I think a compatible list is better. Also depends on which manufacturer and what kind of device the BIOS.
The BIOS is the first thing to check. All recent Dell servers and Optiplex desktops above GX270 can easily boot FreeDOS from a USB stick. Earlier Dell models can boot using a BIOS upgrade. The Dell BIOS not only has USB emulation but it even has F12 with a menu item to choose the boot device; hard drive, CD-ROM, USB memory stick. You can also choose if you want floppy emulation or "hard disk" emulation so it's very flexible.
Many makes of computer older than three years can NOT do this. Even if the BIOS has an option for "emulation", this sometimes is ONLY for mouse and keyboard!
After you've checked you're running a modern computer with USB bootable BIOS, one solution is to get a working FreeDOS floppy, load it into WinImage (even if you have to use it unregistered) then "write" the image to the USB device - at this point WinImage will "extend" the image so that it's no longer 1.44Mb. You can then add lots of new files, edit FDCONFIG.SYS etc. I've only ever tried this on a 16Mb memory stick and I'm pretty sure you end up with FAT12, but it certainly works. I never tried it on high capacity memory sticks and anyway it would be a bit silly as FreeDOS only needs a few KB.
Dell also have a utility for their Flash drives that will turn them into bootable "DOS" drive, but I think it uses Win98 boot sector and IO.SYS.
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