to this very task. But what if we could throw all that away, and make a chip that simply crunches numbers as good as current technology allows? We have the making of a darn fast chip. If I had to make a completely uninformed guess, we could well stuff two "Athlons" (if we can still call them that) on the same die if the whole x86 ISA is dropped.

    In comes the virtual machine... we simply convert the bytecode into native code and run. Sort of like java does it - but better, as we have a chip that can run faster and possibly more efficiently.

    Guess what? Sun is already doing just that with MAJC [sun.com]. The point is, Plex86 should not try to run code natively at all. It simply happens to have a bytecode that's identical to the native code. This gives us an architechture that is far longer-lived than something that can run legacy x86 systems on x86 systems. This might be portable to newer things as well.

    Proof that this sort of thing is possible is incarnate in the Transmeta Crusoe chip. Of course, they chose to have a chip that is really power efficient, but imagine a a chip that is to speed what Crusoe is to power - Yummy.

    I've heard objections that speed gains in the architecture might be outweighed by speed losses in the transformation. This is not true. The optimizations that a run-time VM can do are quite astounding - it can not only decide to unroll loops when necessary, but to expand a frequent multiplication by a memory adress into constant bitshifts, it could dynamically choose what to place into registers far more wisely that a traditional compiler can, look ahead and do IO access before the program needs to... I am no expert, but there's obvious potential here.

    And here again, there are some innovative people at work, just look at HP's Dynamo [hp.com] - which takes native code and does real time optimizations (actually it does more than this, and is an interesting read. Transmeta wasn't the first. One of the interesting things is that actual optimized native code can still run faster under dynamo than simply natively. Obviously, this isn't the case for all programs, but its certainly not the case that Emulation/VM-ing is by definition slower than native execution. And realize, we're talking about an architecture (originally PA-RISC but porting activities are ongoing I believe) that wasn't even designed for this sort of activity. A CPU with this in mind could well do even better.

    So my conclusion is that we shouldn't emulate VMware, we should, well emulate. Weird as it may sound, emulation is the future.

    --EMN

  • by AugstWest ( 79042 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @04:38AM (#886021)
    DOS screenshots... God, they're beautiful.
  • 2000-08-02 14:28:18 Compromised Linux servers used in DOS attack (articles,news) (rejected)

    Speak of the devil.....
  • by freebe ( 174010 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @04:39AM (#886023) Homepage
    At BeUnited, we're also working on a port of Plex86 to BeOS. The great thing about Plex86's design is that it is completely portable - with a little bit of work, Plex86 will turn into a really cool cross-platform VM for x86. Has anybody tried to run Win 3.1 under Plex86?

    Me, I'm still getting over how cool running MacOS 7.5.3 in Basilisk II is...

  • Please, try to be more civil. Explain, why is this person a fag? Perhaps if you used reasonable, well thought out arguments and explanations, we could resolve these differences, and get on with our lives. Now Mark A. Rhowe is going to walk around all day, wondering, "Am I a fag??"
  • I've downloaded and compiled Bochs on my UP1100 EV67 600MHz Alpha. I tried installing Win98, but Bochs was only running in Real Mode. I think there was some compiler errors.

    Now what would be cool is to run Bochs on an Alpha Linux system emulating an x86 running Windows running a VAX emulator (www.charon-vax.com) running VMS.

    If Bochs gets fixed to run Win2000, then I'll try it!

  • I'm glad Robert Malda went to Hope College and learned the finer aspects of math. Hope College is filled with Christian Nazis that value religion over science. Let's all thank Robert Malda for going to Hope College and learning that math really doesn't count!

    I get the sense that the Mighty Commander Taco is otherwise a very intelligent individual. So, I'm sure there was a good reason for the lapse in judgement in the choice of his alma mater.

    As with most lapses in judgement, perhaps there was a woman involved?

  • I'd be more impressed if they showed an actuall screen shot of running a real dos application even if it was only EDIT. Though scandisk would have been more funny.
  • Because DOS is simple. You don't have to emulate anything above 8086 to run it - no protected mode, no 32-bit registers. This is an obvious first target for any x86 emulator.
  • DOS is a Denial Of Service tool. Any attempts to run DOS will result in loss of productivity and functionality from your computer. Windows is a variant of DOS, though its effects range from crippling to not-quite-as-severe.
  • But will it run Duke3d? That'd be the best day of my life-running Duke3d at full speed on my linux box. I've got an old Pentium 120 that I use only for Duke...be nice to not have to boot it up, and instead use my regular box.

