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Running DOS Programs From System Manager

Running DOS Programs From System Manager

Use MaxDOS to run DOS programs without having to exit System Manager; then add HDM, which can handle up to 120 DOS programs.

By Jorgen Wallgren

The great thing about the HP Palmtop is that it's a DOS machine - and there is a lot of DOS software still available. You should be able to run almost any DOS program on the Palmtop, provided it does not use extended or expanded memory and can display in character or CGA graphic mode.

 Some DOS programs need so much of the 640Kb of system RAM, that you have to terminate System Manager and run them from the DOS prompt. Here is a tip on how you can run many of these memory hungry programs directly from your Application Manager using a nifty utility called MaxDOS.

Get and install MaxDOS

 To do this magic, you need a great Japanese freeware program called MaxDOS (written by MeW). MaxDOS uses a special "swap" file to save the current System Manager session. It then unloads System Manager, leaving you the maximum amount of system RAM available to run your DOS program. When you exit the DOS program, MaxDOS automatically reloads the System Manager session you saved. (I would like thank my friend Fong, from Thailand. Fong introduced me to the program and showed me how to install it. MaxDOS is now available with English documentation - thanks to Mr. Toshiki Sasabe (Janbe) who has translated the original Japanese documentation.)

1. First do a backup of everything on your Palmtop, just in case something goes wrong.

2. Make a directory called C:\TEMP and another called C:\BIN.

3. Copy all the MaxDOS files into C:\BIN.

 4. Modify AUTOEXEC.BAT to automatically load MaxDOS. Add the following line to the AUTO EXEC.BAT file, before the line that starts System Manager (i.e., the line that reads "200").

 C:\BIN\MAXDOS -L -E25 -WC:\

TEMP -AC:\BIN\

 ALERT.SND

The -L switch loads MaxDOS as a TSR. The -E25 tells MaxDOS the number of pages of EMM n to use (25 in this case). (EMM is a freeware EMS driver for the HP 100/200LX that assigns EMS memory to the C: drive, and can speed up applications that can use EMS. The use of the EMM program is optional; in other words, it's not necessary to employ EMM in order to use MaxDOS to run DOS programs.) If you only use option -E without the number of pages specified, all your EMM pages will be used. If you use EMM memory, you have to add option -Ex. The -W is followed by the swap file's temporary directory. The -A is follow by the complete directory and name of a sound file. Note: The option -A is not necessary. But if you use it, your Appointment Book alarms will even go off if you are in a MaxDOS session.

 You can remove MaxDOS by exiting System Manager, typing C:\BIN\MAXDOS -R at the DOS prompt and pressing (Enter).

 The swap file will take about 230KB of memory (without EMM installed). You should put the swap file on the C drive. If you use MaxDOS with the swap file located on a flash card, the startup time for your program will be very long. You get the best performance if you are using a "double speed" palmtop and have the swap file on the C drive.

How to use MaxDOS

 After you have successfully installed MaxDOS, you can install your favorite memory hog DOS program in Application Manager and run it without any memory problems. Again, this is for programs that will normally run if you have terminated System Manager, but won't run from Application Manager.

As an example, we'll install WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS on the HP 200LX.

 1. First install the program as you would any other DOS program. From the Application Manager screen, press (F2) to add a program and fill in the program name and path statement (see Screen 1.) Note the upside down question mark in the Comments field suppresses the "Press any key to return" message after you exit the DOS program.)
 
 

 Screen 1.

 Don't press (F10) yet! Instead, add "C:\bin\maxdos.com" to the path line in front of the ordinary path instruction (see Screen 2.)
 
 

 Screen 2.

 Now you can press (F10) (OK). You can now run WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS (or your favorite DOS program) from the Application Manager, even if it takes a lots of memory.

Access a DOS prompt with lots of memory

 You've probably noticed that Application Manager has a DOS prompt icon that lets you shell directly to DOS. Unfortunately, this method of accessing the DOS prompt leaves System Manager running. At best, you can only have about 435 Kb of system RAM available for DOS programs.

 Fortunately, we can use MaxDOS to add another DOS icon to Application Manager. When we access DOS using this icon, we'll have the maximum amount of free system RAM possible.

 From Application Manager, add a "new application" as shown in Screen 3.
 
 

 Screen 3.

 Please note that there is the "&" character in front of "DOS" on the NAME line. This lets you open Application Manager and press "D" to go to the new DOS prompt. There will be two applications with "D" as their hotkey. The new MaxDOS icon and the original DOS prompt icon. Application Manager will open the first application it finds, so make sure you place the MaxDOS icon before the other. Application Manager looks for applications line by line, left to right. To move an application icon, use the arrow keys to select it, press (F7), move it where you want it, and press (Enter) (see Screen 4).
 
 

 Screen 4.

 Add a DOS program manager

 I have a lot of DOS programs I like to run. Application Manager is limited to the number of extra application that can be added, so I use HDM by Harry Konstas.

 HDM adds a program manager for DOS programs. It can handle up to 200 programs and has the look and feel of the System Manager's AppManager.

From Application Manager, press (F2) and add HDM as an application. Be sure and place c:\bin\maxdos.com before the application start up command in the Path field.

You should see the HDM icon in Application Manager. When you start HDM, you get a program menu similar to Application Manager. Add your DOS applications to this menu. The screen below shows some of the programs I've added to HDM (see Screen 5).
 
 

 Screen 5.

 You can go one step further and organize your DOS programs in "folders" (just like they do in Microsoft Windows). Screen 5 shows a games icon in HDM. This is my Games folder. I select and "start" that folder and another DOS Application Manager screen appears, displaying my games (see Screen 6).
 
 

 Screen 6.

 What's really happening here is that HDM is starting itself up again, this time with a different data file displaying only my games.

 I did this by opening HDM, pressing (F2) to add a program, and filling in add a program dialog box as shown in Screen 7.
 
 

 Screen 7.

 I filled in the name of my "folder" as "&Games". Then I filled in the path + filename as "c:\hdm\ dm.bat" (I start HDM with a batch file, instead of DM.EXE - there is more about how to do this in the HDM.DOC file). Then I filled in the "Command tail," specifying games.dat as the new data file. Then I opened my Games folder and added my games.

I hope you enjoy using these programs to organize your DOS programs and run them without having to exit System Manager. I've used this system for a while and it's worked fine. However, that's no guarantee that you won't experience some problems. Please take this as a disclaimer that you do this at your own risk and that I am not responsible for any problems you might experience. Please be sure to back up your 200LX before attempting any of this.
 
 

Shareware/Freeware mentioned in this article

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