DOS & EMULATORS FOR OTHER PLATFORMS
What If Operating Systems Ran The Airlines? - A good intro to Operating Systems.
DOS: THE ALTERNATIVE OPERATING SYSTEM - A list of the most recognized 'DOS' distros.
IBM PC-DOS 6.1 remains my favorite.
FreeDOS Project - If you can't find your old MS- or PC-DOS diskettes,
this is the freeware substitute.
DOSBox - Run DOS programs safely from within Windows or Linux.
More a simulator than an emulator, DOSBox is optimized
for gameplay and mimicking old hardware (sound cards, etc).
Extremely stable and easy to set up.
DOSEMU - For Linux only. Emulates an x86 machine. Some recent
distributions include FreeDOS by default. If you want
to set up a different one, then just create a directory,
put your favourite DOS there, edit the dosemu.conf, and run.
If you have no DOS for DOSEMU to run, go here. :)
SUGGESTED SOFTWARE FOR DOS MACHINES
Graphical User Interfaces (GUI)
GEM - Old Faithful. Plain-looking. Works on everything 8086+.
Still under development (!) Many apps were developed over the
years for this, and you'll find most of them on this page.
Will work with cursor keys on a machine with no mouse.
There is a more recent version of GEM included with FreeDOS
which incorporates several improvements, but porting it
over to another DOS distro can be painful fun.
FLY (link dead) - It's a few steps from Windows-World yet, but the setup to this
was supposed to be easy, as these things go. Trouble is, I
found that I had to pay a disproportionate amount of attention
to defining directory paths. Once I had icon paths all defined,
FLY worked great! Again, maybe it's just me, or a funky file.
SPECTRA (link dead)This went by another name once upon a time. It's very stable and
will run well on anything 486 or up. It does consume a bit of RAM
which is why I wouldn't use it on early DOS machines or ones without
much memory. Good & easy auto-configuration.
SEAL2 - This is for P1+ only. Apparently this project is not completed,
nor is it likely to be. It's the best choice for those who
want to want their DOS environment to not look like DOS.
16-bit DOSBox didn't like this very much. The 32-bit cmd window
liked it a whole lot better. (That's a first!) And, the
included games are fun. I get the sense that the developers
realized halfway through that they were overambitious by half.
DOSSTART - I found this easy to configure and use.
Anything you can do on the command line can be done in this GUI.
THE GUI BLOG - More are available here, many still under development.
DOSCORE (link dead) - A full FreeDOS-based distro. Uses the Aura M2 GUI.
DUGL Applications & Games - Video Player (P1+ required for smooth operation)
MPXPLAY - Freeware player.
OPEN CUBIC PLAYER - Freeware player.
CD ROAST (link dead) - Freeware burner.
MIDIER (link dead) - Freeware Midi Player
CTHUGHA - Visualizations from sound (CD, .wav).
TOM'S SOUND UTILITIES - Freeware sound utilities INCLUDING RECORDER FOR DOS!
Networking - Yes it is a good idea to know what you're doing first.
DOS can be a pain in the ass to set up internet on.
Always check to see if you have good drivers installed already,
that your modem or ethernet card works in the first place,
and that your connection is good before installing a universal
freeware driver like Crynwr, good though it is.
CRYNWR - Freeware packet driver collection.
EZNOS - Abandonware Internet Server
ARACHNE - Vaporware Graphical Web Browser with versions for older machines
ARACHNE LINKS - More scattered info brought together.
LYNX TEXT WEB BROWSER - And this page is text-only...makes sense
KERMIT - An oldie...but this is cool for really REALLY old machines.
FDISK.COM DOS INTERNET PAGES - Links to other Browsers, Drivers, and information.
POWER PAINT 2 Painting Program (on FreeDOS website)
NEOPAINT - Shareware Painting Program
PC-PAINT - Provided by the original author.
Computer-Aided Design (CAD)
DESI-III - FANTASTIC program. Make sure that you are using at least a P1 with
64MB+ RAM. It should run on that, a bit slowly. For best results use
at least a P1.
POINT-OF-SALE (link dead) - A free program that I recommend to those who would find it useful.
Text-to-Speech / Accessibility
JAWS for DOS - Text-to-Speech Accessibility software.
JAWS for DOS - Installation instructions.
Word Processing and Text Editors
BREEZE - An excellent Shareware Word Processor
WordStar 7.0 Download - Scroll down the page. You must sign up with BrotherSoft first.
The site says 'Freeware', but 'Abandonware' is probably a more
accurate term. Testing tells me that this program needs at least
16MB RAM. Is that too much to ask? Hope not.
WordStar Resource Site
VISICALC - Abandonware Spreadsheet Program (still the best)
DATAPERFECT - Abandonware Database Program (also still the best, and still being
developed by a fanatical users group. So, not so 'abandoned' anymore.
You may have to look closely at this discussion page to find the file.
Emulators For Other Systems to Run In DOS
NOTE: No, I cannot and will not supply or direct you to roms. E-mail concerning roms
WILL be ignored.
