You can run your Dos based Atari emulator using only a USB Flash Memory stick without a Hard Disk and without a CDROM. The trick is to reformat the USB Thumbdrive and make it bootable. You will be able to run MSDOS, the real deal not the 16bit subsystem that comes inside Windows but the real OS itself.
It works on most PCs that are a couple years old and that run Windows XP or Windows Vista, it probably wonīt work on 5 year old computers.
* USB Flash Memory keydrive: I used a Kingston 1GB that costs like $10
* HP USB Disk Storage Format tool: this program allows you to make thumbdrives bootable.
* MSDOS Bootable disk or Windows98 Boot Disk.
Warning: Be very careful when you follow these instructions, you could erase important data or end up with a disabled computer if you don't do it properly, if you donīt fully understand how to do this ask someone that knows to do it (buy him/her a beer or a pizza) and have them do it for you. In a few words do it under your own risk.
Method for WINDOWS XP or VISTA Users
Follow these Steps:
1)Install the HP USB Disk Storage Format tool and insert your USB keydrive (Kingston works well).
Run the HP Tool and select the USB drive letter windows assigned for it.
Set the Format type to FAT 32 for Win98 or FAT16 for older MSDOS versions.
Check the "Include System Files" box.
2) Insert your DOS Boot Disk where the the HP Tool will find the OS system files, or you can download an image of your favorite OS from the web.
Browse the Location Folder on the HP Tool so it knows where to find the DOS system files you want to include in the USB Keydrive.
3) Wait a couple of minutes until the USB keydrive Format is finished. Now you can boot fom it.
4) Copy to the USB drive your emulator files and roms in a folder. Also make a folder for other DOS external system files.
5) Turn off your Computer.
6) Turn on your PC and look at the BIOS Boot logo screen, not the Windows Boot screen but the very first screen. Look for the Key that allows you to modify the BIOS settings. If you miss it (it only shows for a few seconds) then turn it off and on again.
7) Press the key to enter BIOS setup. (Example Phoenix BIOS use F2, but it may vary from computer to computer).
Search for "Boot" section and allow USB Key to boot first.
(Example: Boot Priority 1) USB Key 2) HD IDE drive 3) CD ROM drive)
9) Save Settings and Exit.
10)Turn off the computer.
11) Insert your bootable USB Key Drive
12) Turn it on and you should be able to see the DOS prompt screen.
13) Run your emulator. Have Fun
Most BIOS in late computers allow you to use a USB mouse and keyboard as if they were old DOS devices because they use something called Legacy Support, now the Sound Card can be a bit tricky because that varies from one computer to another and itīs impossible for me to look at all types of PCs out there but you sould be able to make the sound work if you got this far. If you want to look deeper into this topic you can also run a Search on the web for How to make a USB drive bootable or similar keywords there are several methods out there but this is the one that worked for me.
Well I hope it works for you too, this method worked for me using a Windows Vista Notebook and a Kingston keydrive.
Thanx for watching!