Table 29.2 Enhanced Settings for config.nt




Installs loadable device drivers. Drivers that attempt to address hardware directly likely won't work; however, you can load display drivers such as ANSI.SYS and memory managers such as EMM.SYS and HIMEM.SYS.


Allows only DOS programs to be loaded from a COMMAND.COM prompt. Windows

and UNIX programs won't run.


Tells the VDM to print CONFIG and AUTOEXEC commands as they are executed from the files.


Sets the maximum number of open files. I recommend setting this to 100.


Replaces the COMMAND.COM interpreter with the 32-bit Windows command interpreter, cmd.exe. After you load a TSR or when you shell out of an application to DOS, you will get cmd.exe instead, from which you have the added benefits of the full 32-bit interpreter.

If you want, you can create customized copies of config.nt and/or autoexec.nt and use them just with specific DOS programs. To do this:

1. Use an elevated copy of Notepad to create the new setting file(s) with different names. For example, you might save a modified config.nt as config_wordperfect.nt.

2. Locate the MS-DOS program's .exe or .com file icon in Windows Explorer.

3. Right-click the icon and select Properties. Select the Program tab, and click the Advanced button. Enter the path to your customized config file.


Editing these files properly is no piece of cake. I suggest you have at hand a good DOS reference, such as Que's Special Edition Using DOS 6.22, Third Edition. It's out of print, but you can get a used copy at, among other places.

Issues with doskey and ansi.sys

Two of the most common enhancements used on MS-DOS computers were DOSKEY and ANSI.SYS. DOSKEY provided enhanced command-line editing: for example, the use of the up and down arrow keys to recall previous commands. ANSI.SYS gave DOS applications a way to easily control the position and color of text output onto the screen.

ANSI.SYS can be made available for MS-DOS programs simply by adding the line device=ansi.sys to config.nt (or an alternate config file). Unfortunately, no ANSI cursor support is provided for 32-bit Windows character mode (console) applications.


If you make changes to autoexec.nt or config.nt after having run an MS-DOS program from a Command Prompt window, you must close the Command Prompt window and open a new one for the MS-DOS subsystem to reload and take on the new configuration.

Conversely, DOSKEY—which has been enhanced significantly from the old DOS days—functions only in the 32-bit Windows console environment, and even if you attempt to load it in autoexec.nt, it does not function within the MS-DOS COMMAND.COM shell.

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