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Freedos 1.3

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First post, by Joakim

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Hey, I just watched Phil's video on freedos 1.3 that was recently released.

https://youtu.be/SNeq-F84Lx4

I haven't tried it myself but it seems quite capable and also compatible with games. I will install it in my pentium 1, windows 95 machine at some point.

Do you use freedos and what benefits does it have? Maybe networking or compatibility to newer technology is better in comparison to DOS 6.22 or 7.1?

Reply 1 of 24, by Joseph_Joestar

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I was pretty impressed by what I saw in Phil's video. Compatibility seems much better now. That said, it's unlikely that I will step away from MS-DOS 6.22 in favor of this, mostly because of nostalgia. But it's certainly nice to have an alternative available.

I can also see a use case for people who are selling retro rigs and want to have a free operating system installed. Maybe also add a few shareware/freeware games and utilities, so that the buyer can run some quick tests as soon as they receive the system.

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Reply 2 of 24, by AirIntake

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MS-DOS 6.22, 7.0, and 7.1 still have better compatibility. As an individual I don't see the need for Freedos. I think Freedos is more useful for retro developers that want to package their software along with an operating system to run it. They can't use MS-DOS for copyright reasons so Freedos fills that gap.

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Reply 3 of 24, by Joakim

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I am happy with dos 6.22 or 7.1 for fat32 and use windows 95 for easy file transfer on my DOS rig. I have never done any networking in DOS.

On very old computers that don't run windows it might be useful, I don't know, but I think 20 mb of minimum space might be a problem.

I want to love the idea of freedos but I too don't really see what gap it fills.

Reply 4 of 24, by BitWrangler

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Full install of 6.2 was about 5MB IIRC and you could just squeeze Win 3.1 into 20Mb. Otherwise you'd want 5MB each for wordperfect, lotus 123 or MS Works.

FreeDOS I think has a bunch of throw-ins bloating it out a bit, but I'm not exactly sure what. Docs are a bit sparse for something meant to be a full release, you have to go digging for what was new in each RC and version before it to sum it all up yourself.

Edit: IDK but it's giving me the "full on Linux support nightmare vibes" where you ask about something, get told to search it was asked a million times before, discover the only threads are people being told the same right back to an 0.8 version where you find out how it used to work 15 years ago, but doesn't now, then finally find the answer in a terse one line release note for a 5 year old alpha overnight build that nobody but devs ever installed.

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Reply 6 of 24, by Pierre32

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BitWrangler wrote on 2022-03-08, 18:16:

Edit: IDK but it's giving me the "full on Linux support nightmare vibes" where you ask about something, get told to search it was asked a million times before, discover the only threads are people being told the same right back to an 0.8 version where you find out how it used to work 15 years ago, but doesn't now, then finally find the answer in a terse one line release note for a 5 year old alpha overnight build that nobody but devs ever installed.

Ha! I felt that.

Reply 7 of 24, by Jo22

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AirIntake wrote on 2022-03-08, 17:02:

MS-DOS 6.22, 7.0, and 7.1 still have better compatibility. As an individual I don't see the need for Freedos. I think Freedos is more useful for retro developers that want to package their software along with an operating system to run it. They can't use MS-DOS for copyright reasons so Freedos fills that gap.

I think the same. FreeDOS and WINE..

What I don't like is the style of FreeDOS.
It's not DOSsy, rather unix-ish: the installer, directory structure (/bin /etc /doc).. Never liked that, feels wrong.

That being said, I like the idea that it's still being worked on. That there's one DOS that's still current.

But in practice, I'd rather used MS-DOS 6.2x, DR-DOS etc - together with some utilities from FreeDOS. 😉

Oh, and I'm a bit dissatisfied with their attitude towards UEFI.
CSM is dead, it's time that they figure a solution to get DOS running on UEFI systems.
I could think of some kind of bootloader that installs SeaBIOS in memory, so it could act like a big TSR that works like a shim to DOS.

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In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

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Reply 8 of 24, by LSS10999

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Jo22 wrote on 2022-03-09, 21:43:
I think the same. FreeDOS and WINE.. […]
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I think the same. FreeDOS and WINE..

What I don't like is the style of FreeDOS.
It's not DOSsy, rather unix-ish: the installer, directory structure (/bin /etc /doc).. Never liked that, feels wrong.

That being said, I like the idea that it's still being worked on. That there's one DOS that's still current.

