What is this DOS thing

  • SpinRite v6.1 Release #3
    Guest:
    The 3rd release of SpinRite v6.1 is published and may be obtained by all SpinRite v6.0 owners at the SpinRite v6.1 Pre-Release page. (SpinRite will shortly be officially updated to v6.1 so this page will be renamed.) The primary new feature, and the reason for this release, was the discovery of memory problems in some systems that were affecting SpinRite's operation. So SpinRite now incorporates a built-in test of the system's memory. For the full story, please see this page in the "Pre-Release Announcements & Feedback" forum.
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  • BootAble – FreeDOS boot testing freeware

    To obtain direct, low-level access to a system's mass storage drives, SpinRite runs under a GRC-customized version of FreeDOS which has been modified to add compatibility with all file systems. In order to run SpinRite it must first be possible to boot FreeDOS.

    GRC's “BootAble” freeware allows anyone to easily create BIOS-bootable media in order to workout and confirm the details of getting a machine to boot FreeDOS through a BIOS. Once the means of doing that has been determined, the media created by SpinRite can be booted and run in the same way.

    The participants here, who have taken the time to share their knowledge and experience, their successes and some frustrations with booting their computers into FreeDOS, have created a valuable knowledgebase which will benefit everyone who follows.

    You may click on the image to the right to obtain your own copy of BootAble. Then use the knowledge and experience documented here to boot your computer(s) into FreeDOS. And please do not hesitate to ask questions – nowhere else can better answers be found.

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Yep agree, is it on Steve's radar to do a couple of sticky threads or should the community do it?
It's definitely on my radar. I've just added the voice-over narration to the ReadSpeed demo video. I'm unsure how things will evolve here, but I'm sure they will. I recently updated the forums to support Q&A style threads with up-voting of best answers. Over time, it's my hope that these forums will evolve into a knowledge base repository of helpful information. So... my “plan”, such as it is, is to play it by ear and see how it goes. A Christmas launch, though it wasn't my plan, is probably a quiet and slow time for things to begin coming together. :)
 
Permit me if I missed this, but does the documentation say how BIG the USB drive needs to be? I grabbed an old, small one and it worked.
 
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Permit me if I missed this, but does the documentation say how BIG the USB drive needs to be? I grabbed an old, small one and it worked.
Ah... good point. I should have said: "Any USB drive 4 megabytes or larger." It could theoretically work on smaller drives, but 4MB is the lower limit for FAT16 partitions and there isn't a FAT12 non-diskette boot sector and FreeDOS. So I would need to write one.
 
A Dell Inspiron laptop bought in September 2020 says right in the BIOS, "Legacy Boot is not supported on this platform". This note was on the same page as the settings for picking your UEFI boot file and for Secure Boot. So, booting to a USB stick is not available on this laptop. Even moving the disk to an older laptop is not an option because the storage is a newfangled M.2 form factor (think that phrasing is right).
 
A Dell Inspiron laptop bought in September 2020 says right in the BIOS, "Legacy Boot is not supported on this platform". This note was on the same page as the settings for picking your UEFI boot file and for Secure Boot. So, booting to a USB stick is not available on this laptop. Even moving the disk to an older laptop is not an option because the storage is a newfangled M.2 form factor (think that phrasing is right).
This is the reason why I have re-prioritized the development sequence for SpinRite. Since it's going to need UEFI operation sooner or later, and none of the new technology will run on an increasing percentage of machines until it can, I might as well do it as soon as possible.

FWIW, if you did want to test / repair the M.2 form factor storage, little adapters for slots or SATA are inexpensive.
 
I was excited to try out ReadSpeed, but sadly my Intel NUC8i5BEH (BIOS version 0085) just refuses to see any USB drive I put in it (outside of Windows). I went through the process of disabling secure and enabling legacy boot. Also tried all USB ports and a couple of different USB sticks of various sizes (1, 2, 8 GB).

Intel notes a few steps to resolve. I got through the first two suggestions. I'm not willing to go through a BIOS recovery for a system that's otherwise working.

I miss the days of being able to easily boot to a USB device for diagnostics.
 
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I was excited to try out ReadSpeed, but sadly my Intel NUC8i5BEH (BIOS version 0085) just refuses to see any USB drive I put in it (outside of Windows). I went through the process of disabling secure and enabling legacy boot. Also tried all USB ports and a couple of different USB sticks of various sizes (1, 2, 8 GB).

I assume you have changed the boot order settings in the BIOS to hit the USB drive first.
 
For kicks, I tried this on my Surface Laptop 3. It too would not boot the ReadSpeed USB drive. It would; however, boot a Windows 10 installation USB drive.
 
Surface Laptop 3
Surface devices have never supported anything but UEFI booting... i.e. they have never had support for legacy booting. This is a deliberate choice by Microsoft, and is in fact the way of all new devices in the future. (An Intel mandate to end support for legacy booting as of 2020.)
 
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Hello all and Happy New Year!
I have and old (2008!) Dell Studio Laptop that I use almost every day to run a small CNC milling machine. It does not support booting from a USB stick
It can however boot from its built in CD rom drive. Can READSPEED be run from a CD?
 
It can however boot from its built in CD rom drive. Can READSPEED be run from a CD?
That's an interesting question. I'll give that my focus today before I turn to tomorrow's podcast. There are two modes for a CD boot. The ISO that the current SRv6.0 app produces is a diskette emulation mode, which is one of the modes that CD's can use. So I reuse the existing diskette image and write it (with a bunch of CD "El Torito" stuff, to an ISO. That would not work for ReadSpeed as is (though it would easily fit onto a diskette image.) And logging would not work, obviously. You could use the /nolog option to suppress the inevitable write error at the end. I'll see what I can do...