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How to determine dos version

Posted on 2006-05-31
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I have a dos pc that has crashed with an error saying "Missing Operating System". I have taken this drive and slaved it to a windows 98 pc. I can see the drive and the folder that says dos. So I really don't know what file is missing. Now I need to know How can I tell which version of dos is on it so I can find dos disks for reinstallation on ebay, etc???


Any ideas??
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Question by:bman9111
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by:Irwin Santos
ID: 16804323
Go to this site
http://www.allbootdisks.com/dos.html

locate command.com, himem.sys, OR emm386.exe in your "slaved drive", compare to the files on allbootdisks...then download the appropriate ISO
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by:johanvz1
ID: 16805157
Hi,

The pc that crashed what version of windows OS did it have in?. Because last single release of DOS that came out was dos v6.22 and after that it was built into Windows 2000\XP and in XP this is for example what youll see when you go start>Run>CMD

Microsoft Windows XP [Version 5.1.2600]
(C) Copyright 1985-2001 Microsoft Corp.
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by:nobus
ID: 16805250
normally, you can boot from a bootdisk, and issue the command sys C: for transferring the system files to the C: disk, and make it bootable  www.bootdisk.com

for determining the dos version, look here :   http://www.experts-exchange.com/Operating_Systems/MSDOS/Q_21047155.html
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by:BillDL
ID: 16805852
Look for the README.TXT file in the "dos" directory of the slaved hard drive.  It should tell you in the header what version it relates to, eg:
NOTES ON MS-DOS 6.22
or
NOTES ON MS-DOS 6.0
blah, blah
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by:yvovolders
ID: 16806164
Are you shure the system-partition is made active for booting from?

Dos has the command 'fdisk /mbr' to make a partition bootable (again).
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by:chalapa
ID: 16806456
you can use pqmqgic software it wil work on dos prompt also
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by:bman9111
ID: 16806631
Will try everyone solution.....Here the scoop....LOL

This pc is a 386. Very very old....It worked fine then one day when trying to turn back on. It stated "Missing Operating System"...So I told the drive out and placed it into a windows 98 pc as a slave hard drive. From there I was able to view the drive and all files looked ok. I guess what I thought I had to do was re-install dos. However without having the orginal dos disks I did want to go and buy a version that was not the same as what I had. So I will try looking for the Readme.txt file. I don't remember seeing on but maybe I will get lucky...


nobus = don't really understand what you want me to do with the boot disk. Do you want me to copy the files from the boot disk to the dos folder?


yvovolders  = If I do what you suggest won't it delete the drive?


Remember I need to just get dos back and operational....I cannot lose all the other programs, files that are on it....that is the criticial part of why I need this dinasour of a machine. LOL


Thanks everyone.
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by:nobus
ID: 16807274
i just meant what was posted : boot from a boot disk, then issue the command  SYS C:
you can also replace the disk controller on those old PC's separately
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by:SStory
ID: 16807573
Well.. You used to just type VER at the command prompt to get the dos version.

If you were inside the DOS directory, this might still work.
Also, does type command inside that directory not tell the DOS version when it opens?

HTH,

Shane
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by:bman9111
ID: 16807654
nothing is opening up......The computer will not boot up....It says "missing operating system" so I cannot type anything...


I will have to try a boot disk first I guess.

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by:Eksteen
ID: 16809854
ok VER will show you the version you booted with

two options. find the command.com on the drive you have slaved ( ie that is not booting) and use the shell command to set it as your comspec.

ie shell = pathname\command.com
then run VER

or easier checkt the file time.  in dos the file time indicated the version

for instance the format command and fdisk was usually updated with every version. if the file time is 6:22 you know it was version 6.22 etc

so either from dos run DIR and look at the file date for format or FDISk etc on the drive or if you are booting from a windows OS you can right click and check properties for file date. or select details on the view menu in windows explorer to see the file dates....
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by:Irwin Santos
ID: 16810208
@bman9111..did you review the files as I suggested?
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by:yvovolders
ID: 16813927
fdisk /mbr will not delete the drive or alter the partition table.  'mbr' stands for Master Boot Record which is loaded by the BIOS when you start up de computer.  This little programm will load the operating system files.  It does the same as Linux' 'lilo' but will only work for Microsoft's Dos.
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by:BillDL
ID: 16814483
Here's a good explanation of what the Master Boot Record (MBR) actually is:
http://www.pcguide.com/ref/hdd/file/structMBR-c.html

The command FDISK /MBR recreates the Master Boot Record, and therefore there is always a slight risk that it could corrupt it in so doing.  I would not be quite as confident as yvovolders in saying that it "Will Not".  I would prefer to say that it SHOULD Not destroy the Partition Table, and SHOULD fix it if it is corrupt.  I usually reserve the fdisk /mbr command until I have tried everything else, because on two occasions (out of probably over 100), this command made the hard drives totally inaccessible and I had to repartition them and lose everything.

