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GNU is Not Unix

DesqView/X: Night of the Living Dead Codebases 371

Pazuzues writes "I found something that you could say peaked my interest. It seems Symantec (purchasers of former company Quarterdeck) has release DeskView/X into public domain and can be downloaded now. DesqView/X was a GUI and OS extender that installed into DOS very much like MS Windows does. This little GUI can run X-Windows and MS Windows 3.x software and can even gateway serve MS Windows applications to remote X terminals. It was way ahead of its time and is a pretty decent toy to play with if you have a old 486 laying around. Anyways there is a petition being started that is petitioning Symantec to release the source code as OpenSource. I think this is a really good idea and could possiably help alot of other existing projects like WINE for example. It can load X and rexec X apps with 16mb RAM for Pete sakes!"
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DesqView/X: Night of the Living Dead Codebases

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  • No Brainer (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Really, are there any constructive comments that can be added to this discussion besides "sign the petition!"?

    Not to troll, but I think we all know what needs to be done and why it would be a good thing to do it.
  • RE: Desqview (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sinnerDOTcom ( 544925 ) on Sunday January 27, 2002 @07:53PM (#2911174)
    I remember having to use DESQVIEW to multitask when I was running my BBS off of MSDOS.. Ahh, full screen ANSI menu's and RIP graphics to boot. I want my bbs, and I want it now.

    BTW, i'll "deffentntnetnly" check this out.
    • RIP graphics? OH GOD THE AGONY! THE PAIN!
      (ok it was a neat idea, but I never saw anyone make good use of it)
      • by jelle ( 14827 )
        What a foresight they must have had when they thought of the name, eh?
      • Y'know, I thought that all of those terrible mmories of seeing RIP graphics were gone from my brain.

        Lo and behold, an image formed into my head that will stay there like a train wreck for quite a while. That terrible, terrible grey, and the grey... and did I mention the grey? And why did everyone see fit to use yellow text on it.

        Arrrgh, make it stop.
  • by nedron ( 5294 ) on Sunday January 27, 2002 @07:56PM (#2911188) Homepage
    Actually, one of the most usefull features of DesqView/X was the ability to remotely access serial ports on another machine. I used to work in a customer service group who's application was only avilable via an RS232 connection. Each workstation was limited to two physical serial lines that had been run from X.25 nodes. A number of us installed DV/X and shared our ports out when we weren't working. This allowed you to grab unused remote ports and open 4 or more serial connections with our mainframe apps. Very handy.
    • one of the most usefull features of DesqView/X was the ability to remotely access serial ports on another machine.
      Yeah, that remote access concept was fun. There was a machine across the street in the developers' area that was running DVX. For some reason it had a microphone on it (this is back in the early 90's when such things were really cool), so we would rexec the sound recorder on that box and then pick up the files. As I recall, the sound files from that box were too poor to really hear anything, bit it was fun watching the sound meter go whenever someone had a conversation in the vicinity.

      Nowadays, we'd probably be caught and tried as terrorists under the Patriot© act, but in those days most folks were trusting...

  • by Orasis ( 23315 ) on Sunday January 27, 2002 @07:57PM (#2911192)
    If code is in the public domain anyone is free to do whatever they want with it. Therefore it is by definition Open Source. I'm sure if you check out the OSD on it will include Public Domain.

    Justin Chapweske, Onion Networks []
    • Nope (Score:2, Informative)

      by markb ( 6556 )
      The article doesn't say the source code was released. I assume just the binaries were released into the public domain, and the source code remains secret.
    • Except apparently they put the *binaries* in the public domain. Instead of assuming the person posting this is a clueless idiot, why not probe a bit deeper with a click of your mouse to find out the whole story?
      • You can't put just the binaries in the public domain. You can release them under an unrestricted license, but that's not the same thing.
        • Why can't you put binaries in the public domain? I see no reason you can't renounce your claim to copyright on a program binary.
    • If what they have released to the public domain is just the binaries, then that's all that's "public domain."

      If they have not released source code, and didn't license the binaries under some arrangement that gives you the right to demand source code (have we ever heard of a license like that???), then what they have done with the binaries has nothing to do with the accessibility of source code.

      Ob-DesqView reference: It was a pretty neat system; at the time I used it, OS/2 was an alternative that was, for my purposes, preferable since it actually actively resisted crashes, which was important when coding fairly wildly-pointered C code...

      The last release that I saw was not as stable as the second-last release, which was unfortunate. That might have been Microsoft playing their Windows isn't done until Foo crashes, consistently games....

  • by burtonator ( 70115 ) on Sunday January 27, 2002 @07:58PM (#2911196)
    Back in the day...

