CircuitB0mB's Dive into MS-DOS - Old and New

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CircuitB0mB's Dive into MS-DOS - Old and New

Post by CommonStray »

OK so I know what your thinking "DOS, that stuff is old school" But if you think about it, its really not, you can still do alot of things in DOS and Command Prompt today, and Honestly my belief is "To Understand the New, You must Understand the Old"

So in this Post/Series I will be diving into MS-DOS - Old and New :D


1. MS-DOS Introduction
2.Basic and Advanced Commands
3.MS-DOS Shell:Dead or Alive?
4.DOS Editor
5.Batch Files


"Welcome to MS-DOS, the most widely used operating system for personal computers." - MS-DOS Operating System Users Guide and Reference. Version 5.0. Published 1987-1991

MS-DOS 1.0 was released in 1981 by Microsoft and dubbed DOS (Disk Operating System) and was created for IBM computers. Despite its age, DOS can still be accessed by any major Microsoft Windows Platform to this day. MS-DOS Version 3.1, when released was the first version with networking capabilities. Development of DOS ended in 2000 with Windows ME as the last version of Windows to have embedded MS-DOS

Ok enough History - DOS is a command line interface, you have to know the commands it accepts to take advantage of its features. It also allows Batch Scripting which I will discuss later.

Basic and Advanced Commands

ANSI.SYS------->functions for change display graphics, control cursor movement, and reassign keys.
APPEND------->Causes MS-DOS to look in other directories when editing a file or running a command.
ARP--------->Displays, adds, and removes arp information from network devices.
ASSIGN------->Assigns a drive letter to an alternate letter.
ASSOC------->View the file associations
AT------->Schedule a time to execute commands or programs.
ATMADM------->Lists connections and addresses seen by Windows ATM call manager.
ATTRIB------->Display and change file attributes.
BATCH------->Recovery console command that executes a series of commands in a file.
BOOTCFG----->Recovery console command that allows a user to view, modify, and rebuild the boot.ini
BREAK------->Enable / disable CTRL + C feature.
CACLS------->View and modify file ACL's.
CALL------->Calls a batch file from another batch file.
CD------->Changes directories.
CHCP------->Supplement the International keyboard and character set information.
CHDIR------->Changes directories.
CHKDSK------->Check the hard disk drive running FAT for errors.
CHKNTFS------->Check the hard disk drive running NTFS for errors.
CHOICE------->Specify a listing of multiple options within a batch file.
CLS------->Clears the screen.
CMD------->Opens the command interpreter.
COLOR------->Easily change the foreground and background color of the MS-DOS window.
COMMAND------->Opens the command interpreter.
COMP------->Compares files.
COMPACT------->Compresses and uncompress files.
CONTROL------->Open control panel icons from the MS-DOS prompt.
CONVERT------->Convert FAT to NTFS.
COPY------->Copy one or more files to an alternate location.
CTTY------->Change the computers input/output devices.
DATE------->View or change the systems date.
DEBUG------->Debug utility to create assembly programs to modify hardware settings.
DEFRAG------->Re-arrange the hard disk drive to help with loading programs.
DEL------->Deletes one or more files.
DELETE------->Recovery console command that deletes a file.
DELTREE------->Deletes one or more files and/or directories.
DIR------->List the contents of one or more directory.
DISABLE------->Recovery console command that disables Windows system services or drivers.
DISKCOMP------->Compare a disk with another disk.
DISKCOPY------->Copy the contents of one disk and place them on another disk.
DOSKEY------->Command to view and execute commands that have been run in the past.
DOSSHELL------->A GUI to help with early MS-DOS users.
DRIVPARM------->Enables overwrite of original device drivers.
ECHO------->Displays messages and enables and disables echo.
EDIT------->View and edit files.
EDLIN------->View and edit files.
EMM386------->Load extended Memory Manager.
ENABLE------->Recovery console command to enable a disable service or driver.
ENDLOCAL------->Stops the localization of the environment changes enabled by the setlocal command.
ERASE------->Erase files from computer.
EXIT------->Exit from the command interpreter.
EXPAND------->Expand a Microsoft Windows file back to it's original format.
EXTRACT------->Extract files from the Microsoft Windows cabinets.
FASTHELP------->Displays a listing of MS-DOS commands and information about them.
FC------->Compare files.
FDISK------->Utility used to create partitions on the hard disk drive.
FIND------->Search for text within a file.
