What DOS can still do for you

On March 28th Brien Posey led an enlightening revisitation to the days of DOS. Through curious inquisition and insightful response Brien Posey answered the question "What can DOS still do for you?"

On March 28th Brien Posey led an enlightening revisitation to the days of DOS. Through curious inquisition and insightful response Brien Posey answered the question “What can DOS still do for you?”If you couldn’t join us then, enjoy the transcript and we hope to see you on our next live Guild Meeting.

Note: TechProGuild edits Guild Meeting transcripts for clarity.

Welcome to the Guild Meeting!
MODERATOR: Welcome to tonight’s guild meeting ladies and gents!

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: Hello everyone.

MIKKILUSA: Hmm, was that king of Linux?

MIKKILUSA: I see me. No one else.

MODERATOR: is the king of Linux! ;-) But I'm only the moderator tonight so I'm keeping my big mouth shut! ;-)

MIKKILUSA: hehehe, well, if more do not show, there will not be much moderating going on.

MODERATOR: ;-) Tonight's topic is everyone's old friend DOS. Tonight’s speaker needs little introduction: Brien Posey.

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: Hello everyone.

MIKKILUSA: Hi there.

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: So how about it, does anyone have any questions or any cool uses for DOS in the modern world?

HUEVOS: Hello all.

MIKKILUSA: Ahh cool an egg is here.

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: Tough crowd tonight.

HUEVOS: Is there some way in a batch file to force a file to overwrite without having to confirm it (i.e. Y/N/All)?

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: Yes, you can use a text file with a Y as its only content and then follow your batch file with filename.txt.

HUEVOS: Do you refer to that "Y" text file for each step if doing multiple files?

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: Yes. Of course that file could contain N or A.

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: Has anyone tried the Windows 2000 Recovery Console yet?

MIKKILUSA: Yes but did work.



GJANI: Hello all.

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: So what didn't work about it?

MIKKILUSA: Was not 2000s fault, it is my SCSI card’s fault, and hi GJANI.

MIKKILUSA: Needs a HD to recover too heheheheh.


SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: Oh... What about the general idea behind the Recovery Console? Any thoughts?


GJANI: Thank you, and no I haven’t tried W2K yet.

MIKKILUSA: So far what I have seen as far as a workstation, W2K looks promising.

HUEVOS: Does not seem too special at first glance.

DOS isn’t dead
SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: These days, you always hear that DOS is dead, but the Recovery Console is a full-blown DOS version that can be used to manipulate many different aspects of Windows 2000 outside the GUI. It's really cool, you can gain full read and write access to NTFS from outside Windows 2000.

HUEVOS: Does it take the place of a boot floppy?

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: It can. You can also use it to disable malfunctioning services or to correct some security problems. You can access the Recovery Console from the boot floppies, or you can add it to the boot menu.

HUEVOS: So can you salvage files from some kind of DOS prompt?


MIKKILUSA: Cool. Where do you add it to the boot menu?

HUEVOS: How do you add it to the boot menu?

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: Give me just a second.

HUEVOS: Great minds think alike!

MODERATOR: Anyone care to discuss the difference between DOS and Linux console? ;-)

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: Open an MS-DOS Prompt window, and navigate to the CD's I368 folder (or the ALPHA folder if you're using an Alpha PC). At this point, execute the following command:

HUEVOS: Sure, educate us... =->


Global commands
MODERATOR: Here's a question I have (knowing little about DOS mind you) is it possible to have global commands in DOS?

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: It takes 74 MB of space though.

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: So sorry, no Linux here.

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: What do you mean by global commands?

HUEVOS: Wouldn't it take the same 74 MB anyways?

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: I'm pretty sure that the Recovery Console takes 74 MB beyond the basic OS.

HUEVOS: How would you access it if it is not loaded on HHD? Off CD-ROM?

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: If you boot off of the boot floppies, you can use the repair option. It will then prompt you for the CD and load the Recovery Console.

MIKKILUSA: What’s 74 more MB when 2000 takes 600 for just the basics. Hmm, let’s see, DOS 6.22 took what, 5 MB?

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: But could DOS 6.22 access RAID arrays, dynamic disks or NTFS?

HUEVOS: Let go of the past, man!

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: So did everyone go to sleep, or just log off?



EMOORE: Leaving behind what is gone, looking forward to what lies ahead...:-)

HUEVOS: zzzzzz

GJANI: No, I am just waiting.

MIKKILUSA: I am always on the edge of my seat for these meetings.

