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Running DOS on the Raspberry Pi

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You may be familiar with The FreeDOS Project[1]. FreeDOS is a complete, free, DOS-compatible operating system that you can use to play classic DOS games, run legacy business software, or develop embedded PC applications. Any program that works on MS-DOS should also run on FreeDOS.

As the founder and project coordinator of the FreeDOS Project, I'm often the go-to person when users ask questions. And one question I seem to get a lot lately is: "Can you run FreeDOS on the Raspberry Pi?"

This question isn't surprising. After all, Linux runs great on the Raspberry Pi, and FreeDOS is an older operating system that requires fewer resources than Linux, so why shouldn't FreeDOS run on the Raspberry Pi.

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The simple answer is that FreeDOS cannot run on a Raspberry Pi by itself because of the CPU architecture. Like any DOS, FreeDOS requires an Intel x86 CPU and a BIOS to provide basic runtime services. But the Raspberry Pi is a completely different architecture. The Raspberry Pi runs an ARM CPU, which is not binary compatible with the Intel CPU and does not include a BIOS. So FreeDOS cannot run on the Raspberry Pi at the "bare hardware" level.

Fortunately, it's possible to run FreeDOS on the Raspberry Pi through PC emulation. Maybe that's not as cool as running FreeDOS natively, but it's a great way to run DOS applications on the Raspberry Pi.

What about DOSBox?

Some might ask, "Why not use DOSBox instead?" DOSBox is an open source x86 emulator that runs on a variety of systems, including Linux. It is a great system that provides a DOS-like environment, mostly aimed at

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