    ... my "modern" first computer was a 386DX... basically because it was 32 bit and had a math coprocessor. Damn that thing was cool. I had computers before that but this was the first one I thought was da bomb.

    After a while I would tweak DOS to get the MAXIMIM amount of conventional memory 640k out of it. Quarterdeck Memory Manager did an AMAZING job of moving things around and forcing them to load in the correct memory segment.

    It was always amazing to see how well it would increase your memory.

    I would run QMM, DesqView for multitasking and Norton Commander as my filemanager, and QModem to get into my neighborhood BBS.

    QMM was needed with DesqView because it required a lot of resources.

    I was S000 37337!

    Man I wish I had Linux 2.4 and Debian back then ! :) I wouldn't have all these wasted brain cells which know every single bug in DOS/QMM. :)

    • I used to use it on a 386SX-16 for running a BBS. The footprint was a lot less than Win3.11 and it ran reasonably well on that machine w/5mb of RAM.

      At the time the /X meant nothing to me. It just looked cool when the user would login and see the OS listed as Desqview/X ;)
      • I used to use it on a 386SX-16 for running a BBS. The footprint was a lot less than Win3.11 and it ran reasonably well on that machine w/5mb of RAM.

        Reminds me of a tagline that used to float around the BBS's:

        Window's Multitasks! (In a Desqview Window.)
    • I would run QMM, DesqView for multitasking and Norton Commander as my filemanager, and QModem to get into my neighborhood BBS.

      For that era, I ran QMM, DesqView, XTree, {COMMO}, QEdit, SideKick. My BBSes ran everything from homebrew software (on my Apple ][) to Searchlight, Renegade, Minix (one node, on a floppy, users logged in as root. Every so often, I'd swap the floppy for a freah install). {COMMO} spent some serious time logged into a variety of *nix boxen, and two VAXes. Those were the days when if you asked nice, people gave you accounts on business machines or uni boxes across the country. Usenet had yet to be hit with it's first spam, FidoNet could transfer files across the globe, and everybody knew who uunet was. Those were good days.

      I wouldn't have all these wasted brain cells which know every single bug in DOS/QMM. :)

      Hehehe.. I used to be able to COPY CON PROGRAM.COM and write some decent code with alt-numpad sequences. I *know* there are some other /.ers out there that memorized all the various int 20h and int 21h paramaters.

      It's that kinda thing that makes me feel good about Open Source (not just Linux). Popping in and adding mousewheel support to my favorite image viewer, adding a few features to my AIM client... also the "freedom of *nix" on my desktop now, with shell scripts, cron jobs, regex combos flying at the command line.

      Heh... maybe *these* are "Good old days" too.


    • QMM was needed with DesqView because it required a lot of resources
      Actually, it's QEMM (E=expanded), and it was required because the way the system was paged out in protected mode. QRAM was the "memory manager" for 286s, which unfortunately only had one virtual machine.

      Man, I thought that part of my life was dead -- I used to work at Quarterdeck (it was my first "real" job) on their help desk - I was employee #23 in that department.

      Sigh. Those were the good old days: writing white papers, messing with the Desqview API, staying up till all hours doing QC for the new releases, watching the programmers write and tweak their code using debug ...

  • big surprise (Score:2, Insightful)

    by damiam ( 409504 )
    $ host A

    $ host

    $ ping
    PING ( 56 data bytes

    --- ping statistics ---
    5 packets transmitted, 0 packets received, 100% packet loss

    Run your site on a Road Runner cable modem and you KNOW it'll get slashdotted :-)
    Anyone got a mirror?
  • by willybur ( 217434 ) on Sunday January 27, 2002 @07:59PM (#2911203) Homepage
    Is it really as useful as people think? If its abandonware, then it has fallen so out of date that there is no point in keeping it hidden. Why would Borland release Turbo Pascal 5.5 and Turbo C(++?) 1.01 into the public domain when the "newer" (but still really old) versions of those apps are still private? Because the old ones have lost so much functionality relatively.

    Ancient X apps and Windows 3.1 applications? That's great if you're still coding in outdated setups. Current standards seem much more complex, open-ended and harder to emulate. Wine is probably not perfect for a reason.
    • >Ancient X apps and Windows 3.1 applications? That's great if you're
      >still coding in outdated setups. Current standards seem much more
      >complex, open-ended and harder to emulate. Wine is probably not
      >perfect for a reason.
      Yeah it's a real bitch that people are more interested in DesqView/X than in .NET isn't it?
    • > Ancient X apps and Windows 3.1 applications?

      Actually there are no X apps bundled with DESQview X. It is just a graphically version of DESQview with a built in X server.
    • Ancient X apps and Windows 3.1 applications?

