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First post, by superformosa

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Dear Vogons,

I'm new here. Hello world!

The first game I ever played was 4x4 Off Road Racing on our family's first DOS computer, an IBM XT 286. My whole life I have dutifully made backups of my backups of my backups, and finally I've uploaded the contents of the original 5 1⁄4-inch floppy disk LINK REMOVED. I wish I could travel back to my 6-year old self and tell me that in the future people could play almost every DOS game in a DOSBox emulator running in their web browser.

So, the reason I'm here is to share a thing I've built: IA Launcher. It's a native DOSBox frontend for the Internet Archive that runs on Windows, macOS and Linux. It's free and open source software, and the source code contains 2967 Internet Archive URLs. When you select a game using the minimalist user interface it first downloads the ZIP file from the Internet Archive, extracts it, and then starts DOSBox with the correct arguments.

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Originally, I created IA Launcher for a games exhibition in the LocHal Library in Tilburg. The goal was to create a child-proof, full-screen, auto-playing collection of MS-DOS games. When you start the program using the command ialauncher --slideshow 10 it will act as a sort of screensaver, showing a random title screen every 10 seconds. I supplied the library with CRT displays and clicky keyboards and many kids had loads of fun with it! Here is a photo of IA Launcher running on two CRT monitors:

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It's just a simple side project (don't expect too much of it) but I hope it will be of interest to other Vogons. You can download IA Launcher on my website: ialauncher.created.today

Finally, I realize this post counts as self-promotion, so please accept my apologies if this sort of thing if frowned upon here.

Last edited by Stiletto on 2021-02-09, 18:27. Edited 5 times in total.

Reply 1 of 5, by Neville

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That's pretty cool.

I have a few requests and bug reports for your program:

1) The program only works if you have DOSBox v0.74-3 installed. Advanced users prefer SVN builds, with added features or not. You may prefer to stick to vanilla DOSBox, but I think an option to add your own path to DOSBox would be welcome.

2) Also, that version of DOSBox makes a pain to locate and edit your DOSBox.conf, you may want to create a shortcut in the program folder.

Last edited by Stiletto on 2021-02-09, 18:28. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 2 of 5, by superformosa

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Neville wrote on 2021-02-06, 17:04:

1) The program only works if you have DOSBox v0.74-3 installed. Advanced users prefer SVN builds, with added features or not. You may prefer to stick to vanilla DOSBox, but I think an option to add your own path to DOSBox would be welcome.

IA Launcher works with any version of DOSBox. It simply calls the dosbox command that's in your PATH. For a few games, however, it uses a custom DOSBox configuration file to get them to work using the -conf argument. Still, should be supported by any version of DOSBox.

Last edited by Stiletto on 2021-02-09, 18:29. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 3 of 5, by Neville

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superformosa wrote on 2021-02-06, 17:20:

IA Launcher works with any version of DOSBox. It simply calls the dosbox command that's in your PATH. For a few games, however, it uses a custom DOSBox configuration file to get them to work using the -conf argument.

I got a python error message on startup until I installed the last official release, v0.74-3 from the installer. As I said, I would have appreciated a dialog so I could point it to one of my several SVNs installations.

Last edited by Stiletto on 2021-02-09, 18:29. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 4 of 5, by superformosa

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Neville wrote on 2021-02-06, 17:34:

I got a python error message on startup until I installed the last official release, v0.74-3 from the installer. As I said, I would have appreciated a dialog so I could point it to one of my several SVNs installations.

Ah, I see now. You're right, if the dosbox command is not in your PATH, IA Launcher defaults to %ProgramFiles(x86)%\dosbox*\dosbox.exe on Windows. I've opened a Github issue and I will add a method to specify a custom path!

Reply 5 of 5, by DosFreak

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So we don't allow so called "abandonware" here. This launcher downloads so called "abandonware" games from the IA which is bad enough when these IA posts come up here.
When IA controls the DOSBox emulation and the files themselves it's easy to put the burden back on the source: exo, IA or wherever else the collection of games came from.
Now if you use a launcher to download the games and use the installed DOSBox then it obfuscates where the support lies. The key then is the game and the source of the game which is IA (but not really).
When the launcher is used IA has no control (except for when they modify or pull the content) and the content still resides on the user system.

So to be clear the burden of troubleshooting these games does not lie with vogons or the dosbox team.
I'm also worried about the security implications of someone modifying the files and/or URLs since a launcher used by potentially a lot of people is a nice target but hopefully IA has safeguards for that.

I'm thinking the post can possibly stay but:
Anything "abandonware" related will be removed.
Discussion of tech support of or fixing of the games will be removed.
Anyone using the launcher in requests for help with issues with games will be removed.
Links to so called "abandonware" games will be removed.

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