FINDSTR------->Searches for a string of text within a file.
FIXBOOT------->Writes a new boot sector.
FIXMBR------->Writes a new boot record to a disk drive.
FOR------->Boolean used in batch files.
FORMAT------->Command to erase and prepare a disk drive.
FTP------->Command to connect and operate on a FTP server.
FTYPE------->Displays or modifies file types used in file extension associations.
GOTO------->Moves a batch file to a specific label or location.
GRAFTABL------->Show extended characters in graphics mode.
HELP------->Display a listing of commands and brief explanation.
IF------->Allows for batch files to perform conditional processing.
IFSHLP.SYS------->32-bit file manager.
IPCONFIG------->Network command to view network adapter settings and assigned values.
KEYB------->Change layout of keyboard.
LABEL------->Change the label of a disk drive.
LH------->Load a device driver in to high memory.
LISTSVC------->Recovery console command that displays the services and drivers.
LOADFIX------->Load a program above the first 64k.
LOADHIGH------->Load a device driver in to high memory.
LOCK------->Lock the hard disk drive.
LOGON------->Recovery console command to list installations and enable administrator login.
MAP------->Displays the device name of a drive.
MD------->Command to create a new directory.
MEM------->Display memory on system.
MKDIR------->Command to create a new directory.
MODE------->Modify the port or display settings.
MORE------->Display one page at a time.
MOVE------->Move one or more files from one directory to another directory.
MSAV------->Early Microsoft Virus scanner.
MSD------->Diagnostics utility.
MSCDEX------->Utility used to load and provide access to the CD-ROM.
NBTSTAT------->Displays protocol statistics and current TCP/IP connections using NBT
NET------->Update, fix, or view the network or network settings
NETSH------->Configure dynamic and static network information from MS-DOS.
NETSTAT------->Display the TCP/IP network protocol statistics and information.
NLSFUNC------->Load country specific information.
NSLOOKUP------->Look up an IP address of a domain or host on a network.
PATH------->View and modify the computers path location.
PATHPING------->View and locate locations of network latency.
PAUSE------->Command used in batch files to stop the processing of a command.
PING------->Test / send information to another network computer or network device.
POPD------->Changes to the directory or network path stored by the pushd command.
POWER------->Conserve power with computer portables.
PRINT------->Prints data to a printer port.
PROMPT------->View and change the MS-DOS prompt.
PUSHD------->Stores a directory or network path in memory so it can be returned to at any time.
QBASIC------->Open the QBasic.
RD------->Removes an empty directory.
REN------->Renames a file or directory.
RENAME------->Renames a file or directory.
RMDIR------->Removes an empty directory.
ROUTE------->View and configure windows network route tables.
RUNAS------->Enables a user to execute a program on another computer.
SCANDISK------->Run the scandisk utility.
SCANREG ------->Scan registry and recover registry from errors.
SET------->Change one variable or string to another.
SETLOCAL------->Enables local environments to be changed without affecting anything else.
SETVER------->Change MS-DOS version to trick older MS-DOS programs.
SHARE------->Installs support for file sharing and locking capabilities.
SHIFT------->Changes the position of replaceable parameters in a batch program.
SHUTDOWN------->Shutdown the computer from the MS-DOS prompt.
SMARTDRV------->Create a disk cache in conventional memory or extended memory.
SORT------->Sorts the input and displays the output to the screen.
START------->Start a separate window in Windows from the MS-DOS prompt.
SUBST------->Substitute a folder on your computer for another drive letter.
SWITCHES------->Remove add functions from MS-DOS.
SYS------->Transfer system files to disk drive.
TELNET------->Telnet to another computer / device from the prompt.
TIME------->View or modify the system time.
TITLE------->Change the title of their MS-DOS window.
TRACERT------->Visually view a network packets route across a network.
TREE------->View a visual tree of the hard disk drive.
TYPE------->Display the contents of a file.
UNDELETE------->Undelete a file that has been deleted.
UNFORMAT------->Unformat a hard disk drive.
UNLOCK------->Unlocks a disk drive.
VER------->Display the version information.
VERIFY------->Enables or disables the feature to determine if files have been written properly.
VOL------->Displays the volume information about the designated drive.
XCOPY------->Copy multiple files, directories, and/or drives from one location to another.