    Colin Winters
  • Try Dosemu for that. Supposedly it can even boot Win3.1, and possibly Win95 (rev. a). There's still a crapload of software that works on Win3.1, like IE5.
  • It's not an emulator. It's a virtual machine. There is a big difference there which some people seem unable to grasp. I agree that some emulation is a waste of time. But not all, as some people like to run old game's etc. But since this isn't an emulator it's a moot point. Please get a clue before you flame other peoples work.
  • There is no need for ISA slots on a motherboard.

    How many modems can you name that use PCI but aren't 'win'modems?

  • Er, it is there. Maybe you didn't click hard enough.
  • My Apple Mac runs DOS

    Ahhh, yes, "wintel" emulation on the Mac. I remember using Win3.1 under Softwindows on an old gf's PPC Mac, way back in, ummm, early '95. She used it for a DOS-based C compiler she had to use for a programming class; I thought it was a hoot to play Solitaire, since the EMU was running slowly enough on that box that the bouncing card animation at the end of the game took several minutes.

    Minesweeper was a problem, since the Mac only had a one-button mouse.:)


  • rather than sitting around talking and scolding everyone else just because they did what they wanted to do.

    i really don't know much about the plex project, but you have no place to say 'we' need to move on unless you're actually doing something.
    ...dave
  • way too obvious. try again, idiot

    Now, was is it really necessary to call him an idiot? Now you may have discouraged him, putting your "try again" in a sarcastic light, and he may never troll again. You may have singlehandedly prevented slashdot from receiving some very fine trolls by discouraging this new troll.

    Shame on you, sir.

  • The screenshot looks identical to bochs. Is this the same project or did they fork from it? Also, how is it different from dosemu?
    ___
  • To run Ultima VII, there is already a project underway to completely rewrite it:

    Exult [sourceforge.net]

    There are a couple others too, like this one, for Windows/DirectX:

    Guardian Engine [dragongames.com],

    and then there's a project to turn Ultima VII into an online game [cjb.net].
    ---

  • So did RSX, RSTS, and TOPS-10 - all before the VAX and VMS. You just set the number of backups you wanted to keep, and the OS deleted the oldest backup when you created backup N+1.

    Then there was better wildcards del Z*A to delete anything starting with an Z and ending with a A. Typing "copy" would get a prompt "from?" and then if you didn't give both source and destination you'd get the "to?" prompt.

    And all the command switches were the same on each command, such as /REPLACE and /NOREPLACE for eacn and every command that it made sense for.

    (the Good Old Days ... sigh)

  • And for what you get with VMWare, it's dirt cheap.
    They did jack the price up lately though...
    but $299 for VMWare is *not* 'costly' considering what they've done. Nobody else has a competing product; plex86 will be the first alternative, when it works.

    VMWare works well.

    Also.. plex86 was originally called 'FreeMWare', but changed it's name due to (regardless of what they say on the site) people angered at the obvious confusion with VMWare.
  • And how are you supposed to run multiple virtual copoies of Windows or Linux on a SunPCI card? You can't..... you can run *one* at a time.

    One large reason for using VMWare in development is the ability to have images of multiple computer setups; to load them concurrently if you like; the ability to have VMWare ask you if you want to permanently write changes to the virtual disk since last startup (great for tech support! you can duplicate people's problems without thrashing a machine)

    As for the SunPCI card.. never heard of a project to work under linux. I suppose that would be neat.. but why not just get another cheap PC?

  • Because if you can't make DOS work, you sure as hell aren't going to get win98 to work.
  • Plex86 is Bochs. Maybe they are taking the emulation code out when running it on an x86 processor, but it doesn't run any faster (still performs like a 386SX/12 when running on a PIII 600 with 512M RAM). To be fair, it is still under development, and it does look very promising as a replacement for VMWare. Now, if it ran in console mode as well as in X (with an option to have it all in one executable or two separate ones, and a nice GTK+ (NOT QT!) GUI on the X part) then it would really be good.
  • You know, it's a good thing that you posted an explanation of what plex86 is because the website doesn't lend any at all...

    Did I totally miss something?

