Friday, June 23, 2017

Guest post: Discovering FreeDOS

User "N2KMaster" contributed his story about discovering FreeDOS, and how FreeDOS inspired him to turn his programming hobby into a GUI project.

I grew up with DOS. Remember a good many days freezing my butt off waiting for the wood stove to heat up the room the old Tandy 1000 EX was in, in order to play the latest shareware diskettes Mom had gotten in the mail. It wasn't until I starting poking around with GW-BASIC that I really "got" what a computer is all about. And since all my friends had NES and I had Tandy, I had to improvise and started making my own games. That was like thirty years ago.

I knew of FreeDOS. I just never tore the hood off it and looked at it until a friend of mine gave me a pile of computer "garbage." In that pile was a retro ‘486 laptop:


It wasn't much, but that was the point. I wanted a dinosaur.

It was ancient, but then again so am I and thought, "Okay great, retro DOS machine!" However, with a busted diskette and CD-ROM drive, DOS wasn't going to be an option here. No USB, no network, "yup … this is gonna suck … hey … there's that FreeDOS thing."

I was able to install FreeDOS to the hard drive using a laptop ATA-USB converter. I booted the computer, saw the installer, and was like "Whoa! This is a little more advanced than what I was expecting."

And the giggle point with that is the hard drive is actually out of a PowerPC Apple laptop that refused to work for me.

I got it all installed and then said, "Well, I'm not much for gaming, so for a majority of the time it will be just sitting there. So how do I make it so I wanna use this thing all the time?" That's where something special started.

Two years picking at QBasic and FreeDOS just to find that "sweet spot" for developing. I finally had that "something special" and began using it to build a GUI based desktop. And unlike Windows and the other guys, I wanted it to look different.

Now that GUI desktop is over two years old and still being developed thanks to FreeDOS still being a thing. Proves DOS is still cool, still has value. And as a kid who grew up during the whole "PC versus Mac" era in its prime. There was a lot of code and software that just simply vanished because Windows became the standard and made everyone lazy. They no longer wanted to know how it worked, just make it work. And that's a shame because the developing from that era was some of the best in its day and it was an art form as well back then.

This blog post is shared under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license (CC BY).

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing my story. Those wondering what that laptop is running, that IS the GUI I'm working on and its called N2K OS. That photo is v1, its now in v2 development.

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