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Caldera DR-WebSpyder with on-screen keyboard in 1998

DR-WebSpyder was a DOS web browser, mail client and operating system environment developed by Caldera UK[1] in 1997 that was based on the DR-DOS operating system from Novell and the Arachne web browser by Michal Polák of xChaos software. It used the web browser as its principal user interface.[2] Named Embrowser, it has also been ported to Linux in 1999 and was called Embedix Browser since 2000.

NIOS and IOS[edit]

DR-WebSpyder was originally conceived as project NIOS (Novell Internet Operating System[clarification needed]) at Novell's European Development Centre (EDC), UK in 1994 by then DR-DOS engineer Roger A. Gross, who was working on Novell's Embedded Systems Technology (NEST) initiative to create embedded system applications that connect intelligent devices to NetWare networks. NIOS was conceived as a thin client operating system that provided Novell with a graphical client operating system to run web applications hosted on NetWare, creating a Novell-centric platform for software as a service (SaaS) that did not require Microsoft's Windows operating system. NIOS comprised 32-bit versions of Novell's existing 16-bit DOS technologies including the DR-DOS operating system, Novell's modem dialer and TCP/IP stack plus licensed third-party components such as the Kaffe Java virtual machine (JVM), Allegro for graphics, and Mosaic for the web browser.[clarification needed]

WebSpyder, WebSpyder 32 and DR-WebSpyder[edit]

Gross's plans were interrupted when Caldera, Inc. acquired the remaining Digital Research assets including DR-DOS from Novell on 24 July 1996 but without the personnel.[3] Gross telephoned Caldera's Ransom H. Love the same day offering to setup a new DR-DOS team outside of Novell. Gross subsequently joined Caldera as General Manager of the Digital Research Systems Group (DSG) in December that year and set about rehiring the DRDOS/NIOS team in the UK[1] to develop the new operating system and web browser. Under Caldera, NIOS was renamed IOS (Internet Operating System). The plan to use Mosaic was also dropped and instead Caldera licensed the source code of the 16-bit DOS web browser Arachne.[4][5] The team replaced Arachne's dialer and packet drivers with Novell's dialer and TCP/IP stack,[5] added support for animated and scaled GIFs,[5] an optional on-screen keyboard for mouse and touch panel usage (SoftKeyboards),[5] and an install program.[5] Also, they completely changed the design of the browser (customizable), implemented support for NetScape-compatible frames, and used Allegro for graphics. IOS became formerly known as WebSpyder in May 1997.[2][6] Some months later it was ported to compile as a 32-bit protected mode extended DOS application (utilizing DPMI using DJGPP, a GNU compiler for DOS), then referred to as WebSpyder 32,[7] but renamed DR-WebSpyder in early 1998.

On 11 May 1998 Caldera started shipping DR-WebSpyder 2.0[8][9][10] as both a HTML 3.2 web browser application and a browser OS. On 1 June 1998 the company opened a sales and support office in Taiwan[11] to be close to potential OEM customers.

A maintenance release DR-WebSpyder 2.0a was issued on 19 August 1998.[12]

Caldera distributed a free demo version of DR-WebSpyder 2.0a on a bootable fully self-contained 3.5-inch floppy.[13] This was in fact the DR-WebSpyder OS configured as loosely coupled components in which a special version of the DR-DOS ANSI.SYS driver would mute the stream of text messages at startup of the DOS system[nb 1] while a graphical company logo was displayed until the web browser was launched as a shell via CONFIG.SYS SHELL replacing the default COMMAND.COM command line interpreter.[nb 2] On 386 PCs with a minimum of 4 MB of RAM, the floppy would boot the DR-DOS 7.02 based browser operating system complete with memory manager, RAM disk, dial-up modem, LAN, mouse and display drivers and automatically launch into the graphical browser, without ever touching the machine's hard disk in order not to interfere with other systems installed on the machine.[13] Users could start browsing the web or accessing mails immediately after entering their access credentials.

On 2 September 1998 it was announced that the Digital Research Systems Group and consequently also Caldera UK was spun out as a separate company Caldera Thin Clients (CTC),[14] incorporated earlier in August 1998.

