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Windows on RISC OS - better graphics?

Let's face it.

640×480 was painful, even in the '90s.

So we can do better. But we might not want to. Read this entire b.log entry before deciding.

Start in RISC OS by grabbing this file (from and unpacking it into the directory where your DOSBox files live. In my case, that is "$.Win.S3".

Now start !FastDOSBox and if you set it up like I showed you, Windows will auto-start.

Double-click on Windows Setup (not Control Panel!).

Choose Change System Settings... in the Options menu.

To the right of Display, click the down arrow icon.

In the list the appears, choose Other display (Requires disk from OEM).... You will be prompted for the path of the display driver files. If you installed to $.Win.S3 as indicated above, this will be C:\S3.
You may not be able to type the '\' character. If this is the case, don't panic. Just press Cancel and try again, only this time edit the existing path (points to A:\) instead of deleting it. We'll look at this later.

You will be asked to choose a display driver. Pick the 800x600 256 colors SF option, then OK it.

Click OK on the system settings window. This will do the actual installation.

Windows will want to restart. Do so.

It will bomb out. Do not panic. There is more we need to do.


Open the file !FastDosBox.noriscnofun/conf once more, and look for the line (should be line 47) that says:
and change it to say:

Save the updated file, then restart FastDOSBox.


Ah. Now that is more like it! It is slower, a lot slower, but your eyes won't rot. You might die of boredom instead.


Let's look at the keyboard while we're here. Fewer screenshots for this part, you ought to be dusting off those old memories for the trauma of using Windows 3.1x all those years ago.

To get the '\' key working (or not):

Open Control Panel and double-click on International. Set the Country to United Kingdom and the keyboard to US. This means that your quote marks will be in the wrong place.
This is not ideal, but it appears that DOSBox does not recognise the '~'/'#' key on a UK layout keyboard (US layouts don't have it) and these keys are mapped to the '\'/'|' key. You see, on an American keyboard, 'Enter' is short and long and the backslash is to the right of '}' and there is nothing to the right of '@' (or '"' in US). If we change our layout to US, the bar-and-backslash key will work, and numerous symbols will be messed up - tilde is on the upper leftmost key. Hash is above 3 (hence, no pound symbol), and so on.
Frankly, I'd rather put up without a backslash...

This is a DOSBox issue. I've tried keyboard types and the key mapper, and booting into DOSBox plain (not Windows) just doesn't seem to 'see' the '~'/'#' key. At all. It isn't helped by the Windows UK mapping being messed up (but maybe it isn't and DOSBox is reporting the wrong key ID for the bottom-left backslash key?). I dunno. It's not the end of the world.

Remember - if you are asked for an installation disc, the path for disc 2 is "C:\disk2".


Time to benchmark the system to see how much it crawls. This ought to be amusing!

First - running Windows in 800x600 256 colours. It's quite pitiful, but even more pitiful is that something was even worse with its file performance. What the hell was it, floppy discs?

The results?

CPU speed 0.9 Dhrystone MIPS
CPU type386SX, it thinks it is clocking 16MHz ( feels like we're in single digits)
MemoryAverage R/W speed of 624 KB/sec (of the first three tests)
VideoTakes 1.471 seconds to open a window, 6.629 secs to close it
Video drawing79 KPixels/sec; 142 secs for lines and curves test; 18 secs for filled objects test
HarddiscAverage performance of 171 KB/sec

And back to the painful 640x480 in 16 colours. Having watched the previous series of tests, this time was noticably quicker, as was Windows in general. Then again, 640x480 is 300Kpixels and with 4bpp that's about 150K, as opposed to 470Kpixels and about that size in bytes.

The results this time?

CPU speed 2.1 Dhrystone MIPS - twice as fast!
CPU type386SX, it thinks it is clocking 35MHz - twice as fast!
MemoryAverage R/W speed of 1222 KB/sec - twice as fast!
VideoTakes 0.395 seconds to open a window (over 3x faster!), 4.317 secs to close it
Video drawing139 KPixels/sec; 72.551 secs for lines and curves test; 15.412 secs for filled objects test
HarddiscAverage performance of 242 KB/sec

As you can see, a better screen resolution looks nicer, but you pay a surprisingly hefty penalty for it. Of course, it's up to you what you go for - speed or pretty-pretty.


I'm going to leave this topic now. Having proven that you can get a sort-of functional installation of Windows running on a RISC OS Pi, the fact of the matter is that I'm writing this on a PC so... ;-) Let's just say "it is doable, if not exactly sane". And I don't think my Pi's core has had that sort of a workout in a long time! At least, not since I last played with RaspBMC.



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