Some things I have deduced by working on three versions of Vault OS at the same time:
1. DOS doesn't multitask. To get it to seem like it does, I had to write a TSR popup that buffers messages in and out to I2C port and IPX for Ethernet. It appears to work well this way once it is compliant with all interrupts. The problem is I can't debug it from within a shell from Windows 98 out to PowerBasic - I have to reboot in a true DOS mode to run the TSR for testing. DOS remains the lowest possible requirements and memory profile for the x86. I pretend to multitask by polling text windows with events and it's a passable imitation for most purposes. Vault-OS for DOS will work and I will need it because I have especially tiny x86 machines I need to run on the network, like the power management station that is targeted for Sparkgap to charge batteries, turn the generator on and off, shunt wind and solar where needed and keep a feed of conditions going over Ethernet.
2. Windows 98 can be cadged into running .NET 2.0 runtime for .NET applications. Unfortunately, performance still sucks. You need 256mb to run things at a decent clip in .NET under W98 and even then there are long brain damage pauses like the embedded device is trying to decide if it wants to spool some more RAM or just crash on the watchdog timer. I don't have the embedded W98 so the RAMDRIVE runs a lot which means it taxes the hell out of the compact flash card. I don't know if this setup will be practical to run Vault OS unless it is on a high end laptop which serves primarily as a terminal for the system, not a workhorse. The Vault-Co ThinkBoy cannot be running Win98 around the clock for the environmental sensors and control manager for long without crashing after a few weeks, most likely due to fragmentation on the CF that goes unaddressed. I had to do this experiment to find that out for sure. Nevertheless, a VG.NET interface looks damn good running on the LCD panel.
3. There is a bright spot in all this - my NewBasic applications running under GEOS Ensemble have it all ... 4MB RAM runs GEOS faster than Windows XP, 16 MB Compact Flash drive scarcely ever spools unless necessary and then it's virtually 90% reading, not writing. The interface looks awesome, true multitasking or at least more than good enough for I2C and IPX networking in the background, great functionality possible for all viewers and display graphics. For this reason, I predict that the first version of Vault-OS I am likely to install for the Thinkboy will be running on GEOS Ensemble from Breadbox.
It is worth noting that should you stumble over an old copy of NewDeal Office on the internet on some torrent, there is a 99% likelihood that Vault-OS for GEOS will run perfectly on it. Otherwise I highly recommend buying a copy of Breadbox Ensemble for all kinds of good reasons.