      If Deskview/X goes Open Source, there might be a Linux port. There's 16 bit versions of Internet exporer 4.01SP2 and I think there might be a 16Bit 5.0 too. Combine them with Desqview /X and you might have IE under Linux : )

      Tho Wine will probably do it soon enough anyway. Just a thought.

    • You'd probably be surprised . . . code written for the WINE project, along with curent X implementations, could probably help out a freed Deskqview/X (and, in the case of undocumented Win calls, which still exist in Windows, could help the WINE project immensely, I'm sure.)
    • The desqview code itself isn't important. There might be pockets (no doubt there are) where this will matter but for the most part it doesn't.

      I think the big thing is the shift in thinking that some big companies are starting to take on. A company cannot support a product forever, for the most part. It also cannot afford to not support products. At some point in time, and it's probably a lot earlier than it has been with the Borland products they've made free (beer) so far, it makes no sense for them not to make things free. The next logical step is for them to start releasing code to these older products. Something like desqview is special in that if people are using it and relying upon it, there is probably not anything that can really replace it. It's good to see, they aren't losing anything by giving it away now and the next step is the source code. It's part of the promise of opensource, your solutions will never die becuase you'll have to code if you need it; well it's about time that the software industry stepped up to that plate also because the competition is good and I've got hardware sitting around that might be interesting with some of that old software. Also, who's to say that something like WordStar might not have continued had it been opened up, it certainly had the community of users it was a support problem that did it in. Some of that older stuff could get migrated to more modern platforms. It does nobody any good to have something like that die.

  • Alternative Download (Score:5, Informative)

    by MiTEG ( 234467 ) on Sunday January 27, 2002 @08:00PM (#2911208) Homepage Journal
    DESQview/X 2.1 is available for download from []

    Disk 1 []
    Disk 2 []
    Disk 3 []
    Disk 4 []
    Disk 5 []
    Disk 6 []
    Disk 7 []
    Disk 8 []
    FREEdisk []
  • by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Sunday January 27, 2002 @08:03PM (#2911218) X/ pp s.desqview-x.html
  • by SteveX ( 5640 ) on Sunday January 27, 2002 @08:03PM (#2911219) Homepage
    A lot of commercial software uses pieces licensed from other people, and sometimes the people who developed the licensed technology aren't willing to release it.

    I know of one scanner company that normally plays nicely (releases specs for the protocols for their SCSI and USB scanners) that cannot release their parallel protocol because of agreements they have with the suppliers of the chipsets in the scanners... Yet the company fields hostile "release the protcol you idiots" spam from "Open Source" advocates.

    It's cool when a company can release an old product free - but in some cases it's just not possible...

    - Steve
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 27, 2002 @10:11PM (#2911547)
      Of course, many companies use that excuse because they don't want to tell you the truth. Nvidia for example.

      Me: I'd like any documentation on how to program your fine chips.
      Nvidia: We can't open source our drivers because they contain 3rd party IP that we don't own.

      Of course, they didn't answer the question I asked. The real reason they won't release any kind of info (docs or the source to their drivers) is that their plan is to segment the market via driver tweaks. The only major difference between their Quadro line and their Geforce line is the drivers. The Quadro drivers support accelerated anti-alaised lines. The Geforce drivers dont, even though the hardware does.

      Since Nvidia wants to be the graphics hardware in all those Linux boxes that are replacing SGIs on animator's desks, they can't risk a bunch of GNU hippies writing drivers that let professionals use Geforce cards as if they were Quadros.

      Rule #1 in dealing with businesses. If they have any reason to lie to you, they will. Plan for it.
      • Rule #1 in dealing with businesses. If they have any reason to lie to you, they will. Plan for it.

        If anyone has a reason, they'll lie to you. It all depends whether their reason is good enough.

        I'm guessing that the money that nVidia make off their expensive Quadros will subsidize development that will eventually make it into their cheaper Geforces. This isn't a bad thing; the alternative is that the consumer cards are more expensive and less capable.
    • People also forget that "releasing the source code" entails a pass through it to clean up bad code, no-ops, and, particularly, comments. How many times have you looked though the source code to something and seen comments like:

      /* Warning - *MASSIVE* kludge below */


      /* I had to do it this way because Fred was too
      *&^%$ lazy to code for this in the base
      libraries */

      Companies don't want customers to see this kind of thing, even in ten year old codebases. Even for companies who are willing to release their old binaries, it's hard to justify the time it takes to clean up the source code for release. Personally, I think Borland deserves kudos for treating this as abandonware and releasing the binaries. Let's hope more companies follow suit.
  • by MavEtJu ( 241979 ) <slashdot.mavetju@org> on Sunday January 27, 2002 @08:05PM (#2911225) Homepage
    Desqview learned me to do proper programming. It's true. When I used it the first time, all my self-written C programs (and pascal too) bombed because of uninitialized pointer references.

