DOS/32 Advanced DOS Extender - Utility Programs

5.0 - DOS/32 Advanced - Programming Advices

You should consider the following when programming for DOS/32 Advanced DOS Extender or porting already written applications to it:

Remember, if your program does not work with DOS/32 Advanced as expected, first always try to reconfigure it. Do not blame the DOS Extender for being broken in the first place. Try different configurations provided with DOS/32 Advanced located in .\D32 directory and see if they help. Use dos4gw.d32 configuration to force DOS/32 Advanced to emulate DOS/4GW DOS Extender as close as possible.


Advice 1:
Be careful with Object alignment and "watch your STACK". By default DOS/32 Advanced DOS Extender will use PARAgraph alignment (16 bytes) when loading Objects into extended memory. In most cases this will cause no trouble but sometimes you will need to use larger STACK. It is recommended that you use at least 64KB large STACK if your program heavily uses local variables. And just to make sure that everything works as it should it would not be a bad idea to use 128KB or 256KB stacks.

Advice 2:
When developing an application, turn on the Null-Pointer Protection feature in the DOS Extender. It will help you locate the accesses to the uninitialized pointers. Remember that by default the Null-Pointer Protection feature is disabled.

Also note that when the Null-Pointer Protection is triggered, the DOS Extender will enter the Debug Mode, rather than just exit to DOS with an error message as does DOS/4GW. Null-Pointer Protection feature is not available when running under external DPMI (for example Windows) and will be automatically turned off by the DOS Extender.

Advice 3:
It is recommended that you use the LX-style executables instead of LE-style. They are loaded faster into memory, and occupy less space on disk (when Object Alignment = 0). Use "-l=dos32x" or "-l=stub32x" options with wcl386.exe when compiling and linking your programs. Remember that DOS/4G(W) DOS Extenders are also capable of loading LX executables, though it is not documented, so if you need to switch to another DOS Extender quickly, you will not have to relink you application.

NOTE: the official file format used by DOS/32 Advanced is "LX", starting with DOS Extender version 4.30. Although the "LE" format is still supported, you are highly recommended to use the LX-style executables for the reasons mentioned above.

Advice 4:
Although DOS/32 Advanced is a WATCOM C/C++ oriented DOS Extender, you may use it with other compilers as long as your applications can be linked in "LE" or "LX" formats. The DOS Extender and the built-in DPMI server will load and execute your applications regardless of which compilers or development tools you use.

Note that you do not have to use WATCOM libraries and startup code, when writing applications for use with DOS/32 Advanced. But if you do so, going on and using your own libraries, you will not be able to run your programs under DOS/4GW DOS Extender as it is strictly WATCOM oriented and will not execute any LE/LX programs that are not using WATCOM startup/libraries (DOS/4G will work fine though).

Advice 5:
Most of DOS/32 Advanced extended API functions will not require the parameters passed in 32-bit registers to be actual 32-bit zero-extended values as it is documented in "Programmer's Reference" documentation. An example would be a DOS API function AH=42h, "Set Current File Position". The actual parameters passed down to real mode will be 16-bit registers, not 32-bit. Even though, it is recommended that you use 32-bit zero-extended registers when using extended API functions because it is much safer and less confusing for both the program and the programmer himself. Remember that in most cases, the values returned by the DOS Extender (even selector values) will be 32-bit zero-extended values.

Advice 5:
When running under VCPI and spawning several DOS/32 Advanced applications make sure that all of them have the same memory configuration (verify with SUNSYS Setup Utility). In particular, VCPI PageTables, VCPI PhysTables, Extended Memory, VCPI SmartPage Allocation Mode and VCPI+XMS Allocation Scheme fields must be configured equially for all the applications that are to be spawned. If this condition is not met, the DOS Extender will most likely crash.


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