How I installed FreeDOS on a Dell

2006-07-09

Edward Long posted this advice to the list, and I thought it might be helpful to other newbies:

I was able to install FreeDOS with the support of Mark Bailey.

I think that his instruction file makes it fairly clear how to install. (I will probably always be a complete novice in all things pertaining to computers.)

The following are supplemental notes I made as Mark helped me. (It is long-winded, novice's record. If anyone now or in the future would like a PDF copy of this I will be happy to send it to them):


Loading Free DOS onto a Dell that came with Windows XP

The following is an outline of steps for loading FreeDOS onto a Dell computer that came with Windows XP. The steps make reference to files and a detailed guideline provided by Mark Bailey. Since the guideline is complete, even for someone who is "not into computers" only supplemental comments are provided that may help the complete novice.

1. - Download fdinst.pdf (hereafter called "PDF File" by going to http://odin.fdos.org/dual/fdinst091.pdf

This is a set of step-by-step instructions by Mark Bailey for loading FreeDOS (or MSDOS) onto a computer that has only a Microsoft Windows operating system. Bailey explains what you will be doing and why. It pays to read ahead several pages as you proceed in order to understand the bigger picture of what you will be doing.

2. - The PDF File instructs the user to download fdinst091.iso, a 40-MByte file, onto your desktop by going to http://odin.fdos.org/dual/fdinst091.iso

This ISO File is an image of the contents of a FreeDOS Installation CD that will enable you to create FAT32 space on your computer, load DOS into that space, and give you the option when booting up your computer to load either Windows or DOS. For more information on ISO Images see the following sites.

3. - The PDF File next instructs the User to load the contents of the ISO file onto a CD such that it is a "bootable CD". (This CD can be either R or R/W). The PDF File states that "Easy CD Creator" (by Roxio) is capable of doing this but this User was not able to use either "Easy CD Creator" or Roxio’s most recent version of a CD burner

The PDF file provides a Web location from which an ISORECORDER application, aka "Power Toy", may be downloaded which will burn the contents of the ISO file onto the CD in a useable form. The site is http://isorecorder.alexfeinman.com/isorecorder.htm

This is free software however there is a PayPal method for contributions that enable the author of the site to continue providing software for the various forms of Microsoft Windows. A donation is a good thing considering how quickly (and simply) Power Toy uses the contents of the ISO File to create a bootable CD.

Note that the particular version of the Iso Recorder to download depends on the particular version of Microsoft Windows on the computer. To determine what version of Windows is on the computer right click on My Computer and in the dropdown window click on Properties. Look at the description of the system on the General Tab. (For example, if the system is Microsoft Windows XP, Home Edition, Version 2002, Service Pack 2 then download ISORecorderV2RC1.msi.)

The ISO Recorder page provides instructions for how it is to be used to create the bootable CD after it is installed. These instructions can be pasted from the WEB site into a Word, Word Perfect, or similar application for future reference. (NOTE: As stated in the PDF File, what is placed on the CD is a collection of folders and files. There will not be a file with an iso extension.

The PDF File’s next instruction is to reboot the computer with the CD just created in the computer’s CD drive. But this assumes that the computer will look at the CD drive for boot instructions before it looks at its hard drive. Dell computers typically are provided with the following order of boot targets:

To change the boot order so that the CD is looked at before the HD when starting up (rebooting) the computer press the F12 key when the word Dell appears on the screen at start up. This brings up a display of several lines. Do the following:

The User is now ready to proceed with the section of the PDF File entitled "Resizing your NTFS Partition".

Please note the following:

1. In this section, make note whether or not your partions have names like /dev/hda or /dev/sda or something else for the last three alpha characters. This is important when several pages later in the PDF File the user is told to type fdisk /dev/hda. If the last three character in the partitions are sda then instead type fdisk /dev/sda.

2. - You may see a partition on your Dell for which under the Id column the label is db. Mark Bailey determined that this is a Dell automatic restoration partition. Dell has bundled Norton Ghost with the computer to do recovery if the primary NTFS (Windows XP) partition becomes corrupted.

If there are four partitions after creating the FAT 32 partition for DOS then a third operation system can not be added without destroying the content of one of the four. (However, additional partitions for non-OS things could be added.

3. - After completing the part of the PDF File instructions for which Windows XPruns the chkdisk utility use the application WordPad to create a txt file and store this in the new FAT 32 partition which in Windows XP is called something like Local Disk E.:

The existence of this file can be used later in PDF File under the section Installing FreeDOS at the DOS prompt A:> to determine for certain that you are selecting the correct partition into which to load DOS.

At the DOS prompt do: DIR A and Enter then DIR B and Enter . . . DIR E and ENTER until one of these results in a display of the the txt file you created.

If this information appeared for DIR C then at the DOS prompt enter SYS C at the DOS prompt then C at he DOS prompt then A: \ install.

4. It may be that when you then remove the bootable CD, and select and reboot that you get a multiple-line error message something like the following:

FreeDOS kernel version 1.1.35w (Build 2035w-UNSTABLE, Sep 15 2005)
Kernel compatibility 7.10 - WATCOMC - FAT32 support

Copyright 1995-2005 Pasquale J. Villani and the FreeDOD Project.
NO WARANTY. Licenced under the GNU General Public Licence version2.

C: HD1, Pri[ 4], CHS= 6604-0-1, start= 51803 MB, size 402 MB
Error in the DJ mechanism!
Error in the DJ mechanism!
IO error: cylinder >1023
Error in the DJ mechanism!
Error in the DJ mechanism!
IO error: cylinder >1023
Press F8 to trace or F5 to skip
CONFIG.SYS/AUTOEXEC.BAT

(I hit pause. Regardless of whether I pressed ENTER, F8, or F5 the following then appeared)

Error in the DJ mechanism!
Error in the DJ mechanism!
IO error: cylinder >1023
Error in the DJ mechanism!
Error in the DJ mechanism!
IO error: cylinder >1023
Error in the DJ mechanism!
Error in the DJ mechanism!
IO error: cylinder >1023
Error in the DJ mechanism!
Error in the DJ mechanism!
IO error: cylinder >1023

If so then you will need to overwrite the existing kernel.sys file with an update. This is done by going to http://fdos.org/kernel/ and download kernel.dev.sys. Rename the file kernel.sys and, under WindowsXP copy it to the FreeDOS partition. This will over write the existing faulty kernel.

-- Edward R. Long, Jr.