Ed. July 16, 1994
PD-DOS has been changed to Free-DOS. This effort will be released
under the GNU PLA, and the terms Public Domain and Free do not
necessarily mean the same thing.
Free-DOS was announced as PD-DOS around the beginning of July, 1994,
as another implementation of DOS.
I would like to form a group that will, eventually, create another
implementation of MS-DOS. DOS appears to be a popular system, and
there is plenty of hardware already available that is ready to support
it. Microsoft will not develop DOS forever, and one cannot count on
commercial programming firms such as IBM or Digital to continue DOS.
I feel it is then up to those on the Internet to develop their own DOS
(hereafter, Free-DOS) and I feel there is a lot of support for this
type of project.
Free-DOS should, optimally, run on all levels of machines. It should
operate on processors as low as the 8088 with as little memory as
640k. Hopefully, the compressed installation should fit under 1.44M.
Free-DOS should not be targetted towards certain users. That is, the
end product should be something that programmers and non-programmers
may both enjoy and find useful.
I do not think there would be a problem to distribute optimized
versions of Free-DOS for the 80386 and above. But this remains a
project for the kernel writers.
I imagine the Free-DOS project would be best handled by dividing
efforts into three subgroups:
UTILITIES - Main objective is to write new, clean versions of the
standard DOS utilities. These should all be able to run on any
current version of DOS, as low as MS-DOS 3.3.
DRIVERS - Goals include re-writing the device drivers for DOS,
including a new ANSI.SYS and COUNTRY.SYS. These should be
overlay-able on any version of DOS, as low as MS-DOS 3.3.
KERNEL - Main objective is to write a new DOS kernel, one that is
capable of running at least most of the current DOS software. The
ultimate test is to be able to run Windows. Secondary goals include
working in some kind of multitasking support, even if limited.
If I can get this Free-DOS project off the ground, I'd appreciate
someone taking over each of the three subgroups, so there'd be a
Utilities Leader, Driver Leader, and Kernel Leader. This person would
be in charge of maintaining code readability and for ensuring the
group's goals are being met. For example, the Utilities Leader would
also make sure that each utility includes at least the MS-DOS command
line arguments. The Leader should also make decisions concerning what
extensions will be permitted.
Much of the DOS utilities already exist as freeware, and a good
portion of that has been written by the Free Software Foundation. In
any case, I'd expect that the Utilities Group would be the first one
to accomplish all its goals. The Drivers Group would probably finish
next, and the kernel last due to its relative complexity. At each
stage of completion, I'd expect a major release to the public,
available via ftp sites.
One final note: I'd appreciate all the utilities to be written in
either C or the DOS batch language, to facilitate maintenance.
Any effort that goes into writing a Free-DOS would, of course, be
released under the GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE, which says in part from
The licenses for most software are designed to take away your
freedom to share and change it. By contrast, the GNU General Public
License is intended to guarantee your freedom to share and change free
software--to make sure the software is free for all its users. This
General Public License applies to most of the Free Software
Foundation's software and to any other program whose authors commit to
using it. (Some other Free Software Foundation software is covered by
the GNU Library General Public License instead.) You can apply it to
your programs, too.
When we speak of free software, we are referring to freedom, not
price. Our General Public Licenses are designed to make sure that you
have the freedom to distribute copies of free software (and charge for
this service if you wish), that you receive source code or can get it
if you want it, that you can change the software or use pieces of it
in new free programs; and that you know you can do these things.