Wednesday, April 21, 2010

VAULT-OS : Update

Worked on a new web site for Vault-OS last night. You may have noticed I have been sitting on the domain name for two years.

I have spent the better part of a week trying to rebuild my Win98 machine after the hard drive crashed. This machine sits in the hub of my test network and distributes new builds automatically to all participating machines when I have something updated.

I tried to load NT Workstation and Server onto it, discovering a lot of things in the process through massive fail after fail. By the way, Win98/SE has the capacity to be a real pain in the ass to reinstall, uninstall or modify. You'd never guess it but if you'd worked with it as much as I have you discover it is a very nasty piece of malware after it has been installed and you will often end up formatting your hard drive in order to get rid of it.

One interesting thing I've discovered which I'd like to pass on is what a wonderful base platform that NT Workstation is for almost any x86 box, particularly embedded equipment. My two "Sentry" boxes now both run NT Workstation and they have microdrives with FAT partitions on them. NT Workstation was a lot easier to install on both of these than Win98 or WinME and Workstation just seems like it was designed to be a robust, hardy little networked machine tough as nails and very adaptive for whatever you need it to do. It runs really fast and tight on as little as 16 MB, only takes a little over 100MB on the storage disk and will integrate so rapidly when you put servers on the same network (NT/2000). It seems to "try" to fit in and make itself useful, whereas Win98 is a kind of consumer product that seems to be designed to make it really hard to boot around with on different platforms. I say this having gotten it down to as little as 12 megs total hard drive space, too. Win NT Workstation is way friendlier to systems like we need in an underground Vault. Experience shows it is also far more robust long term.

For these and other reasons tonight I will probably be converting even my dev box to NTWS for my test network. This means that I will not be able to guarantee Win98 will run seamlessly when I get a release candidate. I may put a chapter on it in the book and I will mention these concerns there as well.

The DOS version is languishing for failure to integrate into the total system, sort of like Windows 98. I can't release that version until I am certain it operates transparently with all other machines on the network. It will continue to be underway for a while after I release my first version of Vault-OS soon on the Win32 platform.


The Anonymous Blogger said...

Any update pics or other technoporn for us geeks out here watching your progress

Anonymous said...

Personally, I think you're nuts for not using one of the free unix-based operating systems that are out there.

hitandrun catastrophe said...

Win98 was all Micro$oft, whereas NT was just Micro$oft rebadging IBM's good work. Win98 doesn't even let you directly access the Services. At my old workplace they didn't support 98 for their software because you couldn't start/stop/install/uninstall any of the services responsible for communicating via com port or IP - you had to reboot the system instead...

The army were still using NT on their networks a long time after it was considered a dinosaur, but that's more to do with their budget than it actually being useful. It's a pain in the arse to get USB devices working on it.

Really, I think enough time's passed to stop worrying about those legacy operating systems. W2K is much better, and runs on some pretty old, cheap hardware. If you can't scrounge together a few Win2000 systems then you're probably hard pressed to put together a month's worth of pork & beans, too.

Anonymous said...

Hes designing his own OS for a very particular purpose. He wants to know exactly what is in it and how it will act. Plus, having designed it himself he can upgrade or modify it as he pleases.

Anyone can easily just spend uber amounts of money and just install a modern network, but I have seen over the years that old tech has a tendency to last far longer than new tech if you keep it in good shape, and this is key for having a Vault network in case of any disaster. You will not be resupplied. Having the simplest, low power tech, will most likely give you the longest life expectancy.

Texas Arcane said...


I agree wholeheartedly on Windows 2000 Advanced Server. It's awesome. I have found it operates in a friendly and cooporative fashion alongside Windows NT Server, Windows NT Advanced Terminal Server and Windows NT Workstation. It also installs and uninstalls in a variety of contexts without being a pain in the ass or throwing a fit over some hardware irregularity. Other than requiring a microdrive to be NTFS compatible it's nigh perfect for what I want. It's way better for NT in many ways but Win NT Server is pretty kickass by itself if you know your driver requirements up front.

As the guy above said, it's not about expense so much as getting it right. I could put Windows XP embedded on everything and make the hardware requirements 1 GIG RAM and 50 GIG drive space.

Have you ever tried to install and uninstall XP on an embedded system? Or even 2003 Server, for that matter? Nightmarish.

After Windows 2000 Advanced Server, Microsoft became truly evil. They do all kinds of crap in the background on top of requiring "Activation" for everything and sending all sorts of things over the network behind your back. They will make your life hell for doing embedded systems work and other R&D where you do a lot of burning and reconfiguration on the fly.

NT and 2000 are the perfect platform for Vault-OS, honestly. Perfect. It's taken me quite a bit of research to realize this. I had to burn a couple hundred PXEs (at least) to learn about all the perks and pitfalls of installation and configuration on all kinds of machines and hardware environments.

DOS-based Sentry is terrific and once I get it running it will be a great little program to set up on very small boxes dedicated to control of things like the battery charging, the hydroponics lab, etc. I want to be able to put the DOS client onto things like this $25 board from MCI that is x86 compatible.

It is likely the W32 VOS is going to be released first, then the DOS version later this year when it's totally debugged and solid.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like it's nearly time to dust off those NTWS disks !!! Can't wait to see it.

marcus said...

Arcane I think would be the perfect supplement for your vault.

netbook that can run on 8 AA batteries! At 1ghz it can even handle windows xp if needed. If anything, one or two of these in a common man's shelter would be a huge boon imo.