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Comment Re:64-bit (Score 1) 146

Nope, it's not only x86 but requires an IBM PC/XT/AT compatible BIOS, so I don't think it could even run on non-PC compatible x86 systems such as the original Xbox or the current one.

Interesting trivia: the FreeDOS Kernel used to run on m68k machines. Pat Villani wrote a DOS-like kernel for m68k that simplified his embedded development at the time. Later, the kernel became Intel-only.

These days, the FreeDOS Kernel can only run on an Intel PC with BIOS.

You can likely make a 64bit DOS, or a flat-memory 32bit native one - at least one such one exists, it's just that no existing software will run.

We had this same discussion in the FreeDOS mailing lists as we decided what the next version after "1.1" should be. Some wanted the new FreeDOS to be 32-bit. I didn't go that far, but for a while I thought we should imagine what "DOS" would look like today if Microsoft hadn't killed MS-DOS when they moved to Windows. And it's an interesting thought experiment.

A modern DOS would have to update its memory model. DOS uses a segmented memory model, which made sense when the PC was a simple computing device. With the Intel 80386 processor, you could have multitasking. That's why Linux was originally written for the '386. So a modern DOS would also support multitasking. At some point, though, this modern DOS will break backwards compatibility with legacy DOS applications. To preserve some method of compatibility, we reasoned, a modern DOS would likely include a sandbox (like DOSEmu) to run these legacy applications.

But when you look at it, we already have that modern DOS. That's Linux. Because Linux supports multitasking, it has a flat memory model, it does all these other things. And if you want to run legacy DOS applications, you boot FreeDOS in a PC emulator like DOSEmu. That's not DOS. FreeDOS is still DOS, and needs to remain DOS. So we agreed the next version after FreeDOS 1.1 would be an update to FreeDOS. That's why this version is FreeDOS 1.2.

Comment Re:Question (Score 1) 146

I've used it once to run old accounting software for archival reference purposes at a client. Trying to run it in Windows XP failed. Luckily other old software at various clients could be run in Dosbox.

People sometimes forget about legacy software, but this pops up in unexpected places. I used to be campus CIO of a small university, and we once had a faculty member bring in some floppy disks with old research data on them. The data wasn't stored in plain text files, but as DOS application data. None of our modern systems would read the old data files, so we booted a spare PC with FreeDOS, downloaded a shareware DOS program that could read the application data, and exported the data to plain text.

Comment Re:DOS? (Score 5, Informative) 146

For those who don't know, DOS stands for Disk Operating System. DOS was the first PC operating system that really became popular. (CP/M didn't really take off.) Microsoft's MS-DOS was the popular operating system in the 1980s and the early 1990s, until Windows95 in 1995.

I used DOS all the time when I was growing up, and into my college years. In 1994, Microsoft talked about how they were working on the next version of Windows, and that version of Windows would do away with MS-DOS. But if you remember Windows 3.11, Windows wasn't great. So I decided that if Microsoft was going to "kill" DOS, we should create our own to replace it. So we created FreeDOS.

You can read more about it on our website, or on Wikipedia.

Comment Re:Compatibility (Score 4, Informative) 146

Does it work with older machines? I'm not yet ready to update my 286. Maybe next year.

I know you're joking here, but yes you can run FreeDOS on an older PC. FreeDOS should run on an 8088, but I don't know anyone who actually has a working one these days. A few folks have emailed me as recently as this year to say that they run FreeDOS on a '286. So in fact, the '286 example you gave is possible!

But how you'd install FreeDOS 1.2 on an old computer like this will be interesting. The FreeDOS 1.2 release has a CDROM installer, or a boot floppy + CDROM installer, or a USB fob drive installer. You can't use any of those on a '286 computer. So the three people who have a '286 will probably transfer FreeDOS 1.2 packages to the '286 by copying them to a floppy and unzipping them.

In 2016, we know that most people use FreeDOS in a PC emulator like VMWare or VirtualPC or QEMU. I use it in QEMU. We recommend the CDROM installer for emulators.

Comment Re:Question (Score 5, Informative) 146

Serious question: besides playing DOS games, is FreeDOS used for anything like industrial controls or embedded OS' or other stuff?

We ran a survey a few years ago, and most people use FreeDOS for three things:

1. Playing DOS games

2. Running legacy software

3. Developing embedded systems

That survey is about five years old now. These days, I'd guess 90% of people using FreeDOS are using it for playing DOS games. And of course, those of us who just like to tinker on DOS as a hobby.

I guess we could add a fourth one to that list too. As others have said, a lot of people use FreeDOS to install firmware updates on computers. That's a good use for FreeDOS too!

Submission + - FreeDOS 1.2 officially released ( 1

Jim Hall writes: The FreeDOS Project just announced the release of the new FreeDOS 1.2 distribution! You can download it now from the website. The new FreeDOS 1.2 is mostly an incremental change over FreeDOS 1.1, although you'll find a few nice surprises. FreeDOS 1.2 now makes it easier to connect to a network. And you can find more tools and games, and a few graphical desktop options including OpenGEM. But the first thing you'll probably notice is the all-new new installer that makes it much easier to install FreeDOS. And after you install FreeDOS, try the FDIMPLES program to install new programs or to remove any you don't want. Official announcement also available at the FreeDOS Project blog.

