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FreeDOS is a complete, free, DOS-compatible operating system that you can use to play classic DOS games, run legacy business software, or develop embedded systems. Any program that works on MS-DOS should also run on FreeDOS.

Is FreeDOS really free?

Yes, FreeDOS is really free. It doesn’t cost anything to download and use FreeDOS. You can also share FreeDOS for others to enjoy! And you can view and edit our source code, because all FreeDOS programs are distributed under the GNU General Public License or a similar Open source software license.

What programs can I run in FreeDOS?

FreeDOS is a complete, free, DOS-compatible operating system. While we provide some utilities, you should be able to run any program intended for MS-DOS. Pretty much any program that works on MS-DOS will work on FreeDOS. You can also use FreeDOS on a network! However, you may experience problems running Windows on FreeDOS. For example, Windows standard-mode works on FreeDOS, but ‘386-mode Windows for Workgroups 3.11 does not.

We find most people use FreeDOS to do these things:

1. Play classic DOS games. You can play your favorite DOS games on FreeDOS. And there are a lot of great classic games to play: Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Commander Keen, Rise of the Triad, Jill of the Jungle, Duke Nukem, and many others!

2. Run legacy software. Need to recover data from an old business program? Or maybe you need to run a report from your old finance system? Just install your legacy software under FreeDOS, and you’ll be good to go!

3. Develop embedded systems. Many embedded systems run on DOS, although modern systems may instead run on Linux. If you support an older embedded system, you might be running DOS. And FreeDOS can fit in very well.

Many people also use FreeDOS to install firmware updates on their computers.

How do I install FreeDOS?

To install, simply [download] the FreeDOS install CD image. Write this to a blank CD, and boot your computer with it. The automated install program should walk you through the rest.

The FreeDOS 1.2 distribution is available in multiple formats:

We recommend the CDROM installer for most users. The "standard" CDROM image should work on most computers and PC emulators. Older computers may need the "legacy" CDROM image instead.

If your computer cannot boot from CDROM, use the boot floppy. Write this image to a floppy, boot it, then insert the install CDROM when the install program starts up.

If your computer doesn't have a CDROM drive, use the USB fob drive installer. Write this to a USB fob drive and boot it to start the install. The "Full" and "Lite" versions install the same FreeDOS, but the "Lite" installer does not contain some extra bonus software packages.

Several computer Vendors may pre-install FreeDOS on new computers or provide FreeDOS on CD-ROM.

What do I need to run FreeDOS?

FreeDOS should run on any standard PC, although for better performance you may want an Intel ‘386 or better processor, 2MB or more memory, and 40MB disk space. If you are new to DOS, we recommend you use a PC emulator such as VirtualBox to install and boot FreeDOS. You can find PC emulators for all computer platforms (Windows, Linux, Mac.) You can even run FreeDOS using a PC emulator written in Java, right in your web browser!

FreeDOS should run on all PC hardware. However, you may experience Hardware compatibility problems on really old computers.

How can I contribute to FreeDOS?

We welcome all users to FreeDOS! You can contribute to the FreeDOS Project by downloading our latest release and telling us what you think. If you find a problem, please report a bug to help us improve FreeDOS. By participating in the development and debugging process, you help everyone. If you are fluent in a non-english language, please consider translating FreeDOS. If you are a developer, please review the pending bug reports and feature requests. You might also want consulting the FreeDOS wishlist for further inspirations. Also, consider joining the email lists.

What makes FreeDOS better?

FreeDOS includes many modern features not found in MS-DOS, or features that are significantly improved from MS-DOS. These features include:

  • Multi-boot with Windows, including Windows 95 - Windows 2003, Windows NT, Windows XP, and Windows ME
  • FREECOM command line shell
  • 4DOS enhanced command line shell
  • 7ZIP and InfoZip ZIP/UNZIP file archive programs
  • ARACHNE graphical web browser and email client
  • CD-ROM support with XCDROM and SHSUCDX (similar to MSCDEX)
  • CUTEMOUSE mouse driver with scroll wheel support
  • EDIT and SETEDIT multi-window text editors
  • FAT32 file system support
  • FDAPM power management: APM info/control/suspend/poweroff, ACPI throttle, HLT energy saving
  • FDAV anti-virus and virus scanner
  • FDNPKG package manager, with network support
  • GRAPHICS prints to ESC/P, HP PCL and PostScript printers
  • HTMLHELP help viewer
  • JEMM386 (XMS, EMS) memory manager
  • 32-bit protected mode drivers as JLMs (JEMM Loadable Modules)
  • LBACACHE disk cache
  • LBA large disk support
  • LFN support via DOSLFN driver
  • MPXPLAY media player: mp3, ogg, wmv with built-in AC97 and SB16 drivers
  • PG text viewer (similar to LIST)
  • Several utilities ported from Linux thanks to DJGPP
  • UDMA drivers for hard disks and DVD drives: XDMA & XDVD

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