What is an Operating System?


C

casey.o

I used to think an Operating System, was the software that made the
hardware inside a computer operate in a language that we understand (in
other words, in English, or any other language). Or to put it another
way, it makes the hardware in the computer put an understandable image
on our monitor screen.

All the MS OSs, and from what I've seen of Linux, are WAY BEYOND just
being an OS. For example, how much (percentage) of XP is really the
actual OS? My guess is that it would be less than one percent. XP
comes with IE, Outlook Exp, Notepad, Defrag, Character map, Dialer,
Games, Wallpapers, Wordpad, Media Player, and hundreds of other things
that are NOT needed.

Sure, we all use Notepad, and most likely Defrag, and a wallpaper, and
possibly even IE or OE. But NONE of this stuff is needed in an OS. It
seems that every version of Windows is just adding more external apps to
the same basic OS.

I'd like to see a basic OS, with nothing more. One where we can add
programs which we choose. Granted, MS does have the options during
setup (and later) to add or remove parts of their installation, such as
eliminating the games, and anyone with some computer smarts can manually
remove all the wallpapers or the notepad program and so on. But
shouldn't there be a way to install only the most barebones OS, and
othing more? Or choose each and every addition to that basic OS, such
as "Do you want Notepad, do you want Defrag, Do you want wallpaers, or a
screen saver, etc.....

Years ago, I knew a guy who what most people would call a "computer
hacker". The guy, although a little bizarre, could do damn near
anything with a computer, and at one point, he dismantled Windows 95,
and made a completely stripped down version of Win95 that would boot the
computer from one 1.44m floppy. Although it was booted, there was
nothing to really do, but it was impressive just to see win95 boot from
one floppy.

Anyhow, my point in posting this is to ask just how much is really
improved when you compare win 95 to Win8.1, regarding the actual OS and
ONLY the OS (with nothing added). Granted, some of the nerer OSs
operate parts of the hardware that the old er ones did not, for example
USB support, whereas Windows 95 and 98 did this poorly, but Win2K and up
did it well. I doubt there would be a way to boot into XP from a
floppy, but I'd also bet that the most basic booting part of XP could be
loaded in less than 5 megs, or only about 1% of the stuff on the XP
install CD is really needed, or what is the REAL OPERATING SYSTEM!
 
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J

JuanMotime

I used to think an Operating System, was the software that made the
hardware inside a computer operate in a language that we understand (in
other words, in English, or any other language). Or to put it another
way, it makes the hardware in the computer put an understandable image
on our monitor screen.
What I would like to see in my OS is to have it built into the
motherboard. That way, I could start from scratch and not have to
reinstall it if something goes wrong.

(Updated with a flash drive)

I would like to see a functioning OS that doesn't add 100 bucks to the
price of each computer.
 
P

philo 

What I would like to see in my OS is to have it built into the
motherboard. That way, I could start from scratch and not have to
reinstall it if something goes wrong.

(Updated with a flash drive)



A darn good idea I've always thought.


BTW, many of the early 8088's had built-in ROM BASIC
 
C

casey.o

Perhaps the closest thing to this is Linux, assuming you (generic you) can
"get into" Linux. So far, I sure haven't, although it was interesting to
play around with for awhile. Ubuntu seemed to be the biggie here, but with
its new interface (called Unity), for the tablet user, thanks, but no
thanks. (I'd use Cinammon Mint if I had to pick one. But XP is much more
useable and practical for me).

I've played with two linux types. PUPPY and PCLINUX. Both had a ton of
programs and utilities added. From what I've seen, I'm not real fond of
linux. But Puppy can be installed right on my hard drive without
anysystem modifications, other than having a bootup selection to choose
XP or Puppy. Whereas PcLinux wanted to make partitions and so on, so I
quit using it, aside from CD booting, which is slower than shit. Anyhow,
from what you said, I dont see where Linux can be installed as JUST the
OS. However I know little about it. I'm sure some linux geek could do
it, but then some windows geek, like that guy who booted W95 from a
floppy, could extract just the OS from the XP system.

