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FreeDOS Not Dead; 1.0 Release Imminent 196

Lisa writes "Jim Hall, creator of the open source MS-DOS operating system project FreeDOS, says that while work on the project may have slowed recently, he isn't ready to throw in the towel just yet. In fact, Hall says he hopes to see version 1.0 released as soon as the end of the month." (So rumors to the contrary can be safely ignored.)
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FreeDOS Not Dead; 1.0 Release Imminent

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  • They haven't released anything in 12 years and its that lack of "recent" progress that's hurting them. What is it that I'm missing?
    • by Eravnrekaree ( 467752 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @06:30PM (#15652914)
      They actually have released several versions over the past few years. Although, recently, they have been a bit slow to realese new versions, over the past year or so. FreeDOS is functional and can be used to do things including run many older DOS titles. I think they have been saving the 1.0 version for a point where they have obtained a very high level of compatability with MS-DOS.

      I have used FreeDOS to run several programs, and it is useable for many tasks, although it still does have some way to go before it is a perfect imitation. Nevertheless, I am glad to see it is still progressing, since I do think there is a use for this kind of thing.
    • They haven't released anything in 12 years and its that lack of "recent" progress that's hurting them. What is it that I'm missing?

      Reading TFA for one thing.

  • Good to hear this (Score:4, Informative)

    by Eravnrekaree ( 467752 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @06:23PM (#15652865)
    I have used FreeDOS previously and indeed it has quite a bit of importance and valuable to use, both as an OS for older hardware, and as well, for running old DOS software games on newer hardware. I have run FreeDOS on Bochs for nostgalgia's sake, to run various old DOS titles. A fully MS-DOS compatable OS does indeed have many applications, such as running older software, nostgalgia, preservation of old computer operating systems, and for older hardware and modern hardware for which a small, lightweight OS is needed.
    • I agree, and embedded systems running some variant of DOS are very common. I've delivered more than a few of those myself. Claims that "DOS is dead" aren't really accurate, and won't be for some time to come. Speaking of DOS games, would you happen to know if Build Engine games such as Duke Nukem 3D, Shadow Warrior, Blood and so forth work under FreeDOS?
      • I do not know if those will work, perhaps they might. It would be nice if they would however, one of the best uses of a DOS is running older software such as this. Perhaps someone else knows. I think there is also OpenDOS (, which is actually based on DR-DOS which was made open source a few years ago by Caldera (which ironically became the now-evil SCO). I am not sure if that will work any better either. I think Linux and FreeBSD also have some sort of DOS emulation layer. (http
        • Don't forget... (Score:5, Informative)

          by SpectreHiro ( 961765 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @07:02PM (#15653098) Homepage
          Check out DOSBox []

          It's an excellent DOS emulator for Windows, Linux, MacOSX, BeOs, FreeBSD, OS/2 and toasters... Wait, it might not run on toasters. You may need to do a little fine tuning, but I haven't found a better way to run old DOS games.
          • "You may need to do a little fine tuning, but I haven't found a better way to run old DOS games."

            How about a P133 with a VESA-compatible video card?

          • Wait, it might not run on toasters.

            It probably does, there's a NetBSD package []...

          • Re:Don't forget... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by boa13 ( 548222 ) on Tuesday July 04, 2006 @06:24AM (#15655427) Homepage Journal
            Check out DOSBox (...) You may need to do a little fine tuning, but I haven't found a better way to run old DOS games.

            Good old Dosemu works pretty well for me, especially on a Pentium III @ 750 MHz. I've heard DOSBox requires several GHz to acceptably emulate a 486DX2 @ 66 MHz. Dosemu does not emulate the CPU, so it is an order of magnitude faster.

            Dosemu used to be hard to configure and used to require root privileges and direct acces to the hardware; recent versions have pretty much gotten rid of those problems. I run most of my games with xdosemu in a regular window, I can easily switch to full screen if I prefer, I get very nice MIDI thanks to ALSA + Sound Blaster Live, etc. Of course the experience depends on the games, some of them had funky ways to address the hardware, there are a few cases where Dosemu doesn't cope that well (jerky mouse in a few games). But I can play Day of the Tentacle, Duke Nukem 3D, Dungeon Master, Lands of Lore, Arkanoid, Ecstatica, the Elder Scrolls: Arena just fine, and that's just those I tried this past week-end.
            • The DosBox project is alot more active than dosemu. A new version of dosbox [] was released on June 27th, 2006 (last week), on the other hand dosemu [] hasn't been updated since 2004-07-11. Dosemu has the advantage that it runs better on older systems, dosbox has the advantage that it is compatible with amd, ppc, intel cpus and several different operating systems.
    • Re:Good to hear this (Score:5, Interesting)

