12 years after the project was conceived, and after a long period in which it was useable though incomplete, FreeDOS has reached version 1.0. The ISO is downloadable at SourceForge. Versions with more extras should be available soon, as should a mail-order option.
FreeDOS 1.0 Released
About The Author
Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker.
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2006-09-04 2:47 pmprotagonist
Or maybe Zork? 🙂
2006-09-04 3:38 pmNoremacam
Heck no! ZZT was much cooler!
I wish people would use their creativity in more modern and relevant tasks …
2006-09-04 7:44 amtmack
You say that, but I know you can’t wait for FreeMacOS7 to come out.
2006-09-05 2:34 amMage66
>> You say that, but I know you can’t wait for FreeMacOS7 to come out. <<
There was announced here on OSNews some years back, a project that was intended to Clone Classic MacOS 9…
I don’t remember the name, and can’t find any link to it.
I wonder what ever happened to it?
2006-09-04 10:32 ampecisk
FreeDOS is _relevant_. You simply can’t imagine what waste of old apps which still need to run are out there. FreeDOS comes as very important part in Linux/BSD/Mac migration, but not only – even when lot of apps didn’t run properly on Windows XP, FreeDOS is here to help you.
So yes, it IS important.
2006-09-04 10:44 amReader
Please tell me a few. I am curious. Also please chose the ones for which there is no modern alternative.
2006-09-04 2:59 pmBryanFeeney
A huge number of organisations rely on bespoke software developed in the late eighties and early nineties by either in-house by staff who have since left, or externally companies that have since gone out of business or been folded into other, larger organisations.
Re-writing all that software, and porting over the old data maintained by it (often in a binary format) is a huge and expensive task. Further, it is often the case that when a re-write is attempted, some data will get corrupted during the tranlsation phase, and some bugs will appear during use that were dealt with in the DOS version. Quite often it is impossible to wholly re-create the original piece of software.
Thus, due to the enormous expensive, loss of time (which itself is expensive) and risk of data-corruption, a lot of businesses simply cannot afford to ditch this old software. In the past, this has meant keeping certain machines running the likes of Windows 98 to keep them running. Now that this is out, they can run these programs on FreeDOS on the host OS of their choice.
Here is a simple example: in 1992 you could buy some advanced, DOS matching software called Automatch for about $5,000. Automatch was subsequently went public as Verity, was bought out by Ascential who in turn were recently bought out by IBM, who sell a product based on Automatch (the Integrity XE suite) for about $80,000, with mandatory support payments of $10,000 a year. Very little has been made in the way of improvements in the core matching algorithms in that time, but it works on Win32.
Which would you do: download FreeDOS, or invest $150,000 over the next five years on Integrity XE.
Edited 2006-09-04 15:02
2006-09-04 4:33 pmGryzor
Please tell me a few. I am curious. Also please chose the ones for which there is no modern alternative.
Sure, although I don’t see why I have to exclude those who have no “modern alternative”. That’s simply not fair. It’s like trying to convince a writter who uses a Mechanical Typing Machine that he’s wrong, because “there are modern alternatives”. You have no power to decide anything, you just want to know how many business rely on DOS? Ok… let me name you a few…
a) Supermercados Estrella: Spain. The Cash Registers are quite old, they run a software under DOS. They must’ve been modern when they brought ’em (that’s how they look).
b) Dozens of Bars/Restaurants across Madrid have DOS and some sort of Clipper software to handle the business. If you visit Madrid, I can show you at least 4. (One of them runs it under Windows 2000, altough the software is DOS based).
c) AENA Barajas Intl’ Airport: The old Terminal 1, runs (although the new terminal 4 uses W2k/XP) a Novell Network (i’ve seen it booting quite a few times) to display Timetables for arrivals/departures. I’ve seen PC-DOS booting there.
d) Airbus A340: The big airbus uses Caldera DR-DOS for its internal GPS software (me->pilot). It crashes from time to time, so you have to reboot the whole thing (don’t worry, it has nothing to do with the aircraft flying systems)
e) CEPSA Gas Station: Although these are being replaced as we speak, it was very easy to see the old DOS terminals controlling the Fuel flow… the screen colors were UGLY (brown/black). DOS Developers had to really make magic with the limited amount of colors…
f) A *LOT* of DrugStores are using DOS software (at least in Spain, and I’ve seen one Commodore 128 when I was in vacations in Argentina!!!). They have Epson LX-810 Printers (Dot Matrix). Quite fast. Quite Stable.
g) And since I work with dentists now… let me tell you that I’ve seen dozens of practice software for dentists written for DOS (mostly clipper, clarion, cobol, etc.) MANY of these doctors are still using them, and their nurses are so used to it, that our modern/windows/.NET/sexy looking/full featured/touchscreen/tabletPC capable/SQL Server backed C# application, doesn’t look like a good solution to these people.