It's not that I really am trying to do it. However, there are a lot of
things that XP installs that just waste drive space. I did remove OE
and the games, neither I'll ever use. On Win98, I removed IE6, although
the core is still there and part of the OS. Considering the low cost
for hard drives these days, it's no big deal to waste a little of it on
unwanted crap that comes with Windows, but there was a time when drives
were costly and small, so I'd remove all the wallpaers and lots of other
stuff.

Yet, I would like to learn what is the absolute REQUIRED parts of XP,
and ONLY those parts, to make the computer boot up. For example, this
one computer I'm working on is lacking the video drivers, until I get to
a WIFI spot to download the large file. What puzzles me, is WHY I need
them, other than the fact that there is a yellow question mark in Device
Manager telling me I need them. I have a good clear picture on my
screen, so what is making that work, without the video drivers?
 
K

Ken Springer

I've played with two linux types. PUPPY and PCLINUX. Both had a ton of
programs and utilities added. From what I've seen, I'm not real fond of
linux. But Puppy can be installed right on my hard drive without
anysystem modifications, other than having a bootup selection to choose
XP or Puppy. Whereas PcLinux wanted to make partitions and so on, so I
quit using it, aside from CD booting, which is slower than shit. Anyhow,
from what you said, I dont see where Linux can be installed as JUST the
OS. However I know little about it. I'm sure some linux geek could do
it, but then some windows geek, like that guy who booted W95 from a
floppy, could extract just the OS from the XP system.

It's not that I really am trying to do it. However, there are a lot of
things that XP installs that just waste drive space. I did remove OE
and the games, neither I'll ever use. On Win98, I removed IE6, although
the core is still there and part of the OS. Considering the low cost
for hard drives these days, it's no big deal to waste a little of it on
unwanted crap that comes with Windows, but there was a time when drives
were costly and small, so I'd remove all the wallpaers and lots of other
stuff.

Yet, I would like to learn what is the absolute REQUIRED parts of XP,
and ONLY those parts, to make the computer boot up. For example, this
one computer I'm working on is lacking the video drivers, until I get to
a WIFI spot to download the large file. What puzzles me, is WHY I need
them, other than the fact that there is a yellow question mark in Device
Manager telling me I need them. I have a good clear picture on my
screen, so what is making that work, without the video drivers?

RE: Video drivers...

Let's say your monitor/video card is capable of producing a resolution
of 1280 X 960. AFAIK, XP's maximum native resolution may be 1024 X 768.
I think I've had an XP install give me that a couple of times, but
usually 800 X 600 is what I had when done installing.

If you don't install the correct driver for your video card, you can't
access the higher resolutions. And I don't think there's a single
resolution in XP for widescreen monitors.

I have an HP 9500, 19" CRT monitor on my XP/Vista computer. And I run
1280 X 960. I've changed the size of the desktop icons and text, and
set the spacing to my liking. And I have a clear picture.

Where the high resolution comes into play for me is I get more
"information" displayed. Photos are far better appearing, and you see
more of it. In a word processor, if your zoom is set to actual size, I
see an entire letter sized page, not just part of it.

Can't help but think that what you do with Paint Shop Pro wouldn't be a
lot easier to do with more "screen real estate". :)


--
Ken
Mac OS X 10.8.5
Firefox 25.0
Thunderbird 24.3.0
"My brain is like lightning, a quick flash
and it's gone!"
 
C

casey.o

RE: Video drivers...

Let's say your monitor/video card is capable of producing a resolution
of 1280 X 960. AFAIK, XP's maximum native resolution may be 1024 X 768.
I think I've had an XP install give me that a couple of times, but
usually 800 X 600 is what I had when done installing.

If you don't install the correct driver for your video card, you can't
access the higher resolutions. And I don't think there's a single
resolution in XP for widescreen monitors.

I have an HP 9500, 19" CRT monitor on my XP/Vista computer. And I run
1280 X 960. I've changed the size of the desktop icons and text, and
set the spacing to my liking. And I have a clear picture.

Where the high resolution comes into play for me is I get more
"information" displayed. Photos are far better appearing, and you see
more of it. In a word processor, if your zoom is set to actual size, I
see an entire letter sized page, not just part of it.

