How to: Setting up DOSBox

DOSBox is an emulator for DOS, available for various plaforms (Windows, Mac, Linux and FreeBSD to name a few). It allows you to run DOS applications through a virtual machine on nearly any host. A great solution for old games that can’t run natively on recent Windows version and of course not on Linux at all. I’ve used DOSBox on Windows (Vista) and Ubuntu and it works great. Can’t remember any serious crashes and it’s easy on resources. So read on for some instructions for a convenient setup.

Installing

Installing DOSBox is very easy, eithe onr Windows or Ubuntu. In Ubuntu just search for DOSBox (hereafter DBx) in the Software Center and click install. When you are on Windows: visit the project website, download the installer and install. Basically you are done now. You can start DBx, mount a directory and play. But it would be nice if you didn’t have to mount the directory where your DOS applications reside after each restart right?

Configuration

DBx has a configuration file, the location of that file depends on your operating system. On Windows it’s in: “Users{username}AppDataLocalDOSBoxdosbox-{version}.conf” on Linuxs it’s “/home/{username}/.dosbox/dosbox-{version}.conf“. You can ignore most of the stuff in the config file but one important section is “[autoexec]“. All the lines that you put under this section are executed at start.

First thing to do is to put the mount here that mounts the directory where your DOS files are stored as a drive. For example, to mount the dirctory as drive C use the following command (of course user the appropriate path separators for your OS):

mount c /path/to/directory

Now when you start DBx and type “C:” and then dir you will see you are inside the mounted directory, ready to execute the programs you want.

Browsing the mounted drive(s)

Navigating with “dir” commands might make you feel oldskool but it’s tedious at the same time. Another oldskool solution to ease the navigation is a program like Norton Commander which lets you use the arrow keys to traverse directories and execute files. NC however is commercial software. A freeware (too bad not free software) solution however exists and is called Volkov Commander. It’s not actively developed anymore but it works fine. Here is how to set up Volkov Commander in DBx:

1. Download VC: http://vvv.kiev.ua/download/vc405sw.zip

2. Extract it to your directory of DOS apps. Suppose it’s extracted to a directory called “commander”.

3. Now put the following after the mount line in your config file:

C:
cd comman~1
vc cd

After a restart of DOSBox you should now have a browsable environment to easily select the executables for the games you want to play (and the reason for installing DOSBox in the first place).

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