      by caseih ( 160668 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @07:04PM (#15653115)
      I still run several DOS applications and even piddle around with my old PowerBASIC compiler in FreeDOS running under DOSEMU. DOSEMU works very well for most things (non-graphical) and runs several orders of magnitude faster than bochs (no emulation of the cpu). FreeDOS and DOSEMU are a great match. Plus all the years of Unix innovations in the command line have been incorporated into the FreeDOS shell, makeing DOS actually quite nice to use in all its 16-bit glory. For graphical DOS stuff, I use dosbox which has it's own DOS implementation but, like bochs, emulates the hardware as well (but is way faster than bochs) and allows sound and vga emulation for running the old Sierra games.

      FreeDOS still has a bright future in several niches. There is still a need for a 16-bit, real-mode operating system in a number of embedded situations.
    • FreeDOS on Bochs
      You may want to consider DOSBox [] instead.
    • OK, granted that a freeware MS-DOS clone has value. (I use it together with Dosbox [] to run old games under XP.) But why is it good news that people are still working on it? It's been around for 12 years now. And it's a clone of a truely simple-minded OS. Indeed, you could argue that MS-DOS is just a program loader — it lacks almost all the features of a real OS.
    • Bios upgrades typically require booting to DoS.
      • ...there are websites on the net offering Windows boot disk images that are sufficient to do that. That is the environment most BIOS updates are tested under anyway
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 03, 2006 @06:27PM (#15652899)
    Once we've gotten up to FreeDos 6.2, will the next release be Free95 (release date 2095), which replicates Windows 95 in a feature and bug-complete way?
  • by Realistic_Dragon ( 655151 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @06:37PM (#15652964) Homepage

    (Oh, and also because FreeDOS running in a VM plays some wierd DOS games very well.)
    • That's the main reason I'm interested in it. A lot of those old games will run too fast on modern hardware (if they run at all), and finding old enough hardware that runs well enough and will continue to be reliable is getting more and more difficult. A VM + FreeDOS seems like a good solution to me, though I suppose DOSBox would work too.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Netcraft [] confirms it: FreeDOS is dying!
  • by Wierdy1024 ( 902573 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @07:02PM (#15653099)
    I use freedos on a floppy, with NTFSdos pro, to do some handy scripting changing registry entries on windows boxes without booting them. No other way I can thing of doing it, other than a liveCD of something, but that negates the point, as everything must fit inside about 4MB for my purposes. Also, occasionally, use a network freedos floppy, but I'm annoyed at the lack of a "universal" ethernet driver - even if performance is slow - rather like the universal 640x480 video driver in windows. Also, support for SATA drives is poor at best - and I can't find a driver for most chipsets. (although having said that even the windows XP install doesn't find most right!)
  • Now, if only someone will come up with a decent window-manager and GUI toolkit to run on top of it...
  • by SensitiveMale ( 155605 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @07:12PM (#15653172)
  • by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @07:26PM (#15653269) Journal
    Even if he's still going to make another few releases, FreeDOS is still dead.

    MANY, MANY years into the project now, and yet compatibility with MS-DOS is in a rather sad state, the partitioning/formating programs create corrupt partitions that MS-DOS/Windows will choke on after a little bit or writing to. Many of the programs (Defrag?) still can't even handle FAT32, even though FAT32 has been around forever, and is largely obsolete now. What are the chances of FreeDOS 2.0 adding NTFS support?!

    DR-DOS is still freely available, and a much better choice for boot floppies/CDs, as well as running old DOS programs (something like xmess will probably include 100% DOS compatibility before FreeDOS does).

    DOS is too old and simple to be of any use in embedded apps as well. Projects like ELKS and ucLinux are far better options. It might be usable by companies' boot disks, but the limited compatibility might make licensing one of the many commercial DOS implimentations a cheaper and more reliable option.

    The project is a zombie. It can continue walking on, but it's still long since dead, whether it knows it or not.
    • Funny, I just used it tonight to flash my mobo BIOS. Damned older BIOS wasn't reading the new CPU fan's slow RPM correctly so it freaked and wanted to shut down at boot. MSI had a fixed version, but figuring out how to flash it was a hassle.

      Any recommendations for a replacement method for BIOS flashing?
      • I got a computer from the trash in the street (yeah, damn britons immitating the "use and throw" USA culture). Unfortunately, its BIOS wont allow me to install my 80 GB hard disk (the autodetect choked and when specifying the configuration manually it will recognize it as 8GB only) so I had to upgrade the bios.

        The way I did it is just download a WIN98SE boot disk from and burn the image with Nero (using the "boot cd option" (the Floppy was not working), then i added the AMI flashing utility an
      • Any recommendations for a replacement method for BIOS flashing?

