View Full Version : Definitive Boot Disk for Gaming?

10-25-2009, 06:38 PM
My retro rig is configured with DOS 7.10 so I can use all of my 80gb drive in Windows 95, but this can be troublesome with certain DOS games that require a more "pure" environment. Most boot disks I find seem geared more toward just loading a CD-ROM driver so you can fdisk and install Windows.

Essentially, I need a boot disk that loads CD-ROM, mouse, and audio drivers, while managing the RAM so I have the most base memory free. I've got a SoundBlaster AWE64, so shouldn't that work with a generic SoundBlaster driver in SB1, Pro, or SB16 mode? Large disk support isn't absolutely necessary, I can always add a ZIP drive driver and use those to install games and stuff.

Even if nobody has made something like this, what's a good starting point? Should I base it on one of the Windows installer boot disks, or something else?

10-26-2009, 12:29 AM
Y'know, the big problem with bootdisks is that you pretty much have to use them on floppies, and I have gotten so sick of floppies going bad on me. The alternative is to make bootable CDs - but of course it's a bit wasteful to use a whole CD for a 1.44 MB bootdisk. (I sometimes used CD-RWs instead, until I got sick of how unreliable those were!)

Then one day I took a closer look at SystemRescueCD (http://www.sysresccd.org/) and learned that, through the magic of MEMDISK (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SYSLINUX), you can in fact store multiple boot floppies on a single CD, with a neat little boot menu and everything! Unfortunately, my ambitious plans to make the definitive swiss-army knife of boot CDs has fallen by the wayside.

But anyway, if you just want to keep it simple, I recommend the Beehive Bootdisk available at http://sirjohn.de/hotu-community/pub/bootdisks/ . It even has QEMM on it, which is a nice touch. No audio drivers, of course, but you can add those in yourself if you like. (It even includes some of those handy utilities that let you load SYS files from the command line instead of forcing you to use CONFIG.SYS!) You'll find some other nifty utilities on that site as well, though they might be a bit outdated - particularly the FAT32 driver (from DR-DOS (http://www.drdosprojects.de/index.cgi/download.htm), which you should also check out) and SHSUCDX (http://shsucdx.adoxa.cjb.net/). (Since you've got an 80 GB disk, you may enjoy the utility that lets you mount CD-ROM images, Daemon-Tools style.)

For more information, I would suggest attempting to plumb the archives at http://www.mdgx.com , which, though a bit poorly organized, is one of the best resources I've seen. Of particular note is the information about UMBPCI , a tool that uses hardware to create upper memory blocks without having to resort to EMM386 and the like - though I'm told that's really only particularly useful for Ultima 7.