DOS Multi-tasking Environment?

58 views
Skip to first unread message

Harry Potter

unread,
Nov 23, 2019, 5:23:28 PM11/23/19
to
I am looking to run multiple programs at the time on a DOS laptop. What program online can do that, and where can I find it?

T. Ment

unread,
Nov 23, 2019, 6:21:34 PM11/23/19
to
On Sat, 23 Nov 2019 14:23:27 -0800 (PST), Harry Potter wrote:

> I am looking to run multiple programs at the time on a DOS laptop.
> What program online can do that, and where can I find it?

Maybe this:

https://winworldpc.com/product/real-32/7x


Grant Taylor

unread,
Nov 23, 2019, 6:28:03 PM11/23/19
to
On 11/23/19 3:23 PM, Harry Potter wrote:
> I am looking to run multiple programs at the time on a DOS laptop.
> What program online can do that, and where can I find it?

MS-DOS Shell had a multi-tasking feature.

I don't recall the particulars. Something about task switching and / or
task swapping. I think one was time slicing between multiple programs
in a way that seemed like they were running concurrently and the other
switched to only the selected program while suspending the other programs.

Quarterdeck had DESQview.

IBM had TopView.

I'm sure there were others.



--
Grant. . . .
unix || die

Kerr-Mudd,John

unread,
Nov 24, 2019, 5:41:21 AM11/24/19
to
I suspect that Mr Potter's requirements would be best met with a newer
laptop; one capable of running a multi-tasking OS.


--
Bah, and indeed, Humbug.

Harry Potter

unread,
Nov 24, 2019, 7:40:44 AM11/24/19
to
On Sunday, November 24, 2019 at 5:41:21 AM UTC-5, Kerr-Mudd,John wrote:
> I suspect that Mr Potter's requirements would be best met with a newer
> laptop; one capable of running a multi-tasking OS.
>
Well, it *does* run Win3.1. I will try T. Ment's suggestion. I used to have DOS shell. It can do what I need it to do: switch between tasks. I don't think I have it anymore. :(

Harry Potter

unread,
Nov 24, 2019, 8:24:44 AM11/24/19
to
On Sunday, November 24, 2019 at 7:40:44 AM UTC-5, Harry Potter wrote:
> Well, it *does* run Win3.1. I will try T. Ment's suggestion. I used to have DOS shell. It can do what I need it to do: switch between tasks. I don't think I have it anymore. :(

I downloaded DOSSHELL. I can't get graphics mode or change colors, though, and prefer Star Commander, a Norton Commander clone.

Harry Potter

unread,
Nov 24, 2019, 8:44:34 AM11/24/19
to
On Sunday, November 24, 2019 at 8:24:44 AM UTC-5, Harry Potter wrote:
> I downloaded DOSSHELL. I can't get graphics mode or change colors, though, and prefer Star Commander, a Norton Commander clone.

When I try to open a program with muti-tasking enabled, I get an error message stating that the computer couldn't load command.com or dosswap.exe. What's wrong?

Grant Taylor

unread,
Nov 24, 2019, 11:00:00 AM11/24/19
to
On 11/24/19 3:41 AM, Kerr-Mudd,John wrote:
> I suspect that Mr Potter's requirements would be best met with a
> newer laptop; one capable of running a multi-tasking OS.

Likely.

But he asked a legitimate question in a reasonable manner. Seeing as I
had an answer to his question, I saw no reason to withhold it.

Grant Taylor

unread,
Nov 24, 2019, 11:02:04 AM11/24/19
to
On 11/24/19 5:40 AM, Harry Potter wrote:
> Well, it *does* run Win3.1. I will try T. Ment's suggestion.
> I used to have DOS shell. It can do what I need it to do: switch
> between tasks. I don't think I have it anymore. :(

I believe that DOS Shell is included with MS-DOS 6.22. It may be on the
4th optional utilities disk.

It's my understanding that DOS Shell was introduced in MS-DOS 4.0 and
included through 6.22.

Grant Taylor

unread,
Nov 24, 2019, 11:03:41 AM11/24/19
to
On 11/24/19 6:44 AM, Harry Potter wrote:
> When I try to open a program with muti-tasking enabled, I get an
> error message stating that the computer couldn't load command.com
> or dosswap.exe. What's wrong?

Unknown.

I would suspect a PATH issue. I've not run into that particular
problem. Though I've not used DOS Shell, much less it's multi-tasking
ability, in 20ish years.

T. Ment

unread,
Nov 24, 2019, 11:18:22 AM11/24/19
to
On Sun, 24 Nov 2019 04:40:43 -0800 (PST), Harry Potter wrote:

> On Sunday, November 24, 2019 at 5:41:21 AM UTC-5, Kerr-Mudd,John wrote:

>> I suspect that Mr Potter's requirements would be best met with a newer
>> laptop; one capable of running a multi-tasking OS.