        Yes, DR-DOS, as I already said in my previous post. Under FreeDOS, you're really taking the risk that your flashing app might crash, destroying your hardware.

        Besides that, most hardware companies have stopped using DOS flashing programs (for good reason). Many of them are Win32 these days, so you absolutely NEED a WinPE/BartsPE CD or USB drive (or Windows on a 1GB hard drive, or similar).

    • DOS is too old and simple to be of any use in embedded apps as well. Projects like ELKS and ucLinux are far better options. It might be usable by companies' boot disks, but the limited compatibility might make licensing one of the many commercial DOS implimentations a cheaper and more reliable option.

      This is simply not true. I know of quite a few developers still working with embedded systems using DOS. And no it won't be replaced with ELKS or ucLinux anytime soon. DOS works and works very well in this n
  • ...Calls to participate in an open-source replacement for Windows 3.11 / Windows for Workgroups are now being heard...
  • by Penicillus ( 755795 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @07:48PM (#15653412)
    A long time ago, I copied my OS2 Warp installation CD to my hard drive; the CD is now someplace safe. In February, I used FreeDos to make OS2 Warp disk images from the hard drive, and installed OS2 onto an old 486. When the OS2 disk creation program is run under MSDOS 6, 7, or Win98 the 1.88 meg installation disks are created occasionally, and with agony; the dos window format of W2K and XP won't touch anything over 1.44 megs. FreeDos writes the 1.88 meg format easily on normal HD floppies, and all the floppies work the first time. Thank You FreeDos Developers!
  • by Progman3K ( 515744 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @09:59PM (#15654058)
    Everything you need to boot an XT PC onward to today's PCs, format and/or do system installs?
    Open-source too?
    A very useful project!
  • From the new UDOS site on Sourceforge (

    uDOS is a free operating system built on the FreeDOS kernel with DJGPP. uDOS provides an integrated suite of features inluding Perl, Python, etc., as well as a Watt-32 based networking environment and ELF library support. Can be run live from CD image.

    Discussion for UDOS currently takes place on irc://

    UDOS does a great deal to demonstrate what DOS tools are still out there, as well as the bugs they have! Many
  • by Quietti ( 257725 ) on Tuesday July 04, 2006 @06:29AM (#15655439) Journal
    FreeDOS is the only way to flash a BIOS using Free Software. Never mind the slow release cycles, it already works and it has helped me upgrade countless computers, without a single copy of MS-DOS on hand.
    • Good point. But most BIOS's themselves frankly need to be replaced. Take a good look at for what you can accomplish when you discard the amazingly bad proprietary and bugpatch layered on broken workaround htat most BIOS's actually consist of: if you ever get into the guts of current commercial BIOS's, they're really quite horrible, and the hardware really does benefit in boot time, robustness, and flexibility from switched to an open source code base.
    • FreeDOS is the only way to flash a BIOS using Free Software.

      How is the fact that FreeDOS is GPL'd possibly a benefit? You're running a closed program, to update the closed firmware, on your closed hardware.

      DR-DOS is both free as in beer, and the source is freely available, though certainly not GPL-compatible (neither is qmail, but that hasn't stopped people from using it).

  • To all you lusers out there that think dos has no value, you are way wrong. I know there are many industrial applications like CNC where it is still in very common use. From my own experience I can tell you that it is *THE* platform for scan guns and automatic inventory management used in wherehouses and large reatial shops. Chances are pretty good if you have ever purchased anything in a large reatil store chain, or that has spent time on a self in a wherehouse it was scanned with a handheld scanner run
    • Also, heard of Linux?

      I will be the first to complain that Linux isn't ready for primetime as a desktop replacement OS, but as an embedded environment, it is absolutely brilliant.

      Consider that anything with a microprocessor has been hacked to run Linux, its the obvious choice for embedded applications. I know someone that is working on a CNC controller that is using Linux and can actually run a visual environment on the controller for more advanced managment and control of CNC jobs. All you would get with
  • DOS is one of several operating systems that I have installed and can boot-up into on my AMD Athlon 64 3800+ computer. I actually have PC-DOS 2000 [] (instead of FreeDOS) installed on the first partition of my first harddrive, it is a FAT-16 partition. When booting up, a menu appears that allows me to choose whether to boot up into Windows 2000, PC-DOS 2000. or one of several different versions of Linux. PC-DOS 2000 was a minor Y2K upgrade of the Last version of DOS that IBM had released. As you may recal

  • Seems to me that Q[&]DOS was written faster than this, and with less advanced development tools twenty-five years ago. I guess coders are just getting soft these days.

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak