• MS-DOS HDDs and partitions

    From paulie420@21:2/150 to All on Thu Apr 13 22:07:56 2023
    Ok; I always type too much, so I'll try to keep it simple.

    I'm working w/ a 486 machine - it has a BIOS from 11/1992; all the HDD options stop at 504MB unless you enter cylinder/heads/sectors.

    I'm wanting to switch the IDE HDD to an IDE to CFCard adapter; I bought a 2GB CFCard, and would ultimately like to use a larger one... I changed the 1024/16/63 [cyl/heads/sec...] to 4096/16/63. I can boot the CFCard, but when I run fdisk /mbr, then fdisk - create a main partition, then format c: - it only sees 504MB.

    I used a DDO software called OnTrack and that was able to quickly and easily see all 2GB on the CFCard, and partition it into 4 500MB partitions; but only one bootable.

    Many friends tell me MS-DOS 6.22 should be able to see the full 2GB w/o DDO software - am I missing something?

    [Computer is a Dolch PAC 60 486DX/66...]



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  • From Abbub@21:2/145 to Paulie420 on Fri Apr 14 08:34:08 2023
    Many friends tell me MS-DOS 6.22 should be able to see the full 2GB w/o
    DDO software - am I missing something?

    Your issue isn't with DOS, it's with the BIOS as someone else mentioned. If memory serves, OnTrack gets around the BIOS limitations by hanging out in the boot block of the drive and overwriting the information about the drive
    coming from BIOS so that DOS 'sees' a bigger drive than BIOS is actually reporting. (My memories of this are dated, but I think that's more or less
    how it worked.)

    A better solution that I would propose is getting a 16-bit ISA network card
    for your 486 that has a socket for a boot PROM. Then you can use the XTIDE Universal BIOS and your 486 will be able to see and use larger drives without having to bring any software into the picture. (There are also some multi-IO and IDE cards that have boot rom sockets, but in my experience these are
    rarer and harder to find than a NIC card.) I've done this for both my 386 and my 486 and it works very well and is hassle-free.

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    * Origin: WalledCTTY (21:2/145)
  • From hollowone@21:2/150 to paulie420 on Fri Apr 14 05:02:16 2023
    I used a DDO software called OnTrack and that was able to quickly and easily see all 2GB on the CFCard, and partition it into 4 500MB partitions; but only one bootable.

    One bootable is OK until you install a boot manager that can handle multiple. DOS itself can't do that. you need LILO, GRUB or something similar, I'd assume.

    Regarding size. Yeah. I found it on 86box that many BIOSes are limited to small HDD presets and then you need to accurately know the sector/cylinder/heads setup to unlock it completely.

    Perhaps you can try some different numbers from known 2GB disks of the era?

    -h1

    ... Xerox Alto was the thing. Anything after we use is just a mere copy.

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  • From StormTrooper@21:2/108 to paulie420 on Fri Apr 14 08:52:17 2023
    I'm working w/ a 486 machine - it has a BIOS from 11/1992; all the HDD options stop at 504MB unless you enter cylinder/heads/sectors.

    Its a BIOS limit, not a DOS limit that you're seeing. In order to bypass the DOS extender you'd need a more recent BIOS which would be hit and miss depending on whats on board on your 486.

    When DOS boots it gets the boot information from BIOS, so if BIOS can't see more than 500Mb which was a hard limit for some time, DOS will only ever see that initially unless you load the extender to tell DOS about the rest of the space BIOS can't tell it about.

    Spec

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  • From paulie420@21:2/150 to StormTrooper on Sat Apr 15 23:16:53 2023
    Its a BIOS limit, not a DOS limit that you're seeing. In order to
    bypass the DOS extender you'd need a more recent BIOS which would be hit and miss depending on whats on board on your 486.

    When DOS boots it gets the boot information from BIOS, so if BIOS can't see more than 500Mb which was a hard limit for some time, DOS will only ever see that initially unless you load the extender to tell DOS about
    the rest of the space BIOS can't tell it about.

