39 votes
Accepted

Why have MS-DOS device drivers if the ROM BIOS provides access to the same devices already?

TL;DR: MS-DOS is a vendor independent DOS and IO.SYS is its abstraction layer encapsulating all machine dependent parts. If DOS would direct access the ROM BIOS it would be specific to the IBM-PC, ...
Raffzahn's user avatar
  • 223k
38 votes
Accepted

Why was the DOS clock device renamed from CLOCK into CLOCK$?

Quick partial answer: CON, LST, PRN and AUX (*1) are names inherited from CP/M, either direct form its BIOS or CP/M's main file handling utility PIP (*2). NUL was add with DOS. DOS 1.x added ...
Raffzahn's user avatar
  • 223k
37 votes

Why did CP/M and MS-DOS use the BIOS instead of their own drivers to access hardware?

The BIOS originated as part of the CP/M operating system. It was the "layer" that interfaced directly with the hardware and as such, was usually machine specific. The idea is that, if you ...
JeremyP's user avatar
  • 11.8k
30 votes

Did terminals (e.g. VT100) require a terminal driver on the host computer?

Different terminals didn’t (and don’t) use different kernel-level drivers. In Unix-style systems, the kernel does provide some terminal-related features, called line disciplines and the TTY layer ...
Stephen Kitt's user avatar
29 votes

What really is a sound card driver in MS-DOS?

Summary: Real ISA Sound Blaster cards don't need any drivers to initialise or support them. Later PNP Sound Blasters (SB16/AWE) and clones may need a driver that performs one-time initialisation. ...
knol's user avatar
  • 11.9k
27 votes

Why are these DOS console drivers wasting precious bytes?

As Michael Karcher already points out in a comment, the shown sequences are quite typical for a compiler at the time. I'd say most likely C. That or use of a standardized macro set. This is not only ...
Raffzahn's user avatar
  • 223k
26 votes
Accepted

How does Windows 9x determine which disk drivers correspond to which BIOS disks/DOS drive letters?

By their contents. When Windows boots, the I/O Supervisor VxD (IOS) uses BIOS interrupt 0x13 services to read sector 0 (the Master Boot Record) of each drive. It then looks at two bytes at offset ...
user3840170's user avatar
  • 23.1k
25 votes
Accepted

Sound driver for DOS or Windows 3.x that used the PC speaker?

It was a DOS-Windows 3.x and DOS-Windows 9x/ME thing. It was a driver named speaker.drv, written by Microsoft. It turned off interrupts for significant periods of time, which caused I/O problems ...
JdeBP's user avatar
  • 2,288
25 votes

Why was the DOS clock device renamed from CLOCK into CLOCK$?

As Raffzahn explains, the clock device driver was added in DOS 2.0. CON, AUX, etc. were device names already present in DOS 1.0, some of them even earlier in CP/M; these names couldn’t be changed to ...
Stephen Kitt's user avatar
22 votes

Why did CP/M and MS-DOS use the BIOS instead of their own drivers to access hardware?

CP/M was hardware independent - there was no notion of a reference machine (as the IBM PC was for MS-DOS), so CP/M could not provide drivers. The hardware producer had to develop the drivers and ...
Ralf Kleberhoff's user avatar
22 votes
Accepted

Why didn't PostScript eliminate the need for printer drivers?

they save every program from needing its own separate encyclopedic knowledge of every printer on the market. But then came PostScript, the theory behind which was that you would prepare a printable ...
Raffzahn's user avatar
  • 223k
21 votes
Accepted

Was there ever a Linux kernel driver for accessing disks via BIOS?

At first, I was convinced that such a driver had never been written. But in fact, there was one; although it was never merged into upstream Linux. Thanks to @Joshua for pointing me to it. The driver ...
user3840170's user avatar
  • 23.1k
18 votes
Accepted

Why are these DOS console drivers wasting precious bytes?

Given that these snippets of assembly code look as if mechanically translated, one might suppose that they indeed were: that they are outputs of a compiler of a higher-level language or an assembler ...
user3840170's user avatar
  • 23.1k
16 votes

What really is a sound card driver in MS-DOS?

Most PCI soundcards do not have hardware support for games and other applications that expect a SoundBlaster or AdLib to be present. Older cards made a special effort to provide what's known as "...
Chromatix's user avatar
  • 16.8k
15 votes

Why didn't PostScript eliminate the need for printer drivers?

