dual booting. And what distro should I get?

marbux marbux at gmail.com
Thu Nov 1 03:17:33 UTC 2007

On 10/31/07, Karen Lewellen <klewellen at shellworld.net> wrote:
> out of curiosity,
> How would this same question be answered if the goal is a Dos / Linux
> machine instead of a windows Linus one?  Including the most favorable
> debtors?  I too am likely to use a fat 32 partition, but wonder about the
> rest of the wisdom.
> Karen

DOS apps run fine on FAT32 partitions. But you may hit problems depending on
the version of DOS you use. What you'd need is a version of DOS that
supports long file names. Otherwise, if you create long filenames in Linux,
those files will get their names truncated to 8.3 lengths if you open and
save them in DOS. And Linux can handle much longer pathnames than DOS. Some
DOS apps won't be able to read directories with long pathnames. I've
forgotten the character lengths involved (it's been years since I used DOS),
but it's far shorter even than in Windows. And there are some unruly Windows
apps whose installers create longer pathnames than older DOS versions can
handle. IIRC, Firefox is one.

I haven't tried DOSemu, but it might be a better solution for you. You
wouldn't have to dual boot that way and can have DOS and Linux apps running
simultaneously. The  DOSemu documentation page is here. <
http://dosemu.sourceforge.net/docs/>. They warn that the documentation is
pretty sparse.

You should also be able to run DOS apps under Wine on Linux, which also
allows you to run a lot of Windows apps. But again, I haven't tried running
DOS apps under Wine.

FreeDOS supports file names and can run stand-alone or in DOSemu. <
http://www.freedos.org/freedos/about/>. There is also OpenDOS (formerly
known as DR DOS), which is free for non-commercial use. <
http://www.deltasoft.com/opendos.htm> It will run on Linux under WABI.

One advantage of OpenDOS is that you can use 4DOS with it, which gives you a
lot of the features of the KORN shell. 4DOS is great, makes DOS much easier
and more powerful to use. Particularly useful if you're into fairly complex
batch scripting. If you're into very complex scripting, you can extend 4DOS
even further using REXX, or at least you used to be able to do so. I used it
on one project. But I'm not sure you could still find a version compiled for
DOS. REXX is now open source, but I don't see any binary downloads for DOS.
<http://www.oorexx.org/download.html>.  I used the combination of DR DOS and
4DOS for many years, wouldn't run DOS again without it. 4DOS is now free and
is still being maintained. <http://www.4dos.hit.bg/>. The very last DOS I
would choose is MS DOS. Buggy and far more limited than other distributions
of DOS. Full disclosure: I have a bad attitude about Microsoft.

Hope this helps,


  Director of Legal Affairs
  OpenDocument Foundation
Charter member, Two Guys without a Garage,
-- Universal Interop Now!
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