DOS is not a good candidate for multitasking. Why DOS can run in less
memory and with older hardware than NT style systems and Linux style
systems can, others who are more knowledgeable can comment on that.
Remember, QDOS was probably the first DOS where the acronym means,
quick and dirty operating system. DOS style systems do not have a
layer of abstraction between hardware and programs, thus compatibility
is difficult to maintain. I suppose DOS is faster than a typical modern
OS because of the reduction of layers between apps and hardware, but
this comes at a price.
I am not impressed with Freedos network support or printer support for
that matter. If someone could port CUPS to Freedos, that would be
really nice. As far as networking, someone should make a GPL clone of
Microsoft Client and possibly others should start making DOS drivers for
modern network cards and release those under a GPL license. Linux has
Freedos beat hands down for hardware support including sound card
support, but I suppose porting Linux drivers to Freedos could be very
difficult because Freedos doesn't protect the hardware the way Linux
does and because application programs typically try to run the hardware
In the same sense that DOS is not a system that one wants to multitask
on, DOS is also not a system that one wants to support multiple users on
because there is zero as in no file protection. DOS systems do not
support the concept of this file belongs to this user and that file
belongs to that user and so on.
Dosbox is a nice way to go, but Linux probably isn't the fastest host
system in the world. Perhaps Freedos 32 needs to be revived and a gui
developed for it that can run Dosbox.
I think the future for Freedos is seeing how much hardware power you
really need to emulate the typical PC of days gone by. Is a first
generation Pentium that is too slow now for Linux fast enough to
emulate the typical IBM PC and run Freedos? I say virtualization
and emulation are the future because it may be difficult or impossible
to drive modern hardware that DOS applications were not written for
in Freedos running natively. An emulator can translate calls for an
old sound blaster style card to drive a newer Intel integrated sound
system. Otherwise, I encourage people to check out games like Dirk
Dashing Secret Agent to get a taste of what can be done natively on a
Why do modern operating systems abstract the hardware away? Security,
maintainability, and easing the task of application programmers comes
to mind. A badly written program in control of the hardware is bad
news. If the hardware is protected though, processes that are out of
control can potentially be contained and controlled.
I think a discussion of why Microsoft abandoned DOS for NT is in order
before people go crazy about enhancing Freedos. DOS was never intended
to support multiple users and multiple processes let alone contain badly
written software. For those who like simplicity and want something
graphical, check out Syllable and help if you can.
At a certain point, one has to limit their expectations for Freedos or
else the system will disappoint. The point of Freedos is to be able to
use very old computers and run old software that predates Windows NT and
Linux. I would like to see a simple gui developed for Freedos that can
run Firefox, but even that is probably getting too far away from what
DOS and Freedos in particular are for.
A true DOS system has zero intelligence about the software being run.
Viruses etcetera are a serious problem in a DOS environment. Emulating
DOS with an emulator that catches bad code before that code has a chance
to execute is probably a doable thing.
I want to see a new release of Freedos with fewer bugs as much as the
next guy, but before that can happen I think a few things have to be
1) Interest in freedos will drop even further if a new release doesn't
run on 386 and older computers.
2) Freedos is not a multitasking OS or a true networking OS where trying
to make it one while ignoring other OSes that fit that description
better is going to be unpopular. The single task nature of Freedos can
be a strength.
3) Freedos needs to become Windows 9x compatible at some point or else a
different gui running on top of Freedos needs to be popularized. This
Windows 9x replacement needs to run on hardware as old as the late model
486. This gui needs to make more network cards and printers work on top
of Freedos than would typically work in a program called from the
4) As we get further and further away from the "good old days" where
everyone ran a commercial version of DOS, open source DOS software is
going to become more important and be legal to use. Popular closed
source software, even Wordperfect for Dos, won't be legal to use.
Closed source software with bugs, even simcity for DOS has bugs, isn't
really fixable. Simcity is a bad example because Micropolis is the open
source remake of it.
Freedos doesn't seem to work well on multiprocessor systems nor does
Freedos support a lot of modern hardware well. The support for modern
hardware issue can be solved by reviving Freedos 32 and emulating the
older hardware that the modern stuff is replacing. Memory protection
and memory management are doable on x86 computers where the IA32
architecture especially has hardware to assist with this. Computers are
becoming fast enough that hardware calls can be captured and translated
on the fly.
Download Intel® Parallel Studio Eval
Try the new software tools for yourself. Speed compiling, find bugs
proactively, and fine-tune applications for parallel performance.
See why Intel Parallel Studio got high marks during beta.
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