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December, 2018

Top ten of 2018

As we wrap up the year, I thought this was a good time to look back at my favorite articles from the FreeDOS blog from 2018. As I reviewed the different blog posts, I realized how much we've written about FreeDOS, and on so many topics. These top ten items span quite a range: tutorials, classic programs, programming practices, and more.

This top-ten list is in no particular order:

1. Tutorial: How to install FreeDOS

Need some help installing FreeDOS 1.2 on your computer? Here is a step-by-step guide to install FreeDOS. This how-to guide is adapted from Installing FreeDOS 1.2 on the FreeDOS wiki. You can find lots more information at our wiki, but I'm posting this guide to the blog so new users can find it with the other FreeDOS tutorials I'm writing here.
(See also: installing extra software using FDIMPLES)
2. How to run FreeDOS on Raspberry Pi
As a DOS-based operating system, FreeDOS carries with it certain assumptions about its operating environment: FreeDOS currently requires an Intel x86 CPU, and a BIOS. So that means you can't run FreeDOS on bare metal on different architectures like the Raspberry Pi. But it is still possible to run FreeDOS on the Raspberry Pi, if you use emulation. This article walks through how to install FreeDOS on the Raspberry Pi under the QEMU PC emulator.
3. Running As-Easy-As on FreeDOS
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the most common spreadsheet program for MS-DOS was the Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet. Lotus 1-2-3 was excellent software, but it was far too expensive for me. I soon discovered the As-Easy-As spreadsheet, a shareware program that provided basically the same functionality and features of Lotus 1-2-3, but at a fraction of the cost. As-Easy-As was my favorite DOS program of the era, no question. And I still have a great fondness for As-Easy-As, many years later. Whenever I install FreeDOS somewhere, I usually install As-Easy-As, as well.
(See also: Quattro Pro on FreeDOS and VisiCalc on FreeDOS)
4. Running WordPerfect on FreeDOS
In the 1980s, my preferred word processor was WordPerfect. It was a great word processing system. WordPerfect was fast, powerful, and streamlined. I liked that WordPerfect "got out of the way" so it only displayed my text, plus a small status bar at the bottom of the screen. I haven't run WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS in a long time. Sure enough, it installs and runs great on FreeDOS! I tested WordPerfect on FreeDOS 1.2, running in a QEMU virtual machine.
(See also: WordStar on FreeDOS)
5. PC emulator screenshots look weird
If you remember the early PC era, or if you are a hobbyist who uses original PC hardware, maybe you wonder why PC emulator screenshots don't quite look like screens running on real hardware. This essay explains why FreeDOS looks different on modern systems versus original PC hardware.
6. Tutorial: Basic navigation on FreeDOS
New users often ask "I installed FreeDOS, but how do I use it?" If you haven't used DOS before, the blinking C:\> FreeDOS prompt can seem a little unfriendly. And maybe scary. So I wanted to write a gentle introduction to FreeDOS, to get you started. This article introduces just the basics: how to get around, and how to look at files.
7. Planning FreeDOS 1.3
We've started planning the FreeDOS 1.3 distribution! We previously decided the next release would be an iteration from FreeDOS 1.2. We wanted the next FreeDOS distribution to remain like classic DOS. For example, we won't "retire" any classic commands utilities from Base. But FreeDOS 1.3 is an opportunity to improve and update several things. This article served as the announcement of the FreeDOS 1.3 distribution and our planned schedule. However, I'll note that we've fallen behind the original schedule, so we do not expect to meet these dates. Look for updates on the FreeDOS wiki under Releases/1.3.
8. Microsoft open-sources old versions of MS-DOS
Microsoft recently released the source code to MS-DOS v1.25 and v2.0 via a repo on Github. This is a huge step for Microsoft, and I congratulate them for releasing these older versions of MS-DOS under a recognized open source software license!
(See also: Practical thoughts on MS-DOS source code)
9. Yes, Digital Mars C/C++ is Boost Licensed
On August 26 2018, Walter Bright of Digital Mars made an announcement that the Digital Mars C/C++ development system is Boost licensed. This is significant, because the Boost license is recognized by the Open Source Initiative and recognized by the Free Software Foundation. It's great to see more programs being released as open source software!
10. Code review: parsing the command line
This year, we started a new blog article series, "Code Review," where we discuss programming methods in DOS programming. At its core, DOS is a command line operating system. Sure, many users might only use the command line long enough to launch their favorite DOS application or game. But for many FreeDOS users and developers, the command line is where it's at. So this article discusses how to use the getopt function to parse command line options.
(See also: Using catgets/kitten to support languages)