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30 Years of FreeDOS

Published by Slashdot on Fri, 21 Jun 2024


FreeDOS, the open-source OS that is helping keep the legacy of DOS alive, will turn 30 next week. Founded in 1994 by Jim Hall, then a college student, FreeDOS was created as a response to Microsoft's plans to phase out MS-DOS. Three decades later, FreeDOS continues to thrive. Despite the dominance of Windows and macOS, FreeDOS finds unexpected relevance in niche markets. Some laptop manufacturers in certain countries bundle FreeDOS with new machines to reduce costs, introducing a new generation to the classic command-line interface. Hall recently wrote a blog about the upcoming 30th anniversary. Some excerpts from it follows: These days, I'm really excited for all the different ways that people are using FreeDOS. For example, there's a community of enthusiasts who restore classic computers like the IBM PC 5150, PC XT, and PC AT, and put FreeDOS on them. These are great systems that can't run something like Linux, so running FreeDOS is a great way to make these classic computers useful again. I like that FreeDOS (like any DOS) is so easy to understand. There aren't a lot of moving parts in DOS: the computer boots and starts the kernel, the kernel reads FDCONFIG.SYS (or CONFIG.SYS) which defines the shell to run (usually COMMAND.COM), and COMMAND.COM runs a batch file (usually AUTOEXEC.BAT or FDAUTO.BAT) to set up the environment. And then DOS presents you with a friendly command prompt where you can run commands and start programs.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
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