Hello there FreeDOS community,
I've been a FreeDOS user for 3 years so far, and I'd like to thank the 
developers for their effort and their amazing job.
The reason I first looked out for a free/open source version of DOS, was that, 
being a retrogamer, I had grown up tired of dosbox and wanted to have a real 
DOS system to run all my games and possibly, the old programs I owned back in 
the 90s when I was a child and had a pc with MS-DOS 5.0 atop of it (as well as, 
later on, another pc with Windows ME).  

Anyway, as clearly stated on FreeDOS home page, the purposes for ever 
installing it are in fact legacy softwares, dos-games, and embedded systems. 
I'm sure this comes from some sort of survey carried out among FreeDOS users. 
In light of that, I bet as well that the idea of making a "modern version" of a 
MS-DOS\Dr-DOS\CP/M-86 like system (maybe 32 bit, multitasking, real-mode, with 
modern software compatibility), was dropped after having seen what people 
really needed, which was a true old-school dos, running on newer hardware, 
being able to be burnt on a USB flash-drive and to be installed even without a 
floppy disk.
So, since there's plenty of good modern and even free OSes out there, the only 
reason for FreeDOS to be still developed is to one thing and do it well: to be 
a powerful DOS with many enhancements, an active community and a good support.  

I can confirm that, I would never exchange FreeDOS with MS-DOS, whereas there 
would be too many things I'd miss: starting from FAT32 support, passing through 
the FreedDOS additions (the drivers, jemm, wcd, shsucd*,xfdisk, ntfs, fdapm, 
nnansi, unzip, foxtype, devload, dos /32a, swsubst, and many others)to all the 
UNIX-like utilities (dosfsck, touch, tar, sleep, wget, du, lynx, the 
ports/repository system, clamav, the syslinux bootloader, freemacs, alpine, 

The reason that brought me about to start that thread is to discuss about 
another possible employment of FreeDOS: a pocket, portable system for everyday 
use; and that's mostly what I've been using it for in the latter year. I'm a 
Medicine student, and personally I like carrying my own system with me wherever 
I go, especially in case I decided not to brig my laptop with me. It's good to 
have all of your files on a USB bootable drive, so that you can boot in your 
operating system, with all the programs you feel comfortable with, a system you 
can feel free to mess with, without (mostly) worrying about the machine you're 
currently running it on (and that's all the more true with University's 
computers, libraries' and internet points' ones, computers of relatives and 
friends that contain important work and files). 
There are many other portable OSes available for that purpose on the Web, many 
of which I tried out throughout years: TinyCoreLinux, PicoBSD, DamnSmallLinux, 
PuppyLinux, KolibriOS, Minix and others. KolibriOS is in the best in terms of 
stability, system requirements, speed, boot time, space occupied (insanely 
small); however, it's a lone standing system, which means you have to accept it 
the way it is, with anything aside from the few softwares provided. Hence I'd 
say Tiny Core Linux is best, and it's the one I used almost always, if not for 
PicoBSD before it died out.

As I mentioned I recently started adopting FreeDOS as my portable OS. The 
reasons why I ended up choosing it include the possibility to bring my 
dos-games with me, the fact I'm really fond of FreeDOS, its reliability and 
speedy boot. I guess people who commonly use Windows, and don't feel 
comfortable with Unix/Gnu-Linux, and people who used to work with MS-DOS, would 
benefit from trying FreeDOS as a pocket system. On youtube videos talking about 
FreeDOS, FreeDOS reviews online, I saw many comments of people trying to use it 
as everyday OS. Many argued about the lack of good GUI and criticized the fact 
OpenGem was no more installed by default (it's a one minute work though). 
Others looked disappointed after failing at making their optical drive 
available (I had a similar problem with a sata drive,though I worked it out 
loading gcdrom.sys and setting Native IDE mode on bios; I guess for most of 
those people it is just a matter of switching between AHCI and IDE mode, and 
letting UDVD2 d
 o the rest of the job).  
Undoubtedly it would have been great if FreeDOS were a more modern, up to date, 
2017 reimplementation of DOS; however as we discussed above, this unlikely ever 
to happen, as if that's was the case, FreeDOS would lose  its very reason of 
development, and, nonetheless, as Eric Auer told me, its simplicity and 
retro-compatibility would be gone, alongside its speed. 