Cost There are significant licensing costs and equipment costs. I'm sure PostScript needs quite a bit more RAM & processing than some of the lower levels of PCL and similar printer languages. As I ...
manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact's user avatar
14 votes

Why did CP/M and MS-DOS use the BIOS instead of their own drivers to access hardware?

The simple answer is that they just didn't need them! Why reinvent the wheel, when the required interface is already provided by the ROM BIOS? This allows the operating system to be more portable and ...
Cody Gray - on strike's user avatar
13 votes

Why have MS-DOS device drivers if the ROM BIOS provides access to the same devices already?

First, the terminology. In the context of DOS, the term ‘BIOS’ may refer to either one, or sometimes both, of two things: (a) the IBM PC firmware stored in the ROM, or (b) the hardware abstraction ...
user3840170's user avatar
  • 23.1k
12 votes

Why didn't PostScript eliminate the need for printer drivers?

tl;dr: PDF is overtaking the world, and PDF is a subset of PostScript. PostScript was quite demanding. In the early days a PostScript printer might well be the most powerful computer in the building, ...
Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen's user avatar
12 votes
Accepted

S-100 bus and device drivers

Like most busses of its time, you had to write your own software to communicate between the cards. The term device driver wasn't widespread at the time, but that is what you were writing. The S-100 ...
Chenmunka's user avatar
  • 8,141
12 votes
Accepted

Is there a generic VBE driver available for Windows 3.x?

It seems unlikely that a fully-functional VBE driver for Windows 3.x exists. Microsoft started bundling a VBE driver with the operating system only as late as with Windows XP, by which time the ...
user3840170's user avatar
  • 23.1k
12 votes

Why are these DOS console drivers wasting precious bytes?

So my question is: Why did the programmer(s) not write the shortest code possible in an OS that is confined to conventional memory? Because they had deadlines, other things to work on and "good ...
Will Hartung's user avatar
  • 12.3k
11 votes
Accepted

Why can't VirtualBox install drivers for Windows 95B?

The Windows 95 installation happens in two phases. Assuming you are installing from scratch the first phase runs under a stripped down version of Windows 3.x which runs under the DOS environment you (...
Peter Green's user avatar
  • 2,912
11 votes
Accepted

How did the BBC sideways ROM software for the AMX mouse process the user port input data to determine x and y movement?

Trying to get more into the specifics of the BBC connection, there is a substantial hint in the user guide: However only 5 bits of the [user] port, and CB1, CB2 are used: This leaves bits 1,3 and 4 ...
Tommy's user avatar
  • 36.9k
10 votes

Did terminals (e.g. VT100) require a terminal driver on the host computer?

This was not done by a “driver” at the OS level as you are thinking of it. In Unix, there were drivers that dealt with the RS232 interface and these were surfaced as /dev/tty* devices and dealt with ...
mannaggia's user avatar
  • 3,264
10 votes

Did terminals (e.g. VT100) require a terminal driver on the host computer?

"It depends". I'm answering this in the context of DEC timesharing systems, since that's the natural habitat of a DEC VT100. There's a hardware device such as a DZ11 terminal multiplexer (8 lines) ...
dave's user avatar
  • 35.6k
10 votes

How does Windows 9x determine which disk drivers correspond to which BIOS disks/DOS drive letters?

It wasn't anything to do with drive letters, or the Windows NT disc signature in the MBR. DOS-Windows 9x, in particular the infamous wdctrl virtual device driver (often known colloquially and ...
JdeBP's user avatar
  • 2,288
10 votes
Accepted

What really is a sound card driver in MS-DOS?

The typical way to provide "driver" services to other programs in DOS is to run a TSR (Terminate and Stay Resident) program installing a software interrupt vector such that running DOS ...
Retrograde's user avatar
  • 4,506
9 votes

Why didn't PostScript eliminate the need for printer drivers?

Yet another factor that hasn't been mentioned is that ink jet printers have become far more common than laser printers, and have a critical ability that laser printers lack, and whose lack had ...
supercat's user avatar
  • 36.2k
9 votes

Why is the Compaq FWS2ASPI.SYS driver not recognized as an ASPI driver?

As for example MEM /DEBUG reveals, the Compaq SCSI driver FWS2SCSI.SYS registers itself using the device driver name SCSICPQ$: C:\>MEM /DEBUG Detaillierte Übersicht des konventionellen Speichers: ...
Michael Karcher's user avatar

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