FreeDOS is an operating system that dates back to 1994 when the most popular operating system was Microsoft’s own MS-DOS. FreeDOS was started as a free alternative to the then expensive MS-DOS. Back in the 90’s it did not catch that much popularity, but now you can see FreeDOS being pre-installed on many inexpensive laptops. FreeDOS supports all the features that were supported by MS-DOS and you can run all the programs and games that were designed for MS-DOS. It is great for playing some of the very very old games that you cannot play in newer versions of Windows. For example, games like Carmageddon, Quake, Blood, Duke Nukem, Doom etc., can be played in FreeDOS easily.
But before you can use FreeDOS, you have to first make a bootable FreeDOS USB drive so that you can boot into FreeDOS. From there you can choose either to install FreeDOS on your hard drive or run it without installing. So here is how you can create a bootable FreeDOS USB drive:
- Download FreeDOS from http://www.freedos.org/download/. You can download either the USB full installer or the USB lite installer. Direct link for FreeDOS 1.2 USB Lite version is https://www.ibiblio.org/pub/micro/pc-stuff/freedos/files/distributions/1.2/FD12LITE.zip.
- Extract the contents of the downloaded ZIP archive to a folder. You should be able to see the IMG file which is going to be used.
- Download Rufus 2.14 from https://github.com/pbatard/rufus/releases/download/v2.14/rufus-2.14.exe.
- Attach the USB drive that you want to use to create a bootable FreeDOS drive. It will be displayed in Rufus, make sure you select the correct USB drive. It will be completely overwritten and the data on it will be destroyed, so backup the existing data if needed.
- Select Create a bootable disk using, select DD image and then click on the small disk icon to choose the IMG file that we have extracted in the step 2 above.
- Click on the Start button and wait for the process to be finished. Your bootable FreeDOS USB drive is ready.
- Now you can reboot your PC, press F12 to select the boot device as soon as your PC starts to boot and you will be using FreeDOS.
Since FreeDOS does not support UEFI, you will have to make changes in the BIOS to disable UEFI, enable the legacy mode or the compatibility mode before you can boot into FreeDOS bootable drive. After this, you can press F12 to open the boot menu, select your USB drive from the list and try out FreeDOS.