I could go on… I have more examples for you.
In the real world, changes are NOT always welcomed.
If it works, don’t fix it(tm)
And if you are going to change it, you better have an alternative to work in parallel with the new solution while testing the new scenario.
DOS is and will be used for many years to come. Heck BBVA in spain still uses LAN Manager and OS/2 (altough they have a T3270 emulator now and run the new Compaq Workstations with Windows XP, and the legacy OS/2 app within)
So you see… DOS is not dead.
Now, what do *you* produce with your time that’s better than FreeDOS?
2006-09-04 2:52 pmprotagonist
There are still a lot of maintenance activities that are best done from a command line, be it DOS or a console. And a lot of recovery items can only be run from the above mentioned. Aren’t you really saying they should be working on things more relevant to you?
Anyway, there are many of us out here who are thankful that some very talented people are working on these vital projects. To quote from the only Tom Cruise movie I really liked: “What could be more necessary”…
This is an example of why open source projects and free software in general isn’t adopted on mass by businesses.
Who’s going to wait 12 years to use something they could have straight away (when it was actually being used by people) just by paying MS some dosh.
What’s the point? Who’s using dos now after 12 years? By the time they get to version 2 we’ll have voice controlled computers like in Star Trek… there won’t even be a keyboard to type the dumb commands with.
Edited 2006-09-04 09:20
2006-09-04 10:08 amdimosd
Hmmm… vote. How long do you think it will be until we have Haiku 1.0? 12 years perhaps? How about ReactOS? How relevant they will be by then?
Yeah, just a troll. Sorry, I’m in a bad mood today. It’s a shame you need tons of cash to see good progress (even) in an OSS project, nowadays.
2006-09-04 4:24 pmSphinx
Sad but still true, time is money.
2006-09-04 10:10 ammkools
I guess the developers of FreeDOS have enough reasons to start such a project and continue working on it and that should be enough to justify it’s existence.
2006-09-04 10:23 amincubii
i use FreeDOS still for my media center. FreeDOS + MPXPLAY and QuickView Pro. yeah baby!
2006-09-04 10:39 ampecisk
There is TONS of legacy apps which are still DOS-based. FreeDOS + DOSEMU is very serious combo for migration stuff, but not only – it is nearly impossible to “tweak” DOS stuff witch comes with Windows XP to get some acient app going. FreeDOS comes here to rescue.
So actually 1.0 is meant stable, but in this case it is meant not only stable, but feature complete. FreeDOS has been stable for YEARS and lot of business run on it.
2006-09-04 11:50 amCoxy
“and lot of business run on it.”
Name one… a serious one, one that’s likely to get the world talking about FreeDos, not a diy shop in your village that only uses dos because they never made enough money to update their computers.
I’m sure the BT’s and AT&T’s of this world can’t wait to get their hands on this… now all those 286’s they’ve been keeping underwraps waiting for this day can finally get polished and switched on…
12 Years…. I say again 12 years… maybe it’s a spelling mistake? It must be v0.1. We can’t seriously expect them to have reached version 1 in just 12 years – that’s crazy. Who have they got as programmers? The same people coding Duke Nukem Forever?
Edited 2006-09-04 11:51
2006-09-04 12:02 pmSparrowhawk
“Name one… a serious one, one that’s likely to get the world talking about FreeDos, not a diy shop in your village that only uses dos because they never made enough money to update their computers. ”
I’m guessing that he meant DOS full stop, rather than FreeDOS. DOS generally speaking is still in use, I come across it from time to time (about twice a year). Usually some legacy app that is undocumented, unsupported but is fairly critical to a business process has kept the app in place.
As an example, last year I did some work at two seperate financial institutions here in the UK. One was using some DOS-based Pascal and Dbase programs which needed converting to VB, another was running a critical actuarial application written in, I think APL (or whatever the programming language made up of symbols is called?). The latter could not be converted as to do so would be to risk introducing an error which would have caused untold reputational and financial issues.
Projects like FreeDOS allow people such as myself to run a solid DOS in emulation, to try out what-ifs when looking at migrating apps and data.
Plus just the sheer technical prowess of the FreeDOS team is to be applauded.
