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The Abraham Zelmanov Journal
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FreeDOS software

FreeDOS is a complete, free, 100% MS DOS compatible operating system, originally constructed by James Hall, and maintained by him till now (many individuals also participate the FreeDOS project). FreeDOS is made of up many different, separate programs that act as "packages" to the overall FreeDOS Project. Blinky, the fishFreeDOS is an open source software, produced and distributed under the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL). This means that you can download the original source code, and modify it as you feel. You are free to create your own custom distributions or versions of the operating system without needing to pay a royalty.

"FreeDOS is ideal for anyone who wants to bundle a version of DOS without having to pay a royalty for use of DOS. FreeDOS will also work on old hardware, in DOS emulators, and in embedded systems. FreeDOS is also an invaluable resource for people who would like to develop their own operating system. While there are many free operating systems out there, no other free DOS-compatible operating system exists" — Jim Hall.

Blinky, the big bug-eye fish and looking kind of chubby, is the officially logo of FreeDOS, drawn by Bas Snabilie. The fish is a symbol of freedom.

On September 3, 2006, FreeDOS reached the 1.0 completely stable release. This release was very successful. It was a solid distribution that was a good, working replacement for MS DOS for many users.

FreeDOS supports vintage hardware IBM PC as well as modern computers. This operating system is extremely light, so it is fantastically fast on modern machines. Like MS-DOS, it can be booted from a floppy or hard disk. In addition to these, and unlike MS-DOS, an advantage of FreeDOS is that it is available for installation on a CD-ROM.

FAT32 is fully supported, even booting from it. Depending on the BIOS used, as many as four LBA hard disks up to 128 GB, or even 2 TB in size are supported. Care is recommended when using huge disks, since there was little testing so far, and some BIOSes support LBA but produce errors on disks larger than 32 GB. A driver like OnTrack or EzDrive resolves this problem. FreeDOS can also be used with a driver called DOSLFN, which supports long file names (see VFAT), but most old programs do not support long file names even if the driver is loaded.

There is no planned support for NTFS or ext2/ext3, but several third-party drivers available for that purpose. To access ext2fs, LTOOLS (counterpart to MTOOLS) can be used to copy data to and from ext2fs drives. NTFS support is provided by products such as NTFSDOS and NTFS4DOS.

So far there is no USB driver support inside the FreeDOS project, but most modern motherboards contain BIOS settings for USB support which allow USB devices to be used in operating systems that lack support for them (such as FreeDOS), and even to be booted from a USB drive.

FreeDOS official web site on FreeDOS.org and SourceForge.net:
http://www.freedos.org   http://freedos.sourceforge.net

Primary FreeDOS file archive for download:
http://www.ibiblio.org/pub/micro/pc-stuff/freedos/files
ftp://ftp.ibiblio.org/pub/micro/pc-stuff/freedos/files

A list of many mirrors of the FreeDOS file archive:
http://www.freedos.org/freedos/files

Deutsche FreeDOS Informationen von R. E. Dick:
http://freedos.ankreuzen.de

FreeDOS Documentation Project:
http://fd-doc.sourceforge.net/wiki

FreeDOS distribution

FreeDOS setupOfficial distribution of FreeDOS is currently present with two live CD-ROM versions, which are allowed to be installed onto hard disk. The basic 8 MB version provides complete distribution of FreeDOS. The large 153 MB version contains not only FreeDOS itself, but also many program applications such as drivers, utilites, graphical shell (OpenGEM), text editors, multimedia, and many other.

Besides these official distributions, there are several unofficial distributions such as Odin and Balder: slimmed down one 1.44 MB floppy disk distributions of FreeDOS, provided by third-party.

Distributions of FreeDOS on the FreeDOS official web site:
http://www.freedos.org/freedos/files
http://freedos.sourceforge.net/freedos/files

FreeDOS software applications

Aside for the classical MS DOS program applications, many of which targeted for commercial distribution, many absolutely free GNU GPL software was developed for FreeDOS. These are utilites, text editors, spreadsheet editors, image viewers and drawing tools, the internet software (such as TCP/IP, mail, HTML browser), games, multimedia, developing tools, and many other. A large number of the free GNU GPL software is accessed from the FreeDOS file archive (see the links that above).

Most popular GNU GPL applications for FreeDOS:
http://www.freedos.org/freedos/software
http://freedos.sourceforge.net/freedos/software

Graphical User Interface (GUI) shells for FreeDOS

Of course, any task can be reached in FreeDOS with use of the command prompt only. On the other hand, it would be much more useful if using one of the so-called GUI programs which provide a native graphical interface to the DOS program applications. Remember, MS Windows upto version 3.1 included was only a graphical shell (GUI) for MS DOS.

Several free GUI shells were developed for FreeDOS under the terms and conditions of the GNU GPL. These free GUI shells provide a native, truly graphical interface in the style of MS Windows 3.x or Windows 95, that allows any user for simple operation of FreeDOS program applications without needing to pay something for it. All these GUI shells can be downloaded from the FreeDOS file archive, or from the web sites of their developers. Most developed GUI shells for FreeDOS are listed below.

OpenGEMOpenGEMOpenGEM is a versatile graphical shell with many advanced functions. It was constructed by Shane Coughlan who, in common with the OpenGEM team, is still maintaining this project. More than 30 programm applications such as a file manager, text and spreadsheet editors, graphics editor, desktop publishing system, HTML browser, games, and many other are included into the OpenGEM distribution.

oZoneoZoneoZone is a powerful graphical shell from Etelain Julien and Lukas Lipka, which includes many program applications such as a file manager, tools, skins, mp3 player, image viewer, and games. oZone supports Unicode, truetype fonts, drag-and-drop tecnology, and other features.

SEALSEALSEAL is a perfect graphical shell from Michal Stencl. Many program applications such as a file manager, text editor, developing tools, graphics editor, CD player, utilites, and games are included into it. SEAL also supports many features, such as a dynamic linking system, multilingual interface (Swedish, Greek, Hungarian, Slovak, Norwegian, German, Gaellic Irish), and others.

SWORDSWORD for DOS is a nice graphical shell developed in 1996 by Eric Nicolas. It is currently maintained by Florian Xavier. Note that this is another system than Eric Nicolas' SWORD for MS Windows, MacOSX, Linux, Solaris (there is no support for DOS).

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