Installing FreeDOS on Virtual PC

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A number of people find that when they want to reminisce about the old days - that they no longer have a working copy of DOS handy - and it is quite hard to buy a copy of DOS at this stage.  Well - never fear - FreeDOS may be just what you need:

FreeDOS is an open source DOS compatible operating system - though you should know that there are still some programs that will only run on MS-DOS.  You can download the install .ISO from

FreeDOS installs just fine inside of Virtual PC - and in my testing was able to run most of my DOS programs.  However the FreeDOS installer is very ugly (even for DOS) and a bit confusing (even for DOS) - also - FreeDOS uses an odd directory structure for DOS which takes a bit of getting used to.


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  • I wonder if the VM Additions for DOS will work under FreeDOS? And if they do do they offer any benefit?
  • How about DRDOS?

    Just wonder what would be today if it were Digital Research who got the OS contract from IBM for the PC...

    BTW, tried CP/M on VPC?
  • Robert -

    The Virtual Machine Additions for DOS do work on FreeDOS - but the installer doesn't due to the fact that 'copy' does not behave the same way on FreeDOS as it does on MS-DOS. The Virtual Machine Additions for DOS provide Folder Sharing, CPU Idling, and a CDROM driver.

    William -

    Cool - thanks for the link. And if you check the early archives of this blog you will see a post on CP/M under Virtual PC.

  • Ben -

    Have you tried installing Windows for Workgroups 3.11 with FreeDOS? The install went ok, but Windows either hangs at the logo or states that there is some kind of memory protection.

    It seems to do with the HIMEM.EXE and EMM386.EXE files that FreeDOS uses. I even tried swapping the CONFIG.SYS lines for the "Windows" version of these files and it hangs when the CONFIG.SYS file loads.

    Any ideas?
  • Hi VPC User,

    AFAIK - Windows 3.11 does not actually work under FreeDOS.

  • I had too choose option 3 for EMS before it would work.

  • So how do you install FreeDOS on Virtual PC?  All that happens when I try it is that the FreeDOS menu appears in the virtual machine window with no options to install to the virtual machine.

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Installing FreeDOS on Virtual PC