    I had to walk through everything to fix it and it learned me how to threat pointers properly. A lesson learned which will never be forgotten :-)
  • It would be really nice to see something that can display windows apps remotely via X (and via something more efficient than VNC).
  • by RevAaron ( 125240 ) <revaaron&hotmail,com> on Sunday January 27, 2002 @08:19PM (#2911269) Homepage
    I used to use DV and DV/X through through the eras of DOS, Win 3.1 and Win95. All of my apps were DOS-based, but I still wanted to multitask. That, and DV was able to do something very important for me as a BBSer that Win 3.1 couldn't- have a ZModem download in ProComm+ going in the background while actually *doing* something else.So, yes, I have some experience.

    In any case, the release of DV/X wouldn't help WINE in any way, really. DV DV/X allowed you to run Win 3.1 apps in the same way that you can run Classic Mac OS apps in Mac OS X, or that OS/2 2.1 could run Win 3.1 apps. Win 3.1 ran in a little box all to itself. It ran the entire Win 3.1 OE, not implemented the API (as Wine and Odin do). You can see a screenshot of this here. []

    DV/X was pretty cool, esp. for a DOS user in those days, but it isn't really relevant anymore. I could see people with old DOS machines who wanted the binaries, that makes perfect sense. However, there's really nothing to be gained from the release of the source. It's not like someone can port it to MS-DOS/PowerPC. ;)

    • One cool thing about DV/X I forgot to mention was that it could export this Win 3.1 window as an X application, so you could run Win 3.1 and its apps remotely. Never used that functuality, having only a single computer with a single modem, but it seemed cool. Again, there are plenty of Windows products that do this now (with current Win32 apps), as well as WINE. Hell, you could achieve the same with running Bochs or VMWare running Win 3.1 remotely.
      • That *was* one of the cool features of DV/X - it meant that you could have one machine running DOS, and all of your Unix machines could run DOS applications in an X window (or at least N of them at a time could.) I don't remember if that was just DOS, or some of the primitive Windows modes, but either way it was potentially really useful for its time.

        Unfortunately, the spare 486 walked out of my lab before I could implement it.

  • by 1010011010 ( 53039 ) on Sunday January 27, 2002 @08:34PM (#2911321) Homepage
    Pazuzues should have written "I found something that you could say piqued my interest. It seems that Symantec (which purchased now-defunct Quarterdeck years ago) has released into the public domain binary versions of DesqView/X. DesqView/X was a GUI and DOS extender that installed over DOS very much like MS Windows did. This little GUI can run X-Windows and MS Windows 3.x software and can even act as gateway to serve MS Windows applications to remote X terminals. It was way ahead of its time and is still a pretty decent toy to play with. It can load X and rexec X apps with 16MB of RAM, for Pete's sake! All it needs is an old 486. A petition has been started to urge Symantec to release the source code under an Open Source license. I think this is a really good idea, as it could possibly help a number of projects, such as WINE. DesqView/X is available for download now."

    How much "editing" does being an "editor" involve, anyway? 8^D
  • by AnalogBoy ( 51094 )
    Thanks, pazuzes. Now i'm going to have to have a flashback. **sits back**

    1994.. Running my BBS locally.. Wanted to multitask... installed Desqview.. wow.. leet! Its like dosshell.. Only.. not! Oh, crap.. LORD is running slow on node 2.. time to tweak QEMM.. lets see if we can get that extra 2K out!

    1995.. OS/2 warp comes along. I install it - that extra ~100K on top of 640 is LEET!!! I never go back.

    I have to wonder.. How fast would Windows 3.1, DOS, or OS/2 boot on a 1.4 Ghz Athlon? :)
    • Speaking as someone who still occasionally runs DOS/Win3.11 on a 400 MHz machine... damn fast. On My 400 MHz machine, win311/DOS starts up in a negligible amount of time, really cool to do so too..
    • How fast?.. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by edsel ( 73916 ) on Sunday January 27, 2002 @09:29PM (#2911455)

      Possibly too fast, depending on the applications you want to run.

      Last year I was assigned a seemingly trivial "upgrade" project for a customer that runs an old DOS-based app. First of all, I had to find a new PC with an ISA slot -- not as easy as you might think, considering hat the customer wanted a "name-brand" PC with full warranty.

      I finally found an HP model with a riser card for ISA support. PC-DOS loaded fine, but when I tried to start the customer's application, the machine locked up tight. After checking with the application vendor, I was chagrined to hear that the program will not run on anything faster than a Pentium 90.

      Many DOS-based programs that ran on the ragged edge of (then-current) technology used hard-coded timing loops that simply can't cope with the clock speeds of today's processors.

      So maybe DOS will boot super-fast on your Athlon, but there's no guaranty that it wil run many of your "vintage" programs...

