Wednesday, January 30, 2008
I have some results on my Vault workstation tablets to announce.
The first is that I got FreeDOS running on my ultracheap tablet PCs with Ethernet for a total of $36.00 AUD each workstation. I spent $29.95 on each unit, plus the Compact Flash PCMCIA adaptor for $6.00 each ... and I already had two Ethernet cards to plug in and some spare flash memory cards.
I was able to run almost any VBDOS 1.0 Professional Applications on the machine with ease including ISAM TSR backed multitransactional database that comes on the samples disk with VBDOS Professional. That was a good start but it gets better.
As soon as I realized what was going on with the Compact Flash Adapter (128 mb card), I tried to install and run Damn Small Linux from a subdirectory on the Flash card with the default 8 megs of RAM ... by the way, it is almost impossible to run Windows 95-98 with this little memory, it crawls along like a snail on a 100mhz 486DX machine like these tablets.
Results were incredible. I had 32 bit protected mode environment running at arcade game speed, 95% of all Linux applications and fantastic things like SVGA high color graphics GUI with MP3 player, all the open source tools for DSL and tons of high tech network, database sharing and internet subsystems that you could not even dream of running in Windows with anything less than XP SP1, 2 gigs RAM, 40 Gigs hard drive space.
I only know Linux at a user level, I've never done much native code Linux programming at all. On the other hand, some of the IDEs and tools available on Linux are spectacular ... including GUI design tools and other graphic aids.
Another bonus is all the freeware libraries for Linux to do things like render vector based drawings (for terrains, blueprints, shelter maps, etc.) and so much more that costs $$$ in the Windows environment.
I think I will build my Vault OS in DSL Linux. It makes my VBDOS programs look pretty tame by comparison. The appearance and power alone right out of the bootup is a thousand times what you get in the DOS environment and ten times what I'd get even if I was capable of installing Windows XP on these tablets, which will never happen. So it's pretty cut'n'dry.
What I really need to investigate is the possibility of programming in C# .NET using the open source platform called Mono. That would be absolutely ideal. Imagine writing .NET applications with all that power and productivity at your fingertips for a target machine that is a 100mhz 486DX. A GUI created in WinForms? Too good to be true.
Since these ancient tablets support IrDA peripherals, I'm also wondering if these Targus foldout keyboards at BGMicro will work with this thing. That'd be awesome.