In September 1998 DR-WebSpyder 2.0 achieved commercial success when it was selected for use in an internet set-top box as part of a satellite internet access solution.[15][16][17]

On 3 November 1999, the company announced DR-WebSpyder 2.1.[18] With DR-WebSpyder 2.1 Beta 2 being available since 7 November 2011,[19] the browser was released on 30 November 1998.[20] It added support for JavaScript, Secure Socket Layer (SSL) protocol, cookies, sound files, printing on a multitude of printers as well as user profiles and support for multiple mail accounts.[21] It also added scrollable quarter-screen VGA support for low-resolution LCD displays as well as anti-aliased fonts for display on TVs in an optional TV interface mode.[18][20][21]

Caldera UK also investigated possibilities to add Java support to the browser, but this component never left prototype status.[17][22] Two desired prerequisites for Java integration were to add support for long filenames (LFNs)[nb 3][23] and Unicode to DOS. Caldera's DPMS-enabled dynamically loadable LONGNAME driver provided VFAT-compatible LFNs in the FAT file system. An expanded DRFONT-style .CPI file could have been provided to retrieve bitmaps for the required larger character repertoire not only to support more code pages in general,[24] but also wider character sets similar to what was used in DOS/V-compatible systems.[25] In conjunction with a new COUNTRY.SYS file,[26] the enhanced NLSFUNC 4.xx driver,[27][26] which was introduced with DR-DOS 7.02, could have provided the framework to integrate optional UTF-8 support into the system in a way similar to DBCS support.[28]

When Gross resigned in January 1999, Caldera Thin Clients, Inc. closed the Caldera UK Ltd. development office in February 1999 soon after the release of DR-DOS 7.03.[22]

Embrowser and Embedix Browser[edit]

A customized version of Lineo Embrowser in 1999

On 20 July 1999 Caldera Thin Clients renamed itself into Lineo under the new lead of Bryan W. Sparks.[29][30] DR-WebSpyder was renamed Embrowser and the browser was said to be ported to Linux.[29][30]

A version of DR-WebSpyder for IMS REAL/32, a successor to Digital Research's and Novell's Multiuser DOS, has been worked on in 1999 as well.[31]

Since October 1999, a DOS version of DR-WebSpyder 2.5 aka Embrowser 2.5 was available on Lineo's site.[32]

Since Lineo's own thin-client Linux distribution was named Embedix, the Linux port of the micro web browser was consequently named Embedix Browser by April 2000.[33][34]

In April 2002 some Lineo assets were auctioned off and the company reformed as Embedix, Inc. by July 2002 under the lead of Matthew R. Harris.[35] Motorola's Metrowerks bought Embedix key assets, possibly including the browser[clarification needed], on 17 December 2002.[36][37][38]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Non-standard escape sequences ESC [ + and ESC [ - to disable and reenable any output to the CON: device are supported by ANSI.SYS of DR-DOS 7.02 and higher only. They are used to mute the console output during boot, for example in conjunction with DR-WebSpyder boot floppies.
  2. ^ Similar to what happens in Windows 95, 98, SE and ME.
  3. ^ For comparison, in order to support Java applications without implementing a VFAT-compatible scheme, the FlexOS-based IBM 4690 OS version 2 introduced its own virtual file system (VFS) architecture to store long filenames in the FAT file system in a backwards compatible fashion. If enabled, the virtual filenames (VFN) are available under separate logical drive letters, whereas the real filenames (RFN) remain available under the original drive letters.


