[vcf-midatlantic] Help with installing 1980s DOS program

Evan Koblentz evan at vcfed.org
Mon May 13 19:30:09 EDT 2019


Someone posted on my local Facebook town page in need of ordinary PC 
support. I replied because that stuff is usually quite easy to fix -- 
easy/quick cash on the side, or so I thought!!

Turns out it's an elderly attorney running a mid-1980s DOS version of 
Leading Edge Word Processor installed on Windows XP. Seriously?????

The problem was it keeps giving him an error message about unable to 
read drive a: (3.5") even when he's not trying to use that drive. The 
error pops up randomly and prevents him from continuing to use the 
program. I confirmed that the drive reads/writes fine.

Rather than trying to chase down an inconsistent bug, he asked me if he 
can dump Windows and just run the program under straight DOS. Okay, 
sure. I figured it would be fun to do this even if the guy wasn't paying 
me. After all, if I don't promote semi-vintage computing then who will? :)

I downloaded DOS 6.22 at home and put the image files onto disks via a 
USB floppy drive. Went to install that on an old PC that I happened to 
have, and it gave errors about lack of memory space when I ran setup, 
which is bizarre but whatever .... I downloaded version 5.0 instead and 
that installed without any trouble (not counting one damaged disk; I 
used another disk and it worked that time).

So now I've got a bare-metal DOS 5.0 installation on an older PC for 
this guy. His son pointed me to the word processor program at an 
abandonware site (I put a copy of the files at http://snarc.net/lewp/ if 
anybody wants to play along at home). I copied the files onto a disk via 
DOSbox (thanks to Dean for the tip to use emulation there!). The files 
read/write fine on the DOS computer.

Currently I'm stumped at how to install this program on the computer. I 
copied them all into the same directory structure on the DOS computer. 
The install.bat file requires a second floppy drive, which I don't have 
but I am getting one tomorrow. (Local FB marketplace seller has another 
external USB floppy drive for eight bucks.)

I have two questions:

1. Is there a way around needing a second drive?

2. If the second drive is required, is it even the correct procedure to 
just run the install.bat or must I do something else to install the program?



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