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The DOS Zone


The DOS Zone

FAT System Guide

My Software


A Joke, Right?


Please view my Notices page before viewing this area, it is not complete!
This is work in progress.


DOS? You Have To Be Joking, Right?
No I'm not! What's wrong with DOS? It's surprising what can you can do with it when you stop and take a look.
Yeah But DOS Is Only 16 Bit, Newer OS's Are 32 Bit And So Better.
Well to start with that argument isn't really correct. Although new OS's run under protected mode it doesn't follow that they are 32 bit. Besides which why is a "32 bit" program any faster than a 16 bit equivalent? OK when it comes down to pure number crunching a 32 piece of code would probably win but how many tasks are that demanding? You can only read data from a keyboard as fast as the user types, you can only write/read data to disk as fast as it can go which is slower than the processor. A program written to run in real mode can still make use of 32 bit instructions, although I don't know if DOS does this. The main difference of course is with the memory, when in real mode an x86 processor can only address the first 1MB, in protected mode it can address much more. Even though DOS can't run in protected mode (as such), DOS programs can with the use of a DPMI server, allowing them to take full advantage of the extra (easily accessible) memory. Due to all the extra things that the processor has to do when its in protected mode it executes instructions slower than it does when in real mode!
But DOS Doesn't Do Much.
Correct, why should it? It's an OS not a complete solution to every task conceivable. In my view Internet browsers, calculators, games etc. should not be bundled with an OS, it just wastes disk space. Half the features bundled with new OS's are not likely to be used, they just sit there. An operating system should be small and efficient. (And the system files should preferably fit on to a single floppy disk)
DOS Doesn't Do Multitasking.
No, but neither do you. OK, I concede that it is still handy to have certain programs running in the background. Although it's not easy to do so DOS programs can be written to run behind the scenes as well. Admittedly this isn't very handy when compared to new OS's, but still the possibility exists. Later versions of DOS and some 3rd party software allows you to have several programs in memory at the same time, which you can switch between obviously. Task switching rather than multitasking but this is all that is required for a lot of applications anyway.
I have just discovered that DR-DOS does do multitasking!
DOS Commands Are Cryptic And Hard To Use.
Well yes, it's probably not immediately obvious to use "copy" or "move" to copy or move files. I'll agree that's unfair, there are some cryptic commands and switches can obviously cause confusion. At the end of the day if you can't cope with that then use a GUI instead. Dosshell used to be quite popular before being replaced by Microsoft Windows. Obviously Win 9X is now probably the most used DOS GUI around even despite its excessive loading times and system requirements.
No One Uses DOS Anymore Its Dead.
Which is why there are still companies/individuals developing DOS and DOS software. That also explains the fact that you can still buy DOS from certain computer shops. Some programs run better in DOS, anything which by its nature is single tasking in my view should be written to run under DOS. Take games for instance, who really needs lots of unnecessary OS related tasks going on and slowing things down?
DOS Does Not Support Much Hardware.
Well there's no way around that one. The important thing to note though is that it's mainly due to the perceived lack of demand for DOS support rather than impossibility.
With Modern Technology Its Not So Important To Have Efficient Software.
Lets put it like this who in their right mind would buy a high performance car and attach weights to slow it down? Many newer OS's promote the use of HLL's, take LINUX and C for example. Many DOS programs were, and are, written in assembler or at least parts of them. Before you start on about C being quite low level (and inferring that its almost as efficient as assembly) I've seen identical tasks coded in both and trust me assembler is much more efficient.
Here endeth the lesson.
Copyright © Jonathan Fox 2000-2002.