How to Run FreeDOS 1.3RC within Windows 10 Using Qemu

From running older applications to enjoying vintage games designed for MS-DOS, you can do so many things with the open-source operating system FreeDOS. It is fully compatible with MS-DOS and also offers many modern utilities and features of its own. No matter what it reason is behind your using FreeDOS, you do not have to install FreeDOS on your hard drive and can use it from a virtual machine using Qemu.

The powerful virtualization software Qemu  supports Windows, Linux and macOS. Qemu is no-nonsese alternative to the likes of VirtualPC, VIrtual Box or even VMWare. In just a few seconds, you can load any operating system in Windows using Qemu.

Here is how you can run FreeDOS from within Windows 10:

  1. Download and install Qemu from After the installation, add Qemu bin folder (usually C:\Program Files\qemu) to the system PATH variable.
  2. Download FreeDOS Live CD from In our case, the downloaded file was
  3. Give the following command: qemu-system-i386 -cdrom fd13live.iso -m 150 This will run FreeDOS in live CD format with only 150 MB of RAM. For better performance, you can increase the RAM allotted to virtual machine.Run FreeDOS in Windows 10

In case you want to install FreeDOS to a virtual hard drive, then you have to create a hard drive image first and then load it in Qemu. Here is how:

  1. Give command: qemu-img create freedos.img 50M in order to create a virtual hard drive of 50 MB capacity and save it.
  2. Now give this command to load FreeDOS: qemu-system-i386 -drive file=fd13lite.img,media=disk,format=raw -drive file=freedos.img,format=raw,media=disk -m 64
  3. You should see the familiar FreeDOS screen by now. You can proceed and install FreeDOS on the virtual hard drive.

If you are overwhelmed by all these commands, then you can create batch scripts for everything. As you double-click on these batch scripts, FreeDOS is executed and is displayed for everyone. You can use this setup to easily to launch FreeDOS and play games like Doom and Quake.

5 thoughts on “How to Run FreeDOS 1.3RC within Windows 10 Using Qemu

  1. The first step should be that FreeDOS can actually be downloaded. Having tried several times, only to have the download fail EVERY time, I have given up on the idea, having wasted more than a GiB of data allowance. I do not face this problem with ANY other distribution, so I presume that it is purely a FreeDOS problem.

    Furthermore, FreeDOS cannot even be bothered to provide a torrent. At least with a torrent, if it fails, then it can be restarted without the loss of data. With FTP or HTTP download, which FreeDOS prefers, if it fails, then everything is lost.

    But having just read on the FreeDOS 1.3 bug page that it fails to install to hard-drive, maybe I’m not missing anything. FreeDOS 1.2 does not even recognise its own installation media, so I guess that some progress has been made.

    I’ll stick with DOSBox and DOSEmu, and I still have MS-DOS (and Windows 3x) which can be installed and still works.

      1. Thank you for the info.

        I use Ubuntu, so I’ll find a an equivalent application, but I’ll probably wait until the FreeDOS bugs have been fixed and get the final release.

        I’ve never had a problem with Ibiblio before, which is why I find it strange that it happens with FreeDOS. I’ll contact FreeDOS if the problem persists.

  2. FreeDOS version 1.3 has not been released yet, you’re using the release candidate version. This is similar to a beta version. Please fix your article so it’s no longer misleading.

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