GJANI: Waiting for something other than DOS.

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: OK, so how is your NCAA bracket looking?

WELL: So what can DOS do?
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DOS vs. Windows
GJANI: I am sorry, but Windows has more practical use in my daily life than DOS.

HUEVOS: Would you recommend Win2000 now and why/why not?

GJANI: Thus, I tend to forget most of DOS.

WELL: As a useful system while cannot enter Windows.

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: I think that everyone will agree with that statement, but DOS still has uses.

MIKKILUSA: DOS is not dead. Name a day as an admin you do not use it, and it is a day you had off.

HUEVOS: True, Mik.

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: Windows Explorer has yet to include a way to work with specific file extensions. For example, tell me an easy way to erase all of the files in a large directory with the .bak extension without using DOS.

GJANI: Agree there.

WELL: Anyone who knows how to answer my questions posted in support topics under other column, or can access from

EMOORE: Well, I just organize the listing of files by type and then select the first one, hold down SHIFT, click the last one of that type and delete.

GJANI: Find the files using find files/folders then select all and delete. See, didn't have to use commands/DOS.

MIKKILUSA: Or a way to image a HD or use part magic needed to boot?? You got it, DOS.

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: As for whether I would recommend Windows 2000, yes. It was beta tested for almost three years. It's solid.

HAROLD66: Win31 runs over DOS, is Win95 running over DOS and DOS is hidden....???

WELL: Some games need DOS.

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: Yes, Windows 95 and Windows 98 both run over top of a version of DOS.

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: True, and who doesn't like games?

MIKKILUSA: And my guess is so will Millennium.

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: DOS is like Elvis, some people believe that it's dead, but it's not going away for a long time.

MARTINCHURCH: Don't count on it. Microsoft is into graphics and not old commands.

GJANI: If Win95/98 runs over a version of DOS, then when you type "ver" command, why does it return with "win98" instead of DOS's version..??

EMOORE: So does W2K run over a version of DOS?

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: True, but it seems that command environments are always behind the graphics.

BRAINMEDIA: I thought Win 95/98 are the OSs & DOS is just a shell prog...

WELL: Windows also run on top of DOS!

And the winner is…Windows?
MARTINCHURCH: Yes but the average users do not like to think about the command. Just point, click and forget.

JLWALLEN: Win2K runs on the NT kernel, which does not use DOS.

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: No, Windows 95 and Windows 98 both use a version of DOS. The files IO.SYS, MSDOS.SYS, CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT are imbedded in the Windows 9X IO.SYS file.

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: Exactly, but the Win2K Recovery Console is just a method of interacting with the kernel from a DOS prompt outside of Windows.

HAROLD66: Taking away the graphics...what do I need to make DOS do things like Win95...multitasking ??

HUEVOS: How well does DOS work with NTFS? Does it bypass rights when used in a pure DOS environment (i.e. Rescue Console)?

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: Before you can use the Recovery Console, you must enter the administrative password so that security isn't compromised.

GJANI: DOS is a non-multitasking OS, thus there came Win95, 98...etc.

WELL: There are some areas I still do not fully understand, that is memory areas like UMB, conventional ...., where can I find the information?

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: Yes, DOS doesn't like to multitask by itself.

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: I've written several articles on that. You should be able to find them on the TechRepublic or the Microsoft Web site.

EMOORE: Brien - Give me an example of when you would need to use the Recovery Console with W2K.

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: You can use the Recovery Console if you install a driver that keeps Windows from being able to boot, even into saf mode.

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: Oops. Make that safe mode.

GJANI: Well... Also you might be able to find some helpful books on DOS at a local public library.

Recovery Console
SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: You can also use the Recovery Console to repair a hard disk crash.

BRAINMEDIA: Is there any SW that you would recommend that is available for DOS?

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: I don't think that hardly any software is available for DOS any more.

EMOORE: Is there an F key you can press to be able to enter Recovery Console, like F8 to enter safe mode in Win9x?

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: No, if you install the Recovery Console, it will appear on the boot menu as an option.

BRAINMEDIA: So what can DOS still do for me?

WELL: The Web site is too big, can you give the address?

GJANI: Is Recovery Console part of the standard W2K install??

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: I don't know the address, just search on Posey and DOS.

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: No, the Recovery Console has to be installed after the rest of the OS.

WELL: You mean keywords 'posey and DOS' ?, It is your site?

GJANI: Is it an additional purchase, utility?