    Yea, understood. And I've used a DDO software; OnTrack v9.56, to bypass that... but to my dismay, it replaces a bit of the MBR and makes it so I can't mount the CFCard on any sort of current system :/

    I thought I had it all figured out - use some 30 year old software to get around the 504MB limit... but now I'm stuck to writing .IMGs to 3.5" diskettes - jesus... :P

    Back to the drawing board.



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  • From paulie420@21:2/150 to hollowone on Sat Apr 15 23:19:16 2023
    Perhaps you can try some different numbers from known 2GB disks of the era?

    I tried;
    Cylinders - 976
    Heads - 64
    Sectors - 63

    today - which is what OnTrack suggested my 2GB CFCard 'is' - but the BIOS didn't like that and failed the controller card...


    I'd just around the bend from ordering 4 500MB CFCards and mounting them thru the rear of the machine and be done w/ the issues of higher capacity HDDs. :P

    I did get a fully registered copy of Terminal Velocity - my very favorite DOS era game - loaded today... so theres that. :P



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  • From paulie420@21:2/150 to Abbub on Sat Apr 15 23:20:19 2023
    A better solution that I would propose is getting a 16-bit ISA network card for your 486 that has a socket for a boot PROM. Then you can use
    the XTIDE Universal BIOS and your 486 will be able to see and use larger drives without having to bring any software into the picture. (There are also some multi-IO and IDE cards that have boot rom sockets, but in my experience these are rarer and harder to find than a NIC card.) I've
    done this for both my 386 and my 486 and it works very well and is hassle-free.

    I've heard of XT-IDE and yea.. I think I need to sniff around that a bit m0re...

    They're hard to get, you say? I thought that was an easy solution in 2o23... Jesus!



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  • From Abbub@21:2/145 to Paulie420 on Sun Apr 16 07:38:01 2023
    They're hard to get, you say? I thought that was an easy solution in
    2o23... Jesus!

    XTIDE themselves aren't hard to get, but you probably don't really want an XTIDE card for your 486 because they're 8-bit cards. What you want is a
    network card or an IDE Multi I/O card with an empty boot ROM socket. The
    later, the IDE Multi I/O card with an actual socket are the things that are hard to get. Network cards with a rom socket are relatively easy to come by these days and work great. Then you can just get a EEPROM with the 386+
    version of the XTIDE universal BIOS, stick it in the network card, and it'll take over drive translations for you.

    Also, if you're manually copying .IMG files to floppy disks, I *highly* recommend you look into getting a Gotek with the FlashFloppy firmware on it. It'll make your life *way* easier.

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    * Origin: WalledCTTY (21:2/145)
  • From paulie420@21:2/150 to Abbub on Sun Apr 16 15:11:18 2023
    XTIDE themselves aren't hard to get, but you probably don't really want
    an XTIDE card for your 486 because they're 8-bit cards. What you want is
    a network card or an IDE Multi I/O card with an empty boot ROM socket.
    The later, the IDE Multi I/O card with an actual socket are the things that are hard to get. Network cards with a rom socket are relatively
    easy to come by these days and work great. Then you can just get a
    EEPROM with the 386+ version of the XTIDE universal BIOS, stick it in
    the network card, and it'll take over drive translations for you.

    Understood 90% of this reply and think I'll be researching the 'best' 486 solution - thanks for filling me in on a few parts of it. Ultimately, I want a CFCard w/ several paritions - each of which I can boot into w/ different OSes on it.

    For NOW, I ordered a few 500mb CFCards so I can just exchange them and build systems on each one.

    Also, if you're manually copying .IMG files to floppy disks, I *highly* recommend you look into getting a Gotek with the FlashFloppy firmware on it. It'll make your life *way* easier.

    Oh - I know, and appreicate the Gotek suggestion; I looked at it but chose CFCard for a few reasons... this particular 486 has a network card w/ ethernet that I can transfer files over, and I have a couple other solutions - I was really just catching video for a youtube thing later, and having fun doing so. :P

    But yes - and thanks for sharing the above... I don't know a lot about the different cards and solutions for new HDD solutions.