  1. ^ a b "Basic information about company "Caldera (UK) Limited"". Company Data Rex. 2001-07-01. Company Number 03252883. Archived from the original on 2017-06-24. Retrieved 2017-06-24.
  2. ^ a b Morris, Joseph P., ed. (1997-05-23) [1997-05-19]. "Caldera Announces OEM Availability of "Web-TV"-like Functionality Using OpenDOS - Caldera WebSpyder Adds Customizable Inter/Intranet Functionality to OEM Solutions". Provo, UT, USA: Caldera, Inc. Archived from the original on 2018-08-26. Retrieved 2018-08-26 – via www.delorie.com/opendos.
  3. ^ Leon, Mark (1996-07-29). "Caldera reopens 'settled' suit, buys DR DOS". Computerworld. IDG. Archived from the original on 2018-08-22. Retrieved 2018-02-13.
  4. ^ "Arachne Frequently Asked Questions". Arachne Labs. 2005-03-02. Archived from the original on 2005-03-02. Retrieved 2018-02-13.
  5. ^ a b c d e Gross, Roger A. (1997-06-16). Buckle, Gene, ed. "Official word". www.delorie.com/opendos. Caldera UK Ltd. Archived from the original on 2018-08-26. Retrieved 2018-08-26.
  6. ^ Habersack, Mark (1997). "The Caldera WebSpyder released!". Deltasoft. Archived from the original on 2018-08-26. Retrieved 2018-08-26. (NB. Has download options for PKSFX password-protected files WEBSPYB1.EXE [1] (1459109 bytes) and D14WEB.EXE [2] (1531942 bytes).)
  7. ^ "Download Archive - Beta Software - Caldera WebSpyder 32 Internet Browser". Caldera, Inc. February 1998. Archived from the original on 1998-02-05.
  8. ^ "Caldera Ships DR-WebSpyder 2.0, a Graphical, Internet Browsing Environment for DOS - DR-WebSpyder Provides Industry's Thinnest Graphical Internet Access Client for OEMs of Compact Embedded Devices with Display" (Press release). Orem, UT, USA: Caldera, Inc. 1998-05-11. Archived from the original on 2018-08-22. Retrieved 2018-02-13.
  9. ^ Bager, Jo; Brenken, Dirk; Schmidt, Jürgen (1998-03-30). "Ansichtssachen - Alternative Web-Browser für Windows, MacOS, Linux, OS/2 und DOS" [Point of view - Alternative web browsers for Windows, MacOS, Linux, OS/2 and DOS]. c't - magazin für computertechnik (in German). Heise Verlag. 1998 (07): 116-. Archived from the original on 2018-08-25. Retrieved 2018-08-26. [3]
  10. ^ Bager, Jo (1998-05-25). "DR-WebSpyder 2.0 ist da" [DR-WebSpyder 2.0 is ready]. c't - magazin für computertechnik (in German). Heise Verlag. 1998 (11): 32-. Archived from the original on 2018-08-25. Retrieved 2018-08-26.
  11. ^ "Caldera establishes Office in Taiwan in response to the embedded market's demand for DR-DOS". Orem, UT, USA; Taipei, Taiwan. PR Newswire. 1998-06-01. Archived from the original on 2012-09-11. [4]
  12. ^ Bernardi, Michael, ed. (2010-10-10). "FAQ: DOS Applications for Internet Use". 2.5.4. Archived from the original on 2018-08-29. Retrieved 2018-08-29.
  13. ^ a b "Download Caldera DR-WebSpyder 2.0 Today! The complete Web browser and E-mail client that fits on one 1.44 MB diskette!". Caldera, Inc. 1998. Archived from the original on 1999-05-08.
  14. ^ Caldera (1998-09-02). "Caldera Creates Two Wholly-Owned Subsidiaries" (Press release). Orem, UT, USA: PRNewswire. Archived from the original on 2017-06-24. Retrieved 2017-06-24.
  15. ^ Lea, Graham (1998-09-28). "Caldera's DR gets OnSatellite of love - Service to offer voice, email and smartie cards". The Register. Archived from the original on 2018-08-22. Retrieved 2018-02-13.
  16. ^ Deckmyn, Dominique (1998). "Caldera lands set-top deal for Dos browser". Silicon Valley, USA: Incisive Business Media Limited. Archived from the original on 2018-08-26. Retrieved 2018-08-26.
  17. ^ a b Lettice, John (1998-10-01). "Caldera poised to launch ultra-thin Java client - Company set to storm price-conscious set-top box market". The Register. Archived from the original on 2018-08-22. Retrieved 2018-02-13.
  18. ^ a b "Caldera unveals embedded browser, allies with reseller". Datamonitor / Gale, Cengage Learning. 1998-11-03. Archived from the original on 2018-08-25. Retrieved 2018-08-25.
  19. ^ Caldera DR-WebSpyder 2.1 Beta 2, Caldera Thin Clients, 1998-11-07, WEB21B2.EXE, retrieved 2018-08-25
  20. ^ a b "Caldera, General Software To Provide Embedded OS, BIOS". Wireless Design Online / VertMarkets, Inc. 1998-11-09. Archived from the original on 2018-08-25. Retrieved 2018-08-25.
  21. ^ a b "Caldera DR-WebSpyder 2.1 Release Notes". Caldera Thin Clients, Inc. 1998. Archived from the original on 2018-08-29. Retrieved 2018-08-29.
  22. ^ a b Lea, Graham (1999-04-27). "Caldera closes UK thin client development unit - Development being moved over to Utah". The Register. Archived from the original on 2017-06-25. Retrieved 2017-06-24.