I believe that your first task is as irwinpks has suggested, and that is to compare the file sizes and time/date stamps of the named files on the DOS hard drive slaved to the other computer with those shown here:
http://www.allbootdisks.com/disk_contents/dos.html
Note that Command.com increases in size as the version of DOS becomes more recent.  This is a very good indication of the version that is installed.
Once you have determined that, then you can download the boot disk for that version of DOS and use the Sys C: command to copy the core operating system files to the hard drive to see if that allows you to boot.

Either that, or boot the problem computer to a DOS floppy get the details of the file sizes by issuing the command:
DIR C:\DOS
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by:SStory
ID: 16820346
Yes you will need a boot disk of course.  There is no way to find it out without either

(1) booting to the drive

(2) attaching the drive as a slave to a working computer and trying it that way.

Ver may or may not work if you attach to a newer machine--in such case you would probably make an educated guess based on the date of command.com

HTH,

Shane
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by:BillDL
ID: 16822379
He has the drive slaved into another computer already, SStory.
>>> "I have taken this drive and slaved it to a windows 98 pc. I can see the drive and the folder that says dos". <<<
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Jose Parrot earned 1000 total points
ID: 16829251
Hi,
If the disk still has the COMMAND.COM file, take a look at its date and size.

PC DOS 1.0:   1981   4959 bytes
PC DOS 1.1:   1982
MS-DOS 1.25 - 1982  4986 bytes
MS-DOS 2.0 - 1983
PC DOS 2.1 - October 1983
MS-DOS 2.11 - March 1984  16229 bytes
MS-DOS 3.0 - August 1984
MS-DOS 3.1 - November 1984
MS-DOS 3.2 - January 1986
MS-DOS 3.21– 23612 bytes
PC DOS 3.3 - April 1987  25307 bytes
MS-DOS 3.3 - August 1987  25276 bytes
MS-DOS 4.0 - June 1988
PC DOS 4.0 - July 1988
MS-DOS 5.0 - June 1991  47845 bytes. Also has QBasic
MS-DOS 6.0 - March 1993  52925 bytes. Also hasDoubleSpace
MS-DOS 6.2 - November 1993  54619 bytes
MS-DOS 6.21 - February, 1994  54619 bytes
PC DOS 6.3 - April 1994. COMMAND.COM by PKLITE (you see that with notepad)
MS-DOS 6.22 - June 1994  54645 bytes. Also has DriveSpace
PC DOS 7.0 - April, 1995  Stacker in place of DriveSpace. COMMAND.COM by PKLITE
MS-DOS 7.0 - August 1995 embedded in Windows 95
MS-DOS 7.1 - August 1996 embedded in Windows 95B and 98. Presence of SCANDISK
MS-DOS 8.0 - September 2000 embedded in Windows Me. Last version of MS-DOS.

PC-DOS stands for DOS sold by IBM and pre-installed in IBM PCs.
MS-DOS stands for Microsoft, sold directly and OEM to PC clones manufacturers.

Assuming that is not a DOS embedded in Windows (actually on can install only DOS from Windows 95, 98 and Me CDs) with this directions you have a good chance to know which version that DOS is.

Jose
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by:bman9111
ID: 16875854
ok, sorry it took so long but I had to order some dos disk....

I did find out it had dos 5.0, so I got some dos disk I went through the install part sucessfully.

When i turn on the pc it still says missing operating system.

I have no idea why.... So what  I did then was rebooted with the boot disk. got to my a:\ and then type c:\

then entered command and the dos screen came up. If I run autoexec.bat that works great too.

Why am I getting that error still. I tried everyone suggest and still no luck. Not sure what to do now.

Any ideas???
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by:Irwin Santos
ID: 16875907
you need to

sys c:

this transfers the operating system files to the hardrive.

either that or

format c:/s
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by:nobus
ID: 16876041
see my comment :
Date: 06/01/2006 06:43AM PDT

i just meant what was posted : boot from a boot disk, then issue the command  SYS C:
you can also replace the disk controller on those old PC's separately
 
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by:bman9111
ID: 16878338
I did that..... nobus.... doesn't work either....very wierd
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by:Irwin Santos
ID: 16878351
what error do you get?
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by:bman9111
ID: 16878619
missing operating system
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by:SStory
ID: 16878711
have you tried booting to a floppy to fix the master boot record?  I don't remember... seems like there was a switch with fdisk for this.

