Multiboot Menus with Caldera DR DOS, IBM PC DOS & Microsoft MS DOS - May 18, 2003

This is actually a project I started to document in 2001 with Sue Lange of AAFP, with the intention of writing an AppNote. (Never had the time to actually complete that project). At that time, there was concern that Microsoft would audit companies for licensing of Microsoft products, including MSDOS 6.22, which was often used to format the DOS partition on NetWare servers. It turned out to be easy to convert the MS DOS partitions to either IBM PC DOS or Caldera DR DOS, but there was a concern as to how you could replace the multiboot menus frequently used with MS DOS. (IBM PC-DOS 2000 allows a direct replacement of MS DOS, without changing any of the boot menu commands). This web page shows how you can set up a multiboot menu in all three DOS distributions..

A multiboot menu, in my experience, is most frequently used to boot to DOS and load a CDROM driver, in order to boot up and install NetWare from a CD, or to copy files to the DOS partition. Since NetWare installation CD's have been bootable for years, the main reason you might want a multiboot menu now is to copy files from a CD to the DOS partition.

Note: When you copy files from a CD, they are normally marked Read-Only. This has ramifications for putting NetWare patches in the NWSERVER or DRIVERS directories, as subsequent NetWare patch installation routines might not overwrite a Read-Only file in the DOS partition. You should remove the read-only attribute from such files. (You can do that with the DRDOS ATTRIB.EXE program, or possibly use the flag command in TOOLBOX.NLM from the system console).

A full set of DR DOS files, with the ATTRIB.EXE file, etc, can be found in the DRDOS703.EXE distribution file for DR DOS, available at several web sites around the world. (Do an Internet search). The example shown below needs one file (xcopy.exe) that you will NOT find on the limited set of DR DOS files included on the NetWare CD or license disk. A starting point is or You must purchase a copy of DR DOS for each system in order to be legal. The cost is low.

I have provided a third menu option in the DR DOS example below which is designed to copy all files from the C drive to a D drive. This can be useful in a mirrored drive environment, in order to keep the D drive current with patches that are installed to the C drive. (You should always copy the files from C to D after installing a NetWare support pack, for instance, since it generally updates files in the C:\NWSERVER directory.) You may have to flag files (including system files) once on the D drive to remove Read-Only attributes in order for the file copy to work. If you don't have mirrored drives, you can ignore or delete the third option, and you won't need the xcopy file.

A further note on mirrored drives - DOS will only allow you to have one active partition at a time. Even though you set up a D drive as bootable, and have all current files copied there in the DOS partition, it may not boot when the C drive fails. When you set up the D drive to have a DOS partition, disconnect the C drive, and then make the disk bootable. (It will be a C drive at that point, and should have an active partition). Never use FDISK to set the active partition when both drives are powered up and connected as FDISK will ensure that only one of the drives is bootable. Finally, the only way to tell if you have a mirrored drive configure correctly is to test it - unplug drive C and boot the server. It should boot from the mirrored drive, load NetWare and mount all volumes. If you are setting up a server for the first time with mirrored drives, you should ALWAYS test this! If you foget to have the D drive as an active partition, you can boot with a DR DOS floppy, and use FDISK to set the active partition when the C drive has failed. (Don't Panic!)

DR DOS Multiboot Example - download example files here (zipped format)

The example below will work with Caldera DOS 7.01, which comes bundled with NetWare. You need the NWCDEX.EXE program from the NetWare license disk. The XCOPY.EXE program comes from purchasing DR DOS 7.02 or 7.03 as noted above, OR from a distribution of FreeDOS. (Search the Internet for FreeDOS if you are interested.) The XCOPY program I have included with the example files is from a FreeDOS distribution.

The example file will wait 15 seconds for you to choose an option, and will default to option 1 (start NetWare) if you do nothing.


rem You will need the Caldera DOS 7.01, 7.02 or 7.03, and the programs XCOPY.EXE (from FreeDOS, or from
rem Caldera DR DOS 2) and NWCDEX.EXE (from the Novell license disk, or Caldera DR DOS 7.0x Disk5).
rem Caldera DRDOS 7.03 can be downloaded from the Internet from various sources.
rem You will have to use the makedisk or diskcopy commands to create the DRDOS diskettes,
rem and then copy the appropriate files to your server.
rem You will also need some CDROM driver for your system. The OAKCDROM.SYS driver shown
rem here can be used on many systems, but any driver that works on your CDROM should be
rem fine (or better). Just edit the load line in CONFIG.SYS for your driver name.

rem Caldera DRDOS multiboot menu for CONFIG.SYS

echo=1. Server
echo=2. DR-DOS
echo=3. XCopy all files on C: to D:
switch server, drdos, xcpy

set config=server

set config=drdos

set config=xcpy


rem Autoexec.bat
IF "%config%"=="server" goto NOVELL
IF "%config%"=="dos" goto DOS
IF "%config%"=="xcpy" goto XCPY

nwcdex.exe /d:CD001
goto DONE

@echo Copying all files on C: to D:
xcopy c:\*.* d: /h /r /f /v /e /s
goto DONE

cd c:\nwserver
server -nl


MSDOS 6.22 and IBM PC-DOS 2000 Multiboot Example

Many people have used MS DOS for multiboot, particularly when NetWare 4.11 was new. If you still have MS DOS booting your server, the following example shows how to get it to give you the option of booting to NetWare or booting to DOS with the CD driver loaded.

An alternative to Caldera DR DOS or MS DOS is IBM's PC-DOS 2000, which can be bought for a reasonable price (about $50) directly from IBM. This distribution has the advantage that it can be installed directly over the existing MS DOS, without causing problems, and maintaining the same menu commands. If the price doesn't bother you, and you don't want to convert your menus to DR DOS format, you can get IBM's DOS and be rid of the Microsoft product.

This example does not include the option to duplicate drive C to drive D for mirroring. You will have to provide the appropriate CDROM driver (shown as CDROMDRV.SYS in the example below).


rem MSDOS multiboot menu example
rem config.sys

Menuitem=novell, Boot to NetWare
Menuitem=dos, Boot to DOS with CDROM driver
Menudefault=novell, 15






Prompt $P$G
Goto %config%

server -nl
goto END

mscdex /d:CD001
goto END


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