(List from

Yea thats a pretty long list, but understand alot of these Commands are no longer available, such as dosshell, QBASIC and others. Some also have to be used with proper syntax which I will not be going through all of them :lol: and also some have switches available such as in using NETSTAT. In furthering the series I will go over the use of some of these commands as well as thir syntax's/switches and overall uses. But not today :)

MS-DOS Shell:Dead or Alive?

Today in 2000/XP MS-DOS Shell is Dead

In earlier systems (i havnt tested on in Windows 95/98/ME) typing the command "dosshell" at the command prompt opened up MS-DOS Shell which is an earlier graphical interface for DOS which included Menus, windows, buttons and dialog boxes, within it you could view and expand your system directories and work with files. Also within the Shell you can associate files with programs, Cutomize the shell and "repaint and update the screen."

DOS Editor

As far as I know typing the "edit" command at prompt is still functional. DOS Editor is basically a text editor. and goes as follows:


C:\>edit c:\files\textfile.txt

you can also use this to edit batch files (.bat) and other associations

Batch Files

Batch program are just scripts that store commands so that you dont have to type each command out individually, only the name of the batch file. DOS then carries out the commands as if you just typed them out.

Batch files have the extension .bat and can be opened using any text editor

There are 8 additional commands(tho ive heard of 10 recently) that are specific to batch files

Call----------->runs a second batch program, then returns to the first
echo----------->displays messages on-screen, or turns echo on/off
For----------->carries out command for a group of files or directories
goto----------->switches to a command(s) in another part of the .bat and continues from that point
If----------->carries out a command based on a result of a condition
pause----------->temporarily stops batch till user presses any key
rem----------->annotates batch what each part does
shift----------->changes the position of replaceable parameters

With a batch file you can make DOS Menu's (kinda like the ones you see that give you options for safe mode etc... before windows loads up) and create automatic executables for when you load your system.

More to come

for questions/comments reply to this post or PM me

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Post by CyberPulse »

Great DOS post. Learned a few things that I had never seen before. Oh and you gotta love the list of DOS commands. Once again, very nice.

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Post by _MaChEtE »

I studied DoS commands in my computer tech school, I would like to learn more about it.Is there any .txt files I can read?

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Post by CommonStray »

_MaChEtE this Topic will be a series of them covering alot of aspects of DOS and its commands, especially the ones that are still functional today in XP and the like, if you would like feel i can send you a .txt of this post for personal use

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Post by ziTo »

Very nice. I've been looking for something just like this.

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Post by bad_brain »

REAL nice! :D
To have some knowledge about good old DOS (even if in XP it´s just the skeleton of DOS) also makes it easier to get into Linux and the usage of its shells. A good way to get more experience in DOS without the need to install 95 is 4DOS, it offers nearly as much functionality as back in the 95 days and the help function is far better than in XP.
Thanks for adding the tut, CircuitB0mb! I´ve been searching for good DOS stuff a while ago but found just a german ebook (textfiles-section), so this will be a great help for the non-german speaking majority here... :)

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Post by Necrix »

Nice work, I have a book on DOS...only no time to read it yet...your tut is a really good intro to it.
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Post by _MaChEtE »

CircuitB0mB wrote:_MaChEtE this Topic will be a series of them covering alot of aspects of DOS and its commands, especially the ones that are still functional today in XP and the like, if you would like feel i can send you a .txt of this post for personal use
Ok that would be great. :P

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Post by ziTo »

more, more MORE! 8)

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Post by ramnarayan »

eagerly awaiting the followup (Part 2)

Thanks for the tutorial. We really appreciate the effort.

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