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December, 2017

Talking about FreeDOS 1.3

Following up from the previous post asking "What is FreeDOS 2.0?" we heard from a lot of FreeDOS developers and users about what the next version of FreeDOS should look like. A few thoughts:

The FreeDOS Project builds consensus via the freedos-devel email list, so most of the discussion occurred there. I also forwarded comments from Facebook and other sources to the discussion. In the freedos-devel email discussion, the consensus is that compatibility is key—and therefore, the next FreeDOS should not deprecate packages into a "Compat" package group. The "Base" package group should contain everything that replicates the functionality from MS-DOS. As Ralf commented: "One should be able to just replace a MS-DOS 5.0/6.22 set of disks with a Base FreeDOS disk set and have identical functionality."

Several folks suggested the install CDROM should be a live disk. Tom suggested this: "there is literally no good reason that FreeDOS must be installed to experience the beauty of a C:> prompt. just put every binary on the CD as it would be installed … I'd leave the sources in zip archives, though."

Not many comments on what programs should be "promoted" to the "Base" package group. Suggestions included Zip/Unzip, and the MD5 and other hash functions.

Since the changes would be incremental, we agreed the next version would be "FreeDOS 1.3."

Aside from that, we also heard recommendations to update certain packages (for example, Help). There's also continued interest to include development tools, and free games. More on that:


Certainly we want to make it easy for developers to get involved and make contributions in FreeDOS, so providing options for compilers and assemblers makes sense.
This can be more flexible. We included many games in FreeDOS 1.2, and I agree we should continue to include free software games in the next FreeDOS. I don't consider the list of games to be static; we can change the list of games with each distribution.

What do you think? Join the discussion on the freedos-devel email list. You are also welcome to leave a comment here. Note that to limit spam, you must be signed in to leave a comment.

Top ten of 2017

2017 has been a great year for FreeDOS. We released the FreeDOS 1.2 distribution a year ago, on Christmas Day, December 25 2016. And this year, we celebrated FreeDOS as it turned 23 years old.

I wanted to take a moment to look back on 2017 and highlight a few of our blog posts that I think show off some great moments in FreeDOS this year:

(1) 100,000 Downloads

We released FreeDOS 1.2 on December 25 2016, and it only took a month and a day to reach 100,000 downloads! And later in June, we hit 500,000 downloads.
(2) Why DOS has Sixteen Colors
Do you wonder why DOS only supports sixteen colors for text? With DOS, you had a list of sixteen available colors, enumerated 0 (black) to 15 (white). This article explains why all DOS systems have a sixteen-color pallette.
(3) Our April 1st Website
Rather than invent something fake with an intention of making a cheap joke, I decided to update the FreeDOS website. So for all day on April 1, the FreeDOS website was a "throwback" to the 1980s. If you missed it, this is what it looked like.
(4) A Brief History of the FreeDOS Logo
The FreeDOS Project has had several logos. Do you know them all? As part of the FreeDOS Blog Challenge, I wrote about the different logos we've used in the FreeDOS Project.
(5) All FreeDOS Distributions
They say that for any open source software project to get traction at the beginning, it needs to release early and release often. And that's just what we did when we started the FreeDOS Project. Also part of the FreeDOS Blog Challenge, I walked through all of our FreeDOS distributions, and how they evolved.

I'll post the rest of the list next week!

Top ten of 2017, part 2

As promised from part 1, here is the rest of the top ten favorite blog posts about FreeDOS in 2017:

(6) Happy 23rd Birthday to FreeDOS

FreeDOS turned 23 years old this year. While there's nothing really special about "23 years old," I thought we should mark our anniversary by sharing some interesting moments in FreeDOS history. Throughout June 2017, I've asked others to share their own stories about how they got started with FreeDOS, or how they joined FreeDOS, or how they contributed to FreeDOS, as part of the FreeDOS Blog Challenge. And I was impressed and humbled to see so many people respond to that challenge. We later collected these essays into a book, 23 Years of FreeDOS.
(7) How to Support Different Spoken Languages in FreeDOS
When you write a new program, you probably don't think about spoken languages other than your own. But what about others who don't speak English, or who only know a little English? They can't understand what yours programs are saying. Use the FreeDOS Cats/Kitten library to add multi-language support to your programs.
(8) FreeDOS for OEM
Jerome Shidel contributed this article for the FreeDOS summer coding blog challenge, about how to use FreeDOS for OEM PCs.
(9) Unix Utilities for FreeDOS
Years ago, there was the "GNUish" project, which ported the GNU utilities to DOS. But eventually the project stalled. In the absence of a "GNUish 2.0" project, I have started to collect the Unix-workalike programs to a single directory on our files archive. This led to many new developers contributing to FreeDOS for the first time, by porting or re-implementing Unix utilities to FreeDOS.
(10) What is FreeDOS 2.0?
In October, we started a conversation on the freedos-devel email list about what the next release of FreeDOS should look like. We used this to update the FreeDOS Road Map to help shape what the next FreeDOS distribution should look like. To follow up from our email list discussion, we decided the next version will be an incremental improvement over FreeDOS 1.2, with minor changes and additions and no structural changes. We decided not to change the Base package group, and that the Base package group should still replicate the functionality from MS-DOS (no packages moved to a "Compat" package group). With no grand changes planned, this means the next release will be "FreeDOS 1.3."