Hi Michael,

> 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

I agree that a free Samba client would be nice. Note that there
already is a FTP client style client, which even is a DOS port
of the "smbclient" command line tool of Samba as far as I can
remember - so the porting in general is not the problem, but it
is (again) "multitasking" or at least running complex software
like a Samba client driver in the background of any DOS...

> modern network cards and release those under a GPL license.  Linux has

The crynwr driver collection for DOS is already GPL, but nobody
recently used that framework to port newer drivers, it seems?

Note that even a popular closed source Realtek 8139 driver has
some signs of being crynwr based even though I never saw the
sources of that driver published by anybody. A GPL violation?

> 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
> directly.

Exactly. You cannot make a DOS soundcard driver for any new
card simply because DOS never had any widespread soundcard
driver at all. It was always the games which had the drivers
as a fixed part inside the game, so you cannot update them.

Otherwise, sending sound to modern soundcards actually is a
thing that modern DOS software already can do. Examples are
AC97 DOSSOUND on www.georgpotthast.de/computer/cindex.htm
and of course MPXPLAY which supports several AC97 chipsets.

> In the same sense that DOS is not a system that one wants to multitask
> Dosbox is a nice way to go, but Linux probably isn't the fastest host

No, Dosbox is a slow simulation of a PC with a simulated DOS.
If you want faster DOS, you can use Dosemu which lets a real
DOS (it comes with FreeDOS preinstalled) run on your real CPU
in a vm86 task, similar to how Windows would run DOS apps :-)

Also, Dosemu (and the more simulated alternatives Dosbox and
Bochs and Qemu etc) provide virtual hardware. This means you
can run a DOS game in Dosemu (etc) where it sees a virtual
soundblaster, but the real sound goes to your Linux drivers
which support any modern soundcard. AND you can even run many
Dosemu (...) windows at the same time, of course :-).

> system in the world.  Perhaps Freedos 32 needs to be revived
 > and a gui developed for it that can run Dosbox.

The HXRT extreme DOS extender already can pull that trick: It
can run simple Windows apps in DOS, and I think Dosbox was one
of the things that it can run. Of course Dosbox stays slow :-p

I doubt that it is useful to run a simulation of a 386 on a
CPU which actually still has 386 compatible hardware, even
if it is a quad core Phenom or Pentium. Running DOS on one
real core is still faster than using several cores to create
the illusion of an old 386 CPU from scratch.

> Why do modern operating systems abstract the hardware away?

Among other things, to avoid headache with drivers. See the
problem with sound drivers in DOS games described above ;-)

> 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.

Yes. DOS is not optimal to run GUIs, multitask, or get the most out
of modern hardware. On the other hand, DOS is very small, so if you
run for example a search for the best chess strategy in DOS, you get
lots of RAM and CPU power all for yourself while Windows and Linux
would always take some for background activities.

> 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.

Not necessarily - a virus can always get you if it runs before the
scanner, but not if the scanner runs first. Even FDSHIELD can be
enough to annoy / slow down all viruses which were not explicitly
made to hide from it. Same with Windows or Linux - once you have
a virus with cloaking or a rootkit, your nice scanners get a hard
time to see the virus, but if you can boot the scanner from clean
CD or DVD, even a Windows scanner is as useful as a Linux one ;-)

> I want to see a new release of Freedos with fewer bugs as much as the

Which bugs should be fixed first, in particular?

> 1) Interest in freedos will drop even further if a new release doesn't
> run on 386 and older computers.

I disagree - older than 386 are almost impossible to get by now.
Even the need for a CD drive to install is not so bad today, but
we should still keep possibilities with floppy, USB stick or even
network boot open. For floppy, I would simply use a SMALL floppy
distro of FreeDOS, not the full installer. If you cannot plug any
CD drive to your computer, it is unlikely that you want dozens of
megabytes of DOS stuff installed on it either.

> 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.

Exactly :-)

> 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.

Sorry but I do not see any point in that - those who insist on running
Windows 9x cannot exist without having a Win9x license which includes
a MS DOS 7 license automatically. Why should we waste time to clone all
functionality of MS DOS 7 if we do not also want to clone Windows? The
latter already has been done by ReactOS (and by Wine for Linux) even
for a newer version of Windows. By the way, there is now a sourceforge
project "kernelex" which tries to run Win XP apps on Win 9x systems :-)

> 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
> command prompt.

Again - why repeat all the work? You basically describe ReactOS here.

> 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.

Yes. There are lots of GNU programs available in DOS ports, mostly
DJGPP based but sometimes also OpenWatcom or similar...

> Freedos doesn't seem to work well on multiprocessor systems nor does
> Freedos support a lot of modern hardware well.  The support for modern

Well it works on a dual core for me :-) Do you have more details
about on which hardware it fails?


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