      • I was chagrined to hear that the program will not run on anything faster than a Pentium 90.

        Reminds me of my old SCO usage days. Note: I happened to *LIKE* SCO. But ODT2 crapped out whenever we tried to install it on an 486DX/2-66 with an AHA1542 controller. After we called SCO tech support, and they told us the machine was too fast, we were ROFL for about 5 minutes, since back then (1992), it was well known that when it came to Unix, there was no such thing as too much speed, RAM, or disk space...

        Apparently there was a timing loop in the 1542 driver.
        • I had similar problems with SCO's QIC02 tape drivers back in 1988. Worked fine on the 286 boxen, but on the 386/25 "server" you could not produce a readable tape. Spent many days with their tech support before they got us a patch that would work, then found that it would only work if nothing else was running on the box.

          Who says they were the "good" old days? I just seem to recall spending a lot of time debugging tweaky problems that had nothing to do with getting the actual work done!

      • I know it defeats the whole purpose... but there are 'cpu-killer' apps that slow down your PC to work with those applications.

        Of course if one wants to see how fast DOS will boot on their Athlon... make a *indows Boot Disk. Just make sure you remove the references to, and you'll be alright. Should be in 'DOS' as soon as the BIOS is done.

        It's pretty fast.

        I've got a question though... what about OS/2. I've got some disks laying around from a place I used to work.
    • I have to wonder.. How fast would Windows 3.1, DOS, or OS/2 boot on a 1.4 Ghz Athlon? :)

      I have an OS/2 4.1 FixPak 15 partition on a 1.4 Ghz Athlon. It's useful for Win3.1 Office apps, plays MP3s well; I haven't tried VoiceType but the Athlon is fast enough.

      To answer your question, it boots pretty quickly but not blazingly fast because most of the boot activity is I/O bound.
  • I used the text version of desqview. I tried desqview/X at the time, but the 386-25 with 3 megs of ram I had wasn't quite up to using it usefully.

    I'm not POSITIVE about desqview/X's support of windows apps. If I remember correctly, it could export certain apps, but not those running in enhanced mode. Of course, I'm speaking about stuff I was playing with 10 years ago.

    And as far as WiNE is concerned, they've pretty well gotten the 3.x API solid, and have for several years now.

    • Wasn't quite up to using it? Perhaps time has confused your memory.

      DesqView/X would not have run on that machine, period. IIRC it would only run with a minimum of 12M ram and that was with trickery to fool it into believing there was 16M of ram.
  • It can load X and rexec X apps with 16mb RAM for Pete sakes!

    So can XFree86. At least, the version I was using back in 1992 certainly worked on a 486 with 4MB of RAM. Slow, but functional.

    • 4 megs was (is!) a little tight to do anything meaningful with XFree86. I remember playing around on a box with 4 megs in 1995 and it just being too slow and hitting swap almost non-stop. After upgrading to a whopping 8 megs, though, a threshold was reached and I was able to have a fairly useful (and responsive) desktop on that old 486-33.

      I'm sure current versions of XFree86 would run about the same given that old hardware.
  • Sniff sniff (Score:5, Informative)

    by jbuhler ( 489 ) on Sunday January 27, 2002 @09:05PM (#2911396) Homepage
    Ah, for the good old days circa 1991, when 4 megs of RAM was a bunch and DesqView was the method of choice for multitasking on your PC. I fondly recall running my BBS in one DV window while writing term papers in another with WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS.

    Quaint things I remember about DV:

    * Well-behaved BBS programs (including all the FidoNet tools) were DV-aware and would kindly give up its timeslice if they weren't doing anything.

    * QEMM, the memory manager that came with DesqView, had a complicated "optimization" script that tried to rearrange all your TSR programs to maximize the amount of available memory under 640k. The size of each Desqview DOS session was limited to the amount of sub-640k RAM that was free when you started DV, so optimization was really important.

    * You started different programs from the DV menu by assigning them two-letter key codes. I remember rearranging the codes at length to minimize the finger travel time needed to open my most frequently used programs.

    * DV was really bad at switching video modes. If you happened to be running Windows under DV, the screen would turn to some kind of bizarre CGA/EGA mode when you invoked the DV menu.

    DV/X was going to be the "next big thing," but I don't recall hearing about it after the feature article in HAL-PC magazine. In any case, it was quite expensive. Even QEMM was something like $40; I recall getting a copy as a birthday present, which became the only properly licensed piece of commercial software on my machine at the time.

    Oh well, better mod this one (-1, maudlin nostalgia).
  • ... (Score:2, Interesting)

    xxxxxxxxxx O xxxxxxxxxx H xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx W xxxxxxxxxx E xxxxxxxxxx L xxxxxxxxxx L xxxxxxxxxx.

