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Open Source Operating Systems News

FreeDOS 1.1 Released 266

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the we-don't-need-no-memory-protection dept.
MrSeb writes with this excerpt from an Extreme Tech article about the latest FreeDOS release and a bit of project history: "Some 17 years after its first release in 1994, and more than five years since 1.0, FreeDOS 1.1 is now available to download. The history of FreeDOS stems back to the summer of 1994 when Microsoft announced that MS-DOS as a separate product would no longer be supported. It would live on as part of Windows 95, 98, and (ugh!) Me, but for Jim Hall that wasn't enough, and so public domain (PD) DOS was born. ... Despite what you might think, FreeDOS isn't an 'old' OS; it's actually quite usable. FreeDOS supports FAT32, UDMA for hard drives and DVD drives, and it even has antivirus and BitTorrent clients." The official release announcement has more details on the improvements, and the FreeDOS website has the release for download.
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FreeDOS 1.1 Released

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  • by j-pimp (177072) <zippy1981.gmail@com> on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @01:51PM (#38586752) Homepage Journal

    I mean seriously, how am I going to use it?

    Running old programs maybe?

    POS apps. Embedded apps. Yes all legacy stuff, but even in a VM, emulating UDMA and a DVD drive is useful.

  • by TopSpin (753) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @02:01PM (#38586884) Journal

    I actually used it extensively last November to develop an Option ROM BIOS extension. DOS is a convenient long real assembly code testing environment. Compile a COM program with NASM on Linux, use mtools to copy the output to the (live) VirtualBox FAT floppy image and execute in (Free)DOS.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @02:06PM (#38586952)

    I asked Dell to sell me a Vostro 200 ST with FreeDos instead of Windows and avoided paying for an OS I wasn't going to use [johnbokma.com].

  • by blind biker (1066130) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @02:15PM (#38587072) Journal

    In our labs, we have a shit-ton of expensive analytical and other scientific equipment which is controlled by some DOS-based software. We have been installing FreeDOS on replacement computers, and are all deeply grateful for its existence.

  • by toriver (11308) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @03:11PM (#38587726)

    Run it in VirtualBox - I had better success running some old DOS games in that combo than in DosBox...

  • by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @03:17PM (#38587796)

    Nostalgia is a deceptive mistress. It tends to glorify things that weren't objectively good but carry sentimental feelings. You miss communicating directly with hardware and editing DOS startup files, but the DOS developers who had to support everybody's esoteric PC hardware sure don't. In fact, those days were a step back from the initial push in the 60s and early 70s toward higher-level abstraction that we've only now come back around to but took a detour from during the initial commoditization of low-end PC hardware. But you explained why you liked it--a sense of mastery that mentally justified the time investment.

  • by rubycodez (864176) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @03:21PM (#38587834)
    I love to make servers and appliances out of thin clients. But some of those thin clients refuse to boot GNU/Linux or BSD from native file system in external device, or in some cases from large (>2GB) partition. But they will boot GRUB in a FREEDOS partition.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @03:25PM (#38587868)

    All of these are better served by using a hand rolled linux.

    Not necessarily. I spent most of the last decade working on the Point-of-Sale system for a very large QSR (Quick Service Restaurant, i.e. "Fast Food"), and we had over 100,000 computers in the field, running MS-DOS. I *think* they were all at least 80386-based, but I do know that many of them had as little as 2 MB of RAM.

    I'm not aware of any version of Linux that would allow us to operate in that small a memory footprint.

    BTW, there are still hundreds (probably thousands) of stores still happily running the old, DOS-based system.

  • by CFBMoo1 (157453) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @03:25PM (#38587876) Homepage
    Would make an interesting combination for people who used to have old computers hooked up to TV sets for monitors like I did back in the day. Even though Raspberry Pi is using a few flavors of Linux, having a DOS option like that would be awesome in a retro kind of way.
  • by hawguy (1600213) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @04:25PM (#38588442)

    A) Sounds like you don't care that it's FreeDOS, it was just what you used because the vendor used it.

    It's true that I didn't care that it was FreeDOS, but I didn't use it because the vendor used it, I used it because the vendor gave me an EXE and said "Here, run this in DOS". I don't have easy access to a Windows machine to create a DOS boot disk (I don't even know if it's possible to do that these days?), I used FreeDOS.

    So even if I don't care that it's FreeDOS, I use it because it's Free and it's DOS compatible (thus runs the application I needed it for). Which seems a bit like telling a Mac fanatic "Sounds like you don't care that it's from Apple, you only use it because you like the GUI and applications that run on it."

    B) I'd like a better system anyway, for the whole process, but I've been wanting that for 20+ years anyway.

    And yes, I'd like a better system too, I have some newer hardware that has firmware updaters that actually run in Linux.

  • by dissy (172727) on Wednesday January 04, 2012 @10:38PM (#38591960)

    "- Turn-key and embedded hardware often use DOS

    All of these are better served by using a hand rolled linux. You can roll a linux kernel, FS and busybox that is smaller and far more capable.

    So wait, you mean my CNC machine, which uses a DOS program to talk to an ISA controller card to run the machine, would be better served on Linux somehow?

    How would you manage that exactly?
    Seriously, I would love to know. I spent a good 4 days researching this very subject. My very first thoughts were "How can I get this to run under Linux?"

    First, Linux won't even run DOS executable. Fail.
    Second, userspace apps such as DosBox can not modify system memory to communicate to ISA cards. Fail.

    Yes, this is a specific DOS program. Of course it shouldn't be expected to work anywhere else.
    But you did say ALL cases would be served better by Linux, so that includes the cases where you need to run a DOS exe that flips bits in memory to talk to hardware, and access to the exe source is not an option.

    When searching for a replacement computer for the failing Pentium 90 that controls the CNC, I spent quite some time attempting to find a way to run this on something more modern, IE something that could be easily and cheaply purchased.

    The best solution I was able to come up with for a modern computer (~2-3 years old now, but a year old at the time), was to run Linux with an ISA-to-USB converter chassis, connected to a virtual box session running FreeDOS.
    No matter how you want to twist that mess around, DOS is still the required component to which everything else there exists to support.

    There would be much less overhead to just put MSDOS directly on the newer machine, but of course that isn't really doable since none of the newer hardware is supported, and legally speaking one can't get a new license for MSDOS, which could cause problems if I was to prepare the same setup for similar machines at work.
    Especially so for work, I have to think about what might happen after I am gone (Be it move to greener pastures, or get hit by the proverbial bus)
    I can't stick them with a pirated MSDOS copy, and would prefer an easy source for replacement pieces.

    FreeDOS is the answer. It does support new hardware, and still runs the old executables.

    It's also worth noting that even for the second item on GPs list:

    Retro-computing: Some of us like dragging out our old hardware to play with it

    Not all games work under DosBox. Sure, a whole lot do, and no doubt they would want to add support for those non-working games. But for the games it does not support, you need DOS in some form.
    This also assumes that games are the only "retro" computer use you can think up, as dosbox is not good for much outside of that scope.

    I'll grant that learning to program closer to the metal would be better served elsewhere.
    Linux if using modern* hardware with more than "I just wanna" as a goal, or to teach fundamentals I would go with an 8 bit CPU that one human mind can fully understand all of.
    Personally I would choose the 6502 for that task, but there's nothing wrong with any of the older simple micros.

    * Modern meaning 15 years old or newer

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