Tuesday, May 1, 2007

On to FreeDOS 2.0

… or 1.1, or whatever label we eventually give it. I have been giving some thought lately to the next version of FreeDOS. I was, obviously, very thrilled when we finally released 1.0. But it's been a while, and we really should think about what comes next.

Post "1.0", I'd also like to see more utilities to make it possible to replicate some of the advanced features we take for granted in modern operating systems, such as Linux. I want to revive GNUish and replicate a modern UNIX-like environment under DOS. I want DOS to be usable by everyone, not just DOS geeks. Linux users should feel at home.

I'd like FreeDOS to appeal to Windows and Mac geeks, but for that we'd need to have a strong GUI. GEM is already out there, and is a fine, stable GUI for DOS.

The installer also needs work. When I first wrote the installer, it was text-only, very basic, text scrolling up from the bottom of the screen. But it did the job, and it was our first installer. By version 3 of the installer, I'd added a simple TUI, but it was still a pale imitation of where I wanted to go with the installer. The installer we have in 1.0 is basically the same look-and-feel as the original installer. The updated installer should be built with TurboVision or another standard TUI toolkit.

For features, Blair and I had put together a small "wish list" for the updated installer:
  • Embed a scripter (like LUA?) to allow for specific tweaking of installer
  • Support for the same install config files as the Text Installer
  • Built-in library to handle zip files without using unzip as a lib (adds a lot of unnecessary code to the installer).
  • It should also be able to handle packages compressed with other archivers as well if the archiver is available in executable form on the install medium.
  • If the installer turns out to use a TUI toolkit, it should be a viable replacement for the existing text installer.