Hi Theresa,

> Is there a screen shot of FreeDos?

DOS itself has very boring looks. But you can install e.g.
OpenGEM, SEAL or Desktop2 on it, and then the it will look,
of course, like OpenGEM, SEAL or Desktop2. All those need DOS
as the operating system under the hood, and FreeDOS is a DOS.

I made a quick screenshot anyway:
http://www.coli.uni-sb.de/~eric/freedos-boot.png

What you see on this image is various messages from drivers, telling
you that they loaded okay at boot time,
a prompt whether I want some "lredir" driver to run, and finally
the classic "C:\>" prompt which tells me that I can now type commands.
If it feels familiar, fine. If not, then you will probably want to
enter just a single command: Start the graphical user interface of your
choice and stay in there, so you do not have to see the text screen...

The screen shot was taken inside DOSEMU, which is a virtual PC (running
in a window in Linux in this case) in which I have installed FreeDOS.
Without that, FreeDOS would just run full screen, not in a window.

> I am new to programming but very interested in giving it a shot...

You do not have to do "programming" to use DOS. But unless you use a GUI,
everything in DOS is controlled by the keyboard, not the mouse.

> but a little timid about disabling my laptop.

If you install FreeDOS from CD-ROM, it should automatically create a
boot menu which allows you to select between Win95 and FreeDOS each
time when you start the laptop (I assume that your Win95 is still working
okay, otherwise there would of course be no Win95 menu entry needed).

> How do I find the necessary drivers?

You do not need drivers for keyboard and display, and the default mouse
driver of FreeDOS works with many common mouse types. You do not need
drivers for harddisk or diskette either. For everything else, you would
have to tell us what hardware exactly you have, then we can tell you
which drivers we can recommend.

> > Some people just snag the files off another old
> > computer and copy them over, because it works. 
> > However, it robs the shareholders of Microsoft
> > Corporation by depriving an ebay vendor of a $10 sale,
> > and that's why it is illegal.

> FreeDos is legal, isn't it?

FreeDOS is completely free and legal, written by volunteers all over
the world. Even some of the GUIs are completely free and legal, while
others are not free. The above should tell you that many people do not
give a damn about copying MS Windows or MS Office from their neighbours,
but it is certainly illegal. There are various legal alternatives:
Use OpenOffice.org, which is free and legal, pay 100s of bucks for a
legal copy of MS Office, or buy it bundled with a new PC, in which case
it costs only a fraction of the normal price. Exactly the same happens
for Windows: As an alternative, you can use Linux, BeOS Zeta, FreeBSD or
any other free operating system (including FreeDOS), but you can also
buy it for quite some money, or buy it bundled with a new PC or at least
"piece of hardware". The bundled price for WinXP Home is around 100 Euros
as far as I remember.

In either case, WinXP and MS Office are far too "heavy" for your very
old laptop. So you can only use it with Win95 or at most Win98se. In
Germany, it is legal to sell 2nd hand copies of any Windows version,
as long as you REALLY sell it (give everything to the one who buys it,
and delete everything on your own PC: You must MOVE it to the new owner,
not COPY it...), but in other countries, it can happen that a Windows
license is glued to a human being or PC forever, even if the PC falls
apart into a pile of rusty dust. Anyway. You can buy 2nd hand copies of
Win95 for 20something and of Win98se for 40something $$. You wrote that
your laptop already has Win95 installed anyway. If you have a legal copy,
e.g. have the license certificate around, then you can probably ask MS to
send you a new CD-ROM if you have lost the original one. And, at least my
personal feeling tells me this, nobody would complain if you use the CD-
ROM of Win95 of somebody else to install drivers on the Win95 which you
already legally own, even if you no longer have the original CD-ROM.

I hope that answers some of your questions.

Eric.

PS: Please do make sure that you configure your EMail program to send
mail only as plain text. At the moment, you use HTML, which is pretty
"unstylish" for mailing lists / not nice and easy to read.



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