    --

  • by Anonymous Coward
    DOS is OK to like because it isn't popular. If DOS suddenly makes a comeback in the real world, expect a massive fallout of support from slashdot.
  • I still think that 99 bucks is a lot of money for vmware. Sell it for 25 and a hell of a lot more people would buy it, I'd wager. And if'n you ain't be a stoodent the price two or three hundred kronkites. Way too much.

    Works like a charm though but I'd rather just dual boot than pay that much for a virtual machine.

  • No, from http://www.plex86.org:

    Will this run on my Mac?

    This kind of technology allows you to concurrently run multiple operating systems written for the same processor. In the case of Plex86, you will be able to run multiple Intel x86 based operating systems on the same machine. Thus the answer is no. However, the virtualization concepts used by Plex86 can be extended to other platforms.

    For running x86 operating systems and applications on non-x86 machines, check out Kevin Lawton's x86 PC emulator site www.bochs.com. He's currently adding dynamic translation, which will really speed up the emulation.

  • I'm wondering if anyone can comment on the performance of VMware [vmware.com] (and the potential performance of plex86 [plex86.org] one day). I used Bochs [bochs.com] to run Windows 98, and the performance was awful. The specs on my machine are: AMD K6-2 450 MHz, 256 Mb RAM.
    ----
  • Haha, yeah! Microsoft sucks!
  • The internal structure of a P3 / Athlon has a large section dedicated to this very task. But what if we could throw all that away, and make a chip that simply crunches numbers as good as current technology allows? We have the making of a darn fast chip.

    That already exists. They call it an 'Alpha'.
  • One of the problems(advantages!) with open source software

    Features!

  • I see little benefit in making a DOS emulator when I have yet to find a good TCP/IP suite for DOS. Is there such a thing? All the "Internet" apps I know of for DOS, Arachne (web browser) imparticular, are pretty much worthless as far as speed and reliability goes.

    Not to mention that there is no TCP/IP drivers for DOS. I sure wish there was though.. (If you can prove me wrong, please reply with a link to some legitimate ones. I have packet drivers for my net card, but can't get TCP/IP to work without downloading specific programs that require me to continually fill in IP info)
  • When will Moto or Intel make virtualization easier? What are the current obstacles for doing this. The plex86 web page says that hardware simulation for the x86 VM is one obstacle, what are the others?

    Are there any advantages to host-OS shared/emulated hardware VMs versus software-based hardware partitioning?

    In other words, is it better to boot to a complex like Linux and run plex86 processes, with all processes sharing all the hardware at the same time, or is it better to boot to a simpler VM manager meta-OS and launch the VMs on partitioned hardware segments?

    I like the latter personally for fault tolerance, but I also like the idea that an otherwise idle VM running DOS isn't owning an entire CPU and memory block, which doesn't seem possible under hardware partitioning unless you have a really sophisticated VM manager meta-OS or you boot into a complex OS to begin with, in which case you seem to lose the hardware paritioning ability.

  • You might also want to check out user mode linux [sourceforge.net]: "a port of the Linux kernel to its own system call interface".
  • My experience was worse. Then again, so was my hardware. I was running on a PII-233/80mb RAM. It took half the day just to boot Win98 under Win2k. It wasn't *too* bad once it got booted, but I had to remove it. I never could get the video just right, and I have 2 nics which it flat out hated. As much a pain dual-boot is, it isn't that bad. I think that a PII(I)-450, 128mb should be enough, but it depends on the host system.
  • You don't give a flying fuck? Well, some of us are programmers and think that creating a virtual machine in software is an interesting subject in and of itself. Whether it has yet produced a useful product in this case is another subject entirely. I would be immensely proud of such an achievement if it were mine... The concept of programming is so much more interesting in an open source environment because you can watch things develop, rather than just using the end product, which often times finally appears years later. I want to see where this goes from here!
  • Runs great. My configuration: Windows NT 4.0, SP5, 256 MB RAM, Dual PII / 400 machine.

    However - be sure to read the docs, and install the VMWare video driver within the virualized machines, otherwise preformance SUCKS!

    Typically at any give time, I have the following running: 1 copy of Windows 98, 2 copies of Windows NT, and one copy SUSE Linux running KDE. NT and Linux sessions take about 1 - 2 % CPU utilization when they are not actually doing anything important but running idle. 98, on the other hand, takes about 18 - 25% utilization off of one of the processors (it may be a dual processor machine, but 98 only gets to play with one of them - VMWare can't do anything to help that unfortunately.

