DOSBox is a free x86 emulator which emulates the DOS operating system and common in the era hardware. The aim is to run older DOS -based software, which is only limited by modern computer systems or even incompatible.

  • 5.1 Palm OS
  • 5.2 Wine


In contrast to the supplied Virtual DOS Machine on Windows operating systems or emulators such as DOSEMU under Linux DOSBox emulates not only the hardware environment of an IBM PC, but also the main processor and usually also the operating system. This allows better control over the flow of the emulated program. In addition, the software can also emulate DOS on computers without x86 processor. Although a real DOS operating system to run (such as MS -DOS or DR- DOS) within DOSBox, which is necessary but rarely.

Also expanded memory (EMS ) and special EXE loaders ( for example in the game Jazz Jackrabbit ) are supported since version 0.61. In addition, DOSBox is portable or mobile, that is, there is no installation into the existing operating system necessary because DOSBox is only configured with a simple text file.

The DOSBox developers have mainly emulating a platform for older computer games in mind, which may be impossible or faulty run under Win32 operating systems either. DOSBox allows you to run DOS applications under the 64 -bit versions of Windows, which themselves offer no support for 16 -bit software more because of the complete emulation of the main processor. So also 16- bit Windows applications to run when Windows 3.x was installed within DOSBox.

As used DOSBox Simple DirectMedia Layer (SDL ), it is relatively easy to port it to other operating systems or computer architectures.



DOSBox requires high computing power to simulate the emulated system at the original speed. Depending on the software used by processors with clock frequencies in the gigahertz range are required to originally for the 80486 - to drain liquid or Pentium family written programs.

Can be remedied by the use of rekompilierenden CPU core DOSBox, which can execute the program code directly from the processor of the host to replicate instead of the individual commands in software. So far, however, this core is only available for a few processor architectures available and is considered less mature than the software version.

Another way to partially drastic acceleration of protected mode software is to replace the commonly used DOS/4GW Protected Mode Memory Extender by the more compact and faster open source derivative DOS/32A.

Parallel Interface

In the official version of DOSBox support the parallel port that is used by most older printers and also some control devices in the manufacturing industry is missing. Meanwhile, there is an unofficial DOSBox version, which includes support for the parallel port.

Character set

The character sets of partitions mounted on file system level are not translated by the emulator to the DOS character set (see also FAT - without Unicode support ). This leads not to the fact that files and folders ( with German umlauts in the names that are stored on NTFS partitions, for example ) are represented not always accurate in the emulator and thus such files ( such as libraries ) of the can be used in DOSBox running programs.

Emulated System features and functions

  • Main BIOS and ( depending on the graphics standard ) EGA / VGA BIOS
  • X86 processor in real mode and protected mode
  • With DOS File System (FAT ) and command-line interpreter ( COMMAND.COM )
  • Memory: Conventional Memory, UMBs, HMA, extended memory by XMS and EMS specification and on INT 15; the emulated EMS memory is real mode compatible, unlike when using EMM386 on a real DOS system.
  • Input devices keyboard, mouse, and game port joystick
  • Graphics Cards standards Hercules, CGA, EGA, VGA, VESA and Tandy (see also TRS- 80); on the host, the image window or full screen and scaled differently be spent.
  • Audio output via the system speaker, AdLib, Creative Music System / Game Blaster, Sound Blaster 1.x/2.0/Pro/16, Gravis Ultrasound, MPU -401, Disney Sound Source and Tandy; the sounds are all ultimately passed on to the normal sound of the host.
  • IPX network ( tunneled over UDP / IP)
  • Modem or null modem cable ( LAN or Internet)
  • Serial interface
  • CD -ROM
  • Floppy disk drive
  • Virtual disks

User interfaces for DOSBox

DOSBox has no graphical interface, but only one to be edited by the user text file for configuration. Although it is provided with instructions for configuration, less experienced users are often so overwhelmed. Some programmers have created this situation by having a graphical user interface ( frontend ) replenished as an external program.

Even for experienced users such frontends can be interesting because for some steps are unnecessary. An example of this is the creation of customized configurations for different games.

Meanwhile, the majority of front-ends is available for most operating systems. They are applied directly to the official website of DOSBox.

Development versions and extensions

DOSBox is delivered by the developers in English ( default). In addition to German and has other languages ​​, which can be downloaded as language modules from the DOSBox website (found under " Translations" ).

In addition to the official version of DOSBox, there are numerous extensions improve ( in the form of source code patches ), retrofit the missing system functions as an emulation or existing. Also, numerous ports not found on the official DOSBox development team supported operating systems and platforms.

These extensions refer in most cases to a development version ( SVN version ) of the project and are therefore on the current state of development by the DOSBox developers. However, there are improved versions whose development has been set by the author in question and thus are no longer current. Also, it is not always clear what quality have the additional parts of the program and, more generally, whether they come from a trusted source.

Some examples of extensions are:

  • NE2000 network interface
  • Parallel interface
  • 3dfx Voodoo Graphics emulation
  • Porting to operating systems: IRIX
  • OS / 2
  • Palm OS
  • Dreamcast
  • GP2X
  • Nintendo Wii
  • Pandora
  • PlayStation Portable
  • Pocket PC
  • Android

With various additional emulations DOSBox is about a nearly full-fledged virtual machine for DOS -based operating systems - for example, it is using special extensions even possible to run Windows 95 in DOSBox. However, since a complete emulation was never the intention of the DOSBox developers, these extensions will probably never included in the official development branch.

Palm OS

On 23 September 2006, the English Palm info page TamsPalm wrote about the alpha version of a new X86 emulator for Palm OS. It was developed from voda forums member, who had already been ported other emulators on the Palm OS platform. Among other things, QBasic, Microsoft Word 5.5 and DOS shell have been successfully tested. While the mouse could be controlled via the touch screen of your PDA, there was no way to enter text. Thus one could present with this version, the first direct x86 emulation on Palm OS; productive use, however, was hardly possible.

In early 2008, the German software developer Henk Jonas, an expanded version of the PalmDosBox. The most important change was that now the built-in keyboard Treo phones could be used for input; for other devices was an on-screen keyboard. Also, this current version can not be considered stable, since it only works sporadically on some devices.

Another special feature of the emulation on Palm OS devices is that newer models have very little dynamic memory and the emulators often can not be executed. Programs such as UDMH (Unlimited Dynamic Memory Hack ) or the open source tool MMH (More Heap Hack ) give at the expense of the rest of the data memory more dynamic memory free and so allow you to run memory-intensive applications.


The developers of the Windows-compatible runtime environment Wine started at version 1.3.12 with the integration of DOSBox in Wine.

To make DOS - based software, such as games under newer operating systems, run the DOSBox digital distributors is distributed with the software as a package. For older games to run using DOSBox for example on Steam and Good Old Games, but not always supplied with the latest version of the emulator.