FreeDOS turns 15; James Hall steps down

It’s amazing what a little do-it-yourself attitude and a stubborn unwillingness to let go of your old DOS apps can get you. Fifteen years ago today, FreeDOS was born (site), though it has gone through a few name changes since its PD-DOS days (Public Domain is so gauche now! OSS FTW).


Originally intended as a safe harbour for DOS application users for when Windows 95 finally did away with the underyling DOS on which Windows ran, it has grown and evolved and easily has become the most compatible, featureful and widely used DOS-compatible operating system available today, being preinstalled on pretty well every laptop and desktop whenever you ask to skip having to pay the Microsoft Tax. It’s compatible with just about every piece of software out there today, has its own TCP stack and USB (legacy) support, and you’ll frequently find it (packed in DosEMU) on classic “abandonware” gamers’ lists of must-have software. It is installed on every single rig I ever build for personal use, and it’s even installed on my work laptop presently. I swear by it, and as a classic gamer, it is one of my most-used apps. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Please, if you haven’t already given it a spin, do so now.

Sadly, however, this silver lining comes with some dark cloud, as Greg Laden puts it, its “benevolent dictator” James Hall is stepping down from the project.

I was originally going to let my farewell at Greg’s stand, but Stephanie Zvan prodded me into posting about her friend’s accomplishment, and rightly so — this deserves whatever weight I can throw behind the Google trending. James, your steady hand will be missed, but hopefully will be emulated by the next person to ascend to stewardship of your brilliant project. Cheers to fifteen years of awesomeness!

FreeDOS turns 15; James Hall steps down
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4 thoughts on “FreeDOS turns 15; James Hall steps down

  1. 1

    Thanks, Jim/James/whatever you call yourself! I plan on restoring your place in the linking escapade when I do up the mirror for our wedding blog.

    That’s also great news about Pat Villani. I admit to not following your blog, and in fact I’m very rarely at your site proper now since switching off XP (roughly when XP came out in fact), with dosemu in the Ubuntu repositories. It sounds as though it’s in good hands.

    Thank you for countless hours with Dune 2! 🙂

  2. 2

    Hi Jason! This was great to read, thanks!

    Fifteen years is a long time, and I’m very glad FreeDOS has the staying power that it does. When I started FreeDOS back in 1994, I had no idea it would grow into what it is today. We have lots of developers around the world contributing to FreeDOS. The community is huge! And of course I’m thrilled to see so many people using FreeDOS.

    It’s true, though. I have decided to step aside, to focus on my Master’s degree. But it’s been a long transition – intentionally, so that my responsibilities transferred to the right people with plenty of time for everyone to get comfortable taking on the new roles.

    I think FreeDOS will be in good hands while I’m away. Pat Villani is our new project coordinator – a name that should be familiar to many FreeDOS users. (Pat is the original author of the FreeDOS kernel.)

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