I think that using windows 3.1 or 3.11 in enhanced mode would be enough to make 
FreeDOS more user-friendly and more likely to be a very good choice when 
dealing with everyday task involving a computer (see below why). It's true that 
windows 3 is not freeware nor shareware, but it's arguably the most easy to 
find not freeware operating system (environment) on the web. You can find it 
everywhere and many people, like me, still own their own copy.  It is that old 
that I do not think microsoft would ever blame anyone for using it, but I recon 
as well that this is the most important con of making FreeDOS more compatible 
with it (would it be against FreeDOS policies?).
When I speak of making FreeDOS and Windows more compatible, I'm talking of 
allowing the user to run windows in enhanced mode. It's commonly known in fact 
that FreeDOS is unable to run win /3, since Windows would ask for Himem.sys and 
EMM386.exe to be loaded first, and those two not only are prorietary but fail 
to load on FreeDOS, because they recognize it as a "not correct MS-DOS version" 
(damn Microsoft). Unfortunately this is not an issue limited to Windows: I 
discovered that some softwares that require expanded memory (some games like 
Colonization, Master of Orion, some media programs like Quickviewer) only look 
for EMM386 and completely ignore another memory expander, resulting in 
JEMM386.exe and HIMEMX.exe to be useless in those cases. I imagine, but I could 
be wrong, that a large part of the current FreeDOS community doesn't even use 
JEMM386 because the Legacy software they need doesn't require expanded memory 
(perhaps that's untrue for embedded systems?) and they prefer, as op
 posite, not to load it and have the maximum conventional memory available for 
a better performance.  
Hopefully the only thing (maybe too hard?) to do is to make JEMM386 more 
retrocompatible with it predecessor EMM. 

Windows3 is a very good GUI for DOS (although sometimes I prefer GEM). It is 
highly customizable, multitasking, and I like its tile window manager stile and 
its file manager more than explorer and start button of the later windows 
releases. It has many interesting and useful programs inside, all written in 
the new executable format. It can use the Microsoft network client and the NDIS 
drivers (many are available still now, I use one for my broadcom 57xx, and 
e1000.dos for my intel card on a another, 1 year old, desktop), whereas all the 
browsers for DOS only look for a packet driver to be loaded (and this makes 
internet on FreeDOS less versatile, unless you buy a old external network 
Moreover, with the svga patch (available online on various sites), you can run 
it with 1024x768 resolution, 256 colors and small fonts, on any monitor 
supporting it (almost any), with no effort. As opposite any windows 9.x, if 
used as a portable OS, on any modern computer, would boot in 640x400, or 
something like that and 16 colors, due to the lack of a proper video card 
driver. Many linux distros as well lack a proper driver and fail sometimes to 
reach the display (sometimes the vesa driver does not work, sometimes they 
detect a wrong card and load a wrong driver, like the nouveau driver for the 
latest Nvidia cards). 
One would argue why someone would ever need windows 3 to run in enhanced mode 
on FreeDOS, here I say why I personally would:
- win32 extension allows the user to run early 32 bit applications. These 
include some win 95 programs, but, on top of all, the microsoft office 97 
freeviewer for windows 3. One major problem having to deal with DOS is reading 
doc files, and MS-WORD has a WORD97 compatibility option when saving the 
document (sadly not a Word6 compatibility option). It's true that you can 
export your doc (or odf or others) files as txt, with dos compatibility, but 
this trick applies only to English-speaking users; I need to read instead 
documents full of accented letters which are lost and replaced by symbols 
during the conversion from UTF-8 to ASCII. FreeDOS adds foxtype (thank you very 
much for this, it was really appreciated) which resolves the issue, but, as a 
text displayer, doesn't allow any modification of the file. 
- AbdobeReader 3, runs in enhanced mode, and is able to easily open pdf files 
if previously saved in legacy compatibility mode (one thing Adobe reader 1 
cannot do). This saves huge time if you really want to open the pdf in DOS 
(otherwise you would have had to convert each page to an image, or use dospdf, 
which automates the process, but is  just able to correctly show a file no 
longer than 9 pages).  
- Internet Explorer 5 and the java extension for windows 3 also need it to be 
run in enhanced mode. Internet explorer is faster, more user-friendly, 
better-looking than Arachne or Dillo, and above all, can rely on a ndis2 
- Many other useful software require enhanced mode: calmira project, media 
player 5, irfan view, winzip, catfish, winbench, totalcommander, visualbasic, 
and others
- There are many nice games designed for windows 3 and most of the run in 
enhanced mode by default: enhanced version of Civilization 1 for windows, 
enhanced version of Quake, GTA I, DarkSeeds 2, Chessmaster turbo 4000, Pirates, 
Blade oF Exile, Outpost, Warcraft 2

Hope those consideration are kind of help, I would be glad to hear others' 
opinions about any of the things I said and the experiences of other users who 
commonly use FreeDOS. It would be nice if there's anyone who tried to run 
windows 3 in enhanced mode. Finally I hope to hear the point of view of any 
developer, explaining why my proposition is whether a viable option or not.

I'll keep enjoying FreeDOS meanwhile, thanks again for your attention (I know 
it's a long mail)

Ps: if anyone plays at Supertuxkart on Linux, don't forget adding blinky among 
karts :)  

Paolo Vincenzo Olivo <p...@outlook.it>
Sent from Sylpheed
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