But in practice, I'd rather used MS-DOS 6.2x, DR-DOS etc - together with some utilities from FreeDOS. 😉

FreeDOS is getting more and more compatible with MS-DOS that I think I'm okay with it now. Since FreeDOS 1.2 it's much easier to install and more games and software will run fine, though it still has some rough edges mostly come from software or games that don't behave correctly with too modern systems, or with any other memory managers than MS HIMEM or MS EMM386.

I'm not sure if the dated MS-DOS 7.1 kernel can still reliably function with very modern hardware, and especially with very large hard disks (1TB or more).

On the other hand, it seems FreeDOS 1.3 brought back networking, but still doesn't provide configurations for physical networking. You can probably make it work using compatible NDIS2 drivers and a packet driver shim.

As I mostly use Linux nowadays, maybe I can also consider looking for some utilities that can provide some Unix-like commands (and behaviors), such as that I don't have to correct myself to use "dir" whenever I habitually type "ls".

Jo22 wrote on 2022-03-09, 21:43:

Oh, and I'm a bit dissatisfied with their attitude towards UEFI.
CSM is dead, it's time that they figure a solution to get DOS running on UEFI systems.
I could think of some kind of bootloader that installs SeaBIOS in memory, so it could act like a big TSR that works like a shim to DOS.

It would be interesting if SeaBIOS (or any other external CSM implementation if available) can be reliably booted this way. I wonder if it's even possible to boot and use DOS with GPT partitions in the future.

Reply 9 of 24, by appiah4

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I'm curious about it, I'd install it on my Cx5x86 if I hadn't switched from DOS to Win95 on that..

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Reply 10 of 24, by weedeewee

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LSS10999 wrote on 2022-03-10, 04:28:

As I mostly use Linux nowadays, maybe I can also consider looking for some utilities that can provide some Unix-like commands (and behaviors), such as that I don't have to correct myself to use "dir" whenever I habitually type "ls".

I think this will suit your needs for now.

http://wiki.freedos.org/wiki/index.php/Alias

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Reply 11 of 24, by BitWrangler

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Jo22 wrote on 2022-03-09, 21:43:

Oh, and I'm a bit dissatisfied with their attitude towards UEFI.
CSM is dead, it's time that they figure a solution to get DOS running on UEFI systems.
I could think of some kind of bootloader that installs SeaBIOS in memory, so it could act like a big TSR that works like a shim to DOS.

Nah, I can see their point, they're writing an OS not an emulator, which is basically what the "shim" is gonna be. Pick an emulator, run FreeDOS on it.

Unicorn herding operations are proceeding, but all the totes of hens teeth and barrels of rocking horse poop give them plenty of hiding spots.

Reply 12 of 24, by Jo22

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BitWrangler wrote on 2022-03-10, 17:08:
Jo22 wrote on 2022-03-09, 21:43:

Oh, and I'm a bit dissatisfied with their attitude towards UEFI.
CSM is dead, it's time that they figure a solution to get DOS running on UEFI systems.
I could think of some kind of bootloader that installs SeaBIOS in memory, so it could act like a big TSR that works like a shim to DOS.

Nah, I can see their point, they're writing an OS not an emulator, which is basically what the "shim" is gonna be. Pick an emulator, run FreeDOS on it.

I just think that their attitude and focus isn't right.
They do want to improve DOS, but essentially develop for a dead platform.
Even within the retro community, people try to make hacks work on real hardware at some point.
And especially DOS was known to allow direct hardware access.
That's what made it last so long also.
DOS was needed whenever people required direct access, say flashing a graphics card, flashing the system BIOS or reconfiguring DVD drives to RC0.. 😉

And last but not least, some homebrewers do like DOS for its simplicity.
They can use old development tools to easily control external hardware.
That doesn't really work inside an emulator.
A virtualizer.. Maybe, yes. VPC 2007 (now EOL) did support this. But then there will be timing problems.

What makes things a little bit worse, is, that the FeeeDOS site previously vaguely indicated the idea of an UEFI support, albeit tricky or impossible to implement directly.
(So there was at least some interest in it.)
Which makes sense, because FreeDOS or DOS in general is too dependant on BIOS calls.
It's just.. Now it completely (seemingly) somehow decides against it.

"FreeDOS 1.3 or 2.0?

We aren't sure if the next release will be called "1.3" or "2.0." We haven't had that discussion yet. As of January 2017, we have only started the discussion on the next version of FreeDOS.

