The Internet on an XT (640kb) running operating system DOSMinix

modified: Sun Feb 6 19:43:10 EST 2000

The Internet on an XT (640kb) running operating system DOSMinix

02 Feb 2000, Tom Butz,

This is how I got things going.  I use the system for CompuServe
(DOSCIM.EXE) and for the Internet through Internet Service Provider
(ISP) in Wellington/New Zealand.

01) The operating system DOSMinix runs on PCs from XTs (8088/8086) to
ATs (286/386/486/Pentium).  It doesn't need a lot of memory, so will
work on a basic XT with exactly 640kb of memory.

How did I install it and get it going? Here goes...

02) My XT is a Commodore PC 20-III with a 5 1/4 " floppy-drive (360kb
capacity) and a 40 MB harddisk.  It features 1 built-in
RS232-interface.  I added a modem-card (1 slot, for XTs) doing 2400
baud.  Modem-cards for XTs are relatively easy to get at flea-markets
these days, and they are cheap, about 3 jugs of beer.  An external
modem didn't connect to my ISP, though it did work with CompuServe.  I
changed the jumpers on the card to COM2: (instructions how to do that
were on the card!) and made sure the modem-card's IRQ wasn't already
being used by an existing card.  Commodore's BIOS will display the
IRQ-values when booting.  I used TELIX.EXE to check and confirm values.

2400 baud is not fast by today's standards, you can't listen to the guy
reading a newspaper to you on-line through the Internet, yet okay if
you want to read the paper yourself; see below for an example on how to
'browse' the Internet.  Theoretically an XT should be able to support
higher speeds than that, but getting the modem(card) for them seems to
be the trick.  But hey, what about users in remote areas where
telephone lines are already struggling to support 9600 baud?

03) I use ISP  They have an unusually comfortable
access-server (does PAP, CHAP and scripted access).  And they also
support 2400 baud.

04) Downloaded 'PPP16.ZIP' from

or one of the mirror-sites using FTP on another PC, unzipped it and
copied the 2 files (DOSMIN16.MNX and BOOT.COM) to the XT.

Transferring between PCs is easy using the MS-DOS programs INTERSVR.EXE
on the XT, INTERLNK.EXE on the AT (in its CONFIG.SYS), and a null-modem
cable between the two PCs' RS232-ports.  A null-modem cable can be
bought or made up.  Booted the XT first, ran INTERSVR.EXE on it, and
then booted the AT.  You need files CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT on the
AT, preferably set up by yourself, so you know what you've done.

The system is DOSMinix, meaning that it runs inside a big DOS-file.
You don't have to re-partition your harddisk to install it.  All you do
is load MS-DOS, type BOOT DOSMIN16.MNX (= a 4 MB file), and you're
done.  And if you or the boss don't like it, just delete the 2 files.

Remember to disable EMM386.EXE, DOSMinix will do memory-management itself.

05) How did I transfer stuff such as an updated 'ppp.drv' from DOS to
DOSMinix?  Transferred from other PC to XT, as described in the
preceding paragraph, wrote file(s) to DOS-floppy on the XT, booted
DOSMinix on XT and typed

dosread fd0 ppp.drv >/usr/local/bin/ppp.drv

where fd0 is the first floppy-drive.

Then typed chmod 777 ppp.drv, to be able to run it (that's called
'setting the execution-bit').  Without the execution-bit, 'ppp.drv'
won't run.  This is not a DOSMinix-problem, it's rather due to the fact
that MS-DOS downloaded it as an ordinary binary file, and DOSMinix's
'dosread' didn't know about the missing execution-bit.  File-attributes
are a lot more sophisticated in the Unix/Minux-world than under MS-DOS,
but you already knew that, didn't you?

06) Amended file /etc/resolv.conf to my own ISP's address, using
'mined', DOSMinix's small editor, like so:

mined /etc/resolv.conf
name server (not the real address)

You don't need to know 'mined', just use the DEL-key to delete
characters, and the cursor-keys for movement.

07) Also changed the entry for tty01 in /etc/ttytab  to "unknown"
    (rest empty).

Didn't worry about the other files Claudio Tantignone mentioned and
left them unchanged, as I didn't use scripts (the ones with *.scr in

08) To connect to the Internet Service Provider (ISP),

used 'term' in a script, like so:

term 8 2400 /dev/tty01 -atdt086727234

where 8 means 8 bits, 2400 is the baud-rate, /dev/tty01 is the
modem-card and the rest is the dialling-sequence.

After the system said CONNECT 2400, pushed , sometimes twice,
and typed username and password when prompted.  At the end, I pushed
Ctrl+] and typed q, then  There were several 'ready'-messages
on my screen now.  I pushed 

This dropped me back to system-level, the #.

By the way, 'smh' stands for the newspaper SYDNEY MORNING HERALD,

I lost some text in 'w3.log': apparently there's no proper handshaking.
Could have tried writing to /dev/ram instead, if memory hadn't been so
tight on an XT.  You could still do away with the | tee, and just read
your screen without writing to a logfile.

15) Mail/News application programs
Claudio is currently working on programs for this, so users can spend
less time typing telnet-commands, and consequently save connect-time.

--------------- original header and introductory message -------------- 

Date: Wed, 2 Feb 2000 08:14:10 -0300 
From: Claudio Tantignone <>
To: 'Albert Woodhull' <>
Cc: "''" <>,
    "'Claudio Tantignone (hotmail)'" <>
Subject: FW: >XT 640k/ppp documentation (3)

Albert, this is an excellent paper that Tom Butz prepared about using PPP in
a XT machine. I do not know how you can add it to minix1, so anyone can play
and enjoy it. I also will add it in my home page.
Let us know your comments.


> -----Original Message-----
> From:	Tom Butz []
> Sent:	Tuesday, February 01, 2000 6:15 PM
> To:	Claudio Tantignone
> Subject:	>XT 640k/ppp documentation (3)
> Hi Claudio,
> I'm back from Auckland and have just put the finishing touches to
> my file (and fixed typos). Please feel free to amend it yourself,
> Claudio, this should become a reference-document for many users.
> Let's see what happens to 'popclient' and 'smr'. Once they're up
> and running, plus some News-program, many people should be able to
> get their XTs out of the cupboards. Almost like the VW-beetle, 
> isn't it? Or the Mini.
> Have fun, and let's hear how you're getting on with the
> above programs, regards,
> ***