Tonight I successfully installed DesqView-X 2.1 on my "Sentry" DOS based machine and through the DesqView front end I was not only able to run several dedicated applications in Powerbasic at the same time, I was able to switch between them in real-time in the multitasking environment. This is while all apps were using the serial ports, parallel ports, ethernet and the database system in their own individual windows. I almost peed my pants I was so excited about this. My wife came into my study while this stuff was running and she said I looked like I was having an ecclesiastical vision of heaven I looked so happy.
Incredibly, I discovered I could actually run XWindows applications on the main Windows server from the "Sentry" machine with all these other Powerbasic apps running in their own space. So I was chatting over XWindows to the ThinkBoy server while running the environmental controller, inventory database and hydroponics lab in their own separate DOS windows in Desqview-X.
What put me onto this was finding an obscure FOIA document from the U.S. Navy describing how they used DesqView during the Cold War to run multiple DOS apps on a sea buoy designed to track submarine movements and weather conditions. Turns out it works!
So I've got a pretty flexible, incredible realtime multithreaded multiprocess machine by itself working standalone with minimal specs under DOS, in addition to it being a cooporative networked machine as part of a larger system with Windows 2000 Advanced Server acting as the big brother overseer and master controller where desired. All of this tech was free or close to it.
P.S. I just discovered that Desqview-X can thin client into any other DOS machine over Ethernet and run apps remotely and totally control and configure that machine when given permission. I believe I ruined my pants and will now have to throw them away. I will try to put some screenshots up soon on Vault-Co to show you all this running. It is so incredible I think I blew a gasket in my brain.
ADDENDUM: Machine specs (in response to requests)
Aeon 5600 133 MHZ Pentium PC/104 SBC (x86 compatible)
640x480 16 color VGA output to analog TV
8 MB RAM
365 MB IBM Microdrive
Desqview-X with QEMM
Ethernet Packet Driver for IPX & DOS TCP-IP