Matthias Paul writes with this advice to users who would like to help FreeDOS and other developer projects: contribute to Ralf Brown's Interrupt List.
I have just spoken with Ralf Brown and he said that he plans to prepare RBIL62 in late April if everything goes well (no promise). I thought I let you know, in case you have some new findings, corrections, additions to contribute to the project.
And to those who never knew how to help the FreeDOS and other development projects, here´s your chance. Help making this industry wide used reference documentation better!
This will also help the active FreeDOS developers and thousands of other non-profit and for-profit developers to base their work on most reliable information, and thereby produce more powerful and stable software. No developer has access to all hardware and software that was ever produced to run live tests, so it is very important that the info in RBIL is accurate at the best-most-possible-detail-level. Here´s what you could do, for example:
- Search for any related API or hardware register info you can find in (old or new) books, magazines, newsgroup posts, SDK infos etc. and check if it is already covered in RBIL61, or if there are still a few useful hints on usage, workarounds, bugs, compatibility to add. Another great source of information are history listings and source codes of open sourced projects. Check them for programmer´s hints for bugs they found and had to work around during their development. This info is useful for other programmers so they do not get trapped by the same problems, and to avoid incompatibilities between various programs trying to work around a bug with different methods without taking the other program into account. Even if the bug is long fixed, the info about its existance will always remain important.
- Check the tables in RBIL, if you can find additional values for them (say, a new partition type, OEM ID, new video modes, floppy types, new machine IDs, or similar things). Whenever you find such values mentioned in magazines, check RBIL if it is included already.
- Even the most obscure hardware, device driver, TSR API is interesting (including stuff specific to your oldest not-so- compatible PC clone dusting in the closet), if you can find programming info for it.
- hunt for typos in RBIL (BTW. You can learn alot about programming and the evolution of software in the big picture just by reading the list carefully)
- Ask Ralf to give you a PDF or other document which still needs to be converted into a format which he can then use to add the info to the list. He still has countless hardware documents from many vendors which need to be translated to ASCII so the info can be added, but he doesn´t have the time to do all the work himself and we should not waste his time with routine work, which could also be done by others. Most real-in-the-old-sense "hackers" once started by contributing similar "dirty work" to larger projects, and by doing so, they will step-by-step improve their own skills as well.