Can't help but think that what you do with Paint Shop Pro wouldn't be a
lot easier to do with more "screen real estate". :)

What I do in PSP is all on my Win98 machine. However, I never go over
1024 x 768, because I cant see it. My vision is not all that good
anymore. Part of getting old. But I just tried on that XP machine, and
1024 x 768 IS the highest it goes. So I guess you made your point.
Eventually I do want to get a bigger screen. Actually I hear some HDTV
sets can be used as monitors now. That is probably the way to go,
because it can also be used as a TV.
 
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K

Ken Springer

A darn good idea I've always thought.


BTW, many of the early 8088's had built-in ROM BASIC

Where have you guys been? Atari did that 20 odd years ago with their
ST/TT/Falcon line of computers.


--
Ken
Mac OS X 10.8.5
Firefox 25.0
Thunderbird 24.3.0
"My brain is like lightning, a quick flash
and it's gone!"
 
C

casey.o

I had an 8088 as my first computer, and I recall getting into Rom-Basic
a few times by accident. I did nto know what to do except reboot to get
out of it.
 
K

Ken Springer

What I do in PSP is all on my Win98 machine. However, I never go over
1024 x 768, because I cant see it. My vision is not all that good
anymore. Part of getting old. But I just tried on that XP machine, and
1024 x 768 IS the highest it goes. So I guess you made your point.
Eventually I do want to get a bigger screen. Actually I hear some HDTV
sets can be used as monitors now. That is probably the way to go,
because it can also be used as a TV.

Check out your monitor's specs. Since it sounds like you "roll your
own" for computers, your monitor may do higher resolutions than your
video card can do. The reverse is also true, the video card may be able
to do higher resolutions than the monitor.

One problem with never getting newer versions of software, or maybe
different software, is the old version doesn't know how to deal with and
adjust to higher resolutions. I can only guess here, but you should be
able to configure XP, or anything newer, and later versions of software,
to compensate for your vision problems. Some of those abilities are now
part of the operating system, although it probably doesn't fit your
definition and desire for a minimal OS install. Minimal OS = minimal
capabilities. Translated... Do you want to see it or not?

As for eyesight, I just got finished with a 3rd treatment for macular
degeneration.

It just occurred to me, if you applied you desire for the minimum OS and
no "extras" to your car, you'd have no radio, power steering, power
brakes, auto transmission, etc. <G>

The do make combo TV/monitors, have for some time. But I doubt anything
you've built would work with those units. And to be honest, they aren't
something that interests me. This Mac, and a WIn7/Win8 computer I
built, have 24" widescreen monitors, running 1920 X 1200 resolution.
These days, it's hard to find monitors capable of that resolution as the
aspect ration is 16:10, not the 16:9 that is ubiquitous.



--
Ken
Mac OS X 10.8.5
Firefox 25.0
Thunderbird 24.3.0
"My brain is like lightning, a quick flash
and it's gone!"
 
K

Ken Springer

I used to think an Operating System, was the software that made the
hardware inside a computer operate in a language that we understand (in
other words, in English, or any other language). Or to put it another
way, it makes the hardware in the computer put an understandable image
on our monitor screen.

To those that don't know anything about the "innards" of a computer, I
just tell them it's the program that tells the hardware it's a computer
and not a doorstop. LOL

The OS talks only in 1's and 0's, not in any verbal language we
understand. Programs have been written that translate the 1's and 0's
into something humans can understand.
All the MS OSs, and from what I've seen of Linux, are WAY BEYOND just
being an OS. For example, how much (percentage) of XP is really the
actual OS? My guess is that it would be less than one percent. XP
comes with IE, Outlook Exp, Notepad, Defrag, Character map, Dialer,
Games, Wallpapers, Wordpad, Media Player, and hundreds of other things
that are NOT needed.

Sure, we all use Notepad, and most likely Defrag, and a wallpaper, and
possibly even IE or OE. But NONE of this stuff is needed in an OS. It
seems that every version of Windows is just adding more external apps to
the same basic OS.

I'd like to see a basic OS, with nothing more. One where we can add
programs which we choose. Granted, MS does have the options during
setup (and later) to add or remove parts of their installation, such as
eliminating the games, and anyone with some computer smarts can manually
remove all the wallpapers or the notepad program and so on. But
shouldn't there be a way to install only the most barebones OS, and
othing more? Or choose each and every addition to that basic OS, such
as "Do you want Notepad, do you want Defrag, Do you want wallpaers, or a
screen saver, etc.....