    The one downside at the moment with VMWare - no support for 3D acceleration. I really want them to fix this - while I use VMWare for testing my games and such (DirectDraw only - no 3D in these games) I'd love to be able to move completely to Linux for my base OS, and boot up a VMWare session to play UT and things like that (plus it would help for testing on the game that I've been working on that DO utilize 3D hardware!) A minor (?) setback is that it also doesn't support MIDI ouput - no big deal to me really, but, it's important to a couple of older games.

    My two favorite features: running NT and Linux on the same box, and just switching back and forth, without really noticing and preformance degredation (*MOST* of the time - there are some things you can do that really do slow things down!), and the 'Suspend / Restore' button on the various OS's. If you actually need that 2% CPU power restored back to your 'real' OS, or the memory back, just hit the 'suspend' button, and close VMWare. Later, open it again, and hit resume - I've got your "Instant On" right here!!!

  • by slothbait ( 2922 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @05:17AM (#886059)
    Some people actually use their computers to get work done. As one small example: you'd be amazed how many control systems for industrial machinery are still run on DOS PC's. I run into them all the time.

    Often their software was written by a long-since defunct company. Windows port? Hah! This stuff hasn't been rev'ed in atleast a decade. The company died, and the program sources went with it to it's grave. This is among the greatest arguments for open source software. If we had source to these control programs, then we could rewrite it for a Linux machine, or a Be machine or whatever-the-heck we wanted. We could update it to use more modern or more reliable computers. Instead, we're stuck hoping that that old 286 keeps chugging along.

    Fortunately, for the most part, those 286 systems *do* keep chugging along. There are plenty of workhorse PC AT's sitting in cabinets, unceremoniously controlling production equipment -- pushing the GNP along. Eventually, they will die, and a replacement will have to be found. But as long as the old, dusty system still runs, why throw money at a replacement?

    DOS was so universal for so long, and so much application software was written for it that it will be around for a very, very long time. Infact, DOS may even outlive the x86.

    --Lenny
  • GIF is a patented format (owned by Unisys as I remember). Therefore you have to have a license to use it. The much better (free-er) alternative is PNG.

    I would post links, but you can use a search engine as well as I can, and I'm feeling lazy.
  • How many modems can you name that use PCI but aren't 'win'modems?

    3Com makes both hardware and WinModem versions of the PCI USR Sportster. I have an old ISA Sportster, and it kicks ass. At least until I get DSL this month.

    --

  • by RobHornick ( 170481 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @05:19AM (#886062)
    Great! Now I can use my Linux box to run a DOS emulator. Then I'll run Win 3.1 on that... And load up a mac emulator. So then I can play Nintendo games with my NES emulator that only runs on OS8. Finally...
  • I hate the marketing folks who decided everything that works is now obsolete, and to be labeled as "legacy". There is a huge amount of DOS based code out there, to do almost anything. I still use "LIST.COM" to figure out what's gone wrong now with file naming, etc.

    DOS applications run very quickly... there's none of the GUI overhead in the way, just you, the code, and almost bare metal. Things run so quick it's amazing. These programs are now running on machines that are at least 1000 times faster than the minimum hardware they were meant to run on.

    Those who don't learn the lessons of history, are doomed to repeat them. Those who throw out legacy applications, are doomed to rewrite them. I still don't know of anything as simple and quick as EDWIN for working with text files. (The macro features were always just enough to save hours of work)

    --Mike--

  • by Anonymous Coward
    If it doesn't now, it will eventually since it is based upon Bochs, which can already run 'difficult' games (ones that DOSemu can't), at least in mode 13h, I haven't tried higher resolutions. If this code from Bochs isn't there now it will surely be retrofitted at a later date.
  • Yes, and an emulated machine is just like a real machine, only a little slower. So why would you *need* to buy a 486 to run DOS, if you can run it on your current machine? Not to mention the development potential it has. There would be nothing to stop you hacking away on the Linux kernel, or whatever else takes your fancy. If the machine crashes, you just start a new one. There are far more reasons to create a decent free virtual machine than there are reasons not to.
  • by Ricdude ( 4163 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @08:05AM (#886071) Homepage
    With Open Source Plex86, it will be really easy to build a custom reverse engineering tool. Want a parallel port scanner? Don't have the protocol? Log all the output to the printer port. Easier said than done under winzzzz - unless its running under Plex86, which is already intercepting the I/O.