    Here is my petition to Symantec.

    xxxxxxxxxx O xxxxxxxxxx H xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx W xxxxxxxxxx E xxxxxxxxxx L xxxxxxxxxx L xxxxxxxxxx.

    I applaud and commend you fine folks at Symantec for allowing the free download of DesqView/X. When this software was new, it was far ahead of its time. I believe it contains technology that much new software would do well to have. In that light, I'm asking you to consider releasing the source code to DesqView/X, so that software such as Linux might benefit from its innovative features.

    xxxxxxxxxx O xxxxxxxxxx H xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx W xxxxxxxxxx E xxxxxxxxxx L xxxxxxxxxx L xxxxxxxxxx.

    It probably won't happen though.

    xxxxxxxxxx O xxxxxxxxxx H xxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx W xxxxxxxxxx E xxxxxxxxxx L xxxxxxxxxx L xxxxxxxxxx.

  • It's nice to see that it's happened. However, if you read the glossies (I actually have 'em 'round here somewhere), you'll see that "running Windows" stuff is a bit of an exaggeration. It runs Windows stuff... Windows 3.x stuff, to be precise. I'd say that the potential for Desqview/X would be a lot closer to if Sun released WABI than something that could help the good WINE folk.


    But, hey -- maybe there is some good stuff to mine. It certainly was an amazing application when it came out; hopefully it will be released as OS, and maybe we can do something unexpected with it.
  • I used DV/X in the olden days. It was most impressive. It really had better multi-tasking that Windows 3.1 of the day. I had great hopes for it, and I think with better positioning, it could have given Windows a run for the money. It was well targeted upon it's first release, and could have made a difference, but they just didn't follow through. And as they languished, it just became less and less relevant. Still a very cool way of turning an old 486 into a X terminal (and client). Would probably be more efficient than (Linux|FreeBSD)+X.

    There's quite a list of things in my book that really could have "made a difference" in the industry, but just didn't follow through effectively. Microsoft may be slow to respond in a lot of cases, but they *do* respond; other folks take years, or never do anything. For fun, here's my list (off the top of my head): Corel Linux, Corel Office, Star Office, BeOS, QNX (lower the damn license fees, okay? :-), SunRays, most thin Clients, Linux PDA's. I'm sure there's a dozen more (and I'm sure they're all sitting in my basement, colecting dust :-)

    Here's hoping we'll see more companies whose management can realize when they have a product that can make a difference, and they redirect resources accordingly, rather than thoroughly botching it.

  • by MobyTurbo ( 537363 ) on Sunday January 27, 2002 @10:19PM (#2911571)
    Ah, I also have fond memories of running a BBS under Desqview-386. The non-/X version, I only had a 386 with 4 megs of RAM. It multitasked DOS so well when properly tuned that I used one meg for a diskcache with Hyperdisk to provide staged writes (Microsoft's "Smartdisk" was anything but) with enough room to spare to run three or four additional programs. One window for a mail reader, one for the 24 hour BBS, and one or two for additional programs plus infinite tiny DOS shell windows for command line jobs. Not only that, I had Linux 0.95 (later 0.99) set up for dual-boot on it's own 20 meg partition. :-)

    Anyhow, turning nostalgia mode off, Linux Window managers could learn from Desqview's sophisticated cut and paste proceedures. It was possible to smoothly paste from, for example, a word processor to cells of a spread-sheet because you could specify keystrokes to go between each piece of data. If the cutting and pasting didn't require any special keys, just press return or space bar to make each line delimited by them. It was simple or powerful, depending upon your needs. KDE (and GNOME, etc.) rock, but they could learn a thing or two about clipboard management from humble Desqview.

    • KDE (and GNOME, etc.) rock, but they could learn a thing or two about clipboard management from humble Desqview.

      Oh, I know that for certain! I'd love to sit some email and newsreader programmers down with a copy of MegaMail or sLmr...
    • Linux Window managers could learn from Desqview's sophisticated cut and paste proceedures.

      Oh yeah... that clipboard thing was great. I remember using it to convert simple application-bound databases (e.g. Fidomail-tossers, for those who remember that time :-). Open both programs in a DV window, go to first record in first program, create a macro that creates a record in second program,and subsequently copies and pastes each field across DV sessions.

      This may seem cumbersome, but it was a hell of a lot faster/easier then figuring out the proprietory fileformats and writing a C program to do it. For some it may even be a tip for simple one-time only conversions for more recent software.

