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DOSBox Source Code for Text-Based Applications

Note (2015): You should probably use Jos Schaar's excellent vDos instead of this system. The vDos system is specifically designed for text-based DOS applications, and is the only system you should use for running database applications.

DOSBox was written for games, not applications, and in many causes may cause serious problems when used to run applications. For example, the developers report that it includes intentional bugs that make it inaccurate and potentially dangerous if used to run (for example) applications that control a power plant.

The developers of DOSBox, however, did such a good job of writing DOSBox that it remains the best solution for running non-critical DOS-based applications anyway. It is certainly accurate enough for word-processing, but I have no way of knowing if it's accurate enough for databases and other programs that rely on complex calculations.

I have prepared two versions of this project, one for Windows, one for OS X. Please let me know of any problems with these builds on the feedback page.

Although this project is titled "DOSBox for Text-Based Applications" it of course also works with graphic applications such as WPDOS in graphics mode. It omits features usable only by games and similar programs.

I occasionally make minor improvements to this system. For example, on 20 November 2015, I updated the Windows version of the source code to incorporate recent improvements in the main DOSBox code and to make other minor changes.

1. DOSBox for Text under Windows

Because I needed a DOSBox version suited for a project that runs WordPerfect for DOS under 64-bit Windows, I put together a programming project that slightly modifies DOSBox to work better with applications.

It is based on DOSBox Megabuild 6 by h-a-l-9000 with some features from dbDOS, together with recent changes to the development version of DOSBox, plus many DOSBox changes that help make it suitable for use with text-based applications, supplied in posts on the DOSBox Development forum by TeaRex (who generously let me have his build environment some years ago), ripsaw8080, Dominus, h-a-l-9000, wd, HunterZ, and ykhwong, plus some indispensable help supplied in a long series of private messages.

Briefly described, this project does the following:

I have prepared a full development project, complete with all the needed includes and libraries, set up to be built with Visual C++ 2010 Express Edition. You may also need to install the DirectX SDK from Microsoft.

You may download the Windows-based project from this link. After extracting the project, go to the visualc_net directory; click on dosbox.sln, and wait while the project parses the necessary files. Then choose Build, and, if all goes well, you will generate an executable named DOSBox.exe in the DOSBox folder (which also contains the SDL.dll file that is required for launching DOSBox). A prebuilt copy of the executable is already in the zip file in case you want to test this without building.

I don't pretend to know anything about programming. (To me, "C++" sounds like a grade I once got in high school.) All I've done is put together code developed by other people with a few very slight changes added. Basically, all I have added is a "keyboard help" message box to the system menu. (The system menu itself was added in the dbDOS project, which may be found through a web search.) So all the coding that actually runs the program was written by people who know what they are doing; my changes are limited to some key-mappings and messages, the default startup video mode; and two custom commands.

2. DOSBox for Text under OS X

Because I needed a DOSBox project suited for running WordPerfect for DOS under OS X, I created a similar project to the Windows-based project described above. It includes features similar to those in the Windows-based project, as described above, except that it omits the parallel-port and paste-from-the-clipboard patches present in the Windows version.

I prepared a full development project that requires Apple's Xcode and libraries and other files that should be installed through MacPorts, but I cannot guarantee that it will compile on other people's machines without a lot of manual labor. If you want the project, and are willing to do the work to make it compile, please get in touch with me through the feedback page. Meanwhile, if you are interested, you may download the OS X-based project from this link, although you should not expect it to work correctly on your system.

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