Windows on FreeDOS?


Aitor writes that it is possible to install & run Windows on FreeDOS:

From time to time I like testing how far we've gone with FreeDOS, and a good way to know is to test MS-Windows compatibility. First of all, Windows in the enhanced mode (WIN /3) does not work, (first it says that 32BDA can't be enabled, because DOS 3.20 version is required, I wonder why it complains, if reported version is 7.10), and the final obtained message is "This version of DOS cannot be accepted", irrespective of the VERSION= setting of CONFIG.SYS, thus it's quite likely that the true DOS version is checked. The testings were made with a 386DX machine, running FreeDOS kenel 2035 FAT32. 2035 stable and 2035a unstable (posted by Lucho) were tested, with no apparent change of situation. Mouse was NOT present in my testings. Microsoft's HIMEM was used. The version of Windows tested is Windows 3.1 in Spanish. Some of the GRP files that the Program Manager needs were missing (and this was interesting for the test).

I know that other people (e.g. Eric) posted about Windows working, I just wanted to give a hint.

At a first glance, it seemed not to work: the complaining dialog by Program Manager of the missing GRP files seemed to lock the file: keyboard was irresponsive. However, if you make the change


in the adequate section of SYSTEM.INI (that is, replace the Windows shell from Program Manager to File Manager), then WinFile boots normally, and seems to work well. Further, if you open ProgMan.exe, the dialog complaining about the missing GRP files is responsive to keyboard. Some other programs (NOTEPAD, WINHELP, WINVER) seem to work well as well.


Well, that Windows in Standard Mode runs under FreeDOS well is a question of fixing bugs globally in FreeDOS kernel, as one could expect and has been seen. That Windows in 386 Enhanced Mode runs under FreeDOS requires that FreeDOS kernel communicates with the DOS386 (well, they call it WIN386 in the non-beta versions, and VMM32.VXD when they want to run Microsoft Windows version 4.0+ over it) is much harder and has already been documented by Bart and other people in the list. If I recall correctly, consists in responding to the "enhanced mode broadcast" calls, by telling Windows which data has to be instanced for each VM. One could simply rename COMMAND.COM to KRNL386.EXE (the Microsoft Windows boot up file) and try to make FreeDOS compatible with the extender as a first instance.

I do own MS-DOS 6.2 and Windows 3.1, from times in which you bought the OS software with your machine (and I do have original disks for Windows 3.11 for WorkGroups).

Now they sell them empty (which is BEST) or with that "PREINSTALLED" SHIT, which is WORST, because (perhaps) you do not own the OS, they won't give you the Windows CD anymore, but nevertheless I am sure that you pay for it. They simply give you a CD with which you can completely restore the original contents of your HD (much worse than the ability to install the OS).

To be honest, I have never understood the story about "preinstalled". I don't know if I own WindowsXP Home edition or not, although my PC had it when I bought it from Acer. What is worst, one of the technical support staff person told me by phone that if I had problems with hardware, even within the guarantee period, they cannot be responsible if I change it for another operating system (Windows XP Pro, which is what I wanted to install because at work we have global licenses). Anyway I don't know if this is the official position of Acer of this person was wrong (it gave me the impression that she knew less about computers than I do), but if it is, then it is undoubtedly a shameless position.

One more reason to set about to work for FreeDOS and hope that many other people would sell PCs with FreeDOS preinstalled as Dell Canada guys do: it is free.