MESS for DOS - This is an early version of the Multiple Emulator Super System, which
should work well on a Pentium, and with a stutter on a 486dx2. The way to fix this, according to my experience, is by using the
'-frameskip' and '-speaker' options, changing the number of frames to
skip and directing audio output to the speaker. This parameter had to
be adapted to every game, but these could easily be integrated into a
menu for the emulator frontend, or to a batch file. See the web page
for a list of supported systems.
MAME for DOS - The notes for MESS also apply to the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator.
The last DOS release of MAME was in 2001, filename: m37b14b.zip .
ACE32 - Emulator of the obscure but interesting FORTH-driven machine. You
will find the DOS version in the aptly-entitled 'Ace 32 for MS-DOS'
section. I only mention this because it's easy to confuse with the
link for the Windows version.
JUPITER ACE RESOURCE SITE
APPLEPC - An early but very stable Apple II/IIc/IIe emulator.
Apple2.org - Site dedicated to the computer.
BRMSX - Very speedy MSX emulator which you should have no trouble enjoying on
a 286 or above. The startup screen is in Portugese, but the majority
of MSX software is in English or Japanese, and the program itself
appears to have been written completely in assembler. The developer
isn't developing BRMSX anymore, and the project page is no longer
available. Don't let the Portugese language scare you.
C64S (link dead)- Commodore 64 emulator that works well in a P1 environment.
C64.COM - Site dedicated to the computer.
PCVIC (link dead)- A fast VIC-20 emulation program that is about 90% accurate.
Loading virtual 'cassettes' can be a challenge, as you may have to
decipher the proper 8-bit memory address where the program is intended
to start, and type it in manually. This can vary depending on
what 'expansion pack' you are pretending to use in the emulator.
COLEMDOS - An early ColecoVision emulator. As with most of these, if you want it
to run well on pre-Pentium machinery, be sure to run with the -speaker
option in the command line so as to reduce the load on the sound card
MYZ80 - This page is about the amazingly accurate and fast CP-M emulator.
There is a link on the page to the Simtel.net website where you
can download the program itself.
GABY'S HOMEPAGE FOR CP/M AND CP/M SOFTWARE = Gaby Chaudry's CP/M site.
CP/M MAIN PAGE - Jack Elliot's CP/M Site.
COMMERCIAL CP-M SOFTWARE ARCHIVE - Links to programs you can use on the MYZ80 emulator,
including abandonware CP-M versions of dBase II and
WordStar. Oh, yeah, and 'Zork'.
XF CLASSIC - Xformer Classic is a Atari 400/800 emulator.
ATARI.ORG - Links to Atari Computer and video game info, forums, software...
Z26 - Atari 2600 emulator that works in DOS, (P1+ for best performance).
ZX81 PAGE - There are hundreds and hundreds of abandonware programs available here
for this beast. There is also a good selection of emulators themselves.
For performance in DOS or DOSBox, I highly recommend zx81.zip .
(Do not try running this one in Windows cmd, however.)
O2EM - Emulator for the Odyssey II video game system.
TRS-80 - Ira Goldklang's 'TRS-80 Revived' site contains emulators
for all the Radio Shack TRS-80 computers for most platforms.
QUICKBASIC (link dead)- You will find the compiler here, if the version of DOS you are
using does not already include it. There are tons of programs
for this all over the place, and qBASIC is a great tool to get
modular programming fundamentals down before tackling, say,
VisualBASIC or something like that.
GW-BASIC - Interpreter, compiler, documentation, software...all you need to
bring this monstrosity back to life. It should work on anything
8086+; anything which runs DOS to begin with, that is. GW uses about
half the RAM of QuickBASIC, but it requires line numbers, which is
why I like it, but nobody asked me.
APLSE - The best DOS version of this weird language. It will mess with your
mind, after first messing with your keyboard...
APL LANGUAGE - ...and this shows exactly what I mean by that.
APL STUFF - An outline of this programming language for those who wish to learn it.
SHARPAPL - A version of APL buried deep in the vaults of the University of Waterloo.
SHARPAPL OPERATORS - I figure this is probably good to know.
eFORTH - The full archive is at the bottom of the page (eforth.zip).
eForth acts more like a philosophy than a programming language.
ADA - Originally designed for use by the US government.
PACIFIC C - Compiler and Manual alike - this is a few steps above the garden variety
versions of the language...
TURBO C - ...such as this one, which you may still want, in the interests of
compatibility. This is the most common of the C languages. You
must join up with Brothersoft to obtain this.
TURBO PASCAL - It looks like Brothersoft snapped up most of the Borland products.
Make sure that you click the right 'Download' LINK, as opposed to
an ad. P.S. You have to join Brothersoft to obtain this.
PILOT - Information, yes, but the page is grizzled and some links are bad.
rPILOT ..follow this link to obtain a version of this language,
which you will have to compile yourself from 'C' source code...
if it's worth it to 'ya!