  • by ChipX86 ( 102440 ) on Sunday January 27, 2002 @10:19PM (#2911574) Homepage
    My uncle, Gary Pope, was co-founder of Quarterdeck, and did development on all versions of QEMM and DESQview. Unfortunately, he does not have the sourcecode to DESQview anymore, as he gave up all rights to it when he retired. However, he has been able to share with me some of the internals of DESQview and DESQview/X. I won't get into much of them, but to all the people who are hoping to get some useful code they can copy and paste into their own programs by signing the petition, you may be disappointed.

    The sourcecode to DESQview/X is (at least for the most part) in Assembly. It was the only way they could create a full X environment that could fit on a couple floppies and take so little RAM. I know previous versions used a language that Gary Pope wrote called SYMPL, which was lisp-based and provided the back-end functionality for the multitasking on 8088 processors in the original DESQ and DESQview.

    So, most of the code, if it is ever released, may not be completely usable to most people. It would still be an interesting read, however, and I signed the petition almost a year ago.

    Another good source of information on DESQview is the newsgroup comp.os.msdos.desqview []. It seems to be pretty active, and has some good information on using DESQview.

    DESQview and DESQview/X were great products. Have fun :)
    • Oh, and to all the people who think that DESQview/X could be useful in WINE... DESQview/X never ran Windows programs. It could run Windows 3.0 or lower (or Windows 3.1 in real mode) inside a DESQview/X window, much like DESQview could. It also, I believe, had a display driver for Windows to allow Windows apps to run across the network in a DESQview/X window. However, no emulation ever took place.

      • a display driver for Windows to allow Windows apps to run across the network in a DESQview/X window

        That in itself sounds damn useful. Assuming it uses the standard X protocol and not some Desqview extension. You could set up Windows 3.1 under dosemu, bochs or whatever with this display driver, and it would display on your X server. Hopefully in a 'rootless' style so no separate emulated screen was necessary. In any case it would be faster and with higher-res fonts than an emulated screen.

        Must try this sometime. I wonder if Win9x can use these drivers...

  • We were trying to add old BBS doors support to a friends BBS years ago, and we could either get a stack of 286s or a reasonable machine with Desqview 386. Well, Desqview wasn't on the market anymore, so we tried OS/2, Win95, and later WinNT, none would handle our doors. We tried to warez it but failled. We later tried a stack of 286s, but the systems weren't playing nicely with our NT Server (didn't have the expertise or budget for an admin for a Novell server).

    A few years ago it would have been great for me. Maybe I'll drop the cash and try the system now...

  • I used to be a heavy Desqview (no the X version) user. Nice product for its time. When desqview came, the whole product line was dying anyway. Even if you don't use it, you can download for the X11 (Type 1) fonts. They work really well with X11.
  • Desqview was a great util... but one caveat:

    Do NOT run it on a compressed drive (if anyone still has compressed drives in this era of cheap hard disks!) If you do, sooner or later it WILL eat the compressed volume file.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 27, 2002 @10:53PM (#2911664)
    Several points

    1) The X that is part of DesQView iw XR4. Don't know how useful that is.

    2) As a former employee of Symantec, I do remember that not all of the source code actually made it over from QuarterDeck and I believe that the source code for DesqView was part of that. From what I understand, former QuarterDeck employees wiped a large number of hard drives prior to leaving the company. I don;t think managment really cared as Cleansweep was really the only product that they were interested in, even though Procom also survived (Although management was not really interested in Procom that much)
  • Alright, I know there are some people who read about these things and get all teary eyed as they relive their youth again. Not me. I was a college student with my 386SX, running MS-DOS. All I wanted to do was run an editor in one window, and Microsoft C 5.1 in the other window. I had hardly any money at all to spend on this stuff. The computer cost me $900 with a lot of scrounged parts, and I could barely afford that. The compiler belonged to my boss. Tuition bills were killing me.

    I bought Desqview thinking that would help. It didn't, because it just partitioned the 640K into chunks that were too small. Also, it kept crashing . I spent a lot of time booting my computer. So, I got QEMM to go along with that. I think that I spent $150 for both of them. The QEMM gave me more memory, but it crashed even MORE. I couldn't work that way. Little did I know that it would be more than 3 years before I could move away from MS-DOG onto a real system that would accommodate a poor person AND not crash - Linux.

    I have no illusions that those days with MS-DOS were the "good old days." I am forever in the debt of Linus Torvalds and his operating system, and it's all I can do to forget pissing away money that I couldn't really afford to spend, trying to get a Microsoft OS to just plain work. It was a nightmare that I never want to think about ever again.
  • Is this really true? (Score:5, Informative)

    by pdcull ( 469825 ) on Sunday January 27, 2002 @11:12PM (#2911757) Homepage

    Has anyone actually confirmed that this is true?

    I've been unable to access the site [] referenced in the article. If this is an offical Symantec decision, why aren't the binaries available from []? I just searched their site for the word "DesqView" and found no mention of this supposed release.