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  • From Abbub@21:2/145 to Paulie420 on Mon Apr 17 19:37:24 2023
    Oh - I know, and appreicate the Gotek suggestion; I looked at it but
    chose CFCard for a few reasons... this particular 486 has a network
    card w/ ethernet that I can transfer files over, and I have a couple
    other solutions - I was really just catching video for a youtube thing later, and having fun doing so. :P

    Oh, I wasn't suggesting it as an alternative to the CF card. The CF card replaced the mechanical hard drive. The Gotek replaced the floppy drive. This system that the BBS is running on (a 386) and the system I've been working on (a 486) both use CF as their 'hard drives' and have Goteks for getting
    software onto and off of them (in addition to network controllers).

    The handy thing about it is that you can just pull a bunch of software images from somewhere like WinworldPC, copy them to your USB key, and be installing them on your system a few minutes later.

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  • From StormTrooper@21:2/108 to paulie420 on Wed Apr 19 00:36:40 2023
    I thought I had it all figured out - use some 30 year old software to get around the 504MB limit... but now I'm stuck to writing .IMGs to 3.5" diskettes - jesus... :P

    Chuckle, spare a thought for having to use 140k 5.25" floppies then. :)

    I noticed in a later message you mention putting larger values in the custom bios settings. You can put whatever values you want in there, but the 500Mb BIOS limit still remains. I remember having to use OnTrack as well.. didn't think to much about it at the time. Times change though.

    ST

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  • From paulie420@21:2/150 to Abbub on Sat Apr 22 15:08:05 2023
    Oh, I wasn't suggesting it as an alternative to the CF card. The CF card replaced the mechanical hard drive. The Gotek replaced the floppy drive. This system that the BBS is running on (a 386) and the system I've been working on (a 486) both use CF as their 'hard drives' and have Goteks
    for getting software onto and off of them (in addition to network controllers).

    The handy thing about it is that you can just pull a bunch of software images from somewhere like WinworldPC, copy them to your USB key, and be installing them on your system a few minutes later.

    Thanks - understood. I'm thinking of ordering a GoTek board, as I want to add the potentiometer and flash to the newest firmware... I know I can order one, but it seems like a fun project to solder myself.



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  • From paulie420@21:2/150 to StormTrooper on Sat Apr 22 15:23:22 2023
    I noticed in a later message you mention putting larger values in the custom bios settings. You can put whatever values you want in there,
    but the 500Mb BIOS limit still remains. I remember having to use OnTrack as well.. didn't think to much about it at the time. Times change though.

    Yea; I now know that the CFCard is 3909cylinders 16heads 63sectors. I've found the 'best' way for my setup is to put 3909/16/63 in the BIOS - yer right, FDISK will only allow me to format 504MB; but I've found that if I boot with an OnTrack Boot Disk - use IT to FDISK/FORMAT the CFCard, it creates a full 2GB PRI DOS partition and formats to 2GB...

    then when I install/boot into MS-DOS, FDISK SAYS 504MB is the max, but it READS the 2GB partition as a PRI DOS - and I can access the entire 2GB. Furthermore, I can put the CFCard in a modern system and see the standard FAT16 partition - for copying data to/from...



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  • From Abbub@21:2/145 to Paulie420 on Sat Apr 22 21:19:59 2023
    Thanks - understood. I'm thinking of ordering a GoTek board, as I want
    to add the potentiometer and flash to the newest firmware... I know I
    can order one, but it seems like a fun project to solder myself.

    Yeah, I highly recommend the rotary encoder modification, and also picking up one of the little OLED screens for it.

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    * Origin: WalledCTTY (21:2/145)
  • From paulie420@21:2/150 to Abbub on Sun Apr 23 20:48:42 2023
    Yeah, I highly recommend the rotary encoder modification, and also
    picking up one of the little OLED screens for it.

    Yessir - I've even seen some info about different sized OLEDs for the Gotek... I'm getting there. :P



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