FreeDOS and FreeBSD prove old code never dies, just gets nifty updates

Anniversary time and both are going strong into their 30s

The FreeDOS project celebrates its 1994 beginnings, about a week before Amazon – and just a year after FreeBSD got started.

Both projects celebrated their anniversaries recently and both are planning significant changes in their next releases. Project founder Jim Hall – who we interviewed last year – announced what was then called PD-DOS on the comp.os.msdos.apps newsgroup in June 1994, and over the next few years it gathered contributions and grew. As Hall recounts, different parts came from different people – the kernel from Pat Villani, the command interpreter by Tim Norman, and many other contributors.

Back in 2022, we looked at version 1.3. For now, that remains the current official version, but there are several interim testing releases every year. As Hall puts it, "Jerome Shidel is our distribution wrangler," and Shidel released version T2407 yesterday, which you can download from iBiblio.

There's still life in the DOS world. The classic GEOS graphical desktop, which started out on the Commodore 64 and later moved to the PC and was variously renamed GeoWorks, Breadbox Ensemble, and other names, is now FOSS and you can get it from GitHub – as you can the 386Max memory manager whose author made it GPL in 2022. Lots of other legitimate, legal DOS freeware and FOSS apps can be found in the FreeDOS repo including Microsoft Word, Protext, DataPerfect, VisiCalc, Adobe Acrobat Reader, and more. For now, FreeDOS still can't run on UEFI systems, and it still can't run Windows 3.x, but the latter at least is being worked on and may come in version 1.4.

FreeBSD is 31

The FreeBSD project is just a year older, and it too is going strong, despite the recent departure of TrueNAS. This year, FreeBSD Day marked the project's 31st anniversary, following a few weeks behind the 2024 FreeBSD Developer Summit in Ottawa. The FreeBSD Foundation has a list of highlights with links to videos of the talks.

The current version is FreeBSD 14.1 but planning is under way for what will go into FreeBSD 15, which includes a plan for a graphical installation program. There's more info about this in the latest quarterly status report. ®

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