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Operating Systems

FreeDOS Is 20 Years Old 133

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the commander-keen dept.
Jim Hall (2985) writes "In a June 29, 1994 post in comp.os.msdos.apps on USENET, a physics student announced an effort to create a completely free version of DOS that everyone could use. That project turned into FreeDOS, 20 years ago! Originally intended as a free replacement for MS-DOS, FreeDOS has since advanced what DOS could do, adding new functionality and making DOS easier to use. And today in 2014, people continue to use FreeDOS to support embedded systems, to run business software, and to play classic DOS games!"
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FreeDOS Is 20 Years Old

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  • Surplus (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RatBastard (949) on Monday June 30, 2014 @07:21PM (#47354949) Homepage

    Back when I processed computers to go to surplus I would DBAN the hard drives and install FreeDOS so that the guys at Surplus could show the customers that the computers would actually boot.

  • by Jim Hall (2985) on Monday June 30, 2014 @07:22PM (#47354953) Homepage

    FreeDOS gets used in several pre-built computers. HP is one example - HP EliteBook [hp.com] comes with a FreeDOS option. And Dell used to do this, don't know if they still do. There are a bunch of vendors (especially in Europe and Asia) that pre-install FreeDOS, too.

    Alas, these pre-built computers have FreeDOS on them mainly as a clever way to get around a licensing agreement with Microsoft. I understand that Microsoft put a term in their Windows OEM license that prohibits system builders from selling "naked" computers - systems without operating systems. If you want to get the huge discount on Windows OEM licenses, so you can sell pre-built computers with Windows already installed, you may not also sell these "naked" computers.

    But there are plenty of people out there who don't want an operating system pre-installed (I presume these people are like me who prefer free software, and who would install a Linux distribution on their new computer) so system builders started shipping computers with FreeDOS pre-installed. I think the premise is that customers will reformat the drive and install Linux anyway, but the system builder didn't technically sell a "naked" computer.

    I actually think this is very clever and I like the idea. A few users do keep FreeDOS installed on their system; occasionally I get emails from people who decided to keep FreeDOS installed (and probably dual-boot into Linux) so they could use FreeDOS to play old DOS games.

  • by chipschap (1444407) on Monday June 30, 2014 @09:27PM (#47355945)

    Good point. I've observed this too.

    I have a bootable USB stick which boots into FreeDOS. The only thing on the stick, besides the OS and some utilities, is a copy of an old, simple word processor called Better Working Word Processor. When I really want distraction-free writing, I boot this up and there is simply nothing else to do but write (somewhat a la Jonathan Franzen, though I'll never quite have the reputation to go with it).

    But I do notice that even with the hard drive spun down, battery life is little better than running my full Linux Mint installation.

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