    You can also find tools out there that take over the parallel and serial port drivers, and log data. The tools page at www.gphoto.org has the links.

    Part of the beauty of this system is that you can run the guest os off of a disk image file. You can keep copies of the file. Run WinXX and try installing a program. Oops, it just messed up your VBRUNxx.DLL! Close the VM and copy from your "last known good" disk image. Also comes in damn handy for testing windows installation software for those of us who do cross platform development.

  • While I'm sure you'll be able to do this with Plex86, I know you can do it with VMWare - that's how I did some Y2K here at the offices. Works pretty well.

    As a side note - VMWare looses time slowly but surely. It's kind of annoying, to tell you the truth!

  • by FascDot Killed My Pr ( 24021 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @05:28AM (#886080)
    Bochs. Kevin Lawton is the creator and maintainer of bochs, which, like Plex86 and VMWare is an Intel emulator. It also runs on Linux, Windows and I think Mac. Best of all, it was recently GPL'd (or LGPL'd maybe). That's why Kevin is working on Plex86 now. He's kind of merging the two projects together.

    I've tried bochs and it's neat--but very very slow. I'm running Win95 in the emulator on my PII 350 (with 128MB) and it is so slow as to be totally unusable. It's also got some issues with devices (like it doesn't support network and the mouse is really flakey).
    --
  • Though I think that emulation technology is really interesting, I'm concerned that cool OSes like Be, Linux, or BSD will strive for compatibility rather than breaking new ground.
    In some cases, touting emulation is actually a hindrance. Does anyone remember PC-Ditto for the Atari ST? SoftPC for the Mac? It was geek euphoria to see the C:> prompt on my little TOS screen. Same thing with the CP/M emulators. However, the implementations were so slow and unstable that they were unusable. Trying to demonstrate flexibility with these tools was embarassing.
    Wine, Mame, and VMWare can actually be pretty useful, but I would rather see some new features than mimicry.
    BTW, features I want to see in an OS (I don't have enough experience to implement these myself):
    1) CVS type filesystem for large drives. No worries about changing a file ever again.
    2) Filesystem not based on filename but on document attributes. I.e., users won't have to remember what WORK_ECOMFN0012000 contains, but can query on the contents. The desktop metaphor of many OSes fall apart here because I often have multiple documents of the same name on my physical desk, which is difficult/impossible with current systems.
    3) Better interoperability with different media. Everything now is proprietary. XML based documents would be cool
    4) Better screen drawing technology that will take advantage of the wide variations in displays. E.g., automatic palletes for lower bit depth screens. Postscript-like screen drawing...etc.
    5) Better input devices/metaphors. Voice recognition/language parsing. Vocabulary can be limited to a few commands, but make those commands versatile. "Go to slashdot.org" opens a website. "Go to my games folder." etc..
    6) Crashing. Why can one errant application still bring down my Windows box (don't answer that).
  • by homoted ( 137532 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @05:49AM (#886086) Homepage

    I believe Plex86 has x86 emulation, so you can run x86 apps even if your box doesn't have an x86 CPU ... which I believe VMWare doesn't have ...

    Wrong!, Plex86 will only feature x86 virtualisation, emulating an x86 on an x86 would be silly.

    Howevever, the program Bochs [bochs.com] (written by the plex86 author) has x86 emulation, but only parts of the bochs code will be used in plex86. In other words: if you want an x86 emulator, use Bochs. If you want virtualisation, use plex86 (when it gets usable) or buy VMware.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @05:30AM (#886087)
    I have been following the Plex86/FreeMWare since it's inception. While I doubt it does much more than booting dos, it is impressive progress.

    For those that invariably complain that you already have a dos emulator, the goal of the project is not to give you another dos emulator. It is to provide a free clone of VMWare. That is, to allow you to freely run any OS under (i386) linux. I don't doubt that it will be portable and will be ported, though. Booting DOS is the logical first step for its simplicity.