Core assumptions:

The next version will remain 16-bit.

The next version will retain focus on a single-user command-line environment.

The next version will continue to run on old PCs (XT, '286, '386, etc) but will support new hardware with expanded driver support, where possible. However, direct support for UEFI systems may be tricky (or impossible).
"

https://web.archive.org/web/20170510192432/ht … reeDOS_Road_Map

I just merely think that a final "no" seems wrong, because then there's no future for FreeDOS, either.
(New systems will inadvertently be UEFI-only.)
Well, not in the usual sense. FreeDOS could become a spiritual sister to EmuTOS, perhaps.
It's unlikely that any other project will take over making a BIOS payload for UEFI soon.
To make retro OSes like XP run, people would rather patch/replace the NT-Loader to make it UEFI compatible than porting over BIOS.

That's why I think it would be good if FreeDOS progammers would spent a bit of time thinking about a possible CSM.
I mean, who knows more about the innards of DOS-BIOS? 😀

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

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Reply 13 of 24, by BitWrangler

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Bit of a hasty assumption that it's dead if it doesn't do X... OS/9 hasn't supported any new CPUs/platforms for two and a half decades as far as I'm aware, but the community trundles along, with a thousandth the popularity of DOS, present day and when it was current.

Basically, with UEFI the machine boots in 32 or 64 bit mode and has to do Virtual 86 mode to run 16 bit code, which as we all know always works perfectly on all the CPUs from the last decade (sarcasm) So what, small dev team is like "Yah, we'll take this on and handle 1000s of support requests on behalf of AMD's problem children." ... but what's the point, it's already virtualised, like trying to feel the warm sand between your toes with socks and shoes on, there just isn't a native pure 16 bit mode to use, so all you can do is lard on layers and layers of "shim" and isolate it from the brokenness of the virtual 86 modes, put it in it's own little padded cell... now what do they call those things? Ah yes, emulators.

Unicorn herding operations are proceeding, but all the totes of hens teeth and barrels of rocking horse poop give them plenty of hiding spots.

Reply 14 of 24, by Jo22

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Good point. It was just my personal opinion/point of view, after all. 😅
As such it makes no claim for correctness, of course. 🙂

Edit: In the past, SMM was used to perform stuff behind the courtain.
Not sure how much it can help here, though. 🤷‍♂️

Edit: v86/vme perhaps isn't needed to get Real-Mode DOS running.
Perhaps AMD-V or Intel VT can be utilized to run DOS.

That's what Virtual PC 2007 used, if available.
Back then, these accelerated my DOS VMs quite a bit.
Without them, Real-Mode DOS (no EMM386) was much slower. Perhaps because RM had to be emulated through a CPU emulator.
With EMM386 loaded, v86/Protected-Mode was used and VPC was quick all the time.

Last edited by Jo22 on 2022-03-11, 19:38. Edited 1 time in total.

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

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Reply 15 of 24, by Azarien

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BitWrangler wrote on 2022-03-10, 18:51:

Basically, with UEFI the machine boots in 32 or 64 bit mode and has to do Virtual 86 mode to run 16 bit code, which as we all know always works perfectly on all the CPUs from the last decade (sarcasm) So what, small dev team is like "Yah, we'll take this on and handle 1000s of support requests on behalf of AMD's problem children." ... but what's the point, it's already virtualised

Keep in mind that DOS is already virtualized the moment you load EMM386.EXE.

Reply 18 of 24, by Joakim

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I'm by no means an expert but it is a stand alone OS of there is any virtualization going on, I don't know. It is supposed to be able to do networking so suppose it can do some text mode internet things.

Reply 19 of 24, by Jo22

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Sure, FreeDOS does work on real hardware, as long as the hardware has a BIOS (or an UEFI with an CSM) in the ROM/Flash chip.
Essentially, FreeDOS can be used in place of MS-DOS 6.2x or 7.x.

Merely 16-Bit hardware (8086/80186/80286) is poorly supported by comparison.
The official version comes as an ISO file instead of disk images.
And the supplied drivers are made with late 486/586 era PCs in mind.

The mid/late 90s mainstream stuff, so to say. What Monkey Island fans and demoscene buffs loved to tinker with.:
VGA, v86 Memory Managers, ATAPI CD-ROMs, SB16 or AC97 soundcards, Ethernet etc.

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

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