Even a lowly 386 laptop should run IMS REAL/32. It worked for IBM, they
licensed it for POS terminals.


> Well, it *does* run Win3.1. I will try T. Ment's suggestion.

Windows 3.11 is stable when configured right. A virtual memory bug hit
Pentium and later chips. They fixed it in Windows 98. I can't find the
reference now, but it was online at one time. Probably gone now.

For me, Windows 3.11 is stable without virtual memory. With plenty of
RAM it's not a problem. If you only have 4 MB, that may not work.


Steve

unread,
Nov 24, 2019, 11:18:48 AM11/24/19
to
Hi,

I used TopView, and liked it better than some contemporary
products. Probably text based. It's been quite a while.

WordPerfect also had a shell program. Also text based?

Later products were Windows 3.x and GEM.

OS/2 can run with a pentium and 16 megabytes of
memory. And from version 3 on, is probably the best
MS-DOS multitasker.

Cheers,

Steve N.

T. Ment

unread,
Nov 24, 2019, 11:45:58 AM11/24/19
to
On Sun, 24 Nov 2019 16:18:24 GMT, Steve wrote:

> OS/2 can run with a pentium and 16 megabytes of
> memory. And from version 3 on, is probably the best
> MS-DOS multitasker.

OS/2 is like Frankenstein. A monster. Don't go near it.


Grant Taylor

unread,
Nov 24, 2019, 12:19:36 PM11/24/19
to
On 11/24/19 5:40 AM, Harry Potter wrote:
> Well, it *does* run Win3.1.

If Windows (3.x) is an option, then I'd also consider OS/2 as an option.
As IBM said "OS/2 is a better DOS than DOS and a better Windows than
Windows."

Grant Taylor

unread,
Nov 24, 2019, 12:21:05 PM11/24/19
to
On 11/24/19 9:18 AM, Steve wrote:
> … GEM.

I forgot about GEM.

I don't think about it, or really know anything about it, as I've never
run it myself.

Grant Taylor

unread,
Nov 24, 2019, 12:22:49 PM11/24/19
to
On 11/24/19 9:45 AM, T. Ment wrote:
> OS/2 is like Frankenstein. A monster. Don't go near it.

Why do you say that?

I've had quite good luck with OS/2 (Warp 4(.52)).

I'm also forced to choose between OS/2 and AIX for something I'm doing.
Seeing as how I don't have an RS/6000 to run AIX on, I'm sort of forced
to run OS/2.

T. Ment

unread,
Nov 24, 2019, 12:29:18 PM11/24/19
to
On Sun, 24 Nov 2019 10:22:48 -0700, Grant Taylor wrote:

>On 11/24/19 9:45 AM, T. Ment wrote:

>> OS/2 is like Frankenstein. A monster. Don't go near it.
>
> Why do you say that?

Just look at config.sys.


> I've had quite good luck with OS/2 (Warp 4(.52)).

I've wasted enough time on OS/2 to know better. Never again.



Grant Taylor

unread,
Nov 24, 2019, 3:21:33 PM11/24/19
to
On 11/24/19 10:29 AM, T. Ment wrote:
> Just look at config.sys.

That's a non-answer.

Why do you think OS/2 / it's config.sys file is like Frankenstein?

I've personally had effectively no problems with OS/2's config.sys file,
or editing it.

At least it's a text file that can be simply edited compared to the
Windows registry.

> I've wasted enough time on OS/2 to know better. Never again.

To each his / her own.

Steve

unread,
Nov 24, 2019, 3:36:59 PM11/24/19
to
Grant Taylor <gta...@tnetconsulting.net> writes:
>On 11/24/19 9:18 AM, Steve wrote:
>> … GEM.
>
>I forgot about GEM.
>
>I don't think about it, or really know anything about it, as I've never
>run it myself.

Hi Grant,

Like TopView competed (sort of) with Windows 1, GEM was a
Windows 2 competitor. Though I mostly used GEM programs
ported to Windows 3. GEM was also supposed to be multi-platform.

Regards,

Steve N.

Steve

unread,
Nov 24, 2019, 3:37:00 PM11/24/19
to
Hi,

Interesting. What sort of project? I am still using
OS/2 at times, so if I can add support?

Regards,

Steve N.

Sjouke Burry

unread,
Nov 24, 2019, 4:01:34 PM11/24/19
to
It belongs to a certain dos version.
Searching old disk images, i found one with dos5.00, together with
about 8 support files.
That image was from an old computer, not installed by us.
We never installed that piece of shell software.

