Sunday, April 16, 2023

DOSBox Trials

 I was thinking it might be cool to have a Linux machine that booted straight into DOSBox. For those who don't know, DOSBox is a stripped down emulator designed specifically to run old DOS games on modern equipment. I figured this would be an easy project, doable in an hour or two, which was true enough, except I got the hair brained idea that I wanted to run Windows 3.1 in it as well. This caused me to tumble down a massive rabbit hole that cost me more than a day of my life to get working.

Honestly, it is not worth it. The return on investment just is not there. I mean having a Linux machine boot straight into DOSBox is mildly cool, but you really do not gain much by doing it. I suspect most people are not going dedicate an entire machine to this endeavor. If you find yourself wanting to do this and you absolutely want Windows 3.1 support, go get DOSBox-X and compile it from source. This version gives you as many bells and whistles as possible, including networking. If all you want is DOS and no Windows 3.1 support, here are the basic steps;

1. Install Debian with no Xorg, DE or WM

2. Reboot and log in root and install sudo

    2a. apt install sudo

    2b. edit /etc/sudoers and add your user account

    2c. logout and log in under your user

3. sudo apt install dosbox xorg xinit twm xdm

4. Type startx to enter into X, open a terminal and run dosbox, then exit out

5. mkdir dosbox

6. nano .dosbox/dosbox-0.74-3.conf

    6a. Change the following lines to;





    6b. Add the following lines after [autoexec]


            mount c ~/dosbox


    6c. Save and exit

7. nano .xsession and add

    7a. exec dosbox

    7b. save and exit the file

8. Rebbot the system and when you login, you should go straight to DOSBox.


Edit: For those of you wish to use DOSBox-x, a more up to date and feature rich fork of DOSBox, I have the steps for compile from source here;

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