Comment Re:This is interesting (Score 1) 711

Once there's enough testing done to prove it has potential, then engineers will take it, play with it, improve it, apply it, then sometime later, physicists and other scientists will figure out precisely why it works and why what the engineers did worked.

This reminds me of a joke we used to tell in undergraduate physics, years ago:

An engineer meets a theoretical physicist, and tells him about his new experiment. "I get this reading, but it doesn't make sense. What's happening?" asks the engineer.

"It may seem counter-intuitive, but that's easy to explain," says the theoretical physicist, and launches into a long explanation filled with quantum theory. "And that's why you get that number at the end."

The engineer is satisfied, and the two part ways.

The next day, the engineer again meets theoretical physicist, and says "I realized my multimeter was hooked up backwards, so my reading is actually negative that number. Interesting, eh?"

The theoretical physicist smiles. "Well, that's even easier to explain" he says.

Comment Re:Huh?!? (Score 1) 85

Just because so many are wrong don't change the meaning of the word.

I disagree. Definitions of words change all the time because a large number of people agree to a new meaning. One example is Decimate. Originally, this meant to kill 1/10th of a population - from the ancient Roman use of Decimation as a means of punishment of a group at once, such as punishment for desertion. Over time, people at large associated "decimate" with a disaster affecting large groups, and later the assumed meaning shifted to "destroy almost all of something."

And I watched that definition change over my lifetime. When I was in middle school, we learned "decimate" meant "one in ten" (hence "deci").

So over the span of thirty or forty years, "decimate" has changed from 10% to something like 90%.

The current definition:

verb (used with object), decimated, decimating.

1. to destroy a great number or proportion of:
The population was decimated by a plague.

2. to select by lot and kill every tenth person of.

Comment Why not use an algorithm? (Score 1) 465

I'm going to echo what an AC wrote suggesting an algorithm. Apparently Twitter has an algorithm to block abusive responses and used it "to filter out abusive and hateful replies to President Barack Obama during a Q&A session."

Twitter's algorithm isn't perfect, but it's not bad. From the Buzzfeed article: "According to a former senior Twitter employee, Costolo ordered employees to deploy an algorithm (which was built in-house by feeding it thousands of examples of abuse and harassing tweets) that would filter out abusive language directed at Obama. Another source said the media partnerships team also manually censored tweets, noting that Twitter’s public quality-filtering algorithms were inconsistent."

So maybe the algorithm isn't a perfect way to detect hate speech, but it can probably be used to indicate how likely a tweet is abusive. And users can use that to make their own decisions. From the AC:

What if Twitter had the algorithm set a score 0-5 of how likely it thought a tweet is offensive/hate speech, then Twitter let users set a threshold. So maybe someone could set their own threshold at 3 and not see tweets at 4 or 5 (highly likely to be abusive tweets) and someone else can set their threshold to 5 and see everything. People getting abused on Twitter would have a way to automatically block offensive tweets without anyone crying "censorship!"

I think that would get us pretty far down the road to helping people block abusive tweets without limiting anyone to what they can say (the "free speech" mentioned in the article).

Comment Re:Jim Hall (Score 2) 211

I have had the pleasure of corresponding with, and occasionally collaborating with, Jim Hall a few times over the years. He's not just active in the open source community, he's a really nice guy. Easy to work with, friendly and helpful. We've exchanged notes about package management, he's sent some patches to a project I was working on to make it more user-friendly (and DOS compatible). Jim manages to make a technically focused OS while being pleasant to work with. More open source project leaders could learn by his example.

This made my day. Thanks, whoever you are!

Comment Re: Downloading DOS shareware (Score 1) 211

Plenty of apps use the shareware model. Download a limited version (usually with ads) for free. Pay for all features and no advertisements.

Except that the model you describe is missing "you could share that limited version with anyone." Apps don't have an ecosystem where one user can share the app with someone else.

Comment Re:There was a modern MS DOS ... (Score 5, Informative) 211

(Jim Hall here, from the article.)

This is exactly why we decided a "modern" DOS wasn't really DOS anymore. As you say, OS/2 was intended to be the "modern" DOS of the day, a multitasking, protected mode operating system. But to get all that, you have to break binary compatibility. So OS/2 wasn't really DOS anymore. But it wasn't meant to be, hence the new name.

Ultimately, we decided that if you can't run classic DOS programs on a "modern" DOS, then it's not DOS anymore. So we decided to keep FreeDOS as just plain DOS. That's why FreeDOS 1.2 and later will still be essentially the same as FreeDOS 1.1 and earlier, with a few updates here and there. No fundamental changes. We won't be multitasking or multiuser or any other "modern" operating system functionality. That's not what it means to be DOS.

Comment Re:The problem with FreeDOS... (Score 4, Informative) 211

Or just run it in DOSBox on any OS. For most software that's the obvious thing to do.

Actually, it's better to run legacy business applications on an actual DOS system like FreeDOS. DOSBox is meant only for games. They don't have great compatibility with business software.

FreeDOS runs very well in PC emulators and virtual machines like QEMU, VirtualPC, VMWare, VirtualBox, and others. At home, I run QEMU and DOSemu to boot FreeDOS. (When I'm developing, I use DOSemu so I can share files easily between Linux and FreeDOS. When I want to test FreeDOS in a more traditional virtual machine, I run QEMU.) It runs great!

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