Grant Taylor

unread,
Nov 24, 2019, 9:12:09 PM11/24/19
to
On 11/24/19 1:35 PM, Steve wrote:
> Hi,

Hi,

> Interesting. What sort of project?

I have an old PCI card that is an IBM System/390 Processor Complex (CPU
& main memory). It is highly specialized and was only supported under
OS/2 Warp (3 / 4) and AIX 4.<something>.

The card and software go very much hand in hand.

> I am still using OS/2 at times, so if I can add support?

The software seems to be happy in OS/2 Warp 4.52 (Warp Server for
e-business). I'm guessing it would also be happy in eComStation and /
or ArcaOS. (I've not tried … yet.)

Paul Bartlett

unread,
Nov 25, 2019, 8:14:51 AM11/25/19
to
I had an MS-DOS 5 machine, and DOS Shell was included already
installed. I never really used it, but I got the idea that it was task
switching, not truly multitasking. But that was years ago, and I could
be wrong.

--
Paul Bartlett

Harry Potter

unread,
Nov 25, 2019, 10:38:39 AM11/25/19
to
On Monday, November 25, 2019 at 8:14:51 AM UTC-5, Paul Bartlett wrote:
> I had an MS-DOS 5 machine, and DOS Shell was included already
> installed. I never really used it, but I got the idea that it was task
> switching, not truly multitasking. But that was years ago, and I could
> be wrong.
>
AFAIR, it *was* task-switching, but that's good enough for me. :)

BTW, I don't like DOSShell: it looks kind of ugly, and the UI is not the best.

Grant Taylor

unread,
Nov 25, 2019, 1:02:21 PM11/25/19
to
On 11/25/19 6:14 AM, Paul Bartlett wrote:
> I had an MS-DOS 5 machine, and DOS Shell was included already
> installed. I never really used it, but I got the idea that it was
> task switching, not truly multitasking. But that was years ago,
> and I could be wrong.

I seem to recall that MS-DOS Shell had two modes of multi-tasking; task
switching, and task swapping. I don't recall the specifics of the
differences.

I think one would time slice between programs (switching?) and the other
would simply change between the foreground program when the user changed
(swapping?).

I'd have to dig out my MS-DOS book to look it up. Or check the help
included with MS-DOS Shell.

Grant Taylor

unread,
Nov 25, 2019, 1:07:11 PM11/25/19
to
On 11/25/19 8:38 AM, Harry Potter wrote:
> AFAIR, it *was* task-switching, but that's good enough for me. :)

See previous reply.

> BTW, I don't like DOSShell: it looks kind of ugly, and the UI is not
> the best.

To each his / her own.

You asked about ""multi-tasking options. MS-DOS Shell is decidedly on
that list.

You are free to have your own opinion of each list member.

Paul Bartlett

unread,
Nov 25, 2019, 7:11:07 PM11/25/19
to
I found an old DOS 5 manual and looked in the chapter of DOSShell.
There is a section on emabling and using Task Swapper, but I don't see
anything on task switching. To be honest, I'm not sure just what the
difference is, if any. But it does not seem to b e multitasking.

--
Paul Bartlett

Harry Potter

unread,
Nov 26, 2019, 7:34:23 AM11/26/19
to
BTW, I keep getting an error message stating that COMMAND.COM or DOSSWAP.EXE is not found whenever I try to multi-task. :( Also, I *really* want to use graphics mode and change color schemes, but the options are not available for some reason. :(

Grant Taylor

unread,
Nov 26, 2019, 12:33:15 PM11/26/19
to
That sounds like a PATH variable problem.

The graphics aren't much different than the text. The main thing that I
recall is the disk drive buttons may have a little disk next to them. I
think the arrows for things might be slightly different. The program
groups / icons may be slightly different. I don't recall it being
anything fancy.

Grant Taylor

unread,
Nov 26, 2019, 12:35:29 PM11/26/19
to
On 11/25/19 5:11 PM, Paul Bartlett wrote:
> I found an old DOS 5 manual and looked in the chapter of DOSShell.
> There is a section on emabling and using Task Swapper, but I don't
> see anything on task switching. To be honest, I'm not sure just what
> the difference is, if any. But it does not seem to b e multitasking.

Okay.

I'm going to take your word for it. It's been WAY TOO LONG and I could
be conflating the modes with something else.

Kerr-Mudd,John

unread,
Jan 5, 2020, 11:45:50 AM1/5/20
to
On Sun, 24 Nov 2019 16:18:22 GMT, T. Ment <t.m...@protocol.invalid>
wrote:
Back then the mantra was: 4M good 2M bad.



--
Bah, and indeed, Humbug.
Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages