Although both software developers and those responsible for operating systems try to offer users backward compatibility, if we go back a few years ago, things get complicated. If we have ever used programs, or played games, from the MS-DOS or Windows 95 era, we will have been able to verify that, today, it is impossible to run them on an operating system like Windows 10. However, if we have nostalgia and we want to rerun these mythical programs and games, today it is still possible to do so thanks to programs like DOSBox.
DOSBox is a DOS emulator designed to allow us to relive the old days and re-run programs, and especially games, from more than 20 years ago that, to this day, do not work in modern operating systems.
This program is capable of emulating the DOS operating system, and running on it other systems such as MS-DOS or the first versions of Windows. We could even get Windows 95 to work on this system. Also, it can emulate all kinds of old hardware to offer excellent with older games, like:
- Processors: 286/386 in real / protected mode.
- File systems: XMS / EMS.
- Graphics: Tandy / Hercules / CGA / EGA / VGA / VESA.
- Sound cards: SoundBlaster / Gravis Ultra.
This emulator is created from SDL libraries . This allows programmers to offer a very fast development of the program and, in addition, to port it to all kinds of operating systems. This emulator is available for Windows, macOS, Linux and many other weirder operating systems, such as the PSP and the Nintendo Wii.
Like any virtualization system, it needs “a lot” of power to function properly, especially in the processor. This is not a problem when using DOS or MS-DOS programs since it is not a very demanding type of software. However, it can be a problem when running games, especially those dating from 1995 onwards.
These latest games, in addition, run in “protected mode”, which can slow them down when running on DOSBox than when running on other virtualization software such as VMware or VirtualBox.
A complicated program to configure
DOSBox does not have a graphical interface . When we run it, this program directly shows us a DOS window and is waiting to enter the commands that we want to execute. DOS does not have too much difficulty, it is like running programs from CMD. However, where are our games kept?
If we execute “Enter” in the main window we will be able to see an initial help system in which, among other things, they will teach us to mount directories on our hard disk as DOSBox units.
As a quick start, we can run ” mount cc: / gamesdos ” to mount that directory (which must be on our hard drive) as the DOSBox C drive.
Once we are in the directory of the program or game we can run it through its executable file. DOSBox can open programs in EXE, BAT and COM.
If we want to configure other aspects of this MS-DOS emulator, we will have to do it by hand from its configuration file. This file is saved in the directory “C: UsersusuarioAppDataLocalDOSBox”.
Use a frontend
Using and configuring DOSBox is not easy. Neither fast nor intuitive. Luckily, there are a series of programs, frontends, that are going to make all this easier for us. These programs will allow us to group our entire collection of games, or programs, in a single window so that simply by double-clicking on the game that we want, we can run it. These frontends are responsible for collecting the directory of each game, automatically mounting it in DOSBox and, through a series of parameters, configuring the emulator to be able to run the game. All this from a very simple and intuitive interface.
On the website of this emulator we can see many frontends that have been approved by the developers. But some of the most interesting are:
This is one of the frontends favorite by users and by the developers themselves. It has a very simple window to understand where, in tabs, we can group the programs and games that we have from DOS to be able to launch them from there with a single click. This would have to be the official DOSBox launcher, but we have to download it independently.
We can get it down from here .
One more alternative that will allow us to use this DOS emulator in a more simple and intuitive way. It offers users a large number of settings and even allows adding additional information to the programs or games that we add, such as manuals or tricks.
We can download it from this link .
Without a doubt, the most complete DOS game manager we can find. This program will allow us to add all the MS-DOS games that we have on our computer and catalog them by type and genre so that we can find the game we want quickly. It allows you to download resources from the Internet and even load games directly from ZIP, so you don’t have to install them.
We can download it from their website .
This is another simple interface to catalog, organize and launch all kinds of MS-DOS programs and games in DOSBox in a simple way. This program is in charge of assembling the units with the programs, mapping the keyboard, configuring the emulator and introducing a series of additional parameters to be able to execute each game in the best possible way. It even allows you to adjust memory and speed for emulation.
We can download it from the following link .
Download and install DOSBox
DOSBox is a totally free and open source program that we can find for all kinds of operating systems. To download DOSBox , all you have to do is access its website and download the version that suits your operating system.
The installation of the program is simple and very fast, since the entire emulator occupies just over 1 MB. Of course, it is clean of unwanted software, so we will not dirty our PC with programs or advertisements.
If we do not want to use an emulator, and we want to be able to run this directly on our PC, we will be able to do it thanks to these alternatives.
FreeDOS is an open source operating system that we can install on any computer and that will allow us to run MS-DOS programs and games. Unlike other alternatives, which are based on virtualization, with FreeDOS we will be able to have an alternative to DOS installed natively, with all that that entails.
We can download this operating system for free from here .
VMware / VirtualBox
And, of course, we cannot forget the mythical virtualization software. In both VMware and VirtualBox we are going to be able to install a DOS-based operating system (such as FreeDOS, or MS-DOS) and run on them any type of program, or game, designed for these operating systems.