Nearly 30 Years of FreeDOS and Looking Ahead to the Future

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Blinky, the friendly FreeDOS mascot.

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Blinky, the friendly FreeDOS mascot.

The first version of FreeDOS was released on September 16 of 1994, following Microsoft’s decision to cease development on MS-DOS in favor of Windows. This version 0.01 was still an Alpha release, with 0.1 from 1998 the first Beta and the first stable release (1.0, released on September 3 2006) still a while off. Even so, its main developer [Jim Hall] and the like-minded developers on the FreeDOS team managed to put together a very functional DOS using a shell, kernel and other elements which already partially existed before the FreeDOS (initially PD-DOS, for Public Domain DOS) idea was pitched by [Jim].

Nearly thirty years later, [Jim] reflects on these decades, and the strong uptake of what to many today would seem to be just a version of an antiquated OS. When it comes to embedded and industrial applications, of course, a simple DOS is all you want and need, not to mention for a utility you boot from a USB stick. Within the retro computing community FreeDOS has proven to be a boon as well, allowing for old PCs to use a modern DOS rather than being stuck on a version of MS-DOS from the early 90s.

For FreeDOS’ future, [Jim] is excited to see what other applications people may find for this OS, including as a teaching tool on account of how uncomplicated FreeDOS is. In a world of complicated OSes that no single mortal can comprehend any more, FreeDOS is really quite a breath of fresh air.

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