WHAT OPERATING SYSTEMS DO FEC TESTERS USE?
In 2006 we began shipping all new systems with the FreeDOS operating system.
WHAT IS FreeDOS?
FreeDOS is a compatible substitute for MS-DOS, PC-DOS, and other commercial DOS versions that are no longer on the market. The operating system software itself, both source code and executables, is distributed under GPL licensing. It was written and is now supported by an international group of volunteers who believe that there is an important continuing need for DOS.
IS IT RELIABLE?
Yes. Although FreeDOS is presently a little rough around the edges, we at FEC have found that it does everything an operating system must do to operate our testers. Further, it does these things well and we are very happy with it. The FreeDOS community is continuing to develop the system and we are confident that it will just get better.
WHERE CAN WE LEARN MORE?
Go to www.freedos.org
HOW DO WE INSTALL FreeDOS?
All new FEC systems that are delivered with a PC come with FreeDOS installed. We also provide a CD-ROM and a startup diskette, which together can install or re-install both FreeDOS and our FEC software.
WHAT ABOUT THE PC HARDWARE?
FEC supplies a very nice PC with our new systems, which contains all of the power needed to run our testers either locally or on a network. It contains the usual legacy serial and parallel ports as well as PCI expansion slots. USB ports and an Ethernet port are integrated on the motherboard. The PC is supplied in a 3.5"-high case that has optional rack mounting ears or may be used without the ears on a benchtop.
SHOULD WE UPGRADE TO THIS COMPUTER?
You don't need to, but we think it is a good idea. For the most efficient support it is very helpful for us to be aware of the platform on which our software runs. But, that said, there are many other computers that will work if you prefer. The major PC vendors though, such as DELL and HP, are moving in the direction of VISTA and its large platform requirements. The PCs that we buy come without an operating system until we install FreeDOS.
WHAT ABOUT OUR EXISTING TESTERS AND PCs?
FEC software will continue to support your existing testers and existing PCs. We will supply software on diskettes for those old systems that don't have CD-ROM drives. For systems with CD-ROMS of course the CD-ROM method of distribution is preferred. Practically all old PCs with CD-ROM drives can be upgraded to use FreeDOS. If there are any that cannot use FreeDOS, you can continue to use the version of DOS you have now (MS-DOS for example).
WHAT ABOUT WINDOWS?
Some of our customers run our software in DOS windows under WIN95 or WIN98. We are not completely happy about that, but if you are ok with it you can continue to do so. Our software will not work on XP, WIN2000, or VISTA.
WILL FEC CHANGE TO WINDOWS IN THE FUTURE?
No. There are technical and business reasons why we are firm about this. Technically, we find that the various Windows operating systems "come between" the PC and our tester. This interference slows the real-time communication necessary for accurate testing control. And from a business perspective, if we devoted the programming time necessary to adapt to every new Microsoft OS release, we would have no resources left to produce our testers and software, certainly not with the affordability, flexibility, reliability and customer service that we are known for. We admit that the recent scarcity of DOS software on the market had us nervous for a while, but the emergence of FreeDOS provides a very nice alternative.
CAN A FreeDOS COMPUTER WORK ON OUR NETWORK?
Even if some people say it can't be done, we are confident you can add our testers and their FreeDOS-running PCs to your network alongside PCs running the latest Microsoft operating systems. Several of our customers have done so and we have done it here.