Years ago, I knew a guy who what most people would call a "computer
hacker". The guy, although a little bizarre, could do damn near
anything with a computer, and at one point, he dismantled Windows 95,
and made a completely stripped down version of Win95 that would boot the
computer from one 1.44m floppy. Although it was booted, there was
nothing to really do, but it was impressive just to see win95 boot from
one floppy.

You're "computer hacker" might be very unhappy these days. For him to
do those kinds of things, the ability to manipulate things, has to be
built into the OS. I used know a similar type of person who complained
that with each new version of Windows, MS removed those parts of the OS
that allowed him to do that type of thing.
Anyhow, my point in posting this is to ask just how much is really
improved when you compare win 95 to Win8.1, regarding the actual OS and
ONLY the OS (with nothing added). Granted, some of the nerer OSs
operate parts of the hardware that the old er ones did not, for example
USB support, whereas Windows 95 and 98 did this poorly, but Win2K and up
did it well. I doubt there would be a way to boot into XP from a
floppy, but I'd also bet that the most basic booting part of XP could be
loaded in less than 5 megs, or only about 1% of the stuff on the XP
install CD is really needed, or what is the REAL OPERATING SYSTEM!

You have to consider the marketplace, and the need for MS or any other
company to actually sell the computer. The vast majority of purchasers
want the computer to do something right out of the box. So the makers
supply programs that aren't technically part of the OS, but gives the
purchaser the ability to use the computer out of the box.

So, you'll never see what you want. If it were me, and I wanted the
bare bones and yet still have something that boots up, I would just
delete (uncheck) all the possible parts of the Windows install you can.
I don't do much in the way of things like that, just in case MS puts
out a patch/repair for the OS that expects one or more of those
components to be installed. And over the years, I see users post about
problems with this update and that. But they decide they don't want
this, that, or something else on their computer. Netframework comes to
mind. I've just let the updates do what they want, leave things alone,
and I've never had any problems with my equipment.

Only once that I remember did I have an issue with an update. There was
some kind of hardware issue, and when I changed the network card, all
was well.




--
Ken
Mac OS X 10.8.5
Firefox 25.0
Thunderbird 24.3.0
"My brain is like lightning, a quick flash
and it's gone!"
 
P

philo 

I had an 8088 as my first computer, and I recall getting into Rom-Basic
a few times by accident. I did nto know what to do except reboot to get
out of it.



Yep, that will come up if the hard drive is not detected
 
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B

Bob Willard

I used to think an Operating System, was the software that made the
hardware inside a computer operate in a language that we understand (in
other words, in English, or any other language). Or to put it another
way, it makes the hardware in the computer put an understandable image
on our monitor screen.

That is certainly not my definition of an OS. An OS is the collection
of software between Apps and the hardware; it is those Apps that put
stuff on the tube. IMHO, every reasonable OS does error handling
for hardware, and every OS that supports concurrency (including
multi-tasking and multi-threading) must do resource allocation and
some degree of control over Apps.

There are *lots* of other functions that real OS's perform. If I left
one of your favorites off of my brief list, feel free to yell -- if it
will make you feel better.

My model of a computer is an onion: the hardware is the core, the OS
is the next layer, and Apps live in the outer layer. In finer grain,
the OS may have multiple layers of its own: a kernel surrounding
the hardware, and segments of outermore layers that support optional
hardware and features and, sometimes, alternative software stacks
(e.g., networking).
 
P

(PeteCresswell)

Per JuanMotime:
I would like to see a functioning OS that doesn't add 100 bucks to the
price of each computer.

That would be Linux, right?

OTOH, I've played with Linux in the distant past and it was like having
a part-time job - except the pay was lousy.

Having said that...

The picture I get is that the right flavor of Linux can be a reasonable
choice for users who do a certain array of bread-and-butter functions
and can have the PC set up by somebody who knows what they are doing.
 
K

Ken Springer

I'm still using 800 X 600, and even prefer it over 1024 X 768. I can't get
or see "as much stuff" on the desktop that way, but so what?? What I do
see, I see clearly, and at a nice comfortable size on my 19" monitor. Then
again, I'm not running multiple apps in multiple windows, either. When I
see other people's computers, they invariably have and use a higher
resolution desktop, with smaller print, but I just don't care for it.