    The alternative [] posted here contains binaries but I can't see any mention of any official announcement by Symantec about the binaries now being in Public Domain.

    The site [], also mentioned in postings here on Slashdot, (and last updated Wed Apr 11 2001) says the following:

    I built this page as soon as I heard that DesqView/X is available. As soon as I confirm the legality of the download, I will load the binaries up on this site. For right now, you can download DesqView/X from Amos Vryhof's page at: There are also many useful links there

    It seems to me that this rumour has been around for a few months now.

    Finally, if this is true, why isn't there any announcements about it on comp.os.msdos.desqview? []. And why did Amos Vryhof, presumably the owner of [] recently [] start his own OpenDVX project on Sourceforge []?

    I'd love for it to be true, but until I see some official announcement from Symantec, I can't say that I believe it.

  • Dammit! (Score:5, Informative)

    by AVryhof ( 142320 ) <`moc.hcraeserfohyrv' `ta' `soma'> on Monday January 28, 2002 @12:42AM (#2912056) Homepage
    The one day my system is offline, I make the front page of Slashdot.... Dammit all to hell!

    Just to correct a few misconceptions. It is true, that Desqview/X does NOT run Windows applications without Windows in one of it's windows. Moreover, it is not public domain. I am working hard with people at Symantec to get the rights, but until then it is illegal to decompile or reverse engineer Desqview/X!

    As for an OpenSource version of Desqview/X, I am looking for developers to work on it. It is Here! [] I am getting all of the original documentation, and have all of the original API toolkits.

    If your into X, and DOS join the crew, and maybe some good can come of this!

    Have a nice night, and I think this will spark enough interest to push Symantec in the right direction.

    • Re:Dammit! (Score:2, Funny)

      by pdcull ( 469825 )

      So, you're the owner of the site referenced in the article?

      Two quick questions:

      1. Is your site up now?

      2. Do you have anything in writing from Symantec allowing the distribution of the binaries?

      Or is the story basically lies, in which case Slashdot has just turned into the biggest warez site on the web.

      • Re:Dammit! (Score:4, Informative)

        by AVryhof ( 142320 ) <`moc.hcraeserfohyrv' `ta' `soma'> on Monday January 28, 2002 @10:24AM (#2913283) Homepage
        No, the site is not up now. It will not be up again until next week when it will no olnger get hammered by millions of people.

        As I have said many times in many places. NO, Desqview/X is NOT Free. As far as where the submitter got the idea that it was free, I have no idea.

        So, anyone who comes back to my site after the onslaught of slashdotters to download Desqview/X, you are doing it unlawfully. But, until the link to my site is off the frontpage of Slashdot, there is no site.

  • I used to run my mutiline wildcat on this. Believe it or not it was a 2 node wildcat system on Desqview running on a 286. I upgraded two Desqview/386 with QEMM when i got my hellah fast 386DX40 from AMD.

    Nothing like the day of tweaking fossile drivers, setting priority and multitasking in DOS.

    Then came along OS/2 :) haha. Believe it or not i was the first OS/2 bbs carying GNU linux for download on my 19.2 softmodem.

    If you can find it on google it was the "Linux BBS List". You can see my lowly bored as the one that was "long distance to some areas".. I couldn't afford the metro line fees on my lowly 12 year old allowance.


  • Well this was awesome software in the 80's... If it had been released open source a decade ago when it was still new it would have redefined the OS world. As it stands it is only average at best... Next!
  • by nikolaus ( 148581 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @01:13AM (#2912147)
    Given that the base HW req's for DV/X are so low (by today's standards), this might let us nip two persistent problems:

    1. How do we make old computer hardware useful?

    2. How do we get low-cost computers to lots of people?

    Set up a bunch of 486s, or P-Is running DV/X, give them each a Gnome or KDE desktop running on some other server, and let people surf, or whatever. One high power machine, lots of terminals.


    I remember drooling over DV/X back in the day ... I ran DV on my 386DX-25 for two reasons: I had 8MB of RAM and DV let me use ALL of it, and it let me do modem-intensive apps in the background. I never "up" graded to DV/X, though - hadn't the $$, and I fell into Linux in the 0.99 days.
  • Do any of y'all remember TSX-32? Well, I shouldn't say "remember", as it is still alive and well. I first found out about the TSX-32 Operating System [] back when I was in high school in 1992. The neat thing about this OS was that it was multi-user and had virtual consoles way before I had even heard of Linux. Anywho, it's still around and you can download the shareware version [] from their Web site.

  • I used Desqview (not /X) for its multitasking capabilities to run a BBS. Worked like a charm. It was a truly multitasking OS way before Windows 95.

Scientists are people who build the Brooklyn Bridge and then buy it. -- William Buckley