Sunday, April 19, 2009

Modern DOS

What would it take to create a "modern" DOS? I can think of a few things:

We need to have native USB support, rather than relying on "legacy mode" to access keyboards, mice, and USB storage. FreeDOS should recognize USB storage devices as they are connected, and disassociate them when they are unplugged. This will require massive changes to the DOS hard drive/floppy drive infrastructure, as I could connect one USB fob drive to my system as easily as I can connect 6 or 7 fob drives. FreeDOS should have a way to access them all. As I mentioned in anohter post: drive letters are probably a necessary evil. But imagine a method that maps a USB fob drive to an easily-located path on C:

A GUI is also necessary to take FreeDOS to the next level. That GUI needs to be a stable system with an API support that makes it easy to write new applications. We never picked an official GUI - but OpenGEM is a possibility, and it's very solid. But the user interface could be prettier. I don't necessary mean eye candy, but two changes will dramatically improve the look: support for loading TTF fonts, especially if the user can select one of those fonts as the "system" font, and an updated icon theme. User-loadable themes (ala GNOME and KDE) aren't necessary—but simple, outlined multi-color icons would improve GEM usability dramatically.

Of these, the GUI is easiest to tackle. I'd encourage anyone who wants to contribute to FreeDOS to consider helping OpenGEM.

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