> FreeDOS is "only" 16bit
Of course that only refers to address space (max 1.1 MB)
and not to computation width. Your software can do any
calculations with 32, 64, 80 or 128 bits that it likes,
using 386+ registers or the FPU but not 64bit long mode.
> I was wondering what would it take to upgrade FreeDOS to 32bit,
> whether it would be worth and whether we would have the human
That is the question which also inspired FD32. Basically
because you want to run DOS software after all, that is
a DOS where the kernel already runs in a 32 bit address
space in protected mode and directly offers DOS extender
services. This gives you SLIGHTLY better performance in
comparison to normal DOS where both a separate DOS ext.
and your 32 bit address space software have to run in a
protected mode task separate to a 16 bit "virtual 8086"
task for the kernel. The latter is a misleading name as
8086 only refers to address space and the normal FreeDOS
kernel still uses 32 bit registers without problems :-)
> would be the pros, cons, in actual terms *for FreeDOS users*?
Basically it is a lot of work compared to using classic
DOS kernels (e.g. FreeDOS) and a separate DOS extender
(e.g. CWSDPMI, DOS32A, DPMIONE, or less-open DOS4GW...)
while it only has a small effect on your app performance.
> Having said this, could we have tangible benefits from a 32bit
Note that you could also understand the question in a
slightly different way - what if somebody took DOS and
made a 32 bit OS which has no ability to run DOS apps.
It would just "feel" DOS-ish to program for that 32 bit
OS due to the origins of the OS. Also, it would be some
extra work to have a compiler / C library in the new OS
(e.g. port or write one) and again it would give better
performance, slightly. In difference to FD32, you could
do things not possible at all with a DOS extender, e.g.
transfer larger parts of files in a single OS call...
> By the way, there once was a FreeDOS-32 project being developed.
Yes. But only very few people seem to work on it and,
in my opinion, the gain compared to a classic DOS is
too small to be much motivation to tweak on FD32. So
it might be more a fascinating idea rather than some
breakthough that DOS users were waiting for all those
years without knowing it :-)
But then, people of all times write software based on
fascinating ideas... For example libraries for raw I/O
based filesystem access, not even using DOS, sometimes
even for filesystems they invented, with no other user
anywhere in the world. Programming can be just fun :)
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