    The point... When a project arrives at a milestone, don't complain because you think that it is not complete or because you don't understand what it's attempting. One of the problems(advantages!) with open source software is that people get to see the software in all of its stages of development. For those that are used to commercial software, you just get to see the final product, (usually) polished, and ready for the general public.

    Plex86 is by no means finished. However, it has attained a significant milestone. And for that, they should be praised. I can tell you, the kind of work they are attempting is not easy!
  • Does anyone remember ... SoftPC for the Mac?

    Yep, and indeed I still run it occasionally. When I cannibalized my wife's old 286 AT-clone to build a new PC (salvaged the case and power supply, that's about it) I backed up the old hard drive using a utility that turned out not to work on IDE drives, so I couldn't restore the data (which included a rather important Q&A database) to the upgraded PC. No problem, I loaded SoftPC (came with SoftWindows) on our Mac and the software was happy with the emulation. On the infrequent occasions where we need to access the data in that DB, we just fire up Q&A under SoftPC on the Mac. Basically the entire old 286 machine is mirrored in emulation under SoftPC.

    Performance-wise, the emulated PC even on a rather old PPC Mac (Performa 6400 at 120 (I think) MHz) runs much faster than the old 286 machine (10 MHz in "turbo" mode) ever did, or seems to (faster disks and bus helps too). Maybe one day I'll convert the database to MySQL or something civilized, but that's a real low priority.

    There's probably tons of this sort of old DOS stuff out there, data that's formatted to a particular application that may not even run on more modern hardware or DOS versions. Good emulators are invaluable for accessing that. (Although floppies that old are probably starting to lose data through sheer age.)

  • Yes, but that's an artifact of poor programming and the fact that old PC clocks didn't have anything resembling decent time granularity, so doing a timing loop was usually impossible (or improbable) anyway.

    A properly written piece of software will never run too fast, because it knows to wait for user or device input or ready signals. The corollary to this is that a properly designed piece of hardware will be sure to use the BUSY line if it's LPT controlled, or some form of handshaking if it's serial. If it has custom hardware, then it had better damn well have that functionality.

  • by golob ( 69902 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @05:56AM (#886093)
    For an Operating Systems course I took, we modified the linux kernel, and tested our changes in VMWare running linux on a stable kernel. The cost of the VMWare liscenses was a bit prohibitive, but for anyone doing experimental work at the the kernel level, software such as this is endlessly useful. If a modification seriously damages things, one can simply kill the vmware/plex86 process, copy over a clean disk image, and immediately restart, rather than having to have a seperate whole system which has to be painstakingly rebuilt after each error.
    To have a free version of this software could only help kernel development, making all of us linux users much happier
  • Well, now when I feel like emulating an x86 CPU on an X86 computer (yeah, rudundant but useful, kinda), now I can play my old DOS games. Woopee... (kinda)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @04:40AM (#886095)
    So, it'll run Windows 98 then, right? Just a DOS app, what's the problem?
  • by Christopher Thomas ( 11717 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @04:40AM (#886096)
    Does anyone know if this DOS support extends to the int 10 mechanisms for setting up graphics? It would be interesting to be able to easily run my collection DOS games and demos under this.
  • by Mark A. Rhowe ( 216675 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @04:40AM (#886098) Homepage
    ...as if the script kiddies didn't already have enough Denial Of Service tools at their disposal.

  • Nobody wrote a node for Plex86 on Everything2 yet, so the [?] link doesn't work. Maybe this story will let someone write one.

    Just goes to show one of the downsides of the distributed-encyclopedia model Everything2 and other sites (h2g2, for one) use for content.
  • How many modems can you name that use PCI but aren't 'win'modems?

    Well, since you asked!

    1. 5. How about PCI modems? Are all PCI modems winmodems?

      No, there are at least four controller-based PCI modems. If you are curious, these modems are the Multitech MT5634ZPX-PCI, the Actiontec PCI56012 (IBM 33L4618 or GVC MD0223), the 3Com/USR 3CP5610, and the Zoom 2920 (Digitan DS550-558). The Well Communications FM-56PCI-TP (GVC MD0321) has Linux support, but I have not received a user confirmation yet.

    Source: Winmodems are not modems [o2.net]

    The Actiontec even includes 6 pages of Linux directions (basically how to point /dev/modem to the right port). The down side is that they don't seem to answer email. (1 data point)

  • by Fjord_Redd ( 176519 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @04:43AM (#886105)
    I currently have VMWare up and running on my system. For those who don't know, VMWare [vmware.com] stands for Virtual Machine Ware. From what I've gathered about Plex86, it does the same thing as VMWare, which is create a virtual machine that runs like a separate machine. It really is quite interesting software.

