Category Archives: 286

Xenix 2.2 vs. VGA

The other day I started wondering why certain old versions of 286 and 386 XENIX look a bit weird in emulation: The characters are cut off, because XENIX sets up an EGA text mode with 8×14 character matrix but uses … Continue reading

Posted in 286, 386, PC architecture, PC history, VGA, Xenix | 10 Comments

1987 Networking: ELS NetWare 286 Level I 2.0a

A rare find recently turned up: NetWare from 1987, specifically the low-end ELS variant of NetWare 286 version 2.0a (ELS may be claimed to mean Entry Level System or maybe Entry Level Server, but at least originally it stood for … Continue reading

Posted in 286, 3Com, Kryoflux, NetWare, Networking | 25 Comments

Another Strange 286 Board

The OS/2 Museum sometimes seems to have a knack for acquiring hardware so obscure that it cannot be even identified. One of the more recent arrivals was a seemingly typical Baby AT 286 board with an 8 MHz CPU. The … Continue reading

Posted in 286, PC hardware, PC history | 24 Comments

FasterModeSwitch: Is It Really?

Short answer: Yes. Before launching into the long answer, let’s recap what it even is. FasterModeSwitch is a SYSTEM.INI setting in Windows 3.1 which applies only to Standard (286) mode and can therefore be found in the [standard] section of … Continue reading

Posted in 286, BIOS, Microsoft, Windows | 10 Comments

The A20-Gate: It Wasn’t WordStar

Although WordStar was long suspected to be the reason (or at least one of the major reasons) for implementing the A20 gate hardware on the PC/AT and all the associated problems later on, it is now all but certain that … Continue reading

Posted in 286, IBM, Microsoft, PC history, WordStar | 37 Comments

SGDT/SIDT Fiction and Reality

PSA: Actual hardware behavior takes precedence over vendor documentation. Or, as they say… trust but verify. A reader recently complained how Intel and AMD do not implement the SGDT and SIDT instructions the same way. AMD documentation states that these … Continue reading

Posted in 286, 386, AMD, Documentation, Intel | 38 Comments

There’s More to the 286 XENIX Story

It turns out that there is a rather interesting story behind the 286 XENIX incompatibility with 386 and later processors. Here’s roughly what happened in chronological order. In 1982, Intel released the iAPX 286 processor, later known as the 80286 or simply 286. This … Continue reading

Posted in 286, 386, Intel, Microsoft | 42 Comments

IBM XENIX: Two Steps Forward

There are reasons to revisit an old topic. Very old, considering that IBM Xenix 1.0 was released in 1984, well over 30 years ago. To recap, this version of Xenix is unique in that it runs only on 286 processors. It … Continue reading

Posted in 286, IBM, VirtualBox, Xenix | 22 Comments

IBM XENIX 1.0 Incompatibility Details

Some time ago I wrote about IBM PC XENIX 1.0 and why it won’t work on 386 and later processors. Thanks to a kind reader, I’ve been able to analyze the object files used to link the kernel, and I believe … Continue reading

Posted in 286, 386, Microsoft, Xenix | 21 Comments

Better Late Than Never

Better late than never, although in this instance, it’s really really late—about thirty years late. In the world of computing, that is eternity. The talk is about the new CR4.UMIP control bit documented in the latest (revision 58) Intel SDM, … Continue reading

Posted in 286, Intel, x86 | 13 Comments