DOSBox

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DOSBox
DOSBox.png
Developer(s) DOSBox Crew
Latest version 0.74-3
Active Yes
Platform(s) Windows, Linux, FreeBSD and more
Emulates 286 and 386
Website DOSBox.com
Programmed in C++
License GNU GPLv2
Source code tgz

DOSBox is an open-source, high-level 286 and 386 emulator written in C++.

Downloads[edit]

Windows Linux macOS Latest Dev Builds
Windows Linux macOS Solaris RiscOS OS/2 Latest Stable Builds

Overview[edit]

DOSBox is capable of emulating many older computer games that are otherwise very difficult if not impossible to play on modern operating systems and hardware. It has very high compatibility, as it can be configured to emulate the environment of many machines, with support for various display modes, including CGA, EGA, Hercules, Tandy, and VGA. With some work, it is even possible to install and load old Windows operating systems, such as Windows 3.11 and Windows 95, thus potentially being able to play games made for those platforms.

Frontends[edit]

Because DOSBox doesn't have a GUI, two projects were made to fulfill that role.

D-Fend Reloaded
A great frontend which allows custom per-game configurations to cut back on fiddling with settings just to run specific games well. It also lets you use your own build of DOSBox instead of the one it comes with, so it can be used with forks as well.
DOSBox Game Launcher
Another frontend based on Java that is said to be inspired by the D-Fend's.

Forks[edit]

There are far more forks listed at DOSBox Staging's GitHub wiki. Some have even been recognized by DOSBox's official wiki.

Name Platform(s) Latest Version Libretro Core Active Recommended
PC / x86
DOSBox Staging Windows Linux macOS 0.75.2
DOSBox-X Windows Linux macOS MS-DOS 0.83.8
DOSBox Pure TBD TBD TBD
Win31DOSBox Windows 2018-12-02

Comparisons[edit]

DOSBox-X
DOSBox-X-screenshot-sdl2.png
The SDL2 UI on Windows 10. DOSBox-X also has versions for SDL1 and MinGW in the installer.
Developer(s) Jonathan Campbell
Latest version 0.83.8 [+]
Active Yes
Platform(s) Windows, macOS, Linux, DOS
Emulates Intel CPUs
NEC PC-98
Website dosbox-x.com
License GNU GPLv2
Source code GitHub
DOSBox-X

DOSBox-X is vastly different from other DOSBox forks in that it aims to be a complete DOS emulation package. It features more flexibility by way of config options and an accompanying frontend to customize the DOS VM further, and beyond games it also supports standard software for DOS, as well as Windows 3.x and 9x (which it should be able to accelerate in the future, as well as running ME). The project also has its own wiki which contains extensive documentation on DOSBox-X, and a summary of all the added features can be seen here. The wiki is also accessible from the website.

While DOSBox-X currently supports the IBM PC/XT/AT, Tandy, PCjr, and NEC PC-98 the maintainer, Jonathan Campbell, does not plan to add any other MS-DOS system. This limitation is mainly done to prevent bloating of the codebase, keeping it at a manageable level for himself while also staying organized. However, the codebase does contain stubbed source files for FM Towns emulation in the event that other programmers want to add that functionality.

DOSBox Staging

DOSBox Staging attempts to "revitalize DOSBox's development process". It bills itself as a "fork to end all forks" but, unlike DOSBox-X, still focuses on DOS games for the most part.

Win31DOSBox

Win31DOSBox aims to be an easy method of running Windows 3.x games through a DOSBox fork. Among its many features, it adds an easy setup program and the ability to print from Windows 3.11. The maintainer of Win31DOSBox has since recommended using WineVDM instead.

To get started, you first need a copy of either Windows 3.11 or WfW (Windows for Workgroups) 3.11. Once you have that, you need to put in either the 6 (Windows 3.11) or 9 (WfW 3.11) floppy images, or the ISO file, or the MSDN self-extracting .exe. After that, running InstallWin31DOSBox.exe which will automatically install Windows 3.x for you. Once it's finished, check that everything works and then install Video for Windows and Quicktime which is located in the Video folder in Program Manager. It is also recommended to install WinG and Win32s as well.

There are multiple ways to get software onto the system. For folders and files, you can drag them into the C-DRIVE folder. If you have a physical CD you can just insert it into your CD drive. If it's a CD image you need to mount it using a software like Virtual CloneDrive. If it's a floppy disk image you need to drag the respective images over the Extract to A-Drive Folder.exe program which will extract them to the A-DRIVE folder.

Others[edit]

9xbox
There was some interest in creating a version of DOSBox that would improve compatibility with Windows 95/98/ME. However, it never passed the theoretical stage.
DOSBox SVN Daum
Was an enhanced build of DOSBox by ykhwong, with support for Direct3D and HLSL shaders, Glide, Ethernet, and a built-in UI. However, it hasn't been updated in years, and most of what it added was covered by the actively maintained DOSBox-X fork.