    The difference I can see, however, is that VMWare is already developed and is already costly. For the student version (which is usually substantially cheaper) it costs $99. And for Joe Student, $99 is a whole lot. However, the technology is already advanced such that under my Linux box I have had Win98 running (for apps that just don't work under Wine). If you get the chance VMWare is avalable for a 30 day demo, which I highly recommend.

    --
  • I have an AMD Athlon 700, 256 MB RAM. Tried running VMWare (demo version) with Win98 and the performance was absolutely disgusting -- even in full-screen mode (ie. windows are visibly painting themselves). I had allocated 128 MB RAM to VMWare -- perhaps this was my mistake, but the docs said this should be more than enough (it states 128 MB on the physical machine is enough, IIRC).

    Now, granted there is some sort of accelerator that you are supposed to install (which I did, eventually, but Win98 was still not usable under any circumstances).

    I am sure there are a number of ways to tweak it, but I just didn't have the time to mess with it. For $100 (student), it should work (fast) out of the box IMHO. I didn't see anywhere near 90% native speed. Anyone else care to comment on VMWare? Perhaps the best way to tweak it?

    Now keep in mind that this was VMWare under Linux running Win98 -- has anyone, ugh, tried it the other way? What kind of performance is there?

    --Greg

  • by crysflame ( 202869 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @05:34AM (#886114) Homepage

    This is really starting to be annoying. We are completely holding ourselves back by emulating everything that we can get a hold of.

    We aren't just creating new technologies - for instance, a processor that might be able emulate things faster than the original can run them - we're learning how to reproduce the set of rules that govern a given system without access to the rules that created that system. Perhaps you'd find that to be a useful skill when studying the physics of our world.

    If I need to slowly run old DOS apps... I'l buy an old 486 for $30. If for some reason I want to run windows... I'll jsut buy a copy of windows.

    You're perfectly welcome to do so; I'm guessing a few of those people creating the emulators have physical systems as well, for study (and fun). I would take an old C64 any day of the week if I could find and purchase one, but right now, that's not convenient. Should I not implement my cool new C64 idea because of that restriction - access to physical hardware?

    Every step that we have taken forward lately is also a step back because we are refusing to let the legacy stuff be that... just a legacy. There is no need for ISA slots on a motherboard. We are so worried about vendors not recompiling software that we have kept the crappy x86 processors around WAY longer than they should have.

    Absolutely; the farther back we step, the better we understand "legacy stuff", and so we make better informed decisions - this "stuff" must go, this "stuff" can still be supported, this "stuff" is still useful. Certainly, Intel may not have taken the best market path in processors - but we just started this computer age, it hasn't been a hundred years yet; I'm pretty sure someone is going to get right, and soon.

    Just like the OpenWin project that was mentioned earlier, it's a waste of time and talent. There are so many areas of computing that could be impproved on but so many people just want to recode the same thigns over and over.

    Because in the end, people will code on whatever makes them feel good. Let's say I want to improve this thing I call "Windows", and Microsoft hasn't provided me any method to do so - I can add extensions, sure, but I can't fix bugs in system DLLs. Argh, that's frustrating. Hey, maybe I can help one of these other Windows projects - I could replace my own someday, or maybe Microsoft will wise up and fix it. Cool.

    Don't set restrictions on what people should program - that's reserved for the programmer alone. In a project, sure. In a job, sure. Coding is something that's done as randomly as poetry sometimes; I find out that I want to do something, pull up a window, and do it. Some people get their fun working on Windows debuggers. "What a total waste of time!", many would say. And yet they provide valuable tools to themselves and others, and make themselves as happy as

  • VMware and Plex86 do not emulate the x86 processor. That's what separates virtualization from emulation. There are some wonderful whitepapers on the plex86 website if you're interested in learning more.

    Bochs is in a separate category from Plex86 and VMWare!

  • by po_boy ( 69692 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @05:37AM (#886118) Homepage
    plex86.org is kinda slashdotted, so I put the image here: http://dotslash.dynodns. net/00/08/02/142208/plex86-dos.gif [dynodns.net]

    Please only use this while the real site is slashdotted, as I'm not responsible for the content; I just blatently copied it.