There is a program called DosBox that will allow you to run DOS programs in windows XP.  If you had this maybe the DOS problem would be irrelevant to you. I don't know.. If you just wanted to run old programs, this works for me.

HTH,

Shane
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by:bman9111
ID: 16879216
I even tried taking the files on floppy disk and copied it to the c drive and still no luck...

I am not sure what the problem is.....

maybe the drive is messed up it is an old 96 MB drive...

remember this is a 386 pc...i am about to give up....

boots fine to the floppy...then i change it from a prompt to c:\ then type command. and it works....if I type autoexec.bat it works....not sure what the deal is... I am out of ideas.
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by:BillDL
ID: 16879388
>>> "Maybe the drive is messed up" <<<
As you have tried the suggested steps so far without success, perhaps this would be an opportune time to boot to the floppy again and try the
FDISK  /MBR
command first suggested by yvovolders and explained a bit more by me by way of a good link.  This is what SStory has again suggested in saying that you should "fix the master boot record".

Try it and see if it will boot to the hard drive.
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by:bman9111
ID: 16879407
tried that when it was first suggested....

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by:BillDL
ID: 16879752
Try running scandisk or chkdisk from the boot floppy appropriate to that version of DOS.
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by:SStory
ID: 16885028
Hmm..

Well based on your original question, it seems the version of DOS wouldn't really matter.  Go get any version of DOS, I recommend 5.0 or higher and you should be able to read your data.  Not sure what you want to do with the machine.  Then back it up and reformat.  Obviously it has problems.  

DosBox works great.  Linux works great and will read FAT partitions.  If you are determined to have this ancient machine running stand alone DOS then a rebuild does seem the best course of action at this point.  Maybe the boot sector is messed up... so it can find the two OS files that are hidden and required to be on the boot sector, but you can boot from something else and access the drive.
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by:Irwin Santos
ID: 16885613
@bman9111...MISSING OPERATING SYSTEM means that DOS hidden files are not installed on the computer. You CANNOT just copy them to the hardrive...SYS transfers the files to the beginning sectors of the hardrive.  If you copy OTHER files there, and then attempt a SYS C:.... you may not be able to get the system files to transfer.

If you can successfully partition the drive, and format, the first thing you need to do before copying anything is

SYS C:

or better yet... when you format type in

FORMAT C:/S
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by:bman9111
ID: 16980056
I tried everything.....except for formatting the drive...Which I have very important files on it and do not want to do that.....

I thought maybe the drive was bad but if I slave it to another pc the drive shows up......

very weird.........and frustrating..
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Assisted Solution

by:Eksteen
Eksteen earned 1000 total points
ID: 16982517
ok so if you can see it in another computer why don't you just use the other computer to copy your data off the drive and the do as suggested. format and install from scratch.

also check the drive manufaturers website for tools to test the drive after you have your data off it.

The system files as said above is in the bootsector of the HDD. so copying them ( which puts them at the first available cluster on the drive) will mean then could end up halfway accross the drive. which is not where the Bootstrap of the Bios will look for them.

so you must use the sys command. SYS C: means it will copy the files from the current root ( probably a:\ if you started up with a boot disk) to the destination drive which in this instance will be C:

The SYS is not supported from windows ME and later.

http://www.computerhope.com/syshlp.htm

the above link has the syntax for the SYS.com command. to keep it simple if you only specify the single drive letter eg Sys c: then it takes the files from where it got them for startup.  if you ahve the systemfiels somewhere else you can specify that location by doing the following  - SYS sourcedrive:\sourcepath destinationdrive:

example you ahve a machine that is currenlty running windows 95 but you don;t have a windws 95 boot disk. but you do have a windows 98 bootdisk., The 98 boot disk does not have the correct startup files but the  95 HDD/machine's drive can be accessed via booting from the 98 boot disk.

the you type sys c:\windows\command\ c: OR sys c:\windows\command c:

this way the SYs command that is backwards compatible will take the system files from your HDD and not the boot disk and copy them to the bootsector of the C drive whet they are needed for startup.

Another common problem for missing operating sdystem errors is when your BIOS/CMOS batterry has gone flat and the new detected HDD paramaters are not the same as the old.... which means it cannot find the files in the expected place.
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by:bman9111
ID: 16997706
now I cannot see the drive on an xp computer as a slave. so i need to find a windows 98 pc....

what a pain


thanks every for the great ideas...
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