This article briefly describes running the DOS version of FrontDoor under Windows XP. Many things are similar in other Windows environments, but probably not identical. One problem with Windows XP itself is that you cannot activate it with Microsoft anymore. But on today's hardware, as well as virtualization environments, Windows XP is quite nice for running DOS applications and the DOS version of FrontDoor plays very well with Windows XP.

Some basic pointers for running FrontDoor under Windows XP

  1. Use NetFoss (PC Micro) or ADF FOSSIL driver. There are others, but these work well for most people.
  2. To connect FrontDoor to the Internet, use NetSerial (PC Micro). There are others, but NetSerial works well for most people. There are different ways of doing this, but running NetSerial inside the Windows XP environment seems to work best. This certainly seems to be true for VirtualBox environments.
  3. Set the FD environment variable “globally” so that it is always set for “DOS Windows”. Do this by setting the environment variable FD in Start menu > Settings > Control Panel > System Properties. Advanced Tab > Environment Variables. You can choose to use either “User variables” or “System variables”. The FD environment variable must point to the directory where your SETUP.FD file is located, e.g. C:\FD
  4. It is a good idea to also set other environment variables here (3), if they are not likely to change frequently.
  5. In your .BAT file that runs FrontDoor, load NetFossil like NetFoss /C1 /N1 /L57600 (COM1, Node 1, Lock baudrate at 57600)
Direct vs Indirect launch

You can choose to open a generic CMD prompt window in Windows XP, and then run things from there, in which case you cannot customize properties. You can also launch the FrontDoor batch (.BAT) file directly from a Windows XP shortcut, in which case you may customize properties. You may want to give FrontDoor one or two megabytes of XMS memory if you have some to spare.

Since there are usually quite a few environments variables being set for various DOS programs, as well as the PATH sometimes being quite long, ensure that you allocate sufficient space for the “Environment”. Something like 3072 bytes seems to be a good setting.

FrontDoor and NetSerial

Consult the NetSerial (PC Micro) documentation as applicable. We have been using modem init strings like this:

Escape code: ~+++~
Return on-line: ~ATO|
On-hook: ^ATM1H0|`^
RingingAbort: 10
Dial: AT
Prefix: DT
Suffix: |
Delay: 2
Init-1: AT&D2&C1V1S95=3X4H0|`
Init-2: <empty>
Init-3: <empty>
TermInit: AT&C1&D2|`
Down: AT&C1&D2H0|`
Attention: AT|

The S95 setting tells NetSerial to create responses like CONNECT 57600/ARQ. Tell FrontDoor that the speed is fixed (FDSETUP > Modem > Hardware). You do not have to create custom CONNECT messages in FDSETUP. FrontDoor can parse the strings that NetSerial sends.

Configure NetSerial to function as “Virtual Modem”. Enable inbound connections if you want to be able to accept incoming calls. There is no port that works better than others as far as FrontDoor is concerned. Typically, higher ports are better in TCP/IP environments and less likely to cause conflicts, but the calling system obviously needs to be made aware of this.

Other NetSerial settings should be:

Connection Type set to Telnet
Request Remote Telnet Echo disabled
Accept Local Telnet Echo enabled
Request Binary Connection enabled

You can choose to use the NetSerial Virtual Phone Book if you are only calling a few systems. But FrontDoor has a far more flexible and dynamic “number” handling by means of number translation in FDNODE.CTL / FDNC.

  • Last modified: 02-Oct-2017 @ 13:00
  • by Joaquim Homrighausen