FreeDOS was launched on June 29, 1994, by James Hall as an alternative to MS-DOS after Microsoft announced its intention to discontinue the distribution and product support of MS-DOS. While MS-DOS is no longer supported, FreeDOS, founded twenty-five years ago, is still in demand in some areas. For example, FreeDOS can be used in bootable floppy disks or in minimal systems that require full hardware access. For example, some hardware manufacturers use the system because of its simplicity and robustness for diagnostic tools or critical applications that start in a secure, simple environment.
The project is being developed in the course of various individual projects, which originally aimed at replacing or supplementing components of the original system with alternatives. FreeDOS, therefore, includes its own drivers for XMS and EMS, although EMM386 also supports VCPI and thus gets along with DOS extenders and DPMI programs. In addition, FreeDOS also offers advantages over the original. Among other things, the operating system uses Logical Block Addressing (LBA) to support access to volumes up to 2 TB in size and FAT32 file system partitions. At the same time, FreeDOS dramatically speeds up access to media by bringing an Ultra DMA driver.
Many MS-DOS-written applications or graphical user interfaces should always work under FreeDOS. A prerequisite for this, however, is the use of documented APIs. For example, once an application uses undocumented features of MS-DOS, problems or bugs can no longer be ruled out. For example, Windows 95 can not be used at all, and older versions of Windows can only be used to a limited extent because Microsoft used the programming of the systems mainly in newer versions of very extensive undocumented DOS APIs.
Submitted by: Arnfried Walbrecht