FreeDOS, the open-source MS-DOS clone, has a new update available
Microsoft Disk Operating System (MS-DOS) and its competitors reigned supreme in the early days of the IBM PC-compatibles, throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, before Microsoft Windows started to catch on. Even though Microsoft stopped updating MS-DOS decades ago, the FreeDOS project has been keeping the dream alive, and now a brand new update is available.
The FreeDOS project is led by founder Jim Hall, and combines an open-source kernel and command prompt with a variety of third-party software. You can run a barebones install on just about any x86 PC ever made, including early IBM PC clones with Intel 8086 processors, but it also works on most modern computers as well. The previous update, version 1.2, was released in December 2016.
FreeDOS 1.3 was released on Sunday, with an updated FreeCOM command line (the main terminal-like interface), FAT32 partition support for old 8086 PCs, an improved floppy disk edition, easier networking, new programs and games, a better installer, and more. Just like previous releases, there are multiple editions available depending on what installation media your PC or virtual machine supports — check out the update report for everything included in each edition.
The FreeDOS project has been ongoing since 1994, when Microsoft announced it wouldn’t sell or support MS-DOS as a separate product anymore (Windows ME, the last version of Windows to use an MS-DOS core, dropped out of support at the end of 2003). FreeDOS has nearly-perfect support for games and applications created for MS-DOS, which includes most PC software released in late 1980s and 1990s, including Microsoft Windows 3.1.
Emulators like DOSBox remain popular for running DOS software on modern computers, but FreeDOS can be run inside a virtual machine, and also works on most PCs that were originally designed for MS-DOS. It’s keeping DOS alive without proprietary code, which is definitely an impressive achievement.