A happy St. Patrick’s Day from a 185 lb., 6 ft – 1 in leprechaun aka John. I saw the silly hat I’m wearing in the dollar store and had to have one. Gives me a one up on the wearin’ of the green.
But this post is about installing and running the old DOS version of MaxThink. You can try the Windows version for 30 days and buy it for $29 from Neil Larson, the author of the program. Neil tried to incorporate the best features of the DOS versions of MaxThink but the DOS version works better.
I started using Max back in the DOS days of the 1980s and 1990s. I upgraded several times but put MaxThink aside for a number of years when I switched to Windows.
I prefer Linux over Windows for a number of reasons even though I have several computers, one running Linux Mint 16, the other Windows 7 professional. I’m writing this post on my Linux machine using Org-mode.
I tried several times to get MaxThink up and running in the past with mixed results. DOSBOX is a program that emulates DOS. It’s a good solution for playing old DOS games and Max runs fine except for the fonts. DOSBOX emulates the old VGA text fonts which are rough, hard to read and ugly, but it works. One advantage of DOSBOX is that it’s available for many different operating systems including Linux and Windows.
Dosemu is another way to run old DOS software. Dosemu is a Linux only program that emulates DOS on a virtual machine. Unlike DOSbox, Dosemu requires DOS and comes with FREEDOS already installed. “DOSEMU is a PC Emulator application that allows Linux to run a DOS operating system in a virtual x86 machine. This allows you to run many DOS applications…” from the Dosemu documentation.
The first time I tried Dosemu I could not get it to work. The reason was because the Linux distro I was using at the time had a poorly compiled version of Dosemu in the repository. The program would only run as root, a real no no in my view.
I thought I’d give dosemu another try and I’m glad I did because it works well and has better text fonts. If you use Dosemu in graphic mode, the fonts are decent and scale OK to a full screen. But there’s a better way. Run Dosemu in terminal mode. Have a look at the screenshot below — nice!
Click to enlarge
I like making a launcher for programs that I use frequently. It’s simpler than digging through menus or opening a terminal session. The screenshot above shows how this simple launcher can do all the work for you. And here’s how to do it:
Fill out the three fields in the launcher properties window and be sure to check off Launch in Terminal? Where to find the command? Dosemu installed in the main menu under Administrative on my machine. I simply went into the menu editor and copied the /usr/bin/dosemu command and added the -t so the program would run inside a terminal.
Once I had the program running in the terminal I created a new terminal profile with a new, larger font. Running Dosemu in a terminal is a no brainer because MaxThink is text only, you can use your favorite font and you can size the terminal window to suit your preferences.
Click to enlarge
All this assumes you have a copy of DOS MaxThink. I still have my copy from years ago. If you don’t have a copy and want to know what all the fuss is about, feel free to download and read Neil Larson’s wonderful Max94 manual. “…in MaxThink, the real gold mine is the manual. Not because I wrote it, but because MaxThink is a new concept — computers to expand your high-level thinking skills.” Neil Larson from the Max94 manual, p. 1-2
If you’re interested in the DOS version of MaxThink, contact Neil Larson and ask him if he’ll sell you a copy or if you’re an old time customer who lost their copy, Neil is the guy who can help you out.
So then, the screenshot above is the autoexec.bat file that lives on the Dosemu virtual C: drive. Here’s what I added to the file:
- added the path of my max directory to the path (on line 3)
- d: (switch to the d: drive on line 21)
- set MAX=d:\max\MyMax (on line 22)
- cd MAX (switch to the MAX directory on line 23)
- cls (clears the screen on line 24)
- max (runs MaxThink on line 25)
Why the d: drive? Because the d: drive is a virtual drive that points to your home folder. I put the MAX.exe file in d:\max and all the other files including the long list of help files in a subdirectory d:\max\MyMax so the max directory (where Max saves all your files) stays clutter free. The set command tells Max where to look for the files. cd (dos command for change directory to change to the max directory). cls (clears the screen — I did this to solve an issue with FREEDOS info cluttering the Max Screen). Finally, max runs max. I put that last command in the autoexec file because I only use Dosemu to run max. So, when I want to run MaxThink, I simply click on the panel launcher and I’m on my way.
I have a lot more to say and show you about MaxThink and how well it integrates into a modern workflow, especially when used in partnership with OrgMode. But this is enough for this time. Please feel free to ask questions, point out flaws in my reasoning, or to just say hello. Until next time.
PS — I just tested another feature of Dosemu. I was able to copy a list of items from OrgMode, switch to Max and paste the list into Max by pressing the mouse wheel. This is a DOSEMU feature because Max has no idea what a mouse is. This is another good reason to use DOSEMU instead of DOSBOX because the latter cannot paste from Linux to DOS.