DOS stands for Disk Operating System.
In the old days it was how you ran your PC. You booted up the computer and you had a prompt much like today’s Linux command line in appearance. If you typed “wp” at the command line, a text-based non-GUI version of WordPerfect would run. If you typed “dir” you’d get a list of files in the current subdirectory. If you typed “nc” you’d get norton commaner. Maybe. Can’t remember exactly. And if you typed something like “term” …. well, you were on the internet, checking your mail in pine and maybe mining data with gopher.
Then, one day, it became true that if you typed “win” that Windows 3.0 would run. Windows 3.0 would take over the screen and produce a very clunky GUI that would slow down your computer and limit access to its functionality.
And ever since then your computer has been screwed.
In 1994, Microsoft announced that DOS would be discontinued shortly. They lied. They discontinued it much later than they said they would. But no matter, a guy named James Hall who was using DOS very productively decided to make a new operating system called, originally, “PD-DOS” and later “FreeDOS”
I’m privileged to actually know James. He is an occasional commenter on this blog and he often sends me interesting things to post regarding Linux. He also helps me with the Klingon translations that I need done now and then.
Well, today is the fifteenth anniversary of James Hall’s efforts to preserve DOS by creating FreeDOS!!!
Today, James runs his version of freeDOS inside an emulator on his Linux machine. Personally, I think it would be fun to play around with it. I wonder if I can run an old copy of WordPerfect on it. WordPerfect 4.2 was …. perfect. Version 5.1 did add some important functionality but they ruined it with pulldown menus. If any of you could see the keyboard I’m typing on now, you’d know what I’m talking about.
Oh what the heck, you can see it. I’ve just gotta point my web cam the right direction and ….
There, so you can see the keys on the left side. These were used by WordPerfect to format text and stuff. I use them today to do HTML.
Sadly, James is now stepping aside as Benevolent Dictator of freeDOS.
Long Live freeDOS!