Recently, this question was asked on the fd-dev mailing list. The answers are interesting, I think, and I thought I'd re-post them here:
Mainly, I'm just curious as to what everyone's doing with FreeDOS. I use it mainly on an old laptop to play classic games with; it seems to have better memory management than MS-DOS 6.0, but that could just be some sort of placebo effect.
So, out of curiousity, what does everyone else use FreeDOS for?
Eric Auer writes:
Hi, same for me: play classical DOS games. However, I use it both as plain DOS and in xDOSemu, so it is generally useful to allow me to run any DOS programs at all in Linux "DOS box" (xdosemu). The plain DOS mode gives better sound and graphics speed on my good old 133 MHz CPU than xdos, of course. Some demos (- www.assembly.org, www.scene.org) need full protected mode privs (more than ring 3 DPMI), so they need plain DOS, too.
I hear that some people use FreeDOS on point-of-sale terminals (you know, those things which print your bill in the supermarket). Some even use it for networking. Some other people PXE-boot FreeDOS as a starting point for a diskless (over network) install of Windows or Linux. I think that PCs which are too old for Linux are getting very rare now (Linux runs even with X11 on a fast 386 with 16 MB if you use fvwm2: KDE/Gnome needs far more, and if you only have 8-12 MB, using any X11 will be VERY slow... all this for 2.2 kernels and standard not too new libc. A smaller libc - runs better on 8 MB).
Devon Smith replies:
Ditto. Although more like "try" to get classic games to run on my modern hardware. Although I'd like to try out the internet and mp3s in dos, i dont think my soundcard will comply and getting internet to work seems extremely copmlicated.
Florian Xaver responds, simply:
Mainly for playing music files (mpxplay).
Well... we use it to boot other custom operating systems...
I think that FreeDOS is a VERY stable operating system with a simple concept, which is based on :
1. monolithicity (as Linux but less overstate).
2. efficiency (speed, stability, etc.).
3. monotasking : the multitasking systems are obligated to share the computing time ; the monotasking systems are obligated to utilise ALL computing time for ONE task until this last is completed or cancelled (with ctl+break or such if your monotasking system allows it).
4. easiness to use. really. if, as me, you have practiced a CLIs a lot, you'd feel that CLIs are easier to use than GUIs (I have practiced MS-DOS since I was 4 and now I am 16). while GUIs are more "intuitive", CLIs are more "formal". but now, with the software growth's direction, I am using both GUI and CLI.