Tuesday, July 19, 2016

How FreeDOS keeps DOS alive

I was interviewed recently by ComputerWorld Australia about several topics in free software / open source software. They recently ran an article about my work in FreeDOS: How (and why) FreeDOS keeps DOS alive. The article has also been picked up by Slashdot, LWN, and other places.

Maybe you already know about FreeDOS. If you don't, the brief history is this:
In 1994, I was an undergraduate physics student. Although I'd already discovered Linux, and even ran Linux dual-boot with DOS on my personal computer, I mostly used DOS for my day-to-day work. I really didn't like Windows—but if you remember Windows 3.x, this shouldn't be a surprise. So when Microsoft announced that "DOS is dead" and the next version of Windows would do away with DOS, I felt someone had to do something. And I decided to be that someone.

In June 1994, I announced a DOS project called "PD-DOS" (for "public domain DOS") that would replace MS-DOS, but we would make it available to everyone, including the source code! We soon renamed PD-DOS to FreeDOS, because so much of our code was under the GNU GPL, so was "Free software" and not "public domain."

We've continued to develop FreeDOS ever since. We are planning to release the FreeDOS 1.2 distribution "real soon now" for various values of "soon."
In related news, I did some digging into our early days of FreeDOS, and updated the Alpha 1-6 dates on our FreeDOS History page at the FreeDOS website, and the FreeDOS Road Map article at the FreeDOS wiki.
image: Official FreeDOS fish (cc-by)
by Bas Snabilie, adapted by Mateusz Viste
from FreeDOS Images

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