MARTINCHURCH: I don't know about anyone else but I prefer DOS over Windows because it is not multitasking and I can handle one thing at a time. Especially if I have to troubleshoot hardware problems.

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: No, it isn't my site. Just go to or

HUEVOS: Are you given the option during install to install Recovery Console?


SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: No, it's not an install option. You have to manually enter the command that I listed earlier.

BRAINMEDIA: What do you use to troubleshoot under DOS?

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: I use a program that I found on the Internet called DOSDIAG. It's great for finding hardware problems. I also use a program called F-Prot for scanning for viruses.

EMOORE: If you had a system that wouldn't boot W2K, what would you do at the Command Console (DOS) prompt?

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: It depends on why Windows won't boot.

EMOORE: Do you remember the Web site you found DOSDIAG on?

GJANI: Just go to one of the search engines and type DOSDIAG, you should be able to find it.

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: I'm not sure, but I think that I found it at I got F-Prot (another excellent program) at

MARTINCHURCH: Every component can be troubleshot under DOS. You can check for I/O conflicts, and verify the Windows settings. I also make backups of key files such as user.dat and system.dat. Using DOS I can replace damaged files without having to wait for a reboot.

Booting to the network
GJANI: Any ideas how to boot to network in DOS?


MARTINCHURCH: I also use Forefront Troubleshooter to troubleshoot.


GJANI: Netware...

EMOORE: Is that on the Web as well? (Forefront Troubleshooter)

HUEVOS: Booting to the network depends on what NOS you are using.

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: Just load LSL, your card driver, IPXODI, and VLM.

MARTINCHURCH: Yes all of the network card manufacturers create a DOS version of their network drivers.

GJANI: That's a good idea martinchurch.

GJANI: Ah, the keyword, card driver. It’s hard getting DOS drivers for an NIC card nowadays.

MARTINCHURCH: Try for troubleshooter. They had a short sample at one time.

EMOORE: Thanks martinchurch.

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: It can be tough getting a DOS driver for a network card, but they’re still out there.

MARTINCHURCH: I have had no trouble with 3Com and Intel NICs and DOS.

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: I use a generic NIC called Encore. I've had great luck with them and they also have DOS drivers.

GJANI: Will DOS drivers include LSL, IPXODI, & VLM?

BRAINMEDIA: Can you boot to DOS in Win2000?

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: No, they usually just include the card driver.

GJANI: Most of our PCs use 3Com or SMC cards.

HUEVOS: How about for a MS Peer-Peer network? What must be loaded?

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: You can boot to your previous OS. Therefore, if DOS was your previous OS, then yes.

GJANI: Silly do I get the other stuff?


MIKKILUSA: Dang I had some good DOS pages but cannot find them. Bummer.

WELL: Any Web site offer the courses in IT? Like

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: For a Microsoft network, you must use the card driver and some other drivers that I can’t think of the name of at the moment. You can find them on your NT CD.

BRAINMEDIA: Does Win2000 have a DOS shell prog?


HUEVOS: Any good FAQ/tutorial sites for making DOS network disks?

GJANI: What about for Netware?

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: I don't know. Does anyone else know of any?

WELL: Maybe you can try to find them on the Novell Web site.

These are a few of my favorite things…
SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: One of my favorite things about working in DOS mode is that you can work with files at will without having to worry about Windows having them held open.

BRAINMEDIA: What do you mean?

MARTINCHURCH: Also try the Microsoft Knowledge Base and, if you have access to it, TechNet.

MIKKILUSA: No open files restrictions.


MIKKILUSA: If you ever get a system virus you will learn fast what it means eheheheh.

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: Well, suppose that you wanted to edit a system file. You couldn't do it if Windows had the file locked. There's nothing stopping you from doing it through DOS though.

EMOORE: Brien - do you make it a habit to load drivers in DOS or just when you're having trouble?


SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: Only when I'm having trouble. The 32-bit Windows drivers perform better then their 16-bit DOS counterparts.



BRAINMEDIA: How long are these meetings usually?

GJANI: Hello.


STORMY: I have a question about batch files and error checking.


MARTINCHURCH: I'll second that. Of course if the hardware works with 16-bit drivers and not 32 then the problem lies elsewhere.


MODERATOR: The guild meetings are Tuesday and Thursday at 9 P.M. till 10 P.M. EST and Friday at 2 P.M. until 3 P.M. EST.



SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: So Stormy, what was your question?

STORMY: Say I had a CD-ROM that I wanted to copy files from to the C:... the CD-ROM might be on e or f,... how do I check for this in a batch file? Without having to worry about the "Abort Retry Fail" errors....

