Access USB drive from DOS 6

November 18, 2010 at 05:55:22
Specs: DOS 6, Not applicable

At work I have a computer that runs only one program, a program written in Clipper '87 (dBase III compiler). The old computer that's running it is making odd noises and it's time to replace it.

I have an XP computer that I want to replace it with. I know I'll have to change from NTFS back to FAT then format the hard drive and install DOS 6 (yes, I still have those disks). However, the replacement for the old XP machine will be a new Win7 unit and I cannot buy a machine with an internal 3.5" floppy any more... Dell says they have an external drive but not internal.

Since I need to transfer data files from the DOS machine to the Win7 machine, using the USB drive would solve my problems, but I don't know if DOS will recognize the USB ports on the old XP unit. Is there any way to get DOS to see and write to a USB thumb drive?

Thanks in advance.

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November 18, 2010 at 06:20:35

MS-DOS may recognize a USB Floppy if the BIOS assigns the same addressing as a standard Floppy Drive, and you can still buy motherboards with floppy drive connectors, mosy manufacturers choose not to do so....

Regards a USB Flash Drive, that has been covered many times in Computing Net, hence why the forum has a search function, but try this web site:

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November 18, 2010 at 06:27:53

There are USB drivers for DOS system that can accomplish the task, but why do you run your legacy application on a dedicated machine?

XP and Win 7 can run legacy programs directly under NTFS as file system is an operating system module NOT parrt of the application.

In the worst case you can run the DOS application inside a virtual machine like MS Virtual PC (free) concurrently with others Windows applications and easily sharing files between environments.

If you have the DOS installations diskettes it is the way to follow making an image of them to perform virtual machine installation.

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November 18, 2010 at 07:07:30

X86 - I did search the forum before posting my question but the posts I saw were not specific to what I was trying to do. Also, there were very mixed responses.... yes you can, no you can't and maybe. Thanks for the information on - I'll review it.

IVO - in the past I tried running the program from within XP, though I didn't try the Virtual PC route. I ran into problems sending printer codes to the dot matrix printer (the program sends codes like CHR(15)+CHR(27)... to set the printer to various print sizes and qualities) and, because I need to set FILES & BUFFERS in the config file, it had problems displaying overlaying screens. I'll explore the Virtual PC idea to see if it addresses these issues.

I know I'm living in the past, but I've got to say the program still runs flawlessly and it is blindingly fast compared to any Windows program available today. The only problem I've ever had prior to this was trying to buy a new dot matrix printer... my rep at Panasonic didn't know what printer codes were and had to hand me off to a senior rep who remembered the "good old days".

Thanks to both of you for your speedy responses. Much appreciated.

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Related Solutions

November 18, 2010 at 07:43:45

"The old computer that's running it is making odd noises and it's time to replace it."

Whatever problem it is having, it's likely that can be easily fixed. Describe the noises and where they're coming from.
- the bearings in cooling fans deteriorate as time goes by. You may hear rattling or screeching noises, most likely to be noticed when the computer is first started up after having a chance to cool to room temp and has not been used for at least a few hours. The cpu fan, or a case fan, or a power supply fan, is relatively cheap to replace.
- you may simply have too much "mung" (dust, lint, etc.) on the fan(s) and/or heatsink it cools - cleaning that off may solve your problem (DO NOT use a vacuum cleaner to do that).

"you can still buy motherboards with floppy drive connectors, mosy manufacturers choose not to do so..."

Most retail mboard models still have the floppy data header - they're used mostly for generic systems, but some brand name systems have the same models with a brand name bios version. Brand name systems are more likely to have OEM only mboard models (made only for brand name system builders) that are a lot less likely to have that. In most cases, brand name system builders DID NOT make the mboards in their systems - they were supplied to them by major, or minor, mboard manufacturers.
Rather than buying a Dell or other brand name system, you could buy a custom made system locally that does have the floppy data header on the retail mboard model, with a case that a legacy floppy drive can be installed in.

"There are USB drivers for DOS system...."

The ability to recognize USB flash drives (or USB connected external drives) was built into the operating system in only ME or later. That ability can be added to Win 98 or 98SE, but is it possible to have that ability with Dos USB drivers ? I haven't heard of or come across any way to do so.

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November 18, 2010 at 07:54:09

I have good experience in running legacy applications in virtual machine under up to date systems like Vista or 7 and I agree most DOS applications are today working better and faster than their new versions.

Dot matrix printers usually run ESC/P Epson command codes or native IBM proprinter code. There are still office equipment like Brother Laser printers emulating those streams. Amother way is to use under Win 7 or Vista/XP a cheap application to handle that stream and redirect to modern WinPrinters. I use DOSprn but that is limited to non graphic printing.

Virtual PC can install under Home edition too; if you need support contact me by private message system.

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November 18, 2010 at 08:12:04

To add to the excellent comments above I would suggest that if it is really time to replace the old computer that you either build your own, or have a custom shop do it.

That way you can get exactly the hardware your need, including floppy drives and parallel ports.

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November 18, 2010 at 09:47:25

A new or fairly recent mboard is a lot less likely to have a parallel port, although some retail models have a header for that rather than a built in port, and you can add a standard wired printer port plate in a spare card slot space. They're most likely to be on an ATX rather than a mATX mboard.

If the parallel port or the header for one is built into the mboard, you must have the printer port in EPP, ECP, or EPP/ECP mode in the mboard's bios in order for a parallel connected Dot Martix printer, or any printer model made after the early 90's or so, to be recognized by Windows. Usually EPP mode works fine - ECP mode requires that there is a spare DMA channel available - there might not be.

If the mboard doesn't have a parallel port....
- PCI parallel port cards work fine with most printers and most other parallel connected devices, and they already are set to EPP, ECP, or EPP/ECP mode.
- USB to parallel printer port adapters (they have circuitry between the two ends) work fine with Dot Matrix printers, and other parallel connected printers, and they already are set to EPP, ECP, or EPP/ECP mode, but they often support only the printer functions of parallel connected multi-function devices, and they often will NOT work with other parallel port connected devices.

Most more common models of parallel connected Dot matrix printers are already supported by XP, but they are not Plug and Play detectable - you have to select the make and model manually when you use Add Printers. The same probably applies to Vista and Windows 7. If you choose the right model, or if it's not listed, a model that the printer emulates, then you shouldn't have any problem with the printer in 2000 or above. You may have the option of printing the output of the Dos program in XP or Windows 7 instead of via a Dos emulator. E.g. save the Print output to a file. Print the file in XP or Windows 7.

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