2006-09-04 12:38 pmTechGeek
OK. GKN. Its a powdered metal company. They have a lot of older machines that cost millions of dollars to buy, which are old and run a dos based interface. No your not going to see a lot of use in modern companies. But there are still thousands of companies that have older production and engineering machinery that all run through dos. Whether its for control, calibration, diagnostics, or what, DOS is still out there in more places than you might think.
2006-09-04 2:40 pmebasconp
Come on dude!!!
It is easy criticize when you’re not walking on other’s shoes!! Respect the work of these devs and if you are not going to use it, ignore it but do not criticize it.
2006-09-04 3:00 pmprotagonist
OK, how about every business running Windows today. In case you don’t know it they are all built on top of DOS. All the DOS commands still work on any Windows machine I have seen to date and you can boot to a command prompt to use them. Want a true image of your HD? the only way to get an exact copy of your HD is from a DOS prompt. So I think the project is highly relevant in todays world.
2006-09-04 3:04 pmprogster
that’s simply not true, nt based operating systems have nothing to do with DOS.
Edited 2006-09-04 15:06
2006-09-04 5:30 pmhelf
uh, no? Windows hasn’t had a ‘DOS base’ since windows ME. Why do people still spread this around?
2006-09-04 9:44 pmprotagonist
Perhaps because it still uses io.sys and msdos.sys to boot up? Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t still there.
2006-09-05 12:54 amNiceGuyEddie
No, modern day MS Windows derivatives do not use these files. If you check your system, they probably have zero length…if not then you probably have a dual boot system with Win 98 (which does use them),
An XP boot disk needs to contain only the following files:
2006-09-05 2:25 amsiki_miki
Windows 9x (9,98,ME) were built on windows, but NOT 2000, XP,2003, Vista…thex just provide DOS virtualisation and emulation layer (a fairly buggy and incomplete one). Yes, drive naming, commands and even many filenames are DOS legacy.
2006-09-04 3:21 pmDon T. Bothers
Just because you don’t find a use for it doesn’t make it useless. Maybe you weren’t around during the golden age of PCs but people who were appreciate it a lot. Some people actually loved DOS, learning to hack the autoexec.bat files. Some people remember the joy of learning the difference between extended and expanded memory and getting better graphics in Wing Commander 1 and 2. Some remember the nice friendly blue screen of Word Perfect. Maybe you never played The Secret of Monkey Island, Populous, Centurion, King’s Quest, or Space Quest but people who did, appreciate the existence of a modern DOS that allows you to go back and play the best games ever made. For you, the advent of gaming probably started with Madden 2001 and Quake 3 Arena, but for those who started back in the 80’s, we understand the value of DOS and the revolution it caused.
2006-09-04 7:38 pmCoxy
Yes and some people don’t, like me. I played Monkey Island, etc., and your not the only one who’s gaming experience started in the 80’s…
If you liked the 80’s computers so much give me your current computer and I’ll give you a 486 I’ve got in my loft.
2006-09-04 7:38 pmn0xx
MSI uses FreeDOS to host they’re bios updater since that’s the only way to do it on some older MBs. They’ve used it successfully for some time… 6 years at least.
Yup, 12 years is a lot of time. You should however keep in mind that it took MS 15 years to develop they’re own implementation of DOS that, as I’m sure you know, was bought from some guy in Seattle, was originally named QDOS and was already functional. Also note that the final stand alone version of MS-DOS (6.22) had less features than FreeDOS. OSS has not only beaten MS timeframe by two years, it has also achieved better results.
Know your facts.
Edited 2006-09-04 19:41
2006-09-04 7:47 pmCoxy
Those aren’t facts.
Better results? And faster? Have the makers of FreeDos developed the largest software company in existance? Better results my arse. Less time? MS finished their product years ago!!! lol
2006-09-04 9:08 pmn0xx
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MSDOS :
“MS-DOS began as QDOS (for Quick and Dirty Operating System), written by Tim Paterson for computer manufacturer Seattle Computer Products (SCP) in 1980.”
“Latest stable release: 8.0 / September 14, 2000”
Ok, so it wasn’t not 15 years, it was 20. FreeDOS had fewer developers and no corporate backend and they still managed to produce something that’s not as good, it’s better than MS-DOS out of the “box”! Why?
From the freedos.org “About” section @ http://www.freedos.org/freedos/about/ :
“Easy multiboot with Win95-2003 and NT/XP/ME
FAT32 file system and large disk support (LBA)
LFN support (with several tools, and FreeCOM (COMMAND.COM).)