DOS 6.22 or 6.0?
HUEVOS: Which is better, DOS 6.22 or 6.0?

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: You could always use the If Exist command.

STORMY: Sorry, a little slow today ;]


WELL: To all users, try to use Yahoo Messenger, so we can chat at anytime when we are free.

STORMY: That works in a batch file?? (DOS is pretty rusty :))

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: 6.22 was basically a bug fix for DOS 6.0.

HUEVOS: Why 6.22?

HUEVOS: Typed too slow.

EMOORE: Has anyone ever experienced loading a CD driver in Windows and DOS and it still can't be detected?


EMOORE: I'm all ears martinchurch!


MODERATOR: Ladies and gents we have 7 minutes remaining in tonight’s guild meeting.


SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: Yes, if you're using the right driver, it may indicate a DMA conflict, an incorrectly configured drive (master vs. slave), or a dead drive.

EMOORE: Quickly explain DMA conflict...

GJANI: Direct Memory Access conflict.

STORMY: Doesn't the If Exists require an error level? How will I know what that is, or do I assume that anything other than 0 is a fail?

BRAINMEDIA: There have to be lines in CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT for the CD driver, right?

MARTINCHURCH: Was using ancient 2x CD drive attached to an old ISA I/O card. It required modification to the AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS to run right.

MIKKILUSA: If the BIOS sees it and they do not, there’s a good chance it went to CD-ROM heaven or hell. Depends on if it was a good CD-ROM or not.

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: DMA stands for Direct Memory Access. Some types of CD-ROM drives use them. If a DMA conflict exists, it's likely with a sound card.

Countdown to the end
WELL: 7 minutes remaining? We can still continue discussions, by using Yahoo Messenger.

MIKKILUSA: 2x it did go to heaven. Sorry.

BRAINMEDIA: C'ya, thanks Mr. Posey. :)

MARTINCHURCH: Windows NT and 9x do not require. DOS does unless it is an old system.


STORMY: I had one do that once, it required a proprietary MSCDEX and a totally strange sys file :) even under Windows, it was a Goldstar drive, I'd rather not deal with one of those ever again. ;]


MARTINCHURCH: 2x is still in the system I am currently using.

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: A DOS CD-ROM driver and a copy of MSCDEX are all you need to make it work.

STORMY: (Geez, I keep forgetting about those smileys, I'll try not to be so happy anymore.)

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: If your drive requires a proprietary MSCDEX, you can sometimes use SETVER to trick it.

EMOORE: My two are Goldstars, too. I've checked everything else, so I guess these are dead guys.

MIKKILUSA: Oh man Goldstar and revelle they are not in heaven, in the other place for sure.


EMOORE: Really mik?

BRAINMEDIA: How do I keep a copy of this meeting? Web interface.

MODERATOR: We will be posting the transcripts of this meeting ASAP.

STORMY: *grins!* I just about used it for soccer practice, but it was a friend’s drive, I didn't think she'd understand.


MODERATOR: We keep a database of the transcripts. There should be a link on the page you clicked 'join the meeting in progress.'

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: Try her, you might be surprised.

STORMY: Hopefully sooner than the last few?? ;P

MODERATOR: Yes, we now have two people working on them ;-)

GJANI: That’s funny, stormy.


MODERATOR: It's actually quite an involved process!

WELL: Any conclusion?

MODERATOR: Yes, speak your last words of wisdom, Brien.

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: Tell her that the Knowledge Base article said to give it a soft boot or a hard kick!

STORMY: I tol' ya all before! I'd volunteer fer the job! If it would help get them out sooner ;]

Goodnight Guys
GJANI: Ha, ha, ha, LOL.

EMOORE: I love that percussive maintenance!

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: Works every time :-)

MODERATOR: Well ladies and gents...that's it for tonight. Please remember to join us again this Thursday at 9 P.M. EST and Friday at 2 P.M. EST.

MODERATOR: Have a great night and we'll see you soon.

SPEAKER BRIEN POSEY: So long everyone!

STORMY: *grins!* I'll do that... think she'd let me if I did it now that it's working??


MIKKILUSA: Nite all.



GJANI: Goodnite..bye.


WELL: Bye.

STORMY: G'night.
Our Guild Meetings feature top-flight professionals leading discussions on interesting and valuable IT issues. You can find a schedule of Guild Meetings in your weekly TechProGuild Notes TechMail, or on the Guild Meeting calendar.

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