Once I saw WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get), I could never go back
to a monitor that wouldn't let me have that. So when working with a
text document, I almost never use a window that won't show a letter
sized piece of paper in it's entirety at actual size. And that means
it's as equivalent to the printed output as your system can produce.
For other software, it's not quite so important.

I think my preference, if I wanted the situation you prefer, would be to
use the zoom feature of the program, check out the customized font size
settings (I've never tried them), or maybe virtual desktops. I can't
remember if XP has a built in magnification feature similar to Win7
which I've also never used.

For the multiple windows situation you mention, I have multiple
desktops, and certain programs open automatically in certain desktops at
boot up. Keyboard shortcuts or mouse takes me straight to that desktop.
Thus, with the exception of the "yellow stickies" desktop, none of the
windows clutter.


--
Ken
Mac OS X 10.8.5
Firefox 25.0
Thunderbird 24.3.0
"My brain is like lightning, a quick flash
and it's gone!"
 
K

Ken Springer

I tried changing the font size once (from its normal 96 dpi), but I still
find the desktop or application I'm using looks a lot better with the std
fonts at 800 X 600, or, if needbe (for some apps), 1024 X 768. I haven't
found using these lower resolutions to be a problem.

It is true that I often can't see a whole letter sized piece of paper in its
entirety, however. If you think that's bad, consider for awhile I got used
to using a VIC-20, with only 22 characters across! But NOT for writing
many letters, however. Granted, that was awhile ago, however. :)

My mother's VIC-20 is at my sister's house! LOL


--
Ken
Mac OS X 10.8.5
Firefox 25.0
Thunderbird 24.3.0
"My brain is like lightning, a quick flash
and it's gone!"
 
C

casey.o

You're "computer hacker" might be very unhappy these days. For him to
do those kinds of things, the ability to manipulate things, has to be
built into the OS. I used know a similar type of person who complained
that with each new version of Windows, MS removed those parts of the OS
that allowed him to do that type of thing.

I have not seen that guy in many years since I moved several hundred
miles away, but that guy seemed to live on the computer, and he knew
every trick in the book. He got pissed at some guy who sold him a
computer at an electronics store, so he went there and forced windows to
delete itself on a whole shelf of computer demos. If I recall, that was
windows 3.1. I thought he was kidding, so he installed Windows on a
spare computer, then told me to do a few things, and sure enough, it
deleted itself, leaving nothing but a black screen and frozen system.
When it was done, all that remained were a few files on the drive, and
nothing to boot with. You cant do that with XP, or even Win 95 or 98.
They just dont allow it. However while experimenting with Win98, I did
manage to delete the Kernel once, and that really made a mess of things.
But it was just a cloned install on a spare HD, intended for me to
attempt to destroy. I used to have a lot of fun doing crazy stuff with
Dos too. I once made a batch file that took a small text tle, and it
just continued to multiply until it filled the hard drive. Dos was a
lot more fun to play with than windows. I still like to play with dos
once and awhile.

I was one of the only people who had a full colored wallpaper at the C:
prompt, which I created using ansi color codes on ascii art images. I
would spend days just making one wallpaper. I still have some of them
on my W98 machine, which always boots to Dos. To start windows I have
to type WIN. I do that because I still run a dos database which
contains all my address and phone lists. I've never found any Windows
database that I like, and the program that I use can not transfer the
data to any other database. It's real handy for me to turn on the
computer and get to my phone list in seconds, and not have to wait for
Windows to load. If I was to completely switch to XP, I'd be screwed,
because XP cant be started from a Dos prompt. That is why I recently
asked if a person can dual boot to dos or windows. Actually, if it's
possible, I'd like to be able to quad boot. Boot to Dos, or Win98, or
XP, or Puppy Linux. I have not yet taken the time to see if this is
possible.....
 
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B

BillW50

philo said:
Yep, that will come up if the hard drive is not detected

Only IBM PCs, clones never had a ROM Basic, just disk based Basic called
GWBasic or Basica (not to be confused with IBM Basica). And the hard
drive could be there and Basic still could boot from ROM. That is
assuming that the hard drive isn't bootable. Although I wouldn't be
surprised if there was a hotkey on power up to boot with Basic ROM
regardless of what was on the hard drive.
 
