Hi Leke Lapinkangas (interesting name...),
> Is it possible to install Linux on FreeDos or vice versa?
> More importantly could I do it on my machine?
(Which is a 486dx25 with 12MB RAM and plain VGA)
A small / old Linux will run in acceptable ways on that kind
of PC, I assume. I myself had it running on a Pentium 100-something
class machine with 15 MB RAM and 1 MB onboard VGA, for example.
However, it will definitely be no big fun. In my case, it was a
kernel 2.2 based Linux with fvwm2 GUI. If you start a browser or
LaTeX or any office-ish thing in there, even 32 MB RAM are not
enough for pleasant speed. As Fox wrote, there are special Linux
versions with "light" kernel and libc, which are optimized for
low-memory situations and may even run on 8 MB systems (although
you may have to plug the disk to a bigger system for the initial
install and for more complex compile runs).
If you open a DOSEMU window on Linux, it will usually take 1-2
nonswappable MB and 10-15 MB of further RAM (or space on your
swapfile). Any EMS or XMS allocation inside the window will cause
DOSEMU to consume more RAM. It will probably not work at all on
your 486dx25 system. However, your 486dx has a cache and hardware
floating point support, and DOSEMU does not simulate the whole CPU,
only hardware like a VGA card and sound card. The latter would be
VERY slow on your system, but text mode programs would probably
run okay as long as DOSEMU can start at all.
You cannot run a Linux session in DOS at all. Actually in PTS-DOS
(as far as I remember), you "can", because PTS-DOS can store the
whole state of DOS somewhere, boot Linux, and then restore the
state of DOS when you leave Linux again. In FreeDOS, you can only
boot Linux from DOS and later reboot to start DOS again.
The best install for YOUR computer, if you have enough harddisk
space, is to have Linux and DOS on separate partitions and have
a boot menu like Lilo which lets you select either Linux or DOS
each time when you boot. Even on 12 MB, Linux can do some interesting
things which DOS cannot, but booting pure DOS on that system will
give quite good performance for most DOS programs and even some
grahpical user interfaces like OpenGEM, Desktop2 or SEAL (check the
freedos.org link page). If you own a copy of it, you can even run
Windows 3 (but not Windows for Workgroups yet) in standard mode on
FreeDOS. Many newer Win programs will insist on 386 mode or Win32s,
which do not work in FreeDOS yet, so your Win3 experience will be
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