LBACACHE – disk cache (harddisks in CHS and LBA mode, diskette)
Memory Managers: HIMEM, EMM386, UMBPCI
SHSUCDX (MSCDEX replacement) and CD-ROM driver (XCDROM)
CUTEMOUSE – Mouse driver with scroll wheel support
FDAPM – APM info/control/suspend/poweroff, ACPI throttle, HLT energy saving…
XDMA – UDMA driver for DOS: up to 4 harddisks
MPXPLAY – media player for mp3, ogg, wmv… with built-in AC97 and SB16 drivers
7ZIP, INFO-ZIP zip & unzip… – modern archivers are available for DOS
EDIT / SETEDIT – multi window text editors
HTMLHELP – help viewer, can read help directly from a zip file
PG – powerful text viewer (similar to V. D. Buerg’s LIST)
many text mode programs ported from Linux thanks to DJGPP
GRAPHICS – greyscale hardcopy on ESC/P, HP PCL and PostScript printers
And as if that wasn’t enough, theres’s still FreeDOS 32. http://freedos-32.sourceforge.net .
Freedos: Not your father’s old DOS.
Edited 2006-09-04 21:10
2006-09-04 11:38 pmAnonymous Coward
I used to install cash registers for a little while. There are still a lot that use DOS. I also worked at a HESS Gas station…and can you guess what the Point of Sale systems ran? DOS.
There are a few real world applications for you.
2006-09-05 8:10 amdjohnston
“This is an example of why open source projects and free software in general isn’t adopted on mass by businesses.”
If you’ve ever bought a Dell with Windows pre-loaded on the hard drive and investigated the partitioning of the drive, you’d see the first partition (for diagnostics) has a bootable version of…(wait for it)…FreeDOS.
2006-09-05 8:15 amSoulbender
“What’s the point?”
The point is to not being a whining, inflammatory retard trying to tell other people what they should do with their time.
“Who’s using dos now after 12 years?”
Embedded systems, among others. The world of computing is vastly larger than your Windows desktop.
2006-09-05 6:14 pmCoxy
You mean like you just did in your post, d!ckhead
Till this lets me play all my old, incompatible games on any Mac, Linux or Windows PC with no slowdown thanks to modern virtualization!
No more Bochs, DosBox or VMWare slowing things down!
Just waiting for it to happen, the pieces are all in place…
FreeDOS is a GUN General Public License OS. It is open source software that is also free. The project website states FreeDOS has three main uses:
1. To run old DOS games (like DOOM, etc.)
2. To run old bus. software that only supports DOS
3. To support an embedded DOS system, such as a computerized cash register or till
They go on to say: “You can run FreeDOS on pretty much anything. While can run FreeDOS on a dedicated PC, now it’s most often run inside a PC emulator. You can find PC emulators for all computer platforms (Windows, Linux, Mac.) If you are new to DOS, we recommend you use an emulator to install and boot FreeDOS.”
FreeDOS can run on old slow computers with low memory that are not capable of running Linux or Windows. It can be used with Arachne web-browser. Various current DOS software development is highlighted on pages such as the Interesting DOS Programs page:
That’s by Dev Teelucksingh of the Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society.
There has been no free DOS OS until now, at least not one without licensing or other legal caveats. This represents a real milestone and IMO the FreeDOS team deserves great credit and appreciation from those who value another choice of free OS.
2006-09-04 11:48 pmRonald Vos
There has been no free DOS OS until now, at least not one without licensing or other legal caveats.
What about Caldera OpenDOS 7.01 then? It doesn’t seem to be well-known, and it’s not entirely libre, but it’s free to be modified and used for non-commercial purposes. There’s been a number of enhancements available, and it’s reportedly more compatible to MS-DOS than FreeDOS.
2006-09-05 12:55 ammadcrow
The inability to use it for commerical purposes kinda puts the kabosh on using OpenDOS for POS in a store or any other “DOS stronghold” activity. It may be good enough for playing Commander Keen (or even Quake 1) on, but in a commercial environment (99% of the DOS-using environemnts today) OpenDOS loses to FreeDOS if only because FreeDOS is free.
2006-09-05 10:15 amAndroid Fan
Ronald Vos says “What about Caldera OpenDOS 7.01 then? It doesn’t seem to be well-known, and it’s not entirely libre, but it’s free to be modified and used for non-commercial purposes. There’s been a number of enhancements available, and it’s reportedly more compatible to MS-DOS than FreeDOS.”
