Thursday, May 17, 2018

Tutorial: How to install FreeDOS

Need some help installing FreeDOS 1.2 on your computer? Here is a step-by-step guide to install FreeDOS. This how-to guide is adapted from Installing FreeDOS 1.2 on the FreeDOS wiki. You can find lots more information at our wiki, but I'm posting this guide to the blog so new users can find it with the other FreeDOS tutorials I'm writing here.

Installing FreeDOS uses the same process whether you install FreeDOS in a PC emulator or on actual hardware. Note that if you install in a PC emulator, you will probably need to set your system to boot from CDROM before the hard drive, so the FreeDOS install CDROM will boot first. We recommend the CDROM installer for most users. The “standard” CDROM image should work on most computers and PC emulators. Older computers may need the “legacy” CDROM image instead.

Booting the CDROM installer gives you a menu. You can choose to install FreeDOS, or boot from the system harddisk or from a diskette:

The installer supports different languages, which you can choose. The default is English:

Welcome to the FreeDOS 1.2 install program. We provide a standard warning here. For new users, we recommend installing FreeDOS in a PC emulator or “virtual machine.” If you install FreeDOS on a computer directly, without using a PC emulator, you may overwrite the operating system you have now (for example, Windows.) That's why we include a brief message about that in the FreeDOS distribution:

If your C: drive isn't partitioned for DOS, the installer detects that. To partition your hard drive, the installer will use the FDISK program:

Just follow the prompts. Select 1 to create the DOS partition. This will be your C: drive. Follow the other prompts to create the primary DOS partition. Note that if you don't use all free space to create your FreeDOS partition, you may need to mark the new partition as the Active partition, so FreeDOS can boot from it:

After you partition your hard drive, you need to reboot for FreeDOS to see the changes. Press ESC to exit FDISK. The FDISK program and the installer will warn you that you need to reboot your computer for the changes to take effect. The FreeDOS installer has an option to reboot your computer for you, so just use that:

After rebooting, the installer starts up again automatically. If your C: drive isn't formatted for DOS, the installer automatically detects that and can format it for you:

Your preferred language might not match your keyboard language, so we let you select your keyboard layout separately:

The FreeDOS 1.2 installer has two default install modes: install only those packages that reproduce the functionality of classic DOS (“Base”) or install everything (“Full”). Because FreeDOS is open source software, we give you the option to install source code, too:

Then just sit back and let the installer do its thing. The installer will let you know it has finished installing FreeDOS. Depending on what you chose to install and the speed of your system, the install usually takes a few minutes:

That's it! Reboot your system to begin using FreeDOS:

Want to see a video demo of the FreeDOS installation? We recorded a short video to walk you through installing FreeDOS 1.2 on GNOME Boxes (a free PC emulator for Linux) but the steps are the same for any PC emulator.


  1. Hi,
    I have a pc with Atlhon XP 1500+ cpu (Palomino). Could there be temperature problems if I use freedos or ms dos with windows 3.1? Thanks.

  2. Will Freedos boot without the presence of windows?

    1. Yes it will because it is an operating system by itself.