OTHER SOFTWARE & INFORMATION ARCHIVES
Tribute to Text-Mode Games - Most of these will run on even the earliest PC's.
Free Software For DOS - Crazy archive! Scroll down and look at 'The Program Pages'.
SUNET's Index of /pub/simtelnet/msdos - Mostly static since the late 1990's.
Interesting DOS Programs - Trinidad's DOS user's group maintains this site well.
Completely FREE Software
DDB: DOS Websites Directory
Free Software For DOS
Fox's Homepage Dedicated to DOS - Everything from Tic-Tac-Toe to Chinese Horoscopes.
Free DOS Utilities by Matt Wiering
Chebucto Community Net DOS Archive - Not flashy, just useful.
DOS The Easy Way - Guide to MS-DOS - Tech Resources & a Command index.
TEXTFILES.COM - A lot more than computer stuff here...
ECUADORS.NET v2.12 - Good DOS stuff in the mix, (some Windoze stuff here too).
SLOVAK ANTIVIRUS CENTER - Not sure why they are calling it this, when most of
the software has nothing to do with AntiVirus. A mix
of DOS and early WIN apps, drivers, that kind of thing.
DOS SFN FAMILY - A well-organized archive of valuable information and links.
DOS USB DRIVERS (AT BOOTDISK.COM) - How to set up USB through your Config.sys & Autoexec.bat.
In 1995, I bought a Patriot 486dx2. The machine had nothing pre-loaded, and I installed IBM PC-DOS 6.1 and MS Windows 3.1. There were also some programming utilities, games, database, and word processing software that had been stored in this big box of floppies. After installing the 5¼" drive from my old AT machine, I transferred most of this to the hard drive, never really giving it a second thought, as I expected to be using Windows most of the time. Funny enough - but for obvious reasons - the DOS programs proved more stable than those developed around the Windows environment.
As most of the other computer users I knew moved on up into the Pentium family, I sometimes found myself rescuing their systems with the supposedly archaic software I had on mine. I got used to the boggled looks when a previously deleted text file was recovered using one DOS command, or a strangely-formatted spreadsheet document was salvaged into a universal .csv format by way of a silly-looking GW-BASIC program.
The prevailing wisdom of the time was that DOS was to be completely superseded by MS WinOS in short order, never mind that Win95 still depended on it. Even today, while the WindowsNT+ platforms can be considered 'true OS', there are many times where 'cmd' must be called upon, or where I call upon it because it is simply faster than running some buggy Windows program that eats up resources or doesn't give the options I want.
Now I'm beginning to sound like a Linux loyalist; which I am. Nevertheless, what I do not share with most of my cohorts is their disdain for DOS. As a single-task environment, DOS is indispensable. Most versions boot immediately, and might even work on your microwave oven if you tried hard enough. That's probably why DOS software still drives most cash registers out there. Also, the reason why this software itself has not been replaced is because the existing stuff just plain WORKS. Much of the software used by Linuxes for their basic functions was, in fact, ported from the huge existing library of DOS. Many Linux users do not realize that some minilinux distros - such as BasicLinux 3.5 with some additional help here, or Pygmy Linux (pygmyhelp is here) - can run inside of DOS using loadlin.exe .
Most of DOS is freeware, abandonware, or shareware now. I'd like to add another category: 'used-ware'. You can pick up this stuff at yard sales and goodwill outlets for next to nothing. Most of it cost MUCH more at the time of its release, but complex but stable programs like WordStar and dBase can be found for literally pennies now. These are time-tried, and I'd trust either of them over most contemporary office suites any day. DOS has all kinds of 'quick and dirty' format converter programs as well, usually requiring no more than a command and an option to do the conversion. That said, always be sure to scan second-hand disks - and downloads for that matter - for viruses before executing anything.
As all good things must someday end, I bought a new machine in 2002 after the hard drive on my 'Mutt Mosquito' seized up. There's still a huge software archive, some of which I still use in the excellent DOSBox environment, or on a secondary 486dx2 machine put together from found parts, and which I test stuff on so as not to get too grubby with my pricey beast. The knowledge of DOS has also continued to serve me well in troubleshooting situations within both Windows and Linux.
The 'Mutt Mosquito' was continually adapted with the DOS equivalents to whatever apps I would have otherwise run in Windows. This included CD burning and audio software capable of playing and recording .mp3 and .mod files. It included AutoCAD programs. Today, there are even video players available (DUGLPLAY), and some developers continue to see the value of this OS. What follows are the links to the best DOS software archives and information that I could find.
(There are some archive sites out there with defunct links, and I cannot guarantee that these ones I have listed here will always work, either, as they are not maintained by me. I suggest that if there is a broken link to a freeware program on one of these archives, you search the web for a working link to the program file name, and email the maintainer of the archive a description of the issue along with that working link you found.)
In this age of sustainability, we should see potential in things which already exist. There is no excuse for trashing computers, even old ones, if they can be put to good use. And, I really don't care what OS you use so long as it works.
Hope you find this list useful!