Commercial suitability for FreeDOS?

Adam Meyerowitz asked an interesting question:

I am intrigued by FreeDos and would like to consider it on an embedded application that I am developing.

Not knowing too much of the history of FreeDos, can anyone comment on it's stability in an environment that needs to be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The application is nothing really fancy, it only reads data from a serial port and allows users to call in to retrieve data that came in over that serial port. However, the system must be rock solid and since I don't have ANY experience with FreeDos I was hoping some of you can lend some of your experience.

Of course, there are many companies that are already using FreeDOS in their embedded applications, and I even hear from people who use FreeDOS on the desktop. But it is always great to hear from new people who are using FreeDOS.

Bob Axtell responded:

You and I are on the same identical page; i.e. developing reliable embedded applications for DOS (without a greedy Microsoft lawyer waiting in wings.)

A few years ago, we were consultants on a development effort for a device (ATM variant) that required 24/7, absolute always online operation. In the beginning, Windows 95 (yes, I was astounded, too) was the OS of choice. I argued against it, but was required to prove it.

We setup 50 PC systems to run a comprehensive simple application test to prove uptime for Win98. The MTBF (mean time between failure) averaged less than 3 hours. In other words, Windows 95 could NEVER be used in a 24/7 application unless the system was automatically rebooted at least every 3 hours. On the same 50 systems, we next tried Linux, then DOS. Linux' performance was truly awesome; MTBF climbed to almost 1000 hours. DOS 6.22 was higher yet.

But my client had no programmers who could write a Linux application (at that time), so DOS was the OS of choice. In my view, even with significant improvements in Windows MTBF, DOS is still the best choice.

FreeDOS is attempting to match DOS in performance without any user fees or threats from MS lawyers. The reason that this is important is that MS is building a police-state mentality about its ownership of software, and people who design it into embedded systems are shipping systems with a legal timebomb in each one. It is possible that MS could exact a tribute from each and every system your company or my client sells. You and I both know that in an embedded system, DOS performs only miniscule tasks; but a welfare jury doesn't know these technical things, and in most cases, MS will twist facts to show DOS performing most of the work, and will win.

FreeDOS is already at a state where it can be flashed into an embedded system with a high level of confidence.

We plan to use it extensively.