B

BillW50

never go over 1024 x 768, because I cant see it. My vision is not
all that good anymore. Part of getting old.

Ever get a monitor that is VESA mountable? Then get one of those monitor
arms that you can place the monitor anywhere? I love them. Not only is
it easy to adjust your monitor for best viewing, but it frees up lots of
desk space as well.
... Eventually I do want to get a bigger screen. Actually I hear some
HDTV sets can be used as monitors now. That is probably the way to go,
because it can also be used as a TV.

It works the only way around too in some cases. For example, this Asus
VH238H 23 inch monitor's native resolution is 1920x1080. Since it also
has built in speakers, it doubles as a HDTV. Although it lacks a TV
tuner (you can add an external one if you like), although most people
wouldn't need tuners anymore since they probably will just use the HDMI
port instead.
 
B

BillW50

Ken Springer said:
My mother's VIC-20 is at my sister's house! LOL

VIC-20 was my first color computer and I used it a lot for many years. I
even had a 40 character display for it. I don't recall if it was
cartridge based or software. Linus Torvalds first computer was a VIC-20
too. Although it wasn't my first.
 
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C

casey.o

I find it a bit surprising that the DOS database program doesn't have any
export option to save the fields in comma delimited format (or whatever)
that could then be imported into some windows database program. Granted,
that might be a pain, but I would think there would be at least some export
option.

Everyone back then was using the DBase programs, a friend introduce me
to a program by Ashton Tate, called Rapid File. He originally used it
at work, where he managed the computers for a large chain of hospitals.
He also worked as a volunteer for a non-profit org and he began using
that same program to manage the records for this non-profit. When I
volunteered for this non-profit, I was just starting to play around with
computers, and knew almost nothing about them. I bought an old 8088
booted by floppy, and all I had was a a floppy to boot it, and another
one to use a word processor. Back then, i was terrible at typing, and I
needed to type reports for work. Using a typewriter, I probably used
more whiteout than ribbon. I was looking to buy one of those electronic
typewriters that were basically just a word processor. But they could
correct errors, save the document to a file, and that alone seemed to be
a huge inmprovement. But a friend said I'd be better off buying a
computer, because I could do more than just word proc.. and could also
run other programs, play games, etc. So, I bought that 8088.

Anyhow, this guy at the non-profit org asked if I'd type in the names.
addr. phone, etc for each member of the n-p org. That seemed like a
huge undertaking for a bad typist, because there were close to 150
members. He showed me how to do it on his computer, and I began finding
the program easy to use. But it taking me a long time to do because of
my typing. He lived 10 miles away, and I knew this would take days.
When he found out that I had a computer, he put that program on a
floppy, and the (started) list of volunteers on another floppy, and
handed it to me and told me I can do it at home. He gave me all the
current list of workers (on paper). I wnt home and finished the list
for the N-P org. I also learned how to make my own database, by just
modifying the one he had created for the org. So, I made my own variety
of the program to suit myself, and began placing all the phone/address
from my "little black book" on the computer.

This all occurred around 1989 to 90. This was what really taught me to
use computers. That program could be put on one floppy (the old 360K),
and the data on another, and I could bring it to meetings and update the
business computer, or take it to any computer to retrieve a phone
number.

That program was way advanced. compared to DBase, and so much easier to
use. Obviously if it was used by a major hospital chain, it had to be
good. Eventually I bought a legal copy of it. So, 25 years later, I
still use it, still like it, and I still have the list of workers from
that n-p org, my really old personal phone /address list, several other
lists I created, and my current phone/address list, which now contains
email addresses and cellphone too.

Several times I tried DBase, and hated it. I tried other dos databases
and some old Win3.x, and none compared. The main disadvantage is that
Rapid File was written in some very unusual computer code. There is an
article on Wikipedia about it. Ashton Tate went out of business, and
the program just became history. None of the Dbase programs could
interpert or convert from it, nor could any of the older Windows
databases. I doubt any newer one can either, beczuse hardly anyone ever
knew the program existed. But it's a damn good program, and was well
ahead of it's time. I can stipp put it on a floppy. or flash drive and
transport it to any computer with Dos or a Dos window. No installation
needed, just type RF and its' running.
 

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