DOS programs under XP SP2

Dell/Latitude D610
April 28, 2006 at 19:11:35
Specs: XP SP2, Pentium M/1GB

I posted this as a response to a question that was asked on April 6, 2006, about DOS and XP. Then realized I should have posted it as new. Sorry for the confusion.

I have some DOS programs that I need to run on a Dell Latitude D610 that has XP SP2. Those DOS programs use the laptop's parallel port to configure and read data from some electronic test equipment.

The April 6 posting referenced DOSBOX and Bochs as DOS emulators that run under XP. Do either or both of those emulators provide my DOS programs with access to the parallel port? Is one of the emulators to be preferred over the other for this type of application?

I understand that Windows does not allow software to have direct access to the parallel port, hence my question.



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April 28, 2006 at 21:25:45

Well, you just don't want to do this. You need to figure out how to boot the computer in "real" DOS, if you can run the computer on a floppy, maybe a bootable CDROM, or even set up a small partition to install DOS (dual boot)

Many of these old programs simply will NOT access the ports from X tra P utrid

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April 28, 2006 at 21:43:19

I think XP handles LPT and COM ports for DOS programs pretty well... Maybe you can just execute these apps the regular way? Trying cannot damage anything (the only thing that can happen in case of an error is an error message);

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April 29, 2006 at 00:29:12

Dear Envelope, I suspect you may not be successful using the parallel port, as Windows gets in the way. Possibly your program may work if the serial port is used.

Had this same problem with dos programs that required a hardware dongle. The only way for them still to work was to boot the pc in standalone dos (or rewrite the program).

If you find a way, please advise.

Good Luck - Keep us posted.

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April 29, 2006 at 03:12:55

DOSBox is aimed to run legacy DOS games and is not well suited for general DOS applications (it is not a full virtual machine emulator).

Bochs support for parallel and serial ports under MS Windows is higly lacking and anyway it can't read data from the parallel port as the bidirectionqal support is missing.

So stated the safest way is to boot from a DOS floppy or CD built up with MS DOS 6.22 or FreeDOS.

May be VirtualPC has the functionalities you are looking for, but you have to pay Microsoft for that. Do not forget that to use a virtual machine emulator (Bochs or VirtualPC) you need a full set of DOS installing diskettes.

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April 29, 2006 at 08:40:18

Thanks everyone for the suggestions.

Allow me to further explain my situation.

I've ran these DOS programs under XP SP2 on two desktops for a long time. I use a piece of free software called USERPORT to "open up" the segment of memory used by the parallel port and all was well.

Also was successful with my DOS programs and USERPORT on a couple of Dell laptops running Windows 2000.

My DOS programs generate text files of data as a result of the measurements made by my electronic test equipment. Those text files show up in a Windows folder and I can import them into Excel for further manipulation and analysis.

A similar arrangement has failed with an IBM Thinkpad and a Dell Latitude D610, both running XP SP2. USERPORT successfully opens up the parallel port memory segment, but it also disables the laptop keyboard. Without the keyboard, I am unable to use the DOS programs. It's the quintessential Catch-22: I need USERPORT to enable the parallel port, but its successful application disables the keyboard :(

The disabled keyboard resulting from the use of XP SP2 and USERPORT on a laptop is the situation which led me to my posting vis a vis DOS emulators.

The responses thus far focus on booting the PC to DOS. If I take that approach, how can I make the DOS-program-generated text files available to Windows? Won’t they be in a partition which XP cannot/will not read?



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April 29, 2006 at 09:10:27

Dear Steve - if you have a file on your pc (from wherever) I would have thought windows should be able to access it.

For example, I use Wordstar, which is a dos w/p application. I use its print facility to create a standard ascii file in a folder. I then use the file for whatever I want. e.g. email.

Good Luck - Keep us posted.

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April 29, 2006 at 10:11:01

MS-DOS 5/6 will install on FAT12 and FAT16 and both these file system are read by all version of Windows........

Maybe your question is better asked in the XP Forum as the version of Excel available to MS-DOS is not the same as the Windows version.

There is probably a Windows solution and up the page is the XP Forum...............

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April 29, 2006 at 13:24:33

Well, there is a last chance before exoteric solutions... You may try PortTalk a free driver you can download

that an italian website dealing with parallel port access to catch electronic test data (do you get it) suggests on laptops not working via UserPort.

I used it for serial COM ports and I found it effective. Meanwhile I investigate further the emulators domain.

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April 30, 2006 at 03:15:24

Yes but PORTTALK is a NT Driver this is a Standalone DOS Forum...............

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April 30, 2006 at 12:30:11

Hi jessejames, help is first.. how can I tell that to envelope82 that does not post an e-mail address related to his nickname?

Hi Steve, if you are interested to PortTalk contact me directly by mail, you find my address clicking on IVO.

And to the other DOS guys/gales, keep on your mind:

Help is first!

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April 30, 2006 at 12:43:43

IVO, he is running DOS Software not DOS O/S so why post here ????

He would get a wider XP User Base in the XP Forum, would he not ????

YES the XP Forum is still up the page...

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April 30, 2006 at 12:58:52

It's a peaty how so high tecnically trained people as you can find in this Forum love to loose their value rejecting instead than aiding who needs non common solutions.

How many XP guys know about DOS booting an NT system?

How many are concerned about communication ports and their handling?

DOS Forum is the last beach for desperate people and you have to take that in account.

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May 1, 2006 at 00:45:10

Come on chaps - we are here to help.

This is one where our DOS rather than Windows expertise may be able to do just that.

Good Luck - Keep us posted.

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May 1, 2006 at 01:32:18

I will not come on - the Operating System is Windows XP SP2 period.

This is a XP question, one would not ask about running Windows Software under Linux in a Windows forum, I am sick to death of reading Windows and Hardware related questions here. This is one of the last standalone DOS forums and it is becoming a dumping ground again.

If people want to post here then they will get a smaller response base, so be it, but any response from me will be from a Standalone DOS perspective and if that belly-ups their PC it is on their heads...........

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May 2, 2006 at 17:07:01


My apologies for perhaps being in the wrong forum at this stage of my problem and thereby stirring up some controversy. is a valuable asset which I appreciate and desire to use appropriately.

I will look at the PortTalk web site and, if it looks appropriate, contact IVO off forum.

Thanks to all of you for your help.


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