June 29 marks the 25th anniversary of FreeDOS. That’s a significant milestone for any open supply software program venture, and I am pleased with the work that we have finished on it over the previous quarter century. I am additionally pleased with how we constructed FreeDOS as a result of it’s a nice instance of how the open supply software program mannequin works.
For its time, MS-DOS was a robust working system. I would used DOS for years, ever since my dad and mom changed our growing older Apple II laptop with a more moderen IBM machine. MS-DOS offered a versatile command line, which I fairly favored and that got here in helpful to control my information. Over the years, I realized the right way to write my very own utilities in C to increase its command-line capabilities even additional.
Around 1994, Microsoft introduced that its subsequent deliberate model of Windows would cast off MS-DOS. But I favored DOS. Even although I had began migrating to Linux, I nonetheless booted into MS-DOS to run functions that Linux did not have but.
I figured that if we needed to maintain DOS, we would want to jot down our personal. And that is how FreeDOS was born.
On June 29, 1994, I made a small announcement about my thought to the comp.os.msdos.apps newsgroup on Usenet.
ANNOUNCEMENT OF PD-DOS PROJECT:
A number of months in the past, I posted articles referring to beginning a public area model of DOS. The common assist for this on the time was sturdy, and many individuals agreed with the assertion, “start writing!” So, I’ve…
Announcing the primary effort to supply a PD-DOS. I’ve written up a “manifest” describing the targets of such a venture and a top level view of the work, in addition to a “task list” that exhibits precisely what must be written. I will submit these right here, and let dialogue observe.
While I introduced the venture as PD-DOS (for “public domain,” though the abbreviation was meant to imitate IBM’s “PC-DOS”), we quickly modified the identify to Free-DOS and later FreeDOS.
I began engaged on it instantly. First, I shared the utilities I had written to increase the DOS command line. Many of them reproduced MS-DOS options, together with CLS, DATE, DEL, FIND, HELP, and MORE. Some added new options to DOS that I borrowed from Unix, reminiscent of TEE and TRCH (a easy implementation of Unix’s tr). I contributed over a dozen FreeDOS utilities
By sharing my utilities, I gave different builders a place to begin. And by sharing my supply code underneath the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL), I implicitly allowed others so as to add new options and repair bugs.
Other builders who noticed FreeDOS taking form contacted me and needed to assist. Tim Norman was one of many first; Tim volunteered to jot down a command shell (COMMAND.COM, later named FreeCOM). Others contributed utilities that replicated or expanded the DOS command line.
We launched our first alpha model as quickly as doable. Less than three months after saying FreeDOS, we had an Alpha 1 distribution that collected our utilities. By the time we launched Alpha 5, FreeDOS boasted over 60 utilities. And FreeDOS included options by no means imagined in MS-DOS, together with web connectivity through a PPP dial-up driver and dual-monitor assist utilizing a major VGA monitor and a secondary Hercules Mono monitor.
New builders joined the venture, and we welcomed them. By October 1998, FreeDOS had a working kernel, because of Pat Villani. FreeDOS additionally sported a number of recent options that introduced not simply parity with MS-DOS however surpassed MS-DOS, together with ANSI assist and a print spooler that resembled Unix lpr.
You could also be acquainted with different milestones. We crept our manner in the direction of the 1.zero label, lastly releasing FreeDOS 1.zero in September 2006, FreeDOS 1.1 in January 2012, and FreeDOS 1.2 in December 2016. MS-DOS stopped being a transferring goal way back, so we did not have to replace as incessantly after the 1.zero launch.
Today, FreeDOS is a really fashionable DOS. We’ve moved past “classic DOS,” and now FreeDOS options a lot of improvement instruments reminiscent of compilers, assemblers, and debuggers. We have a lot of editors past the plain DOS Edit editor, together with Fed, Pico, TDE, and variations of Emacs and Vi. FreeDOS helps networking and even offers a easy graphical net browser (Dillo). And we now have tons of recent utilities, together with many that can make Linux customers really feel at residence.
FreeDOS acquired the place it’s as a result of builders labored collectively to create one thing. In the spirit of open supply software program, we contributed to one another’s work by fixing bugs and including new options. We handled our customers as co-developers; we all the time discovered methods to incorporate individuals, whether or not they had been writing code or writing documentation. And we made choices by way of consensus primarily based on benefit. If that sounds acquainted, it is as a result of these are the core values of open supply software program: transparency, collaboration, launch early and infrequently, meritocracy, and group. That’s the open source way!
I encourage you to obtain FreeDOS 1.2 and provides it a attempt.