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posted by Fnord666 on Friday December 09 2016, @02:32PM   Printer-friendly
from the retro dept.

Via FOSS Force, the founder and coordinator of the FreeDOS Project writes about FreeDOS 1.2:

Tim Norman wrote our first command interpreter to replace COMMAND.COM from standard DOS. Soon after, Pat Villani contributed his DOS-compatible kernel, which others later improved to add networking and CD-ROM support. We released our first "Alpha" distribution in only a few months, in September 1994. From this small beginning grew FreeDOS, an open source implementation of DOS that anyone could use.

We released several alpha versions over the next four years, then posted our first beta in 1998. By this time, Microsoft had all but eliminated MS-DOS, so FreeDOS didn't have to chase a moving target and shifting compatibility with new MS-DOS versions.

[...] We posted the FreeDOS 1.0 distribution on September 3, 2006, and released FreeDOS 1.1 over five years later, on January 2, 2012.

[...] Big-name computer vendors like Dell and HP shipped it as a default operating system on some PC desktops and laptops. Even today, you can find popular manufacturers pre-installing FreeDOS on some computers. But the story doesn't end there. Soon, we'll have a whole new version of FreeDOS--and I'd like to tell you about it.

[...] The Utilities package group includes several new useful tools. For those who use FreeDOS to play classic DOS games, we provide SLOWDOWN to let you run certain older games on a fast CPU. We provide several image processing programs such as GIFSICLE and PNGCRUSH. If you wish for a more Unix-like environment, we also include several familiar commands such as SED, GREP, HEAD, TEE, and BC.

[...] One major change is the inclusion of a new Games package group. We've avoided games in previous FreeDOS distributions, but since so many people prefer FreeDOS to play their favorite classic DOS games, it seemed a good idea to include a variety of open source games from different genres.

[...] The official FreeDOS 1.2 distribution will be available on Sunday, December 25, 2016.

In the comments there, someone mentions the popularity of FreeDOS for doing firmware updates. (It always seemed crazy to me to be running a multitasking OS when doing something that has the potential to brick your box.)
Any Soylentils using FreeDOS for that or something other than that?

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 09 2016, @03:22PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 09 2016, @03:22PM (#439182)

    In the past 6 months, thank you Jim Hall, Tim Norman, Pat Villani and all other assorted FreeDOS contributors, your work is still useful today, provides a comprehensive set of features allowing all sorts of fun computing, networking, and retrogaming, and helped me fire up and diagnose issues with BBS software that couldn't be diagnosed in a virtual environment.

    I haven't had the space to play with it again recently, but FreeDOS allowed me to run native DOS Terminal apps, and Bulletin Boards with real hardware and real modems (with linux, asterisk, and a couple FXS VOIP adapters creating a usable PBX/phone network!) I spent a number of hours enjoying reminiscing about the pre-internet past, and polishing up skills I haven't used in almost a decade.

    Furthermore, having returned to DOS, it showed me, just how much productivity can still be gained using older software and hardware, sometimes even more than can be recieved today due to excessive features and/or code bloat. Latency on DOS cursors tends to be consistent, unlike modern systems where it can range from instantaneous to a few seconds of lag. And quite a bit less lost keyboard input, unless you've getting 'out of buffer' beeping from dos to let you know things aren't being stored.

  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Tara Li on Friday December 09 2016, @04:08PM

    by Tara Li (6248) on Friday December 09 2016, @04:08PM (#439209)

    Consider - FreeDOS, and Lotus 1-2-3. This is (at least in theory) going to fit in the L2 cache of a modern CPU. And Lotus 1-2-3 could handle some pretty damned big spreadsheets, especially with XMS/EMS support. Delays? What delays?

    Of course, I doubt you could get a modern machine to actually boot directly into FreeDOS. Still....

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 09 2016, @04:25PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 09 2016, @04:25PM (#439220)

      Of course, I doubt you could get a modern machine to actually boot directly into FreeDOS. Still....

      Sure you can - that's part of the point! It runs on old systems, but it also runs on new processors. Some companies still use it for firmware upgrades.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by frojack on Friday December 09 2016, @07:13PM

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Friday December 09 2016, @07:13PM (#439334) Journal

      I doubt you could get a modern machine to actually boot directly into FreeDOS.

      If by modern, you mean any UEFI computer, you would be right, [] as least as it comes directly from FreeDos.

      However, there are other implementations such as Rufus [] that will let you build a bootable FreeDos thumb drive by supplying their own signed shim. There were other methods [] as well that required a bunch of manual steps.

      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 10 2016, @12:00AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 10 2016, @12:00AM (#439495)

        FTFL (Link):
        many new (2010 and later) computers boot using UEFI, which is not compatible with BIOS

        In distro help forums, I have seen folks recommending tweaking CMOS Setup to specify Legacy BIOS mode as a workaround.

        Is this that uncommon an option??
        Does anyone have a broad enough exposure to enough varied equipment to put a percentage on this?

        -- OriginalOwner_ []