  23. ^ 4690 OS Programming Guide Version 5.2 (PDF). IBM. 2007-12-06. IBM document SC30-4137-01.
  24. ^ Paul, Matthias (2001-06-10) [1995]. "Format description of DOS, OS/2, and Windows NT .CPI, and Linux .CP files" (CPI.LST file) (1.30 ed.). Archived from the original on 2016-04-20. Retrieved 2016-08-20.
  25. ^ Tam, Roy; Elliott, John (2014-01-12). "DR DOS 6.0/V". Retrieved 2017-01-16. […] outline of the support in the video driver (SDJVG9.VGA) […] At startup, it calls INT 15h/AX=5000h to get the address of the DOS/V 'read font' function. If […] present, it sets a […] DBCS […] flag on the system font. […] it uses INT 21h/AX=6507h to get the DBCS lead byte table. When a string is passed to […] text output functions, if a DBCS font is in use and the DBCS lead byte table is loaded, the code checks for DBCS lead/trail bytes in the string passed to it, and combines each pair into a 16-bit character ID. When drawing a character, it checks to see if the character ID is above 256. If so, it calls the DOS/V 'read font' function to get that character's bitmap, and instructs the drawing code to draw 16 pixels from offset 0 of that bitmap, rather than 8 pixels from the system font bitmap at a given offset. There are similar checks in the optimised monospaced text drawing code, allowing characters to be 8 or 16 pixels wide. (NB. Has screenshots of a DBCS-enabled version of ViewMAX running on DR DOS 6.0/V and a hex dump of the corresponding DRFONT database SCREENHZ.FNT for its $FONT.SYS.
  26. ^ a b Paul, Matthias (2001-06-10) [1995]. "DOS COUNTRY.SYS file format" (COUNTRY.LST file) (1.44 ed.). Archived from the original on 2016-04-20. Retrieved 2016-08-20.
  27. ^ Paul, Matthias (1997-10-02). "Caldera OpenDOS 7.01/7.02 Update Alpha 3 IBMBIO.COM README.TXT". Archived from the original on 2003-10-04. Retrieved 2009-03-29. [5]
  28. ^ Paul, Matthias (2001-08-15). "Changing codepages in FreeDOS" (Technical design specification based on fd-dev post [6]). Archived from the original on 2016-06-06. Retrieved 2016-06-06. […] UTF-8 […] is most interesting […] in bringing Unicode to DOS, as adding support for UTF-8 to an application is very similar to adding support for DBCS. I think, when making an application DBCS aware, UTF-8 should be taken into account at the same time for later Unicode support. […]
  29. ^ a b Caldera, Inc. (1999-07-20). "Embedded Linux moved to top priority at Lineo, Inc. formerly known as Caldera Thin Clients, Inc" (Press release). Lindon, UT, USA. Archived from the original on 2017-06-25. Retrieved 2017-06-24.
  30. ^ a b Smith, Tony (1999-07-20). "Caldera Thin Clients renamed to focus on embedded Linux - Lineo, Lineo -- wherefore art thou, Lineo?". The Register. Archived from the original on 2018-08-22. Retrieved 2018-02-13.
  31. ^ Sprague, Tony (1999-06-22). "Browser -- DR-WebSpyder For REAL/32". REAL/32 Forum. IMS Ltd. Archived from the original on 2018-08-26. Retrieved 2018-08-26.
  32. ^ "Lineo Embrowser 2.5A". Lineo, Inc. 1999-10-05. [7] Archive EMB25A.ZIP (1991178 bytes, 3 files):
    Size, Datestamp, CRC, Name
    387189 bytes, 1999-10-05 16:24, 70BBB6EF, INSTALL.ZIP
    1457784 bytes, 1999-10-05 16:29, E391D1FF, DISK1.ZIP
    145897 bytes, 1999-10-05 16:30, 1106BBEB, DISK2.ZIP
  33. ^ "embedix Browser - Lineo's embedded GUI and micro Web browser provide sleek user interaction with compact Linux devices". Lineo, Inc. 2000-05-10. Archived from the original on 2000-05-10.
  34. ^ "embedix Browser - Internet connectivity for set-top boxes, kiosks and hand-held devices" (PDF) (Product flyer). Lineo, Inc. 2000-04-26. BREMBRW02.qxd. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2000-08-16.
  35. ^ Correia, Edward J. (2002-07-01). "Lineo Is Now Embedix - New company releases SDK, dumps RTXC". SD Times: Software Development News. Archived from the original on 2012-04-07.
  36. ^ "SPECIAL REPORT: Motorola/Metrowerks acquires embedded Linux pioneer Lineo". Linux Devices. 2002-12-17. Archived from the original on 2013-01-28.
  37. ^ "Metrowerks to Expand Embedded Linux Tools and Solutions Offerings Through Embedix Asset Acquisition - Company to Add Embedix Tools and Technology to Integrated Development Platforms for PDAs, Smart Handheld Devices, Residential Gateways, Digital TVs". Austin, TX & Lindon, UT, USA: Metrowerks. 2002-12-17. Archived from the original on 2002-12-23.
  38. ^ "Embedix Technology". Metrowerks. 2002-12-23. Archived from the original on 2002-12-23.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]