    Also, if the plex86.org guys want this removed, just mail me and I'll pull it down.

  • The author's of Shapeshifter is Christian Bauer.
    Very talented programmer.

    The reason he had to write a new emulator (ie Basilisk), rather than just porting Shapeshifter is because Basilisk needed to emulate the 68000 processors as well; Amiga uses the 68K, so Shapeshifter was a good deal simpler (though still an awe inspiring piece of software :-)
  • The status of Plex86 on BeOS is here [htc.net], and it desparetly needs people to write code for it. I'm not smart enough to handle it, but I'm certain that some slashdot readers could help out! Go download BeOS [be.com] and start hacking if you enjoy that sort of thing.

    Pulling for BeUnited (be-fan, where are you?)

  • by theonetruekeebler ( 60888 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @04:45AM (#886126) Homepage Journal
    "Plex86" doesn't seem to have an entry at everything2.com. So I tried "Plex 86" and I got a link for, among other things, Seinfeld Episode 86 [everything2.com], which is the one where George decides to act the opposite of how he always does, and lands a job with the New York Yankees.

    In the meantime, Plex86 is an x86 virualizer that allows you to run multiple OSen concurrently on a single machine. What this means to you and me is that you can boot Linux, then run a real-live licensed Windows98 under it, without emulation, at near-native speeds. That's the Big Goal, anyway.

    One thing it can fer sher handle is booting Linux under Linux, which is a good thing when you want to see if that new kernel boots.

    The sites being slashdotted pretty thoroughly right now...

    --

  • by Anonymous Colin ( 69389 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2000 @04:46AM (#886128)
    This technology is something the OS community should really keep an eye on. Simply being able to run winzzzz at the same time as linux/BSD/Be/whatever is interesting enough. But that's just the start of the possibilities here.

    With Open Source Plex86, it will be really easy to build a custom reverse engineering tool. Want a parallel port scanner? Don't have the protocol? Log all the output to the printer port. Easier said than done under winzzzz - unless its running under Plex86, which is already intercepting the I/O. Simply re-write the I/O traps in Plex86 (OK, not so simply, but certainly do-able) and log the traffic for later analysis. Same goes for WinModems. Possibly even for graphics cards with PCI/AGP I/O.

    This is really exiting, and these are just the start. Support this project, folks, it's worth it!
  • Hey, if it runs DOS, can I run my old Future Crew demos? :-) Assuming GUS support is in there, of course...

    ---

  • by Anonymous Coward
    WRONG!! If you were to give vmware ring0, every time your host crashes, it brings down the whole system. As an example, have you every seen a module gpf? It's a kernel oops, I believe. The only thing the vmware modules are for are networking things, that requires extra privillages (like changing routing tables).

    VMWare simply emulates any privillaged code(ring3). The only thing that I can think of that the modules might also do is modify the page tables, and things like that, so that the host can have virtual memory. It simply emulates the GDT, ITD, and LDT's in user space, and runs everything else natively.
  • any more than Wine is an emulator. Programs execute in a native x86 environment directly on the processor; the "emulator" simply provides access to a different OS's ABI.
    <O
    ( \
    XGNOME vs. KDE: the game! [8m.com]
  • If they charged $25 for it, they'd need four times as many people to buy it in order to get the same income. They'd need mayby six times as many in order to cover the extra expenses involved in shipping and supporting that many copies. I doubt it'd get that kind of market penetration.

    Bottom line is that pricing should reflect the best return, not the highest number of sales (otherwise everything would be sold for $1).

    But you're right with your last comment: For most people, dual-booting is a perfectly acceptable, and much cheaper option. VM-Ware is for people for whom dual-boot just isn't good enough, and if that's you, then you'd be willing to pay.
  • It'd really suck to have windows bluescreen and bring your line to a halt/activate your plant trip/activate the machinery in a non-standard way and kill someone.

    --
  • Microsoft QDOS (Quick and Dirty Operating System; no, really) is dead (Win2k; Whistler). Lineo [drdos.org] and the free software community [freedos.org] make two DOS operating systems now. IBM also makes its own PC DOS 2000 [google.com].
    <O
    ( \
    XGNOME vs. KDE: the game! [8m.com]

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