Nothing against OpenDOS, however I would need more than an unsourced Wikipedia assertion “more compatible to MS-DOS” before I accept that OpenDOS runs more DOS programs, which I suppose that assertion implies. And you said it, OpenDOS is not entirely free. That’s one great thing about FreeDOS. For an example, perhaps a FreeDOS distro could be prepared ala a Linux distro. This would include things like a desktop environment or web-browser or word processor and so on. It’s unclear whether you could do that with OpenDOS. I was going to say there is also DR-DOS and other semi-free DOSs that are worthwhile, but I see that OpenDOS is DR-DOS. There’s a bit of split personality there because I don’t think Caldera or Lineo or whoever it is now has dropped DR-DOS, even though this fellow Udo Kuhnt is doing OpenDOS. FreeDOS frees users from this wondering and doubt by being an “actual free DOS” as opposed to a “sort of free DOS.” Totalmente libre!
awesome!I need to downlolad this today. freedos was the only dos I could get to boot on my 286 that I use as a serial terminal. 12mhz 286 +640kb of ram running freedos and kermit off a 720kb floppy good times!
dude, f–k off. troll.
Browser: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 4.01; Windows NT Windows CE)
2006-09-05 3:25 amCoxy
P!ßß Off yourself.
I know this flies in the face of OSS, but who doesn’t have a copy of MSDOS 5 or 6.xx these days? That’s one piece of Microsoft software that everybody pretty much bought at one point?
2006-09-04 1:11 pmtwenex
I don’t have it.
2006-09-04 4:25 pmSphinx
I’m sure they still have it at Fry’s but the box has been opened.
2006-09-04 4:38 pmGryzor
I have MS-DOS 6.0 and the upgrades to 6.22 (strange number!)
But I also have OS/2 2.11, Warp 3.0 and Merlin 4.0
My 1st “unix” was XENIX (which I had installed on my 286 with 2048 MB ram).
I remember seeing a Cobol program being compiled on Term 1 and using the editor on another terminal, it was SOOO cool
Under DOS you *could* try to do the same with DeskView.
While it is just now reaching “official” 1.0 status, FreeDOS has been quite usable as a DOS replacement for years now. I remember using close to 8 years ago on an old 386 and it worked fine.
We use Freedos in rebuilding of Linux and Windows based systems. We currently use Ghost which won’t run on anything but DOS and since budgets are tight, we have to improvise.
Seriously though, we use DOS in alot of our diagnostic tools and to help revive old PC based systems. We also use it as a base to help clean PC’s from Viruses and Spyware.
I’m glad to see freedos finally at 1.0 status. This is great work and they should be continued.
Let’s not forget one great use for Dos. Bios updates! Not all computers support flashing from WinFlash (in fact, I think I need to make myself a freedos boot disk so that I can properly flash my motherboard’s bios, it still has some bugs in it that were supposedly fixed in the newer bios version, even after flashing).
Congratulations on a job well done, FreeDos team!
“It is easy criticize when you’re not walking on others shoes!! Respect the work of these devs and if you are not going to use it, ignore it but do not criticize it.”
I have found people who criticize often are the ones with bitter hearts and near zero talent.
Edited 2006-09-04 15:04
2006-09-04 7:52 pmCoxy
Yes, like you yourself and the person who made the post you quoted. You’ve both been criticising me.
Here’s a heart for you since yours is so bitter. NB: See my creative talent! 😉
Edited 2006-09-04 19:53
2006-09-04 8:19 pmaGNUstic
Le réalité et toi, vous ne vous entendez pas, n’est-ce pas?
Another example where this could be used are colleges and schools. Normally in the third world, schools and colleges don’t have a myriad of shiny new Mac systems. But you need to learn to program
Pascal is an excellent tool to learn the basics. Install FeeDOS and FreePascal (http://www.freepascal.org/) and you have a programming learning machine for free
I just downloaded and installed this operating system and all I can say is FREAKING AWESOME.
I could see this extending support for old applications and being a nice addition to embedded developers arsenal (not every device needs a multi-tasking operating system)
Great job guys! I’m impressed, truly impressed with this software.
This is great if it means I can run Wing Commander Privateer. But seriously though, even if there are a handfull of companies still using DOS, what reason would there be for them to switch to FreeDOS at this point? Obviously, the DOS they have has worked fine this long, even though it already hasn’t been supported for years, and any switch will cause problems.
Congratulations to the FreeDOS project and all those involved in bringing it to 1.0 release.
think the 1.0 version number was a bit rushed.
kidding, kidding =)
Congratulations on this release! Clearly you all have put plenty of time into this, and hopefully you will have the same motivation in the future!
Ah, back to the glory days of DOS computing. Great work. I’ve used freedos before and it’s great.
This makes me wanna strike up another game of commander keen….