How retro have you gone?

Discussions about using non Windows and Linux guests such as FreeBSD, DOS, OS/2, OpenBSD, etc.

How retro have you gone?

Postby Ozymandias » 2. Nov 2016, 00:52

What's the oldest OS you have ever run on Virtual Box? How old can one possibly go, even? I've seen on youtube someone running Win 1.0 (1985?) in Vbox, but that is the oldest I have seen. Can you go even older?

Also, to the moderators... I was having a bit of a hard time finding the right section for this kind of thread. If this is the incorrect section, feel free to move it.
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Re: How retro have you gone?

Postby mpack » 2. Nov 2016, 12:10

Belongs in "Other Guests" I would think. I'll move it.

The oldest OS possible is DOS, as that is the original OS on x86 PCs, and VirtualBox can only simulate PCs. Of course I doubt even DOS die hards would want to go back to PC DOS 1.0 (160K floppies only, no subdirectories, no clock). The oldest DOS version I've installed is DOS 5.0.
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Re: How retro have you gone?

Postby michaln » 2. Nov 2016, 12:27

I have started PC DOS 1.0 (1981) in VirtualBox. It's not possible to install DOS 1.0 on a hard disk because... it does not support hard disks at all.

The oldest DOS which can actually run something merely 25 years old or so is DOS 3.1 (1985) or 3.2 (1986). DOS 3.3 (1987) is probably the oldest that it makes sense to run for anything halfway practical. DOS 4.0 (1988) works well in a VM but it's DOS 4.0. DOS 5.0 (1991) and later should run well and it does not matter much if it's MS-DOS 5.0 or 6.0/6.2/6.21/6.22 or PC DOS 5.0 or 6.0/6.1/6.3/7.0/2000.
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Re: How retro have you gone?

Postby ak120 » 7. Nov 2016, 20:26

it does not support hard disks at all

This answer is too simple. A real IBM PC can be equipped with hard disks - also back in the times of DOS 1.x. But the method to access them is quite different from usual BIOS support. IBM's official way was the use of an external expansion unit 5161, but there existed also hardcards or other external solutions.

Even CP/M-86 Version 1.1 works - that supports hard disk partitions up to 8 MB. Main problem in Virtualbox with old DOS 1.x/2.x and CP/M systems is the (not fully) emulated floppy controller. You can add a second floppy drive but it will not be detected by the OS, or more evil it will simply use A: drive when B: is choosen. So be very careful and have a backup of every disk image used by Vbox - for the security. I don't know if there's a special way to add a third and fourth floppy drive. Floppy support seems not to be important for Virtualbox, it's also not possible to connect a floppy drive to an emulated SCSI adapter.
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Re: How retro have you gone?

Postby ak120 » 7. Nov 2016, 23:12

Unfortunately the second floppy (media) recognition problems are also present in DOS 3.3 guests under VirtualBox. And as long a second floppy drive is in the configuration it also fails to write to the first one.
Attachments
dos33nodisk.png
creating disks from DOS 3.3
dos33nodisk.png (3.78 KiB) Viewed 1145 times
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Re: How retro have you gone?

Postby michaln » 10. Nov 2016, 11:01

ak120 wrote:
it does not support hard disks at all

This answer is too simple. A real IBM PC can be equipped with hard disks - also back in the times of DOS 1.x.

Sometimes the simple answer is the best. PC DOS 1.x does not support hard disks, and also does not support loadable drivers. That doesn't mean it was impossible to adapt DOS 1.x for hard disk support, but no, PC DOS 1.0 and 1.1 as delivered by IBM does not support hard disks. Please don't confuse non-experts with irrelevant esoteric trivia.

As for the trouble with two floppy drives, that sounds a bit like something that was fixed in VirtualBox some time ago (but because you didn't specify the version you used, I can only guess that that might be it). I can access two floppies in DOS just fine. Note that formatting is special, much more restrictive, and essentially irrelevant in a VM.
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Re: How retro have you gone?

Postby Ozymandias » 11. Nov 2016, 01:57

I'm liking where this thread is going. So, my guess is that the main reason why you can't go super retro (such as Commodore 64) is because of the system architecture or something like that, right?

Is that the same reason why you couldn't run Windows or MacOS on a Raspberry Pi?
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Re: How retro have you gone?

Postby mpack » 11. Nov 2016, 12:33

VirtualBox is a Hypervisor. It supervises access to the host hardware and simulates other hardware which the CPU code sees, but VirtualBox does not simulate the CPU. Guest code instead runs natively on the host CPU, at full speed (when it isn't touching hardware).

Furthermore, the only hardware VirtualBox has simulation modules for is hardware which at some point in the past has been standard on the IBM PC and later derivatives.

The Commodore 64 had the wrong CPU and the wrong hardware, so simulating that environment will never be possible in VirtualBox.

CPU simulators do exist. VirtualBox is not one of them. CPU simulators typically execute code several orders of magnitude slower than you would need: they are typically used for debugging, not as live environments.
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Re: How retro have you gone?

Postby ak120 » 14. Nov 2016, 16:45

michaln wrote:
ak120 wrote:
it does not support hard disks at all

This answer is too simple. A real IBM PC can be equipped with hard disks - also back in the times of DOS 1.x.

Sometimes the simple answer is the best. PC DOS 1.x does not support hard disks, and also does not support loadable drivers. That doesn't mean it was impossible to adapt DOS 1.x for hard disk support, but no, PC DOS 1.0 and 1.1 as delivered by IBM does not support hard disks.

Hard disk were a quite expensive extra feature back in 1981/82. For instance Tecmar's PC Mate was available in late 1981 and worked with PC DOS 1.x.

Please don't confuse non-experts with irrelevant esoteric trivia.

As for the trouble with two floppy drives, that sounds a bit like something that was fixed in VirtualBox some time ago (but because you didn't specify the version you used, I can only guess that that might be it). I can access two floppies in DOS just fine. Note that formatting is special, much more restrictive, and essentially irrelevant in a VM.


I saw in changelog only:
VirtualBox 5.0.14
BIOS: properly report if two floppy drives are attached
VirtualBox 4.3.28
Floppy: several fixes
Storage: added floppy formatting emulation (NB: cannot be used to change existing media geometry)

So 2 floppies are only supported with 5.0.14 and later versions?
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Re: How retro have you gone?

Postby ak120 » 14. Nov 2016, 17:12

I can confirm that in later versions (>5.0.18) it's now possible to format and read 1.4 MB floppies and images on both drives. But it's still not possible to format a 720K floppy/image neither in drive A: nor in drive B:. An write protect warning shows up.
Attachments
DOS33DE-format720.png
Formatting 720K image fails
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Re: How retro have you gone?

Postby mpack » 14. Nov 2016, 18:45

@ak120: you are in danger of hijacking this topic. Please start your own topic if you want to discuss matters which the OP did not raise.
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Re: How retro have you gone?

Postby ak120 » 15. Nov 2016, 11:14

So please move my later posts to a new topic "DOS version 3.3 disk drives issues".
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